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Posted by Benji, October 29, 2013

The Paper Watch Project

Today’s guest post is by Benji Davies, illustrator for the Bizzy Bear books.

This is The Mousaraja, riding atop his trunk-faced steed. He is an important, busy mouse and keeping good time is essential to his travels (tours of duty and so forth) to ensure that a cheese break is never missed. He is also part of my design for Templar Publishing’s Paper Watch Project.

The project, conceived and curated by Templar’s Emma O’Donovan, calls on the pencil pushing, scissor wielding skills of over 80 artists who were invited to create a watch design based on a simple customisable paper watch. Over the next week these hand-crafted and illustrated pieces are being auctioned online via ebay to raise money for Breast Cancer Care.

Here’s Emma explaination for how it came about:

In the past 12 months two incredibly inspirational members of the Templar Publishing team were diagnosed with breast cancer. Both of these incredible women are responding well to treatment so in recognition of their recovery we have decided to raise money for Breast Cancer Care.

As publishers of an array of award-winning children’s books, we decided what better way to raise some funds in a creative and exciting way but to call on volunteers from a wealth of illustrative contacts. We decided that blank paper watches would be a great platform to showcase the amazing talent of some of the countries most well loved illustrators – The elaborately designed watches will be auctioned on-line to help us achieve our goal of raising £5000.

There are over eighty one-off designs to bid on, each one an original and unique piece of art, that respond to the brief’s call to ‘be creative and have fun’. A diverse array of talents and styles are on show, including Emma Lewis’ witty analogue time-piece, Leilah Skelton’s cleverly accessorised knitted alien and the dizzy heights of, no less, an impromptu Shaun Tan doodle.

For my own design I utilised the paper watches die-cut shape to form a starting point, an elephants trunk, and took this idea for a walk as I progressed up the blank canvas of the rest of the watch – I did this all in my sketchbook first. I am no stranger to real paper and paint but I do work almost exclusively digitally for my children’s book illustration. So it was pressurising to work under the constraints of a one-off piece, on paper that I wasn’t familiar with and only had one attempt to get it right. Its always a surprise when you lay down paint and then want to tweak the colours but find that you’re already committed, or when the ink pen you’re using bleeds into the grain of the paper, that no amount of blotting with a screwed up tissue is going to pull it back! So the process was not without its challenges but to behold a tangible three-dimensional piece of artwork is nonetheless rewarding. The fact that I was able to create it in service of the project’s charitable aims, even more so.

You can read about the whole project, including a gallery of the full auction line up, here, and on Twitter with the #paperwatchproject hashtag. The auction includes work from Alex T Smith, Steven Lenton, Holly Surplice, Tor Freeman, Katharine McEwen, Chris Mould, Mark Chambers and many, many more. I ask you to make yourself a cuppa and take a couple of minutes out of your morning to peruse the spectrum of brilliant work on show – and maybe make a bid – for this very worthy cause.

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