Wednesday, 1 July 2015

June 2015

June is (almost) always a nice month, and this year was no exception. It's officially warm enough that the winter sads can be declared formally over, and it's the first month that (in this house, anyway), you can walk around barefoot without getting sad cold feet.
Plus it's Alex's birthday, and this year, we went on holiday too!

On Alex’s actual birthday me and him and a big lovely group of friends went to Planet India for vast quantities of curry and associated treats. This isn’t the best illustration, but I’m including it because it documents my first ever encounter with a SELFIE STICK. Selfie sticks are very trendy and being mean about selfie sticks is also very trendy, but you know what, haters gonna hate. I think they're great.

The day after Alex's birthday, lots of people came over, and in a continuance of the previous night's indulgence, we ordered loads of Chinese food. We decided to play 'the hat game', I'm not going to spoil the rules for those of you who haven't played it, but suffice to say, we had a magic moment where we realised HOLD ON, we've got this (previously) utterly pointless window on the staircase, which is perfect for backlit hands-only charades. And it was MAGIC. I don't think our living room has seen that much sustained, intense laughter from such a large group of people in a long time, if ever. I love this house. (And our friends, obvs)

From June 8 – 12, me, Alex, Justin, George, Jess, my old school friend Ieuan and Stompy the dog went on a canal boat holiday on the Rochdale canal. Canal boat holidays are marketed as relaxing which is ALL LIES.

Being in charge of a boat is TERRIFYING and living on a boat is TOO COSY. Day 2, and, as stated, found it very hard to find anything positive (apart from the lovely people who I was sharing the experience with)

The trip passed, twice, through Hebden Bridge. Hebden Bridge is wonderful, and me and Alex hope to move there one day. We planned the trip so that we could have nearly a full day mooching round there. By this point we were better at controlling the boat, and managed to find a lovely place in the heart of Hebden Bridge to moor up overnight.
We got to hang out with our friend Keith who lives in Nutclough co-op, and I rather cheekily managed to go over to his house and have a real shower (boat showers are the WORST) which made me feel a lot more human. That coupled with gorgeous sunshine, gorgeous Hebden Bridge and general good moods all round meant that everything got better from here on in.

By day 4 of 5, we had got locks NAILED. (The Rochdale canal, and the stretch we were on is one of the most locky canals in the UK. Intense.)

And by day 5, I was almost (ALMOST) sad to be leaving. Team boat lives on in all our hearts.

While in Hebden Bridge I finally learnt what za’atar is for (less for seasoning, more for stirring with olive oil and dunking bread in). On my first day back I bought myself a jar and ate nearly 1/4 of it in one sitting with way too much olive oil and a giant chunk of crusty bread. SO GOOD.

Have you all been watching Jonathan Strange and Mr Norrell? It's not often I get fangirl squealy over telly things and even less often that I do... fan art... But here we are. It was really excellent. You should definitely watch it all if you get the chance.

(On a side note, I got myself two big pen treats this month... more on the second one later, but first, was a coloured multipack of Pilot's Frixion pens. Weirdly, I can't find it on Cult Pens now, so maybe I got lucky and it's gone now, but it was basically these, but with lids rather than clickers and in 12 gorgeous colours. To wax lyrical for a moment, these pens are GREAT. I've always preferred drawing in pen to pencil, but then comes the problem that I'm not always super good at drawing... these pens genuinely erase, cleanly and thoroughly, and it's basically magic. I'd totally run down the black and green ones I originally bought to try them out, so I decided to invest in the pack of 12. So expect a lot more brightly coloured line drawings from here on in)

Alex and George went for a proper swim. I just had a little paddle. Then we all had burgers and played another round of Sherlock. Top evening.

Slips of the tongue.

As alluded to before, this is a cold house. And I am a cold person. The result of which is that from about September to April every year I have to be fairly well layered up to not be uncomfortable, and from November to February, no amount of layers will keep out the vicious coldness and even such simple activities as going to the toilet are fraught with chilliness. There’s nothing like a cold house to make you appreciate the warm months. Related: for about 6 months a year I basically don’t look at myself naked for more than a few moments in the shower. I still have ISSUES with boobs and tummy, but some days everything feels alright.

My hip hop dance odyssey continues, with a lesson in twerking from someone who can actually twerk. It’s REALLY HARD (as anyone who’s ever tried will testify to.) One day I will reach these towering heights. (P.S. I don't think this diagram is actually a helpful depiction of how to twerk)

So this is a terrible drawing but BEAR WITH ME, because on a pizza and fizzy pop fueled binge, me, Alex and Justin came up with a GREAT (possibly) idea for a play for next year’s Fringe festival, as follows:

"The play is played out over the course of a year's worth of Argus comments [the local Brighton newspaper, renowned for its utterly abhorrent comment threads which show the very worst of Brighton's bigotries, such as they are], in which two commenters, one an anti-gay immigrant, the other an anti-immigrant gay man, slowly fall in love, ultimately meeting and realising their feelings on the opening night of the i360 [Brighton's ridiculous folly] — which they both won tickets to in an Argus competition. Alex and Justin play the couple and I play EVERY OTHER ARGUS COMMENTER. There are banners in the background with thumbs up and thumbs down that descend at appropriate moments [in reference to the thumbs up and thumbs down which can be rewarded to comments based on their popularity] The entire script is actually published on actual Argus articles in the year running up to the play. Possibly the play actually takes place on the i360."

It's worth noting that, in my head, I picture the whole thing as being a musical, but that could be thwarted by the fact that none of us can sing.

Who wouldn't go see that play, amirite?

I hadn't been for a cycle in aaaaages. Like months. I got a puncture from some glass while cycling in the dark and the rain, and three attempts at fixing it failed, and since then my motivation was low. I've also stopped going climbing, because I'm a big quitter. I got massive conscience pangs about both of these things for some reason, and felt like I should maybe cycle to climbing. Two birds, and that. I cycled nearly to climbing and then stopped at Lawrence Art supplies and decided to instead spend my climbing money (and then some) on loads of lovely Tombow Brush pens... I really like buying them in sets of a single colour, light > dark, as they're great for shading... I got a rose-pink set (with the added bonus that I now have a felt pen matching my skin tone), and a lilac set. And I immediately cycled home to do this with them.
Pleased that I'm still okay and safe to cycle on roads though. Cars won't wear me down!

More pen fun. I really like these pens.

I'm dog-sitting next week. Expect lots of terrible dog drawings because dogs are really hard to draw.
I went over to see Lump and his owners and learn all about his funny ways. Then I came home and baked a vegan dark chocolate and raspberry torte, which everyone got pretty excited about :)

It’s very hard to be like Beyoncé when 29º + period pains. But I guess Beyonce sometimes dances in 29º heat with period pains. How does she do it?! (Side note, Lya my dance teacher is an absolute hero. She’s so kind even though I am TERRIBLE)

Now it's July and HEATWAVE! I am so into this.

Saturday, 20 June 2015

Unashamedly cute.

Just thought I'd share this birthday invite I made for my BFF's sister's little girl.

The theme of the birthday party is 'teddy bear's picnic', and the dog teddy in the middle is her absolute favourite toy. Generally try and avoid pink-for-girls, blue-for-boys cliches, but I had this pink and minty green colour scheme in mind from the start, so OH WELL.

Printed double-sided, A6 (postcard size), on a lovely thick card stock.

Enjoyed doing the typography for this one too. Texta for the body copy works well with the hand-done fonts, I reckon. (Texta is my new favourite sans, after years of Gotham loyalty.)

Wednesday, 3 June 2015

May 2015

May has felt busy, in the way that the months leading into summer tend to. It probably wasn't that actually that hectic, but I guess it's just warm enough that we're all starting to venture outdoors again... So, with that in mind, BUMPER EDITION visual diary! At least it feels that way.

Starting with wedding!

I did this fairly terrible drawing of the beautiful Louise and Caroline... (which in my defense was done very late at night while utterly exhausted...) based on this picture I took, which (if I do say so myself) captures the moment wonderfully. SUCH a lovely day.

May continued nicely...

I had a great evening on May 5th… Went to Pizza 500 (who make amazingly delicious but also cheap, authentic Italian pizza) with Alex, Hannah and Tristan, then came home and watched BBC 4’s fantastic ‘slow tv’ 2-hour broadcast of a canal journey (link expires this Friday) while listening to one of my favourite radio shows over the top, and working on a fun freelance project. DREAMY.

Got pizza two days in a row as well, which is always a treat. AND a big slab of Wes’s birthday cheesecake.

Last month I left a very minor cliffhanger. Brief summary: applied for nice job in new place. Got interview. Conclusion: didn’t get nice job in new place. It’s cool. I do already have a very lovely job, and change is TERRIFYING, so everything is fine.

And then the Tories won. Many more dark days to come.

Perhaps in a slight political misery induced haze, I decided to stop climbing. Or at least stop climbing as a regular thing. I know. I’m a big quitter. WINNERS DON’T QUIT AND QUITTERS DON’T WIN etc. But you know what, screw that. I’m not into putting myself through things I don’t enjoy on the vague promise of some potential future personal betterment. It just wasn’t my sport. I still haven’t found my sport. (More on that next though)
Climbing still has its joys and I will return on occasion and battle my way up the easy routes, but it just isn't a thing that I want to force myself to try and get better at when I just wasn't getting better or having fun in the process.

I only quit climbing on the condition that I immediately start trying some new sport thing. So with great trepidation, I showed up at a hip hop dance class and flailed my way through a terrifying hour, including at one point being surrounded by a circle of lithe, toned women, and being shouted at to ‘FREESTYLE’. It was genuinely one of the most terrifying experiences of my life. AND I WANT MORE

My life basically revolves around tasks. If I’ve completed them all I find myself at a bit of a loss. (You can never really complete ALL the tasks though)

How come all the cats I meet in the street are so super lovely and friendly but all the cats I meet in my garden are just grumpy evasive poop-machines?

Bought myself some beautiful trainers for absolutely no justifiable reason.

My hair is finally long enough for UP-DOS! How exciting. It’s a pity I have no idea what I’m doing.

And here I am again. With my terrible coordination, a whole new range of body-confidence issues, only fully revealed by attempting to dance with lots of other people in front of a large mirror… AND YET.
It’s really remarkable that it’s taken me this long to combine my intense hatred of exercise with my intense love of music, to come up with something that just about tips the scales into ‘tolerable’ with moments of outright fun. Who knows. 3 months down the line I’ll probably decide this is ‘not my sport’ either and start playing badminton or something, but for now. This is the dream.

I’m not normally into fizzy pop but this stuff is GOOD.

I love hanging out with new dog friends.

Then, the annual event. EUROVISION!

I decided to try and draw all the acts again this year. As previously mentioned: I’m terrible at drawing people. But this is good practice. And I love Eurovision so much. (Even in the slightly less good years like this one was, IMO)

Tried another self portrait. I guess it’s probably quite vain to keep on doing this, but I feel like I need to at least be able to get my own face right! It still isn’t, but there are some interesting things going on that work okay. (Hair and cheek shading)

I’ve been meaning to do this for AGES. I hope I can be a good blog updater. If you like benches, you should check out my blog, UNPRECEDENTED BENCH ENTHUSIASM (all the good bench URLs were taken, okay, and not even by people writing about benches!)

In exciting house news, we were suddenly informed we were going to get a new toilet. (Probably prompted by the discovery that the soil pipe was a) leaking, and b) asbestos…)
We were told by the plumber that our old toilet could be over 100 years old! When I first moved in I thought it was GRIM. Everything under the water-line was utterly stained and the whole thing was covered in cracks and inherently impossible to every get truly clean. But the ceramic bowl was a beautiful unusual shape, and it had a certain sturdiness and reliableness to it (enhanced now I know it may have been 100+ years old) that meant I grew to quite like it.

For a few moments I was thrilled by the new toilet. It’s so CLEAN! It practically GLOWS! Shining! Gleaming! But it turns out it IS possible to have sentimental feelings for a toilet, and I (and several other people who live/have lived in this house have confirmed), the old toilet was kind of iconic, and we all miss it a bit. Which is RIDICULOUS.

Another one of the mixed blessings of this house (like the disgusting toilet that everyone secretly felt emotionally attached to), is that the house hasn't been properly emptied in probably 15+ years, maybe longer, and many past tenants have left behind possessions, either with the intent of collecting them further down the line, or as an easy means of getting rid of things. As a result, the kitchen is filled with a fairly ridiculous amount of stuff and I finally got round to disposing of all the pan-lids-without-pans, ancient poorly-washed tupperware, rusty cake trays, and other miscellaneous unwanted bits. What could go to charity shops went to charity shops, and the rest was recycled or binned, and suddenly the cupboards are no longer filled with junk and it's SO GOOD.

Rarekind is a record shop at the bottom of Trafalgar Street. I’d always walked past it and thought “I think that is a record shop for people who really like hip hop”. Then on Sunday I was like “Hold on, *I* really like hip hop”… so I went in and it’s so amazing and as well as hip hop there’s loads of jazz and electronica and I spent so much money and this is going to get expensive really quickly. I love you Rarekind.

Onwards to June. Already exciting because housemate and friend Justin has returned from his travels, this Friday is Alex's birthday, and after that we're going on a BOAT! Adventures await!

Monday, 11 May 2015

An interruption to usual programming

So. A few days since the election to collect my thoughts and everything is already going QUITE QUITE HORRIBLY.

It has become rapidly, brutally clear to me (and, it seems, a lot of other people) that I really can't simply sit back and do nothing. I have been pondering at great length what actions I can practically take, and/or what changes to my lifestyle I can make that will help those left most vulnerable under this new government, while also advocating for the change in attitudes needed to ensure that we ONLY have 5 more years of this, and not more. (And not UKIP. Please not UKIP.)

Like it or not, this government was voted in by a terrifyingly huge number of people (although still not as many as it should take to elect a majority government… but the proportional representation rant is a rant for another time)

I’ve seen a lot of people writing about things they’re hoping to do, so I thought I’d share some of my thoughts so far… Some which are being repeated by a lot of people, others which are possibly ridiculous plans made by a tired, upset mind… All of which feel too small, but hopefully many small actions by many people will make a difference.

I thought for a while about quitting buying new clothes entirely for the next 5 years, shopping only at charity shops (and with exceptions made for pants, tights and socks because no one wants charity shop pants), and giving the money saved to appropriate charities… It probably wouldn’t really have any impact on anyone much aside from myself, but it still feels like it might be ‘the right thing’ to withdraw my support from dubious maybe-slave-labour clothes and my general addiction to high street shopping. Plus the vague notion that the Tories want me to go shopping so maybe I should stop.

It might not look it, but this is actually a really flattering top, and only £3 in Shelter!

I thought about joining a union (and may still) despite there not really being one specific to designers, and not really feeling like I need one (but you NEVER KNOW right?)
It's more about a gesture of solidarity to unions than specifically feeling like I need union support, I guess. Unite seems like the logical choice, but can anyone recommend one that might be more relevant?
Today's question: how do you draw the concept of a union...

I’m already vegan in things that I eat (apart from the odd bit of honey, because bees might save us all), but I really need to quit the occasional leather purchase and any non-edible products which aren’t specifically marked as vegan. I know this isn’t really a direct F-U to the current government, but the world needs all the help it can get environmentally now, especially with a government who are unlikely to do their fair share.

I'm not saying you all need to go vegan, but I AM saying vegetables are great.
These are some of my favs, not including kale because kale is hard to draw

In terms of volunteering, I’m weighing up my options here. I’ve been thinking for a lot of years about attempting to undergo the Samaritans training. The main thing holding me back is worries about the impact it may have on my own mental health, but realistically a LOT more people are going to be driven to the brink by this government, or even just need some basic compassion and kind words… I would love to be able to offer that to people. Has anyone had any experience with this?

Might need to work on a less gormless telephone face though

I’m also considering joining Arts Emergency as a Network Contact… this means being willing to talk to/mentor students (16+) from underprivileged backgrounds who are interested in careers in the arts (in my case it would specifically be graphic design). It feels slightly egotistical, but I love what I do and I do feel like I could offer some good advice, or at the very least support and encouragement to students who are considering it. I’m still trying to work out whether I’m a) experienced enough and b) worthwhile enough in terms of the advice I could give to get involved!
This is me, pondering some art, and whether I'm in a suitable
position to encourage other people who want to devote their lives to it.

In terms of protests, I don’t think this is something I am going to get involved with (much though I am ANGRY and like the idea of SHOUTING)… I am too scared (which I know is exactly what ‘they’ want), but I strongly, passionately support everyone I know who is going to get involved with any peaceful protests, and for protests which may require background support (for example in the Balcombe fracking protest where food, tents, camping equipment, sleeping bags etc were required) I will definitely be happy to contribute in any way I can. Alex has got excited in the past about getting more involved with mass-catering for protests (a la Anarchist Teapot Mobile Kitchen), and I could also be down with that. If chopping up hundreds upon hundreds of potatoes can make a difference then goshdarnit I’ll do it.

I am now available for placard design/slogan writing, including other such
passionate messages as 'I might need to have a lie down' and 'can't you be nicer?'

In terms of charitable donations, I am in the fortunate position that I can afford to donate some money each month, and there really is no excuse not to. Currently I do so on a fairly ad-hoc basis, chucking money in the direction of whatever charity catches my eye, but I’m wondering whether now is the time for a couple of direct debits alongside these irregular donations. Homelessness charities, food banks, domestic abuse support, and any charities which offer support/advice to anyone vulnerable due to poverty/mental health issues are particularly high on my priority list. Does anyone have any particular suggestions for charities in these categories that I might have missed?

My hard earned $$$.

I’m also trying to work out whether there’s a practical way I can get food/personal care products to either the Shoreham or the Whitehawk food bank during their opening times, but it may be tricky due to the hours they’re open clashing with the hours I work. Is anyone I know planning on taking donations to either of them on a regular/semi regular basis? If yes, let me know so we can try and work out a way that maybe you could take my contributions as well.

Remember, food banks need things like tampons, pads and cosmetics too!
Also does anyone else wish there was some way to buy and donate
mooncups to those who would like to try them but are put off by the
initial financial outlay? Because I would be so down with that.

I also attend the Quaker church, and the Quaker community has a long history of peaceful dissent and direct action, which particularly appeals to me because it comes from the core belief that they see ‘that of God’ in everyone… I know to non-believers that is probably meaningless, but to me is basically means that everything comes from a core of respect and love for everyone else involved, no matter how reprehensible their beliefs/behaviour. It is incredibly important to me that I hold onto these values: I am VERY CROSS, and find it hard to love/respect people who voted Conservative or UKIP, but I must try. I don’t know yet how I will get involved as I don’t know yet what actions the Brighton Quaker church may take, but whatever they plan, I will try and get on board, be it financially or with my time.

Sorry not sorry if religion freaks you out.

I’ll end with these rather poignant words, from a public statement by the Religious Society of Friends (Quakers) in Britain, agreed in session at London Yearly Meeting, 22 – 25 May 1987:

“Quakers in Britain have felt called to issue this statement in order to address a matter of urgent national priority to promote debate and to stimulate action.

We are angered by actions which have knowingly led to the polarisation of our country — into the affluent, who epitomise success according to the values of a materialistic society, and the 'have-leasts', who by the expectations of that same society are oppressed, judged, found wanting, and punished.

We value that of God in each person and affirm the right of everyone to contribute to society and share in life's good things, beyond the basic necessities. We commit ourselves to learning again the spiritual value of each other.

We find ourselves utterly at odds with the priorities in our society which deny the full human potential of millions of people in this country. That denial diminishes us all. There must be no 'them' and 'us'."

I only hope that the passion and motivation that I and so many others are feeling in the wake of the election result can be translated into worthwhile, positive actions.

What are you planning on doing? Do you have any advice/wisdom for me?