Setting up shop, episode 2.

King of corners sample print.

You will have read in my last post that things have started to come together for the opening of the small internet shop for Soulcraftcandy where you will be able to purchase high quality prints of some of the drawings. I thought it might be interesting to write a little bit about the journey to this point so far.

So how are things going? Well, not too bad actually. Whoever you seek advice from in these matters, like in most cases in life really, you will receive plenty of information. All advice is good, you just have to work out which bits are most relevant to your course of action and use most of it to guide your decisions rather than slavishly following one point of view or another. Such was the case with the choice for which on-line retail supplier to go with. As it turned out, once this decision had been made, loads of other stuff seemed to fall into place as adhering to a given format or template made decision making much, much easier. There were some things though that remained outside of this comfortably convenient arrangement.

I know from many years selling design ideas to clients that although a concept may be brilliant, how others perceive it can be heavily effected by how you present the idea. In a sense the beauty of the presentation must be as wonderful as the idea contained within it, in order for it to gain maximum impact. Thus I knew that the quality of any prints I would be offering would have to be very high. I’d heard about giclee printing before, in fact I bought a print by another artist last year, it’s an impressive process. the challenge was to find a giclee printer in London who would take on my work. With a bit of research I’ve found one, and I think our relationship will be a good one. I chose him for all the usual good reasons but what really swung it for me was how I felt when entering his studio for the first time, it was immaculate. No offcuts or waste anywhere and spotless equipment. If ever there was a place which strongly adhered to the adage of “ a place for everything, and everything in its place”, this was it. The part of me that likes a tidy workshop and a box of clean, well kept tools was very happy. I ordered some sample prints from him and they are lovely.

The one at the top of this post is enlarged to A2 size from the original A3 format. I wanted to see what would happen to the line work and the drawing as a whole at an increased scale. I’m more than pleased with the result and this size will be offered in the store alongside the original A3 size for all prints. It’s almost as if I drew it originally at this size and after a bit of fiddling with saturation levels and such like, the image prints beautifully. Biro ink is not unusual in that the black is actually made up of lots of other pigments. As a result, when you digitise an image it often has a hue about it which can be perhaps blue or purple in nature. This can be difficult to control if you’re printing straight off, so a bit of careful adjustment is always required to get balance right.

King of corners sample print at A3

This print at the bottom is the A3 size. I clipped a business card to the board to give some idea of relative scales. And please excuse any discolouring in the photos. Even on a bright sunny day the camera seems to make up its own mind about light levels. You can though see the door of my shed, a small but meaningful space often used for moments of creative alchemy.


Time to sell some prints.



A kind of hotrod.

So, another unscheduled gap in posting comes to an end, thankfully. Regularity and consistency remain difficult habits to develop but, this is very much a work in progress. It has been a busy time lately with much happening in the background, more about that in a moment, and the occasional distraction, for example a first time visit to Santa Pod raceway to see some drag racing and feed the imagination. All I can say at this juncture about that experience is that I have never heard anything quite as loud in my whole life. And spectacular too, despite it being a “nostalgia” meeting, much of the machinery looked anything but old or remotely passed its best.


What’s been happening in the background has been much more exciting though on a personal level. Prompted by a steady flow of positive comments, and encouraged to make something more of this drawing project I’m engaged in, it’s time for others to have the opportunity to enjoy the drawings as real things, beyond the virtual world on screen. As a result I am in the process of setting up a small internet shop through which you will be able to purchase high quality art prints of a selected group of drawings. I have been lucky enough to find a fantastic printer who I know I can rely on and whose attention to detail and quality of output are superb, so I am very enthusiastic about moving forward. The shop is not live yet but, getting this far has been an interesting journey through online service suppliers, low level brand fiddling, design, learning about print technologies, and cardboard tube sourcing. Currently the final details are being sorted out in readiness for the grand opening and are reminding me that there is no substitute for putting in the effort and getting it right first time. So the next couple of weeks is promising to be very interesting as things come together, and I will be posting regular progress updates as Soulcraftcandy enters a new era.


I have found a little time to do some drawing too. Not as much as I’d like but enough to keep the hand and eye in. Todays picture is a sketch in which I’m trying to do two things. The first is to draw at a slightly larger scale than before. This drawing is about 20 inches across, which is quite a bit larger than previous pictures and challenges my ability to make all of the proportional changes needed to jump up in size. Harder than it sounds.


Secondly I’m having a go at trying to concentrate the detail and tonal density of the drawing at the centre of the page whilst the outlying areas of the drawing fade away, and couple this with leaving the rider figure outlined but unrendered. The eye and brain, working together, have an incredible ability to complete an unfinished image, to fill in the gaps, if you can give them enough basic information to start with. This drawing may not be finished in the true sense of the word, but in another way it already is. In some ways it’s already a bit overdone but, finding that fine line between the two seems to be something worth spending some time trying to find.


Finally here is a very loose preliminary sketch for the above bike and I’ve got a funny feeling this isn’t the last time this one will be influencing another drawing. You will also notice the inclusion of a new logo, a small sign that things are changing. More about that next time. Watch this space.

Hotrod sketch



Lovely imperfect paper.

The picture above is the latest of my attempts at finding some different and interesting compositions around the sidecar outfit theme. This is very much a sketch rather than a thinly veiled shot at a finished piece. The density of the line work has ended up covering a tangled nest of construction and guide lines and the wonder of modern technology has enabled me to virtually obliterate the swathes of Tippex correction fluid useed in the early stages. This more loose approach to a drawing is really working its way into my system to the point where they hold as much enjoyment as the more tight and precise drawings I have previously shown you. This one is again done on heavy weight lining paper, a habit that is proving hard to break for want of finding a good substitute.


Some time ago a friend pointed out, quite rightly, that this paper is not acid free. This has its upsides as well as its downsides. Not being acid free means, as far as I know, that the paper will age badly, yellowing and discolouring over time, and finally disintegrating into a pile of dust after a decade or three. Not good if you want your work to survive many years of ownership and admiration. If you’re worried about preserving the image rather than an original work, then I suppose it could be scanned and printed out using the Giclee process or similar, to provide with something that will last in perpetuity.


The upsides to using this paper, at least as far as I’m concerned right now, are twofold. Firstly, as I’ve said before, it possesses a surface unlike anything else. It has a course almost gritty nature to it which takes ink from the pen in a subtle way. One can employ a lightness of touch so that the pen is almost skating over the surface to leave very light, whispy lines, and then one can really build up the image by working the surface quite hard. It seems to be able to take no end of punishment from the tip of a ball point. A bonus feature is that you can apply light washes to loose sheets without suffering too much warp and distortion.


The second reason I like this paper is perhaps a bit more idiosyncratic and concerns the idea of patina. For as long as I can remember I have found the idea of objects gaining patina through their use a very appealing one. During years spent designing products the notion of how ones ownership effects the physical nature of a product over time always interested me. I found it fascinating, particularly from the point of view of someone living in what is essentially a disposable age. The way that a paint finish would rub off the corners, how once bright metals would dull through repeated handling, and how the accumulation of myriad tiny scratches and dents imbued a product with a kind of documented history. All lovely stuff. Yes, there is a mild sentimentality running through all this but, it does not purely account for my appreciation of a well used tool or favourite pair of old motorcycling gloves. So the idea that this paper will age disgracefully, take on unforeseen hues because of sunlight or pollutants in the air, and get visibly old is very appealing. Why can’t a picture show its age?

The image above shows the drawing at an early stage. Over time it kind of faded into view. I quite like the idea that it could fade out of view too.