This year we attended the Brighton Tattoo Convention, being held at the Brighton Hilton, and with the list of artists and traders in attendance, it promised to be a great weekend. Friday was spent travelling to the show and setting up our stand, which by the evening looked really sharp. On display were our range of t-shirts and hoodies, a selection of vests and tote bags, and our new screenprinted posters. I had a lot of help setting up, for which I am very grateful, and by the end of the day a few beers and some pizza were well deserved.
Saturday got off to a great start and, as usual, Faye led the way in attending to our customers, while I wandered round looking at the artists at work! Being situated so close to the bar helped. It’s surprisingly tiring being on your feet all day and you’d think we’d be used to it after Camden. Sunday was also a great day, with a lot of people visiting our stand including traders, artists and members of the public. We would like to thank Woody and his guys for putting on a fantastic show.
The inking stage of our Heavy Heart design complete, we can now move on to preparing it for print.
After looking again at the completed piece, I noticed a few areas where design elements needed to be amended. The stone platform at the bottom of the page, beneath the fruit, left a very flat line which leapt out of the composition. To soften its appearance, I whited out some areas with Tipex and added some unfurling leaves. As well as breaking up the bottom of the drawing, they now also lead the eye to the peaches at the dog’s feet on either side.Once the artwork has been finalised, it is then scanned and cleaned up in Photoshop. At this stage all traces of the under drawing are removed, the contrast is adjusted to create a truly black and white image, and any title and printing information is added. This stage is more difficult if the original blue drawing is very heavy. Any erasing of the original drawing can lift the ink from the artwork, so for this reason we avoid it, preferring to clean the image digitally.
The final cleaned artwork is now sent to the printer, who will use it to output films and prepare screens.
After the initial drawing has been finished in blue pencil, we start the inking. Our style of drawing leaves a lot of room for interpretation at this stage, and quite often we add in extra detail and small design elements while working as we progress. There is no specific side that we start on and it usually comes down to personal preference. On this piece I started with the dog on the left hand side, as I thought this would be particularly challenging. We very rarely use a brush and prefer to work with varying sizes of Faber Castel black art pens.
Any small errors are corrected with Tipex and then re-inked. On occasion, large areas need to be re-worked, either when we change our minds about the composition, or when the inking is not quite right. The way in which we deal with this is to patch in clean paper by taping a blank sheet to the back of the artwork, cutting through both sheets with a sharp blade, and then replacing the cut-out section of the artwork with the new piece beneath it. When the new area is re-drawn and re-inked, it is almost indistinguishable from the surrounding area. On this particular drawing, no patching was necessary.
In part three we will look at the final inked artwork and how it is prepared for print.
At La Mort Clothing, we make all our designs by hand, and in this series of blog posts, we hope to give you an insight into the methods and materials that we use to create our distinctive work. Each design takes up to four weeks, from initial sketch to print-ready artwork, and Faye and I work on each piece together right from the start. The design we have featured is our latest, and has the working title of Heavy Heart.
This piece started out during a discussion between Faye and myself, where we talked in depth about the concept before putting pen to paper. We formed several ideas, which were put down as thumbnail sketches, and then we worked together on the final rough. We still leave a lot of room at this stage for additional content, and only work to a very loose sketch when laying out the final drawing. A series of reference photographs are taken of posed models, and then work begins on the full-sized artwork. Heavy Heart is drawn on an A2 sheet, in blue mechanical pencil, which is easier to remove during the scanning process. We begin with a series of grids and geometric markers, which set the foundation for each drawing, and once complete, we begin to fill in the main content, followed by the details and border. Our loose drawing at this point leaves us a lot of space to add detail during inking.
In part two, we will discuss the inking process and how we achieve our distinctive style.