Books I got in October (2017)

The last month or so I’ve really tried to get back into reading, and working in a little indie bookshop has definitely helped!

I also decided around a month ago that I want to look into doing a Masters next year, and found a course that sounds really good in Cardiff. It’s an MA in Art and Design, which then has seven different pathways. Although they have an Illustration pathway, I am leaning more towards the Philosophy or Ecologies pathways, to explore contemporary illustration from a different angle.

That led me to decide I wanted to learn more about philosophy, so I bought some books! I started off with an AS Philosophy textbook that I got used off Amazon for a penny (the only reason I use Amazon is for books that I can get for pennies and cope with a used copy of) while I waited for Teach Yourself’s Philosophy: A Complete Introduction to be delivered to the bookshop.

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Now, I haven’t got around to reading much of the textbook yet but the Complete Introduction to Philosophy is AMAZING. The information in it feels so digestible and each chapter briefly covers a philosopher and their ideas, ending with a bit of a multiple-choice quiz to test how much you’ve understood. I never thought I’d be the kind of person to understand someone like Aristotle but this book has led me to buy his Nichomachean Ethics, which I am quite excited to read!

I also picked up a copy of Plato’s Symposium because of that book, and luckily it’s one of Penguin’s beautiful Great Ideas series. Having only picked it up yesterday, I haven’t had chance to open it yet – but it’s going to be one for the weekend I think.

Speaking of Penguin’s Great Ideas series, I also picked up their versions of Ralph Waldo Emerson’s Nature and Chuang Tzu’s The Tao of Nature and I am excited about growing this collection! I feel like the size of the books (they are pretty short) will mean they are easier to digest and can be read while commuting, or over breakfast, that kind of thing.

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I thought I’d also include library books in this post, as I recently became a member of my new local library and I think they’re great! I’m leaning towards borrowing fiction books from the library over buying them, generally, because I think fiction is a lot more personal, and I feel I’m more likely to dislike a fiction book than a non-fiction. Maybe?

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I’ve started reading Meet Me in the In-Between, and being about halfway through, I am enjoying it. I heard/read a lot of mixed reviews on this book before reading it but I think it’s a good book, and definitely worth a try.

The Lesser Bohemians is a book I noticed in the bookshop and I was intrigued by the blurb so thought I’d give it a try – looking forward to that one.

Stay With Me is another one I’m excited about! I’ve heard so many good reviews, can’t wait to give it a read! I found out about it from watching some Booktubers’ videos on the Bailey’s Women’s Prize for Fiction shortlist, specifically SavidgeReads and Reads and Daydreams (with Jen Campbell).

On the topic of Jen Campbell…

IMG_5770I also got this beautiful book of hers, illustrated by Katie Harnett, called Franklin’s Flying Bookshop in October. It’s a beautiful story and I’d definitely recommend it for a kid (little or big) in your life. I mean, it has copper foiling. Oof.

And that wraps up my October book haul!
I’ll let you know my thoughts on these books when I’m a bit closer to reading them…

Thanks for reading!

Amy x

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 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

 

 

Wandering around the Welsh countryside (We’ve moved house!)

Hello!

Apologies for not posting for over a week, Max and I finally moved house on Monday! We’ve been so busy unpacking boxes and spending too much money in Ikea for the last six days, but everything is coming together so nicely now. (I hope to do a “house tour” blog post soon, so keep eyes peeled for that!)

This morning we went out for a walk near our new house, exploring the landscape, saying hello to the sheep, etc. I thought I’d take some photos and bring you guys along!

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Map and tea in hand, we wandered around, scampered up hills and got barked and ran at by the cutest spaniels ever.

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The views looking back were pretty incredible! (Yes, that’s a castle.)

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There were loads of interesting looking plants and flowers, definitely want to paint them!

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And I braved a walk through two sheep fields (turns out they tend to walk away from you).

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Then we reached a cow field and they’re a bit bigger and scarier, plus Max pointed out it was lunchtime (he’s on the ball, that one) so we headed back.

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And then we came home and had some lunch! I forgot to take pictures of that (-10 blogger points) but we had fried avocado, pepper vegan cheese and pesto wraps – do they have a name?

Hope you enjoyed having a look at those photos, like I said I promise lots more house-related posts really soon because we’re pretty much settled in now and it’s GREAT. Let me know if there’s anything specific you want me to talk about.

Laterz,

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.

 

Visiting the Art Chapel, Abergavenny

The other day I visited the Art Chapel in Abergavenny for the first time, after hearing so many good things. I’ve been to the associated Art Shop in the town many, many times but the owners recently opened up the Art Chapel as more of an events space with a cafe, keen on showcasing local, fresh  food produce as well as local artists and makers. (It also has the most beautiful stream running in front of it!)

We stopped for a bite to eat and I had the tastiest lentil and chard soup with sourdough (and apple juice – my favourite drink to have out). We sat in the garden area and it was so nice being surrounded by ALL the greenery.

They also had some plants for sale, I think Max and I will be returning once we’ve moved because, don’t know if I’ve told you yet, we’ll have a garden! 😉

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Inside, there were lots of books and art supplies for sale, as well as handmade ceramics, jewellery and artwork.

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I’d definitely recommend a visit if you’re in the area! And then go and visit the Art Shop on Cross St, it’s so old and narrow, with really wonky stairs going up to the gallery space – just such a lovely building!

As always, thanks for reading and let me know of any inspiring places you’ve been to recently!

Amy x