When I’m struggling for ideas I love to wander around the huge Waterstones in Piccadilly. Not only is it therapeutic to spend hours in there (and the café at the top), I find just looking at the covers is often enough to take me in a new direction. While I’m in book shops I tend to head straight to the random coffee table books. While they look and feel beautiful they always remind me that there is an audience for everything, you just need to package things in the right way.
Especially those accompanied by silly wordplay. I’m in awe of things like The Far Side by Gary Larson and The Fat Jewish on Instagram. Even Garfield author Jim Davis, whose insights and observations make the everyday funny with such little obvious effort. It always reminds me that if you create an image or moment that is engaging, the media will want to use it and find a way to link it back to what we want to say. A picture story does not always have to be explicitly connected and branded to tell the story you want to tell.
I’ve always loved British children’s television (it started with Henry’s Cat) and I was one of the first people to witness the power of Peppa Pig. In 2004 I was working on a show for Channel 5 and got my hands on a preview DVD of the first series. I took it home and showed it to my two-year-old nephew. For the first time ever he sat still and we watched the first series in one sitting. I’ve now got a toddler to make it acceptable to watch this show again. It’s wonderfully observed and actually tells us a lot about being British. There are so many universal truths in British cartoons. So while I’m watching them from an adult’s point of view I think I’m benefiting as it allows me to think more like a child and reach the simpler solutions.
I’m always at Whipsnade Zoo with my family, watching animals and how they illicit the best reactions in people. The joy you see when the sea lions do their show is enough to tell you that animals are a brilliant prop to tell a story. So while wildlife helps me relax it probably provides Hope&Glory with many a fluffy picture story.
The human body
I’m fascinated by it. How it works and how we use it. That’s why I love the Wellcome Collection permanent exhibits. I go there for inspiration and often leave with new ideas. There’s an audio recording in there where Antony Gormley talks about how the body is the central theme in art. His explanation is spot on and inspired the framing of some of the greatest tattoos for the launch of the TV show Ink Masters. We made a Human Gallery, called Tatt Modern, where we hung people on the wall, changing the pieces every 30 minutes and celebrating tattooing as the art form it is.