Lavvu

Launch Success! Cake and Comics.

Good afternoon faithful followers!

So, what a week it’s been! Crashing towards the finish-line of University looking bedraggled, full of hay-fever and lacking sleep, it’s clear that hosting a launch party for Njálla at the same time as finishing up my degree was quite a brave choice.. The whole of last week has been mostly a blur of comics, catalogue designs and getting my fingers stuck to objects with superglue. BUT, three years of further education is almost over and Njálla is out there in the world, so the lack of sleep is totally worth it.

This past Saturday night saw the launch of Njálla here in Northampton at the NN Café, with a whole host of family and friends coming down to join in the fun and help me celebrate my latest comic-ing venture! I have to admit, it’s very strange to host an event centred around my work, given that I usually spend my time hiding in my drawing cave. I’ve never much been one for drawing attention to myself (well, apart from when I had a purple mohawk), but that being said, it’s important to throw yourself into these situations every once and a while, right? After working on Njálla start to finish over 8 months I definitely needed to have a large beverage and end the biggest project of my career so far on a high note! Here are some photos from the night, borrowed from a number of people (thank you, photo people!):

Huge thanks to my handsome assistant Chris who donned a Njálla t-shirt with me and helped to calm my nerves, and my mum who brought a Northern Lights themed cake for us all to share around! Of course, big thanks also go to everyone who travelled near and far to come along and show their support, including Broken Frontier‘s Andy Oliver who finally got his copy of Njálla! Finally, thank you to the NN Café for hosting, it was a perfect venue and a great time was had by all! (I hope)

In other news, my next appearance on the comics circuit was announced the other day; I’ll be part of the Gosh! Comics and Broken Frontier Drink and Draw at the end of June! I’m honoured to have been asked to attend alongside Amber Hsu and Christian Ortiz, as well as my Six to Watch 2015 companion Danny Noble, the artist in residence for Drink and Draw. You can read all about the Drink and Draw from Gosh! here, and register your interest here! I dropped off some signed copies of Njálla at Gosh! Comics yesterday too so you can head down to pick up your copy ahead of time for the grand total of £8.

 

Whilst I was in London yesterday dropping off comics to lovely comics people to put on their shelves, I made time to scoot on over to the British Museum to see their Sunken Cities exhibition. Following the recent rediscovery of the two port cities Thonis-Heracleion and Canopus near Alexandria in Egypt that sank into the sea around 1’300 years ago, Sunken Cities looks at the relationship between Ancient Egypt and Ancient Greece and the careful removal and restoration of a whole host of incredibly preserved artefacts. You’ve probably all guessed by now that I’m really interested in historic cultures (The Red Road, Njálla) and I’d been waiting to see this exhibition since they first announced it last year! Armed with a sketchbook, I ended up spending two hours in the exhibition drawing and making notes; it was just so nice to take an afternoon off from all the madness and stress and to just immerse myself in history. It really was a fantastic exhibition, and I urge you to go and see it if you can. You can find all the information about the exhibition here.

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My short-lived freedoms in the British Museum didn’t last long, and these next few days are back to the grind in finishing up the University of Northampton Illustration Degree Show, ready to launch on Friday evening. After what feels like a massively long slog, it’s almost over and our work from the final year will be up on display for all to see! The private launch starts this Friday early-evening, and then the show runs from Saturday to the following Sunday 19th. If you’re interested in attending head on over to our Facebook event page here. I will have a full breakdown of the Degree Show launch next week, so until then I’d best get back to work.. Have a good week everyone!

x

 

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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.

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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.

x

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February Fun

Good morning ladies and gents!

So, it appears February has arrived, as has the week of my NN Residency alongside my fellow students from the University of Northampton. I shall be taking a break from all comic and other projects business to create my tent/lavvu, and then proceed to hide in it when times of extreme stress arise. As of today, we’re collectively gracing Northampton town centre with our talents and wit at the NN contemporary project space and gallery on Guildhall Road. Different things are going on each day, and if you’re local to the area you should definitely pop round and pay us all a visit.

As I’m in all day tomorrow, I’ve taken some time to make sure I get the basics of my structure prepared today to avoid any unsightly setbacks.. As, you know, I’ve never made a Sámi lavvu before. I know what you’re thinking: who HASN’T made a lavvu?! Although I may well be behind the times I’m using my highly refined organisational skills and coloured markers to be able to recreate the structure in situ at the project space tomorrow, and have my measurements and calculations ready to cut out my fabric for the inner and outer shell. Exciting! Although I mentioned it before, thanks to my wonderful parents for collecting sticks out of their garden for me and helping with the fabric, otherwise I may have been arrested by now for chopping off branches at the local park with a bread knife.

As I mentioned last week, this lavvu I’m creating is related to my upcoming comic release, so far with the name under-wraps and being referred to solely as The Next Big Thing (not in an egotistical way, in a ‘this is MY next big thing to come out’ way, just to clarify that I’m not an uppity plonker). Progress has been going well, and with my schedule set for the next two months I’ll be drawing at least 4 pages per week alongside other final projects for my degree. Busy, busy! I completed my six prelude pages last week and later on today I’ll be continuing progress on pages 7-10, with the hope of making a head start on the next four too. Things are really starting to get moving, and in the coming weeks I’ll be announcing my fundraising campaign for the project!

 

I’m not sure how aware people are or not, but smaller print runs are cheaper initially, but in the long term far more expensive than getting a bigger print run to begin with. For The Red Road I tentatively printed 100 and ran out in 9 months, meaning my costs were far more than they needed to be – whoops! This time, I’m learning from my errors and planning to create The Next Big Thing in a print run of 250 copies. Unfortunately for me, it’s going to be a rather expensive venture, and after some umm-ing and ahh-ing I decided my best course of action is to crowd-fund the total online. This means I’ll be offering not only an option for the book, but also prints, originals and other limited edition goodies that won’t be available after the release in Spring/Summer of this year. So, keep an eye out for my announcement on this soooon… On here, on Facebook, Twitter, all the usual channels!

 

Finally, in very exciting news Down to Your Skivvies Issue #2 has been printed and is almost ready to go! In case you missed it last week, DTYS is being launched this coming Saturday 6th February at the NN Project Space from 4-6pm in Northampton, so come on down and say hello if you’re out and about! This issue is all about writing, writers and the arts, and we have some very special work in there including an interview from a lovely talented gentleman and a short story from a skilled friend of mine currently studying in Liverpool. Crossing the north/south divide one zine at a time! Here’s a sneaky view of the pile of paper I have yet to fold and staple, with the front cover and font designed by yours truly. DTYS #2 will be available to purchase online from Monday 8th February from both Zara’s and my online Etsy shops.

 

I think that’s about it for now! I’d best get back to my fabric trimming business, which is quite a nice change from the usual work of being stooped over a desk for hours on end. Now I’m stooped over fabric, huzzah! I shall be back next week with more updates from The Next Big Thing and some lovely launch photos from Saturday afternoon at Skivvies. And hopefully a successful lavvu! Until next time..

x

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Skivvies Launch, Residency, and More.

Good morning ladies and gents!

Crikey, is it really almost February already? January is usually referred to as the long month, and although it has been a bit cold/wet/blowy time doesn’t half fly in the most pinnacle term of the final year of my degree. Nothing like the smell of drying paint and caffeine in the morning! It’s been another hectic week here at HQ, to the point where I can’t quite believe that Laydeez do Comics was only just over a week ago, but low and behold it’s that time of the week again where I grace you all with my wisdom. Or something like that..

First things first, we have a launch date for Down to Your Skivvies Issue #2! After having to keep pushing it back over the past month or so, we’ve managed to coincide the launch with a University-planned residency taking place in Northampton town centre (more about that shortly). As I’ve mentioned before, the first issue of DTYS was released back in April 2015, with a long break between issues unfortunately down to trying to get everyone in one place at the same time. Reviewed by Broken Frontier’s Andy Oliver back in September as a part of the Zinewatch feature, the first issue run of Skivvies sold out of current stock at the end of last year. Though, to coincide with the release of issue #2 we will have fresh stock of issue #1 ready for anyone who missed it! Issue #2, themed around WRITERS AND THE ARTS will be released at the NN Contemporary Project Space in Northampton on Saturday 6th February, from 4-6pm with the three of us creators there to talk about the zine and answer any questions, and from Monday 8th the zines will be available to buy from my Etsy store. Issue #2 is a good one.. More details to be announced nearer the time.

As mentioned above, next week will see myself and fellow Illustration students from the University of Northampton embarking on a residency within the NN Contemporary Gallery Project Space, working on experimental projects. Relating to but not directly involving our final major project work, from Wednesday-Sunday we’ll be creating wonderful things, giving talks, workshops and having open discussions in the attic space at NN. You can read all about the project space and our intentions here on the newly set up website/blog, and definitely come on down if you’re local! If you were reading last week and saw me mention making a lávvu, wondering what on earth I was on about.. Well, that would be for this project space!

fabric

I’d had this genius idea before Christmas to create a 3D element to the launch of my comic, and I’ve been organising bits and pieces well in advance so that I can make this idea a reality. Also, as a big-kid in a stressed mid-twenties body I’m really excited to have my own tee-pee structure to crawl inside when I want to escape from adulthood. Sounds amazing, right? The plan is to have my wonderful (I hope) lávvu next to my comic work (The Next Big Thing) in my degree show, giving a tactile and real element to my exploration into Sámi culture. And, a fortnight ago, armed with sketches and sleep-deprivation, I headed to Birmingham to meet my sewing-aficionado mum for an adventure in the famous indoor rag market. Above you can see some lovely fabric-y things just ready and waiting to be used for my tent-like structure, so keep an eye out in the coming weeks for more details..

Image from Broken Frontier
Image from Broken Frontier

In other news, as the flaming baton is passed from one bunch of creators to the other, Broken Frontier have announced their new Six Small Press Creators to Watch in 2016! They’ve picked some very talented folks this year, and speaking as someone who received a great deal of support and exposure thanks to being one of the Six to Watch in 2015, I can definitely say I’m excited to see what’s coming next from these ladies! Keep an eye out on Andy Oliver’s Small Pressganged if you’re interested in all things Small Press Comics, or even just wonderful artists and stories, because wonderful creators and creations are aplenty!

Finally, I’ve been busy working away on a commission for some awesome folks this week (to be announced soon), but also I’ve been getting stuck into the prelude for The Next Big Thing, as seen above. Work is slowly creeping out and taking over more of the room rather than being confined to the desk, and things are getting really serious now. Crowdfunding for The Next Big thing alongside it’s title will be released in the coming months, and final pages are starting to be drawn. Along with a handful of other projects, by Easter I will most likely be grey-haired and half made of coffee.. With that in mind, that’s about all I have time for this week! I will be back next week with lavvú business and more, so until then – have a good week everyone! Over and out.

x

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The Laydeez Who Comic

Good morning laydeez and gentlemen!

So, another week bites the dust and Laydeez do Comics has been and gone! It was possibly one of the most nerve-racking experiences of my feeble existence; standing in front of a room full of eager-eyed people actually wanting to hear what I had to say (or at least pretending to, anyway). Even with my neatly arranged cue cards I’m sure I probably missed something important, but overall it was a really fun evening – more about that shortly. In other news, university projects are getting busier than ever and in the next couple of weeks I’ll be starting to draw up the final pages of The Next Big Thing! I’m keeping my working title under-wraps for now, though the reveal will be coming shortly. I’m also debating at the moment whether to move the blog to a fortnightly effort instead of weekly for the duration of this term, just to give myself an extra bit of time to work on my incredibly long to-do list, BUT I’m still mulling it over. So, I’ll let you all know! Now, down to business..

As you may remember from last week, I spend Sunday 10th creating the window display at Gosh! Comics in readiness for the LDC night this past Monday. Somehow the week between doing the windows and turning up to talk went past like a lightening bolt! I settled onto the warm and cosy train to London on Monday night with an 300-man army of butterflies in my stomach – no, not some strange new recipe, just nerves – and bolted across to Soho to meet with Andy Oliver (Editor-in-Chief of Broken Frontier and Danny Noble (Munday Morning, Ollie & Alan) for a calming beverage before the evening’s fun began. Gosh! Comics were wonderful hosts yet again for the Laydeez do Comics evening, and there were many familiar and friendly faces bobbing about. Andy Oliver took the reins for the evening and spoke first about the wonderful work he does at Broken Frontier, and the small press/independent creator focus they look at compared to the largely mainstream comics industry. Next up was my turn, and armed with my carefully designed presentation I managed to bumble on for probably far less time than I was meant to – aside from shaking like a leaf the whole way through I probably spoke at lightening speed too. Agh! After a short break, the last speaker was Danny Noble who entertained us all with her honest and witty comics, whilst talking about her practice and how she uses panels in a really interesting and diverse way. Inspiring stuff! HUGE thanks to Keara and Wallis for having us, and everyone who came out to see us talk!

One of the main focuses of the evening was Andy Oliver’s announcements.. Sadly, after almost a year, the title of ‘Six UK Small Press Creators to Watch in 2015‘ is being filed away and the new Six have been announced! Us 2015 lot are being flung into the wide open world with our belongings in a bindle and are shunted out in to the cold harsh realities of life. Or, something like that. The new Six have been announced at LDC and will be announced officially on Broken Frontier in the coming days. They’re a talented bunch!

In the second batch of wonderful news that was announced by the Patron Saint of Comics, the Broken Frontier Yearbook has been revealed! Here’s a snippet from the press release yesterday on Broken Frontier, which sums it up far more eloquently than I possibly could:

Last night at London’s Gosh! Comics a very special announcement was made to the sell-out audience at the Broken Frontier special edition of the monthly Laydeez do Comics meeting. We’re very excited today to share that news on the site with the extended BF readership.

Currently in pre-production, our inaugural Broken Frontier Small Press Yearbook will be available in the early part of this year. A near 100-page publication, it celebrates the work of our ‘Six UK Small Press Creators to Watch in 2015’ – Rozi Hathaway, Jess Milton, Danny Noble, Emma Raby, Alice Urbino and Adam Vian – in both colour and black & white. Each creator has contributed an 8-10 page story on the theme of “breaking frontiers” and interpreted that broad starting point with their own ever distinctive artistic voices.

A natural extension of a year’s worth of dedicated coverage of these six very talented creators, the Yearbook is the ultimate expression of this column’s philosophy of “unearthing the gems of the small press”, and of bringing the work of comickers we have championed to a far wider audience. In due course you will be able to buy the book both online and from certain UK stores. But the prime philosophy of the Yearbook is to provide a promotional showcase for last year’s participants in our ‘Six to Watch’ initiative. To that end we’ll be sending out copies to selected publishers, micropublishers, and comics commentators as we seek to raise the profile of 2015’s half dozen stars-in-the-making across the medium.

Andy Oliver – Broken Frontier: Announcing the Broken Frontier Small Press Yearbook – Championing our 2015 ‘Six UK Small Press Creators to Watch’ in Print!

Follow the link to read all about it and even see a sample page from each of us! Which now means (for those of you avid readers who remember my ramblings) THE TOP SECRET PROJECT IS NO LONGER SECRET. WOOHOO! From May to September of last year I was working on this project, and although I could hint at it and show some images along the way, I couldn’t really say what it was for or when it’d be released. Low and behold, the 10-page silent comic which Andy kindly spoke of as my ‘best work to date’ will be released in coming months in the bumper Small Press Yearbook alongside the talents of Danny Noble, Emma Raby and more. Alongside the ‘Six’ are other top-name creators who have supplied work to support the project, being announced in the coming weeks – so keep an eye out on Broken Frontier’s Twitter and website for all the details.. Here’s a reminder of some of the work I created, and you can read more about the project from my previous blog post here.

Top Secret Project - announced!
Top Secret Project – announced!

With LDC behind me it’s now full-speed with University work in the run up to Easter (I know, it’s only January.. I have a very busy few months ahead). My dissertation needs finishing, the Next Big Thing needs drawing up, a couple of other competitions need doing, written assignment work needs completing, another commission needs doing, and somewhere between all that some kind of sleep would be marvellous. Oh, and I’m making a lávvu. More about that in a couple of weeks, though! For the meanwhile, here’s another sneaky peek of some development/practice figuring out the best composition before I start on the final pages. Exciting!

And that wraps it up for this week! Back to the grindstone for another week of fun-times, and I shall be back next week with hopefully some more bits ticked off my very large list and more things to show you. For now, over and out.

x

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