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

Friday, 12 October 2012

Ministry Of Stories

For a little while now -- I think almost two years, but with my memory it's almost impossible for me to be sure-- I've been volunteering with the Ministry Of Stories in Hoxton. I've done a few bits and pieces, and am a fully trained up Story Minister, but predominantly I live illustrate during the Storymaking Workshops.

During the Storymaking Workshops a class from a local school will go to the Ministry, and come up with brand new, original stories for the fearsome, unseen Chief. The session is in two parts -- during the first, the class collectively write the first half of the story, democratically voting on key elements like characters and settings. During the second each child finishes off the story in their own way.

The illustrating part takes place during the first half of the session -- as the children write their story, the illustrator comes up with 3 images on a flipchart at the front of the room, which as they are completed are handed through to The Chief's office.

I got involved originally just to do something different -- for one, I'd never done live illustrating, and thought it might be fun, and I needed something to get me out of the office. After illustrating a couple of sessions, I decided to get trained up so that I could help out as a mentor during the half of the workshop, and I've also used that training to help with a few of the after-school sessions.

Of the six sessions I've illustrated (I thought I'd done more, but not according to their website...) the last three have involved zombies. I don't know if that's because of how I look, or something? Although I'm not the only illustrator to have done zombies, my hit-rate seems disproportioaltely high. Besides that, though, I really enjoy going down there and helping out -- the kids are always fantastic, and come up with incredible ideas every time. And the other volunteers are amazing, and great to work with. My only regret is that becasue of other life-stuff I don't get to do more with them...

If you feel so inclined, there are a few ways you can get involved -- THIS PAGE at the Ministry's site will have details.

Previous stories can be found at the story-making section of the site -- clicking the pictures I've posted here will take you to its respective story.

Thursday, 6 September 2012

Reptiloid-thing sketches

 Here's something a little different...

As many people know, I've got a bit of a 2000AD obsession going on, partly because of the general surge in interest becasue of Dredd 3D coming out. Mostly, though, I'm experiencing something of a semi-mid-life crisis, and falling back in love with the things I loved during my youth. Eventually, I'll get around to writing and posting my love-letters to Revere and Indigo Prime.

But, anyway. As part of the 2012 Thought Bubble Comics Festival, 2000AD are running a competition to win a chance at paid work in the comic. All that has to be done is to illustrate a 3-page Future Shock (the script and detail of the comp are here: I thought I'd give it a go, to stretch myself artistically as well as indulge myself 2000AD-wise.

Unfortunately, I'm unlikely to actually enter -- I'm really busy with my real-life job and The Intercorstal, and I've just picked up another fun little project, so I've not got the time I'd need to focus on it. And even if I did start and finish the comic properly (which is difficult because I've not done anything like that before...) I don't think I'd be able to get up to Leeds to attend Thought Bubble anyway.

I quite like the sketches I've done so far, though -- working out how the alien characters in the script work physically, and also trying to work in some personality. And this, here, is those sketches.

Thursday, 30 August 2012

The Intercorstal: Butcher's Park

I've finished the sixth installment of The Intercorstal -- here's a video of it while I get a PDF sorted.

I've also posted to the Abstract Comics blog, where I've been characteristically modest about it, but I think it's some of the best work I've done in ages.

Tuesday, 14 August 2012

The Intercorstal: Demos WIP


I've been away for a while. Mostly because my wife had our second child back in June and we've been adjusting to that since. Everything's lovely, just don't have as much time to focus on drawing as I'd like.

I'm getting back into the swing of things, though. Still no sign of Elipses, the collected Intercorstal edition that I've been talking about for at least a year now. But instead a brand new Intercorstal, called 'Demos'. It was called 'Epic' for a while, but I hated that. Still not sure about 'Demos', though, so that might change too. I mean, 'Witches' was called 'Sea Saw' for a while, right up until the cover was conceived, so there's an obvious benefit in not setting a title in stone until the last minute.

Anyway, when finished it'll be a 12 page comic (including the cover), based on a promotional booklet I got at an assessment conference from the company 'Epic' (see, that's where the original title came from). Once I've fiished it, I'll likely ask Art Roadie Anxietydecending to turn it into a PDF and then rather than send physical copies out I'll make it free-to-download.

Here's some photos I just took -- I've done a lot of this work sitting on the benches in Smithfields Park, and that's where these photos were taken (hence the daylight and gravel).

Friday, 18 May 2012

The Intercorstal at Heads Up, ft BATMAN

38 Pages From The Intercorstal and a Batman
I was contacted a couple of months ago by Holly from Chelmsford's Shiny Shed collective, asking if I'd be interested in taking part in a group show in Chelmsford, and I leapt at the chance. Sensing the opportunity to do somethnig a little different and push the boat out a bit, as well as having by a strange set of coincidences the space and materials required, I set about creating a wearable Batman suit out of cardboard.

I went through a bit of a 'process' with this -- I knew what I needed it to look like, but I had no idea how it would work, and while I was making it was constantly worrying that what I was making wasn't artistically valid and what have you. But filling the inside of the cape with cut-up Intercorstal panels and adding panels to the white areas on the gauntlets (which was my wife's idea, to be fair) resolved that conflict.

I could wang on about my process and what this means to me, and how it ties into The Intercorstal for ages, but I'll save that for another time. For now, I'd just like to share these photos of the work I have on show, which I'm incredibly proud of -- the photos were taken while the rest of the exhibition was still being set up, so there's still tools and coffee cups and whatnot in frame. I've added some comments on each picture, which hopefully shed some light on what's going on in my head.

Any comments, questions or crticism are heartily welcomed.

And if you're able, head down to the Heads Up show -- it's on in Chelmsford in the old Barcalys Building, at the top of the High Street, running between 19th and 27th May. All the work there is incredible, and it is a genuine honour to have been asked to participate.

Batman installed, waiting for the other pieces to be wall mounted. The fists are hanging by string attached to the cape -- I only managed to work out how to do that on the day of installation. I'd encourage anyone gonig to have a go on the fists -- they can be 'worn' by holding a handle attached on the inside of the box.

The left-hand part of the installation. I jumped at the chance to use this corner of the exhibition space. It's very busy with pipes and air-con ducts and plugs, as well as the boarded-up doorway. I think it really adds texture to the presentation of the pages which I was worried would look a little flat from a distance -- especially for the bigger frames. Close up, the detail in each page is obvious, and any texture takes care of itself.

The right-hand side of the installation. The drawback of using this section of the room was that the walls are in sections -- some is solid brick, some is plasterboard, some are hollow... Mounting these was a bit of a brainache.
3 of the pages from 'Witches' in yellow-green frames. I've always considered 'Witches' to be one of the high points of The Intercorstal so far, and I think these three pages look great together.

This frame used to have 'Mist Of Blood And Rage', which I did for Operation Concrete, in it. It took hours to get those pages in, and to look as neat as they do (which I appreciate is ot as neat as they could be...). The frame's hanging on a crossbar attached to the doorframe, with the rest of the door being filled in by a single sheet of wood. I didn't want to get too over-enthusiastic and lose my cool, but thematically that's absolutely perfect for The Intercorstal - the idea of a 'hollow door', the fact that it's a doorway and not a doorway at the same time...

I've had this green frame haning up at my mum's house for years, with older work in it. I went round on the morning of the exhibition's setup to nick it back, because I realised that I needed another coloured frame to balance out the compostion of the displayed work. Because it's a light frame, I could hang it against those pipes instead of against the wall, which again adds a certain amount of texture to the setup.

Another eight pages. When arranging the pages in the frames, I didn't actually spend a lot of time considering which ones I wanted, or where. It's kind of been a theme throughout, letting the pages fall wherever they might -- for instance, when putting together the run of the first Intercorstal comic, I shuffled the pages and turned some of them back to front to randomise the order of pages through the book.

This is one of the latest pages, which have been done on A4 Bristol Board, whereas the earlier pages were done on slightly rougher A5 paper. I wanted to show all of the newer ones, but didn't have the frames I needed, so only this one went up.

Here's one of the fists, post-completion, on my living room floor. The insides of these boxes have a handle inside, set so that the fist can be worn. The handle's set in a position which feels comfortable to the wearer -- if you've got the left-hand fist on your right hand, the weighting feels wrong.

Tuesday, 15 May 2012

Batman Ghosts

I'm taking part in the very exciting HEADS UP group show in Chelmsford, organised by The Shiny Shed Collective, which takes place between 19th and 27th May. I'll be using the space I have as an excuse to show off The Intercorstal in a gallery context, as opposed to the short comics and zines which have been done so far. I'll also be unveiling my first 3D piece, which is a kind of semi-installation, which I'll go into more detail when the show starts.

Batman and Robin Ghosts
On sale there will be a collection of postcards of Batman Ghosts. Essentially, they're the Ghosts that I've been including in my work for years now, but with Batman's ears built in. In some of the scenes, I play up to the Batman side, in others I don't. No two are the same and I hope to have at least 50 done by the launch of the show. I've given up on the idea that I'll have scanned them all beforehand, so here's some photos of a few of them.
Vampire Batman Ghost
Unicorn Batman Ghost
Lots of Batman Ghosts

Tuesday, 17 April 2012

Laika, and stuff

Here's a picture I did of a dog called Laika for the esteemed Karen Hart. I'm pretty chuffed with how it turned out.

Otherwise, things have been pretty quiet, as I've been trying to sort my house out ready for Child No.2, due in the summer. This has meant emptying 30-odd years worth of crap out of the shed in our back garden (kindly left by the previous owners), doing some rudimentary "chop it back out of the way of the doors and paths" gardening and decorating the bub's room.

Taking this time away has given me the chance to refocus on what I want to acheive creatively, and so I'm going to focus on personal work unless it's a direct comission from now. The Intercorstal and my 'grthink' work have had more attention develop naturally than my fashion and editorial work, so it makes sense to focus on that.

Having said that, my next personal project, other than a new one-off instance of The Intercorstal, is going to be along the lines of the Corgi and Zombie helmets I've made out of cardboard. I'll relinquish more details when I'm further along.

Tuesday, 13 March 2012

Twitter Art Exhibit 2012

Here's my submission to the 2nd Twitter Art Exhibition, being held in Moss, Norway, in April 2012. It's being organised by David Sandum, with all money from sales of artwork going to The Women's Crisis Center in Moss. Full details of the submission and event can be found HERE:

There wasn't any particular theme, but I thought it'd be cool to work on some advice that Bryan Lee O'Malley (creator of Scott Pilgrim) posted on his twitter feed:

I'm past knowing whether I followed that advice or not, but I was thinking about it while I worked on the page. Once I've had a chance to think about it a bit I might be able to make some sense of it in the context of my other comics work. As it stands, though, I'm pretty happy with how it turned out, and regular readers of this blog will know how terrifyingly rare it is for that to happen.

Monday, 5 March 2012

LFW AW12 Round-up/Round-down

DR NOKI's NHS AW12 by Gareth A Hopkins

For whatever reason, I couldn't keep anywhere near the same pace this past London Fashion Week as I did for the last one, and in my opinion the images I turned out were a bit weaker than normal. 

But I'm going to resist the temptation to bang on about it like a little emo loser and instead share a couple of images that I made from LFW for FUN. This is actually the first time I've created fashion-based images without having a brief or a deadline, and I'm really happy with them.

First is a painting of one of the looks from DR NOKI'S NHS (up there, at the top). I love Noki's work, and have always wanted to create an image which is as lurid and threatening as his fashion work. Whether this is 100% there, I'm still not sure, but taking a few days to work on this paid off.

And secondly here's an image of one of the models from Oliver Spencer's catwalk show. I've never seen a model carry so much disdain for the audience as this guy did, and he instantly became a hero of mine.

Angry Model for Oliver Spencer AW12 by Gareth A Hopkins

I also did my first Fashion Review for Amelia's Magazine this year, for the Asger Juel Larsen VS T.Lipop show, and commissioned some genuinely great illustrations from Sam Parr, Jo Ley, Gemma Cotterell and Lo Parkin. And I wouldn't have been able to get anywhere with it without the support and editing skills of Matt Bramford. I actually think my writing was more successful than my illustration this LFW. Interesting to see how that develops.

Finally, I did an illo for Alia Gargum's review of Sibling, which I took two shots at finishing. This is the first one, which I wasn't happy with at the time, but in retrospect is OK.
SIBLING AW12 by Gareth A Hopkins

Thursday, 16 February 2012

Tina Elisabeth Reiter

Did this illustration the other night, for Amelia's Magazine's review of the London College of Fashion MA Exhibition.

I'm pretty happy with it, as was the designer I illustrated, Tina Elisabeth Reiter, who tweeted her thanks to me. To get a personal thank you from the person you've illustrated is pretty rare, and very welcome -- I think I can count on my fingers the number of times it's happened and I've done loads of stuff for Amelia's in the past. On my part, it was a fun illustration to do -- I really liked the designs, especially the shape of the coat and the use of browns and oranges.

My scanner was refusing to work because it's printer was out of ink, so in the end I had to resort to taking a picture, which while not ideal actually worked in my favour, because it's given the figure an antiqued effect, although it did mean that the oranges which I'd hoped to make really 'pop' went a bit muddy. The background is a colour-altered version of the red one I used for my The XX illustration a little while ago -- making it green was a no-brainer.

That my drawing of the model has made him look a bit more like a young H.P. Lovecraft than I intended is a good example of that whole 'literature and horror creeping in' thing I mentioned in Digital Arts blog post.

Tuesday, 14 February 2012

Abstract Comics: The Blog

I've recently been invited by the incomparable Andrei Molotiu to contribute to the Abstract Comics Blog, which is a massive honour for me. The Abstract Comics anthology from Fantagraphics is one of my favourite things, so to be able to get invovled directly with the blog is really exciting. (Thanks to Mike Getsiv for the nudge).

So far I've stuck three articles up, about The Intercorstal, naturally. Here they are:

Intercorstal Page 57 Raw Version :
Overview of Intercorstal:Witches:
Details of Pages 47, 48 and 49:

(I had a pic in) Digital Arts (in January)

Totally forgot to post this at the time, but back in January, Digital Arts included my illustration of Asger Juel Larsen Spring/Summer 2012 in an article about Creative Trends in 2012. They'd asked Amelia Gregory (editor of Amelia's Magazine) what she thought would be happening with Fashion Illustration in 2012, and she said:

“A feeling of restlessness is prevalent in illustrations which draw influence from the spectre of war and the darker end of literature. Look out for strange and hellish scenes,”

From that, they had a look at Amelia's Mag and pulled out my image (here's the orginal article with some stunning illustrations from Faye West and Gem Sheldrake, amongst others). I laughed out loud when I found out -- for a while I've been conciously trying to make my images LESS hellish and dark. But then I suppose I did go to town on this one -- I've said it before, but the background's made from a very rubbish painting I did of Gravity's Rainbow, for a start.

Still, awesome to have had work on Digital Art's website, and if the trend for 2012 is dark and haunted by the spectre of war, I'm sure I'm very happy to oblige.

Friday, 3 February 2012

Puppets etc

So, I've been having a bit of a crisis of confidence over the past couple of weeks. Don't know what brought it on, particularly -- one minute I'm bobbing along perfectly happy with my place in the world, the next I'm getting all moody and weird about not being able to draw or something. I think part of it comes from my re-found love of 2000AD and the fact that I've been comparing myself to Simon Harrison and Edmund Bagwell and Chris Weston.

But anyway, pretty much out of nowhere I signed up to do some illustrations for Amelia Gregory's review of The Devil And Mr Punch and did the two illustrations posted here. And I'm totally happy with both of them. They were both done pretty superfast, and without much fuss, which meant I was going by instinct throughout. Reviewing them critically now, there's stuff I would have done differently, but there always is, isn't there. Go Team G, I guess.

Friday, 13 January 2012

Laura J Martin: Part 2

As mentioned in PART 1 this week I've done two illustrations of Laura J Martin for Amelia's Magazine. PART 1 covers the illustration I did for Richard Pearmain's review of a live show. This part (predictably called PART 2) details the process for getting an illustration prepared for Amelia's review of LJM's album 'The Hangman Tree'.

After the image of LJM playing flute in a wood, I was eager to do something a bit more familiar, and had originally planned to do a 'grthink portrait'. After carefully selecting a photo off of the internet, I sketched out what it might look like, and to be honest it wasn't looking good. I'd suspected as much, to be honest -- my particular style of portrait, with all the lines and black ink and abstract shapes ages women in the most unflattering ways. It's OK with men and animals, they can take a bit of extra age, but I've not found a way to get it to work for women. So I toned it back, and played with some more ideas, sellting on a simpler style where all the work goes into the hair, which is still pretty abstracted.

So, I thought I'd do a more finished version of the simpler portrait, and put in a Japanese-inspired abstracted background, becasue there's a lot of Oriental influences in the music, particularyl because of the flute (also, there's a song called Fire Horse which is about a Japanese lovestruck arsonist). And here came my first mistake: For some bizarre reason, I made the portrait a double, with LJM looking knowingly at her own reflection. I still can't remember why I was so sure that this was a winning idea. Anyway, I did the double portrait, and coloured it in, and here's what that looked like:

After I'd done that I set to doing the background, deciding to use some of the shapes from one of Hokusai's 36 View Of Mt Fuji as a starting point. In the picture below, you can see what that looked like in my sketchbook. 
When I tried to combine this new backgorund with the double portrait, I realised a number of things:
1. The new background was too small, and no details showed through from behind the portrait.
2. The lines in the background were too bold, and totally distracted from the portrait.
3. The double portrait wasn't going to work for me.

So. First things first, I deleted the right-hand portrait and moved the border in. Then I played with the background, trying to tile it and layer it and lighten it and darken it and a whole other bunch of stuff, but it wasn't working. So I dumped the background and pulled out another one I had saved. And then considered the space I had, and the sie of the portriat and stuff, and whacked in a light green fade, and was finished.

The lesson I'm going to take from this whole thing: paints. Digital colouring and manipulation is one thing, but in general I get much better results if I've got paint to hand.

Laura J Martin: Part 1

This week I've done two very different illustrations of Laura J Martin for Amelia's Magazine, and had a range of stuff I wanted to mention with both of them. So in my sporadic series of 'Process and Frustration' blogs, here's what happened and why. The two articles are HERE (live review) and HERE (album review).

I got involved with illustrating Laura J Martin after seeing a callout for illustrators on Twitter. Normally I'm a bit wary of taking on illustrations of musicians, becasue if I don't particularly like the music I find it really hard to build up any enthusiasm for the project. But I took a look at Laura's soundcloud and she had a collab with Buck 65 on there, and he's one of my heroes which made it difficult to say no. And then when I heard the two tracks on there I was really, really impressed and immeidately got in contact with Richard Pearmain, the writer. And from there I was off, desperately eager to impress.

After listening to the tracks on soundcloud and videos on YouTube, I had an idea of drawing LJM (that's what I'll be calling Laura from here-on-in, LJM. It's just shorter, and avoids the chance that I'm getting unduly overfamiliar with 'Laura' or ridiculously formal with 'Ms. Martin') in a forest, playing flute to woodland creatures. I smashed together a pencil sketch of that, during which the 'woodland creatures' turned into 'imaginary woodland creatures'.
Then I inked it, during which I weirded-up the rabbits, added a bit of details to the birds and accidentally gave the big bear/cat thing a beard. I was stymied throughout the inking process by my pens giving up the ghost and the fact that I might have rushed it a little bit.

Then came the colouring. I was without my paints or pencils or anythnig like that, so I scanned it and coloured digitally. After a few false starts I decided to give each element it's own gradiated colour, and ended up with the final image. To be brutally honest with myself, if I'd used paint I'd have been happier with this. As it is, it has a certain charm, but I can't help being reminded of Arabic textbooks from the 90's (maybe a slightly odd point of reference, but an accurate one.)
Turned out that this illustration was to be used in a review of a live performacne, becasue as I sent this image off to Richard, another callout appeared. Eager to exploit the chance to do something I was happier with, as well as use the chance to do two very different illos of the same subject, I jumped for that one. Which I'll detail in PART 2.