What I Got Max for His Birthday (2017)

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Max had a birthday and I got him presents and I thought I’d show you what I got him! Almost everything is from small/independent companies/artists and he loved it all which is great!

First up (his favourite) was this cassette from Art is Hard Records, where different artists on the label covered Pavement songs.

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I also got him this single from Art is Hard, because he was obsessing a bit over Trust Fund around his birthday and noticed they had done a record for AIH’s Postcard Club. We don’t have a record player yet but I’m sure he’ll love it when we do get around to getting one!

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Next up is this postcard from Claire de Lune which I actually bought back in June/July…. I just love getting people presents, ok? I love the colours in it, thought they were very “Max” and it does now live on our studio bookshelf, so he must like it.

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Another piece of art I got him was this print from Yuk Fun that still hasn’t been framed yet… I love this so much and I think he does too? Again its pride of place on the studio bookshelf at the moment.

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I also got him a pin from Yuk Fun, because I want to inflict my love of pins onto Max and he did love this one!

 

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He’d hinted a couple of months ago that he might like an enamel mug to use in the studio as a ‘work mug’ so I found this one from Pirrip Press which is so nice I wish I bought myself one too! But they’d sold out of the other design in this range.

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As a bit of an extra little something, I also found these pushpins in a bargain bin in Waterstones that I thought would be nice for the cork board he’s nicked off me.

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After opening presents, we had a pretty chilled out day, made cat friends and drank hot chocolate.

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A couple of days later we also went to Bath and had such a nice day out (I also surprised him with a Hard Day’s Night spa treatment at Lush which he loved! Might do a separate blog post on that?)

Thanks for reading, and do check out all these amazing creative businesses I’ve mentioned!

Amy x

Filling the (not so) new house with art… (Part II)

I seem to have not blogged in over a month (oops). I got a new job and then struggled a bit to readjust my routine around it but now I’m feeling positive and excited about blogging and illustration again so you’ll hopefully be reading/seeing a lot more of me!

Continuing on with my last post about filling our new house with art, I’m now going to show you around the porch and upstairs rooms – starting with the bedroom:

This is a print I got from Dick Vincent years ago which I absolutely love! We had it in the bedroom in the flat but I think it fits so much nicer in the new house with all the exposed timbers.

That’s actually the only artwork we have in the bedroom – the room is a bit of an odd shape because it slopes on two sides and then opposite the wall in the photo is a shower and a cupboard with a toilet and sink in it…

The Studio

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One of my favourite things about the studio is having this magnetic noticeboard by my desk. I like that I can change it around if I want to but I can also have lots of art in one place without having a poke a billion nails into the wall.

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First up is this print I got recently from Annie Dornan Smith, (well Max got it for me when I told him about it, because I can’t be my own(?)). Isn’t he a sweetie.

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Another recent print is the storm in a teacup one by Stephy Draws who just set up an etsy shop – check it out! The postcards above were from her too, aren’t they beautiful!

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I’ve got this postcard on there from Lush Spa Poole that my friend Ceire got me when she went there – the first Lush shop in the world! Not sure who it’s by, sorry!

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Underneath that noticeboard is my little zine zone. I used to keep my zines in a box somewhere but the good thing about having a house is having more space and being able to keep cool things out in the open.

There is a selection including: The Printed Peanut, Tuesday Bassen (from Rope Press), Kristyna Baczynski, Thomas Colligan & Memohelen.

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Then we have the bookshelf! I love love love that we got a built in bookshelf in the studio (although we may need to invest in an extra one at some point!)

It needs a bit of reorganising as books just got a bit chucked on there when we were unpacking, but it makes me really happy.

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This print is a postcard I got from Andsmile studio quite a few years ago now, needs reframing, I think.

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This is one of Max’s zines from his fave, Mogu Takahashi.

There are some more prints on the shelves that I got Max for his birthday but there’ll be another post about what I got him for his birthday soon.

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When we moved in I snuck one of Max’s old paintings that I love on this little nook, he hates it now but I don’t think he can be bothered to move it, haha.

The Porch

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This print I got especially for the new house when I was getting a bit fed up of looking for houses, so it makes me feel happy when I see it – not only did we manage to get a house, but a really nice one! All the effort was worth it! It’s another one by Annie Dornan Smith.

Thanks for reading, and I promise it won’t be another month before I write another post.

Amy x

 

Filling the new house with art… (Part I)

As I may have mentioned a couple of times, Max (my boyfriend) and I moved house last week and we’ve been trying to make it as cosy and homely as possible. (You can read our moving story here). And, with both of us being illustrators, we needed to get some pictures on the walls asap, and I thought I’d show you what we’ve got so far.

All of these bar two pictures were ones we brought with us from the old flat, and it’s so nice here because we don’t actually have enough pictures to fill all the picture hooks anymore! That’s the thing with renting – you can’t always bang nails into walls whenever you want. But I think we’re quite lucky with this place because there are already loads of hooks and nails everywhere, and we are allowed to put in more “to a reasonable extent”. (What is a reasonable number of pieces of art to have in the home, hmm?)

So starting with the…

Living Room

 

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This illustration is by the fab Holly St Clair, it’s a new one I bought just before we moved and I LOVE IT. The foliage in the image works well with the house plants we have in the room (but more on that when I do my house tour). You can buy this print at Family Store and definitely check out Holly’s etsy shop here.

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The next picture is one I bought from Fine Little Day on our visit to Sweden last year (2016). I love dala horses and think this minimal but bold colour palette works well with the room (and our swanky new orangey-red sofa). You can still buy the poster online here.

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This little neon riso number is from We Are Out of Office – I’ve bought quite a few prints from them in the past and they never disappoint! Also dying to get my hands on some of their pins soon!!

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One of my faves, this “Pugert Smith” drawing was actually made by my good friend Matt, who you can find on Facebook and Instagram. He perfectly combined my two loves – pugs and The Cure.

The Kitchen

Next up is the kitchen (in our old flat we had one nail in the kitchen – here we have about 7 and a Welsh dresser)…

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This is a print I picked up in the House of Illustration in London a couple of years ago (well worth a visit!). It’s by David Lemm and more info about the backstory can be found here – sounds like it was a very interesting public project around mapping (but I just saw it in the gift shop and fell a little bit in love).

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This cutie is from Ohh Deer, designed by Gemma Correll, and I think it does a good job of summing up being a millennial. Also – now we have room to actually dance around our kitchen so it’s totally apt. And goes perfectly with the duck-egg and cream kitchen cupboards.

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This is one of Max’s prints by Atelier Bingo. I think it really perks up the kitchen space and we have it above our dining table so it feels lively and uplifting (which is especially good at breakfast time when we’re both half asleep….). You can buy it here.

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And here is our Welsh dresser! It’s built in and so (obviously) came with the house and it’s so so nice having somewhere to put little pictures and ornaments and things we collect! At first I was thinking about the fact we don’t own any teacups or cake stands and so wouldn’t fill it – I was wrong! (Also – how weird is it that all of Max’s birthday cards were sea-themed!)

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I bought this card a couple of years ago for Max and it was the picture we had up on our single kitchen hook in the flat so I’m glad we can keep it on show here. It’s from the Printed Peanut and you can buy it here, and there is also an art print of a similar design here.

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This little guy is by Lydia Coventry and I think it was a one-off but you can find her other bits on her etsy shop. I love it so much. Those eyes.

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This is a print I got with a zine, both by Thomas Colligan, that I bought from Rope Press at Glug Brum in March. If you’re a creative person, definitely see if there is Glug event near you – they are invaluable! They have talks on by people in the industry and street food and art market stalls and it’s just a great evening out!

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This is another print I got from Glug Brum, this one in March 2016 I think? It’s by Print Wagon and I love it! He printed them to order out the back of his van, it was great fun! I plan to reframe it before hanging it, but for now it’s on the kitchen counter. You can buy this print here (but be sure to have a look at his other prints too – they are all so cool!)

 

That’s half the house done – keep an eye out for Part II where I’ll cover the bedroom, studio and entrance hall (oooh).

Thanks for reading,

Amy x

 

 

15 Tips for Making the Most of Art School

I recently graduated from Hereford College of Arts and I wanted to give you some tips on how to make the most of university; art school in particular. I just want to add, I didn’t live in student accommodation so can’t really advise on anything like that, but good luck if you are!

1. Be weary of buying too much stuff before you start.

For starters, if they give you a list of books to read over the summer, borrow them if you can. I still have a copy of Sagmeister’s Things I Have Learned in My Life So Far that I haven’t done more than flick through. Animal Farm and the Hitchhikers Guide to the Galaxy are always good for adult you’s bookshelf though.

If they give you a list of materials – you probably don’t need to waste money on a drawing board you’ll end up leaving at your parent’s house and won’t touch, but things like pencils, inks and paints are probably a good shout. In fact, it was thanks to the list I got from uni that I discovered gouache – now I’m in love. More on that here.

2. Go on trips.

Yes, they may seem expensive, but that £400 trip to Berlin is going to be so worth it. They act as inspiration, but also a break from the studio/desk environment and get you exploring somewhere new. I don’t regret going on any trips as part of the course, I feel like they all helped me stay inspired and develop my skills throughout the three years I was studying. It may take some budgeting, but go if you can! Which leads us onto the next tip…

3. Budget.

This may seem the most obvious tip but it’s SO important. Over the three years I was at uni I managed to afford trips to Paris, Berlin, Amsterdam, Sweden (three times), London (three times), Glasgow, Totnes and Edinburgh. I lived in a flat that was more expensive than student accommodation. I ate well, socialised and had everything I needed. And now Max and I have enough savings to rent a two-bedroom house straight out of uni instead of having to move back in with our parents until we’ve paid off our overdrafts like most students have to. Now, I know the amount of money people get and have to spend is totally different around the country, and around the world, but I will be writing more posts on how I budget in the future, so keep your eyes peeled for that.

4. Don’t forget your student discount!

Nowadays you don’t need to spend money on an NUS card to get discounts, sign up with Unidays and Student Beans with your Student ID and you’ll get plenty of discounts! Also, don’t be shy to ask if a shop does student discount – might save you money!

I miss mine already…

5. Be at uni even when you don’t have to be.

I cannot stress the importance of this one enough. You are going to develop so much more and have a much more enriching and worthwhile experience if you physically go to uni every day, or as often as you can. For starters, it’s good to get into the habit of having a working schedule, but also the tutors, equipment and studio space that you’re paying ALOT of money for are all there.

6. Make your space inviting.

The worst thing about our studios was that they were so white. Like yeah, you get better lighting, it offsets things nicely but you need to make your space yours. Stick up all the postcards you’ve ever found, make a bunting, stick stickers everywhere, just make it a space you want to be in. We even got a load of spider plants in our last studio because plants are the best things ever. If it’s not against health and safety, I would even recommend getting a communal kettle so you can make your own tea/coffee throughout the day. Make it like a second home.

7. Go outside every now and then.

It’s so important to remember to get some fresh air every now and again. A short walk can do amazing things for your creativity and productivity. Take a sketchbook if you want.

8. Use workshops/facilities.

I definitely needed to listen to my own advice with this one. HCA has amazing workshops for ceramics, metalwork, woodwork, 3D-printing, screen printing and so much more, and I feel I didn’t make the most of them. You should. Remember you’re paying a lot of money to be able to access these things, learn some new skills! Expand your practice.

 

9. Your tutors know their stuff.

Now I know HCA is different to a lot of art schools because it’s so small and there is a lot of tutor contact. My tip is to talk to your tutors if you’re feeling a bit lost or need some specific advice – you don’t have to wait for them to arrange tutorials.

10. Your peers might also know their stuff.

I definitely feel having contact with peers helped improve my work, it gets especially interesting when people find their niches and you get someone who loves AR teaching photoshop to a computer-averse children’s book illustrator. It’s great. Make friends. And then talk about your work to each other, often.

11. Don’t be afraid to talk to visiting lecturers.

We were very lucky and had loads of visiting lecturers over our time at uni, from illustrators to event hosts to portfolio experts. Do not be afraid to talk to them if you’re interested in what they do, or think they might be interested in what you do. Just be friendly and make contacts, but don’t put too much pressure on yourself! They’re just people.

12. Find your own projects, or at least tailor set projects to you.

Your biggest asset is that there is no-one else on this planet who is identical to you. Your life, the way you see things, the way you think, the way you draw is totally unique. Embrace that and make sure you find a way to enjoy your projects and make them personal. Some, especially in first year, may seem restricting and uninteresting but you’ve got to find your angle. If you enjoy it, you will create better work.

13. Set yourself false deadlines.

This one is easy, but so effective. Tell yourself your deadline is, for example, a week before the actual deadline and be strict with it. Then if something happens that takes you longer, you’ve got an extra week buffer room. Try it, it takes so much stress away.

 

14. Take a sketchbook with you everywhere (and use it).

Again, this is something I needed to take my own advice for, especially in first and second year. Make it somewhere you can doodle, write notes, sketch, paint. Make it a scrapbook. Make it personal. Now, this is the important bit, you do not have to show it to anyone. It doesn’t matter if you do a crap drawing or get coffee all over it. It is your place to record your life, and if you’re happy with it then great, show the world. If not, it doesn’t matter, you will get so much better just by using it regularly.

15. Don’t expect everything you make to be perfect.

I’ve put this one last because I feel it’s the most important. It took me far too long to realise this, but you can’t worry about creating something that’s not perfect because you’ll never create anything. That’s why I think having a sketchbook that’s just for you is great for getting into the habit of just drawing, painting, collaging, writing without the pressure of making something that’s worthy of being shown. You will make something great. Just don’t be afraid to make something crap first.

 

Hope these tips help! Let me know what you think.

Amy x

ps. you can find my work at my website, or on Instagram, Twitter or Facebook.

 

Winsor and Newton Designers Gouache vs. Turner Acryl Japanesque Colour Gouache

I started my gouache journey three years ago when it appeared on a list of recommended supplies when I started art school – I went for Daler Rowney’s Simply Gouache because it was the cheapest I could find.

Throughout the course of art school I, like everyone else, struggled with finding a medium that excited and inspired me.

I dabbled in gouache a few times throughout those three years but really started falling in love with it a couple of months into third year. I just thought it was great because you could use it like watercolour or use less water and have it be pigmented without the plastickiness (yes, that’s a word now) of acrylic. It’s also so much better for doing fine details than acrylic. It’s just great.

Once I knew I wanted to try out more colours and things I came across a set of Winsor and Newton Designers Gouache on Cass Art for £11.95 for a set of 10 (RRP £47.99) and asked Santa for them very nicely. (They are currently at £19.95 and I haven’t seen them cheaper than that since – I think I was very lucky!)

I haven’t looked back since.

So much more pigmented, smoother and just vibrant and beautiful.

However, as a poor student, I couldn’t afford more in different colours or anything and the Turner Acryl Japanesque Colours were recommended to me as a cheap alternative (I got a set of 12 for £8).

Something I didn’t realise at the time but may be worth bearing in mind is that they are acrylic gouache, which dry to a matt finish and aren’t re-wettable, unlike traditional gouache which is re-wettable once it dries in your palette (life saver) and dries to more of a velvet matt finish on paper.

I tried them a couple of times and found them really gritty and strange so they ended up going in a drawer for about six months until recently when I was packing all our things ready to move house and decided to try them out again – and I don’t think I gave them enough credit before.

So I thought I’d do a bit of a comparison/review type post, starting with how they look with varying amounts of water added:

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I noticed that the Japanesque paint kind of reached a perfect level of dilution and then became very even in coverage, which you can see in the fourth square along on the bottom row. As the W&N paint requires less diluting to get even coverage, I can see a tube of the Turner Japanesque lasting sightly longer.

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I don’t know if you can really see it in this image but the Turner Japanesque Colours (top row) look slightly gritty, and I’m not sure if that’s the case with all acrylic gouaches or just these ones. Also, the colours are less vibrant than the W&N ones, but that may just be the set of colours I bought.

The W&N paints are also a lot thicker straight out the tube, but I find that they really don’t require much water added to make them the perfect consistency to paint with so they don’t lose much, if any, pigmentation.

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I definitely prefer the W&N Designers Gouache personally, just because they’re re-wettable which means less waste and less clean-up and the colours are so vibrant and smooth.

However, if you’re on a budget or you want a matter finish, I would definitely recommend the Turner Acryl Japanesque Colour gouaches. Considering they’re the same price, they also make a much better starter set than the Daler Rowney Simply gouaches, in my opinion.

I think with any art materials it’s going to be a case of trying out different things and seeing what suits your work and your budget. If you just start off with one colour from a couple of different ranges and see what works well for you, you can decide what you prefer as they all have their own pro’s and cons. But I’d definitely say give Winsor and Newton Designers Gouache a go!

 

A quick disclaimer: I didn’t realise until after I bought them but the Ivory Black and Primary Blue in the W&N set I bought aren’t vegan. Winsor and Newton have published a list of their products that contain animal-derived ingredients here.

 

Thanks for reading! Let me know if you have any favourites or suggestions for me to try,

Amy x