Shout Out!

 

 

A sneak preview of one of my portraits featured in the upcoming ‘Shout Out to the Girls: A Celebration of Awesome Australian Women’ to be published by Penguin early next year! This one, of course, is of Vali Myers, who I would see occasionally when I had my studio in Carlow House and she had her studio in the Nicholas Building (a block away from each other on Flinders Lane, Melbourne). Unfortunately I was always too scared to actually ‘meet’ her :0

 

 

This is my second contribution to the upcoming ‘Shout Out to the Girls: A Celebration of Awesome Australian Women’ to be published by Penguin early next year… a portrait of Alice Anderson, a pioneering car mechanic who worked as a ‘chauffeur to the stars’ of Melbourne in the 1920’s, as well as establishing her own garage in Kew.

From the Penguin Australia website:

Let’s hear it for the Australian women who have shaped our history and are expanding our future!

Shout-outs to 50 awesome Australian women with easy-to-read biographies of their incredible achievements. From Cathy Freeman to Turia Pitt, Edith Cowan to Julia Gillard, Mum Shirl to Vali Myers, plus rally car drivers, molecular biologists and more, this book is a celebration of women in all fields, from all walks of life, and from Australia’s past and present.

Brought to life by colourful illustrations from female artists, Shout Out to the Girls is the ultimate inspirational read for young and old.

All royalties from sales of this book go to The Smith Family.

Shout Out!

Whimsy and Woe

‘Whimsy and Woe’, written by Kate McRitchie and published by Harper Collins Australia has bee an interesting project to work on – especially when, because the artwork was going so well, it was decided that hard cover (yes!) was the only way to go. Which sounded great, until I was told it was going to cut into my production time by about a month. So a two month deadline turned into a one month deadline – for 50 detailed pen and ink illustrations! (I decided to go “old school” this time – it was great to get back to the tactility of pen and ink, but with the best of both worlds. Spilt ink bottles (truth!) wearing out pen nibs, but also the ability to scan and make last minute changes if need be. Also good news: this title has turned into a two volume set, so look out for more adventures next year!

Release date: 21 August, 2017

So exciting to receive my box of beautiful hardcover books! Whimsy & Woe by Rebecca McRitchie, out soon from Harper Collins Australia.

Whimsy and Woe

Future Melbourne

Last year I was asked to imagine what ‘Future Melbourne’ might look like for ‘The Melbourne Awards’ (run by the City of Melbourne). I came up with a day-glo mix of the past, present and future, interweaving nature and the built environment with the bonus of being lead into the labyrinth by Vali Myers and her fox. Here’s hoping the ghosts of Melbourne never fade…

Future Melbourne

Intersectionality through the eyes of the ‘west’

Hot off the pixel-press! (literally finished this at 2AM this morning :0) Honored to be part of a series of illustrated articles published as part of the ‘All About Women’ festival taking place at the Sydney Opera House​ : https://medium.com/all-about-women/is-intersectionality-enough-if-the-only-intersections-we-see-are-those-that-affect-women-in-the-6a319534681f#.yol358zej

Intersectionality through the eyes of the ‘west’

Batmania

soniak_Batman_web

The Folly of Batmania (2016)  Oil on canvas, 760 x 560mm

A while back I heard the rumor that John Batman, famed “founder” of Melbourne, Australia, actually suffered from syphilis and had to wear a silver nose to cover his lack of a real one. Being from an age before photography, sadly any evidence of this was sorely lacking so I decided to see what it might have looked like for myself.

This painting, my first oil painting for many years, will be on display at the A1 Darebin Art Salon, on from August 27 – October 2, 2016 at Bundoora Homestead,  Cnr Snake Gully Drive and Prospect Hill Drive, Bundoora.

Batmania

Greetings from Australia!

stickerbook1

Very excited to finally receive this in the post – a “sticker” book featuring your favourite Australian animals, all created by your favourite Australian illustrators. Produced in conjunction with the Jacky Winter Group and Thames and Hudson, I got to interpret the iconic emu – in a scene inspired from trips through Woomera and further into Western Australia. I used a combination of collage (cut up newspapers), paint, and digital brushes and textures. More info about this fabulous little book can be found at: http://jackywinter.com/blog/our-latest-book-greetings-from-australia

stickerbook2

stickerbook3

stickerbook4

Greetings from Australia!

Jumping into The River with Bruce

soniak_springsteen

A portrait of Bruce Springsteen that I recently completed in currently gracing the pages of Rolling Stone Australia (December 2015 edition). I was asked to imagine him circa the release of his album ‘The River’; and I was surprised to find that it was quite an evocative idea – I guess we all have images of musicians / popular culture icons embedded in our imaginations, even if we can’t call ourselves die hard fans. But of course my appreciation of Bruce has matured as I myself have, almost to the point that I can appreciate ‘Born in the USA’ as a cultural touchstone, even though it is an anthem that I wouldn’t nominate as a desert island disc.

Cameron, the art director, suggested a textural / painterly approach, so I painted directly onto ply with acrylic and added some line work in the shirt etc. after the piece was scanned. As mentioned, the idea and composition came quite easily – after all, you don’t mess with Bruce 🙂

smokey vs. bruce
Smokey enjoys reading the reviews in Rolling Stone
Jumping into The River with Bruce

Putting my stamp on Christmas 2015

Traditional Christmas_65c_400

Finally I’m able to share my 2015 Australia Post stamps with you! I remember back in my design college days, I actually set myself a stamp series as an assignment , and as a kid I subscribed to the Stamp Bulletin and collected first day covers and presentation packs – so in a way it was finally a ‘dream’ come true. There will be a bit of upcoming press coverage as well, so I’ll post any links when they are available.

When I was told that I was pegged to do the traditional Christmas themed stamps, I was a bit wary – not being particularly religious myself – but I do have an appreciation of the importance of the story of the Nativity, particularly at this time when the Middle East is in such strife and there are countless homeless “Marys” giving birth in less than ideal circumstances even today. I think if anything, the story reinforces the idea of the importance of providing a safe haven – and the good to us all that can come from it. When imagining Mary, I wanted her to have an ambiguous skin colour – an attempt to move away from the tradition of depicting pale Europeans lost in the desert – so I boosted the colour palette, creating a scene that evokes the hues of the season whilst keeping the symbolism of the main characters.

I have been asked by a few people about the prevalence of animals in the design… I did want to put the other stable inhabitants on an equal footing with the rest of the story. Given the way most people regard farm animals, especially during the festive season, I wanted to celebrate their beauty and sacrifice at this time of year as well.

Anyway, these are some of my thought processes behind the image – I’m sure, and I hope, that you will view it in your own way too.

All of the stamps are now available online via the Australia Post shop

I was also featured in an article about Christmas stamps published in the Sydney Morning Herald on 21/11/15

All images © Australian Postal Corporation 2015. This material has been reproduced with permission of Australia Post.

Traditional Christmas_255c_400

Traditional Christmas Minisheet

Putting my stamp on Christmas 2015

IA 9×5 Exhibition

soniak_9x5-web

We are fast approaching the 19th Illustrators Australia 9×5 show – for those of you who have no idea what that means, where the hot hades have you been?! To get you up to speed, many years ago – I think it was 1995? – the committee of Illustrators Australia decided on creating a unique exhibition, in which members could contribute new, original work on a theme. The main criteria was that the work had to use a 9×5 inch piece of plywood as its base. Fast forward to 2015,  and the chosen theme is “Playtime” – and you are all invited to attend the exhibition opening at the Abbotsford Convent on November 13, 6pm onwards. All works will be available for auction  with a reserve of AUD$195. For those who can’t make it, you are welcome to make an offer online and IA will bid on your behalf. A preview of the show is  available here .

My piece, above, has been inspired by kitten observations and is entitled “It’s all Fun and Games until Someone Loses an Eye”

IA 9×5 Exhibition

Illustrators Australia Awards

The latest ‘Illustrators Australia Awards’ have just been announced, and happy to say that my two entries scored a mention – firstly, my cover for Carole Wilkinson’s ‘Shadow Sister’ (Published by Black Dog / Walker Books) received a ‘Silver’ Commendation in the Books / Single category.

Shadow Sister
Shadow Sister

My other entry unfortunately is under embargo until October 31, 2015 – even though the artwork has been in the pipeline for 18 months or so! Happy to announce that I was commissioned to provide the artwork for Australia Post’s 2015 ‘Traditional Christmas’ stamps, which received a ‘Highly Commended’ in the Institutional / Series category. Can’t wait to show you the artwork , but until then, all I can show is this:

soniak_institutional_web_placement

Many thanks to the judges Anita Kunz, Tim Claeys, Lisa Berryman, Bil Donovan and Peter Viska – The rest of the results can be viewed here.

Illustrators Australia Awards

Risographica! 3

My work will be featuring in an upcoming group show at Lamington Drive in Collingwood next week (for those of you who don’t know, Lamington Drive is the gallery of everyone’s favourite Illustration Agency ‘Jacky Winter Group’). Every few years they invite artists to create artwork for a ‘Risograph’ – which is a kind of a newfangled / oldfangled copy machine with limited but seemingly crazy colours.

For this show, everyone was limited to two colours. To give you some idea about how these prints are made, here is the artwork I supplied:

soniak-risographica-B+W

The picture on the left will be printed in fluoro pink, whilst the image on the left is destined to be yellow. All in all, you never know quite what to expect – how the colours will mix when overprinted, and indeed if the paper itself will  line up properly… happy to say I don’t think it turned out too badly:

soniak_risograph

This group exhibition will see ’28 of Jacky Winter’s finest’ explore the medium of the A3 2-colour Risograph. All works will be sold in limited editions of 10 for $50.00 each, with all profits during the exhibition going to Oxfam’s International Crisis Fund – supporting the response to humanitarian crises worldwide, by helping those most in need when a natural or a man-made emergency occurs.

Opening night is Wednesday October 14, 6-9pm.
The exhibition runs October 15 – November 7, 2015.

Where?
Lamington Drive – 101a Sackville Street Collingwood

Artists include:

Andrea Innocent, Beci Orpin, Bobby Haiqalsyah, Craig & Karl, Eamon Donnelly, Eirian Chapman, Emma Leonard, Gemma O’Brien, Georgia Perry, Guy Shield, He She It They I, James Gulliver Hancock, Karl Kwasny, Kat Chadwick, Kate Banazi, Lachlan Conn, Lilly Piri, Madeleine Stamer, Mel Matthews, Mel Stringer, Neryl Walker, Oslo Davis, Ross Murray, Sean Morris, Sonia Kretschmar, Sophie Blackhall-Cain, Timba Smits, Travis Price

risographica-invite

Risographica! 3

Bowerbird – Portrait of Kate Durham

soniak_final2015-web

It’s Archibald portrait time of year again – and for many years I have wanted to do a portrait of Kate Durham – Melbourne artist, jewellery maker and ‘activist’ of sorts. When I started out on my own “artistic journey” many years ago, Kate was one of the few Melbourne based female artists who, along with Mirka Mora, seemed larger than life / exotic to me. Over the years I’ve been in peripheral contact with her, and it has been interesting to see how she has been developing both in her artistic work and her interest in politics and helping refugees at this dark time in Australia’s history. Her work is eclectic, her jewellery gathers up objects which to me look like they have washed up on the bank of a river in Mesopotamia, so it made sense to me to depict her as a kind of human Bowerbird, on the surface collecting objects for display whilst drawing upon a rich range of history and tragedy beneath.

Bowerbird – Portrait of Kate Durham

Pussies galore

Over at my Redbubble page I’m feline crazy 🙂   As a foster carer of cats (I have 7 at the moment!) I have created a range of cat-inspired designs to help with the important rescue work of Melbourne based group Maneki Neko. This group rescues / rehomes cats that have found themselves homeless or in “death row pounds”, and the money goes towards vet care and desexing. They are also looking to establish an information centre to raise public awareness of the importance of adoption and desexing pets.

Until further notice, all of the profits from these designs will be donated towards these initiatives, so please go check them out – available on everything from a little sticker to a huge doona cover, and I’ll keep adding to the collection when possible.

tshirt

cushion

bed

 

 

 

 

 

Pussies galore

Look at those Big Eyes!

spectrum-cover

It was a bit strange to walk into the local newsagent this morning to see a pile of papers with my illustration splashed across the cover! I would love to thank Lindy Percival at the Age / Fairfax for trying something a bit different in conjunction with the Australian release of Tim Burton’s ‘Big Eyes’. In keeping with the ‘Keane theme’, it also has been the first time in a long time that I have used no Photoshop for a published artwork… and I also got a bit of editorial coverage as well 🙂

Can’t wait to see the film…

Tim Burton Big Eyes cover for Saturday Age Spectrum

Look at those Big Eyes!

‘Pip’ Permaculture Magazine

pip_cover

The latest issue of Australian Permaculture Magazine ‘Pip’ is about to wend its way to the eager hands of readers and I’m happy to say I had fun investigating funghi for the cover. In the end we settled for ‘Agaricus Bitorquis’ – a mushroom that resembles a field mushroom but with lovely pink colouring underneath. Pip comes out twice a year.

Find out more at: http://www.pipmagazine.com.au/

‘Pip’ Permaculture Magazine

Chrissie in Brissie

TheCityChristmas2014-MiniMag

Merry Christmas Brisbane! Hopefully I’ve added Christmas cheer to your streets this year, after being invited to participate in Brisbane City’s ‘Wonder of Christmas’ campaign. It’s great to see the various applications of the work – I’m almost tempted to get on a plane and come and see it for myself 🙂

_MG_4221-CityCristmas14-busside

launch1

streetflag1

 

 

Chrissie in Brissie

Supergraph Melbourne 2015

supergraph-web-preview

Supergraph is on its way to Melbourne again in 2015, gracing the hallowed halls of the Royal Exhibition Building on February 13, 14 + 15. As part of my involvement with Illustrators Australia (who will be holding a stall there) I’ll be joining in by offering an exclusive A4 print for sale. Inspired by a recent trip to Tokyo (my second time this year!) I’ve answered the theme of ‘Natural Selection’ by depicting my visit to ‘Fukoro no Mise’ an Owl Cafe near Tsukishima Station. Touching on themes of misplaced nature, novelty, and the never ending quest for memorable content for one’s next blog post.

Supergraph Melbourne 2015

The Big Prawn

A little while back I was contacted by the good people of ‘Paper Radio’ to provide an illustration for a podcast. Being a bit of a podcast fan, especially of narrative fiction / non fiction (check out ‘Getting On with James Urbaniak’, ‘The Truth’, The New Yorker Fiction Podcast’ to name but a few), I quite enjoyed the idea.

The story is also quite evocative of searing Australian summers, and the kitsch elements which feature in our lives, so the subject matter was also ‘right up my alley’. All in all I think it turned out well – you can hear the podcast when it is broadcast on Sunday October 26 2014 during the 3pm show ‘Radiotonic’, broadcast on Radio National.

bigprawn_web

The Big Prawn

New Home Accessories

Entering the brave new world of ‘Print on Demand’ apparel, I was pleased to see that Redbubble, purveyors of print, now offer what the Europeans refer to as ‘Duvet’ covers, but for reasons of local colloquialism I shall stick to calling it a humble “Doona”. And they’re huge! Here it is in a most impressive ‘King Size’ version:

sloth-doona

I’ve entitled this piece “Sid Wiggy dreams in Technicolor”, revisiting an old favourite theme. I had played around with this idea and colours for quite a while – so it’s good to finally have an outlet  to bring it out to the big wide world. For the curious, Sid Wiggy is the name of a much loved sloth at Avarios del Caribe, the Sloth rescue centre in Costa Rica at which I had the privilege of volunteering back in 2010. Sid Wiggy was one of the more famous Bradypus sloths, known for his ‘Beatle-esque’ hairdo. So I can only imagine that when he dreams, he dreams in hot pink.

But for those uncertain of succumbing to dreams inhabited by our two and three fingered friends, I’ve also uploaded a range of cushions and tote bags as well. Here’s, hopefully, to the beginning of many new large-scale designs 🙂

Doona covers can be found here

sloth-cushion

This design can be found here – also available as a tote bag and a myriad of other things…

sloth-tote

This design can be found here

sloth-phone cover

And this design, again also available as cushions and bags, is available here 🙂

New Home Accessories

Gromit Unleashed – Hong Kong

Joining the ranks of Sir Quentin Blake, Sir PeterBlake, Sir Paul Smith and Joanna Lumley (!) I too have designed a Gromit.

‘Gromit Unleashed’ was a charity venture launched last year in Bristol, UK, in which dozens of oversized Gromit sculptures (from the Aardman Animation series ‘Wallace and Gromit’, natch). Last week the latest installation was launched in Hong Kong, featuring the work of local and international artists. Unfortunately I didn’t get to paint the Gromit myself, but as you can see from the photos they did a pretty good job.

My design is based on my idiosyncratic take on a Chinese dragon – I’ve long been fascinated with the idea that many buildings in Hong Kong have been designed to accommodate  the needs of dragons, so it was a natural choice. The Sculptures will eventually be auctioned off for the benefit of ‘Art in Hospital’, an NGO which helps sick children in Hong Kong.

IMAG2412

IMAG2413

IMAG2414

IMG_6263-detail

Gromit Unleashed – Hong Kong

Wear Art Thou

Girlzilla

Illustrators Australia, in association with Red Bubble, are organising a fantastic exhibition of t-shirts designed by IA members from around Australia. “Wear Art Thou” (clever, huh) will be on at No Vacancy Gallery, QV Building, Melbourne from September 3 –  14, with a whizz bang opening planned for Friday September 5.

This is my contribution – inspired by a recent trip to Japan – called ‘Girlzilla’. You’ll be able to order the t-shirts at the opening, apparently, but a sneak preview is here.

fig,forest,mens,ffffff

Wear Art Thou

Archibald time again

2014 Archibald Prize entry

The Archibald Prize – that annual portrait competition held by the Art Gallery of NSW to such fanfare – usually calls for entries early in the year. Anticipating this, I started working on piece – a portrait of Melbourne based Theatre Group ‘Born in  a Taxi’, way back in the distant days of January. I remember meeting up with them as they were doing rehearsals for an outdoor ‘roaming piano’ performance.

However , this year, to keep us on our toes, it was announced that entries would open in June – this week, in fact. So I had a few extra months to stew over things – how to achieve effects, like using metallics without looking too tacky, or how the curtains should fall. So this is the result – naturally I had waited until the last day to give it the final coat of varnish. I hope it captures a balance of theatricality, absurdity and intrigue (and it looks much better in “real life”, much like a theatre performance does!).

More details about ‘Born in a Taxi’ here.

Archibald time again

New Animation

 

A reminder for the upcoming Berlin Zebra Poetry Film Festival was enough to prompt me to do something I had never done before – attempt an animation in under two weeks, from concept to completion. Here is the result: the poem “Love in the Age of the E.U” by Bjorn Kuhligk, was one chosen by the festival; I was interesting to conceive of an interpretation through “foreign” eyes, but I think the themes of border protection and secrecy are a universal theme, especially in the current climate of Australia as well.

My interpretation of the poem is set against a backdrop of industrial change, as a Mythical Lioness of the past defends her turf aided by the technology of the present.

The film festival is on in October – whether or not my animation is accepted is yet to be decided, but it was reassuring to know that little projects like this can actually be completed if one has the time to make them. It is also an interesting product of the times – having easy access to references such as the physiology of a lion, or details of baroque inspired towers, or improving my techniques in After Effects or music licensed under Creative Commons (composed by Kevin McLeod / https://www.smartsound.com/royalty-free-music/incompetech/) makes such self-initiated exercises achievable. However, I still do shirk from the idea that all digital content should be considered a ‘free for all’ – but for non-commercial projects such as this they are invaluable.

UPDATE! 15/7/14

Happy to say that my film has been accepted into the festival. Small victories!

 

New Animation

‘Do Not Forget Australia’ – out now in paperback

dnfa-paperback

Originally published in Hard Cover by Walker Books in 2012, it seems the story of the two little boys growing up on opposite sides of the world in WWI has struck a chord with the public and is now available in paperback. The story tells of the connection of the town of Villers Bretonneux in France and how there came to be a school who pledged “Do Not Forget Australia”.

I think it is quite a timely story for us to remember at this point in time when, as Australians, we seem to be getting more and more insular in regards to the way we treat our less fortunate fellow humans living overseas. I hope this wish for a more compassionate world is part of it’s appeal.

‘Do Not Forget Australia’ – out now in paperback

A Guinness World record!

pieces_cover

pieces_inside

Just received the hardcover version of “Pieces” – a graphic novel, of sorts, that I contributed a panel to many moons ago. Have to say, the print version actually looks even better than the online version – which you can see here – and really, it’s a miracle that it came together at all. Each artist would draw / paint / create a panel and then the project would pass on to the next person. There were no restraints, guidance or expectations – all you had was the previous panel to build upon (though we did have access to all of the panels up to that point). Much like an ‘Exquisite Corpse’ in comic book form, a lot of it doesn’t make a great deal of “sense”, but hey, who needs that anyway.

I was chuffed to follow on from Christopher Corr, whose work I’ve admired since my college days (and we also briefly shared a UK agent a few years ago). And congratulations to Jakub Mazerant for pulling it all together AND claiming a Guinness World record at the same time!

A Guinness World record!