Author Archive


November 4, 2010

The response to launching two Limited Editions of JIMI HENDRIX on has been brilliant!

So … here’s YOUR chance to win one

Click here to see details of both Editions.

To WIN an Edition of  either ‘SCUSE ME WHILE I KISS THE SKY


… simply answer the following QUESTION

‘The ‘HENDRIX’ lettering – used as a basis for the mural in the Cumberland Hotel and used in the ‘SCUSE ME WHILE I KISS THE SKY Edition – is from which Hendrix live album, released in 1970?’ Here’s a clue …

2nd 3rd and 4th PRIZES …
Three runners-up will WIN an A4 Edition of  either ‘SCUSE ME WHILE I KISS THE SKY or RAINBOW HAZE … (your choice).

Send your answer by e-mail …
State Edition of preference.

Competion closes on December 12th

On December 15th all entries will be stuffed into a guitar case and taken to our local drinking establishment in Brighton where some Random Geezer or Geezeress will be asked to dive into the case to pick out the four winners. All four, presuming we’re not too drunk to get home, will be notified by e-mail and by a blogpost the following day.

Through sales of both Hendrix editions Andie Airfix will support the THE JIMI HENDRIX FOUNDATION. Their MUSIC FOR LIFE and BAND START-UP initiatives provide innovative help for young musicians.


And finally … check out our GREETINGS CARDS which, by popular demand, includes our award-winning Christmas Card from last year.

Next … METALLICA – Part One


34. WHITE NIGHT and, at last … METALLICA

November 2, 2010

BRIGHTON sure as Hell knows how to throw a Party …

Beginning at 2.00 pm last Saturday, 2,500 Undead gathered outside Brighton Railway station to walk through the City on their way to the ‘Zombies On The Beach‘ party, which every year kicks off ‘White Night‘ – an exciting arts phenomena of music, exhibitions, street theatre, circus and graffiti events all over the city which lasts until dawn.

To see unsuspecting tourists tumble off the train, unaware of the ghastly and grotesque zombie gathering outside the station, was absolutely priceless …

Eventually the moaning, infernal horde stumbled down the hill to the sea – much to the delight of the young and the old who lined the streets to watch the swarm of hideous ghouls lurching their way to various spectacular events throughout the day – including a brilliant FLASH DANCE on the pier …

In the evening to see groups of hideous-looking zombies gathered in pubs, restaurants and bars was not something you see every day and it was absolutely hilarious.

Thank you Brighton – for a truly Diabolical Day.

THEN, after the ‘WIN A HENDRIX’ competition on Friday
… we go back to ‘Design As An Extreme Sport’ in 1993


33. THE HENDRIX SUITE Part Three – ‘Flying–V’s & Guerilla Art’

October 24, 2010

After the stripes and the mural had been established as the design basis for ROOM 5001 at the Cumberland Hotel, we began the process of collating and co-ordinating all the other items needed to complete the ‘WOW’ factor for the project.

Although the budget had considerably increased it wasn’t limitless and so a great deal of time was spent by all of us to ensure the highest standards were constantly maintained within the new budget. I worked on finding art and creating my own work for the room; Cynthia and Mary concentrated on researching and finding the furniture, fabrics and interior elements the room needed. This was no easy task. The suite had to be opulent and luxurious, rich in texture and colour and true to the period – although Cynthia and Mary decided a ‘modern take’ on the 60’s was a positive creative approach. G-plan furniture, candlewick bedspreads, Indian throws and a cornucopia of hippy memorabilia may have been an accurate representation of a 60’s interior but hardly one to inspire Hendrix fans or to fulfil a brief for the luxury and sense of decadence the suite demanded.

Opulence, decadence, luxury, lavish fabrics, customised furniture and original art – all to reflect the flambuoyance of Jimi Hendrix – point in one direction: expense. In the quest to provide the highest quality, the room design changed constantly as Cynthia and Mary found new materials and items of furniture that were more exciting, more authentic or had been supplied by people eager to be involved in the project. Although this was, for me, at times frustrating – having to constantly re-think and re-design much of my artwork (and where it would be placed most importantly) – it meant the design was ‘progressive’ and not bound by pre-conception alone.

I thought the room needed much more psychedelia and found two one-off, ‘artist’s proofs’ of a very limited edition by a Brighton artist called Screen Prince … represented by the wonderful Art Republic

I loved them – a perfect modern ‘homage’ to the original iconic poster from the 60’s. I presented them to the Cumberland Hotel and the response from everyone at the meeting was extremely positive – so I bought them. Unfortunately, at the last minute – a few days after I’d had them mounted and framed – Mary and Cynthia decided they shouldn’t be in the room as they ‘weren’t good enough‘. Not in my opinion obviously! I was very surprised at the sudden change in mind at such a late stage but, by this time, I’d taken more of a back seat on the project – not because I cared any less or that the quality of my contribution would be diminished in any way, but I did sense fundamental differences which I believed could cause problems. I wanted a more adventurous environment (more Rock’N’Roll I suppose) where Hendrix imagery became an integral part of the interior design not just the art on the walls. It was hugely disappointing to abandon ideas I’d presented but I did recognise, as I’ve said before, the room was not an art exhibition or an egotistical showcase for Andie Airfix. I guess that’s why I work as a designer in the music industry – not as an interior designer.

A great friend had an idea for the Hendrix Editions though. In a wonderfully anarchic reverse-take on guests removing objects from hotel rooms, she has seriously offered to book the room for a night and put the editions up on the wall! Genius.

Don’t Steal Bathrobes – Infiltrate & Add Art.

Watch that wallspace !

Flying V’s & Limited Edition Prints

There had to be a guitar. How could there be a room dedicated to the world’s greatest guitarist without one? Inconceivable. I did manage to track down the original FLYING V – famously hand-painted by Hendrix himself. I discovered the FLYING V actually goes on tour and what’s more astonishing – wherever it’s displayed it’s accompanied by two ‘bodyguards’. It’s the kind of security level usually reserved for Heads of State or Crown Jewels. So … no way of borrowing that for the opening night then.

I was very generously ‘gifted’ a Flying V guitar through GAK Guitar Shop in Brighton – and in stepped ‘Zoli the Magnificent‘. Between us (mostly Zoli) we created a perfect replica …

It was certainly a labour of love … every coloured section on the body of the guitar was vectored and templated by Zoli so each could be individually applied to the facia where the design appeared – NOT all over the guitar. The result was as finely-tuned as the original guitar must have been.

Before we get to the Airfix Edition, there’s another contribution I love. It’s a detail but, as they say …

During one of many flying visits to the room as it was under construction (mostly to triple-check the measurements for the mural it has to be said – I had paranoia on a level unprecedented!), I wandered up to the room as a Hendrix fan would who’d booked the room for the night to see if there was anything we’d missed. There was. Coming out of the lift I couldn’t find the room amongst all the other identical doors and numbers in the corridor. Concentrating entirely on the interior we’d missed an important trick – the exterior. It was soon rectified …

The edition I created, specifically for the Hendrix suite, was based on the Rolling Stone cover image used on their Hendrix commemorative issue in 1970 …

Rainbow Haze‘ is based on the colour palette we’d established for the room and contains affectionate references to Andy Warhol and the Beatles ‘White Album’ . It was a real joy to create. Hopefully it captures the essence of the 60’s – the colour, style and format from a period in art history which introduced the concept of ‘multiples’ as a new art form – a saleable item that would find its way into numerous homes and not just a few select and elitist galleries. For many artists it also introduced the use of innovative print techniques which allowed such an adventurous and challenging concept to flourish. Thankfully – It still does.

In the next blog …

WIN an Edition. Click here for Edition details

Later …

32. More Brilliance

October 21, 2010

I have a literary mission at the moment. In order to complete my novel ‘MALAYALAM‘ – a thriller set in Mumbai in the year 2050 – the story now insists I have eleven extraordinary encounters, discovered randomly, which become part of the final few chapters. One of them appeared very recently in the wonderful city of Granada in Andalucia.

At one of the stone archways leading into the magnificent Alhambra Palace (probably the finest example of Moorish architecture in the world) I saw a young man playing a musical instrument I had never seen or heard of before ..

The instrument is called a hang and it’s exquisite sound is totally bewitching. One would be forgiven for thinking this was an instrument from an ancient civilisation – created to emulate ‘the music of the spheres‘. In fact it was developed in Switzerland less than ten years ago. Tempered to scientific perfection it’s notes vibrate directly in tune with the human body. Unfortunately I don’t have a recording of the what I heard but, to give you an idea of the instruments capabilities, here is the hang played by a virtuoso – the incredibly talented Liron Man. Make sure you watch until the astonshing finale.

HENDRIX SUITE FINALE to be posted tomorrow.

Later …

31. Brilliance

October 18, 2010

Last week politicians worried how David and Ed Miliband would deal with Prime Minister’s Question Time (personally it’s brother Glen I worry about) and we saw the triumphant rescue of the Chilean miners – coinciding with, and sublimely over-shadowing, Margaret Thatcher’s birthday celebrations. There were two other events worth more than a mention.

(1926 – 2010)

Pavarotti, who as a young man was taken under her wing when she toured Australia in 1965, described Joan Sutherland as ‘the Voice of the Century’. It was as powerful and as influential as that of Maria Callas and was a force that celebrated opera like no other in the 20th Century. Her true beauty lay, not only in her extraordinary talent as magnificent as it was, but in her dedication to modesty and in recognising she was blessed with something that transcended ego or fame. Her great friend, Dame Norma Major, said last week – ‘a great light has gone out’.

HOWARD JACOBSON – Man Booker Prize winner.

For years Howard Jacobson has not been recognised for his considerable literary talents, believing with admirable conviction that the greatest literature must, at its most basic, be entertaining. He has been compared to Shakespeare and Roth amongst others but his talent is dissipated by such glib comparisons.

He would repudiate I’m sure the phrase ‘comic genius’, knowing the word ‘comic’ is used too often with little understanding of the depth and weight the word demands. The word ‘tragedy’ immediately invokes a seriousness which encourages gravitas and substance. The word ‘comedy’ – equally, possibly more important a concept to understand – is too often deemed trivial, superficial and of less value.

Humour is the brightness in our lives, a way of looking at the world which is vital to our well-being. Congratulations Mr Jacobson on winning the Man Booker Prize and thank you for encouraging an approach to writing which provides optimism and compassion rarely expressed so eloquently.

Next …

The final part of the Hendrix project … other artworks for the suite

30. The HENDRIX SUITE Part Two – The Mural

October 6, 2010

Rock’n’Roll and Interior Design – unlikely bedfellows

After Mary and I secured the Hendrix project I had to think seriously about my specific contributions. The brief from the hotel at our first meeting was clear and enthusiastic. The ‘WOW’ factor was mentioned several times. We now had to move to Stage Two – providing JIMI HENDRIX concepts.

To me the project had two clearly defined objectives; first I had to create a HENDRIX centre-piece for the room; secondly the exciting environment had to be comfortable for hotel guests to stay in. The HENDRIX EXPERIENCE was not an art gallery, or a showcase for 60’s interiors; it was a living space where guests could relax in a stunning room, centred around a rock legend, whilst enjoying all the luxuries of a 21st century hotel.

Cynthia, Mary’s senior associate, set the precedent – a dazzling interior contribution. Stripes in orange, green, purple, pink and blue began at floor level at one end of the room, headed straight upward to the ceiling, where they swirled across the length of the room, then dropped back down to the floor again. My contribution had to be equally striking but, crucially, had to be complimentary to Cynthia’s bold vision. Although I knew what I wanted as a centre-piece, I needed to do serious technical research to make it happen. It had to be a mural. How could there be a 60’s room without one? Time-constraints and very limited access to the room meant what I wanted to do had to be produced ‘off-site’. I had no idea how that could be done. On top of that uncertainty – I had serious opposition to the mural idea from the interior designers. The suggested framed picture above the bed, to me, was simply too conventional an interior design concept for a Rock’n’Roll Suite that demanded something far more adventurous and innovative.

Fearful I would end up producing the Hendrix equivalent of a fishing village scene above a bed in an hotel in Cornwall, I held my ground – determined to find a way to produce the Hendrix mural I had envisaged. I had faith I would find a way to make it happen, so I fully concentrated on producing design roughs for the next meeting with the Cumberland – to persuade all involved I was absolutely on-track.

Research for the mural was pretty straightforward – no need for academics – I just had to remember why it was I ran away from home in 1962 to hitch-hike to Carnaby Street in London – specifically to buy a pair of emerald-green, bell-bottomed, crushed-velvet hipster trousers I’d seen in a magazine. (yes – I know!), and to remember my influences as a teenager and art student at the time.

Without a doubt, Robert Rauschenberg was first and foremost in my mind. A giant of pop culture in the USA he was probably more influential than Andy Warhol. The painter’s painter, he brought innovation – not only in terms of subject matter – but he also devised new art techniques and mediums like no other artist. He was then, and still is, a major influence for me – not only in my work but as mentor and visionary in my philosophy of life in general.

What else (apart from trousers) was a visual influence for a mural? Psychedelia of course; Bridget Riley; OZ magazine (I treasure the ‘Schoolkids’ issue I still have); the political, musical and sexual revolution that was so important in the 60’s; and – if you were fortunate enough to be around at the time and at all interested in music – you could not fail to remember how art was embraced by a new generation of sleeve designers …

Jo, a great friend and fellow artist recommended Zoli, of Exhibit Printing in Brighton, to help. Jo’s contacts and her ‘finger-on-the-pulse’ radar is second-to-none so I took her recommendation very seriously. Also, as Zoltan was the only other entry under ‘Z’ in my phone book, the name itself seemed a good reason to make contact. Adding the entry brought images to mind of a conjuring duo – ‘Zoli and Zoltan – Magicians Extraordinaire‘. It turned out, as far as Zoli was concerned, not to be too far from the truth.

If any of you have created a Photoshop file at the resolution necessary for a crisp detailed print you will understand that creating a 12 x 9 foot image at the standard resolution of 300 dpi would normally require the memory of a NASA computer programming a space-flight to galaxies way beyond our solar system. My computer simply produced an alert which said ‘You ARE kidding!‘ I put it to Zoli and he was unphased by the problem. It became a serious challenge. With the diligence he’d mastered for his architect’s degree, he has applied his considerable knowledge to cutting-edge print technology. It seemed appropriate that, as Hendrix was an innovator, bringing on board state-of-the-art technical advisors to fulfil his musical vision, we were attempting to do the same with the art-piece to commemorate him. 

When the ideas for the mural were unveiled at a second meeting with the Cumberland – the reactions could not have been more affirming. Keith Altham, confidante and the only journalist in the Hendrix entourage, who attended the meeting as an advisor, said “Jimi would love that.” Mary Gannon, the interior designer, also openly admitted she’d changed her mind – having seen my proposals for the piece.

Lessons? GO FOR IT!

Nothing innovative comes out of reticence or perceived limitations. Already, what Zoli and I have created together, has provided opportunities to develop more large-scale art I hadn’t thought possible. My recent move to Brighton was partly about consolidating and developing my art – and now, through a new genuine collaboration, horizons have appeared that are wonderfully challenging and exciting.

NEXT: WIN a HENDRIX EDITION, ‘Rainbow Haze’, on the next blog.


I have at this point to thank my mentor, dear friend, and financial and philosophical advisor – Lily Rendle-Moore. Without her invaluable assistance on the project, it would, without doubt, have collapsed within days of its initiation. The problems I have had to deal with, as distressing as they have been, have always been put into perspective by her audacious approach to life and her relentless insistence I enjoy myself at all times, at all costs. Thank you Lily.

Now Lily – I know you’re only twelve darling, and you’re annoyed I haven’t mentioned you on the blog until now, but would you mind removing that enormous, lethal-looking water-pistol that’s pointed at my head.

Thank you darling – you are just SO OMGenius. I Love You XXX

29. Walker Brothers & the divine Scott Walker

October 2, 2010

– ‘Rock’n’Roll and Interior Design’ follows … 

… but it would be impossible not to mention THE WALKER BROTHERS at this juncture …

Contemporaries to Hendrix (he often supported their headline act) they were a hugely successful pop phenomena between 1964 and 1968. The combination of the brilliant songwriting of Burt Bacharach and Scott Engel’s towering vocals (and astonishing good looks!) ensured their fan club was bigger than that of the Beatles at the height of their fame …

At the party the Cumberland Hotel generously threw – to thank those involved in creating the HENDRIX SUITE  – I met Gary Walker. It was great to meet him but particularly as I’d indirectly referred to him in my Hendrix mural. It was Gary who provided the Zippo Hendrix used the first time he set fire to his guitar. In my Hendrix mural I’d carefully placed a beaten-up old Zippo to look as though it was sitting on one of the two bedside cabinets. Working on an art piece 5 x 2.5metres I was extremely pleased how realistic and perfectly placed it looked. An obscure reference maybe – but it’s all in the detail …

Sadly, the Walker Brothers broke up, citing the usual ‘artistic differences’ but it was clear Scott Engel (by now Scott Walker) was having serious problems dealing with fame and had already attempted to take his own life …

Thankfully, though troubled, Scott and his DIVINE voice returned and he produced amazing solo work – THAT voice more powerful and more beautiful than ever. I strongly recommend you check out his portfolio of work – diverse, soulful, heart-wrenching and always enigmatic, he is pure joy to listen to. Here are a couple of the one’s I love but there are many, many more to check out …

See you soon … for more on THE HENDRIX SUITE


September 28, 2010

First, thanks for your great responses to the return of the blog. Very good to see, after such a long absence, that you’re still out there following my ramblings.

We are returning, for those of you I know appreciate the ‘Graphic Design as an Extreme Sport‘ side of things, to some fundamental principles of how to approach and manage design projects.

Stories, of course, will be a major part of the blogs – and there are some corkers on both the Hendrix and Metallica projects!

The Hendrix ‘Experience’ – helping to create Suite 5001, a room dedicated to the memory of Jimi Hendrix – was one that certainly challenged values – both personally and professionally. I was initially invited by Mary Gannon Designs to approach the Cumberland Hotel with her – to secure a contract to create a ‘JIMI HENDRIX SUITE‘ in honour of the world’s greatest and most innovative guitarist (sorry Mr. Page, but I’ll qualify that later). I had serious reservations from the start, concerned that opportunism may be the only driving force behind the project. Yes – the Cumberland was Jimi Hendrix’s official address and it is where he conducted his last interview with Keith Altham but was there a real understanding of what such a project involved? You can’t fuck around with legends. In terms of design – authenticity, quality and respect had to be paramount and the key to securing the project. There was only one way to find out …

A proposal was formulated and I created a letterhead specifically for it – detail at the initiation of a project is very important to grab people’s attention and also indicates how serious you are … 

We were offered the contract.

Initially Mary and I refused it – discovering that the budget, quite frankly, denied any possibility of creating the vision we had of the room. Professionally we felt obliged to explain the main reason for our refusal – primarily that the budget was so low it was impossible for us to create something worthy of Jimi Hendrix’s status or produce the ‘wow’ factor the room needed. It was not about fees (we would have, and eventually did, do the project for practically nothing) but we had to question the client’s commitment to the project – it had to be something more, if we were to be involved, than a convenient PR exercise to promote the hotel group. 

The response from the Cumberland, after a few weeks, was an enthusiastic increase to the budget. They realised, when they saw ideas produced by other designers within the original budget – that they were simply not good or exciting enough to represent such an iconic musician. Mary Gannon Design and Satori were back on board.

I’ve said in previous blogs that it’s crucial creative integrity is maintained at all times. It’s very difficult, when times are financially tough, to refuse work – but sometimes there is no other choice. It’s a no-brainer really – work just for the limited money, be safe but ultimately disappointed and creatively compromised – or – take the risk you could lose the job. More often than not, from my experience, clients respect honesty. It is, after all, a way of expressing respect for them too. I’m sure, if this hadn’t been the right approach, I honestly doubt I would have  had the opportunity to work with Led Zeppelin, Metallica, Paul McCartney or Prince William and Prince Harry (sorry – was that name-dropping!) I seriously believe such an approach ultimately provides  greater opportunities to fulfil creative ambitions – not to mention the excitement and challenges that always appear in the process. The case in point – initially refusing the Hendrix project, but being honest about the reasons why – certainly gained us respect and, in the end, we were commissioned to complete the project. 

We must remember too that as long as we understand there are always people who know much more than we do – to help us in challenging circumstances – we will always find them – or they will find us. The trick is believing it. There’s never that much risk then.

What’s the worst that can happen?

We’ll soon find out!

More very soon …

including Gary Walker and ….



September 18, 2010

What can be said, that hasn’t been said before, about someone whose legendary status as showman, virtuoso and innovator is second to none in the world of modern music?

I have a friend called Jamie. Some of you will know him from my book – he travelled with me overland to India in the early 70’s. He was then, and still is, a formidable, larger-than-life character in every respect. His passion and dedication to Jimi Hendrix was equally impressive and uncompromising. Such devotion, from a friend who was one of the most influential and respected people I have ever met, had to be taken seriously. Because of Jamie I started to listen to Hendrix on a different level and began to realise to what extent the man and his music influenced and changed the face of modern music in a way only a handful of true innovators ever have. He had an extraordinary talent and he presented it with a rare combination of dazzling showmanship and heartfelt passion.

Scuse me while I kiss the sky’ …

A few months ago I began work on art for a Jimi Hendrix Suite at the Cumberland Hotel in London – Hendrix’s official home address and where he conducted his last interview just days before he died. Jamie was continually in my thoughts as I created a mural (of course – how could there be an authentic 60’s room without a mural?), an exclusive Hendrix Edition and customised a ‘Flying V’ guitar based on a famous hand-painted one Hendrix owned.

My work is, of course, dedicated to Jimi Hendrix – the greatest guitarist who ever lived – but also to you Jamie, dear friend.

Watch this …

NEXT: More Hendrix …

The suite at the Cumberland – the frustrations and joys such a project inevitably entailed. ‘GRAPHIC DESIGN AS AN EXTREME SPORT’ is not a flippant sub-title to my Blog!

After HENDRIX … METALLICA – a project that has kept me busy, anti-social and on my toes for over  two months.

See ya around yeah?

26. Modern Toss

September 11, 2010

Cycle-by Designer Considers Modern Toss

Hey guys ….Think you’re clever yeah?

Sending me an abusive personalised birthday card?

Think you’re cool insulting people yeah? 

Modern Toss? Modern Tosh more like.

All I wanna know is how you knew I’d end up being drunk on absinthe,

studying cracks between paving stones on the way home

taxi-drivers hurling abuse at me out their windows

and then me throwing up everywhere just like on your birthday card.

Think you’re some kinda prophets now do ya, reading the future yeah?

Tossers. See ya around.