As a student at Jacob Kramer College of Art in Leeds, we had a most intimidating life drawing tutor in Laimonis Mierins. Cutting an intimidating figure dressed in black with silver hair, Lem would scare, bully, cajole and coax his students to be brave. If we didn’t take drawing seriously, he’d threaten us all with a tommy gun that was left over booty from the Second World War. Yes, he really did.
He started us off using pencil; soft and forgiving, then charcoal; sooty and pliable, but graduated—slowly, mind—to using the most unforgiving of media: pen. One of the toughest mediums to draw with, ink is the ultimate in mark-making; no room for error, but what errors you make have to be incorporated and believable.
In this era of Instagram gratification, I still like the discipline of looking hard, committing and interpreting life into line. This drawing of the train station in Porto took a bit of time, gave me a few scares but rewarded my fragile patience, every detail burnt into the memory.
I worked with one of our designers at Turn Key, Brian, to add another dimension to the drawing by adding colour digitally. I gave him free reign to interpret the drawing how he saw fit. There’s two versions here, one without the lifework and one with it. I love each equally, the abstract one works for me as the artist who drew it, the lifework inserted in my imagination. The line and colour version works best for people who’ve not seen the original I think.
The image was submitted to an exhibition of other designer works to celebrate 30 years of Thompson Brand Partners. I was particularly pleased how the drawing skills I learnt all those years ago could still deliver in an engaging and contemporary way.
Lem would be proud I think.