Friday, 30 November 2012

Film Friday: Uncle Buck

It's that time of year when it's still slightly too early to watch Christmas films (in my opinion anyway... December 1st though marks the time when it's okay to begin!) But in the mean time why not watch some wintery films that don't mention Christmas, like Uncle Buck. John Candy always puts a smile on my face and this scene in particular is pretty classic.

Tuesday, 27 November 2012

Lovely Links

Image above from pretty Finnish blog, Sparrow

Things I've enjoyed on t'internet recently..

This lady's flat is amazing (and she just turned 100!)

Anthropologie: Holiday shopping for those you hate

Why pen and paper can be better than technology

Why wasn't my school cat shaped?

Kris Atomic's drawing of every magazine gift guide ever

The term 'nerd' was first seen in a Dr Seuss book..

Sunday, 25 November 2012

Winter wanders

This weekend was a lovely chance to relax and also get some stuff done! I've been working on some portrait commissions recently as well as getting some early Christmas presents out of the way. Yesterday I ventured out to the second Pretty Dandy Flea which was lovely, and as a friend of mine said 'like a real life Pinterest board!' After some browsing we popped in a couple of charity shops and then warmed up with a cuppa and some tasty cheesecake in Lee Rosy's. Today Tom and I had a bright early morning walk around The Park where we found this impressively big leaf! I love wintery days when it's cold but the sun shines really brightly and The Park is the perfect place for a quiet wander. This evening we are having a home-made fish pie and meeting friends for some board games in a local pub. Who said dark winter nights have to be depressing?

Above: The Pretty Dandy Flea

 Amy Blackwell's lovely stall


Marketing tips for Illustrators - from Zero2Illo

 A couple of months ago a friend let me know that there would be a national illustration conference called Zero2Illo held right here in Nottingham, only ten minutes walk from my house! I booked tickets straight away for Tom and I so that we could attend our first conference together. (Tom doodled in his notepad throughout, so I've scanned his pages which you can see below!)

The talks weren't really about drawing techniques, but were themed around how to market yourself as an illustrator and how to get your work noticed. I thought it could be useful to post up a few of the things we learned from the day, as they are useful for anyone who is interested in promoting their own work, be it handmade jewelry, portraits or even your own blog or website.

In attendance were Rod HuntStanley Chow, Kate Slater and Kate Hindley amongst others (image of the panel above from the Zero2Illo site). Tom and I found their advice to be pretty useful overall, although one or two bits of advice they said seemed to contradict others! Here's a round up:

Advice by Rod Hunt

Self Promotion
- Make your own luck
- Build a brand (you are the brand)
- Create a visual identity
- Invest in your career - time, money and resources

Create a signature style
- it should be recognisable as you
- Indulge your personal interests in your work
- Be unique
- Create a niche

Harness the power of the internet!
- Your website's your shopfront
- Personal blogs are useful
- Try creating an email newsletter

There was also some advice from a panel of book publishers, including Igloo Books and Nosy Crow who explained what helps them choose to work with an illustrator.

Things publishers looked for when choosing who to work with:
- How quickly can an illustrator work?
- Novelty is often key in children's books - eg pop up, touch & feel
- They like to see character led stories with personality
- Seeing an illustrator's blog is like a visual diary of what drives them which is useful
- A consistent drawing style
- Easy to navigate websites
- Try and be memorable when sending out work eg decorate envelopes

They also said as an agency they get over 50 submissions per week, yet only take on about 8 illustrators a year. Not great odds really!

In summary..
- Marketing is key
- Bring your own personality into your brand
- Its also important to hone your business skills
- Opportunities are out there if you stick at it!

My favourite part of the conference was hearing Stanley Chow (whose portraits you might recognise) talk about his first commission. Just for fun he designed an image of the White Stripes which he put on made into a pretend gig poster, which happened to get found by their management. Stanley got a call that night asking if he'd design a USB stick for the band which ended up winning him a design award. So personal work can be a great way to get noticed!

Friday, 23 November 2012

Film Friday: The Perks of being a Wallflower

I finally managed to see The Perks of Being a Wallflower at the cinema this week. I was a little worried that the actors wouldn't do the book justice but I thought they did a really good job (even Emma Watson!) The film starts off as your typical outcast going to high school movie, but it develops into a more complex story as it goes on. At first I was unsure about the title character's casting, he didn't look as much of a wallflower as I'd hoped! But he played the part really well as the film progressed. The soundtrack was very good too (the only thing that slightly bugged  me and my friend at the end was the fact that they listened to 'Heroes' by David Bowie in their car and couldn't figure out who the song was by... c'mon know your Bowie, kids!) Other than night it made a good winter movie, and Ezra Miller was really fun to watch as Patrick.

Monday, 19 November 2012

Stepping back in time

At the weekend I took a trip to Lakeside Arts Centre with my friend Caroline, to see their new photography exhibition, Saturday Night and Sunday Morning. For those unfamiliar with the book, it was written by Nottingham author Alan Sillitoe in 1958 and adapted into a film starring Albert Finney, in 1960. Arthur is a 22 year old who works in the local Raleigh Factory. He is bored of his repetitive work and is having an affair with Brenda, the wife of his colleague. The book details his Saturday night and the aftermath on Sunday morning.

Lakeside Arts Centre is currently exhibiting photographs taken from the film around Nottingham, as well as other photographs from the time taken in local spots such as Sneinton Market and the Goose Fair, as well as the old Raleigh factory which was located here in Nottingham until a few years ago when production moved to Asia. It was lovely looking through the photos and imagining what the city was like back then. There was also a chance to dress in 1950s outfits, which we couldn't refuse! (We did have the option of wearing pretty patterned dressed with full skirts but chose to dress as old ladies in headscarves instead, heh!)


Sunday, 18 November 2012

November, lately

Watching.. old David Attenborough programmes from the 1960's. He was so young! His voice was so much posher! And he wore Converse. Ah, dear old Attenborough. Oh and the Killing Series 3 has just started too.

Listening.. to Jake Bugg - out of curiosity, and for the fact that he's from Nottingham and the council have decided to put a huge banner in the Market Square to congratulate him on his album success. Bless. (For a town this size you'd really think it'd be easier to name some famous Nottingham bands, but it really is tricky.. I get stuck after Tindersticks.)

Reading.. I just read the Night Bookmobile, a graphic novel by Audrey Niffenegger, inspired by a lifelong love of libraries and reading. I really enjoyed it - it was also serialised on the Guardian a while ago, where you can read parts here.

*I wrote this post quite a while ago but was waiting to have a picture ready before posting.. last night there was this gorgeous sunset at University Park which I was pleased to capture.

Friday, 16 November 2012

Film Friday: Annie Hall

After watching Annie Hall again I can safely say it's one of my most favourite films, and certainly my favourite by Woody Allen. It's still as funny, charming and (I think) true to life as it was when it was made and I love watching Diane Keaton and Woody's relationship grow and change over time ("Well la di da"). It's also the perfect film to draw to, which helps as I'm working on a couple of new portraits for people at the moment (exciting!). Though watching it again did re-emphasize how light and fluffy newer Woody Allen films are - maybe it's time for him to hang up his hat?

Wednesday, 14 November 2012

Postcards from America

Last month I decided to send a couple of our travel diary zines to my favourite comic book artist, Jeffrey Brown. If you are unfamiliar with Brown's work, he has written a number of autobiographical comic books about his relationships and more recently a book called Darth Vader and Son.

As one of the zines we made is all about Chicago, where he is based, I thought he may appreciate reading about our adventures in his home town. Yesterday I had a lovely surprise when I checked our postbox - a reply from Jeffrey Brown! It put a smile on my face all morning - snail mail really is the best.

Monday, 12 November 2012

A Christmas gift exchange


Over on Janet's blog she is planning a thrifty Christmas gift exchange, where readers are invited to swap handmade items, tea, mixtapes or thrifted books. I'm looking forward to taking part! If you'd like to be part of the swap too just email, giving Janet the following information: 

- Your name & address
- A brief description of your likes, hobbies, etc

- Your blog address, if you have one, so that your sender can find out a bit more about you.

Sunday, 11 November 2012

Creative Spaces part 1 - The garden shed

Living in a small flat means I often crave a bigger space to draw, craft and make things in. For this reason I really enjoy seeing inside other creative folks' studios, where their artistic process begins. I thought it would be interesting to photograph the studios of some of the creative people who live here in Nottingham. First to kindly agree to show me their studio, was fine artist (and fellow Blur fan!) Paula McCann. When I heard she had converted her garden shed into a studio space I couldn't wait to visit her and see it for myself!

Paula has lived here in Nottingham for 8 years now, after moving up here from London. She studied on the part time Fine Art degree at Nottingham Trent and is now a practising artist in her free time. We first met at a Drawing Group she ran in the gallery space above the Hand and Heart pub on Derby Road.

Paula likes to work with textures and geometric shapes. She explains a bit about her work in her artist statement:

"My work is very much process based. I work instinctively with materials that I feel an affinity with and make sculptural pieces made from materials such as red wool, wax, muslin, brown paper, ochre pigment and charcoal, plywood and carpet tacks. The work I create comes from my physical manipulation of, and emotional interaction with, the materials that I am drawn to.  
The tactile qualities of the materials, their texture, colour and smell trigger my unconscious mind and it is essential for me to work with the materials to form the ideas for my pieces."
Her shed was such a cosy space to work in (despite the rain!) and made me crave a garden shed all of my own. Thanks Paula for showing me your work space!

Where do you feel most creative? If you'd like to contribute to the series let me know below!

Friday, 9 November 2012

Film Friday: Groundhog Day

Apologies for my lack of posts this week, things have got quite busy! Although I did find time to re-watch Groundhog Day, one of my favourite Bill Murray films. It's the perfect non-Christmas winter film (apart from Andie Macdowell who I find slightly irritating!)

Watching the film again brought me to the slightly geeky question of just how many days did Murray spend reliving Groundhog Day over and over? Learning piano, ice sculpting and French would have taken some time. This article puts an estimate of 8.5 years, and this article says 33 years. I guess we'll never really know!

Friday, 2 November 2012

Film Friday: Arachnophobia

Last week we gathered a few friends to watch a scary film I'd never seen before, Arachnophobia. Everyone assured me that seeing it as a kid was truly terrifying! There were a lot of jumpy moments, and it provided quite a few giggles as well. Look twice before delving into that popcorn!

Thursday, 1 November 2012

SALE in the shop!

Just a little update on my etsy shop - both travel zines made by Tom and I are now on sale, available at just £2 for 2!

The zines contain drawings and comics from our sketchbooks, drawn when we traveled to Chicago last October and Croatia in May. You can read all about Tom's thoughts on Italian beef and discover just what happens when I go too long without eating (warning: do not forget to feed me when on holiday, I get very grumpy!)

We are working on a new zine at the moment too, all about our adventures in Amsterdam, stay tuned!
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