Catch up! Zines and things the Bristol way!

Continuing with my mass recap of the past few months, I needed to throw in a holla to the comics world! I’ve been doing lots of things recently, and early October not only kept me busy getting inspired, but also saw me taking a jaunt back into the comics world. I’d fallen out of conventioning and whatnot, concentrating mainly on the publishing shebang BUT when you hear about an indie zine fest pretty much on your doorstep…well I figured why not?

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The standard, late night of a hand made sesh.

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The BCZF was a ball. It was everything I’d enjoyed about conventions to begin with; passionate people from all walks of life getting together and sharing what they make. There were students, seasoned pros, newbies and hobbyists and everyone stopped to have a natter. I met ARMFULS of friendly folk and saw even more jaw dropping artistry.

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The venue was ace. It was an old fire station so I felt like I’d fallen out of Ghostbusters (the original. Let’s not talk about the new one.)

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My Table. It’s always so neat looking right at the start…

A bunch of my old mates from the early days of London zine-ing were kicking about to catch up with (special mentions have to go to the incredibly talented Rozi HathawayRozi Hathaway, Ed Chevertone and Aisling Marray; TEAM EXTOIRDINAIRE and, as ever, the wonderful Andy Oliver of Broken Frontier who has the nose of a frickin’ bloodhound when it comes to new, comic talent!) But I also had the joy of adding more shiny, new names to my ever evolving list of inspiring people I’ve been lucky enough to get to know.

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Huge thanks again to Lee, who not only makes awesome, authentically oldschool zines, but who put up with my mad natterings the whole day like a REAL sport (and they really were quite mad.)fest4

So yeah, my return to the convention scene was ace. My work has transformed a lot since the old days, but people were as welcoming of my new stuff as I could have hoped for.

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Last minute scoring, folding, packing and swearing aside, zine fairs will always hold a place in my heart and I would ALWAYS encourage curious artists to give them a whirl.

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The Exhibitionist Part One: Another crack at galleries

I’ve said it once, I’ll say it again. I don’t really like art galleries. Sorry.

I am just not the kind of “artist” who feels at home in white walled spaces. They feel contrived to me, simply rooms full of art stuff, created for the sake of art stuff. They just feel a bit…I suppose pointless; an exercise in self indulgence in it’s purest form. Sorry, that’s the designer and commercial artist in me, but I’m just not comfortable there. Give me a comfortable chair, give me a library, a bookshelf, a store front, a magazine. Give me a space that has it’s own purpose, adorned perhaps with relevant, beautiful things and that’s quite a different matter. But art displayed just as art? I struggle.

But I was in London, I had time to kill and I had a plan. Time to try again. To make friends with the gallery, the home of aesthetic culture. The home of ART.

So I did.

Let’s not get carried away or anything, I started small. I decided on two locations of contemporary illustration. Illustration is my passion. Illustration usually has a brief. Illustration is safe.

Baby Steps.

So I hit up the AOI World illustration Awards, currently on display in Somerset house. I do actually love this venue so already we were in a good place.

And it was free. Winner.

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I have to say, there was a lot of great talent to explore there. And by that, I mean there was a lot of book illustration and drawings that look like things 🙂

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The exhibit was probably what I’d consider the perfect size, two and a bit, uncluttered rooms of nicely spaced work, one central strip of glass cabinets. Easy and digestible and not at all so large it dragged. It wasn’t overwhelming, it didn’t make my heart sink and it didn’t remind me I am a failure of an “artist” for getting bored in an environment I should, by association, consider home.

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The work all had a chance to breathe, which felt relevant in a collection like this, because everything on display HAD been created for a purpose, be it a book, an advert, a poster or jacket; it meant you could take each item in and consider it in the context for which it was made. I like a bit of snappy analysis of a work’s strengths. I think this is my downfall with fine art. I can’t assess it because I don’t understand why it’s been made.

Sorry, I’ll stop moaning.

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For a collection of contemporary illustration, the AOI exhibit was a really nice one. It reminded me of Pick Me Up back in the day, before it got a bit tired (the last few years have not impressed me so much- I WILL STOP MOANING NOW) and I noted a good few new gems to keep an eye on, as well as simply enjoying the work of those I already admire. Yes, I noted the works of many already adorn my shelves.

I know it’s a bit of a cop out in my exploration of galleries, but the highlights for me were mainly book and design based illustration. Big talents like John Burton showed up and the lovely works of the brilliant Lesley Barnes, Alex T Smith and Chris Haughton were as  enjoyable as ever, both in browsing and poster forms.

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I actually liked the repetitive set up of the show a lot, in which the same pieces were encased on walls, in cabinets and on shelves. It gave it a ‘catering for all’ kind of vibe; the work in it’s raw form, the work as a ‘work of art’ and the work in the context of other work next to it. Each variant allowed the illustration to speak in a new context.

With the book being the best one. Obviously.

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I liked a lot of the work on display, both by the known and the unknown. I can’t say I think it was a broad collection in terms of the style of work, which did surprise me given that is was a collection from all over the world. Even across cultures and geography, a lot of the drawing styles, use of shapes, colour spoke in a similar language; but realistically I suppose it was unlikely to be anything else. This exhibition was always meant to be a snapshot of contemporary illustration which, like anything, is at the mercy of fashion. With so much exchanging of cultures, information and products through the magic of the internet, I suppose it’s very reasonable that fashions are less confined by borders than ever before. It was a shot of the trendy world of illustration in the here and now. And I, personally, really liked it!

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If you are hankering for a bit of tasty, picture based joy and are in the area, I would suggest checking it out. It won’t take your whole afternoon, it won’t cost the earth and it likely will inspire you, even just that teeniest bit to go and make some nice things. Or at least look at them.

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Hat’s off to you Somerset House, the AOI and all your contributers. The awards were well deserved, there was very little that I felt fell short of acclaim; naturally not all to my personal taste, but I suppose that is, in part, the joy of the visual arts.

And I really do appreciate, support and have enjoyed the hard work from those working to champion the humble illustrator. There’s an awful lot of talent on this earth and events like this do their bit to try and push those, often fresh faced, creators into the limelight they really do deserve.

So, was I cultured yet? I decided I wasn’t. I’d really enjoyed my speedy mosey through the contemporary illustration scene, but it wasn’t quite enough. Onward to part two of my afternoon exhibitioning…

 

ELCAF 2015 – Nobrow’s indie Comic Fest

Having already spent a weekend basking in the creative radiation of Alexis Deacon in his two day masterclass last weekend, this week I’ve taken another peek into the world of illustrative inspiration and general artistic goodness.

Following a series of talks and masterclasses throughout the month, the key player of the East London Comics and Arts Festival (ELCAF) is always the indie comics fair, held on the final weekend. Hosted by the beautiful and, almost sickeningly lovable publishers Nobrow, the fair is a celebration of contemporary illustration from all over the place, this year showcasing tables from Canada and France as well as our wealth of homegrown talent.

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I hate generic terms like “something for everyone” but unfortunately there are times when you really do just have to bite the bullet and succumb to the fact that there is no better way of saying it. Showcasing the numerous talents of indie publishers, comic stores and artists, the work on show was as diverse as it was eye bleedingly beautiful with artists and storytellers of all ages forming a real smorgasbord of stories.

And my how I gorged.

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I couldn't resist the chance to get my copy of Wild signed at the Nobrow table by the lady herself; Emily Hughes
I couldn’t resist the chance to get my copy of Wild signed at the Nobrow table by the lady herself; Emily Hughes
Beautiful little drawing left for me by Emily Hughes
Beautiful little drawing left for me by Emily Hughes

As well as a general display of sickeningly talented people, the day also consisted of a number of talks masterclasses and events. I was very happy to get the chance to add to my collection of books signed by people I like, with the very talented Emily Hughes signing at the Nobrow table, as well as attending a talk but the eloquent and wonderful Jillian Tamaki, in conversation with Paul Gravett.

Unfortunately (due to the fact I was sat behind someone with the biggest head I have ever seen) there are no photos to document this one, but it was a fantastic and honest talk about her life and the role of comics and illustration in it. As with the Alexis Deacon masterclass, it’s a really pleasing thing when successful and well regarded artists talk about their process and it sparks familiarity and chimes similarity with your own and once more I found myself desperate to get back to work.

I won’t go into to too much more depth, I’ll leave that to the numerous reviews and analyses that have no doubt been written and published about the whole festival online, but I’ll sign out simply with the fact that my inspiration batteries have has a good and thorough recharge. In an attempt give you something more of a taster, I’ve waded through the thousands of photos I snapped while I was there, and will leave you simply with a holiday slideshow of sorts all some of my personal highlights.

Peace out x

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Vivian Schwartz drawing a kitty!
Vivian Schwartz drawing a kitty!

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Beautiful Nobrow collection. I own too much of this selection.
Beautiful Nobrow collection. I own too much of this selection.

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My closing Haul!
My closing Haul!

International Alternative Press Festival are GOOOOOO!

So yes, the Olympics are happening and yes, this does mean you could be sitting at home on your bums watching a myriad of attractively sweaty examples of humanity perform exceptionally impressive feats of athletic discipline and skill while you revel in their glory without the hassle of all that physical exhaustion.

Or, if you’re luckily enough to be fighting with the Tubes in London this summer, you could even see said examples of sweaty, muscular perfection in the comfort of a multi million pound stadium where they will perform infront of your own very eyes and you sit, content with your popcorn without the hassle of all that physical exhaustion. And with Air conditioning.

Snippet from my zine, Rumble! The closest thing I have to anything Olympics related. It will be on sale at the IAPF along with my other books, zines, prints and sock animals!

OR, you could COME HANG OUT WITH ME AND OTHER SMALL PRESS NERDS in a crowded, hot and totally awesome room in Conway Hall bursting with alternative talent from all over the world of illustrative narrative!

Yes, the weekend of August 4th-5th is going to be a total blast in London as the Second EVER International Alternative Press Festival is taking place. Spanning over 2 days there’s going to be a fantatsic line up of workshops, talks from all kinds of graphical talents and zine fairs from all over the UK and Europe.

It’s going to be a real display of anything and everything visual and I can assure you, without a doubt that there will be something for everyone. For a start, I’LL BE THERE! Selling my wares, books, zines, prints, sock creatures, the lot! And you know you don’t want to miss that.

So take a break from all that exhausting looking at sport and come look at beautiful things with us!

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