Themerson Day and Wonderful Papers

Back at the beginning of the summer I was lucky enough to be able to attended a one day conference on the artists, film makers, writers. philosopher, poet...all round creative couple Franciszka and Stefan Themerson. Not only was the event, held at Queen Mary's University, London, free but we were each given an envelope full of duplicate documents from the Themerson Archive and this lovely book full of Franciszka's drawings.

I can still remember the afternoon in the early 90s and not long out of art college when working as a part time nanny (whilst starting out in illustration) I took the three children to the Imperial War Museum and I discovered Franciszka's drawings for the first time. I remember the thrill and that connection I felt with her simple sketchy, quirky drawings - that strange powerful , sort of emotionally overwhelming feeling you get when something resonates with you. I'm fascinated by that feeling, what  instigates it and why do we respond to somethings and not others? Any one know anything about this?!

Paper Archives

Last week I listened to an interesting programme on the radio about digital archives and the way people can now keep track and record so much of their lives. I liked the view of an interviewed psychologist who said "there is a good reason we forget things". I think this is so true - how much more messy would our lives be if we could instantly access images, text, video and sound of things long past that our minds and hearts would rather have edited out. 

Sometimes we need so little to recapture a memory or sense of time. Yesterday afternoon I looked through some of my old "visuals files" from the late 80s and 90s. 

I remember when I used to file these every few months I'd sometimes wish I was being more methodical. I remember seeing other illustrators who were filing saved images by category. Mine are random other than chronological (within a year or so) and compiled by what I thought looked good together. Now years later when I can use Google if I need to know how a certain animal looks or search images on a certain theme, what I most appreciate about these books are the randomness of them. I remember being intrigue by the Surrealists' use of Lautreamont's famous phrase, 'as beautiful as the chance encounter on a dissecting-table of a sewing-machine and an umbrella'.

I have a huge box full of similar papers from the last ten years that I've never got around to filing. I also seem to gather less now....whether this is because less catches my eye or there is less printed material generally or whether I just don't look for it so much I'm not sure. I'd love to hear about other people's experiences of collecting printed ephemera.

Freedom of Speech for Hamsters

I've been meaning to post this for ages. Dennis made this film "Free Speech for Hamsters" last summer. I hope it isn't just because he's my partner but I really think this is animation used to its best abilities - it conveys complex and important ideas in a simple, concise and funny way. And just like how sometimes an illustration can be so much more universal than a photograph the use of animation and fluffy little creatures speaks more directly than more "related to our world" mediums might.

This is the second of his Public Information Films for Hamsters. The first one "Advice for Hamsters Buying Squeaks" was done fourteen years ago and won him several animation awards. I love the simple pencil drawn quality of it. Wondering what the third hamster film will be about in 2024!

(Here is a link to view it in YouTube without the right third of the film missing! I'm not sure why this always happens when I import videos? If anyone is able to explain to me how I can correct this I'd really appreciate it - thank you!) - Addition 27th April - I found the answer! Before I'd been pasting in the embedded info straight from youtube but if I use the insert video link on the blogspot tool bar when making a post it centres it! It's strange how learning such simple things make me happy!

Design your own addictive!

I stumbled across this site recently. It's such fun, like a grown up version of paper dolls or those "misfit" books where you combined different top, middle and bottom sections to create a character.

I'm not even a very handbag obsessed type girl so be warned it could be addictive!

Below are a few roughs I submitted for a book on handbags a while back. I so prefer the mismatchedness of the Lill Studio bags to the elegant ones I was trying to capture!

Irn Bru

Keeping the Scotland theme - here is an Irn Bru advert Dennis was animation director for in the springtime. He now drinks quite a lot of Irn Bru - I think he is trying to single handedly increase the sales in England to reflect well on the advert!:-)

Gorgeous Puffin film

I wish I could make things move! I love this stop motion / collagey animation promoting 70 years of Puffin Books. Sadly Puffin haven't mentioned on youtube who made it or sang the song.

This is bound to be brilliant - a book about the design of Puffin books and also this biography of Kaye Webb, editor in chief at Puffin throughout it's glory years of 60s to 70s sounds like a fascinating read....they are both on my Amazon Wish List.

Grayson Perry on Creativity

There is a fantastic programme on Radio 4 this week (only available on the BBC iplayer until the 13th July) about creativity where Grayson Perry speaks to artists, writers, neuroscientists about creativity. Rose Tremain is particularly eloquent - well she is a writer :-) - about the subject and Grayson Perry describes his imagination/thought area as his "Inner Shed" which I think is so lovely.

I use to babysit/nanny for a now grown up girl who at about age seven described to me a place she had in her head which was a room made of marzipan lined with books and a marzipan chair where she would retreat to and read stories to herself. Now twenty one, I met her at a party at the weekend, and she is about to start an MA in Renaissance Literature.

I think everyone should nurture their "inner shed"

Surtex, PrintPattern and Gone to Earth

This weekend my agents and several of the other artists they represent will be at Surtex in New York - the big surface design fair.

Last month I was busy designing a Blurb book as my 2010 portfolio and printing out repeat patterns to send to Lilla for the show. One of my oldest and loveliest friends came to stay for a couple of days and helped me print out repeats and make choices for the book.

One of the things I love about being an illustrator is the autonomy/self sufficency and the sense of achieving stuff on your own - but sometimes when you get support from someone else you realise just how nice (and sometimes needed) that is too! The other great thing about having Katie to stay is we always line up a little film show for her. This time we watched one of my most favourite films "Gone to Earth" - beautiful, magical Powell and Pressburger film about a girl and her fox. I've just discovered it was an inspiration to Kate Bush's "Hounds of Love" (but don't watch the youtube montage to the end if you plan to watch the film!)

I also have some work on the always fantastic Print Pattern Blog earlier this week.