Tuesday, 3 June 2014

Careers in Facial Hair



This project stemmed from sketches done whilst thinking about badge designs for the recent Button Badge Design Competition. Thinking circularly I sketched a few ideas based around character faces, and noticed they each had facial hair, not something that was originally planned!
Pushing this idea forward, I asked: which jobs require you to have facial hair? It’s pretty much standard that jobs don’t really require this so there is scope for a bit of fun, my ideas were lumberjack, french chef, pirate and English gentleman. I don’t know if there are much career prospects in some of these jobs, so maybe don’t come to me for career advice.
After scribbling down the initial thumbnail sketches, I knew I wanted to do some experimentation and practice in printmaking and work on a larger scale than the button badges… Looking down at my glass on the table it suddenly comes to me… Coasters! Screenprinted onto wood.
My final drawings were done on layout paper full size. I have developed a method for art-working some of my illustration work and want to describe it as it sort of covers a part of my background and understanding about some past work.
First draw basic lines of the piece in reverse. Next add areas I want coloured and shadowed in marker pen, I want it to bleed through to the other side of the paper (which will be the front). Finally and most laboriously I use a scalpel to cut the areas I want as black lines and detail. I find this method to improve the quality of the line work from my pencil lines, it’s a bit like a stencil but I am using the scalpel like a pencil in a way… a stencil pencil? No? Anyway, the lines become more organic and grow, from my initial basic lines into something which just seems to work so much better than I can ever draw in pencil or pen.
I think this method is good and bad – it’s sometimes a total pain, yet I feel attached to it in my artwork generation because everything I do with it seems to work well. I’m trying to move away from the method, and there is potential in some of the new printmaking techniques I am learning on the course at UWE. Certainly as I learn more about relief print, but also perhaps there’s something in etching.
Anyway, for now my artwork ready for the next stage:

Printing & Production

Thinking of production now, I look at pre-cut coasters, but quickly scrapped that idea, as thought it would be too fiddly to print 2 colours onto a circular shape and retain registration. The next obvious choice is lasercutting.
Lasercutting has been something which I’ve always wanted to explore. As I started researching about how it is done and where I can get them cut – I found a few places in Bristol (forgetting about UWE at this point as I need induction which is scheduled in January). I came by Bristol Design Forge, a bespoke laser cutting and engraving company. Perfect. After some advice how to set up the files from Neil, I convert my final drawings to vectors using Illustrator.
The plan is to lasercut wood which has already been screenprinted. I will also set the files up to etch the areas of detail into the coaster so all that needs to be printed is the solid areas of colour. It’s an experiment, and a learning curve but hopefully you agree, one with a good outcome!

Screenprinted Artwork
Artwork to be Screenprinted
Lasercut vectors (red cut. black etch)
Lasercut vectors (red cut. black etch)
First colour printed on the wood
First colour printed on the wood
Lasercutting & etching in progress
Lasercutting & etching in progress


The packaging is a box which holds the set of four together. The box is screenprinted, cut and folded completely by hand.


The coasters are available to buy online here.