Thursday, January 5, 2017

Annual really long blog post, things that I did in 2016. Part 1 of 3

A sign I made at some point to put up at Christmas fairs and never really used.

Things to look forward to in reading about my 2016: Bad spelling, questionable decision making, good drawing, cat pictures, very few mentions of celebrity deaths. 

WARNING this is a super long thing. I will split it up.

So lets get THE TALK over with to start with guys. 

The layers of self protective satire surrounding talking about 2016 have reached sleeping beauty thicket levels of growth, and while I hope you are rational enough to realise that years are not actually separate entities, have no personified malevolence and that the events which happen in them are not magically finished with after the 1st of January, since I am writing about the last 365 days (5 days ago) specifically, I need to address the wider context a little. 
Back in June I felt similarly compelled to add a political slant to my blog post because it didn't feel like putting something on the internet that didn't reference current events was even appropriate. Which possibly says more about what the internet has become than about the actual current events of the time. 

I think history is mostly made by trends, although it is the cataclysmic events that stand out. There have not actually been THAT many of those this year. There have been shifts in politics made by trends that maybe make cataclysmic events more likely in the coming years. There are some things in the world which are getting worse, mostly as a direct result of human action. There are lots of things in the world too that are getting better, mostly also as a direct result of human action. There are also things which coincidentally happened in 2016, which could have happened last year or next year. 
from my 3.52 Billion project

We are born, we perpetuate false dichotomies and prop up bloated power systems, and we die. My lifetime has seen a good few false dichotomies challenged and maybe even mortally wounded, but recently there seems to be a new (old) one that is causing a lot of trouble and that we are still trying to get our heads around. Maybe we will look back and see this as a crunch point in 50 years, or maybe there'll be a late night 50 stupidest things of the 2010s special where surviving celebrity talking heads reminisce about how clueless millennials really thought capitalism was indestructible. blah blah blah.

Real TV Wisdom drawing

In 50 years time we should be just about due for the stars of Geordie Shore to start dying off in significant numbers though, so maybe millennials will just be claiming 2066 is out to get them. 

Is that enough serious talk guys? Let's see if more organically emerges while I write about what I did this year shall we?

The turning of the year - January 2016

In January 2016 apparently I was mostly writing my blog posts about 2015, as it took me until February to actually post them all, let's aim for not taking so long this year. I did do a lot of cool stuff in 2015 tho, especially towards the end. Some of that carried over into 2016, for example in January I sold this piece through Little Carousel Gallery

The gold bits are like, more gold, in real life. Shiny. 

I also got paid for this Puffin picture which sold the year before. Can you tell I'm looking at my business records to inform this post because I'm pretending to multi-task and do my tax return? Maybe I should also look at my facebook or calendar for some non transactional memories. 

I drew this picture of my beautiful cousin Julia in January, who has a very consistent pose in photographs.
One of a grand total of 5 portraits for the facebook project I drew in 2016. I know. I am terrible. 

Now I am making a proper list and looking through all of the stuff, which I remember now was a vital part of this year write up blog post thing. Looking at all the stuff I realise there was actually a lot of very awesome that happened in 2016 too. Worst year ever my foot. 

So also in January it turns out I went for an excellent celebratory mini-break to Mallorca/Majorca, so nice they can't decide how to spell it. 
This was to mark the passing of my friend Susanna into the 30 something club.

That's her on the left looking glamourous and out of focus. We mostly enjoyed the not cold weather and the locally not expensive alcohol. 
Also the beautiful scenery and culture too though. 

Most significantly while we were there I got myself stuck in a children's playground wobbly creature. I cried out in fear and my husband and friends rushed towards me. Not to help me though obviously. To PHOTOGRAPH me. 

This is where our culture has arrived people. People in distress are now mainly a spectacle for the digital hivemind. 

Also in this photo you do get a feel for the lovely golden light in late January in Mallorca/Majorca. Which was in fact beautiful and therapeutic and atmospheric. 
Even when one is trapped in a quivering dolphin.

Everything looks better with googley eyes - February 

In February 2016 I found an old address book I'd had as a child containing 26 fabulously cheesy shots of kittens, many of them in comically anthropomorphic scenes. I decided to cut it up and add googley eyes to the cats to make them into greetings cards.

It was probably the best idea I've ever had.

I sold the last one at a Christmas market the other week. 

Even the best things can't last forever.

February is of course the season of Love. As usual I was peddling my alternative valentines cards in printed and Zine form. As part of my ongoing quest to look relatively professional, and with the help of the tripod my parents had gifted me for Christmas 2015, I took some more proper good looking photos of some of my products for my Etsy shop

As well as new things like the kitten cards and this startrek onesie I made for Bex, I re-shot some old things like those love zines. This image I liked so much I made it my banner image all over the place. Because colours fun and spiky.  

It's satisfying, n'est pas?

I like this live portrait I did at London Below in February. I like drawing anyone, but really punks are fun. 

I got commissioned by Lucy to draw a comic of her first date for her now-hugsband Rory for Valentines. (that's a good idea isn't it, why don't you do that this year? #shamelessselfpromotion) 
This is an excerpt only. None of your beeswax. 

Also in February I had a nice commission for an NHS poster about good research practice. 

I didn't write the advice, but it is pretty good advice really. 

I also went to an NSEAD art teacher event to coincide with the exhibition of their Sketchbook Circle project from last last year. There was some seriously awesome sketchbookery on display here, also some clever workshops. 

I made this textile interpretation of a Peter Doig painting. 

The exhibition showed printed highlights of the project where art teachers across the country kept colaborative sketchbooks, posting them back and forth and working into and responding to each others work. Many of the actual sketchbooks were available for that day only for us to look through. To say they were beautiful and inspiring would be an understatement. 

I'm so glad I went to this event, I've met NSEAD people before through Big Draw stuff, and have followed the sketchbook circle on facebook for a while, but seeing these creative troves in the papery flesh was a real treat. If you have the chance to go to this years event I thoroughly recommend it. 

I went to a drink and draw in February, but I already shared the best drawing I did that night on this blog this one other time. This year I have generally upped my time doing networking in the comic book fold, by which I mean I have attended a greater variety and frequency, but still a very tiny percentage of the array of comic scene themed events in London. Mostly at Gosh Comics and mostly at the pub afterwards. Which is where the most important chat happens. 

Networking is a bit of a dirty word, but going to the pub and meeting people is often the start of the best things. In November of 2015 I met a nice lady at an Intersectional Feminism event at Gosh, who put me in touch with her husband Pete who edits the Quietus comic review column, and now I get to write for that. several of my short comics included in compilations have also been the result of meeting people at Comica events over the last few years too. I met the amazing Julia Scheele at Laydeez do Comics in March 2016, and later she put out a selection of my zines on One Beat Zines. That happened in March, but I'll tell you more about it in June. 

Not literally in June, obviously. 
In the bit where I write about June. 

As a result of other networking, I ended up helping run a stand on super heroes and colour perception at the Cartoon Museum, that is where REVERSE BATMAN came from:
I love him and I carried him around in my handbag for ages because I didn't know what to do with him. I'm not sure where he is now. 
But he is science because look what happens when you invert the colours:
Did I mention it was an event about Science? 

I had never been to the Cartoon Museum before but I've been there loads this year (last year). Just like I had never been to Yorkshire this time a year and a bit ago (before Sheffield), and now I've been there like 3 times. Horizons. Expanded guys. 

March, not of the penguins. 

I drew this in March. My hair is pretty good thank you for asking. 

 My lifestlye in the new (not so new anymore) flat includes even less rubbish television unfortunately. I have to make an active effort to watch some on the internets. 

As mentioned above I went to my first ever official Laydeez do Comics event in March too. They are very very good and I can't believe it was less than a year ago. I had been on the mailing list for probably 2 years before I actually went, but I was never quite brave enough to go, and also slightly put off by the spelling of Laydeez. Which coming from someone as bad at spelling as me is pretty rich really. 
Anyway if you are in London Glasgow,  Bristol, Leeds, Dublin, San Francisco or Chicago and you like comics but not just the POW kind. You should go. 
There is cake.

Also in March I did this wedding portrait commission.  
notice the splendid Melissa Vivienne Westwood shoes. I covet them. 
Also in 2016 we went to 5 weddings as guests. So prepare for pictures of me in dresses once the weather gets a bit warmer. 
Again, not the actual weather. Sorry. 

I also did some collages in March. I blgged about them here, also a lot of the stuff from April. So don't read that if you don't want spoilers for the next paragraphs. 

Also it was my birthday and I ate this mountain of shellfish
Ok Alex may have helped. But I had almost all the oysters. 

April fools eat cake and moan about it

In Spring I am unable to resist photographing all of the blossom. 

In April 2016 I saw Guys and Dolls

I didn't do any drawing, I just watched it. 
Sometimes I do that. SORRY. 
It had Richard Kind in it, who I've always identified with as the hypochondriac who turns out to be actually sick in Scrubs. 

What if I am actually sick tho Alex? What then?
It's not my fault. I inherited it. 
also from my 3.52 Billion project, more on that later.

Also in April I did some invite designs for the lovely Bunna, incorporating these cornflowers.

I was invited to pitch for an illustration job at the Royal Opera House to design new Arts Awards booklets for them at this time too. It was kind of a big deal kind of job which would have set me up for half the year money wise. I didn't get it. 
Them's the breaks n'est pas? 

As part of the pitch I made this though, which I like a lot and have since put on sketchbook covers. 
Also these:
April was kind of a big month for shooting and missing as I also wrote a script for an 12 page comic story which I pitched to Beyond. I didn't get that job either. But these things are kind of relevant to some of the decisions I made later in the year. 
If anyone who is reading is an aspiring artist, illustrator, writer or whatevs, be aware guys. We mostly just blog about the wins. It's not fun to blog about the losses. But be assured that there are A LOT more losses than wins when you're freelancing. I'm not as good at shooting for the big game as I should be. It takes a lot of prep. And balls. And perseverance. 
Those are in fact the breaks that are them.

Anyways. Also in April I got invited to do a really fun thing which was live drawing at the play Radioman at the Old Red Lion Theatre, which I blogged about here, as what I previously mentioned. 
This is how I like to draw music n'est pas?

Also I went to a lovely Broken Frontier drink and draw session and drew this Avian Soho.

I attended a Symposium at Tate Modern on what Art is and stuff. 
No really it was actually called Art is... bad news anyone who thought that question might be answered evertimes. It was really good though. I hung out with people from my MA and wrote lots of notes I will probably not ever read. I couldn't resist drawing Micheal Craig Martin though.
Because a lot of the audience was art nerds, not children, he was mostly talking about being a tutor at the Goldsmiths when all of the YBAs were there. Yeah I get that that's a thing. I really wanted to ask him about how it feels to be one of the artists that art teachers reliably use to give their students an excuse to not use shading in their work though. Because actually at a symposium about what art is, maybe the popular imagination should be as relevant as the culturati, and despite MCM being more famous in the art world for his students than his own work, I'd bet substantial moneys that more school children in this country are introduced to his work than ever are to Tracey Emin. 

As well as the BF drink and draw, I went to a more official non-competitive time based drawing event in April. It was a 'Sketchbook Social' organised by London Book and Screen Week

I was very excited because it was being hosted by Chris Riddell who has been one of my vary favourite illustrators for many years. I've been in love with his linework and characterisation since reading the Phillip Ridley books he illustrated in the 90s as a tween. 

This one picture from Kasper in the Glitter, is basically the style template for my life. I imagine this is what my soul looks like, maybe with a bird. 

So it's good that he's really famous now and stuff. And at this particular event it also happened to be his BIRTHDAY. I don't think he was very pleased that this was announced to the audience. 

There were fun drawing challenges and I drew these things:

As you might imagine I was quite pleased when the birds theme was announced. 
I hung out with some nice people who work for The Phoenix Comic, which was awesome. 

But the most amazing thing happened at the end of the festivities. I went to say hi to Wallis Eates and Rachael Ball who run the London Laydeez Do Comics cos I met them in the pub after the Laydeez event in March (see it's all coming together). And while we were chatting the jokes we came upon the discarded birthday cake of Chris Riddell. The event organisers had got him a super indulgent Patisserie Valerie gateaux slice and put a candle in it (which as you will remember, he was not pleased by) and he had left it behind. Possibly through anti birthday sentiment, anti cream cake sensibleness or the forgetfulness of a creative genius. Who knows.

Reader, we ate it.

Now I'm not saying that by imbibing this cake we partook a part of the children's laureate's creative essence, perhaps his soul. And those who know me in RL will also know that this is exactly the kind of food that I am not allowed to eat because it will make me ill.

It did make me ill.

Worth it. 

May you live in interesting times

On the first of May I was chillin in EC1 at Urban Bazaar, selling stuffs and doing portraits, when my sister visited with three of her youthful friends. It was a good chance for me to meet more of her friends because I was in the middle of planning her staghen party for the summer. I'll show you some pics of that in the second part of the year post (because it's really getting a bit too long now isn't it? Also there is other stuff on my to do list for today)
Hazel is my sister she's bottom right.

I have this cool oldschool editable stamp that I use to brand my wares, and I know that in May I finally got around to digging out the letter set and changing the on it to a .com

ONLY a year and 3 months after I launched the .com website! 
I know I'm so organised ( is still a thing tho with a link to so it's not like I was sending people to a fail page) and so instagramtastic with this arty shot of my stamp too. It's all balanced and curated and shiz. 

What else happened in MAY 2016 to our intrepid heroine Jenny Robins? Some NICE things I hope?

I'm going to post this now so you will have to wait and see 

Find out in the next thrilling instalment OF

Annual really long blog post, things that I did in 2016. 

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