Friday, January 15, 2016

2015 in summation, adventures, makings, illumastrations. PART TWO

PART TWO guys ok, if you missed it part ONE is here, in which I summarated my activities, on and off the drawing board from January to April 2015


Ways in which I've become a grown up in 2015:

I've drunk Lemsip with no sugar or even honey in it, I've worn eyebrow pencil on a day other than a wedding, gone running (voluntarily!), acquired a mortgage, learnt how to spell the word 'receive' correctly, graduated as a Master of Arts, bought a bottle of gin not specifically for a party but just to, you know, have some gin in.

Me with my Daddy, graduationing. 

However I know I am not a real grown up yet because:

I still do not like olives. Or whiskey. 

Also I'm still really bad at the eyebrow pencil thing.

And now.... the story continues.

With May.

In May last year I began a new stint of market stalling at Blackhorse Workshop in Walthamstow, a brilliant little corner of making and meeting that I was to revisit on most first Saturdays of the 2015 months that followed. 

As I obliquely mentioned in the first part of this yearly round up, Alex and I were flat hunting, and our grand plan was to buy a little place in Walthamstow. It's nice there. And was still relatively (for London) affordable. 

Trying to buy property in London is a little like engaging in a very high stakes game of chinese whispers with a group of overworked and undertrained goldfish, some of whom are actively looking for opportunities to screw you over. 
But we are truly lucky to have been in a position to even contemplate buying in London. And we like Walthamstow. And it was looking actually quite likely we were going to move there, so I thought I should insert myself in the local art scene. Thus the market. 

Here's a picture of me at Blackhorse Workshop drawing Olive. I don't actually know which month it's from. I found it on Google image search. It's a funny world we live in where it's easier for me to find a photo by Googling it than looking through my own files.

I've drawn lots of Walthamstow's younger residents now. And some of the less young ones too. 



Spoiler: we didn't move to Walthamstow.

In early to mid May I also attended the wedding of the lovely Rosemary and Andy, and went to an exhibition at the IOE where there was a tent full of UV crocheted jelly fish. That was good.

On the 18th June and I attended the Big Draw Awards ceremony at Painters Hall to receive (i before e except after c) our runners up award for the events we organised in 2014. I have written about it ad nauseum and pimped it to the nines, but in case you have missed all of that there's a write up here. 

It was really cool at one point I stood next to Bob and Roberta Smith and did not talk to him because he seemed busy. 


The very next day I was back in the limelight speaking at a Symposium at Birkbeck University and debating on the subject of Artist's Identity with various interesting people including this woman with a bag over her head.


I was going to blog the manuscript of my talk, and then I wasn't because I was going to rewrite it as an academic paper, but then I didn't do that, but I did write a piece on similar themes instead which you can read here if you like. It has a toaster in it, and a teddy bear dressed as a pope.

In May I also rode a singing speedboat down the River Thames, took my mother to the Magnificent Obsessions exhibition at the Barbican where I drew a pangolin, and went to see my sister sing in a concert, here's some drawings from that.


I also did this logo design for Zib at Adapt Events

In June, I went on a short adventure to Southampton, my place of university attendance. 
For dinosaurs and dancing. 


I only drew 3 Real TV Wisdom drawings in 2015, one of them was in June, of Ian (Ida) Board.


Because I am really good at continuing projects that I start for years and years and years, just really, really slowly. Ask me about the graphic novel I'm writing some time. 

It was also around this time that I started collaborating with Jen over at Little Carousel Gallery. 
A relationship which has gone some very exciting typographic places, but began with this piece


At the end of June, I went to Harry Potter World (also for some reason known as Warner Bros. Studio Tour London) with my sister and cousin Julia (who is a LOT better at eyebrow pencil than me). 

It is AMAZING! If you haven't been I recommend you go. 

I did some drawings while I was there:


And fell in love with the cabinet of graphic design.

I also completed my first ever 5k race for life, which is quite a big deal for someone who has been saying she hates running for as long as I have (basically my whole life). But after turning 30, you have to start doing war against your body because if you don't no-one else will. And your muscles will calcify. And your flab will engulf continents. And also because if there is something I hate more than running it is paying actual money for exercise. Also, because Cancer can suck my inappropriate. Or something. 

Plus I drew these birds on maps. On blocks of wood. They were cool. They're sold now. 

In July, I went to Scotland for the first time ever, to celebrate my friend Andrew's thirtieth. Most specifically we went to the Isle of Arran. Which is an area of outstanding natural beauty which puts the Isle of White to shame (sorry Ned). 


I did lots of colourful portraits at a small children's costume party in Regent's Park, and also started a semi-regular live portrait session relationship with The Big Chill bars.


This kids are so East London that twice as many boys asked for pink as girls.

As I've spent more and more time this year doing live portraits at bars and events, I've developed a good radar for the 'Golden Window' - the period when people are not too sober to say yes to a drawing, and not too drunk to stay even remotely still. This is at different times at different bars, and indeed on different days of the week, and can sometimes occur before lunchtime. At weddings this window is significantly smaller. But there is so much good will at weddings no-one even cares. 

Alex and I also went on more London wandering adventures in the summer months, including some canals, Columbia Road Flower Market, the Geffrye Museum, St John's Gate tour, and Trent Park.



Yes this photo was taken somewhere you can get to on a TUBE TRAIN. 

That is a whole three more months of 2015 stuff so I'm going to post this now as instalment two and keep you waiting (on tiptoes and tentahooks I'm sure) for my August adventures onward.

Understated apologies for the delay in getting these to you. I would like to say it's because I've been doing my tax return. But it's not. It's because I've been watching Downton Abbey. 


Friday, January 1, 2016

2015 in summation, adventures, makings, illumastrations. PART ONE

 Is it 2016 already? 
It seems like only a year ago that I was making that joke about it seeming like only a year since 2013. 

Last year my round up of the last year before that last year went really well, in the blogstats sense, I just went back to reread it and I spotted TWO typos, which I have now corrected, if you want more roundupness after reading this, why not go and read it and see if you can spot the typos I removed. I also added a panda to one of the pictures. I didn't actually do that. 

And if you thought last last year was a busy one, WELL, 2015 was even more busytimes. Or maybe it always feels like that. Like how you are meant to forget the pain of childbirth. No childbirth on the horizon for me btw, although a lot of my nicest and similar agest to meist friends have been taking the parenthood plunge recently. Prompting a range of babywear from yours truly, about more which later. 

In fact I have done so much stuff that I am going to have to release this blog post in several parts. To avoid giving you thumb swipey strain or losing attention syndrome. You know like when you click on a video then you realise it is longer than 3 minutes, so you panic and planbandon and watch five 2 minute videos instead. On the toilet. That's embarrassing. So we don't want that. 

Anyway there have been too many words without a picture already, so here's a picture

This was the only new Christmas card design I made this year,it was made especially for the alternative Christmas fair run by London Below

But that's way too recent. Let's cast our brains back into the seas of yesteryear, and January 2015

I don't remember much happening in January actually, I had given up both alcohol and caffeine at the time, so that might be why.

I did do this picture of the wonderful Jennifer King in January. But other that that I was beavering away at the new website and filing my tax return. I have to do that again soon. Yay. 
In February I officially launched my newly revamped illustration website
I had streamlined my portfolio into 6 simple sections: Illustration, Drawn Words, Collage Design, Birds, Fashion and Real TV Wisdom 

As an illustrator I've always battled with my creative's desire to do a million different things. What one is supposed to do is streamline one's practice into a cohesive brand that enables clients to see what it is they are getting. And this website is my style streamlined, I worked hard to make sure it all looked consistent and colourful, putting forward the brand of Jenny Robins. And then of course this year, while those featured sections have certainly FEATURED in my practice, I've really made more money doing comics and murals and portraits than any of them. HO HUM.

To celebrate the launch of the new website I did a competition for two people to get a free portion of my time to draw whatever they wanted. The winners drawings are below, as I realised I never blogged them proper. 

Karen Kelleher requested a Granny (who is an international spy) skateboarding with her pet Jack Russells, Charlie and Benny down a London high street. (she has some other specifications too).

Smithy wanted a manga style portrait of his dog.

Your wish was my command, contest winners.

Also in February I did a comic in favour of Marriage Equality, here it is all over again. 


Awwwwww, monogamy eh? Technically this was for the Irish vote, which came out in favour of marriage equality (woo), although I guess you could use it in any pro same-sex marriage context. Although I did Google common Irish names for the gravestone. But big up for Switzerland and Denmark this year guys, and fingers crossed for Australia! I mean, I just looked that up on Wikipedia. so hopefully that's the right countries to big up. Feel free to update me. 

Also in February I had a tube strike adventure. 
It's always best to see these things as adventures I think.

Speaking of adventures, since Alex and I were trying to buy a flat all year we decided we weren't allowed to go on any mini breaks or foreign escapades because money. Being gazumped is expensive. But to make up for this we made an effort to go on London adventures instead and walk places and see things. So we did some of that in February. There are so many good things to do for free in London, some for researching and planning and booking, and also lots for serendipitously happening upon if you just go for a walk around and see what you encounter (It's best to leave space for both plans and serendipity I think, and for the two to combine. In art too). 


Like for example we discovered you can go to the fish shop on Great Portland Street. Which has as many fish as the Sealife Centre (may not be true) and costs nothing to visit. Fish are pretty.


Or this tree that has mysteriously grown up through a star-burst arrangement of gravestones, right round the corner from King's Cross Station. I like how it is called the Hardy Tree, because maybe Thomas Hardy had something to do with it, although maybe he didn't. History eh? 

In March I ran a workshop for some 'disadvantaged' children with St Helen's School as part of the Shine Trust's programme in Middlesex. We built a city out of cardboard and paint


Also in March I turned 30 years old. It's like a milestone or something.

I went to God's own Junkyard with my bestest childhood friends Ellie and Frances. That is where they keep the neon. It is the best place. Another example of a brilliant free thing to do in London, although when I go there I usually do buy an overpriced teacake. 


Ellie also launched a new website in March this year. She has a hand drawn text section too. 
Awesome Stuff like this:

Then on the Birthday Sunday I got some more of my peeps together for all you can eat Dim Sum. 

I look well popular here right? But also Dim Sum is delicious. So maybe they all just came for that. 

At one point I emerged from a tower of dumpling steamers like a stripper from a cake.  

In February and March I drew these two awesome artist Jos. As in the multiple of Jo. More than one Jo. Plurals of small words look funny to me. 
Jo Cheung on the left and Jo Lawes on the right.

After my birthday I got heavily into Zentangling. Which is to say, I saw some zentangle stuff on Pinterest, didn't read about it at all and just started drawing patterns. So it turns out I wasn't really zentangling 'properly' which you are supposed to do by only using black ink and 3.5inch squares of card. And you are not supposed to plan anything. 

I didn't do any of that. But I like the word zentangling, and the idea of meditative non figurative drawing with lots of fiddly detail. 

I don't like the idea that drawings have to follow rules. 

Except when I am teaching you in which case you should do what I say obviously.
Mostly I will tell you to break the rules. Although sometimes you have to learn the rules first in order to break them. 

Anyway I drew a lot of patterns. This turned into a thing with clouds and roller-coasters. I am not entirely sure why. (plans and serendipity, control and chaos, intention and inspiration etc.).

Which ended up being the back cover for, and inspiring the front cover of the new zine I brought out in April - What Birds are Really Thinking 2! I blogged about it here.


Some other things I did in 2014 spilled over and emerged into April 2015 as I found out that I had won a place on the second stage of the Europe Fast Forward Comic competition; the booklet and CD sleeve I designed for The New Tabloids also came out then and the found text comic I had in  Meanwhile... was reviewed on the Forbidden Planet blog. 


I wrote about all these things at the time here.

In April we also went to a lovely wedding in Cambridge, I was still off Alcohol. 
My friends weren't.


 Pro selfie by Helen Clarke. 

And I went to Brighton with Frances. Also sober in this picture.

Looking at these photos reminds me that it was REALLY cold that day, and then a week later we were barbecuing in the outdoors in dresses. Thank goodness the weather has been more seasonal this winter. (note to people not reading this in a time near to when it was published: no it hasn't.)

I drew this disgruntled pink elephant.

And made some minimalist valentines cards.  

This is all I am going to write for section one of the 2015 summation because it is quite a lot already. 

Coming soon: part two, in which feature things in the month of May and beyond. Awards, symposiums, sketches, exercise and more. 


Tuesday, September 22, 2015

Weddings are the new arts festivals, collaboration with dead poets and anonymous copywriters.

I have a two page poetry comic in this new anthology of poetry comics edited by Chrissy Williams and Tom HumberstoneOver the Line.


I went to the first launch party  at the Poetry Cafe in Covent Garden, and the second launch party at Gosh Comics. I'm happy I got to go to both, like coming at the hybrid from both directions, although my foot is probably more obviously planted in the comics camp than the poetry one. I met some very cool poetry people and some equally awesome comic people at both events. 

It was fab to hear perspectives of poetic creatives reading and talking about their work, and it got me thinking about a lot of things. Poetry, labels, contexts and the cyclical nature of creativity.

Words go round in circles, in our heads and in our cultures, so do pictures.

Like these photo collages by Matthais Jung which he calls “architectural short poems” and says that "The composition of the individual elements correlates to a logic, as if in a dream."


This seems to chime so well with Williams' concept of cut and paste poetry comics, a lot of the work that goes on at her poetry comic workshops is of the collage variety - it's quick, it's democratic, hey you already know how much I love collage probably. It also lends itself well to thinking about composition and rhythm, how the former ties the latter together, in poetry but especially in comics. We read images in not all that different a way to how we read words, and the introduction to Over The Line examines how the grammar and syntax of that reading is built visually in poetry and comics to parcel moments of time into nuggets of meaning.



At the poetry cafe half of proceedings there was much talk of 'in collaboaration with dead poets', whether in this literal way of cutting up and re-organising others' work, or as poet and artist Sophie Herxheimer did in her project 'Coffee with Rosemary' taking a dead poet's name as a jumping off point for a poem made entirely from the letters therein. 


Whereas my contribution to the book is more of a collaboration with living but uncredited journalists and copy editors, my poem was forged from my ever expanding collection of interesting words from magazines. I have been making excellent use of the puzzle carrier my mother gave me for Christmas to put together new pieces of found text based comic work. 

To see the other page of my poem and lots of other interesting and brilliant interpretations of the theme, you shall have to buy the book.

Talking to Chrissy, we considered the place of poetry in contemporary society and how for many people it's something that happens at weddings but which they wouldn't expect to pop up in their daily reality feed. Which made me think, yes of the bloated aesthetic hysteria of what the wedding industry has become (my wedding was amazing by the way), but also of how our outlets for creativity and celebrating creativity get squashed by adult life, and how that force springs out of the gaps in the mundane in full force wherever we give it permission to. Working in a school I am aware of how many opportunities for self expression are given to (sometimes unwilling) children every day - they HAVE to write poems in English lessons, and the HAVE to draw in art, at least until GCSE in this country, you also HAVE to go outside and run around. But unless you latch on to that as part of your identity and make it your career or your passion, those opportunities dwindle when we leave education. 

I really believe people need creative and physical outlets, and if a wedding is the only chance you get to choreograph an awesome dance routine, read a powerful poem, make a thousand paper cranes or wear a ridiculous hat, then I say we need more weddings. Although it would be good if people felt less self conscious about doing all of those things in their homes and local church halls and social clubs too. So I would recommend joining the mailing list for the Poetry Cafe and GOSH comics. Or find something local to you. Don't wait for your friends to get hitched, get out there and make stuff. Play with boundaries, explore new mediums and hybrids, look for starting points and inspiration anywhere and everywhere and don't be afraid to collaborate. 

I once had a cordial exchange with Valerie Pezeron on a similar topic, where she posited that carnivals were an equivalent of performance art in other cultures, and I thought it was the other way around. Performance art is what modern western culture had to invent, to make up for a lack of carnival. If you've got an extravagant outfit wearing and political slogan shouting creature singing in your soul, it needs somewhere to come out. But sometimes we need an impetus, a spring board, a prompt; an excuse.  

Whether we're collaging to trick ourselves into becoming poets, starting with words and adding pictures, starting with pictures and adding words (many of the works in the book are actual collaborations between artists and writers, and some of their processes are this simple, though more are not); barefacedly pastiching our favourite creators and calling it a conversation, or lying to ourselves about the postmodern condition and claiming originality. I mean. Aren't we all collaborating with dead poets really? Not that that stops us from making brilliant art. 

I've been doing some more facebook portraits recently by-the-by, I've now completed the Johns. Here's the inimitable fellow StoryHandser John Riordan doing a scary face.


I'm also imminently moving house, so I've begun sorting through old boxes and files and have listed some old original illustrations on Etsy and some old (and new) bird paintings on Artfinder - more to come I expect as there's a whole stack of sketchbooks I haven't been through yet. Watch the space that is here.



I've never seen the Dead Poets Society, but I did hear some interesting stories about the Secret Cinema screening of the film, from some of the poets involved, in the pub near the Poetry Cafe. 

Monday, July 27, 2015

Up to date Update date up. Purge.

I have been going through some old work, trying to have a bit of a purge because (fingers crossed) we should be moving soon. Imminent crash sale of old prints and originals on Etsy planned. Watch the media that is social. Anyway. I just found this collage in a sketchbook from 2008/9, which I had really wanted to include in my last post all about what may or may not be called "Art"


wouldn't it have been perfect? I remembered making it but I had no idea where it was. This is why one should scan everything before putting it in boxes in the loft. 


In other news, you can read all about the Big Draw Awards ceremony at Painters Hall that June and I attended to receive our runners up award here. It was good, we got lots of people looking and drawing, and we got to see Bob and Roberta Smith and Mike Leigh give inspirational speeches. 
I was too scared to talk to those illustrious gentlemen, but I did meet lots of other brilliant and interesting people. 

I've also been doing more live portrait events, the most fun of which was this children's fancy dress picnic where I got to draw dozens of small ones in bright colours, can't think of many better ways to spend an afternoon. 


Some of these kids were really good at sitting still. Others really not so much. But that's all good, I like a challenge. 



I also did a portrait session at Blackhorse Workshop, and one at The Big Chill House in King's Cross last week, both great venues with decidedly different crowds. The woman bottom right didn't really have blue lips, but it was her request and came out awesome. 

If you have an event you're organising that you think would benefit from me drawing people at it, why not pop me an email to see if I'm free? 

I have a two page found text poetry comic in the upcoming SideKick Books Poetry Comics Anthology, Over the Line. which I am not allowed to show you. But I can show you this other one page piece I submitted that didn't get in. Boom etc. It's a sort of sketchbook collage love letter type thing. To be said in a deep voice. 

The speech bubble outlines come from the Christmas card designs I made in 2012. So that should give you an idea of the levels of hoarding instinct I am battling with this purge. But also, using offcuts and serendipitous leftovers to make new work that would never have been inspired without them is sexy and cool. Although I really should throw away some of these dozens of damaged prints of work that is not very good. 

It's a BALANCE people. 

I love popcorn though. There's been a renaissance in supermarket popcorn. If you haven't been indulging, where have you been? The economy cannot sustain this level of diversity. Try all the weird flavours now before half the companies go bust. 


I've been on lots of summertime adventures recently, I went to Harry Potter World (which for some reason, pretends it's called something else, like Warner Brothers Studio something or other)



I very recommend it, the models and the displays of the design work are amazing.

I also went to the Isle of Arran in Scotland for my friend Andrew's 30th celebration. This was my first time north of the wall and it was awesome. We walked to a cave on the beach and burnt stuff in it. And ate and drank a lot. It is beautiful there too.


I was too busy socialising to do much drawing, but I did draw this boat and three pieces of popcorn.


Also I made this birthday card while I was on the train. There was an amusing and embarrassing adventure with the train. Ask me about it sometime. 


Andrew likes Meat. Two veg to follow. 

Also I dressed up as a cowboy for another friend's 30th (Paul's). This is the year of the 30th for me. For obvious reasons. The moustache suits me a bit too well.