Friday, 25 November 2011

Paper wings & old camera film

If you were an animal, what kind of animal would you be? I would definitely be a bird. 

Last year I made a paper bird as part of my MA summer project, and I wrote all the things I loved on its feathers - like paper, apples, etc. Recently I found a roll of very old camera film that needed using up. Again the film has been over-exposed, but has turned it into even more of a rainbow bird. 

I also took some photographs of a page from one of my sketchbooks - although she is crying, to me the girl looks happier now - maybe it's the effect of the colours again.

Monday, 7 November 2011

Filters and floods

My first attempt at using a Diana camera was a bit ham-fisted.

That's my brother! With his super fancy digital SLR

I loaded the film wrong and probably over-exposed it too, though the colours in the pictures were beautiful. Good collage material. Here are some illustrations from the photos I salvaged. 

I cut some of the photographs up and arranged them in slide pockets. 

Then I scanned the pockets and messed around with them from there. 
I got the slide-pocket idea from a textiles project designed for A-level students. I think it's a really good way to generate a lot of imagery from one source. 

These house ones make me think of electrical storms....maybe the hurricane in 'The Wizard of Oz'. 
Or a real-life hurricane - maybe that's what it would feel like to have your home wrecked by bad weather, with bits of the house fragmented everywhere. 
I've been thinking about this a bit recently anyway - my Granddad's house was ruined by floods in Towyn in the 90's, and I've been writing about it for my MA project. 

Saturday, 5 November 2011

Arts and Crafts

I just want to share something a bit different; it's a project by ceramicist Beccy Ridsdel, entitled 'Art/Craft'. Click on the photo for a full overview on Beccy's website. It's basically taking the mick out of the perceived gap between 'high art' and craft.

I think it's so clever, articulate, and funny, too - I wonder quite a bit about the differences between calling someone an artist or a craftsperson, and this sums up the conundrum really neatly. Plus I like the way it has a bit of a story behind it, and the mental image of a beardy ceramic-surgeon looking utterly puzzled over his findings...

Friday, 4 November 2011

The best sketchbook in the world...Ever

I've finally found it. The best format for spilling ideas I could ever imagine - today I got a concertina sketchbook from the art shop at university! 
I've never seen one in a shop before...I had imagined such things, and considered making one, but like many crazy ideas, it never happened...and suddenly, today, there it was. Perfect. A bargain at 6 quid.

Don't roll your eyes! There are so many great things about this. A concertina means you don't have to wait for one page to dry before you start a new one, so you can work really quickly. It makes drawing more fluid, because each page flows from one to the next, so everything connects up's the perfect way to make a never-ending story, a full-on, rolling, stream of consciousness picture...argh I'm going into colossal geek-meltdown, but I don't care, stuff like this makes me so happy! 

I've spent the whole afternoon filling it up. It's not finished yet but here are a few quick pics (taken by my housemate Amyas, on his super-clever iphone that makes montage photos...the fun never ends!).  

The only thing that could trump this would be a massive roll of blank wallpaper - that's going to be my next purchase. 
What can I say, I'm a cheap date.

The full length feature film spectacle! Look how long my arms are

Thursday, 3 November 2011

Apple Pip George

I'm currently doing an MA in Illustration. This week we completed a group project, and invent a modern-day cautionary tale. It was silly and lots of fun - my group made up a story about a little boy who ignores his Grandad's advice to 'never eat apple pips or you will turn into a tree!'. We wrote a very quick story, divided it up between us and made 2 illustrations each per section. We used the same image of the little boy in each illustration to keep it consistent.  
My first picture introduces George, and my second shows him ignoring his Grandad. The story ends with him trying to prove his Grandad wrong, by putting apple pips in his food, and turning him into a tree. The illustrations by other members of the group, not shown here (though I'll try and get their permission!) were really lovely...though unfortunately our presentation was a bit of a technical disaster! 

Wednesday, 5 October 2011

Do something

Here are some pictures of a book work in progress called 'Do Something'. It's based on two lines I used to scribble in my notebook to keep me working - 'Don't just sit there because you are bored, do something to make life sing'. 

I started making it after I finished university in 2006 and it was never finished, so it's become my current project. These photographs were taken on my mobile phone so are pretty poor quality and the colours are not very clear. You can just about tell I've printed on magenta cartridge paper, which is a bit too much for every page, but I think bright pink definitely does work as an addition to some of the drawings! I'll post up pictures of the finished book soon, I hope. 

Wednesday, 28 September 2011


Some sticker designs I've been making recently. Click on the switch for something else.

Tuesday, 27 September 2011

The oldest story

These pictures were inspired by a story from the Mabinogion - 'Math, son of Mathonwy'. They were proposed as artwork for the bar and brasserie of a North Wales hotel I used to work in a few years ago. Here's an abridged version of the story - as you can imagine, it all makes perfect sense, in the way that folklore soap operas do!

Math, Lord over Gwynedd, and Gwydion, son of Don, were both powerful magicians - but Gwydion tried to steal Math's lady, Goewin, for his brother Gilfaethwy. As punishment, Math turned the brothers into animals and sent them into exile. 

After three years Math let them return, making them human again. He asked Gwydion to choose a wife -  good of him, under the circumstances. Gwydion asked for Aranrhod, Math's niece - but through magic, they discovered she was not a 'maid' (ahem), and had a son, Dylan Eil Ton. She was sent away from court, but gave Gwydion a secret gift as she went, which he stored in a chest at the foot of his bed. One day it turned into a baby boy. 
I don't know what kind of gift that was... 

Gwydion went to find Aranrhod to bring her their child, but she was not pleased. She cursed the baby, saying that it would not have a name unless it was she who named him.

So the boy went nameless, until Gwydion played an elaborate trick on Aranrhod in order to gain a name for his son.

He built a ship from seaweed....

'...and where he saw dulse and sea-girdle he made a ship by magic;
and out of the seaweed and dulse he made cordwain, much of it...'

'....and he put colours on them so that no-one had ever seen leather more lovely than that'.

Gwydion and his son boarded the ship and used it as a place to make beautiful shoes. Aranrhod became curious and wanted a pair for herself. Yes, that's right, she's a woman, and she was won over by the prospect of new shoes...

Anyway, she saw how quickly and cleverly the boy made the shoes, and not recognising him, commented on how deft the 'fair one's' hands were. So the boy got his name - 'Lleu Llaw Gyffes', or 'Fair one, deft hands'.

After that, the work 'vanished into dulse and seaweed'.

What an amazing, crazy and illogical story - the best kind! But I chose it because of the traditional element - and also, the story is local to the situation of the hotel. The text contains a lot of strong imagery, referring to the sea, seaweed, boats, cordwain, water and finally the colours. As the hotel was on a quay, that formed much of its identity - so I thought it would be quite fitting. 

I made all these images really quickly, so now I've noticed how I exhausted just a few pieces of text, and I can see lots of things I would like to add or change, or ways that I could have gone into more detail, or drawn out parts of the story more effectively...but I do like it overall. It's one of many, many things I'd love to spend more time with, if time wasn't an issue (or if I was a powerful magician, like Math, and could control it....).

Wednesday, 21 September 2011

Small shakeys


Some 'stings' made for the showreel of exhibition 'The Day The Rain Turned To Paint', at the Zion Centre in Manchester, a few years ago. Organized together with the energetic, dynamic and colourful Manchester artist Anna Smith, it gathered work by local artists, performers, filmmakers and photographers. 

Saturday, 17 September 2011

Blue Hearts

Here's another one - I made it during my second year at Man Met. I don't know what's happened to the sound on it, how unprofessional. 


I made this animation about three years ago. It was made without access to a lightbox, line tester etc - I just used my scanner and laptop. It's all scanned images or pics drawn on photoshop, so it's a wee bit clunky...but I sort of quite like it. I can't remember why I did it, or why it is about hearts. I think it was just an experiment. 
I draw hearts quite a lot, usually subconsciously, when I'm doodling - their shape is very satisfying. They take on different meanings whether you draw them softly, or raggedly, or scrawly...or at least, that's what I think. 

Tuesday, 6 September 2011

From my archives...Nic and Jo's Wedding Invitations

Invite 1Invite 2 - reverseWristband and sticker logoInvite ideaInvite ideaInvite back blue
Invite back black and blueRecipe card

Invitation designs for my friends' wedding last year. Another set of images I didn't want to gather dust on my computer hard-drive...and the next few posts on this blog will be dedicated to an archeological dig of my portfolio.

Sunday, 4 September 2011

Apple strudel and arts and crafts

Last night I met the lovely Emma Gatrill, a Brighton based musician (she sings, plays the harp and the clarinet, and probably many other things - all at once! Well, maybe...), and we had a spontaneous arts and crafts session in my bedroom, making a CD case and pocket for a demo of her album - here are the results. Not shown here is the back, onto which I attached a handmade, turquoise envelope with a secure flap to contain the CD. The drawing on the front is one I did a while ago, but spookily it looks a little like Emma. 
Have a listen to a preview of Emma's album here

Photographed by Amyas.

Cutting out and sticking things in good company is fun enough by itself, so what on earth could make the evening any better, I hear you ask (yes, you're asking, I know you are)? I'll tell you what - an Austrian feast, cooked up by my housemate and his girlfriend. Seven of us sitting round our stout little coffee table, chowing down on wiener schnitzel, potato salad, and home-made apple strudel with ice cream, plus quite a lot of wine, and then some coffee. Yes please! 

Tuesday, 30 August 2011

Magpie Walk

This is the first drawing I made for this story. I quite like but it needs developing....

A few months ago, at the end of May, I walked home up the big hill after work. It was summer, but it didn't feel warm at all - the air was thick and spongey with clouds and it was threatening to rain.  
I don't know why I felt so tired. The clouds seemed to be pressing down on my shoulders and wrapping themselves around my ankles, making each step slow and heavy. I could have fallen asleep on my feet, if only there had been some way to drift home. 
I was alone and I wished somebody was with me to pull me up that hill. 
It started to rain. Not heavy, fast rain, but the fine rain that makes lace in your hair and your clothes. 
The only way I could keep walking was to imagine a giant arm wrapped around my shoulder, somebody gently coaxing me forward. I imagined strings around my feet, and birds tugging at them as we inched upwards. It made me feel better. As I became more tired, the arm around my shoulder turned into a huge wing, like a soft, fluttering umbrella. 
Finally I reached my front door. A magpie was hopping around on the pavement. I fished around in my bag for my keys, and noticed that the rain had soaked my left side, but my right side had stayed dry. So I said 'hello' to the Magpie (it's bad luck not to); and then I said 'thank you', too, and went inside.  

Thursday, 18 August 2011

The Sketchbook Project

A long, long time ago (well, it feels that way - but really it was just last year) I took part in the Sketchbook Project coordinated by Art-house Co-op. You sign up to take part, pick a theme (I picked Jackets, Blankets and Sheets), they send you a sketchbook and you have to fill it. Simple. I'd completely forgotten I'd done it, so it was nice surprise to get an e-mail telling me that my sketchbook has been digitized and is now online. You can see it here! And maybe sign up to take part in the next one while you're at it. 

Friday, 10 June 2011

Salford Degree Show and more

I've been at Salford University this week for the Graphic Design BA (Hons) degree show. Graduating students are exhibiting their work at The Hive from Wednesday June 15th, with a special industry afternoon/evening on Thursday 16th June. Anybody in Manchester should go along and see fantastic work on display from Lottie Pencheon, David Ryan Robinson and too many others to mention. Expect giant cats, plastic aeroplanes, a huge array of hand-made books and zines and creatures galore. Not to mention quality graphic design and moving image work. 

Also happening in Manchester now at Mr Thomas' Chophouse is Unleashed: The Best in the North. This is a great opportunity to see and buy artwork from some of the best undergraduate illustration students in the Northwest, including loads from Salford. 
This post is linked up to the eyeballs, so there's no excuse not to go and have a good pint and admire some splendid pics at the same time.