Sunday, 25 November 2012


"Readily available for us to absorb, extrapolate and borrow, everything from historical documents right up to celebrity musings from a few seconds ago is ours for the taking."
I have been busy sculpting another illustrated article for Another Escape, now in its fourth issue! Following my thoughts on inspiration for the last issue, this time I have chosen to tackle the subject of originality; namely whether it really is, as is so often proclaimed: dead. You'll be pleased to hear the conclusion I draw is largely a positive one, centred around the notion that the individual can be empowered by embracing what is around them in the right way, rather than drowning in existing content, or perhaps trying to shy away from its influences altogether.
Despite AE 4 not set for release until next year (in a bigger and better format) I thought I would reward those who follow what I get up to with a preview of the illustrations headed for it, along with snippets of accompanying text. I appreciate AE letting me regularly write and draw for them; a great opportunity as I think all too often an illustrators' voice can be underestimated, put to one side in favour of visualizing the voices of others.
"Instead of drowning in a cornucopia of ‘stuff’, I think it is important to accept that yes, we are bombarded by existing concepts, but we are the filter through which it all passes."

"How we process that which is around us is distinctive; even with identical starting matter people can create completely unique interpretations."

Thanks for looking and listening as always; can't wait to see these scrawls in print!

Saturday, 17 November 2012

Love At First Sight.

Yesterday I fashioned a little poster for grad film Love At First Sight: A Romantic DocumentaryA call to all those serendipitous lovers out there, the drawing is based on Stanley Kubrick's Life & Love on the New York City Subway, one of my favourite photosets of all time. Can't say I blame the broad in this image; who could resist those charming leg cuffs?

You too can support the film in lots of different ways here.

Thursday, 15 November 2012

MCR Artists Books III : People

The little heroes I met at Manchester Artists Book Fair are absolutely deserving of their own post, making this the final entry in an indulgent blog triptych. While Laurie took over manning the stall I went to spend some of my earnings and meet the people behind the books; literally and metaphorically.

One of the first stallholders I visited was Cally Barker, and I instantly fell in love with her knitted book covers. She described herself as the wild knitter of Bedfordshire and I can see why. Taking on classic pieces of design and master's paintings with wool, the other crafters must certainly raise eyebrows over their biege cardigan patterns. I had a lot of warmth for this lady, as she quite rightly declared, "well it wouldn't be a book fair without some penguin classics, now would it?"

Next I talked to this chap, Alex Pritchard. No stranger to a book fair it turns out, he was exhibiting thought-provoking books that put the planet we call home into brain-exploding (or imploding) perspective. In front of him you can see his Pocket Orrery (above); that's a book of the planets at relative size to you and me, with removable pages to create your own scale model. He even made the little bags.
Truly wonderful stuff, but his pièce de résistance for me however, was this badboy:

The preface states: "In this book there are 316,227 dots each representing a star. For each 'star' in this book imagine another copy of this book. That is how many stars are within our galaxy. Carrying on this train of thought, imagine that each dot is a galaxy. For each 'galaxy' there is another book of dots. That is the estimated number of galaxies in the entire universe." I walked around the rest of the fair with this information reverberating around in my skull. 'The universe is utterly awesome', I thought.

Without getting mushy about this guy, he really was a bit of a smiling gem. Even reminded me a bit of Prof Brian Cox. You can visit AP's online store here to buy your own paper interplanetary nebulas, etc.

The next illuminating individual I met was Jan Hopkins, the miner's daughter who, amongst other things, wires books with simple yet smart circuitry. Particularly taken with her You Are Here projects (above) in which LEDs are activated by finger pressure, I feel she was the exhibiting artist who most pushed what books could do. Particularly relevant in the age of digital kindle "books", I think I'd choose the hands-on joy of her electronic paper every time. Catch all her works in progress here:; who knows what she'll try next.

My personal favourite / the stand at which I parted with most money was that of Café Royal Books, where I picked up 2 issues of publisher & editor-in-chief Craig Atkinson's photography zines.

Inside and out monochromatic scenes of life completely whetted my visual appetite. Reminiscent of the candid photography of Martin Parr, each page hung still in the air like a carefully pitched note. Exquisite, striking, gorgeous, in short all of Café Royal's publications were right up my street, and I will be following them closely from now on.

As a final word, there was one person at the book fair that I never met. Infact, no-one did. The stallholder next to us didn't turned up, generating much mystery and bafflement, with some visitors even asking if I was her.
Forever a mystery, I drew a picture of what I think she might look like. If you see her, tell her Synthia says hi.

MCR Artists Books II : Moments

The second day of the fair was a little quieter, so me and Laurie took it in turns to explore. As an avid people watcher, the fair was like a candy store for me, happy to observe the day unfolding while L circulated the stalls. There were exquisite moments happening everywhere I looked, strange, lovely, sometimes funny, always personal moments between people and each other, as well as between people and paper.

Grabbing the camera to snap up little fleeting events and expressions, I also enjoyed hastily drawing some of the characters to be found at the fair. I sometimes dismiss such swift studies in favour of capturing more detail at a later date, but I think these scrawls reflect the intimacy and pace of the fair as they were made in the moment.

10 points for spotting Frida Kahlo.

MCR Artists Books I : Opening

Finally, I have found a spare moment to collate the thoughts, pictures and artifacts that arose from Manchester Artists Book Fair last month! Me and Laurie Ramsell made the great journey Up North to promote and sell copies of his art & science magazine Synthia at this Hot Bed Press-orchestrated event, with my work and that of talented illustration explorer Kate Rowland also on show as some of Synthia's primary contributors.
Arriving at MMU with some hefty boxes of printed matter, we set out our wares upon our designated table unsure what to expect from the day. Situated next to the kindly creators of Surrealist Editions, we quickly felt at home amongst the table-clothed islands of, well, a rather eclectic collection of... stuff.

Painters, photographers, illustrators, knitters, printers. Doers, thinkers, makers, shakers, binders, finders; I was truly fascinated by the diversity of those displaying. As the finishing touches were applied to carefully tended and slapdash stalls alike, it was clear that visitors to the fair had a rich array of unique objects awaiting them. All were conjoined, simply, by an appreciation of books; whatever form they could take and whatever they could house.

As soon as the event commenced a steady flow of punters traveled in laborious waves around the room, surveying wares slowly with care and caution at first. It soon began to pick up pace, with lots of enthusiastic students / tutors visiting along with those partaking in the fair's spin-off book making workshops, so conversation was lively and very enjoyable from the beginning. This dissolved my nerves about how best to interact with those who came to visit us at stand Synthia, at first wary that I didn't want to disturb them while they were browsing (...but really just wanting a good chinwag). This was not a library, or at least not a conventional one.

There was a great feeling of respect for what was on display from everyone I interacted with, despite such huge differences in approach or interests. Sales were plentiful but more importantly for me; meaningful, with each person who took something away brimming with positivity as they made their selection. The fair had definitely created an environment that I wanted to stay in.
Thank goodness we got to come back again tomorrow.

Wednesday, 14 November 2012

Crotch: A Teaser.

Too excited to wait. Here's a little teasing pair of legs from my work for upcoming Another Escape 4

Monday, 12 November 2012


The second poem for Commas & Colons was Millions by Konnor Thorpe. I really enjoyed my first taste of interpreting poetry through drawing, and it is (already) definitely something I want to revisit.


brutal men dressed in wool and whiskey
and cigarette smoke
talk about their wives
war stories
waiter waits
blue button eyes
didn’t win the jackpot

never do
he says
maybe next week
always next week
ain’t it
twenty million dollars
what couldn’t you buy

- words by Konnor Thorpe.

Again you can find my illustration alongside its muse here as part of the ,&; 'Achoo' issue.


I was asked to illustrate two poems for Commas & Colons magazine, to be included in their latest edition celebrating short poetry and prose. Both poems were written by Konnor Thorpe, who uses a rhythmic, well-formatted style that I enjoyed responding to. For the first, Jailisco, I drew this little ramshackle taqueria and visiting scorpion under the hot sun.


car bombing last week

but the old men still haggle over trinkets
with the gringos in the market
and the young men still exchange fire
in the dust and the cobblestone
leave a van full of heads
and another full of bodies

somewhere out in the desert
scorpion crawls by
translucent in november sun
too small to hiss or sting
or say anything at all
lost again
under the shadow of
a roadside

- words by Konnor Thorpe.

You can see my illustration alongside other responses to Konnor's work here.

Tuesday, 6 November 2012

The Internet Has No Edges.

Internet believer and all-round modern maverick Andy Field visited the mac today. He spoke to us cannon hill collectivers about how to make the most of representing ourselves idiosyncratically online and the www’s potential for dynamic collaborations. Here are the notes I made, including his wise words that the internet is limitless and ‘not finished yet’, an interesting thought that lead me to see the internet in a new way – a vast, albeit unregulated, universe of information that we can find our place within.

Inspiring stuff.
Plus a drawing for good measure.