London Art Spot: Martin Hoare

Some people love to capture London on film, others in photographs, a few just in memory. Welsh illustrator Martin Hoare takes his sketch book out to the streets. Later, some of these sketches are transformed into more elaborate drawings or paintings. For a while, his pens & pencils sat in a drawer while he concentrated on his day job as a graphic designer, but now he’s set up a blog to revive them. It’s called Martin’s Doodles. If you enjoy his unique catalogue of London life below, pop over and have a look.

For this week’s London Art Spot, Martin tells us a story of frustration as a prospective art student, talks through the process of creating a new piece of work and about the satisfaction he’s recently discovered in a completely unrelated hobby that fills his spare time.

Piccadilly Line

LLO: How does living in London influence your creativity?
MH:
London is an amazing place to live and work. I’ve lived here now for 12 years and there are still always new places to discover. I love the way that each area has its own unique feel, the way you can travel just a short distance and feel like you’ve gone somewhere completely different. It’s always been drawing people and the way the people of London interact with each other and the urban environment. That’s what really interests me. Someone once said: “There’s 8 million stories all playing out at the same time.”  That’s what I’m trying to capture.

Green Park

LLO: Graphic designer by trade, and here you are with a blog full of “doodles”, of sketches and drawings. What’s your artistic background?
MH:
I have always been a compulsive drawer. As a kid, I don’t think I was happy unless I had a pencil and a stack of paper. I left school at sixteen and took a training scheme at the local Ford Motor plant. I think it soon became apparent that I had no interest in producing axles and, fair dues to them, they set me up with an interview at the local art college. But without formal qualifications, they weren’t interested in taking me on, and at the end of the interview they showed me a perfectly airbrushed illustration of a motorbike and told me not to come back until I could produce work of that standard. This really discouraged me from perusing any kind of career in art. It wasn’t until years later that I found out the illustration was from a student’s final degree show.

I did a fanzine for a bit around this time, designed a few record sleeves, t-shirts and gig posters for local bands. Then when the need to get a proper job came along, I became a painter and decorator. So I was working as a painter, but just the wrong type. I still kept on drawing but didn’t think of doing anything with it until I started taking a life drawing class. There were a lot of art students there from the college that had turned me down a few years back and I was surprised to find that I was drawing at a better level than practically all of them. So I thought, what the hell, gave up my job and started a foundation course. I intended to go on to study fine art or illustration, but having discovered the wonders of what could be done on a Mac, did a degree in Graphic Design and have been sitting in front of a screen ever since. The down-side of this being that for a long time I put down my pencils and brushes and it has taken me quite a while to pick them back up again.

Brewer Street

LLO: Where did the initiative to start “Martin’s Doodles” come from and what do you hope to achieve by keeping the blog?
MH:
I had drawings all over the place, in numerous sketchbooks, on bits of paper, and it was hard to keep track of everything. I really needed to get everything scanned in, just to pull everything together. So the main reasons for setting up the blog were getting organised, getting my work out there and moving it forward. After all, what’s the point of producing a load of artwork if it’s just going to sit in a drawer in the spare room?

LLO: Best place in London to shop for art supplies?
MH:
Cass Art in Islington. I spend a lot more there than I need to, I have a thing for buying new sketch books, whether I need a new one or not. I also visit the London Graphic Centre in Covent Garden quite a bit.

North Lanes

LLO: Favourite place in London to sit with a sketch pad?
MH:
Probably somewhere on the South Bank, especially when the sun is out. There’s usually a chilled atmosphere and noone is in a rush to get anywhere, which is helpful when sketching.

LLO: Which piece are you most proud of so far and why?
MH:
It’s usually what I’ve just finished or am working on at that time. I’ve just finished a painting ‘Leaving Las Vegas’, which is Soho street scene. The thing that started me off on this image was the signage, which I just had to work into a painting. And being Soho it just had to be a night scene.

Leaving Las Vegas

LLO: Describe the process of how your artwork comes to life from the moment you conceive an idea to the finished product.
MH:
I’ll spend a lot of time wandering around just looking for somewhere that will work as a drawing or painting. I’ve basically always got an eye on the next piece of work. Once I’ve chosen a location I’ll do a few rough sketches and take as many pictures as I can. I’ll then put all these together in Photoshop, and usually work up a composite image, putting all the elements together. Print this out and make a rough pencil drawing sketch placing all the main elements on the page. Once that’s done I’ll start working up the drawing, with either a fine liner, or ink and pen. Once I’m happy the drawing is done, I’ll either add shading with marker pens, or I might scan the drawing and colour it in Photoshop.

The next stage is to determine which drawings may have the potential to be worked up as paintings. The whole painting process is a lot more involved and time consuming. Unlike drawing where the work can be finished in one sitting, a painting can be very much a stop-start affair, gradually taking shape, depending on the free time I have available. But it’s really rewarding when you finish with something that you’re pleased with.

Oceanic Leather Wear

LLO: What do you get up to when you’re not drawing/doodling/sketching/painting?
MH:
Aside from work which takes up a large part of my time, I have recently started gardening. For the first time since moving to London I have a garden, and have really gotten into growing my own vegetables; there’s something really pleasing about eating food you’ve grown yourself. I tend to go to a lot of galleries. One of the great things about London is that there is just so much art going on; wherever I happen to be, I can usually take a bit of time to check out whatever galleries are around. Being Welsh, I also often end up in the pub watching a bit of rugby.

LLO: Is there a place in the capital you’d love to sit for a day with a sketch pad but haven’t had the chance yet?
MH: Actually having the luxury of a day to sit sketching is not something I’m used to. Maybe it’s being a Graphic Designer, where everything is driven by deadlines, but there never seems to be enough time to fit everything in. I’ve never done any drawings on the tube; maybe I could sit on the Circle Line going round and round drawing people. Perhaps I should try that.

Smoking Man

LLO: Any impressive up-and-coming London-based artists we should keep our eyes on?
MH:
Print Club in Dalston (www.printclublondon.com), has some really good illustrators and artists. I like a lot of the work they produce.

Sundae, Sundae

Thanks Martin! 

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London Art Spot: Ahmet Barut

Ahmet Berut is a graphic designer, an illustrator, a photographer, an animator, a web designer, a Muslim with a passion for clarifying the misconceptions of his religion and, of course, a born and bred Londoner. The love of design started in primary school where Ahmet was fascinated by the design of storybooks while learning how to read. He graduated from university in 2009, sticking to the same career ideas he had way back then.

The core of his personal work is an effort to peel back the hard rind of negativity that lies between the peace inherent in Islam and the messages of fear and disapproval that have piled up since 9/11 and 7/7 became regular terms in the global media. Ahmet wants a bit of harmony in the world.

Beyond that, he has worked on creative projects with people like Dev.Soul (who is about to release a debut album) and is currently pursuing a 6-month internship at a charity-based organisation called L’Ouverture (www.louverture.co.uk) which he is enjoying tremendously.

Eventually, Ahmet would like to have his own freelance design company.

Dev.Soul, front of album cover

LLO: How long have you lived in London and how does this city influence your creativity?
AB:
 I’ve lived in London since I was born, and the city influences me in many more ways than one. London is a very interesting and unique place to live because of the vast diversity within its people and their backgrounds, be it class, ethnicity or faith. This unique setting conjures up an abundance of influence, which materializes into an atmosphere, which certainly makes you more conscious of the world. This has had an affect on the concepts behind my self-initiated and personal work. I use design to understand the world better and also try to help people understand certain aspects of the world, such as my background in particular. I think there is a need for people to come together in one way or another to try and understand each other better and to help break down walls, even in London, despite the fact that it’s tremendously multicultural.

Dev.Soul, CD design

LLO: What is your working process from brief to finished product?
AB:
 Once I read the brief, I distinguish the target market/audience and I pick out keywords, which I can use in the research phase. Before I start on the research, I jot down some initial ideas. I think the most important part of the working process is the research phase. I mainly undertake visual research into current trends and also I look into existing work, which relates to the brief. After research, I experiment with ideas based on what I have found. Once I’m happy with a certain style, I develop potential final designs. I create a variety of outcomes, which I show to the client to keep them updated with progress. On most occasions during this phase, the client chooses one or two for me to develop further, or sometimes they are happy with what I have produced as a final.

Dev.Soul, page 3-4 of CD booklet

LLO: Do you specialise in any specific field of graphic design and which aspect of design do you most enjoy?
AB:
I specialise in print work, however, I am also keen on specialising in motion graphics and web design. I particularly like motion graphics as I enjoy the working process of it and one of my ambitions is to work in the film, TV and gaming industry. I have also started to get into web design, as I have found that most of my work revolves around the web. There are also a lot of great opportunities once you have good web design skills.

 Dev.Soul, back of business card

LLO: Tell us a bit about your recent project “The Misunderstood Religion of Islam”. How did you come up with the idea?
AB:
I had undertaken “The Misunderstood Religion of Islam” project for my final major assignment at university. The aim of the project was to factually dispel the universal misconceptions that many people have about Islam. In the process this would educate people about the religion and also hopefully open their eyes to something they thought had no positive impact or role in the world’s history.

The final products comprise of an A5 booklet, accompanied by several posters. The booklet contains articles dispelling the 10 most common misconceptions of Islam with quotes from the Holy Qur’an and the Hadith’s (traditional sayings) of the Prophet Muhammad (peace be upon Him). The posters have vivid images with strong statements and questions, making people think differently about Islam.

A3 Islam, Front Cover

I came up with the idea in response to the unfair negative press Islam is getting in the media, especially in today’s global climate. I felt there was a moral need to address the misconceptions that have been created in all the confusion, which has stemmed from misinformation.

Unfortunately, on some occasions this confusion has led to undeserved hate towards Islam. This hatred is evident and can be seen across the Internet. For example, I would come across informative videos relating to Islam on sites such as YouTube, and around about 80-90% of comments on those videos were extremely negative – threats such as “Let’s kill all Muslims” or “They should all be kicked out of our country” etc. The latter consisted of misconceptions such as “Islam is a terrorist religion” or “Islam oppresses women”.  I feel that education is very important, because it is the only thing that will bring peace and unity.

People can take a look at the project here.

Misconception

LLO: What messages are you conveying through your work?
AB:
The main message I want to convey through my work is that not everything is what it seems. For instance, when you look deeper into something, it usually turns out to be different from what one would first assume. I tried to visually represent this connotation through “The Misunderstood Religion of Islam” project, by creating a notion of confusion and distortion through the typography.  I want to be involved in more projects that relate to these types of subjects that  hopefully make people aware of certain social issues.

Terrorism is not a religion – A3 poster

LLO: Which project are you most proud of so far and why?
AB:
The project I am most proud of is “The Misunderstood Religion of Islam” both ethically as well as aesthetically. I hope the project has cleared up any confusion that people might have had. I also hope that the project can be a platform for people to start discussions and debates. I think that the design style of the work has been successful in communicating the context of the project. It has also inspired me to experiment further with information design.

LLO: Who is your dream client and why?
AB:
I have two dream clients, the first one being Naughty Dog, a computer games company. They have worked on games such as Unchartered 2 & classics such as Crash Bandicoot. The reason why I would want to work for them is because working in the gaming industry as an art worker is one of my goals.

My second client would be an organisation such as Current TV, which is an experimental media company. I am very interested in the work that they do, especially in the documentaries they make about world issues. That is a field I would definitely want to work in. From the clients I have given, I don’t favour one over the other. I want to work towards gaining opportunities to work in both areas.

Summer Saturday performance club poster for L’Ouverture

LLO: Favourite London-based artists and designers?
AB:
I am very fond of a London-based artist/designer/illustrator who calls himself TWIY (Alex Chappell). He has a unique style in the work that he does. He ranges from print design, to illustration to painting. His work can be described in many more words than one, because I haven’t really come across many works like his. Some of the words that could be used to describe his work are unique, vibrant, exuberant, fresh amongst many more. People should take a look for themselves at his site. (www.twiy.co.uk)

LLO: How would you like to see your career develop over the next few years?
AB:
In the next few years, I want to gain as much valuable experience as I can. I also want to keep on developing my style of work, as I will be doing throughout my career. Ultimately, I would want to have enough knowledge and preparation to be able to set up my own freelance design business.

Calling all playwrights competition poster

LLO: What are you working on now?
AB:
I recently finished working on a marketing campaign to promote a website relaunch of L’Ouverture’s partner IdeasTap. I created a promotional video to attract people to the new site. I am also currently working on completing a promotional video to advertise L’Ouverture and their services.

Apart from working with L’Ouverture, I am also working on a variety of other external projects.

My main personal project I am working on is redesigning the style of my website and also updating my portfolio. I try to always update the style of my site (www.ahmetbarutdesign.com) as much as I can. This plays a big part in my training for web design, as I would like to gain a foothold in the web industry.

I have also just finished working with a recently graduated music producer who goes by the name of Dev.Soul. He will be releasing his debut album, so I branded his name and designed him a music album sleeve cover, album booklet and business card. I have already worked with Dev.Soul in the past on another project. This project was called “20th July 1974”. We collaborated in creating a visual audio documentary based on the Turkish Cypriot’s untold story of the Cyprus war in the 1970’s.

I am also currently involved in an ongoing self-initiated project, which carries on the work of “The Misunderstood religion of Islam” project, which hopefully helps people become aware of certain world and social issues and also makes people clear about the teachings and beauty of Islam.

Thanks Ahmet! 

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