Archive For "Life"

Adieu.

10th of May marked the very last day I would have to produce work as part of my University course. I had a verbal examination the following Friday, and am now a ‘free’ man. It’s been strange hearing all the different thoughts and feelings from my peers in the same shoes. It’s certainly a time of celebration and relaxation, at least for now. Some feel liberated, scared, excited. I think I just feel comfortable. I feel as though I’m where I always wanted to be. It’s been nice to not worry about deadlines or late deliveries, but at the same time there’s work I’m eager to start. I’ve told myself to take another week off before really settling into my planned projects – afterall, I still have my course’s publication launch event, and our degree show and graduation, that I need to attend and prepare for. So it’s not over yet, but the work is done.

And that work that was done was good, I hope. I felt confident handing it in, as my largest and most cohesive project I’ve made to date. It’s be a turbulent ride. ‘Kingdom Ka’, if you missed it, is still available to download and play for a few more weeks – completely free. I’m immensely proud of it, and will be pushing it forward alongside, Crossing to the Cold Valley, over the next few months.

There’s still books to read, films to see and people to catch up with. Not to mention people still to cheer on, as they finish their course later than mine. But yes, I feel comfortable.

Over the next six months, Carrot Cake will be my focus. I’m exciting to begin finally moving it away from a blog and portfolio, and into a brand and developer. This blog will become more of a scrapbook, development log type-deal as I take it forward. I hope you’ll stick with me. There have been many promises in the past about how I’ll be ‘relaunching’ and breathing new life into the blog. Promises are dangerous things to make, so don’t take this as one. But if there was ever a time that Carrot Cake would grow – it would be now.

For now, I’ll be giving things a bit of a sweep up around here, and update the portfolio page with everything I have.

Stay tuned.

Kingdom Ka #1 – New Beginnings

It’s been a while! And in that while the holidays and the new year have already flown by, and we found ourselves in the last part of Winter. I’ve no doubts that this year will represent a permanent shift. Certainly no part of my time in education has flown by as fast as the last three years. As things conclude in the Summer, I’ll be turning my efforts towards entirely personal projects that I’ve been excited to start work on for a number of years, as well as my freelance work.

But, as they say, summer is so close but also so far. Before then I’ll be completing my single largest body of work to conclude my time at University. It’s daunting and exciting. A few weeks have already passed me by, but I feel confident I’ve been productive. With nothing but my project on ‘Awakenings’ to complete now, it’s very theraputic to return to a fresh mindset, not dissimilar to where I found myself last year with Crossing to the Cold Valley.

I’ll be returning to Visionnaire to build another interactive designed piece. ‘Game’? Maybe. But I’ve been hesitant to describe my idea as a ‘game’ when there really isn’t anything to play. Following my investigation into Buddhism and Awakenings, I will be creating a piece where you are invited to explore a digital, fictional, ‘spiritual kingdom’ that will be mapped and made. Every corner will feature a new story, concept, conversation or imagery to consider. It will be experimental, but I’ll be working hard to not let that turn people away.

Kingdom Ka at its core is designed to be something to bring to light many ideas and states of mind to the user – parituclarly that of focusing on their own body, their selves, and their finite life. That said, there’s nothing I want less than the piece to be labelled as New Age, or (on the other end of the spectrum) cynical.

Death and rebirth will be keen topics, but explored in ways that feel contemporary and tangible. That’s the biggest challenge – making the piece feel relevant today. Because so much of life and death within religions is not, in itself, religious, but is still ignored or been made taboo. I think above everything, the piece will be a celebration of the cycle of life, and the importance of ‘living in the now’.

I’m getting ahead of myself. I’ve spent the last couple of weeks both collating stories, writing music and defining an art style. My current direction seeks to combine traditional patterns, as well as modern objects, photography, typography and sounds. I always want it to feel like something that’s aged and old that’s been strangely taken over by things that seem alien, but contemporary to us – because that’s ultimately what this will be, taking old ideas and bringing them to light in the present day.

And it’s been a lot of fun, playing with pattern work and collage, rather than my typical illustrative style, to build the world’s and characters. I’ll be sharing more in the coming weeks, but heres a quick glimpse into my efforts so far.

An Afternoon In Meditation

Over the next few weeks (and past couple weeks) I’ve been exploring the idea of ‘Wake Up’. I chose this term because there’s a great degree in which it can be explored. Of course, there’s the literal waking up we do most mornings, but also the idea of having a ‘wake up call’, so to speak. Many times we have these realizations that can very much feel like the sensation of waking up. Sometimes we wish to show things to people to wake them up about topics of politics or their lifestyles.

I’ve created a number of small, test outcomes already (all of which I hope to share here at some point), but most recently I’ve been exploring the connection between Waking Up and our consciousness. After watching CGP Grey’s fantastic video on teleportation (which, while geeking out over star trek, also delivers on some interesting food for thought) I wanted to look into the idea of the ‘self’ a little further. In essence, the argument goes, the only way for future teleportation to work is if we somehow copy all of our atoms, perfectly reproduce them somewhere else, but then delete the atoms in the original location. So is the teleported person still you? They would, of course, hold all the same memories, personality traits, experiences and so on. Regardless, it’s hard to shake the idea that your original body would have to die for the new one to exist, and then perhaps the new one is merely just a clone of you.

So, taking this idea further, if the clone at the other end isn’t you, then you start getting into ideas of ‘what is you’. If we define ourselves as a single stream of consciousness, which would be halted by this teleportation process, then likewise we have no way of knowing whether or not our consciousness dies each time we sleep, only to be replicated and replaced by an entirely new one. Sleep, after all, requires us to be unconscious. It’s impossible to know without attributing the ‘self’ as something that exists intangibly. Really it’s just something fun to think about, but it opens up a number of other questions that ought to be discussed.

When assuming the ‘self’ is something that exists beyond science, we enter the realms of spirituality. While not convinced myself, I’m certainly open to the idea. This idea of being ‘reborn’ or ‘awakened’ or even ‘enlightened’ has always interested me, though I’ve never investigated it much in the past. Haven’t really had any oppurnity to.

For my research, I decided to attend an open meditation session with the Bristol Buddhist Centre. I was very warmly welcomed as a newcomer, and explained a couple times that while I’d attempted meditation before, I never really had the patience to persist with it. We sat around a coffee table and had a short group talk, which soon ended up with our eyes closed, focussing on how our feet felt on the ground, and how it felt to be in that particular place at that particular time.

Before I knew it we were told to make our way to the other room, and without hesitation everyone got up to grab copious amounts of blankets, matts and pillows. Obviously I look a bit lost, and was selected a beginners recommended selection, which consisted of a mat, and five stacked pillows for me to sit on. Once everyone had constructed their pillow forts of maximum comfort, we were asked to pray to Buddha. This wasn’t something I was familiar with. Some did, some didn’t. I decided I would stand up and copy those that were, saying each mantra one after the other, because I felt I was there for the full experience. We sat for what I think must have been forty-five minutes, mostly in silence, occasionally pointed towards a certain thought we would replay in our heads for a piece of time.

It was quite alien for me, perhaps slightly surreal. Being sat, completed still and silent, in a room of twenty people doing exactly the same. Once the time was up (just enough time for people to get back from their lunch breaks), I certainly felt a wave of something over me – maybe calm, or refreshment. Most people grabbed their bags quite quickly and left. I stayed for a cup of tea and a chat about Waking Up, the Buddha, consciousness and so on. It was certainly interesting discussing things in this more abstract sense – something you don’t always get the opportunity to do.

It’s hard to gauge if everyone there was attempting to work their way up towards enlightenment, or feel closer to Buddha. Or maybe there’s something comforting in just sitting still for a while, maybe with a group of people, and being welcomed in. Before I left, one gentlemen got to talking with me about how much better he sleeps now since starting meditation in January. I’m sure there’s still something that’s not necessarily spiritual about the experience.

Everyone was eager to hear about my project – something I don’t always get the privilege of!

So I went home and finished of my animated typographic piece. I’m not sure why, but since going to the meditation session it all feels a bit too clinical now for the subject matter. Limited to just 30 seconds (which I liberally went over) and knowing I should probably leave the part out about Star Trek transporters, I found it very difficult to get across my ideas in this one. Adding some abstract sounds and music has given it that slight edge I was looking for. Oddly enough some sounds help illustrate some points better than when they were absent, but I feel like most of what’s trying to be said here would go over most people’s heads. It’s all a bit too fast and a bit too much.

Oh well, the animations are quite pretty.

Where’s Its Pair?

Over the past year or so I’ve been working with Jef Lippiatt over at Star Pupil Books to help illustrate a number of children’s stories. It’s been a real delight bringing these stories alive and I’ve contributed some of my best work over this time into the books will be available to purchase in the near future.

I’ve illustrated a handful of children’s books before, but it’s very exciting to announce that Star Pupil Books has published its first story ‘Where’s Its Pair’ featuring illustrations from yours truly – making me, for the first time, a published illustrator. It’s a fun little story that looks at the secret lives of those socks that go missing one day and never seem to return, resulting in you having a collection of unwelcome odd socks.

socks

 

The story really lent itself to creating a cast of different socks and their personalities in various quirky situations. I really wanted to capture that sense of mischeif that I think is only natural to associate with unruly socks, but always to be clear to the reader that they’re only doing it because they’re adventerous at heart, and simply can’t help themselves.

Jef’s written a really charming story here, which is currently available at the US Amazon Kindle store, and is more than worth the $3 asking price (if I can say so myself). I’ve been informed the book will become available in other regions quite soon.

There’s a good few more books that are finished up and on the way, and we’re in the process of illustrating yet another short story right now. After all this work over the last year and a half it’s great to finally see it in the wide world, and I hope you’ll enjoy what Jef and I have in store in the coming months.

Buy 'Where's Its Pair?'

 

Always Autumn

It’s surreal to think it’s been three months. Summer is over, and as we encroach on the Autumn seasons, University will begin its course. Even more surreal is that I’ll be entering the third and final year of study, and very soon will be leaving the world of education, most likely for good. Such is life, and I’m as excited as I am daunted by the prospect.

But let’s not dwell so much on the future. I’ve had a very busy and productive summer working on a number of projects that I’m very proud of. Most prominantly, I’ve been working with the guys at Brain Crack Games working on an upcoming card/board game to be known as ‘Treasonable Doubt’. I’ve been tasked with completely setting the look for the game, which is set in a sort of mish-mash of Prohibition America, Film Noire and the Cuban Revolution. It’s been a great deal of fun working on the designs and tone of each piece, and it’s incredibly exciting to be developing a commercial game for the first time.

The Kickstarter will be launching soon, and I’ll be sharing more details and artwork here on the blog alongside that, but for now I thought I’d just share some of the concept artwork I created when starting the project back in mid-June. Created very quickly, these were just to get a real sense of shape and colour that each character would occupy – setting the silhouettes and personalities for the primary characters of the game. Although very rough, I think taking the time to create art like this as quickly as possible is very good practice. I’ve always had a softspot for pieces like this, both because they’re a blast to do but also because they’re much more wild and abstract than the final drawing tends to be. Some sketches here work better than others, that’s a given, but once you’re able to pick and choose, then you start getting an interesting and considered design.

SecretPolice_ConceptArt2 TheDictator_ConceptArt TheDictator_ConceptArt2 TheSmuggler_ConceptArt

Stay tuned for more ‘Treasonable Doubt’ in the coming days.