Client: Shekinah Homeless Charity
A series of llustrations to help break down barriers and dispel myths about homelessness. Used in the Christmas leaflet and 2023 Calendar.
Produced in Procreate on iPad. Calendar produced in InDesign.
In early June 2022 I approached Kristy Winters at the Shekinah Westcountry Homeless Charity, who I had met a few times at various Network events, with an idea for a series of artworks that the charity might be able to do something with.
I had read an article about a homeless woman who had previously had a successful career, her own home and a loving relationship. It was only after having a child that she was put on anti depressants which led to addiction. It was just a small tip of the scales that led her to lose everything. This must have stuck with me, because it was while in a meeting on the phone with a client that I doodled a young girl surrounded by her belongings, a haunted look in her eyes. This was in no way a conscious drawing, I was concentrating on the conversation with the person on the other end of the line (honest!).
After the meeting I looked at the drawing and I thought this could make an interest series of sketches. I moved to the iPad and redrew the girl in Procreate using an ink pen brush called 'Blotty Ink'. I wanted a line that would have imperfections as I drew, so as to free up the line. I then chose a watercolour brush called 'Hartz', big bold splashes that wouldn't allow detail in any form. And only a certain amount of control.
The doodle in my diary and the Procreate drawing with simple colouring.
I thought that there must be a way to remind people, passing by a homeless person, that they may have had a similar life to us just like the woman who had lost her home and family. Maybe drawing someone on the streets and giving a glimpse of their past, a name and a previous job etc., that might be enough to encourage people to help someone the next time they pass by and not just see this hunched figure as someone who should, "Get a job" or "Sell the Big Issue". In the case of the young girl I had drawn, I was made aware that a lot of young people sometimes leave a lifetime of care to fend for themselves and find they can't cope or aren't given the help needed to start a life on they own in society. So I put her name and 'Care leaver'. I also produced one drawing of a woman sleeping on a sofa with her pet dog and belongings around her. Titled 'Sofa Surfer' a name given to people who aren't on the streets but don't have a home of their own, constantly moving from friend to friend.
After a meeting with Andy Kebby, Community, Events and Enterprise Manager and Kristy Winters, Events and Community Assistant, they loved the idea, gave me a few ideas to move forward one of them being a Shekinah calendar. One illustration would also be used for the Christmas donation leaflet which will be distributed through 75 thousand letterboxes. Having only drawn a couple of drawings I took on the task to make the 12 needed for a calendar.
Another idea we discussed would be to add a place, a landmark for each drawing that the person is near, to give sense of perspective, a place that the viewer would recognise and remind them that homelessness is everywhere.
I was delighted to hear that it has been cleared by head office and I also volunteered to produce the calendar pages for print.
The final 12 illustrations. I tweaked and tweaked the colour backgrounds so as to give each artwork their own look and energy. Also to differentiate the months in the calendar. I'm sure the final artwork colours might even change again when placed in page. :)
After producing the calendar and placing the artworks, I wanted to somehow show the 'light at the end of the tunnel' for the characters I had drawn and got to know. I wanted to give a glimpse of what Shekinah can actually do for homeless people. So I produced head a shoulders of the characters to go at the bottom of the page next to the Shekinah logo. Not necessarily to show that Shekinah can magically solve every homeless persons problems, but to show that they are there to help, that people don't have to be on their own. There is support out there. With Shekinah.
'Tommy' on the Barbican with his dog Nelly, was the second artwork I had drawn in the series. He was a man that I remembered seeing walk up and down the old Bretonside Bus Station, day and night. I would sometimes give him one of my sandwiches out of a pack, in passing or offer him a cup of tea. I drew him as I remembered him. I added Nellie his dog and constant companion, maybe because didn't want him to be alone any more. It's a funny thing creating characters from lines and colour. I sort of become attached to them.
Anyway, here are the head and shoulders of all 12 people with just a little smile. That's how I want to leave them.
Three of the calendar pages showing the layout of the artwork and Shekinah logo, recoloured to correspond with each illustration. The 'Care Leaver' became 'Laura' and behind her, the Drake Circus Shopping Mall. 'Tommy' became 'Brandon' (not his real name) after a homeless man my partner Jo worked with at the Salvation Army Devonport House, who sadly passed away during the pandemic.
The diary page, dated 22nd May 2021. Where it all started. I doodle a lot!
Front and back cover design ideas. Final designs will be posted here when complete.
I created the pillars as a striking visual to create a buzz on social media before the calendars are printed.
There was a final decision to make the calendar a larger A3 size. This will have much more impact as a wall hanging.
The Calendar and leaflet launch at The Treasury, cafe, bar and restaurant.
Leaflet designed by Troy Woodhouse.
Below is a video exported from Procreate, the painting App, on my iPad showing the process of drawing September. It took a few sketches to get the pigeons looking the way I liked. When drawing this man, I labelled an ex-zookeeper, I thought he would still find a way to help animals even in his dire position on the streets.