Friday, June 10, 2016

the creative space

So here I am sat in my studio/workroom/office typing this. While I appreciate that may not be big news to you, it is to me. It's huge. Its profound, intense, overwhelming, fervent, ardent (yes, I'm just copying out of the thesaurus now). But it is BIG.
This is the first time ever that I have had a space designated to my work. Up until now I've balanced sketchbooks, laptops and Etsy orders on my knee on the settee or amongst printers, guillotines and plates on the kitchen table. But one of the benefits of holding an Open Studios (in my case open house) exhibition, which I did last week, is that it forces you to focus and get things in order.
That's been one of my problems since going self employed (well, since, always) is keeping focus. It's one of those things I didn't think about beforehand, but now that I have all the time to give to my art and to my business, how best should I use it? And, I'll be honest, the first year and half, of going freelance, has been trying to adjust to that and it hasn't been an easy thing.
My mind is always so FULL of stuff. It never switches off. Ever. It's just full of creative ideas, millions of them. I find being organised really really difficult. The ideas seem to get in the way of getting things done. But now I'm self employed I NEED to get things done because I need to make a living.
So, this is why actually making a room/space for my work has been so massive. I'm hoping it's going to help with how I manage my time and my business. I hope. And, I'm open too, and appreciative of, any other suggestions that may help me focus on the task at hand rather than the million little ideas knocking at the door wanting to take up my time.
Now, back to work.

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Saturday, June 04, 2016

extreme procrastination by Andrea Joseph

So quick, while I'm on a roll, and before I notice, I'm going to blog. I'm only doing it to avoid doing something else, obviously. I've spent months procrastinating to avoid blogging and now I'm blogging to avoid doing something else I should be doing. We're all nuts though, right?
I get quite a lot of students studying my work. Which is ridiculous and fabulous at the same time. And, I often get asked to answer questions and stuff, but I really just do not have the time to answer all those individual questions. I'm sorry about that. If I had the time I would (or, actually, I'd probably like to answer them but, if the truth be told, I'd still avoid doing it because of my terrible case of procrastination). Here are some questions I've been asked recently and answered in a kind of less boring way than just typing them out on a keyboard.

So, if you are a student doing research, or just a person reading a blog, this is a little insight into how I work. Now, I'm going to press publish, or this post will sit in my drafts folder for the next few years. 
One last thing though, if you do go on to read all the nonsense in the drawing below and are curious as to whether I did actually finish the project that I was going to start and actually finish...
...of course I DIDN'T!
Have you learnt nothing???

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Friday, June 03, 2016

advanced procrastination

Ah, my gosh. Somebody please run my blog! I just will do just about anything but do it.
I make myself so mad sometimes. I frustrate the hell out of myself.
Anyways, I'm going to endeavour to update it with some of the things I've been doing whilst I've been away. I can only but try.
COLOURING BOOKS?! I have made colouring in books. It was not something I'd ever intended doing. It all felt a bit, well, you know, done. But when my printers started a new range of colouring books it got me thinking about some of my drawings that may be cool to colour in. And I tried thinking of ways of putting a twist on the whole colouring book phenomena.
 I'm calling it 'advanced colouring' but really it's for any ability. But, if you're already used to wielding the pen then I've added tips to take your colouring to the next level.
There are two sizes of book, you can find them HERE.
See you back here in about six months time!
*I will blog more often. I will. I will. I will....*

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Tuesday, March 15, 2016

sketching Buxton

Here's a sketch I made today. I literally had fifteen minutes, on my parking, to get a coffee and sketch. I've this thirst for drawing out and about recently.
 Dunno why. Maybe its the new pens I've got (loving fountain pens right now). Maybe it's just dawned on me that there are so many fascinating buildings where I live. Maybe I'm just looking at things differently.
Dunno. Maybe it's, well, I don't know, but I always think it's good to go with that....that...that thing I don't know how to explain.
So, I'm in this amazing labyrinth of a local book shop, that truly is the best book shop I've ever been in, drawing the organ (yes the book shop has an organ) and I had about twenty minutes before they closed.
But it's enough time, you know? It's enough time to get out the fountain pen, water brush and get it down on the page.
Maybe that's it. Maybe I just can't believe it myself; that you can create something so fast. After years of taking hours and hours over a drawing I can't believe I can fill a page, in minutes, with something I'm happy with. And I am quite happy with these.
And then there are the days that I wake up and want to do some of that line work. The stuff that takes hours and hours. I dunno.

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Tuesday, February 02, 2016

Valentines cards, made with love


Nora and George.

I drew Nora maybe three years ago. George is much more recent. I always wanted a companion for Nora and a couple of weeks ago I brought George to life. Both were based on two well known fascinating characters in the history of tattoo art. Nora Hildebrandt was considered the first tattooed lady and toured with the Barnum & Bailey circus whilst George Burchett had an equally amazing life and went on to become a world famous tattoo artist who even tattooed royalty.
It's been just over a year now, since I went full time as an illustrator and I won't lie, it's been tough. Great, and the best decision I've ever made, but it's been really tough financially speaking. So if 2015 was the year of transition, then 2016 has to be the year where I try to turn my illustration into a business. But that's really hard, right? Thinking of your art in those terms. But I need to eat and I need to pay bills and I need to keep a roof over my head. And, I'll do anything that means that I can draw for a living. Well, not quite anything...
I made both of these drawings with the upside down technique. Nora took me a while and quite a few attempts to get 'right' (or how I wanted her). I got George first time - but then I have had a LOT of practice with this technique as you can see in this sketchbook project. So Nora had a companion at last. I love both of these drawings. George and Nora are actually very dear to me.
I never ever saw myself making Valentines cards. I've never really done anything for a particular market or an occasion. Recently my sales in my Etsy shop have plummeted. I'm part of a local Etsy team and this seems to be something of a trend and not exclusive to me. There has been a huge amount of discussion on forums as to why this is but that's a whole blog post of it's own. I've spoken to people who have weathered that storm and asked them what they've been doing to keep afloat. A lot of those people have a good range of products at different price ranges. They also take holidays and markets seriously.
I couldn't though. I couldn't make something for a market. Not me. But Valentines day was coming up. Could I? Could I really? Surely it would be selling out. Surely it would mean I'd have to dilute my work and make something with hearts and roses and oh no. It was already making me cringe. But also, in another part of my brain, it became a kind of challenge. And then it made sense. I didn't have to do anything I felt uncomfortable about. I had the perfect pair for my Valentines cards. So George and Nora went to print.
I printed them on both white and cream card. I also made a sheet of different messages (see above), based on vintage tattoo designs, to put inside the cards and printed those off too. Then I hand cut them all out (this is where my great ideas always become very complicated and end up taking ridiculous amounts of time to create). Yes, I decided I wanted them to have almost a pop-up feel to them, so I cut around George and Nora and all the tattoos.
Then I bought some smart white and cream blank greetings cards and envelopes and hand stuck, with a little of that sticky foam, the romantic pair onto either side of the card and stuck the message on the inside. Finished them off with some cellophane bags and handmade labels and, hey presto, I had Valentines cards. Just like that.
And they went on sale. In my Etsy shop and at local galleries and art cafes. So, it is possible to make things for a specific occasion or market without compromising your art. When it comes to the amount of money I laid out and time put into each one I probably won't make my fortune on this range but I made something I'm proud of.
And, on another note, this is the kind of attention to detail and care that you buy into when you make a purchase from an independent maker. Products made with love and passion, where every single sale is appreciated. Now, I'm off to come up with my next money making world domination art project.
George and Nora. Made with love.
Available HERE.

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Sunday, January 17, 2016

and now for something completely different

As is standard with me, as soon as I say I'm going to be on top form, posting on my blog daily, I post nothing for weeks. I should just not say anything. Plus, I promised a month of inspirational drawing ideas. Well, I do kind of have one of those for you. Quite unintentionally really.
So, this was yesterday. A small group of us had planned to meet for our friend Karrie Brown's birthday in what was being called a 'Doodle and Afternoon Tea'. A sort of mini sketchcrawl.
After the first destination we had arranged to meet at was closed for 'emergency maintenance' our plans had to change, so we ended up at Staircase House - the oldest town house in Stockport - and while we didn't draw in there we (some of us) raided their dressing up box.
The kind people of the museum even let us take the costumes out on the town. Or specifically to the market. So with three of the group dressed up, in costumes that spanned the ages and messed with history, the rest of us got to draw them in various parts of the market.
It struck us that this is a great idea. Some of us already do urban sketching, and sketchcrawls, and we also do alternative life-drawing - with clothed models - but this brought those two things together.
So, just like above, getting models to pose in-situ was really good fun. And, at moments, also quite surreal.
So, that's my suggestion/idea. Give it a go. If you know anyone nuts enough to walk around in costume, in public places, rope them in. Otherwise hire someone! We intend to do more of this in the future.
I love it when things work out like that. Serendipity, I guess they call it.
Then it was back to afternoon tea and more drawing.
Oh, and here's another idea. Something I try to do lately. I always try to take some different pens and tools out with me on these little jaunts. Whether its a sketchcrawl or life drawing. I take things that I wouldn't normally draw with.
It forces you to use something else apart from your old favourites. Cos if you ain't got it with you you cant use it.
Like yesterday, not a fine liner in sight. I took marker pens (Letraset Aqua-Markers to be specific) and a brush pen. So, I know it's a real old cliché, but my idea for today is to get out of your comfort zone. I did and I'm pretty chuffed with the results.

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Tuesday, January 05, 2016

how to draw a show revisited

Here's a post from the archives. It's from July 2010. The first thing that goes through my head is how things have changed! I would never use this method these days. My drawing is so much more instinctual now, but back then I was learning. I was teaching myself to draw. And, for me, that makes it a valid exercise, but then any sort of drawing that you do is valid. It's all about practice, and no matter how much we'd love magic pens the fact is that if you want to get to a place where you're confident enough to become instinctual you need to put the learning in first. And, what I have found also is that drawing is all about looking, seeing, and that is something else I was teaching myself to do here. Look. See.
 
 The other thing that has changed is an obsession with drawing shoes - where did that come from??!Anyway, here's
How To Draw a Shoe by Andrea Joseph 2010
Over the past few years I have worked through many different processes, when drawing from still life, to get to the one that I am happy with. As I'm self taught it's been a process of elimination to find the ways that work best for me. I have narrowed it down to a couple of methods actually. I'll show you both in the next two posts, and demonstrate with my favourite subject matter; shoes.
 
Above are the tools I have used. They are; a cartridge paper sketch book; tracing paper; pencil; rubber (I believe that means something different in the US?!); three blue ballpoints; one red ballpoint. I want to stress at this point, because I'm asked so frequently, I use ANY kind of ballpoint pen. No special makes or brands. Any. As long as they aren't blotchy I'll use them.
Step 1. I am pretty obsessive about getting the shape 'right', so if I'm sketching something, for eaxmple an Adidas trainer, I will do the sketching stage on tracing paper. I realised, a while back, that I do not have any 'sketchy' books as such. I only ever produce finished drawings. I do, however, have huge amounts of roughs on tracing paper. Doing things this way means I can work on the shape I want to achieve and then transfer it easily to paper. It also means that, if I should want to, I can reproduce the same image (in different mediums). Which is something I do quite often.
Step 2. When I've got shape I want I transfer it to paper. In the image above you can see the ballpoint outline. I would obviously start with a pencil outline, but the scan I did for that was rubbish - you couldn't see anything. So when the pencil outline is put down on the paper, I go over it faintly with a ballpoint.
Step 3. I have started to add some shading (values?) to some areas. I work out where this shading should be by observing the shoe and where the shadows and light fall. Excuse me if all this sounds really patronising, it's not meant to. It's just how I have learnt to draw. Step by step.
Step 4. Here comes the cross hatching. This is the part where I feel I can really get into the zone with this drawing. I love this bit. The shoe is starting to come alive, and more texture is being added through the hatching.
Step 5. A continuation of the last step. More building, more hatching, more texture. Also at this point I'm starting to add the detail. That's another bit I love doing.
Step 6. The finishing touches. My most favourite bit. Details, a bit of extra hatching and a splash of red. In this drawing the final finishing touch was to outline the shoe with a bolder line, using a ballpoint that has a bigger nib.

And that's it!
That's how I did things back then. Actually, this is the way I'd work these days for an editorial or book illustration job or for something that needed planning and page layout. So, I learnt quite a lot from that period. Mostly, I learned about seeing. And, funnily enough, I went on to teach a Sketchbook Skool course of that very name ('Seeing') five or so years later.
More demonstrations and things from the archives all month, here, on my blog.
But for now, that's all folks!

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