Been down to Sydney a few times recently researching and photographing locations for the comic strip and stumbled across the ‘Creative Sydney’ poster below and that caught my eye because of the picture it made when combined with graffiti and sandstone wall. All three elements form a snap shot of the state of creativity in this nation with the sandstone wall referencing tradition and past nation building, the tagging (graffiti) arguing ‘creative Sydney’ is illegal street art even if the tags themselves are stylistically a decades long process of copying a long lost original and then the poster itself which is pegged down well within the boundaries of the acceptable. None of this would be a real problem were it not for the fact and as seemingly understood by who or whatever commissioned the poster, that ‘creativity’ has dollar value. Will this poster contribute in any significant way towards the goal of making Sydney a powerhouse of creativity with billions of dollars pouring into the State’s coffers ?
Not sure the city authorities understand what creative people need.
Walking around the city center looking for something, anything, that could be of some use to my comic book project the more distance traveled the more I wanted to puke. As a city Sydney is sanitized and made appropriate and inoffensive to all including the children of millionaires with now a lovely playground sitting right next to the fountain in Kings Cross where previously the homeless, rent boys, prostitutes and drug dealers hung out. OK – nice, clean and the locals living in their multi million dollar flats can now park their Ferrari’s and designer bicycles in what were once-upon-a-time dark back alleys without fearing they being vomited on by drug-fucked and homeless ‘losers’. The poor, the homeless, the artists, the musicians, the poets and that essential demi-monde have been pushed out and I doubt a poster can fill the void.
Bike riding in the suburbs a few days later I actually found a location that could be useful. Horrible cliche though – you know – the urban decay and graffiti thing but has potential as a backdrop for some depravity or other gratuitously violent action. Below are a few pictures taken as part of my search for locations.
The trusty MTB bike. For sure it will be immortalized in the comic strip.
Had some fun in RawTherapee and Gimp with one of the pictures taken at the abandoned commercial center site.
In the Blue Mountains town of Lawson and not Sydney but could be useful.
On the topic of art and culture it appears much today is part of this now mainstream social engineering trend and nothing of the past appears to be beyond re-interpretation such as below Australian photographer Max Dupain’s famous ‘Sunbaker’ taken in 1937 and used here in an anti-racism poster. Right or wrong in intention I think this takes away from Dupain’s work which was about the sun baked, free, democratic and prosperous Australian lifestyle. Anyway, had a bit of Gimp fun with that one as well.
Despite being superstitious about sharing details of a project I think it won’t draw evil upon my current project if i share a few screen shots and words about the why , what and how.
Basically as all reading this blog over the past few years would know, I tend to be like a kid in a toy store when it comes to projects and in particular anything related to the visual arts and story telling. I have a few roughed out books on my hard drive sitting beside a few short near-completed animations and plenty more of the same begging exit from the creative section of my brain. I’m one those people who dive into something and when the creative process is completed and it’s no longer fun and games, I get bored and look for something else to play with. Either that or I go into one of my recurring bouts of clinical depression and select all and delete. I’m sure many can relate to that and the bit where later you find yourself madly going through files on the external hard drive hoping there was a backed-up copy you had forgotten existed. To be fair to myself, some projects are beyond what a person can create by themselves.
Problem is I’m not getting any younger and would like to actually complete a major project and so and summing up what I know and my skill portfolio, I decided a comic strip would be the best option even if figure drawing, the most important skill in comic strip creation, is something I have not done for well over a decade. As my father used to say ‘there is no such thing as the perfect circumstances to start something’, and he was right, at some point if you burn to do or create something then just jump in and get started. Sort out the problems as you go along.
So with no small amount of self-doubt I dragged out from the dark corners of a back-up hard drive a script previously written for an animation based on actual life events experienced by street kids I worked with in the past and went about re-writing it as a story that could be told in drawn frames and speech bubbles. When that was done and there no excuse left, I fired up Krita, the open source paint application, and after a first test (previously posted on this blog) to get a feel for the software which I rarely used before, started roughing out page number One.
I can confirm from that initial experience that drawing people is difficult if there was any lingering doubt in anyone’s mind but as I progress through this work a new problem is becoming apparent and it is that like the proverbial ability to ride a bicycle, long lost figure drawing skills are beginning to return which means I will be going back over the already sketched out pages. My work method is from the written story I sketch out a rough and entirely hand drawn version of each page and then work up a version that is still a pencil sketch but closer to what will later be inked, painted with speech bubbles and text added in the end. What I’m finding is that the second pencil sketch done using for example Blender 3D to assist with tricky perspective is not as alive as the entirely hand-drawn rough. Below is an example where this difference is apparent. The second version is more detailed and has some obvious background changes but clearly relying less on intuition and spontaneity is I think not as good as the original could be when my confidence returns and I can work with at most a perspective grid.
Initial sketch that to me communicates the character’s emotional state better than the second sketch of this page (below) which made greater use of software in the drawing process.
Changes to background with computer assistance in drawing the main character.
Everyone getting bored with this Cambridge Analytica bullshit? Our local ABC rebroadcast the BBC report with all the secret footage in which the CEO of Cambridge Analytica disclosed their outrageous methodology such as setting up a politician with a prostitute and disseminating fake news. What? I mean like that’s as worn out a strategy as the story Marcus Inventicus spread around the Forum that Caesar sucked Brutus’ dick. Accepting bribe money? Any politician silly enough to take a brown paper bag under a restaurant table deserves to be jailed. I mean like what is the world coming to? In the past the secret service would set up a whistleblower, honest politician, journalist with the murder of a housewife, have him commit suicide by shooting himself twice in the head and at the very least if sex it must be, make it an under-age boy. No don’t shake your head in disbelief, ‘they’ tried that on a well-known journalist right here in the land of a fair-go and meat pies.
Anyways, the good news is some are seeking in their small way to address the important issues facing life on Earth including the mother and two kids who turned up at the local supermarket on the rather extraordinary electric bicycle below. Not sure if a front-hub motor is a good choice in this case but design considerations aside – it’s top marks for doing something real for the kids’ future.
Wasn’t quick enough getting the camera out to snap bike, mum and kids together which believe me, is a shame…
And photos in the alleyway. Not a new idea but first time I’ve seen this in Katoomba. Can’t attribute as the artist didn’t leave a business card on the wall.