Sunday, 12 July 2015

Growing Out: Thoughts On Turning 25

I turned 25 last month; as a June baby one of the last to do so amongst my friends. Across my 24th year I'd started hearing a new phrase: I'm getting too old for this. Chums began to disappear abruptly from nights of drinking early, and conversations always seemed to move towards some kind of mutual paranoia that their lives were being wasted. Bummer. Along with that cheery thought, Buzzfeed links were flying everywhere called things like 25 Signs You're About To Turn 25, 25 Things That Get Harder After Age 25 & 25 Signs That You're Having A Quarter Life Crisis. I feared the worst. 25 had started to look boring as f*ck, and I began to wonder if I would just wake up to find all the youthful energy sucked from my soul by 25 fun vampires with party straws.

Something I've realised in the weeks since is that growth and change don't have anything to do with age, it's about how you let yourself feel in respect of it. I firmly believe we choose what we carry around with us; what labels we adopt when forming our self identity and how we regard them. If we let a society that prizes unaged faces make us feel old, even at the midpoint of our twenties, we will live up to associations we have attached to that. Equally if we reject the idea of growing older altogether we may hold on to an 'escape route' of traits linked to younger selves - such as the more carefree days when we were a student - rather than moving upwards and outwards in order to find new elements to add to and enrich our sense of self.

With that in mind, here are my personal reflections on what standing inside 25 means to me.

Friday, 10 July 2015

Bees In A Tin

In its own words, "Bees In A Tin is a celebration of interesting people who make interesting interfaces for the world around them", drawing me in with its promise of custard to punch and with the aim of learning about new projects using technology creatively. Taking place on a Friday afternoon at Millennium Point, 'twas a gathering of creatives, makers, scientists and researchers who for whatever reason weren't stuck in an office somewhere; myself slotted neatly into the lecture theatre - very prepared to take lots of notes and refuel with the free lunch.

Here are some of the ideas that inspired me:

Wednesday, 1 July 2015

The Royal Pear

There comes a point in any design project when the client says: "We really like the pear." Wait... what?
I was asked to design a logo for the My Worcester project by Worcester City Museum and Art Gallery, with a brief to take inspiration from icons of Worcestershire and illuminated manuscripts. Keen to freshen things up a bit, I kept the traditional text clean and bold, and drew such Worcester-centric items as Elgar, Worcester Cathedral, Royal Worcester porcelain and the Worcester Black Pear as a basis from which to work. My initial design sheet full of bits and pieces is shown above, with a couple of developments using these elements below.

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