Sunday, 31 August 2014


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


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


Wednesday, 2 July 2014


The first few days of June passed by in a blur of trying to make sure my partner Alex's 30th birthday on the 5th filled him with exactly the kind of radiant joy and happiness that one should feel upon turning 30.
I think (hope?) I succeeded. As a result, those first few days visual diary were pretty rubbish one way or another, and it was only on the 6th that I actually got my act together and took my visual diary into work to work on at lunchtime, to try and briefly document what had occured the previous day on Alex's birthday. Basically:

Well... basically lots of fairly terrible drawings happened, because his day was TOO ACTION PACKED for me to document it at the time. But all good. It was actually more fun for me than my own birthday was, so I can only imagine how good it was for Alex.

Once I'd finished drawing Alex's birthday I sat on the balcony at work and drew myself reflected in the glass panelling. I'm still not sure my legs are right, but it got so ridiculously got out there I had to go indoors. SUMMER!

As if Alex hadn’t already had enough birthday action, on the 7th he had a big party downstairs at the Globe at which he got very drunk, put on lots of his favourite records and had a dance. I think it was a good one.

Kier also came to Alex’s party. He arrived already drunk from some kind of GIN TOUR and then proceeded to get even more drunk. Here he is the next day, asleep on our sofa at 4 in the afternoon.

Aren't feet weird.

Bought some shoes in order to solve my feet problems. They're GREAT.

During this week we didn't have internet in the house. Hence yesterday's ridiculously over-detailed shoe painting, and this day's ridiculously over-detailed room painting. Well, I say ridiculously over-detailed — ridiculously over detailed for someone new to water colours. Also I messed up my eyes because eyes are HARD okay.

Outer glow > drop shadow > comic sans > papyrus

Had a great after-work beach picnic with LJ, Amy and Dani. We bought lots of tasty food and played frizbee. I ran around and ENJOYED IT, what madness is this?

Ah Brighton, I love you.

Had a pleasing day at work, drawing a contour map of Bournemouth in Illustrator. Decided to do one for Brighton when I got home. I love a good map!

I can't eat chickpeas unless I'm willing to be miserable for about 24 hours afterwards. BUT SOMETIMES FOR A SWEET FALAFELLY MOMENT THAT SEEMS LIKE A SACRIFICE WORTH MAKING

So this really nice top just appeared in my house and I'm not sure who it belongs to or how it got there, but I kind of want to keep it. Alex thinks it might be Lou's. I should probably ask her about it really...

This drawing of our garden is technically very accurate in terms of perspective but appears very flat and I can't quite work out how to make it better. Ho hum.

Cycled to Goring. NEW RECORD! (Got the train home cos that's how I roll)

I'm a terrible daughter. Dad turned 60 and I didn't get him anything. In my defence, his birthday is really close to Father's Day, and I did manage to get him something for Father's Day. Also, every year since I can remember he's gone off on a fishing holiday with his BFFs to the deepest darkest depths of Scotland, so he's never around to receive a present anyway. I've got him something now and I'll give it to him when I see him next week. In the meantime, I drew this picture of him. It's not very, but it does actually look like him, which is a fairly spectacular achievement for me.

I bought a new moleskine and it's really YELLOW. I'm a bit grumpy about this. Sorry everything is so yellow from now on.
Anyway. I thought my window had been painted shut but it turned out it just needed Alex's SHEER BRUTE FORCE to open it. Now I have fresh air again!

We have made peace with them now though. Thankfully. Things got a bit sinister there for a while.

I've got a bit fat. Not a lot fat. Just a bit. But enough that some of my favourite clothes don't fit any more. I'm still trying to decide whether I care enough to do anything about it though. I had a ruthless evening where I got rid of two big binbags full of clothing, but in the end I actually decided to hold on to all the dresses I drew here. Even if I never fit into them again, they mean too much to me to get rid of just yet. [the formation of the beginning of a massive hoarding habit]

Look guys. Sorry (not sorry) if this is TMI, but this is just too important to not share. Well, with you ladies out there anyway. Menfolk might want to look away, but I'll think less of you if you do.

This journal is all about my love for MOONCUP. (Or Diva Cup, or MeLuna — my preferred option — or any other menstrual cup you care to try.) Periods suck, and this is fairly well acknowledged by all women out there, but you have NO IDEA how much less they can suck until you've tried a mooncup. First couple of months you'll be a bit like 'Aaargh oh this is weird, oh no is it stuck inside me? Why won't it go in? AGH ACTUAL BLOOD', and then suddenly, or possibly gradually, you'll have the dawning realisation that everything is better. I've been using one for a couple of years now and it's a total period game-changer. It would seem crazy now not to use one. The only reason, I think, that they're not the no.1 choice for most women is that no mainstream supermarket heavily promotes them, because obviously once a woman has bought one, they'll never buy tampons/pads ever again, and that's bad news for money making! Boots sell them though, and in Brighton you can also pick one up from Infinity foods, or order from their website.

Honestly, I know ~£20 seems like a big initial investment, and for the first couple of months you might be unsure, but stick with it and hopefully it'll be the best £20 you spend that year.

On Monday I took the day off work to go to my housemate Justin's initial PhD presentation. His PhD is called 'Urban Infrastructure Uncertainty and Situated Practice: A Technography of Water Supply In Ahmedabad'. His presentation was very good, although contained lots of long words, and I became very strongly aware that I was in a room with a lot of people who were a LOT cleverer than me.
I consoled myself when I realised that despite all being very clever, I could almost certainly design a better 'do not use marker pens on the interactive whiteboard' sign than they had done.