Thursday, 27 February 2014

Agenda Bender.

I've been working with mac birmingham's Cannon Hill Collective since October and it's almost time to showcase what they've been up to! Investigating when art becomes a political act and united by a desire to impart positive social change, this wonderful bunch have put together What's The Agenda; an eclectic festival of creative activity which asks the audience to engage as well as committing to some form of pledge for change; big or small; private or public.

Lord knows I'm already planning my launch party outfit, but for now check out the flyer I created for 'em. After much shredder fun what I've created seems suspiciously like Girls HBO combined with Klimt's The Kiss...

No? Just me then.

Sunday, 23 February 2014

Something Fishy Going On.

After a bit of an undesirable creative hiatus, waving goodbye to January felt ruddy marvelous and has brought with it a startling wave of productivity. Much has happened in the last few weeks leading to the launch of a new collaborative venture with artist chum SJI. That venture is Illustrated Brum; a platform for us to document the creative, cultural and social goings on we encounter to create an illustrated guide to Birmingham life. It's all very exciting, and if you want to find out the significance of this fish then have a root around:

Monday, 27 January 2014

#1 HOW TO: Begin

One of my biggest creative hang-ups is an inability to begin.

Starting a new drawing, a new article, a new relationship or even just picking up the goddamn telephone; taking the first step on any endeavour can fill me with so much excitement and dread simultaneously that absolutely nothing happens. In fact the very irony of struggling throughout January to begin a blog post about How to Begin is not lost on me, but rather validates the quandary we face so often; how to get past the starting blocks with an idea we believe in.

Now that I'm here, I'd like to introduce the first installment of a new project; a monthly creative HOW TO driven by things I've learned about the things I'm trying to get better at. Through a post-graduate roller-coaster year with my own illustration practice at the proverbial helm, I have over-thought, overworked and overslept on my way to solving some tough truths about the creative capacity, fascinated by my own shortcomings and how to begin to accept or overcome them. Moments of enlightenment have begun to appear; when working collaboratively with others; at exhibitions; on the bus; in the shower; absolutely anywhere at 3am; and these fragments of motivational clarity are precisely what I want to pass along and build upon in this series.

With regards to the challenge of beginning, I think the difficulty stems from a designation of importance or ceremony - The Big Bang, a baby's first steps, the first mark in a new sketchbook - these are big deals, people. But such narrow focus leaves the beginning isolated in time, and I think we can actually feel a little bit lonely in these moments, and very vulnerable to our own hopes and fears. If we shift our thinking and broaden the perception of the beginning it becomes a lot less scary as we see things have preceded and will naturally follow it. It is a node within a network, not an island surrounded by sharks.

Embarking should be celebrated and the fear we experience should not be allowed to paralyze our action, but rather reassure us that it matters. When placed in context this first step is the moment we act on something or decide to release it from our clutches, which is pretty flipping exciting. Like the breaking of a bottle on the side of a ship, our maiden voyages should feel celebratory; like the beginning of a great adventure. After all, uncharted territory is what pushes us to grow and level up, and there is a whole world of promise out there if we just let go.

Nobody said it was easy, but here are a few tips to get you started:

In order to begin with moxy and might you must first establish your strengths. When things feel difficult it's easy to forget our abilities, so make a list of what makes you great for this project and refer back to it when you need reminding. This not only builds up some armour to protect you from blows further down the line, but also allows you to identify areas you may need to work on to make the project the best it can be; gaps that can either be filled by learning a new skill (such as developing an understanding of web design, becoming a better public speaker, or how to write a budget) but equally valid is inviting someone to help you out in that area. Seal your intention with not only a firm belief but valid proof that it can be a success.

Research and planning are invaluable but don't let this stage weigh you down. It can be tempting to limit damage by trying to solve all potential problems before you begin, but there comes a point when taking the leap and addressing any issues as they arise is the only way to make it happen. You can keep feeding into the project once it starts so, sure, R&D your little socks off, but use this preparation as a springboard not an anchor.

Give your endeavour structural support by telling other people. Putting an idea out into the universe is a great way of validating it, and will strengthen your commitment to making it happen. Get advice from someone who inspires you and surround yourself with people who bring out the best in you. Simply discussing things aloud can often make them clearer, sweeter and even jovial. Don't keep it to yourself.

The biggest villains that can overthrow your ballsy beginning are excuses and procrastination. It can often feel like x, y and z need to be in place before you can make a start but this means there is a danger you never will. A shiny new thing may feel like it needs lots of people or money or stuff, but start by planting the seed. If you have dreams of a big exhibition, start small; find a local space or put up work in your bedroom. If you need equipment, swap skills for resources and utilise tools from those around you for mutual gain. Identified your dream job? seek experience and meaningful encounters through whatever you're passionate about. Work up; don't cease before you've begun.

And finally the most important thing to possess when beginning is determination. This does not need to be conviction towards a fixed end product, but rather the commitment to a process and a reason to keep trying. Ideas naturally evolve and sometimes mutate completely, but set out your intentions clearly and allow yourself to be led by your values and instincts. Continually define the next step you need in order to reach your goal - keep going and you'll find yourself there.

Tuesday, 24 December 2013


I draw this Christmas hunk-o-rama as a present for the biggest Elvis fan I know. The man's lips are gorgeous and should have their own pencil colour name in my opinion; sweet tomato snarl.

Happy Christmas everyone and thank you very much.

Sunday, 8 December 2013

Pump Up The Volume.

Little did I know when I signed up for VOLUME: Birmingham's Art, Book & Print Fair that I would be on crutches. With the help of some exhibition elves I carted prints, zines and various bits and bobs of both mine and creative comrade Kate Rowland to the new Library of Birmingham and took residence at a stall there for two days with a broken toe hidden under the tablecloth. Lots of nice people passed through, and some of them bought things, so I thank them for putting this smile on my face. N'aww.

Wednesday, 4 December 2013


Me and Kate Rowland made a zine! It wasn't easy at first but it came together rather magically in the final week; me ripping the delivery box apart with glee upon it's freshly printed arrival like a schmuck at Chrismukkah. A long-time idea, the wee volume contains portraits of people, real and fictional, that we think are totes badass for various reasons. Fighting for freedom, education, their own families, everyone in here deserves kudos and respect, and we know we wouldn't mess with them. Check out my portraits of Marie Curie and Rosa Parks below; times and worlds apart but with the same spirit to challenge and make a difference. Booyah!

Sunday, 3 November 2013


Since moving back to Birmingham last year I've taken it upon myself to get involved with anything and everything creative and awesome that crops up, and I'd compare finding these as like a trail of bread crumbs; with each leads to more. Upon spying a paid role to work as a festival assistant at Eye Candy Festival, organised by Fused mag, I leapt at the chance to explore Birmingham's Southside and support the artists involved. The weekend mainly involved running round in the rain and painting chalk signs with the lovely Demi Nandhra which can't be bad, and I even got to take a spin in Flatpack's Vintage Mobile Cinema, pull a print with The Culture Cart and try my hand at depicting French icon Marianne at Le Truc's live portrait event. The latter was nerve-racking for me as a small-scale on-paper kinda girl, but boy did I get a taste for it!

My Marianne will remain on Le Truc's walls until next year's event, so go have a glass of champagne with her anytime ;)

Sunday, 20 October 2013


On that Breaking Bad hype.

Yes Mr White. Yes Science!

Wednesday, 25 September 2013

Cannon Hill Lectures 2.0

As a new dawning of the Cannon Hill Collective approaches, I think it's about time I posted the new designs to accompany CHC's sister project; the Cannon Hill Lectures. A shorter sharper season of fortnightly sessions this time around, I drew on some of my particularly ballsy Two Word Pep-Talks to visually provoke a sense the adventure, discovery, and wonder these lectures conjure: a sense that anything was possible.



This time I focused on making the typography into a stronger part of the project's identity, opting for a 3-D block text that emphasises and places value on each word as an individual unit, even amidst such a playful multi-coloured palette. For me the postcards essentially almost designed themselves, each session linking to a different childhood dream occupation tucked away in my little noodle:

Getting You Creative Project Off The Ground - Tue 8th Oct

Knowing Your Audience - Tue 22nd Oct

Build Your Own Festival - Tue 5th Nov

How to not Give Up on your Creative Career - Tue 19th Nov

Skills for the 21st Century - Tue 3rd Dec

I would also like to cite Mr. Benn as a direct influence on this series, as each day when stepping out of his house he could be anyone he wanted, in any time or place, be it a medieval knight, lion tamer or an intergalactic space traveller dressed in purple. Like him we can choose our own path, and heaven forbid it should be a well-trodden or dull one.

Monday, 23 September 2013

Bostin Fittle: Eating out in Birmingham.

As lots of fresh faces enter Birmingham to be quickly transformed from P.Y.T.s into fantastically grotesque student beings, Area Guide invited me to form part of the welcome committee by writing an article about where Brum's best bites to eat can be obtained. This was an easy one for me and rather handily justified a year of plentiful eating out (score). Priding myself on rediscovering my city a fair bit since moving back from Bournemouth, it was nice to highlight some of the amazing independent eateries I've come across as well as relishing (chortle) the opportunity to draw one of my most beloved foods of all: the burger.

You can read the full article in Area Student Guide 2013 online here: 

Sunday, 22 September 2013

Burgers & Buns.

I was asked by a lovely fellow AUB graduate to create a lavish poster for her upcoming burlesque night down Bournemouth way. Entitled The Great Exhibitionists of Boscombe the event is part of The Great Exhibition of Boscombe weekender, in association with Bournemouth Arts by the Sea festival.

Featuring quirky story-led burlesque performances such as Felicity Future's Dr. Furore's Laboratory and The Matador by Luna Peach, my first few design ideas didn't really hit the mark. Wanting to suggest burlesque in general rather than depicting an individual act, I inadvertently showcased a more traditional strand of feather-fan burlesque that the event was keen to shake up. Easily solved with the right image of the headliner and a vicious all-nighter, the response to the poster has been great, but I'll always have a soft spot for the faceless anti-venus and other fleshy casualties that I created along the way.

via instagram

Monday, 16 September 2013

Rude Food Fiesta: A bit of a mouthful.

This weekend I offered my services to a food festival with a difference. The latest event from Companis, Rude Food Fiesta invaded Edible Eastside promising lots of naughty treats and tricks to get taste buds in a twist. Granted, allotments are normally quite filthy places, but this weekend's antics definitely got a few hands and minds dirty, taking the site's seedy and soiled ratings right up to 'X'.

Art, music, and all manner of dubious physical activities contributed to a stimulatingly ramshackle day of celebrating what we put in our mouths, with the fun and frolics far removed from the traditional food festival model. A long day full of laughter and mess, my duties included filling up water pistols with yoghurt for the 'Cum Shot' challenge, facilitating the races and food challenges, and even playing some form of rude rounders with a cucumber, some meringue and a whole load of sex noises.

I was in great company, muchos enjoying meeting THSH Artist in Residence Mr. Underwood, Liz Howell (see her baudy bunding in the top image) and even sharing a 'Gang Bang' cocktail with Margot Clunge of Kindle Theatre. The lovely Helen Grundy also kept us all in High Tea (gin), and with the Beer Tent rocking custom-made real ales Golden Shower & Velvet Rope from Fownes Brewery the day's merriment and mirth certainly seemed amplified by a few magical elixirs (generating even more giggles over the naughty confectionery).

As the day drew to a close, Moselele serenaded the setting sun with some controversial anthems, before Charity Shop DJ took the helm spinning records and creating a mini-mecca of carnival spirit. My favourite element of the day has to be the amazing handmade food hats by Miho Shimizu and Kirsty Roberts, transforming visitors and volunteers into walking pineapples, garlic, cabbage, even the odd tooth! Seeing such playful characters navigate the allotment gave a welcome sense of surrealism to the day, and created a unique sense of connection and community between both people and food. To this effect, to round off the evening I donned as many of their colourful creations as I could, settling on a carrot hat and charming fig collar to accessorise my RFF abron and aubergine medal, and dancing the night away with the other volunteers. 
¡Foodie wonderland!

Friday, 13 September 2013


Today I started a new job.

That may not sound like so much of a big of deal, but as someone who has hopelessly sent out a silly amount of applications for innumerable professions since graduating a year ago, to be invited to join the good ship mac was pretty darn tooting glorious. I started a new notebook on the day of my interview and not only did that unavoidably feel like a new chapter or a new term, but now perhaps it turns out that between the lines, lies some bloody great luck.

Monday, 9 September 2013

Lary, Hairy, Legendary.

My love affair with mac birmingham continues as they presented me with their Brief of the Year; to design an eye-catching flyer for local legend Jack Parker's upcoming gig. Having seen him (and his hair) hyping amiably at One Beat Saturday I knew straight away what I wanted to do with the design :¬) By playing around with showing part of his face yet keeping him wholly recognisable, I feel I have captured Jacky P as a character - the alien-like whip-haired Brummie icon that the people know and love.

Jack is a big advocate for midlands-based bands, so if you want to hear what my homeland has to offer these days check out his radio show, yo!

Sunday, 18 August 2013

Still Life.

Flyer Design by Louise Byng. Cover Image '8pm' © Kate Brinkworth

So this week it was our turn to step up to the curation plate. With Marlene Smith to guide and council us, me and my curator comrades Jade Foster, Lizzie Smith and Elizabeth Stansfield have hastily devised and produced 'Still Life', an exhibition exploring how cinematic images can generate nostalgia for spaces and times that we haven't experienced. Initially being mutually inspired by a few key pieces that were presented to us by the artists, a Laura Mulvey quote cemented the context in which we wanted to show them together: "Behind the movement of cinema is the stillness of the individual frame."

It was quite a tough project at first because me, Jade, Beth & Lizzie were very different practitioners at different stages of our development and at times our selection process and changeable plan of action became a bit exhausting. With opposing approaches and opinions in the group, countless pieces of art were deliberated over, but after a lot of pitching, a little begging and a smidge of secretly hiding pieces of work (desperate measures) the result was a true group exhibition with a new individual voice created from many. The challenge of the process led to a more considered outcome than I could ever have achieved alone, and heck, by the end we had all gone a bit barmy, fallen in love with each other and formed a killer girl band called The Chevrons.

Beth said it best ~

I had such a blast working on with and . A new family of hysteria and creativity.

We suddenly had become the most sentimental group by far, celebrating Marlene's birthday with a charming caterpillar cake and collecting photographs and other traces from the exhibition to share with the audience. Aside from this disgraceful bout of genuine cuteness, one of the most successful parts of the show was our use of Curator's Corner, where we wrote quotes from the selected artists' statements on the wall and invited the public to explore what Still Life means to them through an interactive yet losely focused brainstorm; a technique that worked well and generated some interesting discussions about the new impacts of documenting our existence, such as life being narrated through social media.

L-R: George Allen 'A BBC Building That Is Now A Car Park'; Robin Pugh 'Locus 14'; Richard Haig 'Code'

We're all very proud of what we made here together and I know I learnt a lot from working with my three crazy ladies on such a fast-paced gallery bonanza. A huge thank you to everyone who visited the show, every single artist that submitted work and took the time to talk to us about it, and all the kind mac minions that helped us along the way.

Viva la Chevrons.