Monday, 28 February 2011

Nice bit of crayoning...

A little bit more for The 405, they've decided to make their excellent new music compilations (See here and here) a more regular thing, and have been kind enough to invite me to produce the artwork on a regular basis. How lovely!

Slightly intimidating though, but I always enjoy it, and Oliver is the kind of guy who sends e-mails using words like 'ACE!' and ridiculous amounts of '!!!!'s, which always cheers up my inbox.

So anyway, here's this month's cover, and you can read the article and download the mix here...

I also did headers for all the individual artists, here's some of them.... nice enough...

but I think they look just super in the actual context of the article, with images for each artist.

I'd highly recommend you download the mix too - it's free music, and the 405 have a knack for picking out some of the best of what's around at the moment, without being predictable or succumbing to trends.

For my part however, I have been listening pretty much non stop to the incredible Gil Scott-Heron/Jamie XX collab/remix album, 'We're new here'. I'd highly recommend it.
Take a listen to this and hopefully you'll enjoy it too...

While I'm at it (blogging that is), here's another amazing thing that has caught my eye. I've never pledged to anything on Kickstarter before, but I am very very much tempted by this gorgeous looking book...
I'm actually inclined to wonder quite why it needs Kickstarter funding - I'd have thought any good arts publisher would have snapped this up!

Well well, what a lot of stuff.
Here's one last thing for you. I think this is incredibly beautiful, clever, and indulges my love of public transport and fascination with timetables.

Friday, 25 February 2011

Back to the drawing board...

Today was a bit of a creative struggle.

I don't know, some days, nothing seems to work. I've sure everyone has experienced this at one time or another. I'm asked to perform relatively simple and enjoyable design tasks and everything just looks rubbish. I blankly stare at the screen, hopelessly willing the type to magically make itself look good. Needless to say, that doesn't happen.

Added to that, every so often 'the grey curtain of doom' (Mac equivalent of 'blue screen of death') has been descending...

Oh dear.
So yes, spent the morning stuck in a bit of a rut, until one of my work colleagues suggested I get out a pen and paper and actually do some illustration.
This was nice.

The task was to represent some British stuff. Fairly vague, although I knew the context in which it would be used, which helped.
So I did this drawing...

Besides jazzing up my desk space a bit, I scanned it in...

And coloured it up.

I can't really show you the final application for it, but thought this bit might be interesting to see. I feel a lot better now. Hopefully come Monday I'll feel completely creatively refreshed and I'll be able to make typography work again!

After doing this drawing I rewarded myself with a greek feta salad sandwich from Waitrose, and it might have been the best shop bought sandwich I have ever experienced.

Thought you should all know.

Sunday, 20 February 2011

A whole load of good things.

Long time no blog!

I am sorry. I'm going to make up for that with a blog of mammoth proportions which you'll probably struggle to get through in one sitting. (In these modern days of short attention spans it might even take three sessions. I'll put in lots of pictures and videos to try and make it more fun)

I was talking to my fellow blogging friend Rosie about this last night actually, and she said I should milk my fun few days for all they're worth and do a whole series of posts, but that's not really my style. Much like my real life persona, when I'm blogging I tend to just chatter senselessly and at great length without taking a breath.

So here goes!

Basically I've had an interesting few days, and have fallen in love with Brighton all over again. Not that we ever fell out of love, but y'know.

On Thursday, Beardyman was playing at Digital. I'd known about this show for about 6 months... It had been rescheduled and for some reason I'd continuously procrastinated getting tickets. Mainly because I had no one to go with, and because I'm middle aged before my time, even the thought of a 'doors at 10' show makes me start yawning and rubbing my eyes with tiredness.

I happened to mention all of this on Twitter on the morning of the show, and it turned out that an acquaintance/friend of mine, David Hopkinson, was doing the background visuals for the whole of Beardyman's tour. 'Oh wow!' I thought, 'I've got to go now!'
Of course by this point the show was completely sold out, and I spent a few hours feeling incredibly cross with myself for being so indecisive.
But then, delightfully, Mr. Hopkinson managed to get me a spot on the guestlist. Which I say in a blasé, casual sort of manner, but I've only ever been on a guestlist once before, and it's still outrageously exciting to me.

The show was excellent, I don't know if you're aware of what Beardyman does, but here's a video of him, and appropriately it was made by Mr. Hopkinson...

"Monkey Jazz" BEARDYMAN & mr_hopkinson™ from David Hopkinson on Vimeo.

All kinds of awesome. At the show Mr. Hopkinson was doing live Google image searching relating to the subject matter of the song, whatever Beardyman happened to be improvising at the time. Pretty amazing, and totally different to anything I've seen before with live music. Fun times, and great to see a friendly face from the other side of the country again.

The next day, Friday, was another day where I spent a substantial amount of time frustrated with myself for not getting tickets to something I'd known about and wanted to go to for ages. And then somehow managing to get in anyway.

The incredible photographer Noah Kalina spent this weekend with Garage Studios hosting a series of talks and workshops. Unfortunately the workshops were well out of my price range, and the talk was scheduled for the same night as a work do. I'd resigned myself to not going, but come Friday afternoon, all my colleagues were tired from a couple of days away filming and general hard work fatigue, so evening plans were called off.
I then desperately scrabbled to secure myself a last minute ticket for the talk.

Initially when I contacted Garage Studios it was completely sold out, but I had an e-mail late afternoon saying they'd had a couple of cancellations, and a ticket was mine!

Awesome luck.

And I'm so glad I managed to get one - the talk was excellent. Noah is possibly most famous for his 'every day' video, which features photographs of him staring somewhat intensely at the camera taken every day for six years, and then strung together to a haunting piano melody.
If you're not one of the 18,418,303 who have already viewed it, here you go...

Much of the talk was discussion of this video, and the impact it had on his life afterwards... Commissions inspired by the video, (declined) invites onto large American chatshows, the Simpsons parody of it, large companies ripping off the idea and a paid trip to LA to be photographed with various celebrities in his notorious staring pose.
This one particularly delighted me, and you can see the others in the same set on flickr.

While this was fascinating, equally interesting was hearing how he built the rest of his varied and successful career aside from the video - from his days in college, first commissions photographing restaurant interiors, right through to present day works.

Although the video is clearly what he is most well known for, it seemed to me like his main photography work was quite distanced from that, almost as though the Noah in the video was a different person to Noah the photographer. And indeed, the Noah sat in front of us no longer looked much like the Noah in the video, given that almost 6 years have passed since the last image in it.

He is still taking a photograph of himself every day, (Adding up to almost 12 years worth) but apparently there isn't going to be another video. (Until after he dies, at least...) You can however, view all those still images here.

I went and said hello to him afterwards, which was lovely. Well, I say 'said hello', more like 'chattered incessantly at him for five minutes', but what can I say... that's my style. Sorry Noah.

Here are some of my favourite images of his, although it's difficult to choose.

Anyway, that was a lovely Friday evening, but THE FUN DOESN'T END THERE!

This weekend has been the weekend of the Brighton Zine Fair, Saturday consisted of a series of free workshops at the Cowley Club, while Sunday was the main event itself, the Zine Fair, which was based at the Hanover Community Centre.

I decided to make the most of it, and went to a couple of workshops on the Saturday afternoon. The first of which was a home screenprinting workshop. I crowded round a small table with adults and children alike to be shown how to make your own screen, a newspaper stencil, and then squeegee the ink through.

Having been taught more technical screenprinting using light sensitive emulsions and UV rays, it was nice to see this much more lo-fi approach.

I never got much of a chance to do screen printing while I was at university, for a variety of reasons, so it was nice to finally produce MY FIRST SCREENPRINT.

It bled a bit because the screens were overused and the newspaper was damp, but I think it all adds to the charm. Oh, and sorry about the join down the middle. Had to scan it in two parts, but y'know... it's Sunday evening, I'm tired and I can't be bothered to photoshop it out just now. Sorry guys.

I like to think I was more ambitious than most of the others, but then most of the others were about 16 years younger than me.

After this, and struggling to disengage myself from conversation with an incessantly chattering 5 year old girl who appeared to have decided she idolized my artistic skill (Now I know how Noah felt...), it was time for the next workshop.

Joe Decie was hosting a sort of 'how to' and inspiration session for diary comics. I met him briefly at last years zine fair, and absolutely love his beautiful observational comics, so decided it would be good to hear a bit more about the thought process behind them.

He admitted that much inspiration comes from his young son... I particularly like this one...

After brief struggles to secure a projector, he showed us a selection of his favourite inspirational comics, talked about how and why people produce comics, and then we all set about producing our own.

I decided to document some of my weeks events. Firstly... the Beardyman gig.

As I previously mentioned, I didn't actually have anyone to go with, so I spent much of it sat at the back by myself experiencing the stomach churning bass, and judging Digital's horribly mouldy walls. I did briefly meet up with my friend, and we chatted, and I found my voice getting higher and higher in a desperate attempt to combat the soundsystem.
Later on I saw a music journalist who I vaguely know, but was too shy to say hello to. So instead I sent him a creepy tweet saying I was sat right next to him. OH DEAR EMMA.
Here's what I drew, and I'm quite ashamed really, because it's pretty rubbish thanks to my fundamental inability to draw people... but I'll share it anyway.

I also attempted to document the Noah Kalina talk. I forgot to mention earlier that I happened to meet my friend Andy there, which was good. It's nice when you go to that kind of thing thinking you're going to be alone, but then have a bit of company and someone to discuss it with afterwards.

Aside from the utter crapness of the people drawing, it bothers me how wonky they are, but then I was only half leaning on a little corner of table, so it's to be excused.

Alright, I'm not going to give up the day job to become a comic artist, but it was an interesting challenge, and pushed me a bit out of my creative comfort zone.

In the evening on Saturday was an evening hosted at the Brighton Basement, called 'Making Bread'. I don't even fully remember how we heard about it or why we decided to go, but go we did, myself, Hannah and Rosie.

There was absolutely no bread making involved (pity), what actually occurred was a bit of music, a bit of spoken word, a bit of art, and probably most fun of all, open drawing tables!

We ended up sitting with a man called... Alan? Andy? I don't quite remember, but we somehow all ended up playing quite a shouty game of pictionary (but then isn't pictionary always shouty), drawing each other, miscellaneous patterns, and generally completely filling up our table with stuff, which quite impressed the hosts of the event.

I was quite pleased because Andy/Alan drew me once, but then also appeared to have drawn some somewhat fairytale looking figures, but with my hair. It's nice to have someone appreciate your hair, y'know?

Rosie also managed to meet a man determined to draw a rude word and a full English breakfast on her arm. She managed to get away without the rude word, fortunately.

Entertaining times. And the Basement really is a lovely venue, if you ever get the chance, try and go to an event there.

Today (Sunday) has been the afternoon of the Zine Fair, where I headed over to the Hanover Community centre, and had a delightful browse. Given my current status as employed, I was also able to spend a fair bit more than I did last year too, which was nice.
Here are some of my purchases...

Firstly, 'The optional supplementary dictionary for new words', full of words which I fully intend to try and bring into common useage, and beautifully illustrated.

Then there's this lovely lovely book... the most expensive thing I bought, at £5, but probably also my favourite, full of these intricate line illustrations of every room in a house.

Next, this absolute delight. Beautiful cover, genuinely funny content, you couldn't ask for more.

I liked this too, the chronicles of a graphic designer visiting the job centre every couple of weeks trying to get work. Not so long ago, that was me. It's produced on the books you get given to fill in your 'looking for work' attempts, which I particularly liked.

I met Joe Decie again, and quite probably chattered incessantly at him as well. He talked back though, which is always a positive sign.
I also bought one of his comics, apparently one of his first attempts at fiction. I like it.


 The whole fair always has a lovely atmosphere, and I really enjoyed having a mingle round.

It's been such a nice few days.

AND a new Radiohead album. What more could you ask. (I think it's really good)
In relation to that, here's a special treat to finish... it made me laugh out loud for quite some time.