Retro his style may be, but he combines this with surprise, wit and a great eye for design. He also doesn’t create his images with a rubber stamp aproach, either – he mixes up his illustration style to keep things fresh. I was also pleasantly surprised to discover that he was one of the terrific illustrators to contribute to one of my favourite billboard campaigns for Vodaphone.
As usual, I could have included more examples of his work to illustrate this post, but settled on these four. From top:- Think – contribution to The Book of Conversations; Vampire for Dental Health Partners/Preston Kelly; illustrations for Vodafone’s ‘Winter Roaming’ campaign for BBH; and below Dynamite – from his Nobrow-published book Death’s Cocktail Party.
On Friday night The Marketing-Tings (of which I am the humble Bass player) played a charity gig at The Silver Fox, Taverham, ably supported by the wildman of Wymondham, Gazza D. We did it to boost the Virgin London Marathon fundraising efforts of Ben, Simon and James and by the end of the night we’d raised £1000 in total for their chosen charities, Cancer Research UK, the Haiti Appeal and CLIC Sargent . It was very, er, intimate and sometimes it was hard to distinguish between the audience and the band – it was a little like that scene in The Blues Brothers when they play Rawhide, but without the chicken wire. However, we went down a storm (and thanks for all the nice comments on Twitter and Facebook folks).
I am a huge fan of both Clowes and Ware and as a frustrated Comica non-attendee, I will be getting myself along to the Gosh signing in the company of my fellow comic-fiend Mark, where we will no doubt buy our weight in comics after meeting Messrs Clowes and Ware. Can’t wait!
After walking our legs off on the first day of our Amsterdam jaunt, we slept later than we expected to and as a result never went out for breakfast, so we ate it in our hotel, the Hotel Heemskerk, instead (that’s Mrs K in our room above). And boy, were we glad we did as it was the best breakfast I’ve ever had in Amsterdam. No, really. It was the usual continental breakfast offered by Dutch hotels, but they also had cereal and fruit salad on display with the option of scrambled eggs (with bacon) and pancakes. The quality of the food was excellent – I was worried about the food on this trip as hotel food can be notoriously mediocre and I really didn’t want to supplement that with the fried, greasy delights also on offer in Amsterdam. But, apart from some bland pancakes we ate just before we left, every meal we had was really great quality, good value and extremely tasty.
After breakfast we walked the five minutes to the Van Gogh Museum, where we sailed past the large queue that had already formed, thanks to Sabine from the Hotel Heemskerk, who sorted us out for pre-booked tickets. We even learnt how to pronounce Van Gogh properly. It’s Van Hoche, not Van Goff and certainly NEVER Van Go (American readers, please take note). I had always been a bit sniffy about the Van Gogh Museum (did you pronounce it properly in your head?) as a lot of his major work is held elsewhere in the world. But I must’ve not been looking properly on my previous visits as apart from some of the early work when Vincent was finding his feet, I found the paintings on display to be as vivid, strong and exciting as anything ‘important’ he’d created and enjoyed returning to the Van Gogh Museum more than I thought I would.
After a little pit stop in the wonderfully bonkers De Tante van m’n Tante (whose web site is equally bonkers), we went shopping again. Number One son and I left the girls at de Bijenkorkf, a large, posh department store facing Dam Square and ran off to the Prinzengragcht to visit Space Oddity, a store selling vintage toys (window above). Number One Son bought himself an old Hans Solo action figure – I eyed up a Batman robot and a wonderful Japanese robot from the sixties, but their prices made me dizzy so they remained on the shelf. Meeting up with the girls again we went on a canal ride, made all the more pleasurable by the beautiful sunshine. The Captain/Pilot even let the K kids take the wheel and I made a woman sitting behind me laugh as I put my hands together in silent prayer as Number One Son took the wheel first. But we didn’t sink, and went back to the Hotel Heemskerk for a quick rest before heading out for dinner at the Orient for a traditonal Indonesian rice tafel (rice table). Indonesian food seems to hold the same affection for the Dutch as Indian food does for us. Again, it was another lovely meal, a touch spicy for the K kids, but they liked it nonetheless.
The next day, after another wonderful breakfast, we walked to Kerkstraat, where I had another quick drool in Lambiek’s window, then we hired cycles from Mike’s Bikes Tours next door. Cycling in Amsterdam can be very hairy as no-one, apart from maybe randy tourists, seems to be interested in red lights. Motorists were quite courteous, but every bike seemed to behave as if it had something personal against you. Playing safe, we headed straight to the Vondlepark, where we completed many laps ohh-ing and ahh-ing at the houses surrounding the park and cheering loudly at the Picasso sculpture (above) we came across (OK, it was only me that was cheering). Unfortunately, Number One Son did come to grief a couple of times, but a pep talk from a passing Doctor made him feel better. Once the bikes were returned, we ate the mediocre pancakes I mentioned earlier before returning to the Hotel Heemskerk to say our sad farewells to Norman, the owner. We had a really brilliant time in Amsterdam and we’re all looking forward to a repeat visit – the Dutch are so friendly and Amsterdam is so beautiful, that you really can’t help but have a wonderful time.
Last Friday, Team Kirkendall took off for Amsterdam. After checking into our home from home, the fab art deco Hotel Heemskerk (tucked away just behind The Concertgebouw) we had a quick bite to eat at the organic and proud Beans and Bagels, where I ate the tastiest bagel I have ever eaten.
Number One Son and I made then made a beeline for Lambiek, Europe’s oldest comic shop (since 1968) where we spent a lovely hour and a half drooling over the most comprehensive stock of comics/comix old and new. We looked at their current exhibition of work by the not-so-underground Canadian cartoonist Marc Bell and we signed the visitors book in tribute.
I spent a fortune (as you’d expect) picking up some early Yves Chaland and Martin Lodewijk’s Agent 327 and new work by Dutch cartoonists like Peter DeWit (Sigmund) and my doppleganger Erik Kriek (Gutsman Comics). I also nabbed a couple of books by Belgian cartoonists Marec and Willy Linthout. Linthout’s book really grabbed me as it was beautifully designed, using uncoated stock on the cover with the type in black and white ink. Inside, the sketchy unfinished drawings were broken up with elegant typography for the title and chapter pages. I was told that this book ‘Jaren van de Olifant’ (Years of the Elephant) was nominated for an Eisner award and I was given a translated version to look at. As I read the foreword by Paul Gravett, I realised that the original book was designed to look raw because it deals with the author’s attempts to come to terms with the tragic suicide of his 21-year-old son. His son’s life was unfinished and the unpolished look and un-inked drawings reflected this. I bought both copies – one to read and the original to keep as I was so impressed with the design.
When Number One Son and I finally emerged from Lambiek, blinking in the sunlight, we met up with Mrs K and The Daughter and did a bit more shopping in De Negen Straatjes (the nine streets) before walking up all the way up the Prinzengracht to the Anne Frank Huis. After our sad, sober tour around the house the K kids bought some books from the giftshop and I bought one of the graphic novels the Anne Frank Huis has produced dealing with the holocaust. We then walked a little further up the Prinzengragcht for dinner at The Pancake Bakery, home of the best pankcakes in Amsterdam. And, dear reader, they were.
Join me tomorrow for Part two of the Amsterdam trip – shopping, canal trips, cycling and more food – hooray!
EXCLUSIVENEWSFLASH: This blog is proud to announce the triumphant return to the stage of the mighty Marketing-Tings, the best band in Virgin Money’s Marketing department (OK, they’re the only band in Virgin Money’s Marketing department, but let’s not get bogged down in details) of whom I am the humble bass player. Virgin Money are now sponsors of the London Marathon and to help supplement the fundraising efforts of the three ’Tings who are running it (James, Rich and Simon) the Marketing-Tings are playing a special charity gig (see show poster drawn by yours truly above) raising money for Cancer Research UK, the Haiti Appeal and CLIC Sargent. With support from Gazza D, this looks to be the rock show of the year. The date is Friday 16th April, the venue is The Silver Fox, Taverham, Norwich and things will start to kick off about 8.30-ish. If you are in the Norwich area, please come long as we’d like to raise as much money as possible. In return we promise to wow you with musical magnificence, offset with some of the corniest jokes you’ll ever hear.
A designer at Virgin Money, Steve Kirkendall does lots of luvverly creative stuff, when he’s not doing amends. This site is about graphic design, illustration, comics, animation and web design. But mainly, it’s about Steve Kirkendall.
If you want to say "Hi" mail him at:– steve at kirkendall dot co dot uk.