Good Wives and Warriors Illuminates an Entire Library
Coloring is an incredibly important exercise for child development. The process of filling in line drawings with color from markers, crayons, or colored pencils teaches children how to express themselves, develops motor skills, focus, and how to recognize rules (which makes it easier to decide when and where to break those rules). Most people leave coloring behind in their childhood to their own detriment. These skills, once developed to certain proficiency, can open the door to a meditation, clarity, leaving space for thought and reflection. Becky Bolton and Louise Chappell of Good Wives and Warriors are acutely aware of this, and have allowed it to inspire them in their latest round of publishing projects, including a handful of book covers and two coloring books.
“Adult colouring-in is huge now!,” exclaim Louise and Becky. “We had no idea how popular it had become. People seem to really enjoy it and feel the benefits of just zoning out and relaxing while colouring in.” The designs that Becky and Louise created for these coloring books are more complex than the pictures we’ll remember as children, which is a welcome update for the skills adults bring to the game. The ladies play with those complexities to challenge their colorers, making the experience richer. Tying in the themes of Alice in Wonderland for ‘Escape to Wonderland,’ and the holiday season with ‘Escape to Christmas Past,’ both with Penguin / Puffin Classics, makes for an experience that engage both skills and reminiscent memory.
In addition to these coloring books come four different fiction projects with clients that range from Penguin, to Random House, to Dressler. One of the things that’s so remarkable about all of these projects that Good Wives and Warriors has embarked upon the last couple months is that you can see an aesthetic through line that permeates all of the projects. A part of that comes from the fact that it’s the same creative team executing them all, and it’s also from collaboration with different clients who are looking for what it is Becky and Louise do the best. But they always start with the story. “For us, it is quite easy to stay true to the vision, the brief and the story because that is what we are researching into and referring from to create the work,” says Becky and Louise. “In a book like Alice in Wonderland, there exists a very well known illustration aesthetic already and we wanted to reference this and incorporate it into our version.” Their interpretation of all these stories is what makes every project unique, and through their experience of executing all these projects you can very soon have an entire bookshelf devoted to the work of Good Wives and Warriors.
Good Wives and Warriors Tackle Global Hunger at the World Expo
When the world collects every few years for the World Expo, the convergence adopts a theme that examines world issues. This year in Milan they’ve taken on “Feeding the Planet, Energy for Life,” finding the relationship between food, production, hunger, and wealth on the world stage. When we consider the growing world population and diminishing resources, it’s a vital and somber task.
Good Wives and Warriors teamed up to transform the Federalimentare Expo Pavilion into a work of art that combines a gigantic static mural alongside a screen with animations by Felice Limosani. “Our painting was showing the depletion of the fish stocks over the last hundred years, that’s why it’s called ‘Future Seas,’” explains Becky Bolton, half of Good Wives and Warriors with Louise Chappell. “It’s a giant infographic that shows a hundred years ago all the fish species and ocean life, slowly decreasing, getting to where there’s nothing, only jellyfish.” The fishing that we’ve been exacting against the oceans is unsustainable at best, and completely ecologically destructive at worst. The theme of the Expo is to feed the planet, and we cannot do that without the resource of our oceans. The health of the oceans is, in many ways, the most crucial aspect of maintaining the health of our own species, making Good Wives and Warriors’ piece particularly prescient.
You’ll notice that a lot of the work that Good Wives and Warriors produces is entirely in black and white. They weren’t going to change their style for this mural. In fact, they employed it consciously, knowing that it would add to the impact of the piece and help them tell the story in a more effective way. “For something like this it’s a really good way of getting tone and line and really bold painting,” says Becky. “A lot of the work we like are like old etchings and the line work that goes into something that’s black and white is a lot more about line and tone. We just prefer the subtlety and purity of black and white.” By removing color, the piece becomes less about an assault on the senses and more about the fine details and movement. It removes a perceptive gauze and makes way for a more intimate connection with the animals in the piece.
What’s most amazing about the final piece is perhaps the fact that Becky and Louise began the mural without a specific layout. They planned out the major shapes of the piece and then created the rest in the moment as they painted. “We had a rough idea of the infographic, but the rest we just freehand. We just make it up. We have a lot of secondary sources, print outs of the ocean life, and really because everything is the two of us doing it, all of these interconnect, so we can’t plan it. All of it has to just happen,” Becky says. “Otherwise it would lose its spontaneity and all the mistakes and the drips and stuff we didn’t know where going to happen but just sort of became creatures.” The in-the-moment creations made for a piece that is both captivating and beautiful tells the story of how we’re affecting our oceans and begs for change lest we enable our own decline.
Good Wives and Warriors Show You What Imagination Looks Like
The human imagination is like a string of infinite length with infinite knots. It cannot be untangled, anymore than a person can be fully known and understood. The complexity that imagination represents is mysterious and enticing, but remains as shadowed as ever. But that doesn’t mean we can’t understand parts of it. The cover story for September’s New Scientist is an eye-opening piece on how the human imagination has affected and changed the course of human history, and examines the value in the pursuit of that which is unreal.
Since the imagination cannot be known, and is as feral as a wild animal with every resource in creation, and out of it, creating a visualization representation of the imagination is an impossible challenge in its own right, but Good Wives and Warriors were on hand to put the cover, and supporting imagery, together for New Scientist.
Becky Bolton and Louise Chappell, the constituent parts of Good Wives and Warriors, had the experience to draw from when it came time to decide what imagination looks like. As artists, they’ve lived in that energetic space. Speaking about a particularly creative time they said, “Our heads had the space to expand and we created work that when we look back on it, we have no idea what we were thinking, so I think we must have been in some dream-like state while creating.” The daydream has a tendency to run right out of the dreamer’s head upon completion and the return to the real world. For their cover, we see a suited man in consideration, and an overfilled world is spilling out of his head, too large to be contained. But as Becky and Louise will tell you, you don’t always have to rely on imagination.
The real world has as much to offer as the interior world. “The real world is so strange and fascinating that we don’t really need to work purely from our imaginations! So, we collect as many inspiring images as possible when we approach making new work.” Starting with those images as source materials, they use their creativity as the glue that connects all those elements, becoming the visual ambassadors between ideas, completing original ideas off of naturally disparate pieces.
As wild and untamable as the imagination is, there is a lot of shared experience when it comes to the daydream. The magazine wanted to hit these familiar notes to give a base from which to build familiarity for the viewers. “New Scientist was quite specific about the style and imagery they wanted to represent imagination,” Good Wives and Warriors explains. “There were specific references to children’s imagination so we had to include a number of clichés like dragons, mythical creatures and unicorns. We needed to represent imagination, not really use our own, so it needed to have conventional and recognizable links to the article.” As unique as all of our internal experiences are, Good Wives and Warriors represented something from each of our own personal worlds.
Kiehl's 'Artfully Made' Series: Susan Burghart, Script & Seal, and Good Wives and Warriors
Night Agency invited a group of B&A illustrators to create works for Kiehl's "Artfully Made" series, and the cosmetics brand retailer has already shared graphics by Susan Burghart, Script & Seal, and Good Wives and Warriors on its social media accounts. "We loved how the three artists represented very different styles," said Jennifer Wu, digital producer at Night Agency. "The variety of textures looks great. These three artists portrayed Kiehl's different facets: its New York roots; the blend of cosmetic, pharmaceutical, herbal, and medicinal knowledge; and the use of the finest natural ingredients."
Burghart's piece was inspired by Kiehl's Olive Fruit Oil Nourishing Shampoo and Conditioner, and Deeply Repairative Hair Pak using her art-nouveau style, "which tied in well with [Kiehl's] apothecary tradition," she explained. "I started off with some rough pencil sketches to decide what pose or composition would be best, then, the line art and first colorings were created in Adobe Illustrator. Afterward, it was brought into Photoshop using multiple layers so vintage effects and textures could be added in." Burghart noted that drawing an art nouveau-like coif can be arduous: "It's one thing to illustrate hair in free-form, but stylizing it, and getting the curves and shape right, takes particular consideration."
Script & Seal's contribution relied on a "scientific-looking diagram" to depict Kiehl's Creamy Eye Treatment with Avocado, said co-founders Gavin Potenza and Liz Meyer. "We wanted to show all of the good things that make up the product, while keeping it fun with a lot of movement and abstract shapes." S&S created the sundry elements in Adobe Illustrator, then compiled them in Photoshop. The duo had to balance its focus on the cream's ingredients and integrating the packaging. "In the end, we decided on having [the pot] front and center, being spliced open," S&S pointed out. "This allowed us to connect all the ingredients directly to the cream, tying together everything and making it a much stronger piece."
Kiehl's Creme de Corps went to Good Wives and Warriors, who, like S&S, aimed to "celebrate the natural ingredients used in the product," but in GWAW signature style. "We wanted the botanicals to be flowing from the bottle and swirling around to create movement, and hint at the hydration qualities," shared Becky Bolton and Louise Chappell, who drew by hand before completing the image digitally. "Working to such a small scale was challenging for us, as we like to get loads of detail into our illustrations ... the main detail we wanted to include was a scaly lizard with extremely dry skin, since this is what your body feels like ahead of applying the rich moisturizer!"