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© Nathan Evans Illustration 2017

‘Operation Doomflex’ – Group Exhibition

I was recently invited by Jonny Akers and Lukas Wigflex to take part in their MF DOOM inspired group show ‘Operation Doomflex’, hosted by Two’s Company Studios in Bristol.

Jonny Akers is a screen printer by trade and I’ve known him since we met in Leeds a few years back. I’ve witnessed him at work in his print studio and know his attention to detail is impeccable, so I knew this exhibition would have that same high standard that he achieves in his printing. Once he listed some of the amazing artists involved and mentioned that all the work was inspired by MF DOOM, I was in.

Operation Doomflex Flyer – Greg (Alleykats)

The theme of the show was perfect for me. I had already produced a series of hand lettering based on MF DOOM lyrics with my MF DOOM Typog-RAP-hy series. I usually like to produce new work for shows, but in the build up to this exhibition I had a small skateboarding accident that took my drawing arm out of action. I decided to re-colour two of the original pieces from my MF DOOM Typog-RAP-hy series and produce one off art prints, especially for the show.

Nathan Evans Illustration

On Friday 5th May 2017 after some last minute plinth painting, a little curating and some super quick hanging of the work, the exhibition was open to the public. It didn’t take long for the space to fill up and before long the the gallery was full of people taking in the work. I always find it’s a good sign if you turn up to an exhibition and it’s too busy to be able to stand in front of the work.

Steve Gumm of Two’s Company Studios was the DJ for the night and provided a real nice Hip-Hop soundtrack, which really strengthened the viewing of the work. When I wasn’t standing at the bar trying to win a limited edition t-shirt on hand-made MF DOOM scratch cards, I was cruising around chatting with people and meeting some of the other artists showing work.


Operation Doomflex Opening Night (5/5/2017)

The air was filled with discussions about which pieces were peoples favourites and why. Asking people what they think about the work is what I love about opening nights and they’re usually honest because the booze is flowing.

I also like to share my own opinions, so here’s some of my favourite pieces in the show…

Trap Toys
I’ve always had a huge fascination with bootleg toys and Trap Toys create amazing Hip-Hop inspired custom action figures, that just make you want to own them. This MF DUFF piece is no exception and when I heard that they had produced 130 and hand-painted each one individually, I was blown away.


Figure: Trap Toys – Backing: RichT & 45RPM

RichT & 45RPM
I’m a sucker for detail and RichT’s illustrative comic book influenced ink work is full of it! You can spend an age exploring the various intricacies within his line work and this piece didn’t disappoint. I’m a big fan of 45RPM’s strong simple graphic cartoon style too.

RichT – 45RPM

Greg (Alleykats)
As soon as we hung the work I was strangely drawn to the amazing spaced out laser beam Alleykats piece. It’s not the kind of work I’m typically drawn to but after some deliberation I figured out that the colour scheme along with the overall feel that the print was giving me was a winning combination.

Greg (Alleykats)

Eko
Last but certainly not least, the Eko piece. An exciting moment for me was accidentally meeting Eko the day before the show whilst he was dropping off the original artwork he produced for MF DOOM’s limited edition Danger DOOM album. He’s worked on multiple MF DOOM album covers in the past, so I had a great opportunity to geek out a little and ask him some design questions about some of my favourite albums. To have my work alongside the original artwork of one of my favourite MF DOOM albums feels pretty amazing.

Eko – Nathan Evans Illustration

This brilliant collection of work from a selection of seriously talented artists will be on display until mid June 2017. So if like me you have a love for illustration, or you’re a big MF DOOM fan, head down to Two’s Company Studios and check it out. There will also be a closing wrap party on Saturday 10th June 2017 from 10am to 11pm.

Thanks to everyone involved and to all those visiting the exhibition and showing their support.


Featured Artists:
Trap Toys, 45RPM, Tony Riff, RichT, Philth, Cheba, Aero, Greg (Alleykats), Eject, Nathan Evans, J.A.P.P, Idle1, Lukas Wigflex, Electric Mustard.

‘Brothers, Sisters’ – Charity Group Exhibition

I was recently invited by James from The Gallimaufry to be part of ‘Brothers, Sisters’ – a group illustration exhibition in support of the American Civil Liberties Union. Myself and 9 other Bristol based artists and illustrators were asked to create a piece responding to the theme of equality and diversity.

I always aim to get involved in at least one charity project a year and this cause was something I personally really wanted to support. I chose to focus on the recent ridiculous ‘Trump travel ban’, producing a bold hand lettering piece carrying a strong positive message of ‘Unity In Diversity’, utilising an American flag inspired colour palette.

Each artist print is available to buy, with 50% going to the illustrator and the other 50% going to the ACLU Nationwide: protecting civil liberties & fighting against discrimination. The collection of work will be on display in The Gallimaufry throughout March 2017. If you are interested in buying the piece and supporting the cause, you can drop in to The Gallimaufry or contact them.

Featured artists:
Anna Higgie, Dave Bain, Hana Sunny, Lisa Rose, Loch Ness, Marj Newnham, Nathan Evans, Tabitha Panter, Tommy Parker and Sam Rowe

Falmouth University 2nd Year Illustration Students Talk

During my involvement as a guest speaker at the AOI Discusses: Making More Money event, I met fellow illustrator Dave Bain. We shared similar views on a range of topics and following on from the discussion, he invited me to present a talk to a group of Falmouth University 2nd year Illustration students. The subject Dave asked me to explore was one very close to my heart,

‘Working outside of the studio and going big with your work’.

I arrived at Hamilton House on the day of the talk and Dave introduced me to the tutors from Falmouth University. I’ve always been fascinated to find out about the different ways universities are teaching their Illustration courses, so I spoke to the tutors and a handful of students to get a good sense of their course structure. I felt like knowing this beforehand would help me tailor certain parts of my talk, ensuring the students got the most value from my words.

Once everyone had arrived, we moved upstairs into event space. There were a total of five talks scheduled for the day, from a diverse bunch of talented illustrators.

Harriet Lee-Merrion was the first illustrator to take the floor, giving a wonderfully structured insight into how the world of editorial illustration operates. I particularly enjoyed Harriet’s story about when she was commissioned by a German mattress company, who alongside her payment also offered to give her a free mattress. It was a wonderful example of one of those obscure yet beautiful moments you encounter as a freelance illustrator.

Anna Higgie and Sarah Dennis spoke as a duo and delivered a high energy presentation about the power of social media, offering the students some practical tips on how to get the most from it. Anna also referenced a project where she had successfully turned around 30 portrait illustrations in just two weeks, which certainly impressed the entire room! I’m a big advocate of the importance of a strong work ethic and Anna’s story was a beautiful example of that.


Hana Sunny Whaler
 covered the same topic as myself – ‘Working outside of the studio and going big with your work’. Hana spoke about her love for lettering, creating the work you want to be known for and not being afraid to try new things with your work. She also touched on the more practical aspects of painting on-site for clients and some of the problems you encounter as a result. As a muralist myself, I could definitely relate to her chilling tales of painting outside in the winter months!

Following on from Hana, it was time for me to present my talk. I was very excited to get started and to share my ideas with both the students and the other guest speakers.

I started by talking about the sense of escapism and separation from my desk that working outside of the studio has provided for me over the years. I then spoke about how working on a large scale can open up new avenues for learning, opportunities for being commissioned and also allow for an organic approach to collaboration between artists. I went on to stress the huge importance of personal projects, referencing some of my own experiences where my own self-initiated work had subsequently resulted in client commissions. My favourite of which was the time I painted a self-initiated mural in a Leeds sewer. Through pure chance an art director saw the painting from a photography studio window above the sewer, contacted me and commissioned me for my Elmwood Studios – Yorkshire Welcomes Le Tour project. This gave the students an important insight into how commissions really can come from anywhere and highlighted why it is useful to apply your illustration to a larger format.

Dave Bain also explored the same topic as Hana and I. Dave referenced his recent project for the Bristol Royal Hospital for Children, concisely guiding the students through the entire project process. It was a truly brilliant project and his talk gave the students a great sense of the steps required when taking an idea from initial concept to final execution for a client.

Once the individual talks were over, there was a Q&A session for the students. The focus of the Q&A was to try and demystify the often overwhelming subject of transitioning between university life and the professional industry after graduating. The best advice I gave to the students was to not get worried about the fact they don’t yet have any ‘real client work’ in their portfolios. I told them to instead focus their time and energy on producing high quality personal projects which showcase their style. I remember when I graduated I had a huge misconception that I needed proven client work in my portfolio in order to be commissioned, but it’s simply not the case. I also touched on my theory of a sliding scale when pricing commissions. This involves considering both budget attached to a project and your own personal interest in taking on the project.

My main aim that day was to hopefully inspire the students and make them feel more confident about their futures in the industry. This was realised when one of the students approached us and said:

“Thank you all for your advice, I feel a lot better about graduating now…”

Guest Speaker at Association of Illustrators Discusses: Making More Money

Image credit: Marianna Madriz

I was contacted by The Association of Illustrators and asked if I’d like to be a guest speaker at their ‘AOI Discusses: Making More Money’ panel discussion at the Arnolfini in Bristol. The aim of the event was to explore topics around pricing illustration and how to move your career forward financially, giving an insight into best practices and how to conduct yourself not only as an illustrator, but as a business.

Recently I’ve really started to appreciate the value of sharing my knowledge with students and other illustrators at an earlier stage in their career than myself. I’ve learnt many things through trial and error over the years, but it would have been amazing to have someone offer me the advice I needed at the time. If I can provide useful advice for other illustrators now, then I’m more than happy to do so. I wasted no time in replying to the AOI and confirming I would love to be one of the three guest illustrators on the panel.

After a few weeks working on various bits of client work, the night of the discussion arrived. I was a healthy amount of nervous, but the predominant feeling was certainly excitement. These topics are things I’m constantly discussing with my creative friends, so I was really looking forward to sharing and exploring them further with a wider audience.

The Arnolfini is just a short walk from my home studio, but I still made sure I set off with plenty of time. I make a real habit of arriving to meetings and events early. I feel it allows me to settle any nerves that might be bouncing around my head, become familiar with my surroundings and most important of all, locate the nearest exit just in case! On this occasion it provided me with an extra little bit of thinking time to prioritise the things I wanted to discuss, ensuring the audience would get the most value from me being there.

When I arrived I was met by AOI Membership Manager and illustration knowledge oracle Lou Bones, who would be chairing the discussion. Lou introduced me to the two other guest illustrators, amazing paper-craft artist Sam Pierpoint and the brilliantly playful illustrator Dave Bain.


Image credit: UWE Illustration

After chatting amongst ourselves for a little while and waiting for everyone to arrive, Lou started the discussion. The conversation began with Lou introducing everyone and presenting the purpose of the event, highlighting some of the topics we would explore. She then went on to reference real life situations that the AOI had encountered whilst providing support to their members in the past. The other guest illustrators and I were then invited to respond with our own relevant experiences, sharing practical advice on how we had overcome similar challenges.

I really enjoyed sharing my stories from past commissions with everyone and it was brilliant to listen to Sam and Dave talk about similar situations they had encountered in their own work. As creative people I think we can sometimes get a little caught up in the creation of our work, often forgetting to take a moment to reflect with fellow creatives who are in similar circumstances.

It was also great that we explored the sometimes negative aspects of client work without the discussion turning into a rant about how ‘clients are difficult’. I see too many creatives who have this childish ‘us versus them’ attitude when talking about clients and this totally contradicts how I feel about my relationship with clients. It was refreshing for me to hear that there are other illustrators who really appreciate the value of strong client relationships like myself.

As much as I enjoyed the main discussion lead by Lou, I was most excited about the Q&A session at the end. It was the perfect platform for good honest organic conversation and allowed me to drill down, giving more specific advice, tailored to individual audience members. I also personally feel a lot more comfortable with the Q&A format and it comes a lot more naturally to me. In my opinion Q&A is really where the magic happens and I believe it provides the most value to an audience.

The discussion went on for a little longer than planned, allowing for more questions to be answered. I got the sense that a lot of people would have happily stayed longer, but the venue was closing so we had to bring things to a close. However, that wasn’t the end of the evening and Lou invited everyone for a drink to continue the discussion at No.1 Harbourside.

The meeting in the bar afterwards was just as insightful as the initial conversation. It allowed people from the audience to ask any questions they didn’t have a chance to ask previously and gave me the opportunity to expand on some of the points I had raised in the discussion. The conversations were definitely a lot more personal, making the advice more valuable to the individuals I had the chance to speak to. It was also great for me to ask a few of my own questions and find out what advice resonated with people the most.

After a few glasses of Rioja and many great conversations with an eclectic bunch of interesting people, I thanked everyone and said my goodbyes. A common topic of conversation seemed to be that people felt like this kind of meeting should happen on a more regular basis. The sense of camaraderie in the bar was amazing, a group of like minded people all striving for the same goal. So I exchanged details with a few illustrators and agreed I would be happy to get involved in more illustration gatherings in Bristol.

A huge thanks to Lou Bones and the Association of Illustrators for inviting me to be involved in this wonderful discussion. Also, thanks to everyone who attended, with an even bigger thanks to anyone who asked a question and made the conversation as interesting as it was. Knowledge is power!

The Dots Illustration Portfolio Masterclass

I recently attended The Dots Illustration Portfolio Masterclass over at the Royal Academy of Arts. From a total of 350 illustrators who applied, only 40 were selected and invited to take part in the event to meet the industry professionals.

I arrived at the Royal Academy a good half hour early to settle into my surroundings and finish a little preparation. Due to the stereotypical reclusive nature of artists, I had a fear that this could easily be one of those awkward ‘creative strangers in a room’ situations. However, anyone who knows me, knows that I quite like a chat. Me and a couple of fellow illustrators had soon formed a bit of a conversation triangle. We went from a triangle to a hexagon in a matter of minutes!

The portfolio sessions are described as “creative speed dating”, I had a certain amount of time with each mentor and then moved on to the next. The time element added a sense of urgency, but also kept things moving along nicely. It only caught me out once and resulted in me not being able to speak to Alex Trimmer from Folio. However, Alex was great about it and told me to give him a call the next day to discuss my work in more depth. I followed this up and gained some really helpful advice about commissioning trends and where my style sits within the industry.

Nathan-Evans-Dots-Portfolio-Masterclass2

Another highlight for me was my chat with Charlie Sells from Jelly London. Charlie was very friendly and easy to get along with, whilst maintaining a true honesty in her advice.

The session ended with handfuls of salted popcorn, washed down with a couple of beers, all supplied by The Dots wonderful team. After a spell of business card swapping and a little geeking out over pens, creative suite and processes, everyone began to get ushered out of the venue. I felt the evening ended a little prematurely, but there’s only so long you can have that many creatives fuelled by free beer in such a beautiful venue surrounded by priceless artwork.

All in all I had a great time at The Dots Illustration Portfolio Masterclass. I gained some valuable insight into commissioning and heard some reaffirming comments about my illustration work. A big thanks to all the mentors, The Dots team and all the illustrators I had the pleasure of meeting.

If you’re intrigued to see what I was showing at the session, all the illustrations can be found in my Projects section.

Nathan-Evans-Dots-Portfolio-Masterclass3

Art Hostel Crowd Funding Campaign

East Street Arts invited me to create some striking visuals for their Art Hostel crowd funding campaign. The goal was to raise £5,000 for Leeds’ first ever social enterprise Art Hostel.

The project involved me producing hand-drawn lettering elements for the video, as well as painting a selection of props to be used on set. I even did a little bit of acting… The crowd funding campaign was a huge success and we managed to raise more than the £5000 goal.

You can enjoy the successful crowd funding video below:

After the crowd funding campaign, I was invited by East Street Arts to write an article about my experience working on the project. ‘Working on the Art Hostel Video’ can be read on the East Street Arts website.

“Time was of the essence. We had deadlines to meet and as any creative knows, deadlines are a package deal with late nights in the studio included.”

Print Club London Workshop

On Saturday night I was gliding through my Twitter feed to keep my brain full to the brim of micro facts… As I swiped away, I saw a very intriguing tweet from Print Club London. They were offering two free places on their screen printing workshop the next day.

I had been locked away in my studio working on my MF DOOM Typog-RAP-hy series and had begun to develop a mild case of cabin fever. I had also been meaning to go down to Print Club London at some point to find out a little more about how they operate. This seemed like the perfect opportunity to kill two birds with one stone, so I responded to the tweet… Later that evening I got a message from the Print Club saying that they had given away the two places but wanted me to go along too because they liked the work I was doing.

“You are immediately hit with the smell of ink and a wave of creativity comes over you.”

If you’ve never entered a screen print studio, it’s quite an amazing feeling. You are immediately hit with the smell of ink and a wave of creativity comes over you. You scan the room taking in all the mechanical machinery that makes the print process such a romantic one. For me the feeling is best described as one of pure motivation and inspiration to just create.

nathan-evans-london-print-club-workshop1

All in all the workshop was a great refresher course for myself and jogged my memory a little getting me ready for when I take my next series to print. The friendly and fun creative atmosphere really made this workshop a pleasure, instead of one of those awkward ones where you are not quite sure how you feel about going back after lunch. I had a great day and by the end of it I had a limited run of prints with a two colour gradient on a ‘Smooth Southbank’ stock, which subsequently sold out within a few days of landing in my online shop!

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Thanks to all the technicians at Print Club London and a pleasure to meet everyone I met that day.

The London Illustration Fair 2014

After a good month of preparation, The London Illustration Fair 2014 finally exploded into the Hoxton arches and seemed to be over all too quickly! The fair ran for 3 days over the weekend and saw huge numbers through the doors (Saturday was absolutely manic). Most of the illustrators (including myself) spent most of their time at their stalls, but we did all get to meet each other and geek out about all things illustration (As well as doing print swaps at the end of the show)

london-illustration-fair-2014

“I felt truly honoured over the weekend, when people told me that my work was an inspiration to them.”

Highlights for me included being interviewed by a young journalist student by the name of Max Gayler who had a very natural interview technique which made him a pleasure to talk to. I also quite like a talk, so it is no surprise that over the weekend I had chats with literally hundreds of people. Many of these were illustration students/practitioners asking advice about being a freelancer. I felt truly honoured over the weekend, when people told me that my work was an inspiration to them.

nathan-evans-london-illustration-fair-2014

However, after all that and more, my main highlight has to have been the moment I was interviewed by a Turkish news channel. Who knows if I will ever see that footage, but hopefully I might get a few fans of my work from Turkey! A big thanks to all the organisers of the event and all the people who came down to visit. Also, lovely to meet so many amazing illustrators all working hard at what they love.

nathan-evans-london-illustration-fair-2014-interview

I exhibited and sold a range of different work, including pieces from my Typog-RAP-hy series, Common Homonyms and also some original Mayan Skull Wizard paintings on buckram book covers.

Outlook Festival 2014 Site Art

After a successful artistic proposal to Outlook Festival 2014, I was selected as one of the artists who would paint site art for the venue before the festival started. I was given a good sized wall which was located on the main gate between the campsite and the festival entrance.

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The painting was a mix of both playful lettering and figures with subtle references to Croatian culture. The characters themselves were loosely based on Zvoncari, Croatian bell ringers who ward off evil spirits.

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I had great fun working alongside the Outlook Festival art team and thanks to everyone who helped me out with logistics and made my stay “comfortable”. When I wasn’t busy painting I was soaking up the beautiful sites, sipping on a little bit of rum and listening to some amazing music.

Like most Hip-Hop fans I’ve been listening to the beats of DJ Premier for a long time now. That’s why it felt great to finally see him perform live and the fact that it was a result of my own hard work made it even sweeter. Other highlights for me included seeing Action Bronson’s electric performance, classic UK Hip-Hop from Sonnyjim and a feel good beach performance by The Mouse Outfit.

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