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Wycombe duo proud of Gromit design
A HUSBAND and wife illustrating team from Wycombe got the chance of a lifetime after being asked to exhibit alongside their artistic heroes on a charity project involving one of the nation’s best-loved dogs.
Jason Ruddy and Catherine McDaid, aka illustrative duo Monsters Riot, were chosen to design one of 80 supersize Gromit statues for high-profile Bristol street art project Gromit Unleashed.
The artistic pair, who met at university and are expecting their first baby, raised £26,000 for charity when their interpretation of the crime-solving pooch, Hullaballoon’, went on sale at auction last week.
The fundraising project for Bristol Children’s Hospital saw creations from top designers and celebrities , including Jason’s boyhood hero Quentin Blake.
And the 30-year-old illustrator, who along with 29-year-old Catherine operates Monster Riot around his day job, also got to discuss their creation with another idol - Wallace and Gromit creator Nick Park.
Jason said: "We submitted our design and didn’t think much more about it but then we had a phone call and they said they were interested.
"We’ve never done anything on this scale before, so it was a challenge. We thought it would only take two days but in the end we had to paint for 24 hours straight to get it finished.
"We wanted to incorporate our own style but introduce element from Wallace and Gromit, so there’s Feathers McGraw the sinister penguin on there for instance.
"I grew up loving Quentin Blake so it was amazing to be involved in the same project as him.
"We went for the opening day and got to meet Nick Park. He’s such a lovely guy and he said he really liked our design. I’ve idolised him for years, and what a way to meet him.
"I’m just quite relieved he didn’t hate what we did with his creation."
Gromit Unleashed saw 80 sculptures of the Aardman Animations creation dotted about the city, with each auctioned off to raise money for the children’s hospital.
The most coveted Gromit was designed by animation giant Pixar, which fetched £65,000.
Other entries included celebrities such as Jools Holland and Joanna Lumley, whose Gromit was unfortunately vandalised while on public display.
Jason and Catherine’s careers have been given a huge boost, with BBC coverage and queues of six hours to see the displays.
At £26,000, Hullaballoon was one of the 20 biggest sellers from the exhibit, though its creators do not know where the sculpture is now.
And even though the creative couple have been in demand since the exhibition, Jason insists it is risky trying to make a living from illustration.
Jason said: "After three years of Monsters Riot, Gromit Unleased is the most high profile thing we’ve done. It was seen by tens of thousands of people, so it’ll be hard to get that sort of coverage again.
"We’ve had some charity projects on the back of it and commissions for our work have increased, so attention wise it’s been brilliant and we’re very priveleged to have been part of it.
"In an ideal world we’d make this full time, but the illustration world can be fickle and trying to make a living is really hard. We’ve got a mortgage to pay, so branching out is sometimes necessary.
"I’ve no idea where our Gromit is now. I hope it’s not being used as an expensive clotheshorse. It’d be great to see it again one day, it would be like being reacquainted with a lost friend."
Go to www.monsterriot.com
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