Sami 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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Campaign Countdown

Good afternoon folks and folkettes,

So, another week has vanished and somehow it’s already Wednesday. When did that happen? The weekend away was definitely needed to recharge my batteries a bit, but doesn’t half make a dent in my working week. Anyway, Kickstarter-induced panic aside, I hope everyone had a lovely bank holiday weekend whatever you were all up to. Personally, I ate too much of everything and am now debating whether I’ll be able to fit into my clothes next week or not.

Since last week’s update I’ve been working pretty solidly on my Kickstarter campaign, ready for launch next week. When I started working on it I had no idea just how much work it takes to do – blimey! Not only is there the whole glaring-into-a-camera thing and getting a script ready for that, but there’s also selling the project as best as possible in the main body of the campaign page. Whilst I’ve been busy working out budgets and pie charts, drawing sub-header titles and reworking my campaign details twenty times, my actual comic and remaining uni work has taken a temporary sideline. Though, I think I’ve almost cracked this whole Kickstarter thing, so as soon as I’ve filmed my work of cinematic genius as a campaign video, I’ll be ready to go!

 

Coming 6th April! Ish.
Coming 6th April! Ish.

 

I’d hoped to launch the campaign on Wednesday 6th, though it looks like once submitted the campaign is up for review which can take up to 3 business days. Because of this, I’ll submit on Monday and hopefully it’ll have launched by Wednesday, if not before. Phew! Saying that, I think I may be worrying about the finer details a little too much, and I’m sure no one really cares if it’s uploaded a day early – I tell you what, this whole crowd-funding thing is a stressful business, although if I ever have to do it again I’ll be far wiser on how to approach it. I hope.

So yes, because of this whole fandango I don’t have a huge amount of work to show you, as staring into my laptop and calculator, scribbling notes on paper and checking emails for the 4 working days between the last update and now isn’t particularly interesting for anyone else but me. I have, however had a chance this morning to start working on photocopies of The Next Big Thing with paint!

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Now, painting onto cheap photocopier paper does hurt my soul quite a bit. It’s smushy, you can’t really blend well, and it’s just a bit pants. But, instead of launching into painting my final, original pages it means I can make mistakes and change my mind on colours and it doesn’t really matter, as I can just make another copy and try again. Above is a sneaky preview of the practice painting photocopy pages I’ve worked on so far. I’m DEFINITELY looking forward to getting stuck into the final paints, I just have to work through the practice bits and the Kickstarter admin bits and then I can sit back, relax and paint to my hearts content.

In some rather excellent news, The Next Big Thing aside, I have been accepted into Thought Bubble 2016! After a very anxious Friday evening where everyone had received their emails and my inbox was still unnervingly empty, I needed not worry. I had SO much fun at Thought Bubble last year, and I can’t wait to be back in Leeds come November to carry on promoting The Next Big Thing, the upcoming Broken Frontier Small Press Yearbook, and watch comic-pals do karaoke (I’m not sure what it is about comic artists and karaoke, but apparently it’s a thing).

Thought Bubble Festival 2016! Banner by Emmeline Pidgen, (from thoughtbubble.com)

As I sadly didn’t make it into the Lakes Comic Art Festival in Kendal, Thought Bubble is now my biggest event of the year and my optimum opportunity to get copies of soon-to-be-revealed The Next Big Thing to a new audience. More events are popping up for later in the year all the time, and I have my eye on a couple more events as long as funds can stretch that far. However, with Thought Bubble being one of the biggest comic events in the UK, I’m over the moon to be able to have a half table there again.

So, that’s that! Next week will see the launch of The Next Big Thing Kickstarter campaign, with the big reveal of the title (yes, that’s right, it’s not ACTUALLY called The Next Big Thing) and live pledges available for you to put towards in helping to make this comic a real, physical reality. How exciting! Until then I have a lot of work to do on some finishing touches, so until next week.. Over and out!

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!

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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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