For our latest book feature we have the wonderful work of Martyn Warren.The Weird Fish Factopedia is not only a great comedy piece but is artistically satisfying too. It really takes a theme and runs with it, great to see neither the humour or illustration suffers for it. Its a wonderful stroll through the world of Weird fish with all the bunny eating antics and scienticians you could possibly desire. A strong sense of composition marks out each image with a good tonal range and choice with the colours. Backgrounds are thoughtfully chosen to enhance the images and the whole book really manages to create that true sense of unity that marks it out as a really professional endeavour. Its really slick in execution and with its distinctive style akin to the safety posters in aircraft it will pull you in and make you smile. We also have an interview with Martyn so don't hesitate to read on!
How did you start?
I achieved a First Class Degree in Illustration from Southampton Solent University whilst simultaneously having my first book (Velcro Cows) published by The Friday Project in 2007. Since then I’ve been dividing my time between self-initiated and commissioned projects (from t-shirt designs to children’s books).
How do you work?All my images start life as a line drawing on paper before being imported into Photoshop for colouring and editing. As much as possible I like to retain hand-drawn aesthetics whilst also embracing the power and flexibility of digital software. I like to use strong compositions and contrasting shapes and colours, and I am particularly fond of the naïve side-on perspective. My own weird sense of humour is integral to my work, as I feel that it sets me apart from most sane people.
Why weird fish, how did you come up with the concept?The Weird Fish Factopedia is a sort of spiritual successor to Velcro Cows, which was a book all about the science behind adhesive bovines. I’ve always been a big biology fan, and my books essentially consist of a load of fabricated science detailing ridiculous facts about fictional creatures. I love the idea that I can make up whatever I want about these beasts, but there’s always a certain degree of twisted logic to what I write. Whilst I am able to be as surreal and crazy as I want, I always try to ensure that there is a purpose to the illustration, some way that I can derive humour from the situation. During my illustration degree I looked at humorous illustrators like Steven Appleby, Tom Gauld, David Shrigley and Modern Toss, and I was heavily influenced by their various self-published books and comics.
How did you bring it all together and what does it mean to you?The Weird Fish Factopedia was written over a half-year period of long weekends and longer evenings, and to have finished on time for Christmas is a great personal achievement. Furthermore I truly feel that, in terms of both writing and drawing, it is my best work to date, and the feedback I’ve received from customers attests to that. My real goal with my illustration is to provide something different, something with a unique, niche, sense of humour, and I think I have achieved that with my latest book. Next up I’m going to be designing a highly detailed underwater poster, and then continue work on my next book, Global Warming – An Incomprehensible Truth.
A truly lovely little book that's a pleasure to hold in your hands. Currently available from his website, Etsy, and will soon be sold in Orbital Comics in London.There is a fine opportunity to get yourself a signed copy with this competition.