Monday, 29 June 2015

BOM Summer Camp

Last week I did some illustration work for a forthcoming children's summer school at Birmingham Open Media, drawing characters made up of electronic equipment such as wires, transistors, speakers, batteries and bulbs all having fun together at some kind of groovy circuit party.

Taken from the event brief: Perfect for budding inventors and restless minds, this week-long summer camp teaches kids how to solder, build and program objects that respond to commands! Create your own robot or mystical creature. Take part in a cretinous creature jamboree. Race in a robot rally. Take away your very own invention that will amaze your friends!

Aimed at 7-11 year olds, I was conscious of not making the designs gendered and opted for using bright 'electric' colours on a dark background. Focusing on creativity through STEM (Science, Technology, Engineering and Maths) I also felt it important to convey something of the playful tinkering the event will involve without it becoming too childish or conventionally educational in style - because, let's face it, these kids are the badasses of the future.

Hay Fever

How The Light Gets In could be considered the Hay Fringe; the cooler cousin to the famous Hay Festival just down the road. It was my second visit to this yearly celebration of writing, and this time I just strolled across for some mango lassi ice cream and a few talks, detailed below.

Saturday, 27 June 2015

Yurt Life: How The Light Gets In Festival

Wired and wellied, I stepped off the bus into a beautiful sunny Hay day. Walking through the winding book-laden streets, across a bridge over the River Wye - waving to the canoeists below - I arrived at the Riverside site of How The Light Gets In festival. Here I was wrapped in wristbands and pointed in the direction of a field. This was yurt country. My festival dwellings came in the form of the most well-furnished tent I'd ever seen. Not only could I stand up inside, but there was a real bed frame, hand-embroidered textiles, electricity and enough room to bust some yoga moves should the wellbeing levels need to be raised even higher.

Tuesday, 9 June 2015

Paying Artists Is Good For You

I attended a discussion at Eastside Projects entitled Not Paying Artists Is Bad For You, a public sounding board for the Paying Artists campaign. Led by current advocates for the campaign in Birmingham, Ruth Claxton, Associate Director of Eastside Projects, and Cheryl Jones, Director of Grand Union, the event focused on discussing the issue of securing payment for artists who work in publicly-funded galleries. This may seem to be a straight-forward good idea (after all, artists need to eat too) but forms part of a very worrying state of affairs as we descend into an economy in which fewer and fewer visual artists will be able to sustain their practice unless something changes.

The panel: Elizabeth Rowe / Toby Watley / One Five West / Gavin Wade / Dorothy Wilson / Stuart Whipps

Each speaker presented a short provocation relating to the topic, including GW talking of claiming back the immense value that art generates through public good, and recent graduates OFW (Anna Horton & Sophie Bullock) asking why education doesn't set art out as a viable form of employment. Questions were then pinged around the room from audience to host to speakers and back, addressing wider concerns around the perceived undervaluation of the arts, a lack of guidance or structure surrounding payment, and the risk of finance as a barrier to making.

Thursday, 4 June 2015

All-Nighters: The Dos & Don'ts

It makes some kind of twisted sense that my first wellbeing topic would be about staying up all night. Known for my nocturnal nature - made obvious by being the only person still tweeting at 4am - I find that creativity can really come alive when the lights go out; something I wrote about in more detail in What Hath Night To Do With Sleep? - an article featured in Another Escape #4. However, whether you like staying up or not, sometimes you are presented with a task that may need an overnight push, such as a university deadline, a quick turn-around commission, or a personal goal that you're just desperate to get done whilst your earthly hours are taken up.

Whatever your reason for going all night, here are some things to think about before you sail boldly into early morning oblivion.

Sunday, 17 May 2015

BUST Craftacular

This morning I am going to London to buy a Heat magazine for my first market in the capital; BUST Craftacular at York Hall, Bethnal Green. To celebrate I've been busy making some little rosettes this week especially for customers to wear on their lapel, bag, hat, horse... wherever they fancy, frankly. These little creations turned out to be simple in their construction, made from paper, glue, stickers and brooch bars. It has been really refreshing to make something more physically by folding, holding, cutting and sticking rather than staring at a 2D page and trying to make something happen, with the repetition of doing the same processes becoming quite a mind calmer.

Looking forward to meeting the other crafters and comparing paper cuts, as well as accessorising the inevitably lovely Craftacular crowds with some country fair / political party chic. Now y'all just have to pick your favourite.

Thursday, 14 May 2015

Pencils And Pixels

I took it upon myself to design some new branding for the things that I make and sell - such as prints, zines and cards - desiring to trade these under the name Byng Inc. through an online shop and at craft markets. Finding it difficult to take this area of my fledgling business seriously, I thought it would help to establish a visual identity for the 'shop' element separately to me as an individual creative. This meant that it needed to be distinctive to customers in a way that my project-based arc doesn't, and also shout a little louder about its bad self.

Here are some of the things I thought about when creating it:

+ Hand-finished        + Bold                  - Messy                - Busy
+ Professional           + Structure          - Corporate          - Forgettable
+ Colossal                 + Line                  - Shy                   - Pre-existing
+ Contrasting            + Scalable            - Illegible            - Jumbled

Friday, 8 May 2015

Scenes Of A Political Nature

In the run up to tonight's general election I have spent many an evening watching the leader's debates and scribbling away at my desk, enchanted by the array of weird and not-so-wonderful candidates presented before me. Exploring their malleable faces has been very fun (seen here looking like the beginning of a political Guess Who? game) but also turned out to be a good way of prompting discussion with my followers and friends about what we want the future of this country to look like.

Now, as the votes come in, slowly, two things are for sure: 1) The landscape of British politics is shifting, with the rise of interest in smaller parties showing that people are looking for something different. 2) The new prime minster is in this post somewhere. Let's pray it's not the guy who looks like a thumb.

Sunday, 3 May 2015

Exploring Form: Pick Me Up 2015

Yesterday I travelled to The Big Smoke to visit theme park of the illustration world Pick Me Up at Somerset House. Attending the festival each year since graduating in 2012, I find it a good excuse to get creative chums together to talk about the discipline over coffee from the comfort of a cardboard tee-pee. I remember turning up in 2013 armed with my job seekers letter to get a concession ticket and, whilst a lot has changed sine then, it still feels relevant to my own practice to pay attention to PMU's selections and showcases, as well as indulging my appetite for eye candy.

Here are 5 words that go some way to summarising my experience of this year's festival:

Sunday, 19 April 2015

Craft Fair Weather Friends

On Saturday 11th April the accolade of my first market of the year went to Three Thinking Collective, a group of small-business-owning ladies from Birmingham who have come together to put on their own craft events. Their debut market took place on a sunny day in The Prince of Wales' beer garden in Moseley; soon bustling with punters looking to enjoy some independent shopping & hot dogs in the sunshine, all washed down with a cheeky pint.

My offerings included zines, limited edition prints, and my new line of silly boyband cards. Not an expert stall holder by any means, my arrangement was a far cry from some vendours who had stands, shelves, vintage suitcases; all manner of professional-looking props to make their products look the biz, also maximising the use of the table space by showcasing upwards and outwards. For me, this was the first time I'd even brought my own table covering and, whilst it was an old duvet cover, I took pride in that. I also managed to prop Bill Murray up steadfast & certain, meaning that, despite the bursts of wind rippling though the patio, he wasn't going anywhere.