Thursday, 26 August 2010

Norn Iron…again but with penguins!

Since spending a month back home with my family I have noticed that this week there has been an undecidedly 'Norn Iron' feel to my posts, not surprising really when you think about it, I'm still working the fadge* out of my system! Anyway to keep the theme going I thought I would talk about another  of my favourite authors, like Seamus Heaney he is from 'the wee six' but his books are a little less daunting but are just as thoughtful.

He looks like this…

Self portrait by Mr. Jeffers

Makes things like this…

The song writing machine

and writes, illustrates and creates books like this…

Cover of Lost and Found

Like  a new volume of poetry by Mr. Heaney a new Oliver Jeffers book is an eagerly anticipated event too. Both my 5 year old son and I are big fans, him because he's 5 and me because one of my first 'jobs' was helping to feed the penguins in a local zoo at the age of 4, ah those were the days!! We both often just sit together on the sofa finding new things in his illustrations.

So if you think penguin stalkers, boys that eat books, bears that feel pressured to win paper plane competitions or small girls that keep their heart in a bottle are your kind of thing then you could do a lot worse than buying everything he has published, or if your curiosity has been piqued then go to his website to find out a little more about Oliver Jeffers.

Mr. Jeffers latest book

*fadge is a bread that is made from potatoes and is a must in an Ulster Fry (along with pancakes, soda bread, fried plain…I could go on)

Wednesday, 25 August 2010

Seeing Things- Fabers covers for Seamus Heaney

Yesterday while in Paris I popped into Shakespeare and Co., if you have never been it's a must do when you are in Paris! While browsing I came across the latest volume of poetry from Seamus Heaney.
A new volume of Heaney around our house is an event as anyone who knows me will tell you. Usually  I lock myself up in a room and only pop out for sustenance!  Yesterday while holding his new volume 'The Human Chain' in my hand  I was struck again by the simplicity and beauty of the cover. The covers were designed  by Justus Oehler of Pentagram in 2001. Through the use of the typeface Perpetua and a palette of three colours per book he has created a series of books with a consistent feel that has the ability to produce an infinite number of variations simply through the use of colour.

Now you can even get a 'Vessel of Verse', more commonly known as a mug to hold that cup of tea while you catch up with some classics. If you haven't got the time to pop down to your local bookshop and have a look, then here is a highly click-able photstream on Faber and Faber covers, both past and present.

Photo: Pentagram


A few fleeting shots that I took from the car on my way back through the North.

Tuesday, 24 August 2010

Past Explorations

When I posted the August cover of the Explorers Club I mentioned that a little visual recap might be in order, well here goes and thanks to all those who contributed their illustrating skills!
January: Illustrator: Syd Hausmann

February: Illustrator: Damian O'Hara

March: Illustrator: Emily Bendixen

April: Illustrator: Miho Ashima

May: Illustrator: Charlotte Evans

June: Illustrator: Damian O'Hara

July: Illustrator: Syd Hausmann

August: Illustrator: Miho Ashima

Only four more months of musical explorations left so stay tuned…

Monday, 23 August 2010

Physical Graffiti

 Please excuse the Led Zepplin pun but if you have ever saw or owned a copy of Led Zepplins 'Houses of the Holy' then you know that I'm referring to the Giants Causeway, if you haven't  and don't know what I'm talking about then (according to Wikipedia) it is, 'is an area on the North Antrim coast of about 40,000 interlocking basalt columns, the result of an ancient volcanic eruption', this description drains it of its romanticism, but you get the idea!

I had the chance to visit it again over the summer when I was back home with my family. While clambering over the stones I noticed that some of them had writing scratched into them, almost automatically I thought this was recent vandalism, day trippers wanting to add their name to a geographical icon in a bid to gain a small piece of immortality but on closer inspection some of the names were dated and they stretched back to the early 1800's. 
This was my favourite carving, look at the beauty of those numbers! It wouldn't
look out of place as a makers mark on a piece of silver or pottery.

Mr. W. L Smyth, I think the LD refers to Londonderry.
The rocks have become layered with names over time
This was the one that first caught my eye, all the Freemasonry symbols that were adopted by the Orange order obviously were a very important part of John Orr's idea of who he was and what should be preserved of him
Mr. J McGarie?

Most of the names are almost illegible now, jusst faint scratches that have been weathered away by centuries of wind and rain but still they still hold on, testament to people's fascination with the place and a desire within them to be remembered.  

Getting back to the Led Zepplin link I opened with I tried recreating Aubrey Powell's sleeve shot for 'Houses of the Holy' but it was missing a few kids and an apocalyptic sky.

Tuesday, 17 August 2010

More to Explore

As I mentioned here before the Explorers club is a year long project that I am working on with Loaf Recordings and Arctic Circle. Each month a specially chosen set of tracks from participating artists is emailed out along with a custom made booklet and the odd surprise treat.

This month sees the release of Edition 8 which features a track by a fantastic band of an amazing song! The Sleeping Years have covered The Go Betweens 'Cattle and Cane' you can listen to it here. I highly recommend it.

I also thought I'd do a little retrospective of the first six months cover later on in the week.

Friday, 13 August 2010

Friday Photo

Regents Canal, London 2008


Ahh August in France, when the large part of the country go and live elsewhere for a month. I too have been away from my solid regular internet connection and have been in the UK, Ireland (North and South!) and The West coast of France. Between 3G dongles, remote locations and slow wi-fi spots I haven't been updating this blog as regularly as I would have liked ( I will never take constant reliable wi-fi for granted ever again, promise), so apologies for the irregularity of it all, normal service will resume with the Friday Photo…

Friday, 6 August 2010


Just got a great mention in Design Week for my Tate paper cut illustration for tonight's event 'The Lovers, the Dreamers and me'. If your interested you can read it by clicking here.

I'd also like to say a big thank you to Julie at the fantastic
Famille Summerbelle site for mentioning my work as well, plese check out their site and their fabulous paper cut maps.

Friday Photo

 Enda Fishing, 2007

Thursday, 5 August 2010

Arcade Fire

This new Arcade fire album is released this week with, wait for it 8 different versions of the cover artwork. The sleeve design was created by Canadian illustrator and designer Caroline Roberts who also did the artwork for the bands  live DVD 'Mirror Noir'. For the new album she has also produced a great screen printed linen bag (with a great lozenge logo) which would be perfect for carrying your vinyl version of 'The Suburbs' about in.

I have been lucky enough to catch the group live on a number of occasions, the last time was in London on the Neon Bible tour. Here are a few picture I took on the night. If you get the chance to go and see them don't hesitate!

© Damian O'Hara
© Damian O'Hara
© Damian O'Hara

© Damian O'Hara

Wednesday, 4 August 2010

An Evening Illustrated

For all of you who aren't in London or who can't make it down to Tate Britain this Friday here is a little peek of the illustration I did for the free guide to the evenings events. I had a lot of fun doing this one, letting my imagination loose for each of the events!  

Paper Penguins on-line.

After all the late nights and paper cuts the Tate image is on line!
You can see it by clicking the link below.

If you happen to be in London town on the evening of the 6 August please pop in to Tate Britian. As well as seeing one of the greatest collection of art in the world you will get to experience a fantastic night of  music, performance and interventions and all for free plus a free guide to the evenings events (illustrated and designed by me)! Not bad I say!