Monday, 28 April 2014

Design Porn: Laura Callaghan


Readers of Oh Comely magazine will already be familiar with Laura Callaghan's illustrations - until last December, she was their Illustration Editor, which meant her watercolours graced a whole heap of their pages. I'm mesmerised by her work - it's so painstakingly detailed, and filled with witty references and observations. Laura's subjects are almost always women; the sort of clever, cool, slightly fucked-up women you want to know more about. Her paintings magnify their worlds in a riot of colour - these are illustrations you can look at time and time again and still find something new. It took me ages, for example, to notice that one of the girls in The Pool, pictured above, is playing a game of Five-Finger Fillet. Ouch. 


This is my favourite - Anna, an illustration of Anna Dostoyevskaya, which will be part of the forthcoming book The Who, The What & The When: 65 Artists Illustrate the Secret Accomplices of History (the book is by Julia Rothman, and should be out this autumn. Google the title and you'll see some contributions from other illustrators - I'm pretty excited). 

Here, Anna sits in front of a portrait of her husband, Fyodor Dostoyevsky, and she's surrounded by his books. Behind the scenes of their marriage, she saved Dostoyevsky from the financial ruin he caused (he lost all their money, including all Anna's clothes and belongings, playing roulette. Badly, one presumes) by taking control of their finances and accepting none of his nonsense. If you can track down a copy of her memoirs, hers is a pretty fascinating life to read about. She certainly looks formidable in this illustration. Oh - and the stamps? She was one of Russia's first female philatelists. Following an argument with her husband, in which he told her women were incapable of devoting themselves to anything, she set out to prove him wrong by studying and collecting stamps for the rest of her life. I like her, and I'm buying this print for £12.  


I love this Takeaway Princess and her bejumpered ferret who've just paid a visit to Poundtown. That midweek deal is quite good value, too. This illustration is part of Issue 3 of Sad Girls, a zine "featuring work by girls who make things and have lots of feelings". Get the print of it for £12. 


I'm all about these cactus and watermelon shirts. The Wall is like something straight out of Tavi Gevinson's teenage daydreams, isn't it? Laura's like a Rookie poster girl. 


Uh-oh. There's something afoot here in the ominously-titled Three's A Crowd. They haven't even eaten the pizza. Nice cabinet, though. I like filling in the back story of Laura's work, piecing together the many visual clues she provides and creating a narrative for her characters. What have we got here? Diva magazine. The Age of Innocence. A letter. The uneaten Hawaiian pizza. Copies of Gone with the Wind and Emma on the bookshelf. Draw your own conclusions, dear reader. It's all part of the fun of these illustrations.

Go and have a look at more of Laura's previous commissions and work for sale. As well as the Anna Dostoyevskaya print, I've got my eye on the wonderful Dress Sexy At My Funeral tote bag. Marvellous. Which is your favourite?

1 comment:

  1. Ah, love Laura's work! Was just admiring her illustrations that completely make this beauty article http://www.refinery29.com/bad-beauty-habits#slide

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