The D&AD Student Awards seek out the best new artists and designers – rewarding the most innovative and inspired. They are about nurturing and celebrating young design talent, and so is Don’t Panic, the sponsor of the 2010 Student Award in Illustration.
The entrants were asked to create an image on the theme of Resistance, with the winning illustration printed on 80,000 of the iconic Don’t Panic pack posters. After deliberation, the artist who was chosen, and who’s work will soon be gracing the walls of student halls and bedrooms everywhere was Chris Howker from Stockport College.
Phil Nutley from Corridor and one of the deciding judges explained why he felt Chris’ entry deserved the prize, “For me the piece had a strong process of thought and ideas. The final execution was witty, bright and challenged social paradigms.”
We asked Chris about the inspiration behind his design and where he hopes this accolade might lead. In addition to the talent displayed in the entry, he also clearly embodies the spirit of the award – unashamedly passionate about what he does and genuinely excited about illustration.
What you do and how long you've been doing it
Ever since I was little I have loved cartoons, comics and toys so much so that so that they are still quite a large influence in my work. I enjoy using a variety of different materials, techniques and working at varying scales but everything stems from my initial sketches and development of ideas to refine my work.
What's your artistic background?
I went through the usual channels of education and then onto a foundation course. I turned to a few freelance jobs, which spurred me on to applying for the graphics course at Stockport College. It was these interviews that helped me realise that I was an illustrator more than anything else and the reason why I applied to the illustration degree at Stockport, that is currently where I am now and heading into my final year.
Examples of Chris Howker's workings
Why did you choose to enter the Don't Panic, D&AD competition?
I've often seen the Don't Panic envelopes dotted around Manchester so I always picked one up for the poster inside, plus they're free! I saw the competition as a prime opportunity to experiment screen-printing as well as combining my own drawings with digital work to create the final piece but it was the format of a poster that drew my attention. I also liked the idea that If I won, then my work could end up on the walls of peoples rooms up and down the country.
How does your entry fulfil the brief of Resistance?
It's all about not doing what you were told as a child, how the most exciting and entertaining things to do always got you in trouble. I wanted to remind people of that time. Running around in your socks used to be one of the best feelings ever and I remember ignoring my parents warnings and pushing them to see how far I could take it, but as you grow older you start to fall in line and do as you’re told. The character in the piece is actually based on myself and now stands as a reminder for me to always enjoy what I am doing and take a few more risks.
More examples of Chris Howker's workings
How did you come up with your idea for the work?
It’s about not following the rules set before you and having fun, taking risks and being individual. It was inspired by watching my niece colouring in some pages of a colouring book. I wanted to correct her on not using the proper colours or for not staying within the lines, but that didn’t matter; all that mattered to her was that what she was doing made her happy.
What are your artistic ambitions, where are you going to be in 10 years?
I don't have a clue... really! Which scares me and excites me at the same time. I've got so many things that I'd like to do within Illustration and character design that I can't pinpoint one specific job. I do know that I would quite like to work in a studio environment as part of a collective. I have absolutely loved the time I've spent on the course so far at Stockport because of the atmosphere in the studios and the chance to bounce ideas off one another, and to generally socialise within a group but as long as I have a pencil and a stack of paper, I'm happy.
Pick up one of the special fresher’s packs of Don’t Panic in September and you can own your very own Chris Howker – watch this space, it'll soon be a collectible.