Posted in Studio Notes

Studio Notes 01/02/19

Generally restless – it’s been a long time to be indoors. I can count on my fingers the trips I’ve made outside my house, and I’m starting to get a bit bored.

On the other hand, I’m recovering steadily and am now standing up straight and walking around, which means that it’ll be back to business soon! In the meantime…

Beware of commissioning beggars

I’ve been loving Reddit’s Choosing Beggars sub, where a surprising amount of entries have to do with artists getting lowballed – or just begged for free art – by tightwads.

When your client asks if you can do it cheaper. from r/ChoosingBeggars

The amount of abuse artists get just for asking for payment makes me glad I don’t chase commissions. I considered it, but decided I didn’t want that.

Our homemade book was well received…

T’s hilarious epic novella

I started off well, trying to follow the instructions in an old bookbinding book I was given years ago – but the instructions went something like, “sit at a gilded table no more than 3 feet from any corner of your room, with your book placed 12 inches in front of you at a .25° clockwise angle, and commence wrigglestitching whilst a cockerel crows.”

Needless to say, I just hand-stitched the signatures and back to the best of my ability.

Finally getting somewhere with photography

About this time last year, I bought a DSLR camera, mostly to use for my other blog and to take pictures of my artwork. Of course, starting (mostly) from scratch, I had next to no idea of what I was doing and next to no idea of how to learn, so I turned to the internet.

I came across The Beginner Photography Podcast, which broke things down into fairly manageable bites. It comes at photography from a commercial point of view, focusing on wedding or event photography, but that doesn’t matter when learning about the basic technical aspects.

Besides that, it goes on to discuss aspects of running a creative business that are useful for artists as well as photographers, so I recommend it.

A year ago I didn’t really have the time to put into photography, but now I do have a bit of time where I can play around with the camera, and learn a bit more through trial and error. Even though I haven’t been actively looking up information on technique, I can tell I’m improving somewhat. Is this going to make a photographer out of me at last?

Absolutely not! But maybe it’ll make me a better artist.

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Studio Notes 01/02/19

Studio Notes 25/01/19

Bookbinding. That’s what I have to figure out today.

Nothing too complicated, just an A5 booklet made up of two signatures of printer paper and a cartridge paper cover, but it’s still something I haven’t done for ages and on top of that, it’s a present. For tomorrow.

After a few days of editing, story filling, typesetting and printing, I now get to bind the epic book that my son has written. Something tells me he’s been the victor in this battle of the division of labour. Anyway, here’s some more of the week’s highlights and general things I wanted to proclaim.

Pop Culture Detective

I discovered this channel earlier in the month but after watching a few more videos I have to recommend Pop Culture Detective’s YouTube channel. It is now officially my new favourite thing or at least one of five New Favourite Things.

The video essays dig into aspects of masculinity in pop culture that I never even put my finger on, but recognised instantly. I’ve had a go at writing this kind of essay before with my Rocky critique but this channel shows how to do it properly. With titles like Stalking For Love and Abduction As Romance, you’ll find yourself questioning what the movies have been doing to your brain all these years.

Gold rush

Everything is gold!

This week I stumbled across a site called PrettyWebz (oh, that Z…) and it’s full of tutorials on creating metallic effects as well as vectorising fonts in PowerPoint – a blessing for people who don’t have Photoshop.

It was an eye-opener, to say the least. It’s actually allowed me to replicate a text effect that I’ve been after for one of my other sites, to match its logo. Besides that, I’ve put it to use in putting some bling on the cover of T’s aforementioned novella.

The Riddler strikes

Yes, I know it’s just a Primark t-shirt, but what’s wrong with that?

I designed the question mark a few weeks ago (going nuts with fonts) and have been trying to keep it under my [bowler] hat, but T caught a glimpse of the file on my laptop… Still, I don’t think he knows what’s coming.

The shirt is a surprise gift for T and an excuse for the grown-ups to geek out a bit. Last year I gave in to a fit of nostalgia and started gathering up the comic books I’d loved when I was about 7, and I’m still working on that collection.

We’d planned to print a Riddler-inspired shirt for each of us but could only find two men’s tops, so mine will have to wait. I did a quick tutorial for Ste on how to help expose a screen (the screens I coated last month were waiting for me and still good) and pull a print. So this time around I had an assistant for a change!

Binding, printing & photo editing

There was a lot more going on this week than I thought there would be, so who knows what will come around in the next few days?

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Studio Notes, 25/01/2019

Studio Notes 18/01/19

Not being able to work as I normally would has pushed me hard towards graphic design. Funny, I had envisioned spending my time putting all of my previous visual notes in order in my sketchbook, but I haven’t touched it once.

Part of the slide towards design has come from the fact that it’s so sorely needed. I have too many live websites with butt-ugly images on them, and that’s not a good thing to admit as an artist. Thing is, graphic design and fine art are two very different things, and I know just enough to know that I’m not a designer.

Still, it doesn’t look great, seeing as I should (and usually do) know better. Sometimes when you’re close up to a project with a tight deadline and very little resources and, you convince yourself that good enough is actually good, when it wasn’t even good enough in the first place.

This reflection came from looking back at my other site’s Pinterest images from 2016 to now – you would have thought they were created by two entirely different people! With all the time sitting still, I’ve been able to work out a plan for an image overhaul.

Free (and decent) design resources

Taking my own pictures was not an option – not being mobile and all that – so I started a quest to find some good stock images that weren’t already used to death.

That’s where I came across Rawpixel, which has some fantastic photographs and vectors and offers many for free. This link gives you a month’s premium membership.

Creative Market is one of my favourite resources for one of my favourite design elements – fonts! Every Monday I check their “free goods” offering, to see if there are any stock images, seamless patterns or fonts that catch my eye. It all started when I bought two fonts there at the end of 2017 and I’ve been a fan since then.

The design bug strikes in the family

A very talented playing card-obsessed teenager I know has opened his own Zazzle store!

What started out as a way to create one custom printed deck of cards turned into a bit of an entrepreneurial crusade. Who knows if it’s the start of an empire?

Speaking of Zazzle, I’ve been questioning whether I want to keep my own store open at all, or just set up a design site elsewhere. You know, because I need more things that I don’t get around to doing.

The problem I’ve faced for years is whether to legitimise something that I only really play with. I’m not a designer and I don’t really want to be, but I like it as a diversion. Plus, I like owning my own merch.

Present day approaches…

Our annual present day is looming and I can’t exactly nip out to pick up any surprise gifts, which is a pain. On top of that, I can’t exactly make any gifts.

The original plan was to print some t-shirts but I’m not sure if that will come to pass either!

What I have been doing is putting my typographical fix to work in designing the gift tags we’ll be using (look out for those in a few weeks).

Maybe in another week’s time I’ll have a stencil cut and be able to direct the printing from a distance. A bit like a real designer, right?

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Studio Notes 18/01/19

Studio Notes 11/01/19

This week has been more of the same, like I thought it would be. Watching lots of YouTube has shown me that my screen printing setup is less than rudimentary, but I’ll be rocking the extreme DIY version for a while yet.

It also gave me an idea for a niche video channel that I’ll never get around to starting though, so at least my brain’s been sufficiently agitated.

Distracted by typography

This actually happens at least a handful of times every year. This time it started because I’ve been designing a typeface to print onto a t-shirt for my son – but I only need some punctuation marks, so maybe “designing a typeface” is hyping that up a bit.

Still, it was enough to give me the bug again and this time I’ve actually been playing around with FontStruct and Calligraphr, which do let you design your own typeface. I’ve got a few on the go, but in the middle of working on one I realised it would be a lot more work than I can spare right now.

Maybe they’ll appear as prints later in the year. I dunno.

A playing card wedged in ceiling coving 11/01/19
Yes, that’s a card wedged in the living room coving.

The world of playing cards

This is entirely new to me, but thanks to my son I’ve truly been enlightened. He’s into throwing cards at the moment so he’s after a few different decks, but I’ve been bowled over by the absolutely beautifully designed decks out there. Even the boxes are sometimes marvels of product design.

The other side of this interest is finding cards everywhere. Everywhere.

Domain name ideas

Ok, so another one of my hobbies is hoarding domain names (judge me, I don’t care) and of course I came up with a few crackers. I’m particularly fond of going across the dot with TLDs to make up words… well, there are nerdier things you could do.

I was going to share a few of the wackier ones I came up with but I haven’t decided whether I’m actually ready to let them go! Well, that is kinda the point of hoarding, but I don’t know if I’m prepared to spend my money on odd domains instead of art supplies.

I was thinking about justifying it by setting up a new site for some of my wonky design efforts and random finds, but I have so many sites on the go even now that I backed down from that precipice pretty quickly.

Next week?

I’m a lot more mobile than I was even two days ago, so I’m hopeful to have more studio developments to share, with more photographs.

I’ve also decided that I really should come up with a name for my little studio mate. Egbert maybe? Any thoughts?

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Studio Notes 11/01/19
Chillin’ in the studio. Seriously, it’s freezing in there.


Studio Notes – Planning For 2019

For the first full week of 2019, I’ve been sitting still. It’s been boring.

Thanks to a minor operation in the last week of 2018 I’ve had to basically do nothing but rest, cutting my latest project in half. Up until the last minute I had been developing and testing my first banknote (part of the money project), a double sided, three-colour screen print.

For most of December I worked on the design, created my home screen exposure setup, bought equipment, mixed inks and then made a few colour test runs.

Then I had to stop.

Making the best of it


Whilst I’ve been unable to work on my printmaking, I’ve decided to look at the positives: there are still creative, useful things I can do whilst sitting down. I’ve been doing a few different things:

  • learning how to use GIMP properly
  • creating half-tone images for a group portrait
  • redesigning and producing cover images for my blogs
  • taking stock photos in the studio
  • watching all of the screenprinting videos on YouTube
  • brainstorming business ideas I won’t have time for
  • general plotting

Granted, coming up with new business ideas (screen printing can send you on tangents) is not exactly useful but it helps to keep your brain humming. I’ve got quite a few t-shirt ideas now!

Most of my screen print artwork (well, probably all of it) comes from hand-drawn elements, not computer graphics, but the fact is that some things would be better done using computer programs.

Over the last few days I’ve been able to get my head around GIMP at last – just enough to make it less intimidating and more of a help than a potential hindrance.

Next week?

Hopefully week 2 will see me more mobile but I think it’ll be more of the same: looking on the bright side and getting all the preparation in.

Next week

Studio notes: planning for 2019.

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