Dave Mckean

We were asked to complete a short article (700-800 words in length) on a Contemporary Graphic Designer or Visual Communicator who is or has featured in the OFFSET Creative Conference Series. I picked Dave Mckean who gave a talk at the Offset Convention in 2009.

1.1  Introduction

In 2009,  Offset became one of the most inspirational, educational and vocational conferences for the design and creative industries. At least 2,500 people attend the talks every year. The conferences are held in Dublin and have attracted creative legends such as Milton Glaser, Tomi Ungerer and Sir Peter Blake. As part of the HND1 Graphic Design module, we are to write a short article on one of the speakers. Dave Mckean, an English illustrator who gave a talk in the year 2009, was the one I picked.

1.2  About David Mckean

  David McKean, is an Englishman who was born in Taplow, Berkshire in 1963.  He is an illustrator, photographer, comic book artist, graphic designer, filmmaker and a musician. His work combines drawing, painting, photography, collage, found objects, digital art and sculpture. At Offset, McKean talks about how he remembers all of his father’s stories. Hence, becoming his greatest influence and why he describes his work as also ‘telling stories’. A few of his books are about father and child relationships.

Before computers became one of the main tools for designing, McKean experimented with color copying machines. He describes the method of shining a light onto the copier and even scanning his own beard to achieve different effects. From detailed, expressive collages to simplified line drawings, he explores different styles for each of his work. Viewers, like myself, are transported to another surreal world where anything is possible.

1.3  Achievements

McKean has worked with a few icons, such as the evolutionary biologist Richard Dawkins, comic writer Grant Morrison , the chef Heston Blumenthal and Neil Gaiman.  Mckean collaborated with Neil Gaiman after failing to find work as a comics artist. The pair produced short graphic novels, Violent Cases, Black Orchid and Hell Blazer for DC Comics.His biggest achievement was illustrating the Batman graphic novel, Arkham Asylum: A Serious House on Serious Earth. He produced 120 pages of paintings, which offered reinterpretations of the classic characters. Based on observations by a comic historian named Les Daniels,  McKean has sold a staggering 182,166 copies in hardcover and 85,047 in paperback.

His biggest achievement was illustrating the Batman graphic novel, Arkham Asylum: A Serious House on Serious Earth. He produced 120 pages of paintings, which offered reinterpretations of the classic characters. Based on observations by a comic historian named Les Daniels,  McKean has sold a staggering 182,166 copies in hardcover and 85,047 in paperback.

A page from the Arkham Asylum: A Serious House on Serious Earth.

https://johnnynoirfilm.files.wordpress.com/2013/04/scan-131020017-copy.jpg?w=1212&h=909

McKean then produced covers for Neil Gaiman’s series called The Sandman and a book for the Rolling Stones called Voodoo Lounge.

Covers from The Voodoo Lounge & The Sandman

 

Based on his relationships with his father and his two children, McKean has produced children’s books. The Day I Swapped My Dad for Two Goldfish, The Wolves in the Walls, which won the NY Times Illustrated Book of the Year and Varjak Paw. He also produced a book titled the Fat Duck Cook Book for the chef Heston Blumenthal. Blumenthal is a revolutionary chef who pioneered in multisensory cooking, foodpairing and flavour encapsulation. He was inspired by Lewis Carroll’s book, Alice in Wonderland and felt McKean’s work would best portray his ideas.

Images from the Fat Duck Cook book:

 

He has produced CD covers for artists like Tori Amos, Alice Cooper, Toad the Wet Sprocket and many others. In 1998, McKean produced a film called N[eon] which won First Prize at the Clermont-Ferrand Film Festival. He then collaborated with Neil Gaiman and the Jim Henson Company to produce the film Mirrormask.

Images from the film Mirrormask

CD Covers for Counting Crows and Tori Amos

Counting Crows, This Desert Life (art by Dave McKean)

Tori Amos, "God" (art by Dave McKean)

He has also created concept illustrations for the 2nd and 3rd Harry Potter films and designs for Lars von Trier’s interactive project in Copenhagen, House of Zoon. In 1996, he composed and performed the music for the BBC Radio adaptation of Signal to Noise with saxophonist Iain Ballamy. He and Iain Ballamy then initiated the Feral Records Label.

  1.4 Conclusion

After listening to his talk for Offset and studying his work, I find McKean inspirational and revolutionary. His courage to experiment and combine different styles to produce surreal artwork motivates me. I could relate to his motto because as illustrators, our main objective is telling stories. Instead of following the norm, he produces his own interpretations of the subject. Below is an image of my own work which I find similar to McKean’s.photomontage4

 

 

 

 

 

Bibliography

https://johnnynoirfilm.wordpress.com/2013/04/12/comic-book-treatment-laurie-dix/ (2013, Laurie Dix

https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Heston_Blumenthal (14th April 2016)

http://www.amazon.co.uk/The-Duck-Cookbook-Heston-Blumenthal/dp/0747597375

http://www.amazon.co.uk/The-Duck-Cookbook-Heston-Blumenthal/dp/0747597375

About OFFSET

http://www.philnel.com/2012/03/11/kidlitrecords/ (2012, Nine Kinds Of Pie, Phillip Nel)

http://www.enjolrasworld.com/Miscellaneous/Mirrormask/Mirrormask.htm (2001-2006, Peter Karpas)

http://www.davemckean.com/personal/biography/

https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Dave_McKean

http://www.davemckean.com/

http://www.fortressofsolitude.co.za/2014/08/looking-back-at-arkham-asylum-a-serious-house-on-serious-earth/ (Rick Austin, 2016, Fortress of Solitude)

http://www.amazon.com/Rolling-Stones-Voodoo-Dave-McKean/dp/0785100814

http://comicsalliance.com/sandman-overture-dave-mckean-jh-williams-neil-gaiman-cover-first-page/ (Comics Alliance, Andi Khouri, July 17, 2013)

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