Gareth A Hopkins

These pages will be kept updated with forthcoming gallery shows and news on completed artwork.

Pages from my ongoing surreal/abstracted comic 'The Intercorstal' can be found here: The Intercorstal

My deviantart gallery, chock-full of my art, can be found here: grthink

Stories from my (old) walk to and from work can be found here: Trolleys In Odd Places

Sunday, 13 June 2010

Learning = Pain

My approach to my work is pretty consistent. I've got a pretty strong visual identity (black ink, patterning, fixed set of motifs) and I usually feel comfortable with that. However, because of a need to push myself, and because I think I have the ability to do different things, I take on other projects.

Recently, that's involved taking jobs from Amelia Gregory for Amelia's Magazine, as I covered in my last blog post. With each assignment, I've grown a little more confident in spreading my wings. And with this growing confidence, I took an assignment to illustrate an interview done with Robin Ince and casually asked if Amelia had any idea for what she'd want. The response I got was a perfectly reasonable "...maybe something inspired by crabs on the rampage with musical instruments and people in trees?"

And so, having done the housework and put my son to bed and had a beer and a coffee, I went on a hunt for images of Robin Ince and crabs, thinking I'd do a picture of Mr. Ince being terrified by an army of marauding crabs. In very quick time I got an idea of how to draw crabs... they're pretty easy. And I found this image of Robin Ince, which could look like he was scared of some crabs:

And then I set to work... I figured I'd do something colourful, so after I'd done what I thought was a pretty passable pencil draft, which I defined with sanguine ink, I set to painting. Once I thought I'd done enough painting, I broke out my black pens and set to working up what I had. Once I was finished, I put it to one side, played some PS3, and went to bed.

At 6:30 the next morning, woken up by my son, I came downstairs and found this:

"Oh GOD... it must be early in the morning, because that looks terrible". When my wife came downstairs, I held it up and said "Look at this shit, it's probably the worst thing I've ever done, and I'm including the time I spent as a child". The response I'd hoped for was "It's not too bad, you must have looked at it for too long."

The response I got was: "Well, honey... you're good at what you normally do. Why not try that?" I was understandably appalled. How dare she limit my artistic and creative freedom?! Who is she to try and put me in a box?! Justifiably, I marched out of the room, outraged and indignant. As soon as I was through the door, I knew that she was right, and what I had to do...

First I watered the plants, then cleaned the washing line, changed the bed sheets, cleaned the kitchen, had a sit down... Then, I got back on the internet, and looked for some different pictures to work from, got the printer out, then my lightbox, then worked through my usual process, which involved creating grids with my Tesco Value Geometry set, reading through the interview for interesting phrases, working out how to illustrate those individually, placed those in pencil on the grid, then slowly, bit by bit, working up in pen... and, after about four, five hours, came out with this, which is much better:

The moral being... um... Don't draw bad pictures? Well, yes, but more than that, I need to remember to be true to myself, and to take my bloody time over these things.

Lesson over.


  1. Probably not what you want to hear, but I kind of like the first one. Shows you trying new things by not limiting yourself to what you're comfortable doing.

  2. Yeah, but in the past I've been able to show myself trying new things whilst also producing pictures I'm horrified by. If it was just for me, I'd say 'meh' and leave it, but it was for inclusion on a proper website, and I needed to raise my game.

  3. I actually like the first one. It made my day.
    The second is very nice as well. But there is a sense of.. I guess, freedom for lack of a better word, that is present in the first that is also in second, but it's a different flavor of the feeling. The first one is more fresh. If that makes sense.
    But both are very well done. I'd kill for the first though. XD

  4. Hahahaha ahhh this in an ace little insight into your arty practise, love it! Also much prefer the second one, though it is good to push yourself now and then to see what you're capable of.
    And always useful to water the plants, clean the washing line, change the bed sheets etc...

  5. anx, Nemi -- I wish I'd had both of you to come round and stroke my hair and tell me it was OK when I was freaking out about having lost the ability to draw...

    Tori -- at least half of the time I set aside for drawing is spent doing jobs around the house. I'd like to think that it's so I can clear my mind, generate ideas etc etc but I think really I'm usually just putting it off.