Wednesday, 11 January 2017

One last visual ode to Brighton

Actually that's probably not true. I'm blatantly going to write and think and draw and create about Brighton lots more over the course of my life.

But still, leaving in under a month felt like a particularly fitting time to create these Brighton themed materials in my day job.

I work for Kings Education, a group of international colleges, and in May we're opening our newest location — in Brighton! (Which is fairly ridiculous given that our HQ has been based here all along, but ho hum, we're only just getting round to it!)

It's probably our biggest, most exciting college to date, in that it's an entirely new building built from scratch for the purpose (on the old Buxtons site near London Road/The Level, for Brighton locals with an interest in what's going on there).

We're recruiting both local and international students to study GCSEs, A-levels and other specialist vocational courses (as well as English language courses for the international students), but because we currently have no building with which to woo potential students, one of the meeting rooms in our office is being converted into 'the marketing suite', where international and local students alike can come and learn more about the new college before its launch.

We didn't want it to just be another drab office room, so we've snazzed it up with a few things, including some bespoke 'Kings Brighton' rock, some big prints of CGI views of the college on the wall, a soon-to-come custom made model of the building, and, most pertinently to this blog post, I've had a fun chance to create some large format graphics — a map for the wall, and a fun design for the surface of the meeting room table, centred around facts about Brighton. (And they're quite weird/obscure/interesting facts, so as to hopefully be interesting to local students who know the area well, as well as international students)

Here I am looking smug with my map and my table.

And here are some more shots to show them off.

Hard to capture the colours of the map wall with my iPhone and no daylight, but it’s a lovely lilac colour. It was produced as two layers of vinyl, the light purple of the streets, and then the white/colour of the annotations as a separate layer.

The table design has been applied as a vinyl, heat sealed to wrap around the edges. It looks even better than I had hoped, and has a lovely shiny finish. The table looks about 100x better than it did before! My print heroes Perfect Print did the install. Gonna miss them when I'm gone for sure, they've been so helpful and generous to me over the years.

The colours are drawn from a selection of colours that will be used to decorate the new college, so any students will hopefully see a correlation between this room and the building they eventually end up in.

It's been lovely to do a hand-drawn typographic project on such a big scale. I had a lot of fun with it.

Hopefully I can ask our photographer to take some better pictures of it all than these, to go on my website, but I figured I'd share these here while I'm still all excited about it!

Sunday, 1 January 2017

December 2016

So it's been a pretty intense December.

As I’m pretty sure I’ve mentioned lots of times, we’re moving up north. SOON. I’ve been gently nudging Alex to start getting rid of some of their vast horde of stuff for pretty much the last year, but it’s finally (slowly) happening. Mostly because hording and dust-triggered hay fever are not great friends, and most attempts at clearing stuff end within about half an hour with sneezing and streaming face until (quite literally) the dust has settled. Still. We’re making progress.

I know people move house all the time. And over far longer distances than we are about to. But I’ve been in Brighton for over 9 years, so I’m granting myself permission to let my brain swirl and process and panic and freak out quite a bit, especially this month. Recurring theme alert.

Given blood quite a few times but I still get a bit anxious about getting light headed after, as I have quite low blood pressure. Had quite a long break after my nose piercing earlier this year, good to be back. (And they text you with where your blood has been used now, which is cool/weird)

There’s a very particular type of visual diary, where I’ve got home from work, sat down with my housemates, talked/eaten dinner/hung out, and suddenly it’s late, I haven’t done a drawing, and Alex and Justin want to go to Budgens for snacks. So we go to Budgens, then we get home, I realise I haven’t done a visual diary, and ask if I can draw one of them, to test my figure drawing skills and because I'm too lazy to think of anything else. Of course Justin is usually eating biscuits by this point, and asks me not to illustrate the fact that he’s eating biscuits, which is becoming something of a running joke.

This is not a very good visual diary but you’d better believe it’s because I spent all my time calling up letting agents to arrange house viewings, and other important moving business, like a pro.


I genuinely love the Christmas work party. I’ve worked here for 6 years now… This coming year I’m going down to part time (3 days a week) and will be working remotely from our new home, with the remaining two days a week for freelance (hire me plz)… They've been incredibly generous in letting me do this, and I’m lucky to have such a kind employer who genuinely want to help me move forward in my life.

Time for Chris and Anna’s annual port n’ cheese party, this year with vegan cheese, very exciting developments.

House hunting timmmmmmmmmmeeeeeeeaaaaaaargggghhhhhhhhh

Our friends Amy and Fred in Manchester very kindly let us stay with them for a couple of nights during house-quest...

And hey, would you look at that, day 1 of house hunting, we found the place.
We looked at 4 houses, but realised we were never going to find anything better than this, so here it is. Top end of our budget (£800 split 3 ways), but guys — what do you get for £800 up north? The answer is A LOT. 5 bedrooms, a cellar, the fanciest kitchen in the world (it’s got a KITCHEN ISLAND amongst many other great things), solid wood flooring, all new carpets upstairs, the most stunning views across Hebden Bridge, basically everything you could ever want (apart from two toilets and a stand up shower which I’m pretty gutted about, but ho hum)

Cancelled all our house viewings for the following day and holed ourselves up at our friend Nat’s house, with her cats. I got a bit emotional (it’s ridiculous and some people deal with these things a lot better than I do, but I’d been so anxious about the whole process of finding a house that I clearly had a lot of pent up aaaaarggggghhh to vent, so I ended up having a big cry for absolutely no good reason, because it was all good news about the house)… luckily, cats are there for comfort… Right?

Had a nice although in some ways slightly tedious third day in Manchester… We’d left plenty of time for house viewings, and as we found our house to quickly we were sort of twiddling our thumbs waiting to come home so we could start Christmas. Still, got some great vegan eats and saw some sights, which was nice.

One last day of work when we got back on the 22nd, and then a lovely and much needed break.

However, because of our house hunting expedition being when it was, I had LOADS of stuff to do before Christmas that I’d normally have sorted ages ago. Had a super fun productive day rushing around achieving most of it…

Tried to leave Christmas eve relatively clear, because Christmas eve is me and Alex’s anniversary… this year, 5 YEARS! We didn’t do anything super big… updated our Winter 2016/17 looks at London Road’s finest charity shops, and then tasty lunch together. In the evening, we went over to Tom and Harriet’s with Justin for some amazing Christmas eve soups and games.

Christmas day was lovely. I went to church in the morning, then me and Alex cooked a big Christmas dinner for us, Justin, and Justin’s parents, who came over to join us with plenty of treats. After they’d gone in the evening, we went over to Chris and Anna’s for more cheese, port, and family time with Anna’s parents. So much loveliness.

On boxing day, my parents came over and took me, Alex and Justin out for tasty lunch at Food For Friends. In the afternoon we went for a nice long Boxing day walk.

(Side note, I worry that lots of my visual diaries have got a bit samey this month, in terms of style — this is mostly because I treated myself to a new set of Frixion rollerball eraseable pens in 8 colours (my drawing implement of choice, and my secret is out — pens that you can legit rub out. It's magic), and as a result have basically wanted to use them even more than usual. Sorry for sameiness.

What are Christmas/New Year sales for, if not buying loads of pants and bras you couldn’t previously afford at M&S?

One of my favourite days of the year, CHRISTMAS II! For the last 4 years we've put out a fairly open invite for people to come over to our house and have a big vegan Christmas roast, between Christmas and new year. Each year we've had anything from 15 to 22 people, and it's always been magic. This time, comparatively chill 13 friends came round (plus me, Alex and Justin), and we managed all the food without a hitch (if anything, our main problem was things being ready too early!) So much love to George, Dan, Harriet, Tom, Matthew, Martin, Kris, Jonny, Tom, Hannah, Jack, Alex F and Jules for joining us.

Had a lovely walk in the fog at night.

New year was unexpectedly lovely. I hadn’t even really planned on leaving the house, but Alex persuaded me to come round to Lucy and George’s, where we joined them, Jade, Emile, Harry and Sophie for tasty stew, games, and then a progressively more hectic dance party…

It started with us all sat round a stereo reminiscing about our shared pop-punk teenage heritage (Blink 182, System of a Down, The Hives, Incubus, At The Drive-in and much more), and then the realisation that actually, we all really loved 90’s dance music and UK garage, and suddenly the room is dark and we spent the two hours in the run up to midnight unashamedly bopping around to such classic hits as this, this, this, this and this.

Couldn't really ask for much more of a treat than that.

Onwards to 2017. This is the beginning of my 5th year of visual diarying, which sounds pretty hard to believe somehow, but I guess I have been doing this a while...

Big changes afoot. We leave Brighton late January. Next blog will be from Hebden Bridge, which is a pretty intense thought.

Saturday, 24 December 2016

It's Chriiiiiiiiistmaaaaaas

Happy Christmas my lovelies.

I just thought I'd share my Christmas card design for this year, because I'm rather fond of it (and all of you who have been posted IRL cards should, by now, have received them, so this isn't a spoiler)

As I have mentioned, no doubt countless times, we're moving away from Brighton at the end of January. This is my own little festive tribute/farewell to this gorgeous city, featuring my house, the train station, and the West Pier. (All drawn from memory, so forgive any inaccuracies, I think the West Pier is actually far more deteriorated than this...)

I hope you all have a wonderful day tomorrow. x

Wednesday, 14 December 2016

My album picks from 2016

2016 has been awful in so many ways, but hopefully we can all agree there has been a huge amount of incredible new music, and for that we can be thankful. Here are a few of my picks... I tried to do some words about them but I don't have the good words like all the word pros out there, so apologies if I use the same adjectives over and over or do a bad grammar.

Best album that might just be be random leftovers he had lying around
Kendrick Lamar — Untitled Unmastered

My #1: untitled 06 06.30.2014

Are these scraps from Kendrick Lamar’s studio room as the titles imply, or is this in fact an elaborately planned short LP/long EP? Either way, the man is clearly a genius and I can't wait to hear what he does next.

Best album for creative productivity (your experience may vary)
Mono/Poly — Cryptic

My #1: Raw Power Moves

Mono/poly was mean to Alex one time, but damn it he just keeps putting out the best music, so I’m going to keep giving him my money while hoping he’s become a bit more chill in recent years. I’ve listened to it a lot while I’m working and I find it speeds me up and makes me do better stuff, but this may just be me. Give it a go though, eh?

2016’s most prolific-yet-still-high-quality artist award
Anderson Paak for
Anderson Paak — Malibu
NXWorries — Yes Lawd

My #1: Am I wrong (from Malibu)

Is Anderson Paak 2016’s most prolific artist? As well as these two great full lengths (one as NXWorries with Knxlwledge) he’s guested on pretty much everyone who’s anyone’s albums too. His distinctive vocals are a delight and both of the above albums sing of summer/warm climates to me in a way that I'm finding helpful right now in particular.

The Beyonce special award for being a better Beyonce than we could ever even have dreamed or deserved
Beyonce — Lemonade

My #1: Formation

What is even left to say about Lemonade that hasn’t already been said (and by those far better qualified to comment than me.) Lemonade the album and the film is a masterpiece, perhaps one of 2016’s greatest creative achievements. (Shouts out to the HUGE team of people behind it as well, of course, particularly film director Kahlil Joseph)

Best album live performance that Alex made me leave because they were bored

James Blake — the Colour in everything

My #1: Always

Alex doesn’t like James Blake. I do. We’re going to have to agree to disagree here. (In fairness, we were at the incredible North Sea Jazz festival in Rotterdam, he was doing quite a boring show, and I was being dragged away to watch something else equally fabulous and possibly to eat a pizza, so I’m not complaining too much)
But this album is great. You should give it a go. And the cover art is by Quentin Blake which is wonderful.

Album that makes me simultaneously most and least optimistic about humanity
Saul Williams — MartyrLoserKing

My #1: Ashes

Saul Williams is a genius. He creates stunning work. And yet despite him and countless other geniuses like him, everything still feels pretty messed up right now. He does quite a good job of reminding me of that while also simultaneously increasing my faith that somehow art will save us all. Which is pretty impressive.

Album that I might actually have listened to the most this year
Kaytranada — 99.9%

My #1: Drive me Crazy
Kaytranada has just created a masterpiece of re-listenable electronica that I have come back to again and again. Still fresh and bright and new and with a whole host of amazing guests (inc aforementioned ridiculously prolific Anderson Paak)

Album that I’d probably have listened to most if it came out earlier in the year.
Fudge — Lady Parts

My #1: In my shoes

Out of nowhere, new Prefuse 73, with BONUS of some guy I’ve never heard of, Michael Christmas, who seems pretty great. I mean, Prefuse 73 does what he does and while on the one hand I’d claim he’s fairly consistent, he definitely has some albums that are better than others, and this is definitely one of his best. Lovely rich, sample heavy, multi-textured hip hop.

Album that I still struggle to get right the way through in one sitting but which is clearly a masterpiece
Clipping — Splendour and Misery

My #1: Air em’ out

Fucking hell, clipping. Two noise artists and an incredible MC (Daveed Diggs, of Hamilton fame, if you’re into that kind of thing) making difficult, brutal, brilliant rap music. It’s pretty dreamy. Incredible, even. I can’t really speak highly enough of this. (Their EP from earlier in the year ‘Wriggle’ is also brilliant, and quite different). As a friend of mine said: "I didn't realise there were records like this."

Jazz album for people who don’t think they like jazz
Badbadnotgood — IV

My #1: Hyssop Of Love

One of my most chill music moments this entire year was sleepily watching Alex play Civ VI with this album playing, and occasional voiceover interludes from Sean Bean. It’s so lush. Even if you think you don’t like jazz, you might be into this, unless you’re so stubborn that you could never admit you’re enjoying jazz.

Award for artist who I’ve seen live maybe too many times (5) this year but he’s just too good, okay
Daedelus — Labyrinths 

My #1: Special Re:quest

Look, if Daedelus puts out an album it’s going to be on my end of year list, but this is a particularly great one.
You all know by now I’m a fan. The man has been turning out consistently good (but crucially, spectacularly varied) albums for over 15 years now. This album is probably him straying closest to my own personal predilections, and crucially, to his unfailingly incredible live shows — huge variety, a morass of beats and bass, complex layered electronics and a whole host of amazing guests including Busdriver, Teebs and Seven Davis Jr.

Album that actually feels most relevant to 2016
M.I.A. — AIM

My #1: Fly Pirate

I’ve been an admirer of M.I.A for years now, and have enjoyed quite a few of her singles, but this is the first whole album of hers that I’ve really loved. It’s timely and consistent and it feels like she’s just going to keep hitting her stride more as the years go on.

Album that I spent a few days assuming was a hoax because it’s just TOO GOOD TO BE TRUE
A Tribe Called Quest — We got it from here… Thank you 4 your service

My #1: Solid Wall of Sound

What a ridiculous treat. Who ever thought they'd do another album?! And it’s incredible, when it could very easily not have been.

Best album title
Danny Brown — Atrocity Exhibition

My #1: Ain't it funny

I don’t know why, but this is probably my favourite album title from this year. It’s a brilliant thing as well. Intense and heavy (much like Clipping, it's a lot to get through in one sitting) and I just love his incredibly distinctive voice.

Albums that I’m sad are not on my best of the year list but are probably still worth a go

Kanye West — The Life of Pablo
My #1: Real Friends

Oh Kanye, I tried so hard to love this. But I think I just preferred the version that Japanese producer Toyomu made after being unable to hear it in his home country due to Kanye’s rigorous streaming limits, and recreated using the listed samples and lyrics on Rapgenius (spoiler — it’s a masterpiece)  It’s okay though, I still love you Kanye.

Dj Shadow — The Mountain will fall
My #1: Bergschrund

It’s okay I guess….? Another one I got very excited about but for some reason I’ve really struggled to love it as much as I feel like I ought to… Maybe I should try harder.

Gold Panda — Good Luck and Do Your Best
My #1: In My Car

I really want to like Gold Panda more than I actually do. In My Car was great but the rest of the album didn’t hold my attention.

Radiohead — A Moon Shaped Pool
My #1: Ful Stop

I guess maybe I’m just not as excited about Radiohead as I once was. It’s clearly a brilliant album and you should probably listen to it.

Anohni — Hopelessness
My #1: Drone Bomb Me

Anohni has got some incredible producers on this album, and is talking about some incredibly important things that few others are, and yet the whole thing is a struggle to listen to, because her lyrics are, to my mind, incredibly trite and cringey. Sorry Anohni. I still think you're great.

Avalanches — Wildflower
My #1: The Wozard of Iz

Okay okay we all got very excited about this, but it's just a bit so-so, isn't it? And the lead single Frankie Sinatra might actually be my least favourite song of 2016. My #1 track above is pretty much the only worthwhile thing on there, and that's entirely thanks to Danny Brown.

Deantoni Parks — Technoself
My #1: Methodist

Got all excited about putting this on the list but it turns out it came out last year! Oh well. Recommended for lovers of noisy noisy electronic noise loops and drums.

I've also made a playlist containing loads and loads of my favourite individual tracks from this year. You should give it a listen here.