Flippin' 'eck, what a year it's been! I'm sure they seem to go quicker and quicker as each one passes, which also means my memory gets more and more hazy! I've attempted to rattle my noggin and write about some of the highlights that 2014 has brought with it, here we go!
First big thing that happened was that we adopted our very own Greyhound! Jane & I took a trip to the Honiton Rescue Greyhound Trust and fell in love with this old boy, 'Arnie'.
He was 9 years old when we first got him and had already had a racing career and been in a home, until his previous owner sadly passed away and he was put back into the rescue kennels. That's when we found him and brought him home, he's been the best addition to the house!
He's been a big influence on my own work too, with greyhounds popping up everywhere from my free art pieces to exhibition artwork!
2014 saw Droplets get a fresh focus too! I designed over 12 new characters to add to the suite of characters, with the aim of them turning into vinyl toys. Unfortunately, Crazy Label, the production company who made Droplet toys Series 1 & 1 come to life, have sadly closed it's doors, so toy production is suddenly a lot harder.
I'm working with Iris Licensing now, which means Droplets wont just be vinyl toys - I've created a whole world & story for the lil' guys, which I'm really excited about pushing forwards in 2015!
I did release a new set of toys this year though - albeit in a much smaller scale. I worked with Chris of Creo Design to produce a set of 40 resin JamFactory factories!
Hand-painted by Chris in 4 different colours, made out of solid resin and featuring an inset laser-engraved disc on the bottom, they also each came packaged in a screen printed cloth bag, printed by my friends at Victory Screenprint right here in Bristol!
I've had the huge honour of doing a big bunch of talks and events this year too, more than I ever could have imagined! I've been lucky enough to speak at FITC Amsterdam, Apple Store on Regent Street, The Meat Conf, Generate, Develop, Reasons To Be Creative, UsTwo and more!
I even had the massive honour of giving the graduation speech at Weston College in the summer!
That meant so much, especially as I never went to university myself, so to have the opportunity to speak to the graduating students, well that really was something I'll never forget!
I really want to say thank you to all the organisers of all the events, and all the attendees, for giving me the chance to speak about what I love to do, it's the best thing in the world! I'm very excited for speaking in 2015 too - I've got FITC Amsterdam, FITC Toronto, OFFF Qatar & OFFF Barcelona lined up and I cannot wait to be a part of those, what an honour!
One of the things I'm most proud of from 2014 was getting the opportunity to design & paint not one but two new Gromit statues!
The twin statues were dubbed 'Legacy' Gromits - and I was commissioned by the lovely folk at Aardman and The Grand Appeal to design something that celebrated all the achievements that Gromit Unleashed, in the style of my illustrated 'Stats' Gromit from 2013!
It was so much fun getting the chance to create something that represented so much positive impact on Bristol and beyond. I felt very special to have been involved in Gromit Unleashed, so to create 2 permanent statues that cemented how much money it raised for the Children's Hospital, what an honour!
One of the big dogs lives inside the atrium of Aardman HQ, and the other is on permanent public display at the Gromit Unleashed store in Cribbs Causeway here in Bristol!
Just when I thought things couldn't be more awesome... Gromit Unleashed Hong Kong happened! A few Aardman creatives, which I was lucky to be a part of, designed new Gromits that would join the trail out in HK.
I designed my Gromit to look like a 'mech', inspired by Gundam Wing and the like. So you can imagine how much my tiny mind exploded when I found out that the team behind the Hong Kong exhibition, chose mine to be turned into a 4 metre tall version!!
Because the giant Gromit needed to be built in pieces (12 to be precise!) and my designed happened to feature lots of intersecting 'plates', it seemed to fit, so I was very much the lucky one!!
I really enjoyed being a part of a project where stuff got made BIG! So I asked my good friend Hiatt of Sion Lane Workshop, if he'd be up for collaborating on a project for the 'TOYS' exhibition here in Bristol.
Luckily, he said yes, and was up for turning a Droplet, normally 2.5 inches tall, into a 4-foot version with legs! As I've embellished the world of Droplets, so has their story and character, so now they can 'drip' legs when they land on the ground, turning them into bumbling drops with big long legs!
I had no idea if it was possible but Hiatt absolutely smashed it, and made my A4 illustration into the 4-foot beast with absolute perfection!
He went on display at the TOYS exhibition, and now lives in our house, greeting visitors as they come in! He's going to hopefully do the rounds and be on display at lots of different venues, just for fun!
I'd love to collaborate with Hiatt again, make even bigger things, who know where that may lead!?
You can read all about the process of making the big guy right here.
One of the biggest things I had the chance to be involved in at Aardman this year, was the redesign of the Aardman website and the printed materials! I know I say it a lot, but it really was a massive honour to have the opportunity to do this - I know I'm biased but I'm such a huge fan of Aardman and what it creates, so it was a dream come true to help design the new-look website and then all the printed materials to match!
The latter half of the year has all been sheep-based! For the first time whilst at Aardman, I joined the feature film crew and had a role as a graphic designer for a sequence in the forthcoming Shaun the Sheep Movie, due out February 6th! I can't tell you how exciting it was to be a part of a feature film crew. Really, REALLY exciting!
It was a brilliant process to be a part of, I learnt so much myself and working with a crew of people I hadn't worked with before was rad, really eye opening.
I can't wait to show you my work next year, I'm going to be jumping in my seat looking for my name in the credits!
Be sure to pop Feb 6th in your diaries, you're not going to want to miss the film, it's a corker!
That's just the tip of the Shaun the Sheep iceberg too, as Shaun in the City is coming in 2015 too! It's the spiritual successor to Gromit Unleashed and will see 120 designed & painted Shaun statues in Bristol and London, creating a huge arts trail across two cities!
This is all in aid of raising money for children in hospitals again, which is a wonderful cause, and I hope it raises millions of pounds like Gromit Unleashed has!
I was over the moon to receive an official invite to be one of the Shaun in the City artists and just last week I officially finished my statue! I can't show you a thing yet, it's all top secret for now but I'm very proud of it indeed! The graphic to the right is just a hint at what's to come!
That was another brilliant process and I again learnt so much - 3 of the techniques on my piece are 3 things I'd never done before, so it's been a real learning curve, but I think that's always the best way!
Look out on the streets of Bristol & London in 2015, there's going to be lots of rad things to spot! I'm also designing the new Shaun in the City website and 'locator' app, due out in time for when the trail begins, so keep your eyes peeled for that!
Lastly and most importantly - 2014 saw me and Jane getting engaged!!
None of the above would be possible without Janes constant support and encouragement. I am very very lucky to have someone who pushes me to pursue new things and supports me every step of the way!
So here's to 2015 - There's lots here that I haven't been able to show, things that will be 'out' in 2015. From a venture with my Jane, to a little something I helped out on with my friend Ricky. I can't wait to share all that with you!
And then, there's the brand new things happening next year - I'm writing my first book! Partnering with the DO Book Co, It'll be a pocket guide to doing the work you love and trying your hand at everything (which I'm doing by learning to write a book!). New happenings with Droplets and I have a film idea I'm intent on pushing forward, learning to write a screenplay - wish me luck!
That's just my personal projects, there's so much goodness to come out of Aardman HQ, I can't wait for you all to see it! Thank you to you kind folk for getting this far reading this - I'm very grateful that you have!
Have a fantastic new year, thank you for everything in 2014 and I'll see you in 2015.