Be a voter!

african, design, From the sketchbooks, idea, illustration, Ken Wilson-Max, Zimbabwe

I was asked to illustrate a poster designed by Chaz Maviyane-Davies to get people to vote. The first time we worked together on a similar message was back in Zimbabwe when I was knee-high to grasshopper! I made an illustration for a magazine called Moto (meaning ‘Fire’ in Shona) which published a lot of sociopolitical stuff.

So I did the cover, thought nothing about it, and off it went to print. A couple of awards later and I knew a couple, of things; firstly, I was quite good at interpreting ideas, and secondly, I didn’t want to be down for doing heavy sociopolitical work alone. I wasn’t even 20 years old!

Anyway, that’s when I first had the bright idea to travel and seek my fame and fortune, but that is another story…

Fast forward to 2018 and the real need for people to take their social and political responsibilities seriously. This is how it took shape, from rough (very rough) sketches to finished art:

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And here’s the finished piece. Wherever you are , #be a voter!

1Stand_Up

 

 

I’ll Tell You About My Dad

design, Events, illustration, Ken Wilson-Max, Zimbabwe

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When I was told that my father was not well, and furthermore, what was ailing him was the dreaded cancer, I didn’t know how to react. I don’t believe anyone really knows.

He’d had some back trouble, common for older people, and the x-ray brought some unexpected spots of clarity to his doctor.

By the time he had his follow up appointment I was getting on a plane.

By the time I landed, he knew that there was nothing that could be done.

Each day thereafter became a treasured event. Every word, every touch was amplified and committed to memory.

I left for London ten days later. Our good bye was simple and heartfelt. I believe we said all we could say to each other. He was weak but I felt like I hadn’t been held so tightly since I was a boy.

He did his best to keep us positive in his last days, often joking and doing something silly. His sense of humour was his greatest and final gift.

Three weeks after he found out he was ill, he passed away. His funeral was truly uplifting, both African and European at the same time, just like him.

I wait for the time when sadness comes, but for now I want to celebrate his life and achievements.

Why do I post this here? Because no matter how old we are, we are all children of someone else.  How many times do we long for our mother’s cooking? Or the company of our parents when things are tough?

And then how many more times do we slip back onto our routines and forget these people who care for us the most?

I appreciated my dad from the day I landed in the UK, 26 years ago. I loved him for being himself and for passing on his strength, personality and humour to his children. We will miss him, but every time we laugh, we’ll remember him. He will be with us.

Ken Wilson-Max Snr, 1938-2014

‘Judge me by my successes’ 

 

Animals? Me?

character, design, illustration, Ken Wilson-Max, kids, pre school books, Zimbabwe

I’m not known for painting animals, it has to be said. It took a long time to accept that I could draw and paint animals that look like humans , mainly because I got hung up on the word that describes this process; Anthropomorphism.

Or, perhaps I couldn’t let myself enjoy considering the possibility.  The work I do is mainly about people and objects and how they interact. I spent a lot of time doing that.  But, as every day is a learning day, last year seemed like the perfect time to start focusing on a new skill – two new skills, actually; creating animal characters and then creating stories where they could be free. Creating them in my own way  is like cutting through a thick jungle with a blunt blade and maybe one day things will start to come together.

It’s taken all this time to believe, understand and get excited about this new process. Here are a few from the sketchbooks. All of these characters have made their way in to a book idea with the working title ‘Norton’s Nose Knows’… I’ll leave it at that for now!

K

 

 

Chicken!

Activities & Play, african, design, Events, idea, London, North London, publishing, Zimbabwe

chicken-magazine-2013-cvr

It’s been an incredible few months.I’ve been slowly and steadily heading back to doing books full-time and it hasn’t been easy at all.

The plan was to return to the days when there were only  books and book ideas on my work list. I have a couple of titles to try as ebooks and started planning for the Bologna Book Fair 2014.

But the idea of becoming a book publisher and a micro sized book publisher at that, worried me. That hasn’t gone away. It may be my vocation, but it’s still business, right? All that lies before me is an incredible schedule of trying to get the titles noticed, paying for a print run and then worrying about when (if) it will make the invested money back. It ooh several more weeks looking at numbers trying to find another way to minimise the risk. With th sol school publishing knowledge I have, it feels like  the path gets narrower the further down it one travels. And its great like that; you might brush against a revolutionary new idea and succeed. But you might also brush against something disastrous.

The past few years I have started to value community. These are the people that we can all count on, in however small way. Your neighbourhood, your family, your friends around the world are all incredibly important. I struggled to tell these stories in book form for children. Its better when they are experienced in a different way, somehow. I’ve also been designing and editing newspapers and magazines so have been aware of the many ways to tell a story.

All this preamble is a fitting introduction to the subject of this post. I think I’ve cracked it; the other way to tell stories and still get everything I want!

A tabloid sized newspaper for primary school people. Have a look at the preview.

It won’t be available everywhere. It starts in my neighbourhood early next year. It’s a quarterly. It involves its audience and their grown ups. It brings children’s content to the fore, not just children’s books and I think it’s the closes thing to a physical blog that have ever worked on. If it works, then it will grow and spread. Time will tell.

K

Slightly Worried Animals

african, children's books, design, idea, Ken Wilson-Max, kids, publishing, Zimbabwe

beardedmonkey

What if animals knew they were endangered? Just an idea…