Monday 16 December 2013

Father Christmas Loyalty Card

I made these loyalty cards as a small run project to sell at the London Artists' Bookfair in 2003. Nowadays loyalty points are commonplace but 10 years ago they were slightly less so. I wanted to make something that could pass as a "real" loyalty card. I left them all over the place, secretly slipping them onto shop and coffee house counters and then slipped back into the crowds to see who would pick them up and what reaction they gave. People who spotted them always picked them up and read the back upon which they quickly put them down again, frowning and looking a little upset. I stamped several of the cards as "full" but no-one, inbetween charging up their credit cards, seemed to want to even take a chance on even a full and complete card that could be redeemed for the perfect Christmas. Their loss. Happy Christmas!

Friday 20 September 2013

Rat Tales

Here's a couple of my archived illustrations dating back nearly 20 years from my BA student days in Manchester. I spent a lot of time getting boozed-up on hoegaarden down Canal Street ( AKA 'anal 'treet, it being the main thoroughfare of city's Gay Village ) One drunken night I saw a rat swimming in the canal and became full of the idea that a community of rats were living under the city, specifically around the canal. I created a few pencil ink and watercolour sketches at the time on some old paper, torn from the back of an old paperback book, which has aged even more during the last 20 years. I still have lots of ideas for adventures for the Rodent Community. Unfortunately or not, as the case may be, the resulting content may not be for children, despite having that look to the illustration style.
 A map showing the main points of interest to the rodent inhabitants of the area

The rats find a used condom, and much discussion is had in what to do about it.

Wednesday 28 August 2013


During my time as an MA student and - much to my chagrin - for a while after graduating, I worked as a chambermaid and then a housekeeper at the Grand Hotel in Brighton. It was a love hate tussle between earning money and supporting myself and feeling the lowest of the low. Cleaning up other people's shit makes you feel like a piece of shit yourself. It shouldn’t do, but it does. 

There was a sweeter smelling paradox however, in the fact that hard physical work can often force the muse out of the shadows and I often reflect on how creative I felt during the dual life I lead. Five days of the week I worked full time at the hotel, serving a credit fuelled public (this was the post millennium boomtime when people were pissing their free credit up the wall as well as copious amounts of urine) On the other days of the week and anytime in-between I worked on my MA at the University or at home in my rented flat. When I was at the hotel I carried numerous tiny notebooks and scraps of paper in my overall pockets. I stopped dead in corridors when ideas struck me and sat for precious minutes amongst the linens writing down ideas and scrawling tiny pictures on the hotel note paper, the pristine white towels and sheets towering above me like a sense of martyred responsibility. I based whole projects around the hotel out of necessity. The ideas evolved out of a primordial stew of hot dark carpeted rooms, sweaty polyester uniforms, dirty towels, excrement, hair and dust, half-drunk bottles of champagne and unclaimed lost property. Fuelling the ideas was a vicious feeling for nostalgia and an obsession with the Greek Myths. Visitors to the hotel became heroes and legends, part of the fabric of my imagined narratives and so intertwined became my internal stories with the characters around me I too became part of the tale. Reflected in the glassed and brass surfaces in the elevator interior, I saw Sisyphus glowering back in brassy hues, forever cleaning the finger marks and smears made by the passengers only to have them reappear when my back was turned. On other days I saw Dionysus,six foot and hairy, slinking into the executive suites, heavy doors slamming in the sea breeze behind his cloven feet. Some characters were more modern, like the 6th floor ghost. On busy swelteringly hot summer days and evenings, myth blurred into reality with ease as I ran ragged from room to room delivering extra toiletries and biscuits. Some days I would do a double shift from 8 in the morning until 9 at night. I would stagger home exhausted, brimming with ideas yet bridled with fatigue. Several ideas I formed whilst working there are still to come to fruition. I still have torn fragments of paper with blueprints of projects, waiting to bloom, the pencil marks and scribbles as fresh as the day they were scribed. Other projects I managed to bring into realisation, propelled through the exhaustion by sheer will power. Below is one of them, inspired by this piece of ephemera (click for link). How I longed to travel and to be a visitor to a hotel in a distant land and to be completely wilfully blind and ignorant to the misery of the people working behind the scenes. Having been on the other side of the service door, “back of house”, the illusion of perceived luxury is smeared. This is my own souvenir, hewn from my own experience and just as potent. And yes, it really was that filthy . . . although, not on my watch.

Sunday 4 August 2013

Ladybird Lights

The matchbox to end all nursery rhymes. I created this little handmade hand painted found objects piece quite a few years ago now, but it has, like all good folk and nursery rhymes, survived being cast aside for so long. I found the deceased Ladybird in a drawer one spring day. It must have found its way into there one chilly autumn day to hibernate but then perhaps couldn't get out or maybe just died. But not in vain, this little beetle lives on in Ladybird Lights! She has faded a little but still looks the part as she takes her place in one of the most intriguing of nursery rhymes.

The box is made of buff card, has a strip of sandpaper for the striking edge and was hand painted before being charred with a lighted match. Box size is that of a standard small matchbox.

Thursday 21 February 2013

Purpose Made Ephemera #1 - Circe's Beermats

Here are a couple of beermats I made a few years ago as part of an MA project. All the items in the project were hand made short run multiples or one-offs, and they were collected together to form a "tactile narrative". The story I constructed drew inspiration from Greek Mythology and these beermats are a reference to The Odyssey and the transformation through intoxication of man to pig (something that still goes on to this day on Friday nights throughout the land) Beer mats have always fascinated me, so they easily found their way into the project. As part of this narrative they have been packaged into a souvenir from the ancient realm, touched and beer-splashed by a legend and yours to keep forever . . .

Tuesday 22 January 2013

Introducing Mr Acorn!

This is one of my multiples / small run projects. Mr Acorn is a kit assembly character that comes with all the necessary parts and instructions to create your own Mr Acorn Character. I used to make lots of "Mr Acorns" when I was young using the same materials that are included in the box. Mr Acorn is unique to his owner -  You can make your Mr Acorn grumpy, sad, mad or happy just from how you put his eyes on and draw his mouth. Mr Acorn is a seasonal product. I hand pick the finest Acorns with only the best hats, sometimes this means that not many Mr Acorn Kits are made, because I can't bear to include a less than perfect model acorn into the kit.

The Mr Acorn box measures approx. 60 x 80 x 35mm. Box and inner contents are designed, printed and hand constructed from board and paper.

If this year is a good year for Acorns, Mr Acorn may be available to purchase this coming autumn and winter. If not, Mr Acorn is still about in another guise and medium . . . keep watching.