My good friend the writer and performer Billy Spakemon approached me early in 2018 about an idea he had for a children’s story about Black Country artist Charlie ‘Chas’ Grigg and asked if I would illustrate it.
I’d already been involved in a creative project about Chas called ‘Our Best Kept Secret’. A group of fellow Black Country artists, writers and musicians contributed work about Chas for a series of live shows to raise funds to get a blue plaque which was installed at Rood End School where Chas had attended as a boy. Read the article.
Me, performing at one of the fundraising events for Charlie Grigg's blue plaque
Dream to reality: Creating the book
Billy knew I also did graphic design and illustration and so asked if I would illustrate a new story he’d written which tells Chas’s story for a young audience, about 6 years old and up. The message is an important one, that young people CAN feel that if they have a dream (like being a professional artist) then they should follow their dream, put the effort and tenacity in. Of course I said yes and then began the task of bringing Billy’s handwritten script to life.
I began by drawing outlines in pencil, then inked them and combined elements to make the required image. This example shows MY hand(!) drawing one of Chas's actual characters, Bloop (see above).
I then scanned the drawings and coloured them on the computer using Adobe PhotoShop®.
It took a lot longer than I originally imagined. I have empathy now for Chas, having to produce drawings for comics for strict deadlines, it’s a lot harder than it looks. I wanted to use a style that resonated with Chas’s own work – bright, colourful and full of wit and charm – and I hope I have done him justice and that people of all ages enjoy the story and images.
The finished book is 48 pages, 210x210mm in size and printed on gloss art paper. Please Contact me if you’d like a copy @ £5.99 each. Early indications are that the book is selling well.
Dementia and Dudley 'Me Myself & I' Support Group
BOOK LAUNCH SEPTEMBER 21st 2019
A look back at the major projects we undertook in 2018. Watch the short video below.
e worked on at least 15 company logos for a mix of established middle size businesses and start ups.
"Alex has done a superb job helping us redesign our logo, adverts, signage and packaging to create brand consistency." https://www.cranesbillnursery.com/
We designed business cards for many companies and sole traders and managed the printing of 20,000 business, cards and over 6,000 fliers, leaflets, brochures, folders and letterheads.
"Super creative and helpful! Great for new and current businesses that want support on design and branding." https://www.theluminaireclinic.co.uk/
We illustrated 2 children's books and created several digital avatars for business people including the Website Inspector: https://wickedspider.com/website-audit/
We designed and produces numerous pull up banners:
"Alex Vann is my banner man. He's a creative genius." https://www.meljriley.co.uk/
One of our logos also made its way onto a men's silk pocketsquare!
We designed T-shirts for local businesses, featured in a magazine and also on a poster for Q3 academy where Alex attended as a child.
Alex also found time to complete a few portraits including his first ever digital drawing on iPad, using an Apple Pencil (see cat drawing below).
See Alex's separate site for more of this sort of work https://www.alexvann.net/art.html
Alex Vann is a true all round creative. As well as owning Alex Vann Design he is the founder of the community arts group: Real Arts Workshops, a portrait artist and a gigging musician.