Behind the design - notebooks and Journals with Craig Yamey
For our latest product, botanical notebooks & journals, we collaborated with designer, fellow Cockpit Arts maker and friend Craig Yamey. Full of zeal, creativity and wisdom, we sat down with Craig and asked him a few questions about his working process for the botanical prints he designed for us.
How would you describe your illustrative style?
My work draws inspiration from other cultures including Japanese woodblock, Chinese ink paintings and African Masks. My aesthetic is influenced by street art, Lino prints, and tattoo iconography. The lines I use are bold and expressive, reflecting my background in graphic design.
What was your working process for this project?
The first step was to research different plants to determine which shapes of leaves and stems would create the most beautiful pattern.
Once I found the perfect Hoyas I sketched out the layout in pencil allowing me to erase and redraw as needed. When I was happy with the perfect composition I then start the final rendering in ink. The process of painting for hours becomes extremely meditative and a healthy antidote to the computer.
Was there a specific reason you chose hoyas and pothos?
I have always loved creepers and hanging plants. They can transform any space into a mini jungle.
I love the way Hoya's stems and leaves intertwine, giving the drawing a lot of flow and fluidity.
How did you create your illustrations, why did you use this medium?
I use traditional Chinese brushes and Indian ink. Using calligraphy brushes gives me a variable line weight, a key element of my aesthetic. I always love to work as big as possible, allowing for more details.
For these illustrations, I worked at A1. Shrinking the work down from A1 to A6 gives a beautiful intensity of pattern. Once the finished paintings are scanned I cut each colour separation out in Photoshop, which allows me to try multiple colour combinations.
What has been your favourite thing about this project?
My favourite aspect of this project has been the collaborative process with Aimee and Amelia. As a painter and illustrator, I often work in isolation but bouncing ideas off each other took the work in a whole new direction. They gave me great ideas and feedback that shaped the final designs.
I also loved working with Another Studio's colour palette. The combinations were endless. Mixing corals with mint greens, apricots and forest greens created some beautiful compositions.
What's inspiring you right now?
I recently went to see the Magdalena Abakanowicz exhibition at Tate Modern. The work is made up of gigantic three-dimensional woven forms that feel like an enchanted forest. Seeing weave explored on such a large scale was very powerful.
Hew Locke's "The Procession" was another installation that deeply inspired me. He took over the entire main hall of Tate Britain, with an installation of marching figures in mythical costumes. There are themes of celebration, mourning, paganism, and imperialism in this work, and each character was totally fantastical.
What other projects are you working on? What’s next for Craig Yamey?
I am currently working on a logo for a Japanese Anime company and developing 2 new ranges for The British Library shop.
Painting stylised faces is still a part of my daily routine, and I finish 3 a day before I take to my Mac. It's exciting to think that in a year from now I will have over 1000 different faces.
If you were a Plant Animal, who would you be?
I would have to be a Chimpanzee as I'm a very sociable creature, family orientated and always monkeying around.
Words of wisdom or favourite piece of advice for other designers?
As artists and illustrators, we often work in isolation but collaboration often creates new and exciting avenues to your own work. Creating these notebooks with Another Studio has taught me so much about my own working processes.
I would urge other designers and makers to maintain lots of personal projects alongside their commercial work. Do not attach a monetary value to your personal work but instead create what you love and from the heart. Whether it's a particular style, technique, medium or subject matter, find the art forms that ignite your passions so it never feels like work.
When I was studying graphic design in the 90s, the lines between graphics and illustration were much more rigid but now the boundaries have been blurred. I love how different disciplines can interweave and you can mix illustration with jewellery or typography with sculpture. Always look for inspiration from other disciplines as a way to create innovative work.
To see more of Craigs work visit:
www.craigyamey.com ~ Instagram
Order the new notebooks & journals from our website here.