Awkward Hippos

Monoprint of Hippos

Monoprint of Hippos

I’m Working on several images that may feature in a new children’s story…I tried emulating the brush pen line drawings that I’ve been working on recently, the other image is a more solid approach which would suit block colour…both have a certain charm and its dependent on how I would develop the story and the other creatures/characters in the proposed book.

My intention was to colour the hippo in a shade of lilac/blue, an un-natural shade but one that would suit the creature admirably. One of the factors that needs to be taken into account is that children are able to be very open and receptive to un-natural colour schemes, therefore having a blue creature accentuates the hues within its natural skin tones. Im also wanting to capture some of the spirit of Paul Rand and Bruno Munari’s children’s books. Simple forms and primary colours allow for a modernist feel and when these same colours are free to overprint then the secondary colours can startle and add a dynamic addition.


Original Art Work to be Auctioned

I’m currently based in the new Parkside campus of Birmingham City University, within the newly established Faculty of Arts, Design and Media ( formerly the faculty was BIAD, Birmingham Institute of Art and Design). We moved into our new space eight months ago and since then its all been about adapting to new teaching spaces and getting used to a more open and ‘open door’ way of life…One of the big decisions has been to forego the traditional degree show for something more proactive and entrepreneurial, were calling it a Graduate Festival and its taking place between 12 and 17 June in Birmingham.

One such  initiative was to open the studio space up to include pop up shops, visible marketing for the school, selling stalls, a Portfolio Day as well as an Awards event and a School Open Day. Amongst the array of activities  is an auction of original work which will include industry names as well as work by staff and students. I was given the chance to coordinate this which meant approaching people such as the wonderfully accommodating Jonny Hannah as well as asking staff and students to donate work. Rather than ask my team of illustration staff I decided that this being the inaugural event I’d do a new piece especially for the event.

Some years back when I moved into a new office I decided to make an ‘Art for Office’ piece, it was a large charcoal drawing and it now hangs in my home, but whilst it was on public show it got many comments and so I decided to repeat the theme of the androgynous silhouette morphing into a rather round droplet. The new work is primarily charcoal and pastel and was drawn onto Fabriano Rosapina, that special paper with the creamy rose hue, so sympathetic to rich black marks and etching ink.

So on the 13 June at 7.00pm this along with eight other originals will go under the hammer and all money raised will go towards student support funds within the School of Visual Communication.

charcoal drawing

Auction piece


“The free bird thinks of another breeze…”

Some inspiring work by Sara, check out her latest work at

Sara Kulman Paper Play

The Free Bird

“The free bird thinks of another breeze

and the trade winds soft through the sighing trees.”

This book, Little Folks Treasure Book, was thrown out from the school that I now work. With no immediate use for the contents I have taken the backboard, which is covered in paper and cut out words to reveal the pulp board underneath. The intricacy of the printed design provides an interesting backdrop to the words, which were taken from a poem by Maya Angelou titled Caged Bird.

This is not the first time I have used a book cover in this way. I am fascinated by the way you can carefully remove layers from book cloths and papers to reveal different surfaces. I used this as a test to see if my cutting machine was capable of cutting type part way through a surface. It proved its self quite well although there is no room for…

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Two New Wood Engravings

I’m not sure why it’s take so long to  finally pluck up the courage and use the array of razor sharpened tools, incise the polished wood surfaces and print the resultant engravings? I first happened upon the seductive box wood blocks over 30 years ago, in Leeds, my place of study…it was enough to just caress the blocks, knowing that Bewick, Tenniel, Ravilious had  taken the medium of wood engraving to  extraordinary levels  of achievement.

Perhaps it was the ignorance of the tools, maybe the relatively simple Lino cut was closer to my natural cutting ability, who knows ? Finally this year I engraved my first blocks, tentative, over cautious but determined and wholly prepared to accept the slips and misshapes…the first block was a challenge and the result would accompany me to the Double Crown Club Dinner where I was a guest of Christopher Brown, what could be a more fitting  occasion to produce a wood engraving? After all such masters of the medium were esteemed members.

I made the engraving, Sara, my wife produced elegant display folders and we placed them into protective glassine envelopes recently bought in NYC. The reaction at the DCC was positive and John Lawrence, a master of the medium gave me plenty of ample encouragement.

So now I’m showcasing two recent engravings, Tree of a Life and Explosion, both different in approach but representative of my ever growing confidence.

New cuts

Wood engravings