James Keith Professional Practice
Contents 3. Drawing, My Escape 5. My Practice 7. Influences 11. Penda 13. Pre-major 15. Major 19. Presence 21. Social Media 23. Whats Over The Fence?
Drawing, My Escape Living in the country was both an incredible gift and a curse when I was growing up. Being surrounded by nature gave me opportunities that many are without , it wasnâ€™t until I moved to Bournemouth and met the incredibly diverse range of people from different backgrounds and origins this made me realise how truly lucky I had been. When I was younger however all I wanted was to live in a city so I could skateboard as much as I wanted and be surrounded by graffiti. For me drawing was an escape from what I thought was the quiet and boring into the bold, loud and exciting. I wanted to explore the worlds I saw in comic books, cartoons and skateboard videos, these are a few of the main things that that made me fall in love with drawing, line and colour and continue to be influences and motivators to this day.
My Practice Line For me there is immense beauty in the stark contrast and cleanliness of plain black line on a white surface. I feel that sometimes eliminating the often-distracting aspect of colour from drawing can free myself up and allow me to focus purely on my treatment of line and compositional arrangement. I feel like over the course of level 6 I’ve found the combination of drawing methods that works best for me and as a result I feel my work has developed and improved dramatically.
Product Throughout my life I have always been a collector of things, (toys, comics, magazines) I really enjoy having physical objects that you can touch, feel or even customize your self. During my development as an illustrator the awareness of how I’m going to make a living has always been at the back of my mind, most likely due to it being ingrained into my psyche by my Dad. Creating products with my work has been a longstanding goal of mine and through the vehicle of Penda I am finally realising that goal.
Fashion I have always been interested in aspects of fashion, in particular the idea of our clothes being the outward projection of ourselves that are on view for all to see. I tend to be more interested in the areas of fashion that actually contain companies that consider themselves ‘lifestyle brands’ rather than purely clothing labels. Through my following of these brands the desire to create my own was ignited.
Influences Jeremy Fish I discovered Jeremy Fish as a happy accident when I bought an issue of Juxtapoz Art and Culture Magazine on eBay with a bunch of other art books. The article on Jeremy Fish not only began my love of his work but also the magazine as a whole, which has introduced me to some of my favourite practitioners and I remain a subscriber to this day. It was the graphical, nonsensical nature and subtle messages of Fishâ€™s work that captured my attention. However it is not just his work that inspired me, his disposition and background story of a fine art student, turned graffiti artist, turned illustrator opened my eyes to the possibilities of where I could take my work and helped me realise the enormous breadth of illustration as a practice. Fig. 1 & 2
Fig. 3 & 4
Mike Giant has been an enormous influence on my work and me for a very long time, his treatment of line and composition continues to amaze and motivate me. Giant is a humble individual of acute self-awareness. He is a keen student of eastern philosophies and practitioner of Buddhist techniques of meditation. This in turn fuels his practice and helps him retain focus. Giant is the head designer for Rebel 8 clothing, as well as exhibiting his art and working as an illustrator and tattoo artist. He is definitely an individual I aspire to in terms of emerging myself in my practice and dedication to the game.
Cartoons and Video Games Old Cartoons and video games have always been huge influences of my work as well as being sources of entertainment. Cartoons like Biker Mice From Mars, Street Sharks and Secret Squirrel as well as video games like Super Mario Bros, Metroid and Metal Slug are just a few favourites. The short, simple stories coupled with bright colours and bold outlines are all aspects that have been present in my work throughout my artistic development.
Skateboarding Skateboarding has been with me for around half of my life, it has moulded me as an individual in more ways that I am probably aware of. I can definitely say with absolute certainty that skateboarding has become a part of me. The graphics on the boards, in the videos and on the clothing have always influenced me massively as a practitioner as well as my work ethic and outlook on problem solving. In skateboarding its all on you, the individual, you cannot take the easy way out blaming your shortcomings on anyone else, it teaches you to be sure of yourself and not give up. Skateboarding, much like illustration is a practice and practice makes perfect (or close enough). For me, they are two seperate but related aspects of my creative personality. Just as much as my illustration is an extension of me, so too is the way I skate. Fig. 6
Travel To me travel is an extremely important aspect of my life and work, in this current internet age I can find myself spending too much time at my computer kidding myself that I’m exploring other interesting places, people and cultures by researching. However there’s nothing that equals experiencing it first hand and taking it in with all senses. Visiting Far East Asia, East Africa and the USA were the three most incredible trips I have been on.
Penda Over the last two years at university I have been using my illustration work to build a brand under the name Penda. The aim was to create a brand with which I could use my illustrations to adorn clothing and other products. It was also due to slight disappointment in some of the brands I have followed and admired for some yearsâ€Ś The state of the street wear and skateboarding apparel industries are changing and evolving. In my opinion some brands have become elitist and overpriced, as a fan this is both off-putting and saddening for me. For this reason one of the main aims I intend to try and always implement with my running of Penda is pricing my products fairly and not ripping off my followers in return for their loyalty! The following pages are a breakdown of how the projects developed over the last year.
Pre-Major Project This period of time was extremely important and influential with the development of Penda as a brand. Towards the tail end of level 5 I had begun to work almost exclusively digitally and over the summer I very much rediscovered my love of analogue drawing! I was producing a lot of drawings that were moving in a direction I was happy with. The only problem was I think I was maybe a little over-inspiredâ€Ś I was producing plenty of work but there was far too much variety in content, I was drawing imagery from cultures from all over the world and was struggling to find a coherent and definite direction to push the brand further towards. After considering advice from tutors and my peers I decided to simplify things and focus on anchoring the brand around my gnome character, Jerome. This is really the point when Penda was bornâ€Ś
On our trip to London we had two lectures from practicing illustrators, which for me were the most engaging and interesting external lectures of my university experience! I have been a fan of Pete Fowlerâ€™s work in designer vinyl for some time however Matthew Bromley I had not heard of. His story and struggle really hit home with me and I found him truly inspiring. Fig. 7 Matthew Bromley - Pink Creature
Major Project It was in the Major project that things really got into full swing; I managed to find what I feel to be my sweet spot between digital and analogue methodologies. This extended project really allowed me to get Jerome to the point I wanted him and then I was able to have some fun and explore him getting up to a bundle of mischief. I am really happy with the designs I ended up choosing for the Gno Mo Promo line I managed to achieve an aesthetic that I feel suits the ethos of Penda and allowed me to compliment my black and white drawings with accented colour. However the area of my practice that has improved the most is my screen-printing. Through generating 2 runs of 3 colour paper prints and 3 different double sided, multiple colour t-shirt prints I have definitely had my fair share of problems to overcome. I have truly come to understand that with screen-printing there are no shortcuts, you have to go through the motions of making the mistakes and learning from them. That being said, my printer gnome and I are an extremely efficient team and managed to finish the run with next to no wasted t-shirts. Another major part of the production process that I have gained much more insight into is the value of concise, clear communication especially when dealing with outsourced products and/or services. Once you include outside factors you are no longer one hundred percent in control of things as you have to take into account others deadlines as well as your own. That being said the line was finished on schedule with a plethora of promotional material and other knickknacks to showcase what Penda is all about!
Presence Website Creating the website proved to be one of the more problematic tasks with creating my online presence. After trying out Tumblr and Weebly to varying degrees of success I ended up finally settling on Squarespace, I really liked the intuitive design in-built store option. The website will be the place where the public will be able to buy the product, view related media and look at all the other work I choose to showcase. These will be organised into different collections changing with each print run/line release. This will result in the website hopefully becoming an organised and varied catalogue of not only finished product, but also designs and tests that didnâ€™t make the final cut, but fans still might want to see. For now they are simply organised into Black and White and Colour as this is the most concise way of dividing my work, after the Gno Mo Promo release they will be consolidated under that title. Visitors to the site will also be able to look at the blog page on which I post developmental stage drawings and updates with added information around the inner workings of the brand. There is also a contact page and the site is linked to all of my social media outlets.
Instagram is a resource that I use to show not only finished and developmental work related to Penda but also photographs of inspiration or just what is going on where I am. It is a lot more of a visual diary for the brand. This app is also media linked.
Facebook is the fastest and easiest way I will be able to communicate to my followers the day to day workings and keep them updated with upcoming products, offers, competitions etc. I will also continue to fill it with imagery especially in these early stages, as it is most important to get the name and work out there as much as possible. Having a Facebook page also allows me to communicate with customers and fans quickly, easily and on the move. The Facebook page is linked into the social media web also.
Tumblr Tumblr has become more of a background amalgamation of all uploads, updates and goodies from the full range of online media, I have it arranged in a stripped back image heavy layout as I want it to be a jumble of all things Penda.
Pendaâ€™s overall following on social media so far isnâ€™t anything to brag about however production has been the main focus, now that has been completed itâ€™s full steam ahead and the progress that has been made so far is very promising!
Now I have created a small amount of stock to be able to showcase what the brand is about and the execution of the product; I will be launching the store on the website as soon as possible. I will then be promoting the brand through social media and at both our Bournemouth and London exhibitions. The private views will be an excellent opportunity to see how the greater public views the brand, not just necessarily my target audience. I will continue this throughout the summer, printing as they sell all the while working on what’s coming for winter and hopefully the first full official line release! Come October I am off on my next trip back to the USA for a month and a half, with the sole purpose of attempting to stretch Penda’s reach across the pond. There are a number of meetings in the pipeline to hopefully stop off at along the trip with artists and agencies to learn more about the American way of doing things, which will hopefully help Penda gain a foothold on American soil.
What happens after that depends on how fruitful my promotional efforts have been… If sales take off and we get real traction then I will need to be based back here and work from my home studio and the printing cabin. Processing orders, working on new designs, having photo shoots and keeping things interesting! If there isn’t huge traction yet then I will be adding another trip to Europe to continue promotion, inspiration and development for the rest of the year. If… pah! WHEN the Brand begins to get a real following and is being received well, as revenue grows I want to continue to increase the quality of the product as well as the design whilst still trying to keep my prices from becoming elitist and segregating. I want to expand the range of products, delve into new areas surrounding the brand’s ethos and engage in collaborations! I would love to take Penda on more official tours with artists and athletes and visit trade shows such as Bread & Butter in Berlin, The Agenda Show in California and Margin in London.
OF SCHIEF MI
Ultimately the end goal is to make Penda the biggest, and best it can possibly be, meet and work with new, interesting and inspiring people, produced good quality products and have a blast while I’m doing it!
What’s Over The Fence?
Links Of Relevance Here are all the links you will need to stay in the loop with Pendaâ€™s future as seen on my business cards!
Figure List. 1. Jeremy Fish (http-//www.fecalface.com/good_stuff/jeremy_fish/JeremyFish-1) 2. Jeremy Fish (http-//news.upperplayground.com/wp-content/uploads/2010/11/JEREMY_FISH_RACCOON_MOTOR) 3. Mike Giant (http-//www.mikegiant.com/fineart. php?id=1&page=2&pic=113) 4. Mike Giant (http-//www.mikegiant.com/fineart. php?id=1&page=1&pic=3) 5. Bike Mice From Mars (http-//www.bikermice.tv/downloads/BMFM_2006poster) 6. Sidewalk, A Day In The City. DVD (http://mpora.com/videos/KOD79hyJT) 7.Matthew Bromley (http://www.thefoxisblack. com/2012/01/24/bats-goblins-and-creatures-by-matthewbromley/)