Corban Wilkin: Illustrator

Live Drawing at the Climate Symposium
October 19, 2014, 12:42
Filed under: exhibitions, illustrations | Tags: , , , ,

darmstadt climate symposium 2014

Just got back from Darmstadt, Germany, where I was attending the week-long 2014 Climate Symposium as a sort of artist-in-residence.

I spent the week responding to themes in the conference lectures and discussions and producing artwork as visual accompaniment right there in the beautiful Darmstadtium Science and Congress Centre. I worked alongside comics artist James McKay who was also painting all week on themes of Climate Science. We were asked to attend after producing the book Dreams of a Low Carbon Future, which debuted at the 2013 Thought Bubble festival. (And right now we’re working on the sequel.)

The whole event was wonderfully organised and although many of the scientists and researchers attending said they’d never seen anything like this at a science conference before, everyone seemed to enjoy watching the process, especially when I spent some time actually drawing at the front of the main conference hall as talks were going on. Nerve-racking at first, but very exciting.

A number of attendees asked about buying the artwork I produced at the symposium. The work is going into an exhibition for a few weeks, but after that I’ll be able to sell the pieces, which are all A1-sized (594 x 841 mm). Feel free to contact me for details.

painting in darmstadt

WP_20141015_007 WP_20141015_013

The Long Journey

stewwebres‘The graphic novel’ is being worked on and will be for a long time, and that’s all I’m saying.

Although it looks this way, I haven’t, in fact, dropped off of the face of the earth, but I have been extremely busy (haven’t we all?), with, as well as ‘the graphic novel’, a full-time job which I might talk talk about in a later post.

Some of my work from Dreams of a Low Carbon Future is currently on display in The Cartoon Museum in Holborn and will be until 1st June 2014.

Have you ever noticed that to tell another about a planned project intended to be completed on one’s own steam, or a mighty ambition one has every intention of carrying out, often ruins the possibility of making said dream a reality? I read somewhere, at some time, that to explain a hitherto secret idea, for a story, say, to someone else actually gives us some facsimile of the pleasure we associate with great and self-motivated achievement. By revealing that we have every intention of writing the greatest screenplay in history we in fact feel that the friend we simply had to confess this ambition to thinks highly of us for planning to do so. We imagine to ourselves that they are in some way impressed with our plan and our motivation and it thereby robs us of the ability to make real what is already so comfortingly extant in the shared consciousness, which seems almost good enough to replace the real thing. Making something real takes a tremendous, in fact inordinate, amount of time and energy. Making anything significant must by necessity take over one’s life. If we can feel, subconsciously or otherwise, that we have already been a bit impressive to the people whose opinions we value then the effort seems futile. We’ll give over a chunk of our lives to creating or realising something, and to present it to those we first mentioned the idea to will be anticlimactic: “See? I told you I’d do that thing and look at me now. I’ve gone and done it!”

How much grander and more exciting to step out from behind a doorway and present a fully-formed piece of brilliance to one’s peers, the excitement of their response to this wholly unpresaged, fully, or perhaps, at least, mostly, accomplished idea a powerful motivator in the graft of hours upon hours doing the labour of creating the thing in reality. Rather than presenting a now-poorly-motivated shadow of a grandly (or, indeed, failingly) expressed idea, one instead has a grand statement, all laid out and out of the blue, with no grand idea that it tries in vain to live up to.

Resist blurting out every idea to your friends and peers; explaining your bold vision to them. An idea that is just an idea ought to be kept a grave secret until, through work, you ripen it and cause it to exist: make it ready to be enjoyed. Until that time, all you have is an idea and all of the experience in my short life so far has taught me that an idea alone is worth next to nothing.

Of course there are exceptions even to this rule: the idea for chocolate-covered peanuts, for example.

Above and below: VECTOR DRAWINGS. Remakes in fact of some old children’s book illustrations. I liked these and haven’t bandied them about enough yet.


Floating Settlement
September 16, 2013, 10:57
Filed under: exhibitions, illustrations | Tags: , , ,


Just an illustration for an anthology being put out by the University of Leeds called Dreams of a Low Carbon Future. It shows a potential future scenario where parts of the population live in totally self-sustaining colonies of artificial floating islands in the sea.

It’s ink and watercolour. I thought about colouring it digitally, but the colours came out quite vibrant in the end and it means it has that natural, grainy texture that you can’t really emulate properly with digital colouring.

Along with other work, the original art’s going to be exhibited at The Cartoon Museum in Holborn later this year. Details in the next post.

Being Busy

New Blood came down… and up went New Designers. After being told the night before that we had a spot at the show, we had one hour to set up our exhibition, which was to open at 9am. We managed it though, and it turned out to be a great show, thanks mainly to Shane Noonan, who fronted the effort. New Designers is a huge show set in an enormous, St. Pancras-like building, and it mainly showcases industrial design, interiors, and so on, but there was a small section tucked away at the back for us illustrators. That’s the end of exhibiton season for me.

More recently I’ve produced some illustration for London’s big youth magazine, LIVE, with controversial themes and a bright yellow colour scheme. They will be published alongside articles concerning piercings and growing up too fast. The Beauty of the Dead is finished and printed into a promo-book along with other stories. Above is one of my favourite panels from the comic, and you can view more at my portfolio.

Since then I’ve been drawing out a lot of science fiction stories, most of which have gone well, but none of which I have ‘typed up’ into finished artwork yet. I’ve been reading Isaac Asimov and also Kim Stanley Robinson’s Mars trilogy in between my scribblings, which offer great inspiration to the science-enthusiast in me. They, along with a great deal of non-fiction science reading, have borne the basis for quite a strong science fiction novel within me. Though I seem to be busy all the time, I hope to find some spare days to beginning drafting out my ideas.

Right now though, I’m working on the design and art for a new computer game. Can’t say too much yet, but it’s bound to be a challenging and exciting project.

Moving Forward

It’s been a while since I’ve posted since I haven’t had a great deal of news lately about the work I’m doing. Strangely this is the product of working very hard and consistently on a project! In this case it’s The Beauty of the Dead which is almost finished; I’m hoping to have it done today in fact. Above you can see my always-cluttered work-space as I finish inking the remaining pages, as well as photos from the New Blood exhibition, one of which shows members of the public apparently interested in my work (not family members planted there by me; I promise!)

The exhibition seems to have gone off without a hitch so far, and it comes down on Monday (4th July). After that it’s all comics all the time for me. I honestly have so many projects I want to pursue right now I don’t even know where to start, including a large-format sci-fi comic, redrafting a novel I’ve sketched about a homeless couple, starting a new one that’s been brewing in my mind for months now about a forbidden love in a modern war-time setting, starting several short-story ideas I have… The list goes on.

Does anyone else ever feel worried that their ideas will start to slip away from them somehow if they don’t grab them and do something with them right now? Does anyone ever feel as though they are pulsing with creative energy but that they have to bring it under control and let it burn slowly over the long period it takes to create comics (or any kind of art)? I hope so. I’m sure I’m not the only one!

Exhibiting Twice
June 9, 2011, 19:30
Filed under: exhibitions, the old man and the sea | Tags: ,

This last week has been my degree show at the Old Truman Brewery in Brick Lane. I displayed some of my recent work along with all the other graduating illustrators and various other arts courses in the same large hall. I showed pages from The Old Man and the Sea, as well as my children’s book Stewpendous! and a plethora of other work. There was some fantastic photography as well as a personal favourite of mine, the Sonic Arts exhibits, which always has work of great technical prowess and can be quite thought-provoking too. The show generally was a great success and was full of visitors over the whole weekend. You can see the official website of the communication arts section of the show over at Unfolding Talent.

From July 1st-4th, and in the same building as the graduation show as a matter of fact, I’ll be displaying a smaller selection of work at the D&AD New Blood festival, a showcase of graduate art and design work from universities across the country. This one focuses only on illustration, animation and graphic design. I visited last year’s show and there was an incredible range of work, so it’s well worth going to.

Meeting the Pros
May 28, 2011, 21:25
Filed under: comic artists, exhibitions | Tags: , , , ,

On Wednesday I attended the private view for the new Steve Bell exhibition: Bell Époque, at London’s Cartoon Museum which presented a retrospective of his work from throughout his career. It was a great exhibition which such a range of work. I didn’t realise Bell (who is the cartoonist and comic strip artist for the Guardian) was so skilled in so many different styles and media. Even though I found his style of humour alienating when I was younger, I’ve come to see him as a real master of the form. I also find his comics hilarious now, even though I’m never sure why! Despite the fact that he’s been in the industry for decades, his work is still so cutting edge; it feels like the work of a much younger, more rebellious and, indeed, angry cartoonist. Far from being an angry rebel, though, he seemed like a really friendly guy! I suppose he saves it for the cartoons.

I was also lucky enough to meet Bryan Talbot at the event. He’s the creator of Grandville and Alice in Sunderland and one of the great British cartoonists involved in creating novel-length works (the comics form I’m most attracted to). He told me about his beginnings in underground comics and his latest just-finished project, created with his wife. It’s great to talk to professional cartoonists who have been making comics for many years, just to see how they feel about their work, and get a glimpse into their wealth of knowledge on the subject.

Incidentally, I found out today that Myriad Editions will be holding a graphic novel competition for unpublished cartoonists, the first prize being the opportunity to publish your submitted work with them, and the panel of judges will include both Bryan Talbot and Steve Bell! They’re asking for 15-30 pages of art and a synopsis of the novel for consideration. This looks like it’ll be a great chance for aspiring cartoonists to get their ideas out there and it should give a lot of people the impetus to start working on that story idea that’s been in their heads. The Deadline is in October, which is perfect for me, as I’ve recently begun work on a new long story. I think I’ll be entering, and I’d encourage anyone who wants to make comics-novels to submit their work, as well.

[Photos via Fearnet and Varndean College]