Derrick's Tumblr blog and Q&A with W$YK

Earlier this year, Derrick was born as a creation of Laneway designers We Buy Your Kids (W$YK). Very quickly, Derrick became the face of the 2013 festival as he led us through our line-up announcement video, website, and posters. We sat down with Sonny and Biddy from W$YK to get some insight into how he came to life. Stay up to date with Derrick's Tumblr blog HERE

Across January, we'll be announcing a competition to win a trip to Singapore Laneway to blog with Derrick!

How does the concept art for Laneway come together each year – you guys are given a pretty open brief and deliver some really different and amazing concepts – from that initial brief, where do you go from there?

We’re pretty lucky that our creative process with everyone at Laneway is so organic, and always fun. We’ve continued each year working to the original brief we got for the 2010 festival - keep it fun and energetic. That was about it really, also to try and keep it light (in terms of density / clutter on the page).

One thing that is a big consideration when designing it each year is we’re not going to know the line-up until after the artwork needs to be finalised - so while our love of all the bands that have played in years past is an inspiration, the design can’t be too aesthetically tied to any one particular style of music. Laneway is always such a diverse line-up and the art is based each year on the experience of the day - hence the bright, fun, friendly themes. And with a sort of cheeky, fun, curious character that represents the personality of the festival as a whole.

What we do is simply brainstorm between us and start sketching and just start bouncing ideas around. We always try to present 3 distinct treatments or ideas. But often these overlap and we take elements from various concepts into the final.

How do you feel that the Laneway aesthetic has evolved from where you begun?

One of our main intention each year is to keep the direction of the art progressing, while still being recognisably “Laneway”. We’re heaps chuffed to have been asked to do it for four years in a row now. The first art we did (for the 2010 festival) was quite loose and inky. We moved into sort of cleaner approaches and designs over the next few years, which we think has sort of coincidentally moved in line with the line-up. Then this year we wanted it to evolve further and to try something very different, and outside of the usual 2D illustration we do. So we have Derrick.

Often designers put together moodboards, reference sheets, clippings as inspiration, and research before beginning the initial sketches – is this something you did for Derrick? What sort of influences were you drawing from?

 

When we presented the treatments for this year there was no Derrick. Initially the idea was a clay and coloured paper robot. Sonny built a very rough clay model as an example and just for fun sat it on a log with a fishing rod. Danny liked the idea of the character fishing the line-up out of a pond and so it just evolved from that. The idea was really just the medium (clay sculpting) and the character was developed later. We just presented a rough sketch of the robot and grabs from videos like Dinosaur Jr’s “Wagon”, Grizzly Bear’s “Ready Able” clip and Peter Gabriel's “Sledgehammer” as well as TV shows we’ve all grown up with like Gumby and Trap Door. We wanted to tap into something that’s nostalgic and warm but make something new for Laneway with it by creating a new character. We also like to draw cats so I guess a cat character was always going to work best for us. 

More specifically, what sort of tools and materials did you use to actually construct Derrick? Had you done anything like this before? 

We’ve never done anything like this before so it was a lot of fun and learning on the go. Derrick’s made from modelling clay. Sonny did all that. He mixed the colours together to match the mockups we’d done, and luckily that turned out to be quite easy. Also pretty lucky our house is one block from a special effects / modelling clay specialty shop on King St. [Newtown] too. He has a foam ball as the structure for his body so he’s light enough to move, and little plastic armatures to keep his limbs in place. It was pretty trial-and-error actually sculpting him and though we bought a bag of professional tools, Sonny ended up using mostly his hands and the most rudimentary sculpting tools. It was important he still look quite naive - but he looked alive. The fiddliest bit was his face. Our good friend Ross assisted helped us greatly in photography, which we just did in our drawing / screen-printing space.

You have both just returned from America – what did you get up to over there? 

Yeah! we just got back from an amazing trip. We had an exhibition in Austin Texas at the Mondo gallery. Mondo are part of The Alamo Drafthouse and commission licensed posters and tshirts for (often cult) movies. We’ve done a couple of posters for them in the past and they asked us over to do this show which ended up being 13 posters. We picked them from the licenses they have - there was no real theme except us interpreting some great films. We spent a week in Austin getting ready for the opening and painting murals in the gallery. The opening was great and we met some of the most amazing people and some of our art heroes too. We also ate the most delicious food. Only thing Biddy regrets is not getting her photo with the Daniel Johnston Hi How Are You frog. We did see it from the car though so that was ace. Then we went to New York for a week’s holiday, which was of course brilliant as well. Caught up with friends, ate all the bagels, saw BlackMothSuper Rainbow and came home.

We hear Sonny has a knack for picking many of the Laneway acts each year before the lineup is announced, what are you most looking forward to seeing at the festival?

Ha - he didn’t fair so well this year, so maybe it was just some lucky guesses the year previous. Sonny is looking forward to Cloud Nothings, Divine Fits, Nicolas Jaar, Pond and Flume. Biddy is the same, plus The Men and Twerps.

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