Danny Morison is an incredible London based illustrator who we had the pleasure of featuring on page 140 of NOCTIS VI; there is a certain darkness to his work and his attention to detail is exquisite. Fantasy and science fiction have been a driving force behind his work for as long as he can remember and it took our theme of folklore FANTASY to another level. He says,
"The real world just seems so dull and flat, and above all, predictable"
In his drawings he can escape to a world where rocks float in the sky, where starships drift between multi-coloured nebulas, mystic priests perform secret rituals underneath moons and giant robots are made just for the hell of it. Danny Morison kindly took the time to answer some questions for NOCTIS, read what he had to say here...
Was your love of sci-fi and manga the prompt for you to become an illustrator?
When I was a kid I remember being heavily influenced by cartoons like Transformers, M.A.S.K, and all the nuts ones about plant robots and dinosaurs with guns on their back, real trippy stuff. I used to just draw them over and over again till I was in my teens, then got into all that Games Workshop stuff, became shunned by the cool kids so carried on drawing! I don't think I've ever been interested in anything else really, so becoming an illustrator wasn't really a choice. Literally, I have nothing else, it's either draw or die.
How has your style developed since you started drawing just because you could when you were a child?
I don't think you can truly class yourself as an illustrator, or even call yourself one, till you can live of it, or spend 100% of your time on it. So I've been trying to be a fully fledged illustrator for nearly 5 years now, since leaving university. I just happened to stumble across a style/technique right at the end of the last year of uni, something that complemented my way of working as well as my drawing skills, which I'm half really happy about, half kicking myself that I hadn't come across it sooner.
Since then, I've just been pushing that style, trying to make it into something more, trying to experiment with it, alongside any storyboarding work that comes my way. 5 years is a long time, and it shows sometimes how much I've pushed myself. But it's hard you know? I maybe have 2 or 3 days a week when I can be an artist, the rest of my time is just me trying to keep my head above water, working in a part-time job, finding more work, self-promotion, girlfriend, chasing pay, being really good at Halo, etc, so again, I'm left thinking what I could do if I just had a little bit more time.
There will never really be enough time in the world will there? So, where would you say your heart lies in illustrating, do you have a "personal style" vs. a "professional style" like I know many photographers [for example] do?
My heart lies in my own stuff obviously, I think my idea's are amazing because I'm a massive arrogant bastard. Unfortunately to make a living as an illustrator, or any kind of artist I guess, you need money to live, which means you need to do jobs for money, which means you lose out on any creative control, or even creativity itself sometimes. But working for someone else really affirms my belief in what I do and how I do it, just because other peoples ideas or input is so bad sometimes! My head is literally in my hands once a week, but I've learnt not to be so precious about work done for other people, and be super into my own stuff, and I think that energy, driven by despairing at other peoples fucking nuts ideas, has started to show through with my recent work.
Is there anything that inspired the spread for NOCTIS VI?
The theme was 'Fantasy' so I chose my most dream-like, fantastical, most sci-fi pieces. As I said in the mag, fantasy is the ultimate escapism, no one can tell me I'm drawing things wrong, and I get to draw what I want, which is robots most of the time for some reason. Anyway, I have a little book that I drew little, postage stamp size compositions in, back during one of my, now bi-monthly, breakdowns/need to change my life weeks, and thats where most of my pieces begin their life, as tiny compositions.
Taken from NOCTIS VI
What advice would you give to your younger self?
'Don't be afraid'
Are you currently working on any big projects?
Yes! I'm doing illustrations for a card game called 'The Agency', a game set in a dark future where an espionage agency gets betrayed and split up into factions, lots of guns, babes and rain. One of the rarer projects where I get a lot of creative control and also a lot of character design, so it's been really fun, as well as good old-fashioned hard work. It's going to be a Kickstarter in a few months, would be awesome to see it funded, printed and played, hint, The Agency.
Do you have a daily source of inspiration?
I like walking to places, mainly because of a deep-rooted fear and loathing of the general public stops me from using London buses, but also because I find that's when I can work things out in my head. So I do a lot mental sorting out in that small amount of time I get to myself and away from the sound of fat kids screaming outside my window and that accursed Facebook. So that's when things fit together, which I guess is inspiration? Also, I like to peruse sites such as Tumblr, But Does It Float and iso50 when I should be doing something really important.
Do you find yourself doodling in your spare time (assuming you have a moment to spare!)?
Sometimes, mainly when people are talking to me, or I'm supposed to be doing something. I usually have a warm-up drawing that gets me going at the beginning of the day, but that's all I get really, maybe 10 minutes? Maybe if I manage to manifest some willpower this year, I'll stop dicking around on the internet and just draw instead.
Do you have a plan for the future?
Become an illustrator! Actually live off my work rather than doing it around everything else. That is my dream. Do a comic, an animation, maybe get a job which involves my actual talent and see what it's like to earn more than £100 a week. Also, move out of London, it's like a nuthouse here, to somewhere with a nice Waitrose in the vicinity perhaps?
Finally, could you describe your style in 5 words?
FUN, COLOURFUL, BOLD, INTERESTING, SURREAL.
You can see more of Danny's incredible work on his website.
In July, 2012, I assisted Leoni Blue, a talented fashion photographer and editor-in-chief of NOCTIS Magazine on her shoot in Cuffley, Herts. It has only been recently I have scanned in the behind the scenes photographs that I personally took on my point and shoot camera, because I had for some time misplaced the rolls of 35mm I took on the day.
Professional I know.
Nonetheless, I still wanted to share the experience and from where I live, the travel time to Cuffley [on a number of trains] is about 2hours and 2minutes... providing you know where you are going.
When I eventually arrived in Cuffley [on my own], it started to rain. Hard.
After being close to tears about being lost I stumbled across a post-man; finally someone I could ask for directions! He explained to me that I was heading in the right direction BUT on foot, like I was, it would take at least another hour. This was time I didn't have and time I didn't want to spend in the torrential downpour.
He offered me a lift as he was heading that way, and though dubious at first, I accepted.
Cuffley is a beautiful location and the kind postman gave me a narrated tour of the road; it was a very wealthy area with many a footballer taking up residence there. The house opposite where I was headed housed Myleene Klass.
Here are some of the frames I took.
Below is the final outcome by Leoni Blue; the shoot was published as a webitorial on the NOCTIS Magazine website
Alongside her studies she runs a blog for feminist fashion, which is the basis for a small zine she is working on entitled Femme Sole Zine. She says the theme of the blog and zine is "anti-fashion", by which she means the inclusion of all women within the fashion industry, regardless of size, age, colour or sexuality.
Sophie kindly took the time to talk to us about her work and upcoming project. Read what she had to say here.
Since studying for a photography degree, how do you feel you have developed your practice?
I've definitely gained an understanding of the real world. Our tutors always encourage us to treat every brief as a live assignment, so that involves talking to galleries if your work is intended for an exhibition. In my case it's been an exploration of publishing and photography. I've always been interested in publishing and since studying I've discovered so many different mediums for print that I didn't know about before.
What sparked your keen interest in journalism?
As I said before, I've always been interesting in publishing - this started at a young age, when I was determined to be a writer. I've always loved writing and as I've grown up have moved away from fiction and into blogs and articles. I love writing, I love photography, and I love publishing, so a career that combines all of this things - whilst giving me a voice to express opinions and convey messages - would be amazing.
Have you always had an interest in feminism?
I haven't always actively had an interest, but I've always had this niggling voice in the back of my head that told me I was just as good as the boys. It's definitely down to my mother, who a couple of years ago left her job in order to become a feminist writer and blogger. When that happened, I realised how actively involved she was with the subject, and that led me to listen a bit more closely when people talked about it - leading to an inevitable interest in it myself. It opened up my eyes to something I'd been subconsciously taught all my life.
Where would you say you find your inspiration then?
I'm inspired by everything around me. I love going to exhibitions to see new work, and reading books about photographers I'd never heard of. I think black and white photography is beautiful, and have a soft spot for street photography and dark, eerie work. I'm also inspired by films and books, and narrative in general. If I have a specific project or brief I tend to look at similar work and then break it down into what I find wrong with it, and what could be done differently. Also, my parents inspire me a lot.
How did you set out to start your feminist fashion blog?
It was kind of in response to my photography course, where we're encouraged to work in a very commercial way to prepare us for the real world outside graduation. A lot of people on my course chose to follow the route of fashion photography, which I've always enjoyed as well due to the amount of possibilities. However everyone's work seemed to be influenced by the same photographers, shot in the same way, with the same colours and settings. Obviously the photos look great - they're all very skilled. But it's like the industry isn't moving anywhere because everything looks the same.
On top of this, every photographer chooses the same type of model: thin, young, and generally white. They're selling products to women who want to look like the models in the photos, forcing unreal ideals on young girls who aspire to be like the thin, glamorous models, and generally manipulating the general public. There's no transparency. Whereas, in reality, fashion is for everybody. It isn't exclusive, and you don't have to be thin, young or privileged to enjoy it. Making a statement through your style is a great form of expression, and there are hoards of feminist crafters and designers worldwide that aren't getting enough attention.
I want my work to focus on those people, and I want to make people realise that the fashion industry doesn't have to be the way it is - people just aren't willing to change. Fashion photography doesn't have to be degrading or manipulative. What's the point? All it does is marginalise people and contribute to patriarchal oppression.
You speak of working on a "feminist friendly fashion photography" project for university? Is this something you will continue with once you graduate?Definitely. The feminist friendly fashion photography is all for publication in the zine I'm working on, and this is something I will continue until it makes some kind of impact.
How do you keep these views in mind when you are creating new work?
I try to come with narratives or concepts within my work that have feminist undertones. For my newest shoot, Grrrl Scouts, we had the models wearing feminist badges and brooches in place of scout badges and the photos have a very organic and natural feel to them. I don't really like forcing models to pose in unnatural ways, or putting them in a setting that is wildly inappropriate to the theme. There's nothing manipulative about my work. I also try to ensure that nothing I photograph can be construed as offensive or triggering.
What can we expect to see in the Femme Sole zine you are working on?
The zine will be constructed from both my own photography, and submissions. The photography will generally be based around feminist-themed fashion, whilst the submissions can be on any subject so long as they're feminist. It'll be a small publication and hand-made, and will be available internationally by the beginning of March. The blog for zine, femmesolezine.tumblr.com, pretty much covers the subjects that will be looked at in the zine, as well as extras in the form of daily updates and impromptu articles.
Has it been a challenge to create your zine? How did you go about setting it up?
It was to begin with because I didn't know how to get people involved, but in the end I reached out on Tumblr and Twitter, and currently have over a hundred subscribers. Through the blog I have managed to circulate calls for submissions and casting calls, and have been able to keep people informed of events, plans and upcoming shoots. I've also been able to update on a daily basis, creating relevant and up-to-date articles that aren't big enough to be in the zine, but would interest the readers.
What has the general reaction to the project been so far?
It's been very positive. I haven't had any online haters, yet, and everyone who has responded to the blog has seemed genuinely interested in the idea. I hope that once the first issue is out, there'll be more curiosity about it. I want it to reach anyone interested in the subject, but it's a slow and natural process and I have to be patient.
What do you aim to achieve with this project?
I want women to realise that what they see in magazines isn't real, and that they are so much more than the caricatures portrayed in advertising. I want them to know that there is a whole community out there of people just like them, and to understand that their appearance is nobody's business but their own. They own their bodies, their styles, and their lives. You can dress how you want.
All I'm doing in the zine is showing people my own little ideas and concepts, not imposing rigid trends. In the end, I really want magazine editors to realise what they're doing by portraying this warped reality, and how it is harmful. It's not difficult to change, either. Even magazines that claim to be women-positive engage in these practises. Sex doesn't sell, it degrades. Manipulating a woman's paranoia to sell a product isn't necessary. And models don't all have to be thin, young and conventionally beautiful.
YOU CAN SEE THE PHOTOGRAPHY WORK OF SOPHIE ELLIOTT HERE AND KEEP UP WITH HER ENDEAVOURS TO CREATE FEMME SOLE ZINE [AND SEE MORE IMAGERY] HERE
Designers Raj Mistry and Richard Brand are the creative minds behind VIDUR. Together, they oversee all aspects of the design and creation process of their collections.
Their designs are slick and refined, and look wonderful in monochrome. While only one half from a fashion design led background, Vidur. hone together with a shared gold... to design and create menswear that is "elemental, functional and enduring". While it is still an early endeavour, each piece holds an air of elegance, yet a sense of edginess and an alluring "street-cool" shines through.
Beauty lies within the details of every piece of work, and the Vidur. ethos will inevitably evolve and become increasingly refined over the years. They have a happy-go-lucky attitude, but they don't want their garments to be "throw away" pieces of fashion.
With a clean surface and the ability to layer durable fabric, the practicality of these designs makes you wish that the winter season lasted a little longer. Vidur. set the new precedent of hem variations, shirt tails, and slouchy relaxed lines and we spoke to both Raj and Richard about their brand and working practice. Read what they had to say here.
How did you both meet, and equally as important, how was VIDUR. formed?
Back when we were both studying in Edinburgh (Richard at the school of music and Raj at the college of art doing menswear) we worked for the same store that sold watches. Although we never actually spent a shift together we had mutual friends keeping us in the same ocean, but we’d never discussed working on a label at all, or anything even remotely close. By a complete stroke of luck/fate we bumped into each other at Raj’s graduate show before he went to the Royal College, got talking and the rest, as they say, is history.
Models: CJ Chukwumah & Shubomi Shonibare
Photographer: Oliver Benton
Stylists: Olivia Rose-Hulme & Jeanie Muldownie
Having started little over a year ago, how do you feel you have progressed as menswear designers in terms of creating "functional yet enduring" garments?
Our overall aesthetic hasn’t changed, but as with anything creative, the more you do of it, the more a feeling you have for it and the more your ideas become clearly defined. We’re like a pair of 1 year old leather shoes – way past the initial breaking in stage and just entering the nicely worn in, comfortable stage.
Do you feel that working as a team helps you to develop your ideas?
Absolutely. We know eachother’s strengths well and are in sync when it comes to what we’re trying to achieve. For us both to have a sounding board to bounce ideas off keeps us in check and stops us from doing anything too silly/weird/wacky.
For our readers, describe a normal day at the VIDUR. HQ.
We’re actually pretty disciplined – we’ll set out what needs to be done that day and just get to it. Normally it all falls apart at lunchtime though; one of us is a fancy eater and one of us always wants beans on toast. You can guess who is who.
Where do you find your inspiration? Do you follow any of the current menswear trends?
We’re heavily influenced by Nordic design and its focus on durability, functionality and use of natural materials. This stays constant so in a way stops us from picking up on trends and fashions. That’s not to say we don’t keep our ear to the ground – what’s great at the moment is that there’s a massive spotlight on menswear with so many great designers getting the attention they deserve.
Who is your target audience? Do you have a particular image in mind when creating your designs.
There’s no particular stereotype. We hope whoever wears it has chosen it because they appreciate what we’re trying to achieve.
Do you start designing with a concept in mind or do you let your ideas develop as you work?
We work from the top to the bottom, like an upside down pyramid. We look at the season as a whole at the very beginning and treat it as one body. Then we start drilling down into garment styles, its function, the pattern itself, details, finishing and all the other smaller but still really important points. Throughout all this, fabrication and production stay at the front of our minds.
Is there anyone in the industry that you admire, and why?
We’re big fans of Jeff Griffin – he’s been plying his trade since '94 and is good friend of Raj’s. The way he takes ‘urban vs country’ aesthetic always works well. More recently James Long has really impressed in use of knit [he’ll be Raj’s design tutor at RCA next year}.
Could you describe your work in five words?
Elemental, functional, enduring, timeless (but) contemporary.
Do you have any exciting plans for 2013?
We’re in the process of completing a pre-SS14/resort capsule that we’ll develop into the full mainline collection. Anything else would be telling!