Thursday, March 16, 2017

The Letters

I am brimming over with creative ideas right now. Here's another one that I'm bringing to life. I have no idea if it'll work but I'm going to give it a shot. 'Teddy' is the first in a series of letters, each one is a little piece of flash fiction. But, this is flash fiction graphic novel style. Yes, (I've just realised that) I've created a whole new genre. 
The thing that excites me about this idea is (hopefully) how it will unfold in front of me. Now, I am pretty sure that this is not the correct way to go about writing a story, but, I've been creating stories in this way for a couple of years in my Drink & Draw series. In these events, through models, poses and props, I tell a story for sketchers to draw. These stories always unfold, change and take unexpected twists as each model brings their own thing to it, plus poses may need to be cut, on the night, because of timing, that kind of thing. The changes then inform what happens in the next episode.
I recently read the Stephen King book 'On Writing', in which he described how a story should take you on the journey, rather than the other way around. I completely relate to that, it is actually the way I used to build my big drawings too. I'd let them tell me what to do next. I love the idea that a story has it's own life and you're just there to get it on paper. It would be a dull process if it wasn't that way, I think.
Now I'm not sure he'd recommend putting your first bit of the story out there before anything else has been written, but I'm experimenting here. During the time I was creating this letter all sorts of ideas about who the letter was from and who it was too came up. I think I always knew these characters but during this process I got to know them a lot better. And so, the next letter kind of wrote itself.
Anyway, enough talk. 'Teddy' is available HERE.
Thanks for calling by my blog.

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Friday, March 10, 2017

on double identities and stuff

Here's something I've been struggling with recently, well, struggling is probably too strong a word. Here's something I've thinking about. It's this kind of double identity I have going on. When it comes to my business, that is. I've just had some lush new art prints (above) created of my new drawings of buildings. Theyre quality art prints and cost a pretty penny to get made.
Now, I also have another set of products that I sell. This is my merchandise. This is part of my income. Quite a big chunk of my very small income to be honest. Basically, I need to sell this stuff. It includes my cards, badges and other cute little bits and bobs. The smaller cheaper items that people buy without thinking too much about cost.
I take a lot of time and pride over making these things. I don't ever want to put anything out there, whether it's lower or higher cost, that isn't a lovely product. I love these little things even though they're hugely time consuming and the return is small. But, as I said, they bring in a much needed wage.
(photo by Rob Whitrow)
But here's the thing I've been thinking about; do these products take away from my more serious (or, at least, the stuff I'm more serious about) work? Do they devalue the other work, eg, my buildings etc?
And, more to the point, should I separate the business? Should I have a shop for my merchandise and a shop for my other artwork? I have already started doing that in various places, for example on Instagram I have created a separate account as @northernquartersketcher and on Twitter @NQsketcher. And, actually, I feel especially on Instagram that is working for me.
Thing is, I can't totally separate these two sides of my work as they both are MY work. And, over the past decade or more, I have built up a following and lots of those people become regular customers (and I love and appreciate them), so if I were to separate the businesses then will I lose people along the way? Will it just be loads more work? Can you sell high quality high priced art prints alongside Thug Cats badge cards??? So many questions.
Hmmm, very interested to hear your thoughts, folks. Maybe you've been through this before|? In the meantime, I'll keep on creating.

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Monday, February 27, 2017

The Red Case

 In my last post I mentioned about my new obsession; creative writing. It's not really that new. Well, the writing bit may be, but my passion in life is story telling. It always has been. Over the last couple of years I've put a lot into that particular area of my creativity. Running workshops and events, for sketchers, that involve building stories.
One of those stories was called The Red Case.
 And, I've had this idea, born out of that story, for making a little case full of writing prompts (I just didn't know that they were called prompts back then. I do now, that I've been on a creative writing course) for a long long time.
 On Saturday I was at Sheffield Zine Fest peddling my wares. As always I need to have a deadline to make any of my ideas come to fruition. You know how it is, right? So I spent the days leading up to it building a production line of little red cases.
 And, after lots of drawing, cutting, printing, gluing and packing, here they are.
 Little handmade red cases, each containing eight handmade illustrated cards all with characters on the other side (I can't show you them as it'll make your stories less spontaneous), and a little handwritten letter.
 All ready to be mailed out with instructions and in a little gift box.
 The idea is to see how many different stories people can come up with from the same bunch of characters, a letter and a red case. WHAT is in there? Well, that's up to you.

The Red Case is now available in my Etsy shop right HERE.

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Friday, February 10, 2017

these dreams of you

A little while ago I signed up to a Creative Writing class. It was a course about creating short stories.
The reason I took the course was to give me a push with a graphic novel that I've had hanging around, in various sketchbooks, for a few years. Also I was really interested in learning some of the tools for building stories as I felt they could be transferred to the graphic novel. The same rules must apply, right?
Plus, I wanted a new challenge.
Well, it was all that and more. I have loved every minute of it. In fact, I've become a little obsessed. I can't stop writing and the main character, from my graphic novel, has been following me around wherever I go. I've been thinking about her in almost everything I do and wondering whether she would do the same thing, spend time with the same people, like my favourite coffee shop (she would).
Now I'm finding that I have to divide my time, not just between myself and her, but also between writing and drawing. All of those times when I'd normally take the opportunity to sketch are now writing opportunities too. My graphic novel originally, in my head, had been all pictures. No words. But, after the course I've changed my mind and I want to get some text in there somehow. I want her voice to be heard. I'm sure I can manage that. See above.
I like to think that this is the push I needed. One way or another I will have to finish this book. Because, whilst I love Marci, I want my own life back!

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Sunday, January 01, 2017

on not looking a gift horse in the mouth

What did we do before phones? I mean mobile phones. And laptops. And tablets. How did we manage?
Our lives were so much more difficult. Everything was so much harder. Just think about how much easier phones, tablets, laptops, notebooks have made our jobs.
I cannot remember what sitting in a coffee shop was like before there were phones, laptops, notebooks. Although, actually, coffee shops didn't exist back then either. Not in this country anyway. But I can't remember what it was like sitting in cafes and greasy spoons before phones.
Or on a bus stop. Or on a train. What did we do?
I can't remember. Obviously, we'd have been much more self conscious. Exposed even.
But now, that's all so different. Now everyone is on a device and everyone around them blends into obscurity. It's great.
It is the greatest gift.
Really, technology is a complete gift to a sketcher.
For now we have models on hand. Everywhere you look. Still, focused models. Who never look up.
Who are so caught up in their Facebook/Twitter/Instagram feeds that they never move. So, yeah, how did we manage before phones? There is, however, one downside...
*These are a tiny selection of sketches that I've made of people on phones, tablets, laptops, whathaveyou. Seriously, I've millions*

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Thursday, October 27, 2016

i've seen that road before

This is one of my favourite recent drawings (or urban sketches as they now have to be called). I made this at the end of a long day. I thought I was all drawn out, but I found a window seat in a café directly across the road from this lovely pink building.

A couple of weeks ago, I blogged about how much my work has changed and in the comments somebody (another Andrea) said "There's a certain element to your style - organicness (? if that's even a word) which does link it all (old and new work) together." I liked hearing that. From the very beginning, and all of the drawings that I made came from an authentic place, and even though I wouldn't want to - couldn't even - draw in that way anymore, it still is very much part of me and my work. I wouldn't want to deny it or try to erase it. So it pleases me to know that others can see that link. I do. 
I think then, and now, I was always trying to achieve the same thing; I've always been trying to make the drawings that I would have loved as a kid. The kind of drawing that would have made the young me want to draw. That's always my in my mind. Well maybe not my mind, I'm not consciously thinking about it, but that aim is somewhere inside me. I think that this drawing is a favourite of mine because, I reckon, the young me would have loved it.

Somebody also recently said to me "there is no such thing as art it's all nostalgia". It's quite a bold and perhaps controversial statement. It's something I've thought about a lot since hearing it. I think I agree. 

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Saturday, October 22, 2016

how to make an urban sketch in ten easy steps

How to make an Urban Sketch (in the North of England in Autumn (i.e. it's cold)) in 10 easy steps;

(Optional step; Turn up to the location and realise you've brought all your inks but no pen. No really (I told you I was a rubbish urban sketcher). Go buy pens)
Step 1. Find a coffee shop with a window seat and a view
Step 2. Have a coffee and sandwich. This is one of the more complicated steps; I'm in the Northern Quarter, of Manchester, so will have to decide between ten different coffee beans, made in fifteen different ways, then there's the bread...sour dough, brioche, rye....
Step 3. Make a mess of the table
Step 4. Ah shit. Why did I put colour on it?
Step 5. Have another coffee. And a Danish pastry. Try to hide the mess you've made of the table when they bring it over.
Step 6. Add lettering to try to take away the focus from the awful colour work
Step 7. Pigeons
Step 8. Scrub the table then go outside and take the obligatory out of focus urban sketcher photo, whilst holding your book in front of the building with one hand and trying to take photo with the other hand whilst worrying that somebody is going to snatch your phone.
Step 9. When all else fails go shopping
Step 10. Reassess at home over a cup of tea. Followed by either throwing it in the bin or feeling a little bit smug.

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