Saturday, 7 September 2013

bio auto graphic - what I did this summer (and early autumn)

This the 23rd in my series of 'zine' publications called 'bio auto graphic'.

"Londonaut!" maps the outside onto the inside, the public to the private - and vice versa - while celebrating the delirious enormity of the capital city. In June and July I twice walked the same circuitous route across it, and saw what there was to see.
Finishing the book has been as satisfying as completing those journeys.
Just in a different way.

Published since 2004, the series has since been exhibited internationally, and collected privately and publically, including Tate and V & A Collections in London. 

Please do come along to the London Art Book Fair at the Whitechapel Gallery between Friday September 13th and Sunday 15th to catch-up, dig deep (this is a mere £4) and
visit Mette Ambeck and I.
See her stuff at

You'd be most welcome.

Thanks are due to Charlie Higson – who in some ways is responsible for the series, after a suggestion all those years ago – for Tweeting a link to this today. Good man.

NB - If you look to the right-hand bar of this blog, below my BBC reminiscences I have also added a sequence of the photographs from the 2nd of the London walks to give a flavour of things I saw. Do take a spin through them.

N16 - bio auto graphic Number 23 - fourth and fifth fragments

Usually all I need's a pencil, sketchbook and ink to finish.
This time the creative toolbox needed some extras (two of each).

N16 - bio auto graphic Number 23 - third peek

The value of a sketchbook traditionally - at least for me, and it's how I've worked whether as a professional illustrator or storyboard artist - lies in the record it holds of the journey forward towards a final idea.
The evidence is there. No delete button. It stands. 
You can look back at what didn't work - after the pain subsides - and this helps you understand the necessity for failure on the way to a hopefully more satisfying final version of something.
Successive iterations are vital.

The myth of the 'creative spark', the revelatory 'Eureka!' moment is largely that.
Hard graft sounds less sexy, but is a familiar companion to anybody who makes a genuine living from being creative.

Sometimes there are plenty of notions (and in this case I'm talking about ideas that are a conflation of words and image) that just don't quite make it, even if I quite like their look or message.
Along the evolutionary road of creative work it's quite easy - indeed desirable - to be open to a sudden change of direction, so things get left behind.

My latest considers notions of the diminishment of self - achieved by walking and diet, in my case.
Added to my usual agenda of gently pointing out to the reader how everything links up. . .

Here is a thumbnail that didn't quite go anywhere.

N16 - bio auto graphic Number 23 - second bite

My sketchbook for this edition so far stands at over 50 pages of plotting, writing, drawing (it is a sketchbook after all) - and over 130 photos that I took as I returned along the same route a second time.
Here I am breaking down the beginning of my journey in Stoke Newington, London N16 into a thumbnail for the inside cover and first page proper.
My process was thus:
Take the 1st walk on Saturday June 8th - think about what happened - chart it on Google Map and take screensnaps for a visual record - write and draw - nail exactly the page-count (it fell nicely into 14 pages covering the journey, within front and back covers to give a full 16 pages) - write and draw more - finally take the same walk again on Saturday July 20th - this time with camera at the ready.
Then - repeat the thinking, writing, drawing process.

Click on any of these images and they'll get bigger, if you're a detail freak (I know I am).

Ensixteen Editions - bio auto graphic Number 23 - taster 1

It's been some time in the making, over what's been a Summer full of the unexpected - and not all in a good way - but finally the next of my series is about to be finished, ready for launching at the 2013 London Art Book Fair next weekend, at the Whitechapel Gallery (more of which in other nearby posts and also on their own website

This is the first of a small selection of glimpses into my sketchbook.
They'll obviously be in reverse order as I blog them here.