Wednesday 20 January 2010

Emma Calder's Collages

Carrying on from the last Emma Calder's Moody Days Blog on the subject of collages. Here is one I did for Moody Days.

Now back to the history bit, on how the style has developed and changed over the years. 

And one from about 1968.

I set up my first studio with college friends in November 1983, in an old de-lousing centre at the Elephant and Castle. I can remember the first week sitting in the freezing cold studio with no commercial work and we had to think of ideas for projects to do. 

Emma Calder and Ged Haney South London Press September 14th 1984

As we really didn't know where to start, another studio member suggested that Ged Haney and I start making a picture library for the studio. We brought in hundreds of old Sunday supplements, started to cut out all the pictures and filing them. After a few days I'd had enough of this activity full time, so I started making lots and lots of little collages out of the remaining pictures in the magazines. I wasn't exactly sure where the pictures would lead but, as I was planning to get work as an illustrator, I used the collages to build a new portfolio.

Detail of scrap/recycled letterhead the other side had a collage on it

One character produced in those first few weeks was a fish lady, it ended up being used for our company Pearly Oyster's logo, six years later and I still use it today. Don't know what happened to her friend though.

Some of the other collages I produced in those first weeks, were these hoover women, which triggered the idea for my animated film Springfield. 


Matt Forest a pop video director from “Big Features”, had seen some of my line tests for Springfield and he asked me to put her in a pop video for the Art of noise, “Close to the Edit” that he was doing. I didn't want to use Springfield for a commercial job, so I suggested that he let me do a sequence based on some of my collage illustrations. 

 Still from Springfield 1986
 Still from Springfield 1986

Luckily for me I was the first animator to have their stuff ready to shoot and Matt told me to begin filming immediately, do as much as I could and what ever I fancied. Those were the days, I did cut out animation (moving paper cut-outs under a rostrum camera) and all I had to do was make sure that what ever I did, fitted with the soundtrack. As you can see my bit used knives, forks and spoons, but why? I can't remember now.

 Close to The Edit Pop Promo. Band The Art of Noise. Sequence by Emma Calder

It was a really well paid footage rate and they used twenty five seconds of my stuff and I shot it all in about six hours, I was very pleased, as I orginally had been only asked to do ten seconds. It was a excellent pop video, lots of talented designers and animators worked on it and it had a cinema release too. You can watch it on you tube. Everyone else was pissed off though, as they all worked solidily for two weeks night and day and most ended up getting paid less than me. I think the money was running out towards the end and not everybody's work got used. Something like that.

Tuesday 19 January 2010

Emma Calder's Different Art forms

Collage is the medium for Emma Calder's Moody Days Sticker Book. The illustrations are a mixture of small stickers stuck on, or bits of pencil drawing, watercolour, photographs, scanned images, rubber stamp printing etc...

Like this image for the Stuck section of Moody Days, which was made with rubber stamps and drawings on tiny stickers.  

And this one from the title page. (Every sticker is a different face but it didn't take long too do, just mad sticker frenzy!)

When I was searching through old portfollios for this blog, I came across this drawing I did at five or six years old and I thought it was strickingly similar to the Spots above. Even though I hadn't seen it for over thirty years.

Over my career I have used many different artforms for my animation, instillations and graphic work, from motorised sculptures to jewellery design but, my favourite has always been collage. 

 Grandma's knitted tie and hangman earrings 1978

So for this week and the next few weeks blog, I am going to show you some of my old collage illustrations from the days before Photoshop was invented. These designs show partly the evolution of the sticker style in Moody Days.

One example of my student montage work is this poster for the Royal College of Art M.A Degree show in 1983. 

Each character included in the poster was a collage of different students work, from different departments in the college. 
I was quite naughty because, before checking with anyone, I found the technician who was printing up photographs of student work for the degree show catalogue, asked him for all the reject prints and also got others out of the bin. 
Back in the graphics studio, I cut them up, drew into them, photocopied and then coloured them. 

 Emma Calder in the Graphics Studio at the R.C.A 1983.

After I had done the artwork, I tracked down students whose work I had used and got their permission. I accidentally forgot to tell one person and when he saw the printed poster he got very annoyed. I had used a piece of his product design, for the head of one of my characters. He did forgive me luckily. Trouble is, if I had asked everyone in advance, people might  have said no, or grumbled if their work was not included. You have to take chances in life sometimes.

 Emma Calder with Paul Javis and Stuart Jane in the Graphics Studio at the R.C.A 1983