Category Archives: Graphic Design

Visual artworks mainly related to illustration and lettering!

Mixed Media Collage: A Portrait Of David Bowie

David Bowie Portrait Collage
The Ziggy Stardust tribute poster.

This illustration portraits Mr. David Jones (a.k.a. David Bowie) at the time he was performing as Ziggy Stardust. The poster design was created as a collage of many different pieces of vintage paper from old newspapers and magazines with articles about Bowie. Some nice textures and decorations were found on books and all sorts of collectible ephemera as well.
David Bowie once stated: «I’m a collector. I always just seemed to collect personalities, and ideas. I have a hotchpotch philosophy which is very minimal». He used this archive of ideas and personalities as a toolbox to create characters and alter egos to play on stage: «I was a character when I performed all those albums, and I carried the character into interviews, newspapers, on stage, off stage – whenever there was media around I had to keep those characters concrete. The fabric of my work is using my body, my personality as well as my songs and stage performance, rather than a canvas».

The character of Ziggy Stardust is a perfect example of such holistic creational process. It was designed as a collage of various elements from Bowie’s cultural palette, mixing together his collected items: Iggy Pop and The Stooges, Lou Reed and The Velvet Underground, The Legendary Stardust Cowboy, model Twiggy (which later appeared on the cover of David Bowie’s Pin Ups), and many more. The idea for the title (and maybe for the name of his band too) of his concept album The Rise And Fall Of Ziggy Stardust And The Spiders From Mars probably came from an LP recorded by The Rats, former group of Mick Ronson, Trevor Bolder, Mick “Woody” Woodmansey, and John Cambridge (who will all later play with Bowie). The Rats recorded The Rise And Fall Of Bernie Gripplestone And The Rats From Hull in 1967. It was written by John Cambridge: «I had just been to see the film How I Won The War which featured John Lennon and I based the name of Bernie Gripplestone on musketeer Bernard Gripweed – the character played by John Lennon». John Cambridge was the drummer who joined stage with Bowie, Tony Visconti, Mick Ronson, as The Hype, for the Atomic Sunrise festival held at the Roundhouse on Wednesday 11 March 1970. It’s believed that Glam Rock was invented that night. Even Marc Bolan (T-Rex) was there, glued to the front of the stage and probably inspired by the show. Tony Visconty has been pretty clear about that event: «For me this will always be the very first night of Glam Rock. I didn’t know it at the time, but when we saw photos taken of us by Ray Stevenson , Marc Bolan was visible resting his head on his arms on the edge of the stage, taking it all in, Bolan never admitted he even went to the gig!».

But the main inspiration for Ziggy Stardust was certainly rock ‘n’ roll dark legend Vince Taylor, a wild stage animal that, by mid 60s, was already on the downside path of his musical career as an acid casualty. It was around this time that Bowie met Taylor (who had took his name “Vince” from Elvis Presley’s character “Vince Everett” in Jailhouse Rock and “Taylor” from actor Robert Taylor, even though other accounts say he got the name from the Latin phrase In Hoc Signo Vinces on Pall Mall cigarette pack) at the La Gioconda club in London. David Bowie recalls Vince Taylor telling him he was a god or an alien or probably a bit of both. Some of the features of This fading rock ‘n’ roll star who went crazy under a diet of amphetamines and LSD, claiming to be an alien god, were later injected inside Ziggy Stardust, who was going to be, indeed, another rock star messiah.
Ziggy and Vince had many things in common, starting with the make-up (and ending with self-destruction). You can picture Bowie thinking about the rise and fall of Vince Taylor, a leather messiah who ended up in a rock ‘n’ roll suicide. A composite rocker who quickly blended into his alter ego, melting in his own confusion.
There is an interview where Vince Taylor (whose real name was Brian Maurice Holden) says: «I’m a normal person. On the stage… My stage is an act». Just like Bowie and Ziggy. But sometimes boundaries between fictional and real can dangerously blur together. As Bowie once said: «I don’t know if I’m writing the characters or the characters are writing me».
Curiously, the name Ziggy came from a London tailor’s shop, called “Ziggy’s”, that Bowie saw from a train one day.

The collection of different pieces that Bowie used to create his own artwork was the inspiration for this mixed media illustration, a portrait made of paper clippings. Recycling old elements in something new, something with a different cut is also related to the cut-up technique. A technique that David Bowie used to write some of his songs, something he had borrowed from William S. Burroughs and Brion Gysin. But I will leave this for a new post!

Check out my other illustrations and posters dedicated to Bowie:

Vintage Nautical Illustration: Old Ship

Santa Caterina Old Sailing Ship Engraving
Seafaring Graphic Design.

The above illustration it’s one of the traditional themes for sailors and ocean lovers: a wooden sailing ship riding some waves and framed by a worn out rope. As all the old-fashioned maritime-related artworks, its graphic design style resembles the one of vintage prints and engravings. There is also a minimal touch of modernity in the lines that reminds the fresh inking of comic strip artists. The handwritten calligraphic text reads Santa Caterina (Saint Catherine), a name often used for boats and tall ships. On demand, this picture comes with different lettering styles and text. The customization makes this illustration very versatile so it can be used in a wide range of “naval” situations; for example as a signboard for a pub or a tavern, or for custom linens, sheets, and towels inside your sailing vessel! The drawing was originally part of a series of sketches for a logo design that will be posted soon.

If you are looking for nautical art, be sure to check sirjoeworks.com for more stuff, such as posters, prints, drawings, and collectible ephemera. Feel free to ask which images are available for purchase or for any other kind of custom design.

Cubist Heart Sketch

Box-Shaped Heart Sketch
Digging in Sir Joe Works’ picture archives.

I’ve recently come across this illustration I made years ago, a sketch created with some custom brushes for a project related to Saint Valentine’s Day. It was inspired by Cubism and by Kurt Cobain’s lyrics.There’s a song by Nirvana that’s titled Heart-Shaped Box. This concept artwork could be titled Box-Shaped Heart. A hollow muscular organ that can be filled with love, which notoriously comes in many different forms. The contrast between a canonical representation of the cardiac organ and the one portrayed here, along with the limited color palette and the background texture, makes the drawing visually interesting and appealing. But if you are a romantic gourmet, and looking for something more tasty, check out the picture for food lovers inside the post Heart-Shaped Chocolate Cake!

Vintage Beauty On Old Paper

Vintage Beauty On Old Paper
The ancient Egyptian esoteric feeling in a poster.

Here goes another image from Sir Joe Works’ archives based on the “Vintage Crossover” philosophy: it’s a mysterious exotic woman portrayed on old paper decorated with some geometric patterns (which look visually catching on grungy textured backgrounds). This illustration was created as a preliminary test for a series of printables: stay tuned for my upcoming collection of art prints!

Space Girl Is Watching You

Space Girl
A mixed media poster design.

Here goes one more illustration related to Science Fiction. It’s a portrait of a girl in a space suit drawn on top of a mixed media collage. The background is basically made of crumpled paper and old newspapers, while the drawing was traced with different inks and brushes. Can you recognize the mysterious space woman?

If you enjoy sci-fi cosmonauts, space suits, and helmets from outer space, check out my other illustrations like the Mixed Media Astroman and In Praise Of A Black Star (or its animated version The Lighting Bolt Space Cult GIF). You may also like Vintage SciFi Illustration: Tin Can 69, an illustrated view of a Martian landscape.

The King Of Chicha

The King Of Chicha
Typography and psychedelic cumbia.

On this quite minimalist illustration I have played a little bit with typography, mixing it with the drawing as a texture.
This artwork was somehow inspired by guitar player Enrique Delgado, pioneer of the Peruvian cumbia known as Chicha. Together with his band Los Destellos during the 60’s, he started to develop a peculiar mix of Andean music, psychedelic rock, and Cuban rhythms.
Their self-titled debut LP was released in 1968 by the Odeon-Iempsa label. This recording features Enrique Delgado (alias “El Chino”) on lead guitar, Fernando Quiroz (who was originally playing lead guitar with Los Zanys) on second guitar, Tito Caycho on bass and Carlos Ramirez on drums.
Some more great old-style Chicha bands to check out are: Los Mirlos, Juaneco Y Su Combo, Los Hijos Del Sol, Los Diablos Rojos, Eusebio Y Su Banjo.

La Sape Art Journal

La Sape Art Journal
A mind traveling experience.

A mixed media art journal dedicated and inspired by La Sape, acronym for Société des Ambianceurs et des Personnes Élégantes (French for Society of Ambiance-Makers and Elegant People), a subculture developed since the 1930s in the Republic of Congo and in the Democratic Republic of Congo. Initially headed by Camille Diata, La Sape movement embraces the elegant style and manners of the colonial era dandies as a means of resistance to colonialism. The dandy settlers were in sharp contrast to the environment in which they lived. La Sape followers are known as sapeurs (sapeur also means “digger” in French).

The main drawings for this illustration were made on top of a sketchbook cover. There are also some elements of vintage lettering as well as traces of calligraphic text in the background.
A collage of psychedelic cumbias from the sixties was used as soundtrack to the creative process of this art diary.

Mexican Wu Wei Drawing

Mexican Wu Wei
From China to Mexico.

This illustration was inspired by Taoism and by Mexican lifestyle. Wu Wei (無爲) is the Taoist concept related to action without action.

«He who understands the conditions of Life does not strive after what is of no use to life; and he who understands the conditions of Destiny does not strive after what is beyond the reach of knowledge

«When life comes, it cannot be declined; when it goes, it cannot be detained.»

«Abandoning the world, they are free from its entanglements. Free from its entanglements, their (minds) are correct and their (temperament) is equable. Thus correct and equable, they succeed in securing a renewal of life, as some have done. In securing a renewal of life, they are not far from the True (Secret of their being). But how is it sufficient to abandon worldly affairs? and how is it sufficient to forget the (business of) life? Through the renouncing of (worldly) affairs, the body has no more toil; through forgetting the (business of) life, the vital power suffers no diminution. When the body is completed and the vital power is restored (to its original vigour), the man is one with Heaven. Heaven and Earth are the father and mother of all things. It is by their union that the body is formed; it is by their separation that a (new) beginning is brought about. When the body and vital power suffer no diminution, we have what may be called the transference of power. From the vital force there comes another more vital, and man returns to be the assistant of Heaven.»

[Zhuangzi – Chinese Text Project, English translation by James Legge]

Fuerza México!

Fuerza México!
Seismometer drawings.

On the morning of 19 September 1985, a violent earthquake struck Mexico City, killing thousands of people and toppling dozens of buildings. Yesterday, on the exactly same day, 32 years later, another devastating terremoto shocked central Mexico and its capital.

This illustration is my tribute to all the victims, to Mexico, and to the noble soul of its people. Millions of people who have immediately provided help and support to the population, the greatest treasure of this country.