Chris Floyd photos

I haven’t benefited hugely from being on Twitter. I’ve made a lot of new friends and rekindled interest in my book, but it hasn’t made me rich or famous. I’ve been sent some free stuff. Sadly not very exciting free stuff. Duracell sent me some free batteries, worth approximately £2 and a nice cook once sent me some chocolate.

However, as I said, I have met lots of interesting people and taken part in some projects that would never have happened before I digitised my entire life and uploaded it onto Twitter so that people could point and stare.

I hadn’t heard of the photographer Chris Floyd, but he was a friend of a friend and got in contact with me. He was doing a project in which he photographed 140 people he followed on Twitter and he wanted to photograph me as part of it. I’d already seen some of the photos and really liked them, and I’m hopelessly vain and self-absorbed so of course I said yes.

I wasn’t sure I was going to like Chris. I’m suspicious of people on Twitter who are journalists or photographers. I tend to assume that whilst I’m a deeply authentic, profoundly sincere person, who spends his time agonising about sex and God, they are all terrible media gadflies, snorting coke in Soho House and stabbing each other in the back. I’m not sure what this fear is based on. Probably not reality.

Anyway, it turned out that Chris was very nice. He has a little studio in Kensal Rise, down the road from a place I used to work 10 years ago. Studio isn’t really the right word: it’s a small cubby hole, crammed full of technology and old photos. We chatted and got on. I suppose the photographers know how to put people at ease; they know how to slip into easy conversation, so that you don’t spend your time biting your nails or shouting at the sun. I was fascinated by the photographic process. As we chatted he took photos, and within a second of the photo being taken, his assistants would be converting it into black and white, lightening certain areas and cleaning bit up. They all seemed to instantly know which photos worked and which didn’t. When I tried to pose, Chris told me off. He was right.

Later, I was joined by my friends Wh1sks and Debsa, and some group shots were taken.

The whole day made me quite excited. I giggled like a schoolgirl. I gawped as I pointed out the other Twitter people who Chris had photographed for the series.

Here are some of the pics:

1) Me, looking moody.

2) Me looking puzzled.

3) Me smiling. It does happen.

4) Me as a crude anti-semitic stereotype.

5) Me and Debsa.

6) A group shot.

I’ve kept in touch with Chris and was pleased to see the final product: a rather beautiful poster of all the 140 people:

I like it for a lot of reasons. Mainly because it means that if I achieve nothing else in life, I am on the same poster as some minor British celebrities. They can’t take that away from me. They can try, but they will fail. I also like playing “Where’s Greggy?” a kind of narcissistic version of Where’s Wally, in which I get people to find me on the poster. Have a go yourself.

The poster is also a useful historical document. If nothing else, it shows that in February 2011, over 90% of the men in London wore a checked shirt.

In summary: Chris is good.



A few days ago I was having an argument with Rhodri Marsden on Twitter about how the mainstream press rips content off the internet without crediting or paying the original creators. I was arguing that the mainstream press treats the Internet as a treasure trove of material it can “borrow” without payment. I was mostly refering to text. Anyway, I forgot about the argument until tonight…

Back in 2004 I was playing around with a technique in Photoshop that involved tracing people. I’d always enjoyed drawing/tracing and generally fucking around with photos. This time I decided to trace a person but leave the background intact. It looked good. The figures had an odd, slightly spectral quality. I assumed loads of other people would have already used the same technique, but I couldn’t actually find any examples. There were lots of traced or rotoscoped images, but none in which the background had been left untraced. Similarly, there were lots of instances where cartoon characters had been drawn on photographic backgrounds, but none where a real photographed figure had been “removed” through drawing. Hooray.

I did about 10 or 12 of these images, either using family snapshots or photos I’d found on the internet.

I gathered them together and made a gallery for them on my website. I called them: Invisibilia. Boosted by an unashamedly pretentious piece of introductory prose (I’ve since toned it down) the pictures turned out to be really successful, with loads of linkblogs (this was the days before Facebook and Twitter) pointing traffic towards my website.

People really liked the pictures. I did get quite a few comments saying that the pictures were reminiscent of the classic A-HA video for Take On Me. In fact, the Take On Me video is more like rotoscoping. There’s lots of tracing and there’s merging of live-action and animation but the visual style is very different – a loose, sketchy pencil style – and a lot of the video is just old-fashioned animation with no photography involved.

I kept getting emails asking me how to recreate the style, so In 2005 I created a simple photoshop tutorial explaining how I did it. Over time, the Invisibilia series has been linked to thousands of times, and thanks to the tutorial, lots of people have tried their own versions of Invisibilia pics, as this Flickr search demonstrates.

Since then I’ve continued to do the Invisibilia pictures – because I enjoy it. Even when I’m sick of writing, I rarely get sick of drawing.  I stopped using photos from the Internet and started using only my own source photos. And the pictures continue to be very successful, as these links suggest.

This afternoon I was at my mother’s house and happened to see the back cover of this week’s Time Out London magazine. The back cover was an advert for Madrid, courtesy of The Spanish Tourist Board. It looks like this:

In terms of style and overall effect, it is very, very similar to my Invisibilia pictures. And the odd thing is that the advert doesn’t really explain itself – it’s not really apparent what the point of the ad is. It’s almost as though a designer has just said: “Hey, this is a good visual gimmick, let’s use it on an advert” and the client has agreed.

Now, I am not saying that whoever designed the advert ripped me off. It’s entirely possible that they developed the style independently. More importantly, is it even possible to “rip off” someone’s style? All artists borrow techniques and styles from one another. One artist will paint lines inspired by Picasso, another will use brushstrokes taken from Cezanne. There’s always been a lot of debate in the world of comics as to when a tribute becomes a blatant steal. And it’s not like I was the first person to trace someone in Photoshop. Still, the overall effect of the advert is oddly similar to that of the Invisibilia pics. And the advertising industry has a very bad reputation when it comes to borrowing ideas from artists and writers. There are whole blogs dedicated to pointing out the similarities between original work and copycat adverts.

I don’t know if I have a leg to stand on or not. Maybe the designer just saw the Invisibilia pictures and decided to do some of their own. Maybe it’s just a coincidence. Anyway, I am curious to investigate, so on Monday I’m going to try to find out which agency commissioned the ad. We shall see where it leads…

It is snowing

It is snowing very heavily. No buses. Limited tubes. Fortunately I am working from home today. The girlfriend managed to get into town via First Capital Connect, but is on her way home before all forms of transport are cancelled.




I went for a quick wander around Alexandra Palace but I own no gloves and my hands were turning into lumps of frozen meat, so it’s back home to wear thermals and keep the central heating on. My nostalgic joy at snowfall lasts about 2 hours before I’m sick of it and resent feeling trapped, cold and slippery. Bring on the heatwave.

Oh, and today is transfer deadline day. I don’t really think Spurs need new players. We just have to remember that turning up on matchday doesn’t actually mean you get to win the game.