Creative Conscience

9 Days and Counting

Good afternoon happy campers,

So, another week has vanished.. Paint has been splashed, brushes have been accidentally dipped in tea, and the bags under my eyes have been growing ever darker. It must be nearing the end! That’s right folks, I’m painting up the last batch of pages for Njálla and my animation for the Creative Conscience Awards is complete and submitted, plus it’s almost May which means my final degree assessments are looming. That said, I don’t have time to panic as there’s too many exciting things going on!

This Friday sees the UK launch of the Kickstarter-funded Broken Frontier Anthology alongside the launch of Broken Frontier’s Small Press Yearbook, at Gosh! Comics in London. From the anthology side of things there will be super-talents Alison Sampson, David Hine, Edie OP, I.N.J Culbard, Jamie Coe, and Mark Stafford signing copies of the mega 250-page hardback book. From the Small Press Yearbook side of things, all of us ‘Six UK Small Press Creators to Watch in 2015‘ will be there signing copies; Adam Vian, Alice Urbino, Danny Noble, Emma Raby and Jess Milton, (and yours truly) alongside the man in the hat who made it all happen – Editor in Chief Andy Oliver.

As I mentioned last week, articles are being launched in the run up to the release of the Small Press Yearbook featuring interviews and insights from each of us Six to Watch! With Jess‘ being the first to come out last week, next it was my turn to pretend to sound wise. You can read my interview with Andy Oliver here, the third interview with Danny Noble here, and fresh off the press fourth interview with Emma Raby here! If you’re in or around London and fancy popping along to the signing event, it will be held at Gosh! Comics on Berwick Street, Soho from 7-9pm. Which reminds me, I’d best practice my doodles… If you’re unable to attend on Friday evening, Gosh! Comics can arrange for a copy to be put aside for you (mail order available: UK postage £5, International postage available on request) – email info@goshlondon.com to sort it out with them.

So, that’s all rather exciting! In other news, I’ve been continuing to work away on painting the remaining pages of Njálla ready to send to print next week! The Kickstarter campaign is growing ever stronger, and I’m so grateful to each and every person who has contributed to help make Njálla a real, physical comic. Alongside all that painting and scanning business, I’ve been looking into ways of using the extra pledge money to help give back. Although I have some sneaky things up my sleeve, one thing I will say is that I’m looking at better, stronger packaging than what I’ve previously used for shipping, and other exciting things like that. It’s all go! But, I realise the finalities of postage and packaging aren’t really of interest to anyone but me, so here’s some more sneak previews of completed pages:

I also finished up the Njálla-themed colouring book this past weekend, FREE for all physical pledge backers – woohoo! The A5, 12-page colouring book has images and scenes from the comic, but I’ve also created some new work to go in as well, just to make it all the more exciting.That’s another thing crossed off the list and ready to be sent to print after the Kickstarter campaign has come to a close.  The rest of this week is dedicated to finishing up the remaining six pages and working on the non-story pages, which will take me into next week.

Finally, I completed up my animation for the Creative Conscience awards earlier this week. After re-learning how to use Adobe After Effects I managed to do some tweaking and get it ready to convert to film, for submission. It’s certainly been a challenge to create an animation for the first time rather than just a short looping .gif, but it’s certainly been a lot of fun to create. The category it’s for is the Unilever Bright Futures campaign, so fingers crossed..

Phew, it’s been a busy week (month..year..three years)! I think that’s about it for now, I’d best get back to this painting malarky. Remember, there’s 8 days left to pledge for your digital or physical copy of Njálla plus freebies, so if you haven’t already you can pledge here. Have a good Wednesday, everyone. See you next week!

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Bright Futures

As a submission to the Creative Conscience Awards 2016, I created a 24-second animation for the Unilever Bright Future campaign. Although my entry was unsuccessful, this project has been my first longer length animation project and I’ve learnt a lot that can be applied into future projects.

The full length animation can be seen here

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The Half-Way Mark

Good afternoon radiant readers.

So, is it Wednesday again already? It’s been another busy week here at HQ, juggling painting and scanning comics pages, finishing up and painting the frames for animation, and important, final degree things like portfolios and such. In the whirlwind that has been the last 2 and a half years, it’s now only four weeks until my final assessment and somehow everything in falling into place. It’s a busy time, but thanks to my militaryesque organisational skills and copious amounts of camomile tea I’m raging through like a woman on a mission.

As I mentioned last week, I’m currently working away each week painting pages, scanning them in, tweaking and slotting into place ready for printing. At an efficient rate of 10 pages a week, I’m comfortably on track at the half-way mark for the campaign, which has now been funded beyond double my original project goal! Heartfelt thanks to all my wonderful backers, and those new backers who know it’s fully funded, but are still pledging away regardless (Royal Mail are going to absolutely love me come May/June time). If you are a backer, you’ll know that you get exclusive updates and work-in-progress images before anyone else.. If you’re not a backer yet, you can either head over to Kickstarter and pledge now, or keep an eye out on this here blog for all the news a few days later. Here’s what you may have missed:

It’s so exciting to see Njálla come together in its final form, plus spending any spare time I have on the free colouring book for backers I’m getting more and more eager for the launch. Ahhh!

In other news, after all the excitement of the Kickstarter had subdued slightly I have been back to finishing up my animation for the Creative Conscience Awards submission, which I’m doing alongside Njálla as part of my final illustration portfolio for University. Although I was on track for completing this animation for the original deadline of the 7th April, it was a bit of a relief when they extended it to the end of this month so I had more time to spend on it and tweak it. Now, as any dedicated readers will be aware, I haven’t said a huge amount regarding this animation as Njálla has ultimately been the bigger, longer project, and the bearer of my soul for the past 6-7 months. However, this animation has been a huge undertaking for me, not only as it’s been juggled alongside other projects, but also because my experience in animation is pretty small.. Before I’ve only ever created short looping gifs, whereas this is a full 4-frames a second, 20 second animation.

Above is a short preview of the finished animation in part, as all the work is finished and scanned but I just have some finishing touches to work on digitally before submitting. Mainly, it’s a bit jumpier than I’d like it to be, so it needs smoothing out with some sneaky-tweaks. It’s all a learning curve! A steep, jagged, tiring learning curve.

In other very exciting news, after the announcement last week for the launch party of Broken Frontier’s Anthology and Small Press Yearbook, pre-orders for the Yearbook are now open! I am so excited for the release of this incredibly special collection, and as one of the featured comics creators from the Six UK Small Press Creators to Watch in 2015 I’m even more excited for Afloat to see the light of day! Working on that 10-page comic last summer was so much fun, and I really enjoyed stretching my story-writing muscles by tackling a 10-page slice of life tale.

If you’re not in or around London for the launch party at the end of this month (see more details in the Facebook event here), then you can pre-order your copy of the Small Press Yearbook, featuring Afloat, from the online store here. Editor-in-Chief of Broken Frontier, Andy Oliver, has had a strong ethos for this book from the start:

“To fully embrace the philosophy of this venture 40% of the Broken Frontier Small Yearbook‘s print run will be distributed as comp copies. This includes Yearbooks sent to comics publishers, commentators, activists and industry figures in order to introduce them to the work of Hathaway, Milton, Noble, Raby, Urbino and Vian.

The remaining number will be priced at as accessible a price point as feasible to ensure as many readers as possible discover the comics of the original Broken Frontier ‘Six to Watch’. To make that a reality this 100-page book will retail for just £6.00 for 83 colour and black & white story pages!”

– Andy Oliver, Broken Frontier – Broken Frontier Small Press Yearbook 2016 – Pre-Orders Now Open!

You can read the full article about the Yearbook here, with the details of the additional, supporting contributors here, and the pre-order release post here. In the run up to the aforementioned launch party at Gosh! Comics, Broken Frontier will be running exit interviews for us Six to Watch too, with the first article for Jess Milton coming out earlier this week – definitely worth a read. With copies of the Yearbook available from the end of April and Njálla released in early-June, I hope you’re all ready for some new reading material!

I think that’s about it for now! The kettle is calling my name (worrying, I know) and I have plenty to keep me busy for the rest of the day. Rest assured I will be back next week with (hopefully) a finished animation and more previews from Njálla! Until next time.. Have a good week everyone!

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Breathing Space

Good afternoon wonderful readers!

So, it’s time to temporarily relax a little. Formative assessment at Uni is over as of yesterday (as in, the important non-marked one before the REALLY important marked one in May), and the long Easter weekend is on the horizon.. A magical time consisting of three days away from my desk in the northern lands of Leeds drinking cider and eating cheese. Wonderful stuff. Although this one assessment is completed, the work is far from over! Having spent two days collating my work for presentation I’m eager to get back to working on The Next Big Thing and finishing up the remainder of my other project work.

This week I’m also getting to work on my Kickstarter campaign! As I mentioned last week, the launch for my Kickstarter will be on 6th April, so I have two weeks to film and edit a charming video persuading you all to back this project, for the good of mankind.

Funding Campaign3

This is the first project I’m trying to raise funds for through crowdfunding, so it’s an interesting experience to have to wave my face in front of a camcorder when I’m not particularly the most camera-friendly person these days. Back in those 2000’s Myspace days, now that was another story! But now, with age comes a resentment with most forms of camera implements being thrust in my face, unless of course I force it just so family members online can remember what I look like whilst hiding away in my drawing cave. But, regardless of this I will be gracing the screen. According to lots of online-people, crowdfunding pages with videos are far more successful than those without, due to people wanting to know who they’re supporting. So there you have it, taking one for the sake of this comic.

Before working on all the assessment business took over for a few days, I spent some time gathering together my work and photocopying and scanning everything. The photocopies of all the pages are for practice painting – getting a feel for the colour palette before I take to the originals, because I’m a sensible soul like that. I also, before even reaching for my paintbrush, worked on some really terrible digital rough colouring with the scanned pages. I’m not going to show you those, because they look awful – they’re just something I use for reference in working out the colours per spread and how they work together as progressing through the book. Below on the right is also an exciting new development; I printed the uncoloured pages that I’d scanned in, to size and in order to make a little booklet with the correct number of pages to work out the remaining, non-story pages. How exiting! This means for the first time I have a readable copy of the comic which I entrusted my loving partner to read to see what he thought now it was all together. I heard a few giggles, so I’m taking that as good news!

In other news, work has progressed on the Unilever Bright Futures Competition I’ve mentioned a few times before. I realise updates on this particular project have been few and far between, but as it’s my first longer-length animation I’ve been working through it in a methodical fashion and finished up all the pencil work last week. It’s not much to show yet, looking primarily like a stack of 64 pieces of A5 paper with a pencil drawing on each.. However, the painting will be the turning point of it all. Here’s a bit of a look at 9 of the 64 frames being used for this animation, and a snapshot of the colour palette I’ll be working with. Creative Conscience have actually extended the deadline from the 7th April to the 28th, so it gives me a bit more breathing space to make the animation work digitally. As it’s all pretty new to me I’m hoping I have some beginners luck and it all comes together nicely. Fingers crossed!

Finally, I spent a little time yesterday afternoon winding down from assessment by making this little Easter Bunny. Or, as I learnt in Danish, Påskeharen. It was fun little animation to work on – so I hope you all enjoy it too! So on that note, I hope those of you who can enjoy a four-day weekend enjoy it, and those of you who will still be working get extra lovely chocolatey treats to make it worthwhile! I’d better hop back to it – until next week!

Easter-Bunny-gif2

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The Next Big Shake-Up

Good morning ladies and gents!

So, it’s mid-March already. When did that happen? You’ll have to forgive my lack of an update last week as I came down with a rather nasty cold/flu type thing which had me floored for the most part of a week. I don’t think I’ve been that ill for so long in quite a few years, but I can assure you being healthy again feels amazing! It actually forced me to have at least four days of doing no work as I could barely see straight let alone do anything else, so I’ve had the joy of coming back to everything vaguely fresh-eyed and brimming with animal knowledge from being propped up in front of David Attenborough documentaries.

One large part of work off my plate is my dissertation, which I finished up and submitted on Monday. Woohoo! I had a pretty good time with my dissertation; it was an interesting subject and I planned and researched a lot of it early on in September/October time. Themed on mental illness as portrayed in contemporary graphic novels, it’s right up my alley and hopefully it gets me a good grade. Now that dissertation business is out the way I’m down to just two main projects, the Creative Conscience awards which I’ll post about when it’s a bit more finished, and.. The Next Big Thing!

As of Monday evening I finished drawing up and inking all 34 pages of story for The Next Big Thing, which is super exciting news – Yay! Although the hard work is far from over, with the next tasks on my list being to scan all the pages in to practice my colour scheme within Photoshop, and at the same time photocopy all the pages so that I can practice colours with paint, and then only when both tasks are complete and I’m happy then I paint my originals. All in all I estimate that this task will take me up to after Easter, into early-mid April. It’s a lot of paint!

I’ve also drawn up and inked the outside cover, but things like the inside pages which don’t contain the story but may have bits of information and title pages, those also need doing. Having never worked on a book of this length before it’s been a pretty long process, especially with having to only work on this for 1-2 days a week whilst working on a load of other projects and preparing for the upcoming Degree Show in June, but it’s starting to feel like the end is in sight!. Especially as I’ve picked the date for my funding..

I can happily announce that my Kickstarter campaign for funding the printing costs of this will begin on Wednesday 6th April! Mark it in your diaries ladies and gents, as for 30-days I will be offering incentives including prints, originals and possibly even my first born to raise the much needed funds to print 250 copies of this project, which has been an integral part of my life since the beginning of the idea’s conception in August 2015. I have poured my heart, soul and everything else I have into making this, and I’ll be excitedly announcing the title along with the launch of the Kickstarter in April. For now, here is the opening two pages of the prelude, uncoloured, because you guys deserve it.

It was incredibly important to me to be able to give some insight into the Sámi people from everything I learnt whilst travelling through Scandinavia, and from books and internet sources, so the prelude (pages 1-2 pictured above) runs over six pages. Think of it like the introduction to a museum exhibit.. But with comics! This part, as you can see, is drawn in a more primeval, rune-like style compared to the rest of the comic which is in my usual way of drawing things. Because I’m feeling generous, here’s some a sneak preview of one of the uncoloured pages mid-way through the comic:

See, don’t say I never give you guys anything! Colour and painting is playing a huge role in this story, so it’s kind of hard to see how it’s going to turn out from scans with no colour, but if you’ve been following my blog for a while when you’ll have seen some hints at what’s coming.

So my life is pretty much being taken over by paint for the coming weeks, although I still have a fair bit of drawing to get through for the Bright Futures Creative Conscience Brief, which I’ve mentioned before. We’re still fundraising for our degree show at UoN too, so if you’re interested in helping to support us pay for the printing of our catalogue and postcard packs then please head over to our GoFundMe page, and check out more of the information on our refreshed website.

AND, before I forget, some exciting news was announced last week! The nine back-up creators for the Broken Frontier Small Press Yearbook were announced to the world, with such super-duper talents as Mike MedagliaGareth Brookes, Owen D. Pomery and Jessica Martin. Things are hotting up with the Small Press Yearbook, and more details are on the way to being announced soon. It’s really exciting to be a part of something so important, and I can’t wait to get hold of my copy. To keep up with Yearbook, you can follow the #BFSPYearbook hashtag on Twitter, and keep an eye out on Broken Frontier.com.

Anyway, I think that’s about it for now! I’d best get back to work otherwise the boss will moan at me. Oh wait… That’s me. Until next time!

x

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Quickly, quickly!

Good morning ladies and gents,

It’s been another busy week over here at HQ, and the never-ending piles of work mean it’ll just be a short one today! (I can hear you all breathe a sigh of relief from here…)

After last week’s update I’m sure you all because overwhelmed with excitement at the fact that I’ve started drawing up my final pages. Well! I’ve been busy, and over the last couple of weeks I’ve been trying to get ahead of schedule, and successfully so at the moment, in that I’ve now completed over half of my final inks. Woohoo! The painting part will be fairly time consuming in itself, but being safe in the knowledge that I’ve managed 6 pages a week instead of my intended 4 is a nice comfort. Here’s some previews of the pages so far..

My upcoming crowd-funding campaign is in the tentative research stages at the moment, as I’m waiting for a few things to fall in place and the timings to be correct before I set it all up and start pleading for donations towards making this comic a beautiful reality rather than lots and lots of pieces of paper. Next week I’ll be divulging you with more information about The Next Big Thing, so keep an eye out for that one..

In other news, the University Illustration Degree Show planning is in full swing, with all the social media channels up and ready. I’ve tasked myself with taking over the Twitter account as I spend enough time on there anyway trying to promote my own work, so if you’re a Twitter fan and you’d like to follow the Degree Show preparations with my added wit and charm, you can check it out here –

Creative Curiosities Twitter.

You can also follow us on Facebook, Instagram and Tumblr – whichever your preferred method of procrastination is, we have it covered! We’ve also set up a GoFundMe fundraising page to help raise money for the costs of hosting our degree show. The catalogue is the main expense, with printing a high volume to give away for free as well as promo packs, and the actual setting up of the show and making the room look a bit more snazzy than it’s current ageing exterior (yes, still talking about the room, not my ageing exterior). If you can spare any money at all and you’re interested in the work of the future comics creators and illustrators of this course, then please do head over to our fundraising page and help us out. We’ll love you forever! And print your name in the ‘Thanks’ section of the catalogue, if that’s any sort of incentive.

Also, I’m still working away on the animation for the Creative Conscious competitions I mentioned last week – you know, the one where I thought I’d be a fantastic idea to do a 64-panel animation as well as all my other work. Yeah, that one. It’s coming along nicely and I’m sketching up the panels all together to then spend a very long day inking and painting all of them some time at the end of March. Here’s some progress from that..

Finally, remember the t-shirt design I created for Northampton band Jagged Little Thrills? Well, if you’re local to the area, their new EP launch night is coming up fast! Next week, on Friday 26th February at The Charles Bradlaugh and Saturday 27th at The Victoria Inn, Jagged Little Thrills will be launching their new EP and merchandise and I guarantee it’ll be an awesome couple of gigs with some rather snazzy merchandise, if I may say so myself.. You can check out the band here on Facebook, and on Twitter.

The first of two commissions, this one for local band Jagged Little Thrills' merchandise

Right, that’s about all I have time for! Until next time..

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Light Up My Lavvu

Good morning ladies and gentlemen!

So, another week has passed by already? Working in the project space last week at the NN Contemporary Gallery feels like a very long time ago, and working 7 days a week is slowly making me lose track of what day it actually is anyway. However, if you were reading last week you’ll be thrilled to know that my Sámi-esque lavvu worked excellently, exactly how I envisioned it and even better – it didn’t fall apart. Success! I’ve also been working away on the final pages of The Next Big Thing, working on setting up my funding campaign on Kickstarter, and tackling my final new project of my university degree. Busy, busy!

First up, prior to heading to the NN Project Space to work as an artist in residence, I decided to do the maths and set up the framework to my lavvu first. In order to measure what size the outer fabric shell needed to be, I used masking tape to mark the base on the carpet and lots of string to hold the frame together. I worked out the top and bottom circumference then divided by four to create my triangular panels, and used graph paper to create my panel template. Using this, I cut out the outer hessian/burlap pieces ahead of time at home, saving me time. I also tagged my branches as per what position they sit best in, just for that extra level of organisational madness. This meant that the technical stuff was all out the way and I could pretend to know what I was doing whilst at the NN! On Thursday in the project space I started by cutting up an old flat bed sheet to use as a semi-blackout lining for the lavvu, and then stitched the four panels together leaving a gap at the front for an opening. After this I used the same template with some beautifully coloured organza to create my northern lights effect inside, and hooked up some LED white Christmas tree lights to make stars. And, here it is!

Sadly it’s not quite big enough to sit in, but if you lay with your head inside looking up it makes for a very pleasant and relaxing experience which I will probably re-set up at home for intense times of stress. I wouldn’t recommend sticking your head in it if you’ve had a few drinks, though. My lavvu sat in the NN Project Space until Sunday, but will be reinstated for the degree show from 9th June. So, if you’d like your own Northampton experience of the aurora borealis I would definitely suggest a trip here for the occasion. To see more of the work that other students created through their own practice and workshops, have a look at the Diverge website here.

IMG_5802

To coincide with the residency we three ladies of the Skivvies also held a small launch of Down to Your Skivvies #2 on Saturday afternoon! And, as of Monday issue 2 is now available to buy online from Etsy! A small run of the first issue is also back in stock, and to celebrate the launch of Skivvies #2 I’m offering FREE DOMESTIC SHIPPING on all orders on my online store with the code “SHIPMEFORFREE”. Available until Sunday, pick up your new copy of Skivvies #2 now!

In other news, work is progressing on The Next Big Thing and I’ve moved onto drafting up the final pages! It’s quite a hefty process, going from a small roughly sketched mock-up book to a draft true-to-size copy, and then transferring that through to final durable paper for inking – and once all the pages are drawn up, painting. My schedule for university assessments has me working on four A4 pages a week, or two double spreads. Some are obviously more fiddly than others, but my hope is to be working ahead of my planned four so that if I suddenly come down with some lurgy I won’t be dragging myself to the desk to make sure I don’t get behind. It’s hard work, but really, really fun. I haven’t drawn any new comics since last summer with the Top Secret Project – recently announced to appear in the Broken Frontier Small Press Yearbook. Here’s some sneaky previews of my work from last week, including my wonderful new light box which is making my job 10x easier.

More on The Next Big Thing in the weeks to come! As I mentioned earlier, I’ve also started my last new project of my degree – yikes! This final project is going to be an animation, which makes it even more scary. Along with the window display for Gosh! and Laydeez do Comics, and my secret submission for Secret 7″, the final chapter of my illustration projects module is an entry for the Creative Conscience awards. If you’re familiar with my work rather than a passing visitor, you’ll know that a large percentage of my work covers emotional themes and because of this, although the workload is terrifying, I thought I could really make something special which appeals to the values of the Creative Conscience as well as my own. It’s a mammoth task with around 64 frames to do in 8 weeks, but hopefully it will be completely worth it.

Here’s a picture of my storyboard roughs from last week – which are most likely completely incomprehensible to anyone apart from me – and I’ve been moving onto my eight images for the week this week, though as with The Next Big Thing, I’m trying to get ahead of my weekly quota just in case cows start falling from the sky and I need to take a week off to remove one from the roof, or something.

As is expected with the most pinnacle term of my degree course, it’s rather busy over here but it’s all going as smoothly as I could hope for. Phew. I shall endeavour to be back next week with more updates from The Next Big Thing and the Creative Conscience animation plans, but until then I’d best get back to work. See you at the same time, next week! Over and out.

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