Harry West Illustration

A blog for my ongoing projects at LCC



More of it…

Marcel Dzama is the stripped down and character only vision of the world I want to create. Ambiguous ceremony and behaviour of a world of its own, you feel as if your peeking into scenes that should remain unseen, a voyeuristic perspective on the strange, its very very intriguing to look at, despite being so stripped down, but has the same kinetic and odd interactions between characters and creatures that I want.

Immersive worlds

Henry Darger was and is seen as one of the most important underground artists. His work was truly immersive, set on a backdrop of a 15,000 page written manuscript by Darger himself, his series of illustrations brings his singular vision to life, an expanse of wars and rituals.

Visuals in unexpected places

Much of my work is on a very tiny scale, which means detailing and characterisation can be quite difficult. I have to find simple ways of doing so, decipherable objects, simple clothing. The game hyperlight drifter achieves this in a very interesting way. Throughout the game their is some striking visual imagery, and much of it is very small and very simple. The colours are obviously part of it but the use of pixels to create individual characters and settings is pretty genius, it’s limited by the pixels but a way is found around it, much like how I must work my way around the pencil lines.

Beyond that fact, the post-apocalyptic but paradoxically lush imagery is something I have tried to achieve myself and makes for some poignantly dark but aesthetically pleasing landscapes.

 A lot of these are a compilation for me so that may explain the sheer amount of them.

Bosch isn’t the only odd one

Although a lot of my imagery lies in wait in my own head, rather a lot of inspiration within this project comes from other artists who make a strong use of symbolism and create their own strange and surreal realities. It’s fully developed worlds as well, solipsism with an ambiguity that makes it so very enjoyable. Odilon Redon is one such mind. Much of his work is in the form of obscure symbolism and dream scapes, folklore and mythology  warped into one aesthetic.

I mean, this stuff just looks so cool. Like Boshc, there is imagery that I’ve felt like I’ve been doing for a while that is reassuringly present amongst these far better artists.


Tove Jannson

After going to the Adventures in Moominland exhibition at Southbank I felt that Tove’s work connected with the way I want to work more so than I expected. Many of Tove’s images or characters are allusions and visual allegories for Tove’s personal life, whether that be a secret lover who appears as a friend/guide, or a comet that threatens the existence of moominland as a metaphor for the impending doom of WW2.

Although my main focus is upon Heironymous Bosch, Tove Jansson’s work is perhaps more in line with my visual preference, particularly tonally. I think she’ll make an interesting style to play off of Bosch.

In terms of allegory however, one example is the Groke character, which represented an amalgamation of depression and feelings of loneliness.


More colour work/artists

Micah Lidberg is someone who I feel makes great use of composition, he plays woth foreground and background and has different elements interacting with each other. These images are developed from books by haruki murakami so it’s a great example of working images out of narrative fiction; Lidberg has taken images directly out of the book, aswell as some more interpretive ones and spliced them together. I also really enjoy his use of colour, it’s bright and interesting without being gaudy.

Previous Penguin Winners

I thought it pertinent to look at all the years previous winners to really track the kind of work that Penguin likes. I must admit that I like some more than others, there can be a frustrating simplicity covered up by using bright colours at times but I guess that’s something I need to learn myself. Something I notice is an interplay between the back and front, the really effective ones at least, such as “one flew over the cuckoo’s nest” which is subtle and very pretty. However that may not work for a children’s cover but it shows a strong concept. Colour is definitely a big thing aswell, for someone who normally works in black and white this is something I really need to take note of.

Adrian Mole


I’m trying to characterise the portrayal of Adrian and I thought an actual film adaptation would come in useful. It seems to correspond with what many know to be Adrian’s look. The black hair and nerdy glasses and the portrayal shows his personality traits, slightly miserable and precocious etc. Pretty useful, but I need to make my own version obviously, and try my best not to make it look like Harry Potter..

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