Friday, March 27, 2015

Museum Week

 If you've followed my work in the past, you may know that a favourite subject matter of mine is collections. I've drawn collections of keys, badges, matchboxes, pens, buttons and souvenirs to name but a few. I've drawn souvenirs of all kinds, like in the drawing above, which comes from an entire sketchbook of collection drawings. Well, recently I've been commissioned by Greater Manchester Museum Group to create four drawings based on their collections from four of their museums.
I'm so thrilled about getting this gig. I've always wanted to draw museums' collections. I used to dream that I'd get a job cataloguing them all. It would be my perfect job, but unfortunately photography happened and then computers and so the call for museum collection illustrators and cataloguers waned. But, anyway, now I have the opportunity. My problem is how do you make just one drawing from each museum?
Well, firstly we narrowed it down by choosing the four museums from Greater Manchester's 21 venues. The first was Stockport's Hat Works Museum which is the building in the picture above. I already knew of, and love, this place. In fact we did a sketchcrawl there just a few weeks ago. It contains everything you need to know about hat making and the most amazing hats. But, not only do I get to visit the museums, but I also got the opportunity of looking through their archives and storage. This has been such a privilege, rooting through the stores, holding history (and antique top hats) in my hands.
 The second collection I'll be drawing is the Egyptology collection from Bolton Museum. They have an impressive collection of  Egyptology artefacts. Unfortunately, I didn't get the best photos from that trip but I did get a sketch of a dinosaur before I left the building!
 My third collection is from the natural History collections of Oldham Museum. I spent the best few hours with the curator, down in the cellar archives, surrounded by so many treasures of nature, whilst being educated on bugs and butterflies and birds nest. Actually, that too has been another joy and privilege of this whole experience, learning about, not just Natural History, the social history of this region and about the collectors. Learning from passionate people.
Again, I managed to sneak some sketching in before leaving the building. Well, what else do you do when waiting for the rain to stop?
 Today was my final visit and final collection. For that I went to the Museum of the Manchester Regiment to view their medal collections. I wasn't quite prepared by how touching an experience that would be. I shed a tear or two reading the heart breaking stories of the soldiers who lost their lives.
So, that's what I'm working on right now. My drawings were commissioned by the Museum Group for a new online shop they are building, which is coming soon. Very soon. Which reminds me, I don't have time to sit here blogging, I've got (a lot of) work to do.....
 
Oh, and unbeknownst to me, and quite coincidentally, this is actually Museum Week 2015. So Happy #MuseumWeek one and all. Go visit a museum because museums are great places. 

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Tuesday, March 24, 2015

something old something new something borowed...

I've a few original artworks, in my Etsy shop, going cheap.
The drawing above is brand new. I did it while waiting in the car park, in a local village, Hayfield, here in Derbyshire. It's the village where the BBC production called, funnily enough, The Village is filmed. Throughout the filming Hayfield was transformed into a village from 1914. Which basically means that they hardly did anything to it. It really hasn't changed much in a hundred years. 
Below, is an oldie.
You can find them both, and some others, HERE.

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Sunday, March 22, 2015

one of the issues of working with marker pens

Saturday, March 21, 2015

a bit about creating poster artwork

Amongst all the other illustration work I do, I also co-run Dr Sketchy Sheffield and, so, being the sketching half of the team (my co-running partner is from the performance arts), I create the poster artwork. It's one of my favourite things to illustrate. Because it makes me feel closer to the poster artists, from days gone by, who's work I adore. I wish there were more call for poster artists. These days it's all done digitally so I like to buck that trend with purely illustrated posters (and I wouldn't have a clue how to do it digitally).

Now once we've set our theme for our Dr Sketchy event the idea for the poster image pretty much comes to me straight away. Sometimes without even having to think about it. Really, it's just there. I see it - the whole poster - fully formed. I then just need to put it onto paper.

Our next event (next Saturday, at the Greystones, Sheffield!) will be a celebration of dance. We have performers from different genres of dance modelling and, erm, dancing for us. We have a belly dancer, a breakdancer, a bhangra dancer amongst others. So, already I knew I had to get that info into the drawing. The first and original thought was of the kind of drawing in the image above. I think it's important to go with that initial idea if it has presented itself to you. I love those 'consequences' drawings. I've heard them called other things and somebody once told me that they were known as 'exquisite cadaver' drawings. I think that's such a great name, which conjures up all sorts of weird and wonderful images, so I'll be sticking with that.

I made a few exquisite cadaver sketches, like the one above, to try it out. To see if it worked. I'll be honest with you, I think the trial run above is still my favourite. I guess that's because it was the most spontaneous. Then when I'd got one that I felt would work as a poster image I sketched it out onto a 'proper' bit of paper. I always add the image first, leaving room for the text. Sometimes I will play around with where I want to place the image. I did with this one - I tried her on both sides of the page and central before settling on this composition.

For the text I always quickly research (Google) posters or fonts until I find something that fits. For example, I'll Google 'Bollywood poster fonts' or some such thing. This one was a combination of various fonts because of the variety of dance genres. When I find a font I like I loosely copy it. I don't measure out the letters, nothing technical happens, I just copy it by eye (is that even a saying? It looks odd now it's typed out). I don't want it to look exactly like the fonts I find. I want it to be my own version of them.

Anyway, that's a little (ish) explanation of how I create my posters. Now anyone want a poster illustration? I'm for hire. I'm always for hire.
 

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Monday, March 16, 2015

i drew a car


The Jaguar E-type has recently been voted Britain's favourite classic cars in this poll. I was commissioned to produce a drawing of it. It's not surprising that it is in the number one spot as it really is a thing of beauty.

I used pencil (a soft thick 4B) and marker pens, to make this drawing, both of  which are drawing materials that I've recently started using. I've never been much of a pencil girl. It doesn't really do it for me, but I kinda like these soft pencils now and again. The marker pen has been a revelation and I can't get enough of them these days. I did all the darker tones and areas with the markers, and it struck me that at one point I would have filled all that in with tiny cross hatched fine lines. Just the thought of doing that, now, brings me to tears.

You can see the rest of the list of Britain's favourite cars, and if you vote you can actually win this drawing HERE.

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Wednesday, March 11, 2015

the clay pot against the iron pot

A little while back I was asked why my book was more expensive in my shop as opposed to on Amazon. It is a good question. It is a fair question. I tried to answer it in an illustration. How else?
It is an issue that faces all of us that run a small business. There's no way of competing with the big guys, no way at all, there is no point in trying. But we do have an advantage over them and that is the service we give.
I am not making big bucks off my book, hell, I forgot to even mention, in this illustration, that I have to buy my book off my publisher in the first place - as well as the currency conversion and bank charges that that entails too. That's before the, above, process even begins. No, I'm just scraping by. Always just scraping by.
But when you do buy from a small business or independent seller/artist you are also supporting them in creating their work. Thank you for that. I really don't mind where people buy my book from. It is an honour that they do buy it at all.  
I'm glad I was asked this question. It's an important one and it gave me the chance to try and answer it. Quite coincidentally, I was chatting with my publisher, whilst I was in the middle of this drawing, about the price issue when he said "in French we say 'le pot de terre contre le pot de fer'. It's a kind of  David and Goliath" and that's how this drawing got the title.

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Sunday, February 22, 2015

a strange dust lands on your hands

This week my class, at Sketchbook Skool, has come around again. The course is called 'Seeing' and is about, well, seeing. Really looking at your subject and perhaps seeing all those details that, if you weren't drawing, you'd never notice. I try to demonstrate this through one of my collection drawings.
Here are a couple of my drawings of one collection - my friend's collection of keys to be precise. They belonged to her father who had all sorts of collections. Most of these, I believe, were from model railways and clocks. I love keys. I love the symbolism of them and all the stories they could tell and doors the could unlock. I'm particularly happy with the drawing below. Don't know why. I just like it.
If you're interested, you can find out more about becoming a student at Sketchbook Skool HERE.

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Saturday, February 14, 2015

read all about it

 My brand new zine is hot of the press and on sale. This cut out and put together tiny little newspaper is for sale HERE.

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Monday, February 09, 2015

will draw for money

Thanks for the interest in getting your own classified ad in my new zine. The spaces are now full. Sorry, if you didn't get one. You must be quicker next time!

This little zine (and I mean little) is probably (definitely) the most complicated layout I've ever worked with yet. It was born out of an idea I had when I saw some of the mini zines that people are making. I really wanted to have a go.
It also had to cheap to make. Very cheap. Basically, in true tradition of zine making, it had to be produced with a photocopier. A photocopier and a bucket load of creativity.

I spent my childhood making stuff like this; tiny little books. I haven't made anything on this scale since then. The pages are all double sided too, which complicates things further. It's been a concern, after doing all this work, that when it was all folded up and cut out it might not even work.
So, I crossed my fingers and had a trial run....and phew! It works. It actually seems to work.
I'm hoping it'll be for sale in a day or two. Please come back if you'd like a copy of my first  tiny teeny weeny ziney.

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Saturday, February 07, 2015

at the junction


On Thursday evening I went to an Etsy team event in Manchester. For those, not in the know, if you have your own shop on Etsy you are also a part of a huge worldwide community of Etsy shop keepers. Amongst that community there are a whole host of teams - places where traders can connect and discuss what matters to them. And, sometimes events and meet-ups come out of those discussions. So, I went to see what goes on at these events - I've observed from the outskirts until now - and, to sketch the event - which, too, could be seen as observing from the outskirts.

The team in question is Etsy MCR. Based in Manchester (obviously), this is a really pro active team of Etsy traders. Over the evening we had talks from members, local creative businesses and a live Skype chat with Etsy UK HQ. It was really inspirational. I've very much come to realise the importance of getting our and about, networking and connecting with other creative folk and small businesses recently.
This realisation has become heightened, of late, now that I've finally, after all these years, taken the leap and given up my day job. Eeeeek. Woohooo. Arrrgh. YAY. Shit. Oh.Oh dear. Oh yes. Okay. Help. Yay. Eeeek. Woo-fecking-hoo. Yes, that's pretty much what's been going through my head since doing so. Anyway, more of that in another post.
Back to Thursday. And, back to the gorgeous setting of Sugar Junction, in the wonderful creative Northern Quarter of Manchester. And back to Etsy. I'll be honest, I've never made the most of the Etsy community, teams or the tools they have to offer (I've never really had to as I've always had that comfort of a monthly wage) so this has all been bit of a revelation.
It heartens me to know that there are so many people beavering away, turning their passion into a small business, and understanding all those issues and concerns that I too feel. I really do sense a sea change in the way people shop and they way people think about where, and why, they shop these days - since the recession. It's been a long time coming and I guess it takes something like a recession to question those things.
 This is the time, if we want it, for the whole shop local ethos to flourish. Shop local and shop independent that is. Shopping in a way that puts money and investment back into our communities - whether that be our local communities, and high streets, or the worldwide community of small independent businesses who are doing all they can to keep their head above water.
Actually, this, just might have, unintentionally, turned into a post about giving up the day job. Sorry about that.

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