Monday, 29 February 2016

February 2016

February just seems to last forever, doesn't it?

So over cold and dark at this point, but getting through.

I spent an inordinate amount of time in early February drawing Hollywood stars of yesteryear...

These were part of a project to decorate a Los Angeles halls of residence, along with some other quote-based posters.
I find it kind of annoying because they could look a bit like a photoshop filter, but each one actually requires layers of painstaking abstract tracing to produce the final result, and (to float my own boat somewhat), it’s far from a simple process. I really enjoy doing them though, so it was a fun job.

Here are a few of the final posters...

I figure I can probably be open about it now, since I’ve told most people who need to know… I’m looking for a new job. Not out of any dislike of my current job, more the increasing realisation that it might be time to get out of Brighton. Mostly for financial reasons, but also because change is healthy and good and I think it would be a positive thing in terms of both my geographic location and my day-to-day work.

There was a renewed burst of intensity in my applications at the beginning of the month (and associated despair/desperation/anxiety), because we thought Alex might lose their job. But fortunately, just yesterday they signed a contract for another year, so we’re okay for now… But my intense sympathy to all who are insecure or losing their jobs because of the government’s horrific, ridiculous local authority cuts right now. 

We had a nice houseguest in the form of Tom, a friend of Alex’s from Sheffield. Continuing the slow persuasion that maybe Sheffield is a place I’d like to live.
Also, this tortilla lasagna/taco torte. SO GOOD. (A vegan adaptation of this)

Explored a new bit of Brighton I’d never been to before (and it’s times like this that I wonder whether I am ready to leave). Heaved myself up Elm Grove to stunning views across the allotments to the rest of Brighton and the sea, then back down Bear Road through the most amazing cemetery. Huge and sprawling and old and full of hidden valleys and buildings and monuments… Such a beautiful place, which this attempt at a watercolour doesn’t really do justice. (Watercolours are hard)

Having been applying for loads of jobs and becoming increasingly despondent that none of them were right for me anyway, I stumbled across the DREAM JOB* (*Well, from what I can tell). The challenge was that a) they wanted more than just a PDF CV/Portfolio, and b) they were going to close applications ‘as soon as we’ve found the right person’. So I flung myself into making an exciting multi-part thing to send them. Since I’d been on such a roll with these portrait illustrations, I decided to create a couple of personal ones, of two of my favourite musicians, Tokimonsta and Daedelus.

(I later found the job advertised elsewhere and they’d actually set a deadline of March 4th, so now I wish I’d spent more time and rushed less, but I was so worried I’d miss my chance! So now I wait, although I suspect they’ve had a lot of amazing applications, so I’m not getting my hopes too high.)

Temporary solutions to life-stress.

The main problem I have at dance class (aside from my terrible coordination and poor timing) is my inability to remember the choreo. I feel my my dancing would immediately improve about 200% if I could just remember what the hell I was doing.

This year for lent I’ve — as usual — given up crisps, chocolate and biscuits… But also this year, all forms of takeaway food, which is arguably the hardest challenge because I bloody love getting takeaway at least once a week, often more… plus buying lunch out two days a week. Still, it’s good for my health and my bank balance. I can’t wait for the end of March though.

Sometimes you just want to make a big elaborate den and hide in it, you know?

Got to go on a tram, got a free delicious lunch, ran some good training, and had loads of time to listen to great music. And the sun shone ALL DAY!

Charity shop finds so exciting they’re worthy of a drawing!

We decided to have a breakfast party at work, so we all bought in loads of tasty breakfast treats. It was GREAT. I ate 4 crumpets, a muffin, and about a litre of fruit salad.

I love Vegfest. A big conference centre packed with people, loads of free vegan food samples, and all kinds of weird new vegan food innovations. Previous years I’ve taken Alex, which is a terrible idea because Alex hates crowds and capitalism. This year I had a great companion in the shape of my friend Harriet — we both got similarly excited about similar things, took advantage of loads of buy one get one free deals, got to share two different lunches, and generally had a whale of a time. Here was my ridiculous haul.

Ugggh guys I got carried away. I was so excited about the new Cass art shop that’s opened in Brighton, so I went to take a look. There was a REALLY enthusiastic sales lady who followed me around and wanted to talk about all the pens so we talked about all the pens and she persuaded me that these Windsor and Newton pigment markers were great. But when I went to try them out, the senior sales lady came over and was like ‘um, you can’t test them’, and I was like ‘what?’ and and she said they’d only let me test two colours they had out (green and yellow, what good is that?! I wanna see the colours I’m going to buy!) then she was like ‘okay I guess you can try a bit’, but by that point I was feeling so awkward I was like ‘no it’s fine I’ll just buy them’, while stupidly forgetting to check whether they seep through paper, which they do, massively, rendering them basically useless to me. Plus when I actually got them home and tested them in the kind of context I’d want to use them, they’re pretty rubbish for shading, the nibs are a bad shape, and they don’t even blend that well (which was at least partially why I was sold on them). I bought them as a replacement for my grey shading Tombow brush pens which are running out, but this was a bad choice. Booooo gullibility.

Anyway, onwards. February feels like it's gone on forever. I'm looking forward to a (hopefully) less stressed March.

Tuesday, 2 February 2016

Hourly comics day 2016!

Yay hourly comic day!

So I've done this for the last couple of years, but this was the first year I've done it on a work day! I managed to not fall too far behind throughout the day (catching up on my lunchbreak and straight after work) which was good.

I'm still not really happy with my style/narrative on these though. I find myself going into hyper observant mode and wanting to note down everything I do, when in actual fact, other, more sucessful hourly comicers do much shorter, much more directed hourlies.

Lesson learnt for next year. Visually I like these a lot more than previous efforts, so that's something!

Made the foolish hourly comic day (and life in general) mistake of staying up past midnight.

Mornings = snooze snooze snooze snooze snooze twitter AWAKE!

Morning routine after getting dressed = cereal, inane phone games, OH GOSH I’M RUNNING LATE leave the house.
Decided to leave my hair down because I thought it would be more fun to draw — maybe, but not more fun to actually live with.

Managed to spend most of the first hour of work being productive without actually doing any design. Got to go out to the co-op for coffee for colleagues and had to queue for ages while the cashier and a customer got really excited about contactless technology, ironically, wasting more time than it’s supposed to save.

You guys. I don’t think I mentioned this on here, but about a year ago a terrifying life-size metal squirrel nutcracker appeared in our house and we got incredibly freaked out because there was no explanation as to where it had come from. We made numerous wild accusations, including at each other, eventually settling on it being Nat, because she failed to deny it vigorously enough.
But clearly, we have Chris Parkinson: “famous poet. Professional troublemaker. Political obsessive. Compulsive liar” and hoax-meister extraordinaire in our lives. Why it didn’t occur to us to accuse him before now we have no idea, but with precise timing, he outed himself as the troll all along.

In other news, my boss is doing a ridiculous cycle through the jungle of Cambodia to raise money for the charity our company works with. I think he is beginning to regret his decision to get involved.

I quite like drawing floor plans as a designer. Brings out the wannabe architect in me, but without the requirement for perfection.

Our most bombastic (and I mean that as a compliment) American colleague, Eric, came to visit. Comedy accents, show tunes, and complete inability to focus on work always abounds when he is in the office.

A colleague bought us maple syrup infused tea bags. I don't normally like tea but these are weirdly good. Everyone else hates them though.

Made some tasty pasties. Of course one of the most important ingredients in any good meal is CLEAN THE KITCHEN AFTER YOU’RE DONE

My evenings are preeeeetty dull. Or at least this one was. Oh well!

Anyway, I enjoyed hourly comic day 2016... I hope to have improved more by 2017!

Monday, 1 February 2016

Hi 2016! January.

January feels like it's been looooonnnnnnng.

At the beginning of the month, in the wake of Christmas/Christmas II/New Year, I so thoroughly lost track of time that I messed up taking the pill worse than I ever have done before in my adult life, became briefly convinced (for like, half an hour) I was pregnant, and then just realised that, in fact, I am an idiot (who is definitely *not* responsible enough to be pregnant)

Was helped back into the world of responsible, functioning adulthood, by having a couple of wonderful house guests for 9 days, Willow (@willowbl00) and Mike (@mikeestee).

So I suppose it’s probably time to talk about how much I want a new job. The answer is ‘some’. I love my current job, but Brighton will, one day, break and bankrupt us, and me and Alex have plans to head up North at our earliest convenience. My fairly casual, leisurely search has been ramped up slightly by the new, looming fear that Alex may get made redundant in March. Nothing like a bit of financial precariousness to make you up your game! This was basically me procrasti-motivating myself (is that a thing?) to sort out my CV and portfolio and actually start applying for things. Via the medium of collage. I maybe *didn’t* do it this particular day, but I have now got round to applying for a whole load of exciting Manchester-based things, and am waiting with bated breath for inevitable rejection.

(Are you in Manchester? Or Leeds? Or Sheffield? Do you need a new mid-weight designer? We should talk.)

It’s nice to have a catch up.

As part of the mental process of thinking about leaving Brighton I have been shedding possessions and it feels GREAT. I’ve increasingly realised in recent years that I dislike having too much ‘stuff’ (I know you might not believe it from looking at our house, but remember I live with an Alex…)
Over the last few weeks I’ve been attempting to streamline every area of my possessions with plentiful freecycling and charity shop donations, and I feel so much lighter for it. Moving will be a lot easier and less stressful with less stuff!

I sometimes kid myself I’m getting better at dancing but the reality is, if I can’t see the teacher in the mirror I am LOST.

I could never do him justice.

So I did a tweet what went a bit viral. I’m not sure who set it off, but the whole thing was, frankly, tedious, after the initial enthusiasm... Being famous on Twitter must be so BORING. The inanity and repetitiveness of the comments I got in response to it was, frankly, astounding. I'd like to see some kind of diagram of its spread though.

Did you know Swedish Glace is made by Unilever? Unilever are evil, and I mostly don’t buy their things, but Swedish Glace is by far the best and most widely obtainable vegan ice cream and I’m sad to have to avoid it from here on out.
Fueled by ice-cream sadness, I performed my worst ever dance and felt even sadder.
Then we lost (i.e. failed to save the world) fairly dramatically at Pandemic.
On the bright side, as part of my anti-nest-building, I got rid of some furniture, reorganised my room, and now my bed is symmetrical. Aaaaaaah, restful!

We’ve had a less cold than usual winter, which, living in this house, is a merciful relief, even if I do worry about the wider global implications of it not getting cold enough… Reassuringly, but also depressingly, we did have a few really cold days back there in the end though.

Spent a few more hours with mum scanning in my childhood photos. Some delights.

Perhaps inevitably, got ill. Blegh. January.

Finally found some jeans that fit and look good. Self-esteem/narcissism level up!

Perhaps the first time I’ve ever won at Dead of Winter, and all thanks to absolute hero Kodiak Colby! *swoon*

Coming VERY SOON... February, specifically February 1st, which is hourly comic day 2016!