[Art Schooled] Andrew Bastow chats collaboration and education
One of the best things about going to art school has been meeting all of the incredibly talented people. I have plans to showcase some of their brilliant work within the 'Art Schooled' column...starting today with Andrew Bastow.
Originally from Sheffield, Andrew Bastow lives in Edinburgh, while studying Illustration at Duncan Of Jordanstone College of Art and Design, Dundee. Andrew was a direct entry to the course – like myself – and so went straight into the 2nd year this September. Earlier in the year, Andrew launched ‘Sketchhead Projects’ – a new platform for him to showcase his illustrative work. ‘Sketchhead Projects‘ also functions as a small press for illustrated books and magazines, the first of which came in the form of The Ice Chronicles. Set on board an almighty Antarctic ice-breaking vessel, the book is the first in a new series of titles Andrew is creating in collaboration with writer Peter Hopes.
After reading The Ice Chronicles, I invited Andrew to chat about how he created it, and how he’s finding university life so far…
Hi Andrew! So, can you tell us about yourself you and your work?
Well, I’m an illustrator and cartoonist based in Edinburgh. I’m prone to a fairly graphic sensibility, favouring very clean looking linear drawings that are still recognisably hand made. I’m still learning and adapting but hopefully I’m becoming known for a particular style of artwork that people can come to me for.
Can you tell us more about The Ice Chronicles?
The Ice Chronicles is on going series of picture books that revolves around a giant ice breaking boat and it’s crew on the frozen seas of Antarctica. The first volume depicts a giant rogue wave smashing into the ship as they navigate the hazardous Drake Passage. We aim for a little salty humour and some old fashioned TinTin style adventure. The stories themselves are inspired by the real life experiences of seafarer Peter Hopes, with some embellishment of course, and more than a few outright lies!
This marks the first collaboration between us but there are many more instalments planned with lots of potential to get a bit weird with it. I’ve read Peter’s other stories and they definitely get more elaborate and outrageous. Hopefully I’ll reflect that in the artwork.
Aesthetically it owes a debt to the cartoonists who have inspired me over the years, particularly Hergé, Alex Toth and Jack Kirby. The characters and setting don’t appear to be period specific. There are historical elements such as things reminiscent of Shackleton’s expedition, kind of juxtaposed with modern technology. I liked the idea of it being set in the modern era but the characters are all really eccentric and dress like they’re from the 1800’s.
How did you meet the author Peter Hopes? And when did you decide to collaborate?
I had the pleasure of working with Peter approaching nigh on a decade ago in a fairly unpleasant workplace in Edinburgh that shall remain nameless, not that they don’t deserve the notoriety. He then left me to fend for myself while he explored the South Pole. He was writing these stories the whole time he was away, and we stayed in touch with speculative plans to do a project together. This year we finally made it happen.
Can you tell us a bit about your creative process? How long did all the images take to create?
My creative process for this book was fairly swift. Once we had the copy proof read and finalised by someone that speaks English better than the both of us I was able to knock out a couple of drawings a day. I would pencil and ink them, then apply colour in Photoshop. Not exactly revolutionary but fast and effective. The arduous part was the research involved for the costumes and vehicles. I did a lot of trawling through nautical imagery and pictures of historical expeditions.
What was the biggest challenge when creating the illustrations? And what was the best bit?
Aside from the research element, the biggest challenge was actually designing the book. I had a fair amount of help from a very experienced designer who is also a bit of a typography expert, but mostly I worked alone on this. I learned on the job – as it were – but I think it turned out pretty great. It’s probably the aspect I’m most proud of to be honest.
At the risk of sounding glib, the best part was finishing it and getting it out there. The feeling of having a tactile thing in your hands that you’ve made is pretty gratifying.
Have you started work on book two yet?
We’ve done pretty well with this one, so we’ve started thinking about book two for sure. It’s just a case of choosing which story to pick from and finding the time to do it amongst everything else I have to do. I think we’ll have it ready for early summer of 2018. Seems like a good amount of time. There’s a fun story called ‘The Devil Is In The Detail’ where the crew meet Satan on Detail Island, which is a real place, which sounds like it would be really fun to draw. I’m pushing for that one to be the next entry!
You live in Edinburgh. What would you describe its creative scene?
I wouldn’t know. I’m so far removed from anything like that. I occasionally go to things and talk to people involved, but I think people in the art world just feel sorry for me and think being a cartoonist warrants as much respect as being a birthday clown…
You recently started started studying Illustration as DJCAD. What made you decide to go and study?
I’ve gone back to study to get better at what I do really. I think being afforded the opportunity to study something you love is a great privilege, and while Scotland is still offering free tuition I’d be daft to turn it down. Also, going back to the last question I answered quite facetiously; it would be great to get more involved with people and collaborate on new projects. I’ve always been a student of illustration in a way but the facilities available at DJCAD are so good it’s hopefully taking my work to a new level. Just don’t expect to find me in the student union on a Friday night.
Finally, are you working on any exciting projects at the moment?
I have a long gestating graphic novel project in the works that I want to get out there as soon as possible. It’s kind of a horror/mystery set in a fictional Northern city. Picture Saturday Night Sunday Morning crossed with Halloween and you’re nearly there.
You can order a copy of The Ice Chronicles here.