No words this time around, just some journal pages, style sketches based on people leaving a church nearby, and itchy scratchy insect nastiness.
Last month, I attended a comics workshop in Walthamstow (where I now want to live) taught by the very talented Emily Haworth-Booth. It was a great day and I left feeling incredibly inspired, although not particularly by my own work.
What most stuck with me, is the way Emily taught us to storyboard. I don't usually do longer comics, but whenever I've tried, I started out by writing a script. These scripts would turn out lengthy, too wordy, and I'd have trouble adding images to the text. Emily, instead, had us start out with a picture, think of a story, and just randomly start drawing scenes on frame-sized bits of paper. We could then add text where needed and tweak the order of the story. As I am a very visual thinker, this felt much more natural and a lot less stressful to me! Lightbulb moment!
My story ended up being about my younger brother Rutger (because I miss him) and although I'm not sure it works as a story per se, I decided to follow through and ink and color it nonetheless.
Thanks, Emily, for the great workshop!
If you're interested in taking a class from Emily, there's a section for that on her website right here.
Almost exactly a month ago I went to Elcaf, the East London Comics and Arts Festival here in East London. The festival consisted of a fair, film screenings, tons of workshops, some masterclasses, an exhibit, and a bunch of talks and discussions. I decided to not enroll in any classes or workshops (I hardly have any time to do my own work at the moment), but I did get us weekend passes and tickets to a label discussion about comics publishing, featuring some Sam Arthur (Nobrow and Flying Eye Books), Annie Koyama (Koyama Press), Madalena Matoso (Planeta Tangerina), Ken Kirton (Hato Press) and Alexandra Zsigmond (Deputy Art Director at the New York Times), which was great.
Mostly though, I puttered around the fair looking at the amazing work. There were so many great artists I had a real hard time and I pretty much needed the full two days to decide which books and zines I absolutely couldn't live without. So hard and I wish I could have bought more, but in the end I just decided on a budget and bought whatever I could. Below is what I ended up with and a brief review for each.
Jilian Tamaki - Supermutant Magic Academy
An anthology of the webcomic that has been going since 2010, the book follows a group of mutant teenagers attending a Harry Potter-like high school. The comics are usually one to two pages long and are nerdy, funny, and touching at the same time. I hadn't read the webcomic very much before getting this book, but was familiar with some of the work Jilian Tamaki did in collaboration with her cousin Mariko Tamaki (This One Summer is one of my favorites). The style of this collection is very different from those books - much more loose and sketchily drawn, but the lines are very expressive and really helps you get to know each of the (often grumpy) characters.
Philippa Rice - Soppy
Another webcomic turned book is Soppy, which chronicles UK comic artist Philippa Rice's (known for My Cardboard Life) relationship with her boyfriend. cartoonist Luke Pearson. The book is a collection of sweet, quiet moments. Of efforts made to make a relationship work. And of the slow, life-changing sharing of habits where personalities blend together a little at the edges. In my mind, this book is an ode to long term relationships and I loved it. Almost every other page I recognized situations I have been in when in a long term relationship, but not in a cliché way at all. The drawing style is clean, using only red, white, and black, making me long to try a more minimalist palet in my own work (but who are we kidding). Lovely book.
Tillie Walden - The End of Summer
I was tempted to buy The End of Summer when I passed by Tillie Walden's booth and saw her do the most amazing drawing in the front of a book she'd just sold to someone else. I had never heard of Tillie Walden before, but her drawings are absolutely stunning and they just seemed to flow from her. The book tells the story of a boy Lars and his twin sister Maja who are locked into a secluded castle with their family as they try to survive a winter predicted to last three years. The story features gigantic cats, incredibly detailed backdrops, and tender moments between brother and sister. That being said, I've now read the story twice and found the story kind of confusing at times. It could be that this is intentional as the whole book has a very dreamlike quality to it, but I found it a little frustrating nonetheless. Am curious to see what Walden will do next!
Grace Helmer - Small Hours Part One
Lovely, colorful zine from Grace Helmer about the summer after graduating from college and trying to make it as a freelance artist. Love the art here.
Katriona Chapman - KatZine Issue One & Two
Stunning black and white zines done in pencil about Katriona Chapman's experiences, memories, thoughts on art, science, and commerce, and love for the natural world. I really felt like I got to know someone a bit better by reading these zines and got smarter at the same time. SO promising and can't wait to see what Chapman will do next.
AJ Poyiadgi - Teapot Therapy
Cleverly done (and folded) story by AJ Poyiadgi of an older lady's tea time habit of cleverly luring people into the house for tea. Although short, it deals with loneliness in old age, but not in a way that makes you pity the main character per se. You admire her strength, while at the same time it illustrates a very real social issue. Very well done and beautifully executed. A real treat.
Poster by Planeta Tangerina
I loved every single thing from this Portuguese publisher (especially this fun and clever book 'Livro Clap', which you have to 'clap' open and closed to make the story work) , but in the end just bought a poster because I was too overwhelmed at the point to make any more decisions on which book to get.
Now this poster hangs in our bedroom and really brightens up the room.
One of the best things about living in a different country from your own is being able to learn about your new home country. In a way, you're getting the best of both worlds. You can learn all about a country and culture from directly from insiders, and experience them as a local would, but at the same time you're somewhat removed from it all and you kind of 'pick and choose' your experiences.
I can imagine if you move to countries very far away from your own that culture gap might be difficult to bridge (or if you've moved out of economic or social necessity, your perspective might be different - I realize we're quite privileged here), but the UK and The Netherlands are close enough yet plenty different from each other for it to be interesting and fun.
This past week has been all about exploring the UK, marked first by a weekend in Edinburgh, Scotland . The cloudy yet magical city was all it should be and I imagined. No, I did not eat haggis, but did try black pudding (for breakfast, no less) and fell completely in love with the tartan outfits, the dramatic history (knights! swords! ghosts!) and the castles. Aye!
Speaking of outfits, the week after was very much focused on outfits (and royalty) as I wore my first (serious) hatted ensemble ever. The hat was really more of a fascinator, but I think it counts. I needed the hat, as well as a dress of modest length, as I was invited along to the first day of the Royal Ascot by my friend and colleague Hannah. Squee!
Hannah is probably the most British person I know - she lives on a dairy farm, bakes cakes for village fairs, and is an excellent clay pigeon shooter person. Her life is pretty magical, is all I'm saying. Hannah and her family were amazingly kind in taking me on for the day and they proved excellent guides into the world of royal processions, horse racing, and gambling. My father-in-law (who owned two race horses in his day) was on speed dial as well, and the whole day was just a fantastic experience. I can get into this British thing, I think. As long as it involves great outfits, some ceremony, and a Prince or two (alas, no Kate this time) - I'm game.
I've spoken about color before, most notably in part two of my Art Journaling tutorial (gosh it's weird to see those old drawings), and I still do love a great color scheme. This drawing of a particularly great Wednesday (I'm a bit behind on my drawings) was inspired by a 1970s stamp from Israel. I found this stamp at Present & Correct (and a few more, but I decided to send those to a stamp-loving friend) and was instantly inspired by the cheerful combinations. Scans to follow.
Question: how is it May already? How is my trip to Singapore only one week away? Time is a weird thing and it seems to slip away from me these days. The only antidote to time slippage is taking note of tiny, lost moments. A man in a pink suit on the bus. A book before getting up and ready for another day of work and email. A well cooked meal for one. A drawing, here and there. You should try it.
I've got this thing for doors. Especially brightly colored doors can just make my day. Fortunately for me (but unfortunately for anyone in my company trying to get somewhere quickly), I can't seem to turn a corner here in London without encountering another snap-worthy specimen.
I seriously can't wait to one day own a house with an actual front door to lovingly scrub down and paint. A nice soft green, perhaps?
But London isn't the only city with great door action. Below are some doors from Brooklyn (US), Utrecht (The Netherlands), Safed (Israel), and Brussels (Belgium).
More doors coming to my Instagram feed, I'm sure. Let the obsession flourish.
Last week at the office, we ganged up with the lovely people of Wool and the Gang for a little knitting party!
Wool and the Gang is a London-based but internationally renowned community of makers (or 'global knitwork of gangstas' as they like to call it) focused on promoting fashion production that's made in a sustainable way. They want to bring back knitting as a viable means of production for generations to come, every piece make unique. Music to my ears.
I myself have made multiple attempts at taking up knitting, generally unsuccessfully due to my own lack of knowledge and an overconfidence in my own ability (this still isn't done). Knitting a blanket out of baby cotton with miniature needles? Sure, that sounds like a fun project to push aside after a week!
Our group had a few knitter drop outs like me, as well as a few expert-level knitters and a couple absolute beginners. We used the Snood Operator kit, which included an instruction manual with various options depending on your level, some crazy sexy wool in a color of your choice, knitting needles, and some regular needles for turning the scarf into a snood. Time flew by and I think most of us got quite far into the pattern under the expert eye of the lovely gangsters from Wool and the Gang HQ, aided by the clear instructional videos.
Our group had a few drop outs like me, as well as a few expert-level knitters and a couple of absolute beginners. We used the Snood Operator kit, which included an instruction manual with various options depending on your level, some crazy sexy wool in a color of your choice and knitting needles. Time flew by and I think most of us got quite far into the pattern under the expert eye of the lovely gangsters from WATG HQ, aided by the clear instructional videos.
I ended up finishing my snood this weekend, right in time for the hot spell that came over London this week ;-). I’ve got a feeling this soft cowl will come in handy at some point, though. Yay for British weather!
Have I been converted to knitter-dom? Let's hope so, or I just threw away the £50 I spent on more wool in their online shop (although I can always just snuggle up to the balls of yarn when Mr. Floor is away, they're so soft)