With the 2016 Cambrian Rally approaching with speed, it's a good time to look back at the artwork I've had the challenge and privilege to produce over the past few years.
Let's start with a bit of history. The Cambrian Rally is based up in North Wales, set in some of the most picturesque but incredibly challenging forest stages the country has to offer—even the WRC guys are regularly challenged on these stages. It's been running in one form or another since the mid-50's, and was started by the North Wales Car Club, who were known as the Llandudno Aero Club until they accidentally destroyed their only aeroplane. I guess they thought hurtling through a forest in a car was safer.
View Creative Agency has heavily supported the Cambrian Rally and North Wales Car Club for years, and each year fresh new artwork was created to promote the rally. With my obvious obsession with all things automotive it was only a matter of time before I was given a shot at the project, and in 2013 the gauntlet was laid down with only two days to pull something together. With the tight deadline I wasn't able to pull off the style I'd been itching to try, with this artwork acting as a sort of test-run for the next year.
2014, I was given a longer run-up and knew exactly what to do. This needed to catch your attention like a Mk2 Escort screaming past you at the peak of it's rev range, covered in some typically lairy livery. Bright, loud, explosive and electrifying—I could do that. So with my headphones on and AC/DC cranked up to 11, I got stuck in. I set about creating a photo-montage of sorts, getting the layout I wanted before applying some colour. Much Photoshop wizardry was done, creating an illustrative style that was made up of no real illustration. The style proved a success, with people wanting to buy the prints of the new artwork.
2015 brought a new challenge, the 60th Cambrian Rally, it's Diamond Jubilee. I didn't want to un-do the success of the previous year, so from the start I knew I wanted to keep the long tapered shapes and lightning marks, but this needed to be a bit more special. I sat down with the boss and we looked at a pile of retro styled illustrations, anything from motorsport posters to railway and tourism ads. Again, I started with a photo-montage to get the layout right, but then used this as a reference image for the illustration. Did I mention I'd never done anything in this style before? I was seriously out of my comfort zone, but determined to pull it off. After painstakingly replicating the front-end of the Mini I started to find my groove and the rest of the illustration fell into place. The biggest struggle with this was the colour palette, with my initial approach looking a little too apocalyptic for most people (hey, you've gotta try). The final result is one of the pieces I'm most proud of and left me with a big challenge for 2016—how do I follow it?
2016, and now the rally was being held in February instead of October. Balls. I racked my brains trying to figure out what kind of style would work, and eventually said something stupid like "I'll just combine the two last styles". Then I started to worry. These two styles were quite different, how do I capture both at the same time? No idea, no time to worry, there's a rally coming. I put together—you guessed it—a photo-montage of a frosty Welsh landscape with a Fiesta R5 heading into a blizzard, and started creating an illustration using the same technique as the previous year. Eventually I had a nice vector illustration of a car driving through some snow. No too exciting, not much different. So I dove back into familiar territory, throwing the illustration into Photoshop and injecting some madness into it. Boom.
If you're in the North Wales area on Saturday the 13th of February, go check out the Cambrian Rally! Why not take your Valentine with you? It'll be romantic. Head over to cambrianrally.co.uk for details.