Hello Drawn Chorus Collective! As a 19 piece internationally formed group, tell us a little about your intentions and how you got started.
The one thing all the current Chorusers have in common is studying on Middlesex’s llustration BA. The course had a very small intake; combined with the strong emphasis placed on working in the studio and the fact it was full of wonderful people resulted in us turning into this really tight-knit cohort. Before we knew it a bunch of us were about to graduate and realised we were going to lose this amazing friendly, collaborative working environment. We all wanted to carry on working together while trying our luck as illustrators in the ‘Real World’ so pretty shortly after finishing university we started planning our first exhibition (‘Curiouser and Curiouser’, a Lewis Carroll themed show celebrating the author’s 181st birthday). We’ve been collaborating together on shows and projects ever since.
We initially set out to create exhibitions with a twist- at ‘Curiouser and Curiouser’ we had a Mad Hatter’s tea party. Our two subsequent shows, ‘The Greatest Show On Earth’ (circus themed) and ‘AHOY!’ all incorporated elements such as music, food, window displays, hand made signs and fancy dress evoking the theme to help immerse the viewer in the world we’d created. Recently we started branching into publishing- last year saw the release of ‘Tales from the Deep’, a 100 page graphic novel anthology of sea stories and we’re just gearing up to launch a kickstarter for our next project, ‘Easy As…, a fully illustrated alphabet book.
Explain the meaning behind the name Drawn Chorus Collective.
It was the name that got the most votes! Plus who doesn’t love a little bit of word play?
To date, what has been the greatest achievement as the collective?
Each of our events have all had a great turn out and there’s always this fun, lively atmosphere. Sure, things can get a little stressy in the final run up but when you look around on the night and see all the work up on the walls and people not only enjoying it but having a great time at this thing we’ve all created together too it’s incredibly rewarding. We also uses these shows as an opportunity to put together a pop up shop which gives the artists an opportunity to sell prints and crafts as well.
Several members have also been approached by clients through the collective (Amber Cooper-Davies recently illustrated her first picture book ‘The Wedding Week’ for Kio Global and Alex Moore got to work on a children’s brochure for the Millennium Mayfair Hotel so it’s great to know The Drawn Chorus is helping us get our work out there and leading to paid jobs.
How do you find managing and working alongside each other, do you often collaborate with the variety of styles or work independently?
With so many members we’ve found the most effective way to organise ourselves is through actually meeting up to talk through projects and ideas. It’s a great way of staying in touch with one everyone and it’s always really enthusing to hear what the other members are working on. Asides from that Facebook has proved to be and invaluable tool since it’s so easy to do things like vote on decisions, share artwork progress and information.
The Chorus contains a really wide range of styles with everything from lino printing, monoprinting, pencils, brush and inks, oils, paper cuts, collage, watercolors and digital drawing. We love the fact we’re all so different- It’s one of the things that makes our projects so visually exciting and people always comment on how much they like the variety of the work. Our projects always have strong theme which the members and guest artists are free to interpreted in their own way so while we all work individually there’s something to tie it all together.
Tales from the Deep – a recent graphic novel anthology. How did the concept come about and where we can get our hands on a copy.
A number of the Chrousers are keen comic book artists. We’d been talking about producing a book for a while and a graphic novel anthology seemed like the natural next step. At the time we were working towards ‘AHOY!’ and were having a great time with the nautical subject matter so decided to create a collection of sea-stories. Fred Campbell particularly enjoys making comics and is a natural raconteur so he came up with the framework and outline for each of the artists. While several of the artists such as Daniel Duncan, Martin Ursell and Alex had previous experience making comics, for the rest of the contributors such as Abigail Moulder, Zanna Allen, Eileen Kai Hing Kwan, Cathy Kwan, Lefki Saviddou and Nadine Scherer this was a brand new way to tell stories but everyone really took to it the results were fantastic. The book went down really well and we quickly sold out the initial print run.
You can see samples from Tales from the Deep on our website. Copies of the book are also available to buy from our online shop as well as Gosh Comics, The Book Arts Book Shop and The Hackney Pirates.
What’s next for Drawn Chorus Collective?
We’re currently working on ‘Easy As…’, a fully illustrated alphabet book. Each artist has a spread to illustrate their given letter and has total freedom to interpreted it however they want. There’s a great mix of styles and we’re lucky enough to be working with some really exciting guest artists. We’ve already had some final artwork in and all the process work is looking amazing. Personally I can’t wait to see it all once it’s been put together!