Sunday, 14 May 2017


Guys, I love Eurovision.

Yes, I know, the music is terrible. I hate most of it. Yes, I know it's political. That's half the fun. Yes, I know the hosts are always cringey and it's hard to believe this is the best Europe has to offer. This is the joy of it.

I have watched Eurovision every year since I was born... Always with my mum, till I left home, and then since then, with various delightful groups of friends. Last night I thought might be my first time ever going it alone, but housemate Justin stepped up at the last minute, and we had a whale of a time.

Growing up with my mum, we'd take detailed (often quite bitchy) notes on each of the acts to enable us to make an informed decision about who to vote for at the end (because it's easy to forget what each country's offering was, if you don't!)

In recent years, this has evolved into doing illustrations of all the acts... It's a good opportunity to try and hone my terrible figure drawing skills at speed (spoiler: still terrible), and even though it makes for a pretty intense two hours, it definitely enhances my experience of the whole thing.

This year was, I think, better than my previous years (links above)... Still got a long way to go though...

Monday, 1 May 2017


So when we moved to Hebden Bridge in February, I started getting over enthusiastic and leaping on every bandwagon I possibly could in order to make friends/get work/get involved with stuff in the local area.

This included a wild punt at getting a table at this summer's Hebden Bridge print fair (despite not reeeeally being a print maker). Remarkably, they accepted my application, and now I need to become a printmaker before July.

(I make this sound frivolous, but printmaking is genuinely something I've been wanting to get more involved with for a long time, so this is the perfect motivator).

With this in mind, I've booked myself a screenprinting session at The Egg Factory, and that date is now rapidly rushing up at me.

I had this idea that I want to make some beautiful two-colour prints designed to sit either individually or in sets. The cold hearted cynic in my tried to think about what would reliably sell, and the answer I came up with was 'everyone loves nature, right?'

I pondered a bit more about something that wasn't just a pretty drawing of some flowers, and, inspired by my now many many hours of walking the dog in the local area, decided to create a set of three prints titled 'look up', 'look down', and 'look around'. I was almost certainly inspired by the wonderful Cara Courage's 'look up' project, although weirdly the 'look down' idea was what came first to me, because I'd been seeing so much fascinating stuff around my feet as I strolled along.

So I made this set of three illustrations...

Look up...
Look down...

Look around...

But you know what, fun though these were, the city is where my heart will always lie. So I created a companion urban set...

Look up...
Look down...
Look around...
(TBH guys, I like the urban ones loads more)

I wanted to take a fun typographic layered approach (as regular readers of this blog will see a lot in my visual diaries), so the below versions are what I'm planning on printing (probably in roughly these colours, although I'll see what free leftover inks the Egg Factory have got knocking around when I'm in!)

So... I enjoy the typography, but do you guys like it? I wonder if they're better without and I should just do them as single colour screenprints but that seems kind of boring? I love the way layered inks interact, and the transparency colour mixes that are created, so I'd really like to go in for two colour versions if possible.

Another possibility is to sit the urban and rural side by side, like so...

Or perhaps the three views together (this would be a three colour screenprint which would be more work but maybe that's fine)

I'd genuinely like your thoughts. Do you even like these at all? Would you hang them on your wall? Which version do you prefer? For the versions without the text, I'd still have the title written very small in the bottom corner along with my signature and edition number, so the meaning wouldn't be totally lost, it would just be less overt. I'm incresingly thinking I really like those three colour ones, but I'd have to charge more for them, and they'd be a bit bigger, so maybe not as sellable...?

Although my colour choices are limited to an extent by what the Egg Factory have in stock, are there any rough colour combos you'd like to see?

Is there anything else fun I could do with these drawings in a screenprinting context that I've not thought of?

Basically I've got my screenprinting session booked in for this Thursday and I've got THE FEAR because I'll be spending a reasonable amount of money on studio time and paper and ink, and I don't want to get it totally wrong and make something that no one is interested in.

(Other pre-July projects I need to get onto include a new riso zine in collaboration with my friend Harriet, some kind of screenprinted tote bag because I love tote bags, and also just generally digging through my archives to see what past pieces might work well resurrected as a riso or screen print poster. Oh and I'd love to do some lino cutting if I get time but that MAY be over ambitious...)

New collaborations...

With Alex's Queen writings over, as a couple, we were lacking a collaborative project.

Now this is clearly far from an essential part of being in a relationship, but still, it's nice to be creative together, and Alex has been keen to continue writing, and I (when I have time/motivation) enjoy doing random quick editorial style illustrations, so we're keeping up a similar approach to the Queen blog, albeit less frenetic (I hope).

The first of these new writing projects is Tactics and Tactility, in which Alex writes about boardgames in great depth. So far for both projects, I've basically just been taking comissions from Alex, who says things like 'maybe draw me drowning in a pile of poker chips' and I oblige. I quite like a good firm brief and then testing to see if I can make it a reality.

(Read about Splendor here)

We actually started working on this blog together quite a long time ago, but my initial illustrations were lacklustre at best, mostly because I was already drawing upwards of 10 Queen illustrations a month, on top of my day job and freelance work, so my motivation was somewhat lacking. (i.e. don't scroll back too far, guys)

We've both come back to it fresh though, and I'm trying harder now...
Others include...

("Possibly a little statue of Maria Theresa's head, only it's fallen over and top's cracked open and loads of playing cards are falling out???")

(Terraforming Mars)
("I reckon this wants a simple picture of Sputnik with plants and flowers (abstracted or not) bursting out of it.")

The other project we're working on together is Alex's second new blog about perfectly crafted pop songs, called 'explodeypops'. I wholeheartedly do NOT endorse that name, while (so far) wholeheartedly endorsing the content.

Pharoahs is a banger, and for it I created Alex being poured into a Martini glass.

Like I say, I quite enjoy quick standalone little editorial illustrations, and this is a good chance to flex those muscles. (Although I do sort of feel like I should be getting half of the Patreon income [side-eye])

I still don't like Queen

As documented in previous blog posts, my partner Alex took it upon themself to write a detailed and entirely subjective review of every single Queen song, which, if you're interested in such things, you can find here.

Queen wrote a lot of songs, you guys. 16 albums worth, which working at a rate of an album a month, meant the project lasted well over a year. I'm not entirely sure how either of us sustained it to be honest, and I'm bloody glad it's over, although I did create some things that please/entertain me.

The thing with these forced drawing projects (or as some would call them, 'comissions') — you just have to do it (within reason, obvs). Doesn't matter if the subject isn't particularly inspiring or you can't really be bothered that day...

I owe a debt of gratitude to some of the incredible copyright free historic image libraries on Flickr, The British Library and Internet Archive Book Images being just a couple of examples.

I probably fell into patterns of sameiness with some of these (or maybe that's called having a personal style?) but I made some fun repeat patterns, some silly puns, and some standalone pieces that I'm genuinely proud of.

Many of them were awful, but here are a few of my favourites from the last few months — in the rush of moving house back in January, I forgot to share these at the time. (See blogs above for more of my favourites from the older months.)


Back Chat

Put out the fire

Life is real (Song for Lennon)

Calling all girls

Machines (or back to humans)

I want to break free (predictably)

Hammer to fall

A kind of magic

Pain is so close to pleasure

Gimme the prize (Kurgan's theme)

Don't lose your head (got a bit over excited and made a GIF)

Princes of the universe

The miracle


I can't live with you

 The Hitman

The show must go on

Let me live

I was born to love you