Illustration for review by Andrew Solomon of A Country Called Childhood by Jay Griffiths, New York Times Book Review. Thank you AD Nicholas Blechman.


Tigerstripe Camouflage

Of all the camouflage patterns, tigerstripe is probably the most instantly recognizable and visually attractive design there is. Produced in South-East Asia during the Vietnam war in a variety of versions, it was initially issued to US Army Special Forces troops who valued its functionality and concealment properties in jungle environments, and regarded it as a kind of status symbol.

Later, tigerstripe suits became available from local tailor shops, and were privately purchased by other personnel – pilots, reporters, photographers etc – as a distinctive and fashionable alternative to the standard olive-green uniform. Tigerstripe has also gained notoriety in popular culture, being worn by Dennis Hopper’s photojournalist character in Apocalypse Now, and on stage by Joe Strummer.

Tigerstripe Zig Zag

US Army Special forces recruited tribal villagers to assist them in the more inhospitable regions of South Vietnam, and issued them with tigerstripe uniforms. One of the rarest and most interesting patterns has been christened the Zig Zag pattern, because of the way the background colours move diagonally across the horizontal black stripes. Legend has it that it also includes a phallic symbol as a sign of bravado for the ethnic tribesmen.

Maharishi Reproduction Tigerstripe Zig Zag

Nowadays, it is extremely hard to find original tigerstripe garments, and even harder for those of a larger build to find wearable sizes, as the majority were manufactured in small Asian size ranges. Maharishi have faithfully reproduced one of the rarest and most desirable tigerstripes, the Zig Zag pattern, in authentic colours, fabric and cut and incorporated the phallic symbol found in the original pattern.

Specific styles of cut associated with this pattern are the two pocket shirt with straight cuffs, pants with two thigh pockets and boonie hat with foliage loops around the crown. These authentic reproductions are a limited edition of 500 sets only worldwide, and have never been reproduced before. Whilst nobody would doubt Blechman’s camouflage knowledge is bordering the perverse in its depth, he has acknowledged the still deeper artist and re-enactor Neil Holdom as the inspiration and resident expert for this project.

Maharishi SS/2008

The New York Times has a great animated post on their site, exploring the production of Parmigiano-Reggiano from cow to counter. Art and text are provided by the illustrator Nicholas Blechman. It’s especially timely, given that Parmigiano was one of the cheeses in danger during the FDA’s short-lived “no-cheese-aged-on-wood” #SaveOurCheese fiasco. 


Hardy Blechman on Norman Wilkinson’s WWI ‘Damdazzle’ camouflage 


The AOI Illustration Awards 2014

I’m very excited to have been awarded the Editorial New Talent category winner in the The AOI Illustration Awards! Huge thanks to The AOI and Nicholas Blechman at The NY Times.

‘This illustration was commissioned for The New York Times Book Review and accompanied an article reviewing Dennis Bock’s novel, ‘Going Home Again’. The story follows a man that spends a strange year at home, in Canada, after separating from his wife in Madrid. The image depicts the secluded and contemplative scene of him travelling back home alone, whilst also involving the Canadian flag, in order to communicate the subtle questions of identity raised in the article.’

To read more about the process and see all the other great work that won (including two other Falmouth graduates - Katie Ponder and Will Grill), click here