University

Tales From the First Publication Corner

Good evening dutiful followers,

Well, what a celebratory day it is! Second Year of University is OFFICIALLY OVER, woo! No more redoing work from months ago and tweaking something because it’s out of alignment by 2mm, I can finally breathe and start to clear my head ready for a summer of busy drawing fun. After a hectic 7 months I can now find time to do the fun things in life, like make up new comic ideas and draw whatever I feel like. And it feels gooooooood. But, I have plenty of interesting news to keep you all occupied, don’t you worry! First up..

Alternative Press and The London Radical Bookfair hosted TAKEOVER 2015 this past weekend, on Saturday 9th May at a nice little warehouse on 47-49 Tanner Street just a hop, skip and a jump from London Bridge. What a day! Although there were some early complications – definitely of no fault of the organisers, mind you! – the day was busy and Tanner Street became full of people interested in all the comic, zine and book business of the day! As I mentioned previously, I was accepted to TAKEOVER on the First Publications Corner, a special spot for highlighting the work of first-time self publishers of zines and comics as a way to keep us all together (and out of trouble, I suspect!). I met some fantastically interesting people on Saturday, and walked around feeling like a deer in headlights for most of it, but as my first event I’m sure I’ll feel like a regular by the end of the year! Special thanks to those who made me feel at home in a whirlwind experience; Andy Oliver of Broken Frontier, Keara Stewart, Ricky Miller of Avery Hill Publishing, Alex Hahn, Alexandra Cook and Wallis Eates. You’re all lovely!

I only managed to sell a couple of bits, but lots of lovely people and seeing Danny Noble‘s under-table acrobatics definitely made for a good day. Another awesome part of the day was the creation of a Zine in a Day made by Co-Op Footprinters, who brought their risograph printer down from Leeds just for the event. And I thought dragging a suitcase of comics around London was difficult! The idea was absolutely lovely, and I dutifully took along a prepared image to submit to the zine. Have a look below!

The day was made even better with the release of Keara Stweart‘s zine anthology, A Bit of Undigested Potato! Featuring the work of 58 artists (including yours truly..) the anthology looks at bad dreams and nightmares from the perspective of the artist (featured at Broken Frontier here). My comic Locomotion is situated in there, but I’m afraid you’ll have to purcahse your own copy to see it all! I read the whole anthology as soon as it was places in my hands, and from the sad, to the scary and the funny, this book really is something special. I’ll definitely cherish it, and thanks again to the lovely Keara for asking me to join in the fun! What an honour, and a privilege to be included amongst such awesome people.

So, after the excitement of Saturday and the final push at University I’m feeling rather tired, but from meeting all the wonderful aforementioned people at TAKEOVER my brain is now overflowing with ideas of things to come! Now, secrets are way more fun in this line of work, so I won’t divulge too much, but I will say that you can expect to see issue #2 of Down to Your Skivvies coming out soon.. And maybe a few more things popping up on my Etsy shop! For now, I shall retire for the night ready for the busy few days ahead, but I shall be back next week with some coverage of a few exciting University projects that haven’t been covered in all the madness. And then, let the ideas and exciting things commence! Peace out! x

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Hello, darker nights.

Good evening ladies and gents,

Well well well, what a busy six weeks its been since Brussels, it only feels like yesterday that I was dragging myself merrily back to University for the start of the term. The second year of University lives up to its busy hype, and so far it’s taken me so long to get back to posting on this here website I’d almost forgotten what I was doing. Oh yes! Drawing. That’s what I’ve been doing. Instead of waffling on about every single project I’ve done so far I’ve decided to give an efficient, brief overview of any vaguely good stuff I’ve made so far, so I don’t bore you all into a coma.

1. Gifs! I made a gif based on a Chinese poem about a leaf floating and lots of moody things (‘Seeking a Mooring’ by Wang Wei, it’s actually quite nice if you’re into that sort of thing). It’s fairly simple but I quite like staring at it longingly when my brain is overspilling with ideas and I want to cry into a large plate of cake. It’s soothing, try it! (With cake, ideally.)

An illustrated .gif based on the poem 'Seeking a Mooring' by Wang Wei
An illustrated .gif based on the poem ‘Seeking a Mooring’ by Wang Wei. Ooooh, spinney.

2. I made an angry scene of people for an editorial piece, that I liked, but my lecturers didn’t. Ironically, this is also what my fellow students and I look like when they casually give us extra work to do with no forewarning or briefing. Also, what I imagine Manchester looks like after the football yesterday.

The Wisdom of Crowds.. Supposedly.
The Wisdom of Crowds.. Supposedly.

3. I’m making an 7″ vinyl cover for a University cover band who will be preforming The Cure’s ‘Friday I’m in Love’ live at the end of the month whilst I stand in the back and point at my artwork jumping up and down shouting “Look mum, I’m famous!” to no one in particular. It will look something like this.

Friday I'm in Loooove! Doo-de-doo, la la laa!
Friday I’m in Loooove! Doo-de-doo, la la laa!

4. Aaaand finally I’m currently writing and illustrating a 26 page comic which is due in 5 weeks time. So, I have rather a lot of work do for that, as we’re only 3 weeks in. If anyone here’s some sort of maniacal, delirious ranting coming from my apartment or the studios at University – it’s okay. It’s just me giving myself quite a lot to do. Just send coffee my way and give me a gentle hug, I’ll be fine. Even just a gentle pat on the head will be appreciated. Anywho, I don’t want to give away too much, so here’s just a sneak peek of some initial sketches I produced for last Tuesday, though all steam ahead for the rest of the project to be done in time. Cooffeeeeeeeeee!!

 

Well, I think that’s it for now. I’ve been drawing and scripting all day for this aforementioned comic, and I feel worn out something chronic. So, time to power on through before dinner and put my concentration to the test. Woo! I shall endeavour to be back with updates sooner than every six weeks so do keep an eye out. I’ve had to make a Tumblr blog as a part of my course, so I’ve added a link to the menu bar at the top, and that’s updated a bit more regularly (only because it’s graded, my allegiance still holds with this marvellous place!) with general waffle and my inspiration rather than my work. So feel free to have a look around on there too. For now, over and out x

 

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Bruxelles

Well, what a busy fortnight it has been! I was hoping to get an update posted last week but time just got away from me yet again, but the good news is following my return from Brussels, the city of comics, I have LOTS to discuss. Get comfy!

A few months ago I realised I was becoming somewhat.. stale. I’ve spent the whole summer working either picking up extra hours at the paid job, or working morning till night at home on comics, sketchbook work, one-off pieces and most recently a children’s book. Before that, University had been very intense with a high-workload and quick turn-around, and before that I’d been working on HOAX: Psychosis Blues for six months. So, in early July I decided I needed to refresh myself and do something I’ve missed doing in the past year or so; travel. So, I booked my £10 Megabus return ticket to Brussels, booked a nice looking hostel to stay at near the city centre, and carried on with my day-to-day tasks – but with that quiet excitement in the back of my mind that I was going to be escaping all forms of home-comfort and routine for 48 hours. Bliss! As the long summer break drained away and second year of my degree course looming, my city escape arrived and on Wednesday I packed my things and travelled by train, underground and a 6.5 hour coach journey pondering the meaning of life, drawing, education, and most importantly what I was going to find for dinner that night.

Brussels itself is a beautiful city. Much of Brussels beauty and grandeur comes from a history of exploitation and slave trade regime led by King Leopold II of Belgium around the late 19th to early 20th Century, which in itself I didn’t have time to look at too deeply though there are numerous museums around documenting the history of Brussels. However I was there to look at all things comics, in which I managed to fit in as much as I physically could into the 48 hours I was there. First on the list was the infamous Comic Book Route of the city, in which there are over 50 murals around the centre and surrounding areas. I didn’t manage to see every single one, but starting at 8am I made my way around over 25 pieces of street art, the majority being from the comic route. The route itself has huge pieces of artwork on the sides of buildings dedicated to the legends of the comic book industry who originated from Belgium, and the capital of bande dessinée. These include Hergé (Tintin), Marc Sleen (Nero), Morris (Lucky Luke) and André Franquin (Gaston), amongst many more. It was quite something to see these incredibly bright murals around on the streets, something that the rest of Europe seems to embrace yet the UK sadly doesn’t.

 

After walking part of the route, I looped back round to end up at the Centre belge de la Bande dessinée to which I spent many, many happy hours. The Belgian Comic Strip Centre is in a converted Art Deco building, and upon ascending the flight of stairs you have a small exhibit on the history of comics, explaining the links to ancient cave markings and the Egyptian’s narrative sequences, etc. Next is a big exhibition on the development of comics, showing originals from European comic artists from scripting through to thumbnails, sketches, pencils and inks. It was absolutely fascinating, to the point in which I walked around it a second time when I’d finished to make notes. I was just blown over that such a place exists with no mention of Marvel or DC, and these incredible original pieces of art with varying techniques and the hidden look into how other artists work – I could go on forever (but I won’t, do not fear). Next up was the gallery exhibit of Madame Livingstone by Barly Baruti & Christophe Cassiau-Haurie which is a graphic novel based around Africa during WWI. The artwork is beautiful and I almost bought a copy – but due to the length of the book I’ll await patiently an English translation. There is also a large ‘Wonderland of Comics’ permanent exhibition which I happily spent a long time looking around, a history of the place itself and a really nice Tintin exhibit. Finally there is a temporary exhibition, ‘100 years in the Balkans‘, which was incredibly moving. All in all, I could have easily spent the day there, I definitely recommend it as an excellent place to go. After a somewhat failed mission to travel slightly out of the city to see an indie illustration exhibit which was closed when I got there, I headed back to the centre to visit BOZAR; otherwise known as the Centre for Fine Arts, I went to see a travelling exhibition of Jacques Tardi, featuring original artwork from his documentation of the First World War. “Putain de Guerre !” (Goddamn this war!) and “C’était la Guerre des Tranchées” (It was the war of the trenches) shown with the black and white artwork next to the coloured final pages. They were nothing less than brutal in showing the war in all its unpleasant horror. Although it was all written in French, there are English translations available to purchase, but I have my eye on a special edition out later this year. Thankfully the small amount of French I do know helped me to understand parts of it, and piece together what I didn’t know. On Friday I also went to another centenary-based exhibition at the Bibliothèque royale de Belgique entitled SHOCK! about the chaotic weeks leading up to the beginning of the First World War and Germany invading Belgium. Part of the exhibition focused on the different world we live in now, with how stories are communicated to the masses and how it is completely different to back in 1914. The newspapers and editorial illustrations they had on show were really eye-opening, it was incredibly interesting. Moving on to cheerier topics, I had just enough time to fit in MOOF – Museum of Original Figurines – before I had to depart back to Angleterre. There is a clear focus on kids at this museum which was to be expected, and it’s a really fun place even as an adult. Hergé and Tintin have quite a chunk of space dedicated, as does The Smurfs, with others such as Asterix and Obelix being more for show than for information purposes. There is also a great section on the animating of the cartoons with original artwork too!

Original artwork from Philippe Francq

Oringinal resistance artwork from the 100 Years in the Balkans exhibit
Tintin at the MOOF

With the short time I had I still managed to fit in an overpriced waffle from Grand Place and some delicious frites avec andalouse, plus with some chocolat and bière bought back for my loved ones I consider it a successful visit. I also had enough time to visit Brüsel, a large comic shop and gallery space in the city which had an impressive indie collection and also an English translated section. I managed to be very well behaved and only come away with three books, all in French! So monetary-value to time, given how long it’ll take me to translate it with my small knowledge of the French language its definitely money well spent. I picked up The Adventures of Tintin vol. 12, Le Trésor de Rackham le Rouge (Red Rackham’s Treasure) as it features this really cool submersible ship/vessel that’s looks like a shark. I also picked up Labyrinthum, a quirky little book based on the eternal labyrinth, and finally the pièce de résistance of La Théorie du Grain de Sable, which I was drawn to with the incredible artwork and the use of spot colouring white on beige paper. This book, it turns out, is one of several from a series called Les Cités obscures (The Obscure Cities) created by Belgian comic artist François Schuiten and writer Benoît Peeters, in the early 1980s. The set of graphic novels is based in a parallel universe featuring cities similar to some on earth, including Brussels and the Palaces of Justice. Again, it’ll take me who-knows-how-long to understand it all fully, but the pages are absolutely beautiful (see below).

Les Aventures de Tintin – Le Tresor de Rackham le Rouge
Marc-Antoine Mathieu’s Labyrinthum

And now, back to reality. I’d do it all again tomorrow if I could, but now my taste of adventure is back I’m sure it won’t be long before I escape somewhere else. Alas the summer is drawing to a close with University starting up again next week. So, it’s time to mentally prepare for the stress-induced panicking and how I’m going to juggle my time. I had every intention of entering the Jonathan Cape Graphic Short Story Prize competition, but after stating it before I went to Brussels, I realised that it was never going to be anywhere near good enough with the short amount of time I’d given myself. So, there’s always next year. For now I have plenty of other less-pressured side-projects to keep me occupied and hopefully developing my skills also as I go. Anyway, I think that’s it for now. I’ll be sure to update as often as I can with Uni starting back up again, though for now.. À bientôt! x

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Don’t Compromise, Texturise. Plus HOAX!

So, new website, new blog, potential new audience. Where to start, you ask?

It’s been a while since I had the chance to regularly update my previous blog and no doubt there is lots to go on and on about, but for now I shall just talk about what has been going on most recently. First year of University is over, and I have a whole summer ahead of me of being poor and de-stressed, which gives me the perfect opportunity to spend many lovely hours at my desk. Although the first year of being back in education has been challenging, its given me focus for the coming months to refine my skills ready for the second year starting in September. One of the main reasons for wanting to go to University (not that being a 24 year old juggling work and study amongst partying teenagers isn’t joyful enough as it is) was to gain useful knowledge in using digital software to enhance my work, and that I have learnt! With the basics and some extra free tutorials online I’ve been  experimenting in using textures which has been rather fun. This past week I’ve been playing with acrylic gesso, gouache and clingfilm to make nifty backgrounds for scanning in and putting together with other scanned illustrations.
I’ve already been playing with watercolour washes and scanned linework, which you can see two examples of below! Anyway, that’s what I’m playing about with at the moment. It’s all very hit and miss at the moment but at least it’s pretty fun! Hopefully I’ve have it sussed soon and I can start making better pieces.

Also, this weekend is the official launch of HOAX: Psychosis Blues! You can read all about my work with the project herehere and also here. This is not only the biggest and most important weekend of my career (and life!) because my nearest and dearest have not yet seen my 6-page spread of HOAX, but also because I’m going to be sat alongside a select few of the fellow book illustrators trying not to be a complete fan-girl. Anyway, if anyone is interested in seeing me trying to keep my cool I shall be in Manchester this Saturday:

There will be the book signing at The Travelling Man from 3pm, with the sold out theatre show HOAX My Lonely Heart at the Royal Exchange Theatre and the following late night book launch from 10:30pm. The event page for the launch can be found here. So, if you’re around in Manchester on Saturday then please do come and say hello, it’s going to be a pretty amazing day. Tonight is the opening night for the theatre team so keep your fingers and toes crossed for everyone!

For now though, I shall leave it at that. Over and out.

Entry for ‘Being Human’ – Cheltenham Illustration Awards 2014
Messing around with digital colour and textures
Play time!

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