Reminiscing on our recent Birmingham (Electric Rock) exhibition at which Praying Mantis played their socks off, it occurred to me that I must have something of an obsession with insects (sorry Tino!) Further reflecting on my art career I recalled a considerable insect repertoire which goes back to my childhood days in the village of Farrington Gurney, UK, where I (just like most other kids in the days when video games were something from Mars) collected insects and shoved them in jam jars with a ventilated cover (naughty!)
Unlike the other kids however, I just had to draw insects and marvel at their intricate construction. The lace wings that moved at the speed of sound, the hydraulic-powered legs that propelled a grasshopper many, many times its own length, and the rippling leg movements of the millipede.
I am no expert entomologist, but I know enough to realise the special importance that insects have in our wonderful natural world. On excursions to warmer climes I found that many of the UK resident insects were replicated there in much larger format and exaggerated to a fantasy genre. The camouflage and change of both colour and shape to suit an environment of the praying mantis for example is beyond belief.
So, where am I going with this? I started to use stock insect design as a springboard for fantasy creatures that were sometimes endowed with human characteristics enabling, for example, the earwig to play a guitar, the spider a drum kit and the weevil the keys:
They appear of course on Tiger Moth's album cover Howling Moth. The artwork is titled 'Sextet':
Then there was the temptation to enlarge the creature out of all proportion, an example of which is the mantis eating planet Earth as seen on Praying Mantis' album cover Gravity:
Furthermore, insects could be used as steeds for dark warriors, as seen in the private commission 'Conflict in the Grass':
or as a fundamental blueprint for metallic war machines, for example the scorpion tank in 'Peace … At Last!':
To display all of my insect-influenced artworks within this one blog, could take me quite some time, so I'll leave you with a select few of my lesser known pieces.
The drawing below was suggested to Child's Play International for a series of board books titled Insect Antics:
This one is an alternative logo design proposed to the computer game company Traveller's Tales:
The computer games I have been involved with have been littered with my insect machines. Here is one of them:
Below is 'The Battlefield of Chaos', illustrated for Michael Moorcock's short story Elric at the End of Time:
'Inter-Galactic Games (Number Three)', a poster design from 1986, features a boxing fly - what he lacks in size, he makes up for with extra arms and faster movements:
'The Firewagon', an image for the project The Moth and the Moon, which sadly never came into being:
Finally, I'll leave you with a little anecdote about the following image, 'AR-CE-EM 242', a cover for Dutch magazine Orbit. I remember being stuck for a title for some time, in the end I chose to name it after the invoice number for the job - RCM242 - at that time my invoices always started with my initials.
If you made it this far, thanks for reading. I'll try not to leave it so long before my next blog.
That’s me, that twanging earwig! Small swell of pride!
Your insect work is stunning, but I must declare a conflict of interest, as the earwig stares down at me every day 😀
Fascinating,, did you by any chance see David Attenborough’s TV piece about Dung Beetles last night on BBC. (22/3/19)