Bristol-based illustrator Andy Council designed arguably the best flyer for an event I have ever seen. Combining my two passions of dinosaurs and drawing, his flyer for Urban Scrawl has earned him both praise from his peers, and new fans. Much of his work focuses on cities and buildings, either as he tries to transfer a place’s personality in to the shape of a dinosaur, or through editorial work for magazines such as Blender and The Guardian. He was also commissioned by Russian design magazine Interni to produce intricate illustrations of the works of Corbusier and Oscar Niemeyer, and his work is also featured in the new book Beyond Architecture: Imaginative Buildings and Fictional Cities. Blueprint caught up with him for a quick chat before the opening night of Urban Scrawl.
You’re from Bristol, has the landscape there influenced your work – is there a particular building there that you really like?
It’s not a building as such, but there’s an old telecommunications tower in Purdown. You can see it for miles around, it’s in an area of Bristol called Lockleaze. There’s a big housing estate around there that has no real landmarks. When I went to the youth community project there to do a mural, they were keen to have it in the mural, as it’s their landmark. Recently they took the satellite dishes off of it as they weren’t needed anymore, and I think people were a bit sad, as it was part of the identity. It’s quite an unlikely thing. You can see it drive in to Bristol from the M32, so most people identify with it.
You’ve drawn the works of Oscar Niemeyer and a ground plan of the Shaolin temple, how do you go about researching briefs like this?
It was interesting, as with some of these things I didn’t really know much about the architect at the time. Interni, the design magazine in Russia gave me these things, and it really fired my interest more in architecture. What I find really interesting about my work now is it can go over in to so many different areas and I am learning much more. But with some of those, they would give me a giant list and attach image files. It’d be great to go to all of these places! Sometimes, these illustrations take just as long to research as to draw.
Do you have a favourite architect or movement?
For the next phase of illustrations, I’m thinking of going back and looking at really perpendicular gothic artwork, cathedrals and that. It’s not something I am a massive fan of, but they’re immense buildings, and I think sometimes people just walk past them and don’t take any notice of them; they look like space rockets. My Dad used to say, as he was really in to architecture, ‘sky rocket gothic’, and that really fired my imagination.
A lot of your work incorporates buildings, like the Stokeadocus and Golden City Dragon, do you have a particular take on architecture and cities in general, or do you see them as merely graphic shapes you can incorporate in your own work?
I do treat them as graphic shapes, but I sort of think they have personalities and usually try and do drawings of places that exist or that I’ve been to. The Stokeadocus is an actual area of Bristol with a lot of street art in it, that is kind of run down, but people love it, even though there are loads of winos there, and that. That has transferred in to the dino, he’s quite loveable looking and people like him. I did Venice as a swan for someone who wanted that done, but unfortunately, I’ve not been there, it’s a lovely piece but I would have liked to get a feel for a place. It’s about places having a kind of life to them, and then trying to transfer it.
Urban Scrawl is at The Muse Gallery Portobello Road, W11 1LR runs until April 5th. Council’s work is also showing as part of the Crimes of Passion exhibition at the Royal West of England Academy, Bristol, until May 2nd.