The power of illustration to explain and explore complex ideas is rarely as evident as when it's used in a scientific context; for centuries, skilled image-makers have used the medium to help build our understanding of the world around us, and to translate sophisticated concepts into accessible visual form. Out of Nothing, a new graphic novel by illustrator Daniel Locke with David Blandy published this week by Nobrow, is an excellent demonstration of that power in practice.
Using Locke's charming, colourful and surreal illustrations to draw the reader in, Out of Nothing tells the story of the development of human thought and innovation, connecting the scientific concepts that underpin key inventions throughout mankind's history that have shaped our understanding of the world. Through the eyes of a little girl, the book explores everything from the invention of the written word to Einstein's theory of general relativity and Tim Berners-Lee's invention of the world wide web, and considers where mankind's dreaming mind might take us next. We caught up with Locke to discover how his collaboration with Blandy and Rutherford came about, and how the dreamlike story of Out of Nothing came together...
How did the project come about and what brought you, David Blandy and Dr Adam Rutherford together?
In 2012, the artist and my co-author of Out of Nothing, David Blandy, invited me to work on a project called Helix. Helix was commissioned by the amazing Wellcome Trust to celebrate the 60th anniversary of the discovery of DNA. David and I were teamed with Adam Rutherford and given a studio space in Lighthouse, Brighton, for a number of days to share ideas; Adam introduced us to some incredible things during this period. Helix resulted in a short film and comic, but during the course of making it, we began to realise that some of the ideas we wanted to explore would be best suited to a long form graphic novel.
Once Helix was finished, the creative director of Lighthouse at the time, Honor Harger, asked us what we had planned next. We presented an outline of a huge graphic novel we had been working on that was to be called A Brief History of Knowledge. She was really excited by the idea and offered to help us apply for a second round of funding from Wellcome. Happily that application was successful, and after a name change and a hell of a lot of work, resulted in Out of Nothing.