An excellent concept is perhaps the most important part of any design. If a drawing or painting is created using an unclear or incomplete idea, then no amount of technique or compositional changes can save it. As well as having very clear rules on our technical approach, we also pay very close attention to the way in which we come up with our ideas. We have spent many hours reading books to gain an understanding of structure and form, but the subject and vision of each of our designs usually comes to us in an instant after reading a particular phrase or seeing a strange image.
Distilling an initial concept into a successful, clear plan for a drawing can be very difficult. It involves many thumbnail sketches and mock-ups, and we even scrap ideas for months, returning to them when we know how to make them work. This process is certainly not for the impatient. Once we have settled on a theme, and made our initial small-scale sketches, we will find reference material to help us construct the final drawing. This can be hard if we are drawing a fantastical subject. A good example of this is our drawing Youngblood. We needed reference shots for a pair of cherubs flying and fighting. After much searching, we found underwater photographs of babies swimming, that were in the right ethereal poses.
Many of our ideas don’t even make it to final designs, but the ones that do then go through a process of refining before we start gridding up the final piece.