Mike Nicholson is variously an illustrator, storyboard artist and academic. He is the artist/author of the ‘bio auto graphic‘ series as published by Ensixteen Editions since 2004 from Stoke Newington, North London. There are currently 28 titles in the series, all of which are held within the Artists’ Books Collection at MMU Special Collections. Each title is covered in Nicholson’s Ensixteen Editions blog, along with other activities including recent work on Matt Berry’s ‘Toast of London’ series for Channel 4. Nicholson shares some thoughts on the process of creating his ‘bio auto graphic’ series.
“The ‘bio auto graphic’ series is a part-work, chapters of a memoir in no particular order. I have always – as an illustrator does – visually interpreted the words of other people. When I decided to begin to frame my thoughts on what I saw around me, the most immediate and honest way seemed to be to place myself within the page as a guide. Free from the laws of time, gravity and other constraints I have now done so in 28 editions. I often fly through the pages, like you can in dreams.
Within the sequence, some – like ‘The Physics of Violence’ (3-part edition from 2011) and ‘The Common Senses’ (5-part edition from 2008) – embrace global themes or events, in these cases terrorism and education respectively. The majority are, however, driven by the impact of much more private, personal events, as with the three editions created between summer 2014 and autumn 2015. They can be seen to form a loose trilogy, and cover a period of great upheaval and change. In ‘The Power of Small’ (Issue 25) I distill the panic and disorientation of a particular hot day and night, when the apparent – and mysterious – loss of my mobile phone tilted the world alarmingly. In ‘A 3rd Month of Sundays’ (Issue 26) I am still in freefall after the death of my Mum and taking the emotional temperature of things across each Sunday in February that year – the third time I have applied this formula (see also issues 17 and 24).
More recently, in ‘A’ is for. . .’ (Issue 27) the sometimes dense signature style of the series – a mix of text and image – is stripped back, possibly influenced by the double-spread/text & image format of Ladybird Books, and a place of quieter, reflective meditation is finally achieved. Most recently, in ‘B is for…’ (Issue 28) I extend this new alphabetical focus to consider the pauses that come before unseen events and pivotal moments. Like everything I do these issues are driven by the significance of sometimes mundane objects, the detail of Life that it is easy to miss.
Issue 28 ‘B is for…’ is currently on order and we hope to have it on the shelves at Special Collections shortly.