Sunday, 1 May 2016

April 2016

So I feel like I've been a bit gloomy this month — job hunting is depressing. I'm too fussy in my 'dream job' desires, but also the fairly limited range of people I want to work for are too fussy in their choosing (or maybe my aspirations are just too high)... If only we could all be less picky.

I've been getting pretty despondent about that, and getting even more despondent about the fact that there's seemingly no end in sight... but with May and nicer weather and lots of fun social things on the horizon I hope I'm coming out of the other end of my gloom, for now at least.

Actually April started off quite nicely. We found out Alex's job is secure for another year (but just one year), so I had a brief moment of feeling relaxed.

Stina took me out for lunch at new-ish fancy vegan tapas place Rootcandi. I’d been faintly grumpily boycotting them because they changed from being Iydea, where I got lunch two times a week, and because of the change I can’t afford to go there on the regular any more, and was very sad about this. But you know. Not gonna say no to tasty lunch, and it definitely WAS tasty. I begrudgingly recommend them.

The server went down in the office for nearly a whole day and everyone went home apart from me and James who spent hours faffing with cables.

It’s still not summer.

Jammie Dodgers are supposedly soon not going to be vegan any more (the manufacturer is adding milk to the recipe). I am very upset about this, and stockpiling the okay recipe ones to spread out over the coming months.

I did not know I had it in me to be this excited about UPVC windows, OH MY GOODNESS. This house has needed new windows for probably over 10 years. I have been gently nudging the letting agent to fix them for the entire 5 years I’ve lived here. In the days before these new ones were installed, Alex’s bedroom window was wedged shut with several very precisely measured blocks of wood, mostly rotten… The bathroom window was propped open with a successively crushed stack of toilet rolls, also rotten, and absolutely filth encrusted from years or nearby road and train station gunk.
And now, just perfection. Open, close, open, close, open, close, opencloseopencloseopenclose and SO CLEAN SO BLOODY CLEAN

They put up our rent by 10% at the same time though. Swings and roundabouts :|

Alex taught me how to read the i ching. I don’t really believe in that kind of thing (and neither does Alex, deep down), but they’ve found it a source of comfort over the years and the words can be very beautiful. My reading ‘seeking harmony in the countryside, one’s ambition is not yet fulfilled’. Seems fitting. (As we can always lead ourselves to believe)

Some days.

Alex has been a bit low this month too. BUT, Justin is finally home from nearly 6 months in India, which is very exciting! And I made this amazing sticky toffee pudding.

I know it’s a bit trashy but my goodness SO MANY FEELS

For most of my early life I thought it was 'raspberry parade'. Still my favourite. Still heartbroken.

I’m not big into flowers n’ stuff, but Preston Rock gardens are looking pretty great this time of year.

OH TEETH why can't I just eat what I want and do a half arsed job of brushing and everything be okay?! I am choosing to ignore this for a while longer though because I am not yet a responsible adult.

Beyonce is my hero.

Lou is also my hero. Alex and her arranged for us to go over there for dinner and then neither of them confirmed it so Lou assumed we weren't coming. Despite being in the midst of a very stressful few weeks, when we showed up she pulled this AMAZING dinner out of the bag from just whatever ingredients she had to hand and honestly it was fancy restaurant good.

It's good to have a catchup. (Also Hannah has the best glasses)

I know I'm an adult and I've been an adult for nearly 10 years but it never gets old. People are paying me to design stuff! (Okay then I have to spend it on rent and other boring stuff but still.)

Anyway, onwards into May. Talking of people paying me to design stuff, if you're looking to hire a graphic designer or artworker, and you're based in Manchester, Leeds (and surrounding areas of both), Glasgow, Sheffield or Edinburgh, HELLO THERE (let's talk)

Friday, 1 April 2016

March 2016

March has been a lovely one. It's amazing what a bit of extra daylight can do. (Although I think there's been a lot of other lovely stuff to help it along)

Our friend Lara came to visit from Haarlem in the Netherlands. Sadly she got a horrible cold while she was here, but I think she had a reasonable visit nonetheless, and we very much enjoyed having her.

I really love my nose piercing. But for a little while back there I honestly thought I was going to have to get rid of it because it JUST KEPT ON FALLING OUT. Turns out I was wiping my nose wrong and knocking it out without noticing, so I’ve had to re-learn that. Either that or the stud is just trolling me.

I went back to the Booth Museum for the first time in years. It’s an amazing little museum full of terrifying taxidermy and animal bones and other natural history curiosities. Weirdly, I used to love it, but perhaps it’s because I’m vegan now, or perhaps just older, or perhaps more sensitive, but I found a lot of the taxidermy kind of depressing this time round. I think I just anthropomorphize things too much. Makes me sad to think about those animals trapped in their poses forever, even though I know they’re just inanimate objects now. I do still enjoy looking at the bones and insects though.

My friend Hannah taught me how to make the most simple but amazing vegan brownies. But I’m not telling you how because I’m a meanie.

Wes cooked us a lovely dinner and then persuaded us to play guitar hero and it was pretty ridiculous fun although he is insanely good at it, and I was just chugging along on easy level while he shredded like a pro. Still enjoyed it a lot though.

Desk detritus.

“Some people made ‘whoop’ noises during my freestyle today, have I ‘made it’?”
Answer: probably not, because I’ve missed two weeks of dance since this and have probably forgotten it all.

We had a St. Patricks day lunch last year and it was excellent, but there isn’t a huge variety of Irish food to choose from, so this year ‘green food’ was added into the mix. I made a soda bread (moderately successful but too sweet) and a delicious giant cous cous and green veg salad, which, if I do say so myself, was excellent.

Ask me about the blood (that is no longer) in our freezer. Go on. I dare you.

Have you ever tried these things?! OH MY GOODNESS. (Even if you’ve tried other nakd things, these are like 100x better than anything else they make)

I always get travel anxious but in the end I had a SUPER FUN birthday weekend... on Thursday 24th I travelled up to London and went to see Battles (who were great), on Friday and Saturday (my birthday), I went to Mike Meyer's 'Better Letters' signpainting workshop... However because I was super busy and/or tired on these days I didn't really do them justice with visual diaries...

Then on Sunday 27th I had a wonderful birthday lunch with friends at Mildreds Kings Cross, and in the evening went to see At The Drive-in at the Roundhouse which was basically a teenage dream come true and they were incredible.

And then when I got back to Brighton on the 28th, I had a pizza party with lovely Brighton friends to celebrate lent being over. Mmmm, pizza.

We’ve been playing “Life is strange”, it’s pretty wonderful, if you’ve got a few hours to spare.

April's looking promising so far, although please tell me when we're all going to grow out of April Fools Day. Next year? Please?

Thursday, 31 March 2016

Queen rumbles on

I mentioned previously that I've been illustrating my partner's blog in which they are reviewing every single Queen song in chronological order.

It is a ridiculous project and I still hate Queen, but have become oddly attached to the idea that I must do every song... When the project started I'd happily have handed over as many as I could to guest illustrators, but now I feel compelled to do every single one myself. An irrational and entirely pointless sense of achievement awaits me at the end of this mammoth project.

Anyway, we're onto the fifth album now, so things are going along nicely. Here are a random few of my favourites.

You Take My Breath Away

God Save The Queen

Good Old Fashioned Lover Boy

In the Lap of The Gods

In the Lap of The Gods Revisited


Lily of the Valley

Somebody to Love

Love of My Life (which is a drawing of Alex because I'm clearly a soppy fool)

Stone Cold Crazy

She Makes Me (Stormtrooper in Stilettos)

White Queen (As it Began)

Flick of the Wrist

Wednesday, 30 March 2016

Better Letters

This weekend I had the delight of attending one of Mike Meyer's 'Better Letters' workshops in London.

I've wanted to go to one for ages, and as this time it coincided with my birthday I decided to treat myself. I've loved hand lettering since I could first pick up a pen, and although I've never reached expert level in any form of lettering, I have ended up pursuing a career which involves working with letters in their visual form every day, and I felt like this would be a great opportunity to up my hand-lettering game.

On the Friday morning, we started off by looking at block gothic sans serif letters — initially, sketching their outlines accurately ready for painting. Although we spent a lot of time looking very closely at letterforms on my degree, and often attempting to hand draw them, this was the first time I'd ever had any practical instruction on the actual construction of letters, rather than effectively being told by uni tutors to 'just look at it really hard and then copy it'.

I started off with my name. Obviously. Got a bit jealous of other people on the workshop who had way more interesting typographic names like ‘Hermione’, ‘Clement’ and ‘Ruby’. I HAVE NO CURVES!

Had a go at an 'S'. Pretty pleased for my first attempt...

Mike Meyer came over and swiftly, perfectly painted a few of my letters. 'Well, this should be easy enough!' I think to myself.

Side note, the soap in the toilets for handwashing were these crazy soap-on-a-pole contraptions. Initially I was like 'kinda cool', by the end of the weekend, I HATED THEM

Anyway, I got to painting. The paint we were using was incredibly satisfying oil paint, thinned with white spirit. It went down a perfectly smooth, opaque black and dried within 5 minutes. Mmmmmm.

The main struggle I found was finishing off the strokes tidily. It involved a very particular twist of the brush that it took quite a while to master.

(When I say 'master', I mean 'become vaguely competent at'. This guy was the master.)

People might have thought I was kind of strange because I inadvertently wrote the word 'womb' while picking random letters.

We also did some 'thick and thin' block gothic, which I enjoyed a lot.

This next morning we started learning 'casual' style.

I enjoyed this! Here's some signage for my imaginary cafe...

And for the Brighton tourist board... (Mike Meyer lettered the word 'Brighton' for me, which is why it looks so good)

A lot of it was about learning the stroke order, which has been really helpful...

 But then hubris kicked in and I made loads of mistakes.

Those E’s should slant! That kerning is all off! So’s the leading! My T’s are too tall! One G is way too narrow! Oh well.

In the afternoon we moved on to script. I'd been looking forward to this because I love doing script, but with some trepidation because inking curves is HARD and script is basically all curves. And I was right.

That ‘C’ stroke you see there is the starting stroke of so many letters… it can become a g, a d, an a, an o, probably others… And it should have been the simplest thing, and yet…

I did a LOT of those C's and to be honest I never really nailed it, so to lift my spirits I started doing some more free-form stuff.

First a bit of name vanity. I’ve never liked my surname but at least it has more interesting letters than ‘Emma’

Another exercise we got to do was painting onto glass (effectively tracing, but also learning a bit more about what glass is like to work on). Fun trivia, this framed piece of glass was originally created by a photography studio for part of a concept shoot in which Aphex Twin would push his face against it to contort it into horrible shapes. But he changed his mind and went with the elastic band thing instead so it never got used. (He wrapped elastic bands round his face then photoshopped out the elastic bands, with unsurprisingly grim results)

Because I'm actually an adult now, I didn't tell anyone there that it was my birthday. (Because the thought of being sung to by strangers kind of fills me with dread). I did, however, wish myself a happy birthday typographically.

And it was an excellent way to spend my day.. Even if it's not viable for me to quit my job and re-train as a traditional signpainter (although if anyone hears about any evening classes I would genuinely love to learn more), it's been great to learn more about letter construction and hone my painting skills a bit. I would highly recommend it next time he's in town for anyone who loves lettering!