Thursday, 1 December 2016

November 2016

Slowly nibbling my first advent calendar chocolate as I have a look back over November.

It didn't start so well.

I’d been experiencing weird niggling back pain for some months — I went to the GP, who told me it would be a 4 – 6 month wait to see a physiotherapist (and I’d have to start that wait again as of January when we moved onto a new NHS list up North), or that I could pay for an osteopath privately.

My lack of disposable income, coupled with my housemate’s perhaps irrational suspicions that osteopathy wasn’t really a real thing led me to continue to ignore it. UNTIL NOVEMBER 1ST when everything got really horrible and I woke up in the middle of the night basically unable to move.

I booked to see an osteopath that day. She wiggled me round a bit, did some unnerving clicking, and everything started to get better from there on. I went once more a week later, and now, one month on, after all those months of badness I’m apparently fixed. The lesson here: osteopathy is a real thing and it works. I highly recommend my osteopath, because she was the cheapest in Brighton and clearly did a good job!

This drawing was me stood in her room feeling thoroughly undignified, hurty, cold and miserable in my bra and tights. Sexy.

This one’s a bit of a cheat, just a sample sheet of some fun typography I’ve been doing at work, but as the finished product isn’t yet ready to show, I figured I’d share this. Some small sections of interesting Brighton facts...

So at Quaker church that Sunday, one lady stood up and spoke briefly about how she was grieving for a friend dying of cancer, and how much she was struggling with that. After the customary amount of further silence, another lady stood up, and spoke (far more eloquently than I can recall to express here) of how we must take comfort that the people we love/who are most important to us are in many ways never truly dead, because little facets of them will live on in us, from habits we’ve picked up, to things we believe, things we say, things we feel… I’ve been lucky enough so far not to lose many important people in my life, but it just got me to thinking about some of the people who’ve shaped me, and the ways they’ve done so.
It may sound like a somewhat saccharine sentiment, but it resonated with me in a way that many discussions of grief and death do not.

Got really excited because the (normally very butter heavy) patisserie right by my work were boasting about their new vegan sausage rolls, so I got one, but it was thoroughly disappointing. Later, George fell asleep on our sofa because Southern rail suck.

I looked at a picture of Donald Trump to draw this and ended up getting way too focused on the way his neck was squished into his shirt without really paying any attention to the rest of his face, also FUUUUUUUUUUUUUUUUUUUUUUUUUUCCCKKKK

Some friends of ours have just moved down from North, right before we move away up to North, excellent timing all round, go team. (Couple of months overlap though, at least!)

Decided to try and have a really busy fun Saturday to distract from the ever intensifying sense of impending doom but it didn't really work (if only the cake had been better)

Had to spend around an hour doing a signage audit in a halls of residence with a fresh sewage leak in the basement and I don't think I've ever been anywhere that smelt that bad, I really thought I might do a little sick.

Today/this whole month I guess. My back's better but I feel like I've been on the very edge of a cold that's not quite happened which has left me not on the top of my game for weeks on end. I kind of want to just get really flued up for a couple of days and get it out of my system but apparently I'm made of stronger stuff than that, ho hum...

My ongoing mission to befriend musical genius/all round lovely person Daedelus/Alfred continues apace, and either we are actually now some kind of friends, or he's just too polite to tell me to leave him alone. I'm going to go with the former because I am an eternal optimist.

We had a nice stroll round Snoopers Paradise, which is one of my favourite places to go with new people... I feel like it offers a lot of insight into what floats peoples boats — very specifically in terms of random fleamarket junk, but also maybe from other perspectives too. We had dinner at Silo, which is reliably weird/inconsistently delicious/increasingly beyond my budget. I recommend it if you want to spend a lot of money on fermented things. They're really into that.

(Go see Daedelus live if you ever get the chance. He's unfailingly brilliant.)

A lesson that needs to be re-learnt every year.

I crammed LOADS OF STUFF into this Friday off work which felt like some kind of achievement given my aforementioned slightly fragile state…

I saw a friend for a short while in the morning, as well as getting some freelance work done, then after lunch I got a train up to London. I’ve been super excited to visit the Somerset House studios, given it’s now home to my good friends Strange Telemetry, Buckley Williams, and Lyall from Sensible Object as well as a whole host of other exciting makers/doers/thinkers.

Unfortunately my timing was medium-bad, because only Dan from Buckley Williams was there that Friday, but luckily Dan is an absolute hero. He showed me some cool work in progress stuff and gave me a tour… Gender neutral toilets! Boiling water tap! Ridiculous snooker room! Rifle range! Dark room full of chandeliers! What a treat. 

After a quick Wagamama and a nice stroll by the Thames along to Vauxhall, I got the tube down to Brixton to see Daedelus (again), Samiyam and Luke Vibert. Banging line-up, really really ridiculously terrible promoter. Too much tedium to go into, but suffice to say, with a venue and time change (meant to be a 22.00 start, became a 19.00 start), the vibes were… weird? A lot of people who wanted a late night party making that late night party happen in the early evening, by whatever means, chemical or otherwise, possible.

I felt like the most sober person in the room but that’s fun in its own way. Like 4 strangers complimented my dress but I think that’s because it was very heavily patterned and they were all tripping.

Samiyam was great, Alfred was great, Luke Vibert was great, they’re all GREAT you guys. After the show, me and my friend Mel went out for burgers with Alfred, Sam (Samiyam) and a few others. Lovely lovely people, bangin’ sweet potato fries, general cosiness — I had so much fun that I ended up back in Victoria at around 00.30, waiting for the LAST TRAIN — over 9 years living in Brighton and this was my first time on the last train. Such hedonism.

Let me tell you — Victoria station at night is COLD. Teeth chatteringly, bone achingly cold. It was entirely worth it for the fun I'd had, but I definitely put down a lot of my ongoing not-quite lurgy to that hour sat waiting for the train in such freezing temperatures (it was delayed, ugh) 

The last train is a heady combination of brutal sobriety, flailing drunkness, vomit, and endearing levels of camaraderie. I had genuinely interesting, heartwarming conversations with three strangers (initiated by them, not me), although it did end with me promising a lady I’d wake her at Haywards Heath, becoming distracted and failing to do so, and being WRACKED WITH GUILT when we finally rolled back into freezing cold Brighton at 3am leaving her with a 2 hour wait for the first train of the morning.

Then I slept.

But not for nearly long enough!

Saturday was time for the Rose Tinted Spectacular, my first ever zine fair! I wrote about it here, and I had such a great time, despite tiredness. People I don't know bought my zines! This is very exciting. Would you like to buy a zine? (Or a badge?) Pop me a message on Facebook or Twitter! (Or even a comment here will get to me, but you might want to leave an email address or something)

Luckily Sunday was sitting still time.

I’ve been thinking a lot about the USA recently. Haven’t we all. I’m so scared about the future, and horrified at so many of the things it’s becoming apparent that a very large proportion of the US population believe in and stand for. I haven’t been to the US since I was a child but I have a fascination and love for the country (or at least, the country I imagine it is based on my career making advertisements for it and all my readings about it on the internet), and I want so badly to go back when I can afford it. I also have a huge amount of love for all the American friends/acquaintances I’m lucky enough to have in my life. Spent a while drawing all of them that I’ve been lucky enough to spend time with in the last year (and Adam, who, when I drew this, I thought he’d been to stay within the last year, then realised that was like, 3 YEARS AGO, time, what even is it)

Alex and Anna's Queen party happened, and it happened hard.

The bad news is, my friend Sarah's dog Charlie has attacked the family cat, and been sufficiently weird around her new baby that she doesn't feel able to keep him any more. The good news is, I LOVE CHARLIE, and in late January next year, might actually be in a position to rehome him, which is just wonderful. If we can find a house where we can have pets up North, he's mine, and in the meantime, other wonderful friend Naomi is fostering him like an absolute hero. I so hope we can find the right house and be wonderful dog parents!

November has been fun and intense and stressful and life is rushing up fast now let's do DECEMBER!

Sunday, 20 November 2016


So a couple of months ago, my friend Adam asked if I'd like half a table at a zine fair that him and another friend Alice were organising for Brighton based migrant charities.

I'd never done a zine fair before, or indeed even made a zine (although arguably the Maison D'arc Manche cookbook counted)

I decided to fling myself into it wholeheartedly, over the course of the last 6 weeks or so, bashing out the Maison D'arc Manche cookbook Vol II (with help from fellow residents Alex and Justin, of course), a zine titled 'Everything is awful and I'm not okay' based on a customised version of this text, and finally 'Am I adulting right', a zine about our housework habits, full of infographics created from a data set of ~120 people who completed my survey.

I made some badges (with very much appreciated help and badge machine lending from m' colleague Anwen)

I also sold some Christmas cards I'd made in previous years.

All that managed to fill up my half table very nicely, if I do say so myself!

Anyway, I haven't had the opportunity to do a proper nice photoshoot of my zines yet (let alone set up an online shop, although it is on my to-do list), but I've worked so hard and I want to do a blog about it now while it all feels fresh, so I tried to get some reasonable pictures in our ever diminishing daylight hours this afternoon!

First up, here's some snippets from 'Everything is awful...'

This, and the 'adulting' zine were riso printed with the lovely Dopple Press, which has been a real treat. I've loved riso print for so long and it's been great to finally have a chance to use it for myself. The colours/texture are just so gorgeous. (This one is printed at A6 on an uncoated recycled stock).

The content/title actually feels a lot timelier now than when I originally started working on it. This world, eh?

Here's the 'Adulting' zine...

Also riso printed at A5 on recycling stock, although quite a different style to the other one — much more of a flat graphics approach since it's all about COLD HARD DATA... (I did do one illustration on the back cover of Alex's least favourite chore)

This one was super fun to get together, and I hugely appreciate how many people took a moment to fill out my survey. I personally think it's really interesting, and just shows the huge diversity of our habits and weird little ways!

As mentioned, I also wrapped up Vol II of the cookbook, which includes a whole range of new treats...

(I also got a reprint done of Vol I). The cookbooks are a collaborative effort, with contributions from Alex and Justin too.

Finally, I made some badges out of a whole range of my illustrations from past projects. Here are the ones I have left after the zine fair!

Small ones... (Approx 38mm)

Big ones (approx 70mm)

If you couldn't make it over to the zine fair yesterday and you'd like to own any of these things, in the absence of an online shop, feel free to drop me a tweet/Facebook message/email saying what you'd like. You can paypal me money, plus the cost of a stamp if you need postage, and I can get things to you. All the prices are in the first picture!

I hope to do more zine fairs in future, especially after we move up North in January. I had such a great time yesterday, and Alice and Adam did such an amazing job of organising. It was busy all day, which was an impressive feat any time, let alone on such a rainy Saturday! Thanks so much to them for inviting me :)

Monday, 31 October 2016

October 2016

I cannot believe that a whole month has passed since THE MOST INTENSE HOUSE OUTING EVER™ 

It was so intense I devoted TWO PAGES to it, which is unprecedented in the world of Emma's visual diary. 

So, regular readers may know that I am on a very slow mission to visit all the UK’s remaining pleasure piers. As we’re moving up North in January, I’ve decided to try and cross off a few southern ones before we go. With this in mind, I calculated an optimum route to take in two piers in one day — Southend-on-sea (the UK’s longest pleasure pier) and Gravesend on Sea (the UK’s oldest cast iron pier).
I invited my beloved housemates Alex and Justin along for the ride, and they added some personal desires to the trip — for Justin, a shipwreck museum in a shipping container, for Alex, TWO BOATS! Lots of other stuff happened too…

Feel free to skip over the next bit if you’re not into massively over elaborate days out taken by lovers of public transport…

We got a train at around 8 in the morning up to London, then hopped on the Jubilee line up to Stratford. When we got to Stratford, all trains north were cancelled, so we raced back down to Westham and hopped on a train running a different route to Southend, getting there not long after midday. It was pretty grey and rainy, but we walked down from the station through Southend to the pier (en-route I got called a ‘ginger c**t’ by some LADS, which took me right back to the slightly-grim-seaside-towns of my youth)

Still raining, we set off onto the 1.34 mile walk along Southend pier. That’s a long way to walk along a pier, and to be honest, Southend pier is one of the narrower, more uninspiring piers I’ve ever walked along (aside from its sheer impressive length), not to mention the one with the most unsettlingly wide gaps between slightly rotten-seeming planks. 

Sadly, there’s normally a train running along it, which would definitely have added to the experience, but it was down for maintenance, so we had to walk all the way there AND back. Luckily, when we got to the end, we were greeted by the exciting news that steamship Waverly was coming to pick up a big crowd of people for an outing to London. We went up to the top of the lifeboat house at the end of the pier and watched it come in, and it was all very exciting, in a nerdy kind of way.

Suddenly we realised we were HUNGRY and walked all the way back along the pier in the rain feeling HUNGRY. Did I mention it's a long way? After some hassle, we found a great eating place called the Railway Inn which served an all-vegan menu of all kinds of treats, including lasagne, fish and chips, and burgers. Excellent lunch for damp, hangry pier walkers. 

After lunch, I was keen to get a move on to Gravesend,  but Justin was adamant we had to go and visit the shipwreck shipping container, so, (sun now out), we set off in search of it, and got a ride on a bonus funicular with lovely lady funicular operator, which made the whole thing worthwhile for me (and Justin was very excited about the museum).

We then got a train to Tilbury Town, followed by a convenient bus to a very deserted, industrial Tilbury harbour, where we waited around half an hour for a ferry to Gravesend. It was quite a beautiful spot, with lots of dramatic sky and rainbows.

Eventually the boat came, and we had an enjoyable 10 minute jaunt across the Thames to Gravesend...

...Where we saw lots of treats, including the 'Mug and Meeple' boardgame cafe, a beautiful red 'light ship', Pocahontas's grave, a statue of some mythical figure which I can't even remember but which Justin and Alex insisted we pose with for photos, but disappointingly, THE PIER WAS CLOSED. I got close enough for it to count on my expedition though, although to be honest we liked Gravesend so much we might go back one day.

We then got VERY RAINED ON, and caught a super super super fast high speed train back into Stratford International. We felt very tired, but we powered on and got the DLR (front seat, YESSSS) to Royal Victoria, from where, yes, you guessed it — we got the DANGLEWAY! (aka the cable car thingy)

It was very exciting, and because it was by this point, night time, the cable car took 15 minutes rather than the usual 5, so we got pretty sweet views of nighttime skyline London (highly recommended) accompanied by a saccharine curated soundtrack of Sigur Ros, Elbow, and um... Katy Perry? We shared our compartment with two other couples who ended up being great fun, in an amusingly awkward, 7 strangers crammed into a slightly terrifying dangling box kind of way.

Off the cable car, down to the BOAT! (Number 2), the London Thames clipper from the Dangleway to London Bridge (again, super lovely way to travel London at night), from where we finally got a train back to Brighton.

12 hours; train, tube, funicular, bus, boat, DLR, cablecar, clipper; two piers, SO tiring, so much fun. I may never accomplish so much in one day ever again.

It might have been nice to have a super chilled day on the day after our big outing, but instead we travelled over to Sussex University, to be guinea pigs for the excellent Wesley Goatley’s ‘Critical Data Aesthetics’ Max MSP workshop. An intense but fun day of learnings.

Have been attempting to be frugal recently, but ended up having a very extravagant day in which I finally invested in a not-falling-to-pieces pair of winter boots, and some new pillows. Mmmm, new shoes. Mmmmm, new pillows.

Oh but wait, apparently my feet can’t deal with new shoes ever. I still buy leather shoes which makes me a bad vegan, but my justification for this is typically that a) they last longer, b) they’re more biodegradable than plastic shoes when they eventually do die, and c) my feet are delicate, sensitive souls, and leather is more comfortable. But c) is not true, because apparently all shoes cause me foot agony for at least a couple of weeks after purchase. Sad face.

This is not the best illustration, but VERY EXCITING NEWS, my BFF Sarah has finally popped out a tiny little baby, and her name is Megan, and this is so wonderful.

The onset of the autumn sads? Well actually not yet it seems, thanks to ongoing warm weather and to be honest just being too ridiculously busy to have time to feel sad. (I know, that is not how sadness actually works). I might just have been sad on that day because my winter shoes were hurting my feet so much but I found some old Starburst in my pocket which cheered me up.

 Good storm sky.

Alex has got really into sleeping underneath an actual futon.


Holy Fuck were great.

Been trying to learn how to do fancy plaits. It ain't easy.

We’re so excited about Sainsbury’s new vegan cheeses. They’re pretty incredible tbh.

I’ve been working quite hard this month, spending a lot of time getting some zines ready for the ‘Rose-tinted spectacular’ zine fair that my friends Adam and Alice are putting on in November. I’ll have a half table selling nice things! You should come!

Now that George and Wes have moved up to London our ongoing Pandemic Legacy campaign has ground to a halt, so Alex has persuaded me that the best course of action is for the two of us to power ahead alone. Pretty intense Friday evening (but super fun), we just about saved the world.

Get you a graphic designer who can do both [points at self]

I think I finally 'get' tea now

Good autumn walk.

It's been a ridiculously busy October, maybe at times too busy... But I've actually really enjoyed working as much as I have been. I really feel like I'm hitting my stride in a few different areas of my creative practice, and even when I promise to give myself some down time I just find myself wanting to pick up a pen/mouse and carry on. 

A reminder, that if you're looking for help with any paid graphic design/illustration work, or you know someone who might be, please drop me a line. You will make me very happy (and help support us in our terrifying/exciting move up North!)