Friday, 26 November 2010

Night of the Senses 2011

Around about this time of year I am always happy to get an email from Dr Tuppy Owens. It seems my spiral studio work has become a bit of a signature tune for the Night of the Senses and for the last three years I have provided an image form the Muse series to be used on flyers, invites and in general for the charity event.

It started in 2007 when I was nominated and shortlisted for erotic photographer of the year and I have kept in touch. I really must get to London to one of the events but to paraphrase Morrissey 'I would go, but I haven't got a stitch to wear' ... actually that would be a distinct advantage at this event!

Well it's a good excuse to get a couple of my Spiral Studio images on the blog, my illustration style has been grabbing the limelight this year with the bulk of commissions being from that folio, it was mainly Spiral the year before so it all evens out I guess.

This years image of choice is Circus Show.

Last year was The Undertaker.

More news soon, I'm working on a set if 8 illustrations for a great client at the moment so I'll post when they are published.

Bye for now.

Thursday, 28 October 2010

Hansel and Gretel

Here is the image I recently created for the Southbank Centre to illustrate a performance of Hansel and Gretel by the kneehigh theatre that will be on over the Christmas period. The Kneehigh are actually based about ten minuets down the road from me, sadly I have not seen the production because it looks great from the snippets that I have caught on youtube ...

'full of merry grotesquerie' said the Guardian ... words I am certainly happy to read in any brief.

A little explanation for anyone who knows the play. Hansel should be holding the encyclopaedia and indeed in the version that will be used he is, I have just swapped it in my folio version for aesthetic purposes ... sorry Hansel!

Sunday, 17 October 2010


I read today that the mathematician Benoit Mandelbrot had died.

Over the years, especially whilst at university he was a great inspiration to me. Along side developing my illustrative approach I worked on a more photographic personal project (I was after all studying photography) this project which remains very close to my heart was underpinned by Mandelbrot's fractal geometry of nature, I was particularly fascinated by the extent of self similarity in the natural world and how it appeared at the most far ends of scale from the universal to the sub atomic, it seemed to suggest something a little deeper than the science used to describe it and at the same time I was interested in the Tao Te Ching and I was struck by the similarities in the 'vein like structures' of Lao-tzu's Tao and Mandelbrot's maths in nature.

I eventually wrote my thesis on Fractal mathematics (bit odd for an art degree but it was so integral to my work it bore relevance) I had to write an academic piece so it was not as philosophical as I might have liked but nevertheless it bode well for my results and I have to thank the man for providing me with such a rich source of inspiration for my work.

I had developed a technique of non-camera photography, images made purely in the dark room, a bit beyond the pictogram as I had developed a way to photograph solid objects without a camera. I used this to explore small objects that showed Mandelbrot's maths at work in nature. Here are a couple of the resultant images, I would love to return to that quiet contemplation of simple yet infinitely complex objects one day.

After university I took the philosophy of this work to the landscape as a whole and produced a series of landscapes which included small details in the fore presented in the wider landscape in an attempt to talk about self similarity at play in the landscape as whole. The same geometry being visible in the lichen on a rock as in the clouds in the sky or the shapes of the larger coastline having a similar pattern to the smaller rocks that make it.

Here are a few of those landscapes.

Goobye Benoit, thank-you for the inspiration and your beautiful mathematics, the world will never look quite the same to me since I read your theory.

Thursday, 7 October 2010

Sunday Telegraph

This was going to be a longer post but I was in the midst of writing it when a job with a tightish deadline turned up (rather nice job, I will post the image once it's finished) so this is a somewhat abbreviated version, no great loss I suspect the original post was just my usual ramblings.

Here is the main image from the Sunday Telegraph commission I did recently, lovely commission with a completely open brief (always makes me smile when I am left to interpret the text myself) I produced about six roughs of which three were chosen which was great as I had only been commissioned to do two. The copy was about a young girl suffering from ocd. I was struck by situations she found herself in where she would become almost immobilised by the condition, trying to take a shower or, as I illustrated here, unable to go upstairs. I have often wondered if there is not a little of this condition in most of us, little quirks that it is hard to resist acting on, of course with ocd these compulsions are way out of control but I suspect that to a much lesser degree it exists in many people.

More work to post soon!

Bye for now.

Wednesday, 15 September 2010

Going to the zoo

Just a quick blog to let anyone who may care to read know that I have a selection of images being displayed via projection at Zoo Station in Edinburgh so if you are in the area and fancy a night out with music and art it might be the place for you.

Thursday 16th Sept - 8pm - 1am at the Roxy Art House in Edinburgh

What's it all about? ...

'Displays, screenings, exhibitions and installations from local artists, amateurs, auteurs and show offs. Meet, share, plan, inspire & create. We invite you to come along, enjoy and participate towards the 70's berlin inspired ambience of Zoo Station, with a backdrop of some of the finest music ever recorded, provided by DJ The Baron (formerly of the Bang Bang Club) & guests.'

I have just completed a series of illustration for the Telegraph and I will post those in the next blog, until then.

Bye Bye

Monday, 26 July 2010

Tut Tut

I'm one of those weirdos who texts using whole words, I don't know why, perhaps because I am not inclined to belive we can't spare the time. As a confirmed waffler (see previous posts) I whole heartedly refuse to abbreviate, I like words, I love to write (perhaps I will post a bit of what I write?) anyway, you get the gist I like the written word in it's fullest. Where was I going with this? oh yea 'tut' ... first time I was asked to 'do a tut' I did wonder what unnatural act was being requested of me, I'm up for most things but I thought I had best check out what I was agreeing to before I got in too deep. Turns out it's a tutorial (we apparently don't even have time to write the 'orial' bit ... wasted seconds!) I get quite a few requests for tuts now so perhaps I will produce something in the general area of a tut, bit more of a process rather than spoon-feeding you my techniques so I will post that at sometime in the future.

The main reason for this post is to point you in the direction of my spruced up websites. Both and have had a facelift by my friend and general web genius Jake, who manages to sprinkle his magic on my corner of the net whist working full time at Aardman (I may just be able to forgive abbreviations in his case) ... so cool!

Well, everything looks a bit more integrated now with a common theme to tie the sites / blog and shop into one neat little package. Quite a few new images have been uploaded to the 'darren' site so I would love it if you had a peek.

The shop will probably be developed a bit further in the future but is operational, lots of stuff to upload though ... we are taking requests at

Work has been busy. I mentioned last post an illustration which I finished last year is just about to see the light of day. I was amongst 30 artists chosen to illustrate a stamp for the 2012 Olympics. Having never worked on a stamp before it was very exiting. I was given Hockey and here's the result.

Another image I finished recently was a test image for an opera. Sadly this one won't be used but I kind of liked it anyway.

After that rather somber image you might want a bit of cheering up and I heartily recommend a bit of dog judo to bring a smile back you your face

Well enough of my longwinded unabbreviated noodlings ... your busy people!

Bye 4 now c u l8r xx

Wednesday, 14 July 2010


See told I took ages to update!

Just a quick one with a few items of news, exiting news though. I've been media whoring again. Firstly in the beautiful CIA 'License to Inspire' book. I can't wait to get my hands on a copy there is a plethora of talent contained within!

Also I am in the pages of Creative Review this month, that's mine on the far left ...

And for anyone in Taiwan I will have my second appearance in DPI magazine coming up in their lovely 12th birthday addition... Happy Birthday DPI!

Lots of work in the pipeline. A job I finished last year is about to see the light of day, well the inside of a few postboxes I expect, can you guess what it is? I'll let you know next blog.

Bye for now.

Friday, 14 May 2010

Flushing my head down the blog.

Hello blogosphere! well whoever may chose to read, which is probably no one at the moment.

I resisted for some time, mostly because I am awful at updating this kind of thing and also because I am not sure I have anything interesting to say? but it seems par for the course for an illustrator to blog now and I have an online shop being made so a bit of unashamed self promotion won't go amiss.

This being my first blog I should perhaps explain, it's primarily an illustrator blog but then anyone who knows me knows I have a habit of straying from the point so I will most likely waffle on about all manner of unimportant things and also draw your attention to stuff I have found lurking in the darkest recesses of the web, down in the digital depths like weird fish who are rarely glimpsed by the human eye (see waffling already)

I will also update on my work and art. My websites are being updated and as I mentioned a shop being created where I will be selling prints and one off items of clothing, mostly recycled apparel which will have my illustrations incorporated into them. I'll keep you informed on that.

When I say web-site's' that is because I am a two faced, I live two lives, my own and that of my alter ego (and I don't even need to go into a phone box to change). Two aesthetics emerged from my folio over the years, whilst my illustrations headed in a more painterly direction I missed having a more photographic aesthetic and 'Spiral Studio' was born to appease the photographer in me. I fully intended to keep it a secret but the whole cloak & dagger approach was not for me (as my agent pointed out 'your not exactly Banksy' hehe! quite right he was too) and anyway it was never going to work, I could not reasonably expect my clients to call me mr Spiral when working in my nom de plume ... it would bring to mind all manner of super villain and I do have a cat. (see waffle, I can't help myself)

So anyway, this will act as a blog for both my 'Darren Hopes' and 'Spiral Studio' personas. Both sides of the same coin which is as it happens the title of a personal project I am working on at the moment. I'll keep you informed of that too but as a taster here are a couple of images from the set. The Spiral Studio image was also exhibited as part of a collective exhibition last year.

In the commercial world I have been busy, last year I think my spiral style had the lions share of the work but this year has seen the more painterly approach draw in the commissions. I recently completed a set of three illustrations for the lovely guys and girls at Souk, our end user was the May Fair Hotel. Having borrowed inspiration from the genius of Salvador Dalis Mae West the agency asked me to create three illustrations whereby a room from the hotel was also the face of a girl. Of course I lack the genius of Dali but I hope I make up for it in passion and enthusiasm. There were quite a few variables the face could not look too weird, the room needed to have specific elements, each image needed to be about something IE leisure, party, business but could not be overtly 'business' and each image had to have it's own personality, tricky but great to work on. Here's the first of the three ...

Tech head on ... new photoshop gets the thumbs up from me, you can't always be sure that the upgrade will be worth the money but this time I think it is. Puppet warp will be very useful to me and the new brushes are fantastic with the Wacom tablet although I still have a preference for real paint and pencils I can see a bit of digital paint creeping in. I still have not quite mastered drawing on the Wacom and usually head for my real world drawing board to sketch but the inclusion of a rotatable image tool in CS5 helps a fair bit. OK enough Techie stuff.

In other news we have a hung parliament, there is one very positive aspect to that, Robin Cooper used the opportunity to give the parties a call, go check it out.

I waffled didn't I!

bye for now