Sunday, February 17, 2008

Guy McKinley's Robot Girls

Last month, I was at Thinkspace's Fight for Flight show and happened to fall in love with a couple of bird drawings by Guy McKinley. His brushwork was simple and assured, yet intricate and expressive at the same time. The birds had a kind of graffiti style with flourishes that reminded me a bit of delicate Arabic calligraphy. I guess what I'm trying to say is that Guy seemed to be achieving a lot with a very minimalist palette and technique.



It turns out that Guy McKinley is an illustrator, muralist and painter from Manchester, England and paints (among other things) a series of robot girls with anti-gravity heads. After discovering that Guy had recently been featured in one of Tristan Manco's terrific collections of street art, Street Sketchbook, I had to check that out as well. Of course, in my typical obsessive fashion, I was even more thrilled by the pages from Guy's sketchbook that were featured, which explored many dynamic and fascinating new aspects of his robot girls, as well as some other interesting characters.

Ultimately, I could not contain my curiosity about the sketches, which led to some e-mail conversations with Mr. McKinley about his robot girls. Guy told me, "There are three types. The Geisha-style bots are the Octopus Tamers, the guardians of the Seas."



"The Rabbit Riders are the guardians of the Earth, the woods,
and so on."



(And the Rabbit Riders are protected by these badass rabbits, who can grow to enormous size and sprout extra limbs when necessary.)



"Lastly, the Bird Keepers, who are obviously the sky guardians."



So I talked Guy into selling me a couple paintings of his robot girls. The first is one of his Rabbit Riders – a little different than his earlier ones, I think, with a lot of that intricate brushwork and some sweet little birdies also riding the wave (click on the photo if you'd like to see more detail)...



...and the playful "Umbrella Weather," in which one of his floaty-head robot girls struggles with her umbrella while wearing a very unusual pair of Wellies. Says Guy, "It's an ode to the lovely weather we have in Manchester, constant bright sunshine – hah!"



Guy says he's always thought of his robot girls as peaceful creatures, but his upcoming work may be trending in a somewhat different direction. He revealed, "I am working on some new characters that are a little bit darker. They are called the Dead Japanese Ghost Girl Warriors and they are my ancient ancestors of the robot girls... These are where I am pushing all those sketches of girls swinging swords and so on."



"The Ghost Girl Warriors also have an affinity with the animals of the world," he continued, "but they are far more violent, though they're brought up with the Samurai values of love, honour, family, a love of the earth and worship of the spirits within that – oh, and a love of Art and the fineries in life. They are dead, though, so they are less smooth, shiny and beautiful than the robot girls. (Though I think they are beautiful, my girlfriend seems to think otherwise.) There are similarities, though – their heads also float and they have the large eyelashes, too!"

I think they're pretty cool. Can't wait to see what's coming up!

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