Sunday, 28 July 2013

"ZEEL" Studio Visit

Whilst I'm still on my Summer break away from University, the work doesn't truly end (if you can call illustration "work" that is!). For our Summer Project, University have asked us to work on an industry report - basically researching current illustrators and graphic designers we are interested in/are inspired by.
I started off by getting in touch with an illustrator I really like aka ZEEL who was kind enough to let me visit his studio down in Hastings for the day!
ZEEL make a variety of illustrations, comics and toys, working with stories and characters (an area of illustration I am really interested in).
The Squidgy Puff cushions are my favourite toys from much so that whilst in his studio I managed to buy the Apple Squidgy Puff! I'm quite an avid collector of cutey cushions and toys...
So I made my way down to Hastings for the day, also happens to be one of my favourite English seaside towns. The studio is part of ZEELs house, which was full of hundreds of very awesome toy characters and collectables, some made by ZEEL himself and others collected over time.

Some of them were really quite cute and adorable!

Whilst some of the others were quite scary and dark :) but still cute in my opinion!

Lots of the ZEEL made toys were made of natural produce such as wood, which I rather liked as an alternate to the plastic-y toys illustrators usually make these days....I think the wood gave them a unique homegrown feel.

I really liked this part of the was on the stairs and had a 'shrine' feel to it with a stain glass window behind it - very cool :)

Upstairs he had his Mac computer and bookcases for inspiration.

As well as more cute inspiring toys! Loved these.

As well as toys and characters, ZEEL also collects vintage photos of people from junk shops and vintage shops.

Spooky dead people photos :) People sure looked smart back then..

Before ZEEL makes finished toys, he practices and comes up with ideas on polystyrene type material using a special hot wire tool. This was actually quite cool and even the little prototypes were impressive and cute!

On the desk ZEEL had some other cute little prototypes for toys - I think they were made of fimo clay? He designed little molds and then managed to make 3D mini characters. They were so tiny and cute :D
Aside from prototypes and such, I got to see some of the thought processes and sketchbooks used to create some of the work.

The name of a character ZEEL has in mind to design in the future!

Next ZEEL showed me around the basement, where most of the making takes place.

It was quite interesting to see this part of the studio - everything from wood to paper mache had some kind of use in ZEELs work.

And much to my liking there were a couple of cute little character fellows lying around for me to photograph and awwh over :)
Loved this elephant fellow :3
Anyway, as I mentioned alot of ZEELs work is made of wood. I was kind of intrigued as to how wood goes into making illustration based toys, and had never really thought about the process until ZEEL gave me a demonstration.

Part of the basement had a little wood workshop area, where ZEEL could carve/sand/shape the wood blocks on a machine into the desired design.

It was quite messy! Wood went everywhere and I nearly choked a few times haha

It was all rather complicated and required alot of tools - I'd never be any good at it but it was quite interesting to watch how he got from a block of wood to a rounded perfectly cut piece. I'd love to go into detail about the current wood design ZEEL is working on, but unfortunately I have been asked not to talk about it as it hasnt been finished yet! However I will say that it was really good.

And last but not least - my ZEEL designed Squidgy Puff cushion on my bed!


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