Monday, 16 May 2011

I Wish I'd Done This

Monsterism Island Mural by Pete Fowler 


Because of my love for character design I can really relate to this piece and say it’s one I really wish I’d done.

Monsterism Island is the brainchild of Welsh Illustrator Pete Fowler in which he has built and entire world around the characters he’s created. His monster creations all live on Monster Island, which he explains “represents an island on earth that’s yet to be discovered due to some strange atmospheric pressures.” Each character has its own elaborate back-story, specific traits and levels of “Monsterism”. These characters are a reoccurring theme in Fowlers work and have been developed into a range of toys, cartoons and music.

2009 the Idea Generation Gallery in Chance Street, London showed an exhibition entitled “Monsters Inked”. The idea of this exhibition was to give illustrators the chance to let their imaginations run wild. There were over 100 monster images on show giving the viewer a chance to experience the illustrator’s processes from roughs to finished pieces.

The above image was featured in this exhibition and spans a massive 800 square foot of wall. Despite its size the image was installed in just one day using a new product called “Wallapeel”. This new product is just like wallpaper with the added value that it can be easily removed without leaving any marks on the wall. This also benefits the gallery who can remove the installation on their own once the exhibition has finished.

Fowlers mural uses a brilliant combination of bright colours, repeating pattern and amusing characters, these elements combine in a vector illustration and give the piece a 70’s psychedelic look. His influences come from Japanese art, folklore, myth and psychadelia, these influences can be seen as a theme running throughout this piece.

There’s a character in the middle rising from the ground, complete with handle bar moustache and pink flowers sprouting from his beard, he looks like he’s meant to be the god of nature as his hair forms into tree branches. Resting on his arms and head are strange tree like people who stare blankly with their tiny eyes and seem to have a connection to the larger figure, perhaps these creatures symbolize ancient legend and folklore. The mural is full of quirky characters like this.

Behind the central characters two blue sea monsters rise from the water with shaggy haircuts baring their teeth, sinister owl type creatures in the top corners seem to loom over the scene as if they are guarding their territory. So much detail has gone into this piece and each time I look at it I see something new. I really like the two volcano’s at the back who’s eyes weep out lava tears and the tiny winged skulls coming out of the mouths of the two giant skeletal figures.

There seems to be a musical theme running through this piece, the characters on the cliff edges play their electric instruments and the characters in the foreground are seen walking along playing their enchanting folk music. Fowler has strong links to music having created most of the album artwork for Welsh rock band ”Super Furry Animals” where he introduced his monster world. He has also created an album to correspond with the Monsterism series entitled “The Music Of Monsterism Island”. The music on this album also has a 70’s vibe going on using the characters from his world to form a rock band. The music reminded me a bit of “The Doors” instrumental sets with its trippy keyboard melodies and rock guitar riffs. The great thing about Fowlers work is the way he’s created this style into a complete brand with a massive potential for merchandising by doing what he loves best, creating monsters.

There’s a lot I can learn from this image and the way Fowler works. I love the sense of freedom that went into this piece and that it is solely the creation of Fowlers imagination. I like the way he has carefully considered what material to produce it in allowing the gallery the freedom to remove it with ease.  I hope to be able to produce work in the future that is of the same level of professionalism and allow myself the freedom to create characters in my own time that capture viewer’s imaginations and have the same level of appeal. Ultimately I want to be producing work that looks visually striking and at the same time leaves people asking questions. 

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