Wednesday, 1 October 2014

Septemburary

The general impression you may get from this month's visual diary is that I'm miserable. At least that's how I feel like it looks. Allow me to reassure you that I'm mostly fine, and am facing October with optimism. It's been a tiring month in a vague, non-specific, just, everything-all-at-once-but-nothing-in-particular kind of way. Plus it's starting to get dark, and with every year that passes, this seems to make me more miserable. I really need to get back into loving autumn again.

Anyway, without further ado...


Basically this involves us buying a rowing machine, a couple of projectors and a dedicated computer to play appropriate visual scenes. (I'd particularly like this) We then set up the rowing machine in our decidedly compact and warm cupboard-under-the-stairs (which Justin didn’t realise we had until we started talking about putting a rowing machine under there, despite it currently containing such crucial things as THE HOOVER and TOILET ROLL)
Then you just row away and watch the (virtual) world go by. 


This is what it’s like at work when things go well (this scene actually happened).
Not my style, but fancied doing something a bit ‘adventure time’… Despite having never watched it, it's now synonymous with awesome fistbumps in my mind.


Me and Alex went to play on the ‘laser light synths’ on the front of the unitarian church. Basically just hitting glowing buttons which, no matter how terrible your musicianship, sound great and flash big shiny lights up the building. SUCH FUN. Basically left convinced me and Alex should be a musical duo performing on stages worldwide. (The illustration here is what the buttons you were hitting looked like close-up)


When one of the directors comes in to the office, he usually brings his lovely rescue lurcher, Rosie. She's not a big fan of offices, but she's very patient.


Sometimes I worry I’m not very good at this*

(*Graphic design, illustration, functioning as a responsible adult, coping with life’s trials and tribulations)


I really can’t. I signed an NDA.


First cold of the year and IT'S NOT EVEN OCTOBER


I get cross with people about a lot of things when it comes to maintaining a tidy, clean, organised house, but my one hypocrisy is that when I have a cold I just leave tissues everywhere. Alex hates it and shouts ‘GROSS’ whenever he comes across one.


(Slight melodramatic exaggeration alert)
Had THE WORST night where it got to 3.30am and I STILL couldn’t sleep, despite having been lying in bed since about 10. Every time I’d just start to drop off, a tickle in my throat would catch, leaving me coughing a really horrible, dry, retchy cough. Alex, being a night owl, was still up at this time, and when I forlornly came through into his room, sleepy and upset and miserable, he went downstairs and made me a hot lemon and honey and bought it up to me, and, much to my surprise, IT WORKED and my throat was cured! (At least long enough for me to finally drop off). My cynicism about hot lemon and honey is officially gone.


Pardon my French. To be honest though I reckon I could get pretty far in politics in Brighton if I pinned this up around town as my campaign poster.


Turns out the answer was nay. Oh well Scotland. A pity, I think.
We had (veggie) haggis on referendum night to get in the Scottish mood. (Also deep fried vegan mars bars, neeps and tatties and cranachan)


Some days. SOME DAYS. *hands clench very tightly*


I have a problem. Can we have some kind of party sometime when we all wear our too-risque charity shop purchases? Or maybe I just need to go out on West Street on a Saturday night.


A not very good self-portrait that nonetheless accurately conveys my state of mind that day.


Answers: “yes, a bit” and “yes, but not enough to do anything about it”
Upsettingly, I’m now officially overweight on that BMI chart malarkey (only just on the line), which seems ridiculous to me, because, despite being unhappy about my pudgy tummy, to look at me, you honestly wouldn’t think of me as ‘overweight’… WOULD YOU? (Don’t worry, you don’t have to answer that). I’m just really struggling to make any changes to my lifestyle because I hate all exercise (although remain convinced that one day I’ll find ‘my sport’ and all will be well) and LOVE FOOD. (I am still full-vegan though, and it’s proving surprisingly effortless)
I’m just trying to be just a teensy bit healthier and a teensy bit more active within my daily routine and hopefully that will be enough to, if not lose some weight, at least keep to my current weight.
And I know. I shouldn’t care. But I really do. My self-image is important to me, and since 2009 I’ve put on TWO STONE which is kind of unbelievable. (I was quite ill with IBS back then though, so the weight sort of fell off without even trying, but EVEN SO.)


Just when you think you've tried all the things on the Wagamama menu that you'd like, along comes the Yasai Yaki Soba to prove you wrong.


HERE COME THE WINTER SADS.
Let's stay strong together with cosy nights in and bracing walks along the coast and big bowls of hot winter stew.

Come on October. Let's do this.

Sunday, 31 August 2014

AuGUSTO

I got a new black posca pen at the beginning of this month and have been using it a LOT. Sorry for the dominance of black pen. Will try for more colour in future...


The answer is very hard, if you want to go to Essen specifically when the world's biggest boardgaming convention SPIEL! is on, this October. I'll be honest, I'm mostly just in this holiday for my love of German trains (especially this one), but my partner Alex is a boardgame obsessive and this is very exciting for him. (We didn't manage to find anywhere to stay in the end, so we're going to be in hour-away Cologne, which is much nicer anyway)


Yay for PEOPLE FROM THE INTERNET! I think me and Cal first stumbled across each other back when I was using OkCupid, but neither of us have ever acknowledged this fact out loud, so let’s just say we met on Twitter, hm? Anyway, Cal is currently in the process of launching a super awesome new magazine called SIXTEENBYNINE.
It’s a magazine about television and it’s everything the Radio Times is not. There’s nothing else like it out there, and I’m pretty excited to have been involved, as a design consultant of sorts.
And sorry guys, but you just missed the Kickstarter.
So you’re just going to have to wait for it on a news-stand near you!


Seriously you guys. Try and avoid this at all costs unless you enjoy really really unsexy pain.


New passport time. The sternest face. (Incidentally, has anyone else had a new passport recently? They are SO bling. Like, admirably so. Maximalism in graphic design at it's finest.)


There are an upsetting number of snails in our garden at the moment and I’m at a bit of a loss as to how to deal with them. In a mad rage I flung about 30 in random directions before realising that if any neighbours could see me they’d probably think I was mad (and be quite cross with me for throwing them into their gardens). I miss having Mildred chicken who would happily eat them for us.


My first ever piece of fan art? We went to see Guardians of the Galaxy at the cinema and I begrudgingly quite enjoyed it.


Mum came to visit. This is a remarkably accurate depiction of how we look.


This is a fairly terrible drawing, but if I know you and you have an undercut (or shaved head) you want trimming, just come over. I’ve ended up doing a few recently, and haven’t messed up any, yet… I accept payment in chocolate, miscellaneous favours or kind words. *brandishes clippers*


Nearly had a panic attack on the blood chair for no good reason.


Work is stressful over July and August. I work for a group of international colleges, and we produce our brochures to a strict deadline of August 28th, at which point, all my awesome sales colleagues from around the world come to Brighton and we have a big meeting during which me and my design colleagues DRAMATICALLY UNVEIL all the awesome work we’ve been doing, get lots of applause, and then everyone goes out and eats loads of food and gets drunk. (Oh, and there’s some sales numbers chat too but that’s not my area of expertise.)
At this point in the month I am typically FREAKING OUT quietly and wondering how we’re ever going to get everything done (even though we manage it every single year)


The new Mono/Poly album (Golden Skies) is SO GOOD. You can feel it right down to your bones. It's not on Spotify yet, but here's a track...


Oh Henry. You're so dreamy.


Household appliance karma means that my joy about Henry had to be levelled out by coming into the kitchen and realising that water is seeping up between all the gaps in the poorly laid laminate flooring because our poor sad old washing machine has sprung a leak. ADULTHOOD.


Day before aforementioned work meeting in which I collaboratively assemble 37 super awesome gift bags… And because someone ordered the wrong size of gift bags, we had to hand-cut them down to size and re-punch the holes and re-thread the strings and each one is hand-burnished (MY HAND) with bespoke gold letraset transfers on each side, and an individual gift tag for each attendee. It’s all fun and I’m not complaining but TIRING.


Day of aforementioned work meeting in which I bask in praise and eat SO MUCH CHEESE that all I can express at the end of the day is this fairly terrible drawing of cheese.


And with the big deadline over and done with, my brain can finally get back to all the other day-to-day anxieties and worries that it hasn’t had time to focus on. GOOD-O!


So two years ago at the work meeting a remarkably similar tale to this year unfolded, except with cold meats. I ate about 100 slices of salami and made myself so ill and disgusted myself so much that I decided it was finally time to go vegetarian permanently. And so I have. This year, cheesy over-indulgence has pushed me to finally commit to the vegan life I’ve been tentatively pacing around for the last couple of years. Let’s see how long this will last…

Overcame my first major temptation yesterday by attending a friend's birthday party at Day's All-You-Can-Eat Chinese buffet and managed to avoid any animal based treats (I hope...)
I was sat opposite a devout meat-eater I'd never met before who became progressively more disgusted as she found out that I was a) vegan, b) tee-total, and c) WASN'T HAVING ANY DESSERT.

I'm some kind of monster.


Monday, 4 August 2014

Duly

On it goes.

So I can't decide if I'm concerned that the visual diary is becoming a little self indulgent. I know. That's ridiculous, because the whole thing is just one big exercise in self-indulgence. But one thing I decided a while back that I wanted to get out of this (aside from self-reflection) was to get better at drawing people. And much of the time, the only person I have access to is myself (or Alex, but he gets a bit grumpy about being drawn sometimes). So as a result, I'm just drawing me a lot. With varying degrees of success, and varying different styles and levels of realism. It feels a bit vain but I AM much better at drawing legs than I used to be, so I figure that's a worthwhile tradeoff.

Without further ado...


NUDES! Well, sort of. I went to life drawing classes a while ago, but it's quite expensive, and they ended up constantly falling on evenings when I couldn't make it, so I've not been in a while. I should start going again though. In the meantime, next best, me. I've been quite achey recently, probably because I've spent my whole life carrying heavy bags on one shoulder. Oh dear. On the bright side, I understand shadows a lot better than I used to, apparently!


Still can’t draw faces though.


Another thing I’ve been trying to improve is typography. So maybe this is cheating a little, but I’ve decided to start copying (not tracing, just visually referencing) actual typefaces, so that I can improve my lettering, before trying to create my own typefaces. The brilliant Myfonts offers a lovely tool where you can see how a phrase of your choice looks written in any of their typefaces, so I’ve been using that as a reference. Still got a lot of getting better to do though...
This is both a Radiohead tribute and a celebration of a good solid tidy.


This was a fun one. Tweet @youarecarrying with ‘inventory’ and they’ll let you know what you’re carrying in your inventory. For fans of computer games and drawing, the idea is that you then send them over a drawing of you carrying everything in your inventory. Some really lovely illustration from far better artists than me can be seen over there!


Alex asked me to draw a birthday card for our friend Chris. “Can you do Freddy Mercury and a seal trying to solve a rubiks cube?”

When I was little I used to love drawing maps. Haven’t done it in a long time though. Me and Alex went on holiday to Hebden Bridge, and we stayed with Alex’s friends at Nutclough housing co-op. They have the most beautiful, gorgeous, incredible, huge garden, full of ripening fruit and vegetables, quiet places to sit, bee hives, a summer house, and general loveliness. I tried drawing it several times over the previous days but just couldn’t do it justice, so here’s a map instead… and some pictures which Alex took of me walking round the garden to research the map…





Did I mention the weather was BEAUTIFUL?! The weather was beautiful. It was one of the loveliest little holidays I’ve ever had.


Two of the residents of Nutclough where we stayed are Keith and Winston. Keith has had Winston since he was a puppy and Winston’s now very very close to the end of his life. They had the most beautiful friendship. Makes me wish I was in a position to build that kind of friendship with a dog.


YAY TMI alert!
So previous readers might know I’ve got IBS (irritable bowel syndrome). I don’t have a really bad case, but I get the whole array of symptoms (while some people only suffer from specific aspects). I know a few other people who have it, and all of them swear by peppermint oil capsules to ease bloating/cramping. One of them (who shall remain unnamed) warned me that they do give you a touch of the ‘minty bum’ (you know how your mouth feels when you suck a strong mint? Imagine that in your bum). But on a particularly bad day I decided to give them a try and THAT’S NEVER HAPPENING AGAIN.
Because I’m a crippled wreck of digestive anxiety I also suffer from emetophobia (a phobia of vomiting), and started freaking out when, after taking the capsule, I started burping mint. Sounds fun? Sounds fresh? Mint STINGS. Imagine the worst heartburn, and every time you burp it’s like burning toothpaste. I became terrified I was going to have to do a minty sick and nearly had a panic attack at work. AND I had minty bum later. AND I didn’t even feel better. No thanks. (Disclaimer: if you have IBS you should probably still try them, as so many people do swear by them!)


I know I usually maintain a facade of dignified, Dita-von-Teese-esque glamour and sexiness, but [spoiler alert], when the weather gets warm I sometimes just slouch around with my skirt rolled up over my pudgy tummy to try and stop my legs from getting so hot.


Don't like storms.


Bought myself this ridiculous blouse. It's not entirely flattering but it's SO COOL (as in, temperature wise) and kind of weird enough to make me happy. (I don't like blouses normally)


Aforementioned Chris is married to Anna, who also has her birthday in July. “You can’t do a card for Chris and not Anna. Do some kind of celebratory cuttlefish”
(Alex thinks we should go into business making very specific greetings cards…)


More hand type, stating the obvious. (not that I’m complaining. Give me too hot over too cold any day!)


Some days you just lose faith in yourself a bit. #selfpity


And then you successfully cook an amazing Vegan Full English breakfast for people you love and feel a bit better about everything. 


Well go and watch your own telly Mr. Judgeyface, OH WAIT YOU DON’T HAVE ONE

HELLO AUGUST!