- 14th September 200814th September 2008
My latest book cover is a design for Daily Grail Publishing who have just reissued Paul Devereux’s The Long Trip: A Prehistory of Psychedelia.
A massively important release when it originally came out, it is great to see it in print again.
“The Long Trip endeavors to show that the twentieth-century psychedelic renaissance is not an anomaly but part of a long line of psychedelic traditions that have inspired some highly creative cultures … Devereux presents a broad range of archaeological, ethnobotanical, and pharmacological information about psychedelics in clear, very readable English…” Shaman’s Drum
- 14th February 200814th February 2008
I’ve worked with New Dawn Magazine for a few years now, but they have exceeded even their usual high standards with their latest Special Issue. Just released, this issue, Special Issue No. 4 is titled Prophecies and Predictions. Is 2012 going to be the end of the world as we know it, or just another date in the calendar? I designed the cover for this issue and it was a lot of fun as always.
- 6th November 20076th November 2007
I have recently been working on a book just released by Daily Grail Publishing called Darklore. I designed the cover along with a number of illustrations.
Volume 1 is out now and it is a great read. Greg Taylor from the Daily Grail sums it up better than me when he describes what Darklore is all about:
Welcome to the premiere release of Darklore, a journal of exceptional observations, hidden history, the paranormal and esoteric science. Bringing together some of the top researchers and writers on topics from outside of mainstream science and history, Darklore will challenge your preconceptions by revealing the strange dimensions veiled by consensus reality.
In Darklore Volume 1 you’ll find discussions of subjects such as the age of the Sphinx, ‘Flying Triangle’ sightings from yesteryear, evidence for the afterlife, the strange sounds heard during paranormal experiences, new revelations about the Knights Templar, psychedelic use in ancient Peru, Bigfoot strangeness, the Hellfire Society, Roswell, and much more.
The idea is to release these on a regular basis so don’t miss the first instalment of what will surely grow into a great series.
For more details on the look of the book, check out my portfolio page for the project.
- 12th August 200712th August 2007
Earlier this year I accompanied Simon Cox to Egypt where we were doing some research for an upcoming book project. While there we visited once again the Layer Pyramid at Zawiyet el-Aryan, south of the Giza pyramids.
This hard to find pyramid is way off the beaten track and usually deserted. It doesn’t help that the name Zawiyet el-Aryan has reportedly not been used for many years, so asking for this small village only produces puzzled looks.
Today this pyramid is a mystery, and we know hardly anything at all about it. Dated to the 3rd Dynasty and given a tentative construction date of 2,600 BC it is only attributed to this era because of its method of construction, marking it as a possible 3rd Dynasty monument. Some have suggested that it was made by a pharaoh called Khaba, but only because vases bearing his name have been found in a nearby tomb. That is literally all we have to tie him to the site.
All of this is, of course, is just conjecture, the best guess of academics, and the truth is, nothing is known about the Layer Pyramid for certain.
For example, it is said that this pyramid was never completed because no casing stones have ever been found, but it could be that these were simply removed in antiquity, as with other pyramids, including the Great Pyramid at Giza. A complex set of magazines and galleries exists beneath the pyramid, and while they don’t prove by themselves that the pyramid was ever completed, they do indicate that construction had progressed to quite an advanced stage at the site.
So, who did build the Layer Pyramid and when?
The view of the Layer Pyramid from the nearby village
The exposed, interior layers are all that remain today
On top of the pyramid, with Simon Cox (far left)
Filming with Simon Cox
Inside the underground passages with Ahmed Abo el Ela
The false entrance that leads to a dead-end
- 5th July 20075th July 2007
Today sees the release of my latest book, An A to Z of the Occult. Once again written with Simon Cox, it is the fourth in his A to Z Series.
This one was a lot of fun to write. Since my late teens I have taken a keen interest in the subjects covered in this book and it is great to be able to release some of the material I have acquired during those twenty-plus years of research.
The occult has had a lot of bad press over the years and is still viewed as something of a taboo subject. Why this should be became very clear to us during the writing of this book, because we realised that what we today term ‘the occult’ seems to encompass anything that cannot be explained by the twin pillars of mainstream science and religion. Today we rely heavily on these two disciplines, expecting one or the other – or both – to have all the answers for us. So, it is no wonder that the occult is often viewed as frightening and something to be feared if it lies outside the comfortable and familiar fields of religion and science.
The A to Z format of the series works very well when looking at the varied subjects found within the occult and the book itself is rather like a Grimoire of essays examining the esoteric.
On a design note, I also put together the cover and this one is my favourite jacket from the A to Z Series. The fantastic photo on the front was taken by Dawn Allynn and it was great raw material to mould into a cover image. Photos like that are a designer’s dream.
- 5th November 20065th November 2006
Just a quick plug – my first book has just been released and is out now in the shops. Co-authored with my friend and prodigious author, Simon Cox, it is titled An A to Z of Atlantis.
The book serves as a guide to the many mysteries that surround the fabled lost continent. Quoting from the Introduction:
There can scarcely be another subject that has courted as much controversy over the years as that of Atlantis. Thousands of books have been written about the lost continent, literally millions of words, and today the subject generates just as much interest as it has in the past, if not more.
An A to Z of Atlantis is the latest book in this long tradition. However, unlike many of the books published about Atlantis, the purpose of this A to Z is not to promote one particular theory or to argue why one location is any more likely than another to be the site of Atlantis. Rather, we gather all of the disparate strands together into one volume in order to try and present the reader with the broadest possible range of ideas.
Both myself and Simon have been fascinated by the subject of Atlantis for many years, so it is great to be able to get some of our ideas and theories down on paper at last and out in print. It should be a great read whether you are new to Atlantis or a seasoned seeker of the lost continent, and hopefully we have something new and enthralling for everyone.
I also designed the cover and it is one of four covers I have designed for Simon Cox’s A to Z Series.
- 25th July 200625th July 2006
I’ve been doing a lot of research recently for the book I am writing with Simon Cox, An A to Z of Atlantis. What’s great about this book is that it enables me to use some of the fascinating stories and oddities that I have collected over the years.
One of my favourite candidates for the lost island of Atlantis is the archipelago known as the Canary Islands. Politically they are a part of Europe, and physically they are a part of Africa – hugging the west coast – however, their topography is like nowhere else on the planet and the islands are home to many unique species of flora and fauna. I’ve travelled to them several times, but the most memorable trip was a recent visit to one of the most western islands, La Palma.
The island is like a precious green jewel floating in the deep azure of the Atlantic. It contains pre-historic laurel forests that once covered the whole of Europe but that today can now only be found in the Canary Islands and on Madeira. These forests are said to be millions of years old.
La Palma is not as well known as some of the other Canary Islands, such as Tenerife and Lanzarote, and in fact, because of the steep terrain, La Palma is home to just 85,000 people. This population has as their neighbour one of the most unstable chain of volcanos in the world. It is said that if La Palma were to self-destruct in a large volcanic eruption, then half of the island could slip into the sea, causing what is termed a mega-tsunami that could put at risk much of the eastern seaboard of the United States.
If Atlantis did self-destruct and disappear beneath the waves, then the Canary Islands are certainly a likely candidate for its remains. Although the mechanism for a whole continent suddenly sinking goes against what we currently believe to be possible, the sheer unpredictability of the region makes you realise that Atlantis may just have been nearby once, or possibly even formed a part of the archipelago itself.
The Canary Islands were once home to a race of people known as the Guanches. The question of the origin of these people has still not been answered satisfactorily, but if there’s any doubt over their beginnings, there is none concerning their demise. Left to the own devices, probably for many thousands of years, the Spanish landed on the islands sometime in the 15th Century and over the next one hundred years the Guanches were wiped out.
What is intriguing about the Guanches is the fact that they told other visitors, notably the Portuguese, that they’d once been part of a much greater homeland that had been destroyed in a huge deluge. Their legends reportedly centred around a story that the survivors of that great destruction had saved themselves by clinging to the heights of Tenerife’s huge volcano, Mount Teide, the highest peak in Spain.
Stranded on the Canary Islands the Guanches kept their myths alive but slowly turned their back on the seas. By the time the Spanish arrived it was reported that the Guanches were terrified of the ocean that surrounded them. Could this be a direct result of the great fear that the survivors must have experienced if they had been washed up in the wake of the deluge that destroyed Atlantis? Surely people would turn their backs on the sea after such an event?
On La Palma I managed to glimpse some of the scant signs that the Guanches had once lived there. They left few footprints on the island, but there are clues here and there and more are being found all the time. Some of the most haunting are the caves where they once lived and the cliffs below these caves are inscribed with their megalithic-style carvings and symbols.
The Guanches also have similarities with the Egyptians and they were known for mummifying their dead. Recently pyramids have also been found on the islands.
So, who were these unique people? Are they really survivors from Atlantis and what tales could they have told us today if they were still around?
- 19th June 200619th June 2006
I spent last week in Edinburgh making a DVD with Mark Oxbrow and Ian Robertson about Rosslyn Chapel. Ian and Mark wrote the incredible Rosslyn and the Grail which was released to unanimous praise this year.
My partner-in-crime Simon Cox came too and it was the usual mix of high adventure and sleep deprivation. We had a couple of early mornings alone in the Chapel thanks to the courtesy of the Rosslyn Chapel Trust which is always a treat.
Rosslyn has received loads of attention lately because of its appearance in the film The Da Vinci Code. Maybe the Chapel – alongside some other locations featured – are the true stars of the film now that Tom Hanks & Co. have received a drubbing in the press. Saying that, I enjoyed the film and while not a piece of art, it is certainly thought provoking and entertaining.
The DVD we’re working on is an expose on Rosslyn and, like the book, Rosslyn and the Grail, dispels quite a few myths but brings to light many more. I’ll reveal more as the project progresses.
In the meantime, here are a few images from the shoot.
Simon Cox – early morning shoot inside Rosslyn Chapel.
Mark Oxbrow telling the story of the Chapel.
Ian Robertson describing the hidden secrets of the Chapel.
- 19th June 200619th June 2006
Issue Five of Sub Rosa is now out.
I am pleased with how this issue looks and had fun especially with an article on crop circles, for which I designed a very colourful spread.
I also used this theme for the cover. There are some incredible formations appearing at the moment. It doesn’t matter who or what you believe is responsible for their creation, one thing is certain; we are witnessing the fine-tuning of a true art-form at play in the fields of Wiltshire and beyond.
As well as the feature on crop circles, there is also an excellent piece by Lynn Picknett and Clive Prince on the Priory of Sion, an interview with brain-and-a-half Dean Radin, and an excerpt from Daniel Pinchbeck’s latest book 2012: the Return of Quetzlcoatl. Then there are the usual suspects; news, reviews and writings from the edge.
Adam Miller also provided some illustrations and as always he didn’t disappoint. So, all in all, Issue Five is 77 pages of great reading and visual treats. Go and get it.
Adam Miller’s mind-blowing illustration alongside my layout.
- 15th May 200615th May 2006
I went hunting for The Dan Brown Companion posters on the London Underground today and was surprised that I didn’t have to go very far to find them!
I found the first on the platform of Lancaster Gate tube, my local station. Then I headed up to Notting Hill Gate and found some more there. So, it was mission accomplished in a matter of half an hour.
It was pretty satisfying to see my work all over the tube, it’s like a shot of Red Bull for the ego.
- 12th May 200612th May 2006
People have been asking me about the significance of the fairy in this website’s header graphic. So, here’s the story.
It’s actually taken from an Arthur Rackham illustration. Arthur Rackham was a famous illustrator of children’s books, working predominantly in the early 20th century.
Although he illustrated many books and many stories, for me the most significant is J. M. Barrie’s book Peter Pan in Kensington Gardens, for which Rackham provided 16 superb ink and watercolour illustrations.
Barrie lived near Kensington Gardens in central London, not far from where I live now, and in fact, a blue plaque can be found today identifying his residence. It is a tidy house on the corner of Bayswater Road and Leinster Terrace.
The story goes that Barrie would walk in Kensington Gardens every day and it was here that he met the children of Sylvia Llewelyn-Davies who inspired him to create Peter Pan. The children and their adventures with Barrie are immortalised in the books, The White Bird (later to become Peter Pan in Kensington Gardens) and Peter And Wendy, as well as the famous stage play. The Gardens themselves are the backdrop for the events in the stories and Barrie was obsessed with the magic of the park and the different landscapes he found there.
When I moved to Lancaster Gate I had no idea at the time of the full extent of this story and didn’t realise that I was literally walking in the footsteps of J. M. Barrie each day as I escaped into the park on my afternoon breaks. I later discovered that my favourite spot is actually a secret location in the books and sits inside a ring of Spanish chestnuts that Barrie claimed had special significance.
When Arthur Rackham came to illustrate Barrie’s Peter Pan he’d come to Kensington Gardens each day to sketch. I actually met a very old gentleman in the park one day who told me that his father had watched Arthur Rackham sit on his stool and paint the old chestnuts and the other trees that stand near the Long Water. He told me that apart from the chestnuts, (which seem almost immortal, they live for so long) there weren’t many of what his father had called the ‘Rackham Trees’ left. He pointed out one to me and it still stands beside the lake today, and on certain days when the weather is overcast and the sky is darkening, it often feels like it is coming alive and full of mischief, just like many of the trees Rackham depicted.
Rackham was famous for painting both trees and fairies, and in his illustrations for the story of Peter Pan we see both. One of my favourite illustrations from Peter Pan in Kensington Gardens is this one.
The Long Water still looks much like this today and the bridge seen in the watercolour is still there. I’m not sure about the fairies – though, I’m sure there are people who would say that they’re still there too.
So, because Kensington Gardens are important to me, because I’m never far from them, and because the stories they hold seem to have become intertwined with my life of the last few years, I thought I would incorporate one of Arthur Rackham’s fairies into my new design for this site. It seemed somehow fitting, especially as Arthur Rackham was one of the artists who inspired me as a child and whose work never failed to spark my imagination.
As it still does today.
- 8th May 20068th May 2006
The Dan Brown Companion by Simon Cox is now out and in bookshops. I had great fun working on this book, designing the cover and the 108 page full-colour gazetteer section. On top of that I also did some research for Simon and it’s good to see the book out and about now. There’s also a pretty hardcore advertising campaign underway and I hope to catch a glimpse of some of the posters on the London Underground this week. I’ll post some pictures if I find any.
Talking about this book, my friend Andy Gough also contributed material and his ideas receive an airing in the section on Rennes-Le-Château and the Priory of Sion. I helped Andy get his website online and if you fancy having a read through some of his unique thoughts and ideas, they can be found at Arcadia. Andy also has a thought-provoking blog on the site. Great reading all round.
- 6th May 20066th May 2006
During the last week of April I spent a week in Cairo with Simon Cox and we were there to prepare for a new book that we are writing called Egyptian Genesis.
I hadn’t been to Egypt for about five years and the trip was well overdue.
We visited many of the sites that will appear in the book, not only the pyramids at Giza, but also Dashour, Zawiyet el-Aryan and my personal favourite, Abu Roash.
I’ll be writing more here about the book as it progresses. In the meantime I have uploaded a few images to Flickr and will be selecting a few more from time to time and sticking them up.
Inside the ‘pit’ at Abu Roash with Simon and Ahmed.
- 17th April 200617th April 2006
I’ve just finished a major website design for New Dawn Magazine. The site in question is Gnostic Info and is a resource for those wanting to read more about gnostic issues and gnosticism itself – both old and modern.
I am particularly happy with the logo I designed. It contains a ‘G’ that I turned into an Ouroboros, a serpent or dragon eating its own tail.
The ‘G’ was a perfect candidate for such a treatment and was the key to the whole design. I actually spent a lot of time on the letterform of the ‘G’ but after that everything else fell into place.
I’d never come across the concept of the Ouroboros until starting this project, and I was fascinated to learn more. It was supposed to represent the cyclical nature of the universe and the famous Greek philosopher Plato wrote of this legendary creature who was believed to have been the first living creature in the universe; a perfect being:
“The living being had no need of eyes when there was nothing remaining outside him to be seen; nor of ears when there was nothing to be heard; and there was no surrounding atmosphere to be breathed; nor would there have been any use of organs by the help of which he might receive his food or get rid of what he had already digested, since there was nothing which went from him or came into him: for there was nothing beside him. Of design he was created thus, his own waste providing his own food, and all that he did or suffered taking place in and by himself. For the Creator conceived that a being which was self-sufficient would be far more excellent than one which lacked anything; and, as he had no need to take anything or defend himself against any one, the Creator did not think it necessary to bestow upon him hands: nor had he any need of feet, nor of the whole apparatus of walking; but the movement suited to his spherical form was assigned to him, being of all the seven that which is most appropriate to mind and intelligence; and he was made to move in the same manner and on the same spot, within his own limits revolving in a circle. All the other six motions were taken away from him, and he was made not to partake of their deviations. And as this circular movement required no feet, the universe was created without legs and without feet.”
The site can be found at Gnostic Info and is full of very absorbing articles.
- 4th April 20064th April 2006
I want to share a nifty way of creating a unique colour palette that I discovered a few years ago. When faced with a new project one of the common problems first encountered is deciding which colours to use. Sometimes this can be daunting when faced with a blank screen in front of you.
To overcome this, I would like to suggest a simple way of finding inspiration and building natural and harmonic colour palettes.
All you need to begin, is a photo. So, find an image that you like and open it in Photoshop. I am using one I took myself in Rennes-Le-Château.
Once the image is open in Photoshop go to the FILTER menu, choose PIXELATE and from there pick MOSAIC. I usually use squares of between 20 to 25 pixels in size, but different sizes can be used depending on the subject matter.
Here is the result:
From this, we can pick our colours. The following is just one palette that can be derived from this image.
Here’s one more example:
Using this method we can turn photos of everyday objects or scenes into the most vibrant of palettes, so there’s no longer any reason for a lack of inspiration.