Author Archives: Beck Wheeler

Dogs of New Zealand – Tea Towel Project

Dogs of New Zealand is a project by artist Beck Wheeler. Beck is gathering dog photos from around New Zealand and turning them into illustrated tea towel designs.

The project started in December 2014 in Piha/New Zealand.

“To start with the project was about bringing the Piha community together in a positive way. I wanted to create a dog art project that helped people see the nice side of dog ownership. The Dogs of Piha project was a amazing success and led me to start the Dogs of NZ project. I am aiming to do as many areas in NZ as possible within the next few years. I want to make art that brings communities together, that makes quality NZ made textile and that supports positive dog ownership. Dogs are all such different characters and this project is a great way to capture those different personalities and pay homage to man/woman’s best friends.”

So far I have illustrated dogs of Piha, Ponsonby and Grey Lynn/Westmere, Takapuna, Devonport, Waiheke Island and Tauranga.

If you want to chat to me about starting a project for your area email me at beck@dogsofnz.co.nz

DoPihaThe Dogs of Piha tea towel was the first one off the press.

I put the idea for a Dogs of Piha tea towel out there before Christmas last year. Local dog owners were right into it, I ended up with 120 dog photos from 100 people within a few weeks. I illustrated each dog, adding their name below each illustration. These were hand screen-printed onto cotton tea towels and sold at a two day market held locally. People bought them either as pieces of art or to dry their dishes with.

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Lulu is one of the Dogs on the Grey Lynn/Westmere tea towel design. Lulu’s photo was taken by Rachel Hale who is a well known photographer based in France. I love how this photo captures her personality.

Another favourite of mine is Gracie from Ponsonby. A dog originally rescued by Rotorua SPCA who now lives in the lap of luxury in Ponsonby where she attends Barkley Manor doggy day care.

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Bob Obama is a Portuguese Water Dog. He looks dashing in this bow tie and was a great dog to draw. His fluffy eye brows and well groomed facial hair makes him look like a real gentleman.

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The Dogs of Ponsonby tea towel design has 112 dogs in total. It was the second tea towel to be designed in the Dogs of NZ series. I got to meet many of the dogs on the design when we launched the tea towel at Whitespace on Crummer Rd.

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Rory

Rory was one of the first dogs to go on to the Dogs of Ponsonby design. This profile photo of him shows his lovely face shape and his floppy ears.

Binoo and Miss Lu are a lovely couple. I like that they are such different breeds, yet they are obviously great buddies.

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A bit about the process:

At the moment I have been prioritising suburbs where people have shown interest in the project. If I get an email from someone requesting that I draw their suburbs dogs, I write that suburb on my list. I then do a call out for photos via facebook and see how many people are interested by sharing the facebook page within the community. I also put up posters in each area to try to get the dog owners who might not be connected through facebook.

I receive photos via email or Facebook. When I get a photo it gets added to a list of dogs. I  hand draw a sketch of each dog before taking the sketch onto the computer to colour. I try to capture each dogs personality as much as possible within each sketch.

Each tea towel is hand screen printed in 3 colours. I like the simplicity of a limited colour palette, it helps to unify each overall design. I choose a different colour palette for each area, trying to use colours that reflect the personality of each area.

If you want to chat to me about starting a project for your area email me at beck@dogsofnz.co.nz

I love Japan. I feel very inspired by Japanese illustration and design. I also feel very connected to the culture of character design which is present in daily Japanese life. My connection to Japan led me to apply for an artist residency in Fukuoka, Japan and in June last year I travelled to Fukuoka, Japan for an artist’s residency at Studio Kura.

Studio Kura is based in Itoshima, a farming community which produces rice, vegetables and fruit. The rural setting of Studio Kura means that you get to experience a glance into everyday life in Japan. Itoshima is a much slower pace than Tokyo, and has a number of local artists working in the area.

During the residency I designed a workshop for local school children and held an exhibition within the Studio Kura Gallery. The exhibition, which I titled Itoshima Characters, was based on the people I met during my stay. I painted three large wooden panels, with a character design on each panel. I designed one character for the Bonsai gardener (I saw trimming trees down the road from the studio), I designed another character for the chef at the Mochi Cafe, and the last of the three characters was for the old lady who tended the garden next to the studio. She was out there everyday planting vegetables and flowers in a space the size of a nature strip in New Zealand.

Here is a map of Itoshima, taken from the train station. Itoshima is a coastal community surrounded by mountain ranges.

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The local hardware shop had lots of great art materials aswell as other items which came in handy. I found some great gifts for my dog 🙂

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I use a lot of pattern making in my art, and I found interesting patterns everywhere in Japan. Anything from wallpaper to food.

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A short bike ride from the studio was the beach, an amazing view over the ocean.

P1050794 Across the road from the studio were many rice fields, while I was there I saw the rice grow from small seedlings to large green plants. The landscape changed everyday as the rice grew. Fields of water became greener by the minute.

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My studio with a view of the rice fields. The mountains in the background were constantly in cloud.

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My favourite cafe in Itoshima was the Mochi Cafe around the corner form Studio Kura. I had a cooking lesson here with the lovely Toshiko. Toshiko was also one of the people I met who inspired me to create a Mochi based character (which became one of the paintings for the exhibition). It is said that the best mochi (japanese sweet rice cake) is made by two bunnies on the moon.

IMG_0860IMG_0988P1050773IMG_0853During my stay I designed a wooden toy for a project with local school children. This toy was then laser cut and given to each child to paint in any way they wanted. On the opening night of my exhibition these toys were exhibited is a large central grouping as part of an installation.

IMG_0918IMG_0919IMG_0921P1050584P1050578dOmz0P1050575The gallery at Studio Kura is based in an old building traditionally used for grain storage, the space had an amazing atmosphere and was an inspiring place to exhibit. I exhibited three large paintings and an installation of toys. The toys were made by the local children and based around a laser cut template I designed on the first week of my residency. P1050736P1050627P1050735IMG_0983P1050779P1050718 P1050710 P1050695

Totems

New Years 2015 was the setting for these totem poles. Painted over the three days of Rhythm and Vines music festival. The totems evolved over three nights in collaboration with Cinzah Seekayem. We painted a totem each and then collaborated on the central totem. The black and white totems were lit up at night with the main stage in the background. Great music, good vibes and new friends. Thanks to allcity for hooking us up with some awesome paint.

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Bradley Lane

The 2nd annual Bradley Lane mural project hit Glen Innes in November 2014. Five Murals were painted by nine artists over two days. I painted a monkey themed mural titled Nature vs Nuture next to a wall by Haser and Berst. Other artists involved were Misery, TomTom, Askew One, Elliott Francis Stewart, TrustMe and Component.

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Berst and Haser collaboration on Bradley Lane

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Berst and Haser collaboration on Bradley Lane

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Misery and TomTom collaboration on Bradley Lane. Work in progress.

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Askew and Elliott Francis Stewart collaboration on Bradley Lane.

 

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Lady Bather – 60cm x 80cm – acrylic on wood

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Bugs

These bug characters were designed for the OE14 group exhibition at Endemic World, Auckland. They are influenced by my time in Japan in 2014.

I spent 5 weeks in Japan during June/July 2014. I mainly stayed on the island of Kyushu in a place called Itoshima. Itoshima is a farming community that uses traditional techiques to grow rice, vegetables and an assortment of grains. It was the rainy session while I was  in Japan and I experienced a typhoon during my stay. One of my lasting memories is of cycling through the rice fields while bugs of all sorts dive bombed me from all directions. Since coming back to New Zealand I have been obsessed with drawing weird and wonder filled bug characters. Here is a selection of the bug characters I have designed. See them as part of a mural here.

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Chuffed Cafe Mural

I painted this wall with Erin Forsyth, Cinzah Seekayem, Vanessa Meybi and Kyle Boonzaier as part of Auckland Art Week. The mural was inspired by a jungle theme. Each artist painted a jungle themed character in a conga line format. I painted a dog character and a bear character as part of this mural.

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Bugs Mural

This bug themed mural was completed for the OE14 group show at Endemic World. The mural was part of an exhibition in New Zealand which showed the work I did in Japan in 2014.

I spent 5 weeks in Japan. I mainly stayed on the island of Kyushu in a place called Itoshima. Itoshima is a farming community that uses traditional techiques to grow rice, vegetables and an assortment of grains.

It was the rainy session while I was  in Japan and I experienced a typhoon during my stay. One of my lasting memories is of cycling through the rice fields while bugs of all sorts dive bombed me from all directions. Since coming back to New Zealand I have been obsessed with drawing weird and wonder filled bug characters.

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Itoshima Characters

I completed an artist residency in Japan this year (2014). From June till July I worked in a studio in Itoshima, Fukuoaka, Japan. The residency was supported by Studio Kura. During my stay at Studio Kura I painted 3 large scale murals for an exhibition. These works were based on people I met while staying in Itoshima. The characters were based on a mochi chef, a flower growing gardener, and a bonsai gardener. During my stay in Itoshima I wrote a travel article for Fukuoka Now Magazine. Read about my travels within Japan here.

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mochi_webMochi Bunny  (2014) – 240cm x 240cm – enamel and acrylic on wood

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Flower Lady  (2014) – 240cm x 240cm – enamel and acrylic on wood

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Bonsai Man  (2014) – 240cm x 240cm – enamel and acrylic on wood

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OE/14

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2014 has been a year for travel. Earlier this year I went to Japan to complete an artist residency with Studio Kura. During my stay in Japan I held workshops, an exhibition and painted a mural. I will be showing the work I made in Japan and talking about my experiences in an upcoming exhibition called OE/14. Exhibition opens September 18th and there will be artist talks held on the 20th September.
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OE/14 is a group exhibition showing the work of Cinzah Seekayem, Beck Wheeler, Cracked Ink, Gary Silipa, Thjis de Koning and Sean Duffell.
 

Six artists come together to show the work they created during travels in 2014.

Exhibition opens 18th September at 6pm
Downstairs at The Endemic Studio Space – 62 Ponsonby Rd, Grey Lynn, AKL
Exhibition Runs from 18th September – 22nd September

Artist talks will be held on Saturday 20th September. 1pm – 3pm.

Come and here the artists talk about their work and travels:

Cinzah Seekayem : Mural painting in Mexico
Beck Wheeler : Artist residency in Itoshima, Japan
Simon Omerod : Kiwi road trip & mural painting
Sean Duffell & Thijs de Koning : Cycling & painting in Thailand
Gary Silipa : Artist residency in Tokyo, Japan

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Painting

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Four Seasons in One Day – 120cm x 80cm – acrylic on wood

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Four Seasons in One Day (Detail) – 120cm x 80cm – acrylic on wood

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The Food Show

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Type – Illustration

Hand drawn type is something I’ve done since I was a teenager. I used to hand render type pieces on the front of my exercise books. I still do a lot of hand lettering,  Here is a selection of my recent type pieces.

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People – Styles

When I illustrate people I try to get a sense of movement in the scene. Whether they are heavily stylized or more realistically proportioned I still approach the illustration by first completing a series of loose pencil sketches. I try to keep this looseness when I take the illustration onto the computer. Here are some people characters I have drawn.

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Digital illustration for Sputnik Agency in Melbourne, Australia

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Digital illustration depicting a bbq scene for christmas promotion ………………………………………………………………………………………………………………………… people4

Digital illustration depicting a holiday scene for christmas promotion

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Digital illustration for Sputnik Agency in Melbourne, Australia

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Illustration for JWT, Auckland. Depicting the diverse personalities within their design team.

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Illustration for Kissy Kissy Kids world map. Characters depicting different cultures around the world.

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Characters designed for All Right Campaign in Christchurch, New Zealand.

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People/characters used in Fly Buys campaign. Characters designed for each city in New Zealand and Australia.

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Space Travellers

Designing characters is one of my favourite activities. These characters were designed for a childrens book project. The brief was to create a boy character, a girl character and a dog character. When designing a character I like to swap out different eye shapes to see how a different style of eye can influence the overall feel of the illustrated character. Here I have attached a few samples of each character taken through a few development stages. The final characters are grouped together below.

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Illustration mock-up of boy character during development

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Illustration mock-up of girl character during development

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Illustration mock-up of dog character during development

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Final art – character development – digitally rendered in illustrator

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Fairies

Here is a selection of fairy character designs. These characters are created with simple geometric shapes and basic primary colours. Character abstraction is something I like to play with. I like to see how far I can push simplification within illustration whist also retaining the personality of an individual character.

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Blue Fairy – digital illustration – 10cm x 15cm

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Cat Fairy – digital illustration – 10cm x 15cm

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Yellow Fairy – digital illustration – 10cm x 15cm

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Pink Fairy – digital illustration – 10cm x 15cm

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Monsters

Monsters, monsters everywhere….here is a selection of monster characters designed for various clients.

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Monster characters – based on a winter view, mountains, sun and snow flakes

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Monster characters – designed for self promotional material – digital illustration

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Monster characters – Red Bull – digital illustration

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Pinata characters – designed for Telecom – digital illustration

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Michael Jackson Tribute Show

19 Karen Gallery in Mermaid Beach, Queensland is hosting an exhibition at the Sofitel on the Gold Coast. The exhibition is titled A Tribute to Michael Jackson and is inspired by the music videos for Michael Jackson’s music.

I painted these two works based on the Remember The Time music video. Exhibition opens on the 2nd May at 6:30pm at The Sofitel Gold Coast, 81 Surf Parade, Broad Beach.

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Remember The Time – 20cm x 120cm – acrylic on wood
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Hanging at The Sofitel Gold Coast
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Collaboration with Cinzah Merkens

Here is a collaborative mural I did with Cinzah Merkens at Corbans Estate Art Centre. Mural was painted as part of the Waitakere Street Art Festival produced by Fifty Cent Mixture. This was painted on a billboard skin 3m x 6m. The starting point for this painting session was the 1967 movie Dr Dolittle and a character in the movie called a Pushmepullyou.

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