How is it the end of 2015 already!? Blimey, that's gone so quickly! I've been lucky enough to have had a fantastic twelve months, so I wanted to do a bit of a visual roundup to share some of my favourite memories from the year! Pop the kettle on, make a cuppa and have a read...
Most excitingly this year I GOT MARRIED! I wed my wonderful partner Jane at the gorgeous St Georges right here in the heart of Bristol in August. We had the most incredible day with family & friends - we're still recounting memories of it now, it was such a whirlwind. We're so incredibly grateful to our family & friends for their generosity in making it all possible, it only happened because of their kindness so we're super thankful for that. I'm incredibly grateful to Jane, for always being supportive and encouraging - everything on this list happened because I have such a supportive wife!
I really love doing talks, they're a huge honour. Being able to talk about what you love is the best, so I'm massively grateful to those kind talk organisers for giving me the chance to be involved in their events. 2015 was a fantastic year for it, I went to countries I've never been to before and visited old favourites; OFFF in Qatar & Barcelona and FITC in Amsterdam & Toronto plus plenty of new places here in the UK. I've met so many great people and made lots of new friends, fingers crossed it may continue.
I'm speaking in Munich, Amsterdam and Belgium in February '16, so I'm really excited for that! Again, I'm so grateful for the opportunities to speak, a huge thanks to my man James White aka Signalnoise who kindly hooked me up with a good word to FITC & OFFF!
LIFE GOAL ACHIEVED! I've always dreamt of being able to work on a feature film, so getting that opportunity makes me giddy with excitement! This year the fantastic Shaun the Sheep Movie came out, created by my workplace, Aardman Animations, and I was lucky enough to be a part of the crew and work on a small segment of the film! It even meant I got my own IMDB credit, totally legit!
The bit I worked on was an animation motion graphics piece, where 'Mr X', one of the characters in the film, trends on the internet! You can see all the work and the clip right here!
Keeping on the theme of Shaun the Sheep - the Shaun in the City project was absolutely bonkers and a brilliant thing to be involved in. I was lucky enough to design three 5-foot Shaun sculptures; 'Bahhbersheep', 'Sheep Shape & Bristol Fashion' and 'Shear Speed Helter Skelter'.
Not only that, but I was fully immersed in the project from the Aardman Digital side too, as I designed both the official app and website, so it was so much fun to be part of the project in a few different ways. Most exciting was that all 120 sculptures raised OVER A MILLION POUNDS for charity! How incredible is that!? I'm very proud to say that my 3 Shaun's raised over £20,000, which all goes to helping sick children in hospitals, an incredibly worthy cause indeed.
You can watch the making of 'Bahhbersheep' right here on Vimeo, a film made in collaboration between Jonny, Michael, Josh & myself!
This year brought along a collaboration that I never imagined in a million years would happen... a screenprint collab with Oscar-nominated actress Sally Hawkins, star of Godzilla, Paddington, Layer Cake and many more!!
How did that come about!? Well, in 2014 I made a little homage graphic to the Godzilla reboot, which featured a line from the film "...not [nuclear] tests. They were trying to kill it." - that line was spoken by actress Sally Hawkins, who happens to be the sister of my friend and Creative Director at Aardman Digital, Finbar Hawkins. I fancied doing something with the graphic, rather than it just being a few pixels on-screen, so I asked Finbar if he would kindly ask his sister if she was up for a collaboration! Luckily, she said yes and we produced a short run of screen-printed posters, with Sally's line written by hand on the posters, and her signature.
The profits from every print went to charity, the Marine Conservation Society, so it was all for a fantastic cause. Thank you to Sally and thank you to Finbar for making it possible. You can get your own screen-print right here.
This year has been a lot of fun mucking about in front of a camera, all in the name of being silly! My good friend Ricky had his CBBC TV show 'Art Ninja' hit the airwaves at the start of 2015 and it was really well received! Ricky and the team have created something really fun, inspirational and positive. He gets a brilliant mix of inspiration to just make & do things, coupled with a lot of silliness and honesty. Sarah, Rich, Andre & myself popped up quite a few times in the 1st series, helping him on his adventures which was so much fun.
Ricky and the production team Dot to Dot were commissioned to make a 2nd series, which was filmed over the Summer and Autumn this year and I'm stoked to say that we once again joined Ricky for the madness! It's really fascinating to sit behind the scenes, watching a live-action TV show come to life, observing it all come together. I really really enjoyed being a part of it and am really proud of Ricky and the team for making something so positive for kids (and adults!) to enjoy!
You can catch an episode from Series 1 on iPlayer right here and look out for Series 2 on your telly early 2016! I was also a 'tech tester' for the latest series of The Gadget Show, which was a lot of fun this year too!
This is another never-ever-imagined-this-would-happen thing... I met a Princess and was heckled by the future King of England. Yup. That feels bizarre just typing that.
Totally true, the full story is that Aardman animator Will Becher and myself co-hosted a live animation event at Bafta HQ, which was all in aid of entertaining the Charity Forum, which is 30+ charity groups which are all royally supported. Each year an event is planned for the Charity Forum and 2015 saw Aardman work with the mighty Bafta to screen a world premiere of the new Shaun the Sheep short film, plus a live animation workshop (which me & Will hosted) as well as a model-making workshop.
The Duke & Duchess of Cambridge and Prince Harry were there, as they're the patrons of the charities, and they were there in the animation show that Will & me were doing. We needed some volunteers for our show, and one lovely little girl got a little stage fright. As she went back to her seat, we saw a bit of excited commotion (we couldn't see too well due to the stage lights) and then the young girl was coming back up the steps, looking a little more confident, this time because Princess Kate was holding her hand, helping her through it. Kate and the little girl did the animation, albeit with a heckle of "Make Catherine do a silly walk!" from Prince William, the future king of England. It was a very, very surreal day!
As bonkers & brilliant as the day was, the royals were super nice and everyone felt really at ease as soon as we met them. They're really friendly and because we're all a similar age, it was like meeting anyone formally, there were just quite a few more camera flashes than usual!
I'm very proud that I have my very first solo show happening right now, here in Bedminster, south Bristol. It opened on the 4th December, at the ace Hangfire gallery on North Street. The work on display is an eclectic mix of things I've made over the past few years - from prints to pixel art, photography to toy design. It was really interesting, going back through my work, selecting pieces to display and formatting them to fit their new purpose.
I wanted the show to feel like an explosion of colour, and ultimately, just a fun collection of shapes and colours. I had the opportunity to collaborate with friends of mine, to make some new 3D pieces: The giant 3-foot Droplet which Hiatt from Sion Lane made, a 1-metre wide 'Satanic biscuit' character CNC-milled out of wood by Jamie Cross and a LED pixel display masterminded by Stefan Goodchild. I love making physical pieces, so that's something I'd love to do more of going forwards!
Big thanks to Ben & Bo at Hangfire for giving me the opportunity, to Rik @ Ripe Digital for printing the work and to everyone that's come to check out the show so far!
Lastly, this is something that I never ever presumed could happen - I've written a book!! I am over the moon about this and so excited for it to come out. It's going to be published by the Do Book Co, which is a book imprint inspired by The Do Lectures. It publishes books written by previous Do Lecture speakers on a huge variety of subjects. From Do Purpose to Do Bee Keeping, they're inspirational pocket guidebooks for all ages.
Mine's called Do Fly: Find your way. Make a living. Be your best self. It's about just that - making your way in the world of work, making a career out of things you love & care about, and being the best person you can be. 'Work' is often and incorrectly assumed to be a negative word, to equate to drudgery - I want to encourage more people to pursue the things that excite them and to show that you can make a professional career about what excites you!
Writing it was a really interesting process, I had to find a routine that worked for me because trying to write in the wee hours after work just wasn't proving very fruitful. In the end I asked my friend Finbar, who's a writer, and he suggested getting up early and writing then. As ghastly as that sounded (early mornings! aggghh!) I gave it a shot and what do you know - it worked a charm. It made it easier to write; every morning i would write for an hour and see what came of it. No matter how little, every character was something. Once I got into the flow and started to understand my own process, it really came together. The words were finished a few months ago, with Miranda, the editor and founder of the Do Book Co, tweaking my words into a cohesive state for the book.
I've now moved onto the design and illustration of the book (woohoo! I get to do all the bits!). As luck would have it, my friend Wilf is the designer for the do book co, so I got to design a styleguide for the layout of the book which he then worked his magic on incorporating into all 128 pages, whilst I went away and created custom illustrations for each section. The design is pretty much there, we're proofreading over Christmas and then first thing in the new year I'm going to be shooting the photographs too, I can't wait!
The book is slated for release in May 2016, and you can be sure I'll excitedly be organising a launch event, so stay tuned for that! You can even pre-order the book on Amazon right now!
So then, there we have it - my 2015! I can't tell you how thankful I am to have such fun & exciting projects to be a part of - I never take any of this for granted and have to pinch myself regularly.
This is all down to working with fantastic people who kindly share their skills and knowledge with people like me, so a big big thanks to those kind souls out there.
A special thanks to my wonderful wife (love saying that!) who always supports and encourages me unconditionally. I am very lucky to be her husband.
Thank you to you, for reading this, I hope your 2015 was lot's of fun and here's to your 2016! Over here on the right is a little music playlist for you - I've compiled some of the tracks I was listening to a lot this year. Some are new, some are old, but all of them have been the soundtrack to my year. Enjoy!
Happy New Year!
- Gav x