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.

Thursday, 16 April 2015

Easter Inspiration

I decided to take some of my own advice and forged out some space to go on a little Easter adventure. A couple of days running amok in the capital has reset my mounting stress levels back to a cool 0 and I feel strangely refreshed for someone who spent the majority of the weekend underground. Here are some of the things I got up to.

Coral Reefs: Secret Cities of the Sea
Fighting past all the little knee-high monsters queuing to the see the dinosaurs, I visited the temporary Coral Reefs exhibition at the National History Museum. Not usually inspired by natural forms, the different shapes and textures were enchanting, lending themselves to different types of mark-making. Some of the names were also amazing, such as Slipper Coral and Potato Chip Coral. Sounds like a good combination for a night in if you ask me.

Wednesday, 8 April 2015

#1.1 HOW TO: Begin Again

It's funny how things work out.

In January 2014 I wrote a post called How To Begin. Some of you may even have read it. The first instalment of a new project; a monthly creative HOW TO driven by things I've learned about the things I'm trying to get better at, I said. Well monthly it was not, despite my greatest intentions, leading to a wonderfully ironic first step; a beginning with nothing to follow it. I should be a little embarrassed about not meeting this public claim, but I have been guilty of setting myself unachievable goals, infinite to-do lists and exhibiting symptoms of too-many-ideas-at-once syndrome throughout my life; half-finished ambitious personal projects being one of them.

Trying hard always has the potential to lead to falling harder. We are particularly susceptible to suffering damage when we truly put ourselves into something as it's all too easy to take the results personally. Creating and dwelling on problems with our very self rather than the specific task or particular instance can really affect our confidence towards moving forward. It's like an elastic band: the more energy put in, the more that can come back and smack us in the face. The thing is, these efforts are also where the sweetest successes could be waiting for us; the deepest loves, the truest passions, the greatest achievements. The rewards, it would seem, are worth the risk. But how do we convince ourselves of that when we are feeling the effects of a personal failure?

Monday, 6 April 2015

Cowboys & Robots & Sharks, Oh My!

Another weekend, another fun-filled workshop with Flatpack. This one was centred around youngsters designing their own film posters, using my illustrated kit sheet, coloured paper and letter stencils. Held in mac birmingham's public space alongside illustration heroes Anorak, it was really busy with crowds seeming to come in waves, filling the space to burst between screenings and crucial family food breaks. It was wonderful to be sat at the table myself, listening to the participants' ideas for their films, what art class was like at their schools and of course, helping with the cutting out, with some kids staying happily and crafting their masterpieces for hours.

Monday, 30 March 2015

How To Get Big On The Internet

I recently attended the last in a series of Creative How To talks by Amy Martin, entitled How to Get Big on the Internet. No stranger to this manner of creative career navigation session (having followed the previous Cannon Hill Lectures series at mac birmingham and generally spending time gathering as many nuggets of wisdom about how to move forward in the arts as possible), I was surprised by how much the talk gripped me by the shoulders and gave me a renewed sense of optimism towards my own online presence.

The exciting part was that the internet had aided the careers of each speaker in lots of different ways, including being asked to speak at events, run workshops and write articles directly as a result of the content they create and distribute online. It was these potential benefits to social media engagement that I had begun to lose faith in, always enjoying it on a personal level but beginning to doubt if it could help me professionally; something that this session injected with a fresh sense of possibility.

Wednesday, 25 March 2015

The Character Factory

This weekend I led my first ever workshop. a little drop-in number for kids following Flatpack Film Festival's Cartoon Rock screening. I was crazy nervous in the run up, partly because I haven't conducted workshops of my own design before and didn't know what to expect, but also due to imagining kids swallowing small parts or getting paper cuts - I mean, nobody likes a boo-boo. Armed with safety scissors, pritt sticks & a variety of coloured paper shapes (lovingly hand cut, like posh chips) I descended on the Birmingham & Midland Institute and got set up.

Fresh out of a morning film session and armed with bowls of cereal, lots of children filled the tables and began working with the shapes in front of them. Circulating and chatting to the families taking part, it was nice to see both parties regarding the creations as characters with personalities and traits, with one little girl making a rather abstract fellow called "plap-plap" who enjoyed drinking wine, with another youngster declaring their creature's favourite food was "vegetarian fruit". The shapes began to come alive with the imagination of their maker.