20.3.16

Mission Statement: Drawn


Jean Dubuffet: Expériences Musicales LP (1961)

It probably needs pointing out, in a kind of "news" announcement, that I'm working on more drawings and demonstrating more interest in the intersection between drawn illustration and music. I'm often guilty of being of being a bit withdrawn and oblique - a bit autistic perhaps - so I think it's important for me to spell this out as a strategic statement. This is what the "Drawn" tag on the blog is all about and what my fledgling Instagram feed is dedicated to. In time I aim to take this art project much further.


Gerard Hoffnung.

Historically there has been an incredibly rich and intense crossover between music and hand-drawn illustration. Certainly, of course, "comics" but not not "comics" as such. "Comics" suggest pictures - that's to say fully-conceived images - but not, as such drawings. Some comics aren't even drawn. "What's the difference" you say? Surely I am just splitting hairs? Think of it this way, a drawing can be a picture but in the way that it often turns its back on the spectator, and is about the intense relationship between the pencil and paper, can just as easily not be a picture. A picture is always designed to be consumed as such - is unusually mindful of its own composition - whereas with a drawing any compositional assets are generally a happy side-effect. With the drawing its compositional and aesthetic power is usually a by-product of its magnetised execution.


Robert Crumb.


Jean-Michel Basquiat: Beat Bop 12" (1981)


Keith Haring.

For me the relationship is best illustrated by precedent and specifically in the work of a number of illustrators, heroes, who define the syndrome. Blues collector Robert Crumb is surely the dean of this axis of drawing music-obsessives; but there are precedents even to him in the disparate likes of the gloriously frivolous cartoons of Gerard Hoffnung to recording artist Jean Dubuffet's intensely engraved scatological studies. Like recorded music, theirs is a ritualisation of the act of inscription - this is why their drawing is an analogous to music and why music is often their subject matter. Think too of other pop-art greats like Jean-Michel Basquiat and Keith Haring for whom music and the drawn line were somehow indivisible. In the UK the journalists of the "inkies" had as their spiritual siblings the music-obsessed artisans Brian Bolland and Jamie Hewlett. Equally, of course in the sleeve art of the great LimoniousPedro Bell and Dave Nodz. Indeed, so indelible now is the link between line illustration and music that it has almost become a cliché - if one which is rarely discussed formally, occupying as it does, between proper formal disciplines, a gutter terrain of seeming inconsequence.


Brian Bolland. The Residents "Harry The Head" Artwork.


Jamie Hewlett: Gorillaz.

Old friends will remember that doodles did occasionally form a part of the old Woebot 1.0 blog. Years before I wrote I drew comics about music. Earlier still, in the mid-nineties I used to give these away in record stores like the long defunct Ambient Soho. A spell at St Martin's Art College studying Cel Animation in 2002 nearly destroyed my impulse to draw and in my work I've travelled further and further from drawing into the deep waters of Motion Graphics, Compositing and CG. Recently however, whilst working on my epic animation "Vitamin C", a major project which has now taken over three years, but which will be reaching completion in 2016, I've found myself drawing more and more. Indeed drawing has formed the backbone of the film. I love doing it and want to do more of it.