Thursday, 20 February 2014

Art Club...

I really want to start a weekly 'art club'*, it would be somewhat like flight club without any fighting and you'd be encouraged to talk about it... alot, so basically nothing like fight club at all. 

I want to start it because I'm looking for a low pressure reason to draw, paint, make a sculptor, take a photo, write a poem or whatever creative itch I need to scratch every week. I could do this on my own but it's nice to share a creative journey with others and the internet makes that so easy. I also need to have some way to be held accountable, I don't really get anything done that doesn't have a deadline.

The problem with 'the art club' is having to come up with and write a weekly brief. I don't want this to be as simple as drawing an object (although sometimes it could be). I want the briefs to be thought provoking and answerable in any number of ways. The briefs also need to be short enough to be summed up in a tweet. I'm writing today to see firstly if people would be interested in me investing time into setting this up and secondly to get ideas for projects. My initial thought was to run with classic but very open themes like 'still life', 'figurative', 'light', 'landscape' but is this too old school/boring?

Lately I have been back working nearly full time as a graphic design freelancer. Unexpectedly I'm really enjoying it. If you don't know my history I worked in a couple of design agencies for a number of years and pretty much burnt myself out creatively (like so many people who work in the industry). Spending all day designing does mean however that my personal work is not getting done. It's really important to me to keep doing personal work on the side so I never kill that creative flame again. That's why I'm so keen to get this off the ground. Please have a think and let me know if you're interested in giving it a go. 

If it seems like there's enough interest I'll pull together the logistics and a number of project ideas next week and we can start getting creative.

*Better name and graphics still to come!

Wednesday, 12 February 2014

Valentine's Cards for Non Romantic, Romantic Types

I think I've said this before but I'm not much for Valentine's Day. I've spent more single than coupled and when I am with a partner I usually agree it's silly to celebrate but then feel like I'm missing out. Talk about over thinking. To be honest I handled the whole thing with a lot more grace when I was on my own.

Anyway for some reason finding alternate ways of expressing feelings without being soppy or all that romantic is something that seems to resinate with me. So if you've left buying a card a bit late and can't be assed making your own here are 3 downloadable cards.

If like me you're currently hooked to 'The Bachelor' then maybe this is the card for you. Lets face it top 3's not bad there are some real hotties on that show. Download here...

This one is for horror movie fans, it's funny how quite a romantic statement can be turned into something totally creepy with the right font and the addition of the word soul. Download here...

I bloody (pun intended) love Sharknado, it's sharks and tornados and even a chain-sew. Really what more could you want . Anyway I figured this would make a good card for boys. You can say you care, drop a pop culture reference an give them a picture of a shark all in one hit. Not many valentines cards that do that. Download here...

Monday, 20 January 2014

New Year, New House Again

Castro our dog photo bombing our new home
I'm sorry I've been so quiet lately. December is always a blur and this December we also got given notice on our rental home so the landlady can renovate and sale. This happened to us pretty much at the same time last year and to be frank I just wasn't ready to move again so soon. I tried hard to stop it being a black cloud over Christmas but I just couldn't see the bright side. All the fun holiday plans and creative projects I was so looking forward to got scrapped, replaced by house hunting, organising the move and packing.
St Kilda Beach

St Clair Beach

I guess it's all worked out fine in the end we have a nice house in a better area, close to the beautiful beaches of St. Kilda, St Clair. I'm still feeling fairly shell shocked from the move and I differently don't feel like my usual happy-go-lucky self yet but hopefully once all the unpacking is finished I'll be able to get my head straight and get on with life and work as usual.
Castro enjoy his new walks

I don't know if I have big plans for 2014 but I sure have some modest ones that I should put in writing soon. One of which should be 'working hard not to neglect this blog'. I hope you all had a lovely Christmas and that the new year is off to a grand start. C x 

Monday, 25 November 2013

Rust and Stardust

I have been really busy over the past couple of months, a combination of teaching, freelancing at home, freelancing out in real offices, plus doing everything needed to keep Dear Colleen ticking along. I'm not complaining just with so much pressure on my time something had to give and sadly this blog was it. So much has gone on that I want to share, I'll do a real catch up soon. However today I want to write a little piece about two girls, three dogs, a warehouse and a dream.

Amy and Evie work in Auckland and have joined forces to set up what, they aim to become New Zealand's foremost hand printed textile studio. They have a great space and although they look incredibly set up they are seriously short of kit. That's where PledgeMe comes in. If you have a minute to look at their campaign they have been working their socks off to design a stylish range of rewards so you can combine giving a helping hand with Christmas shopping (or just treating yourself). 

Scott and I were running around the house last night trying to measure our collie dog to make sure he'd fit on the 'Outside-In floor cushion'(above). He does, just, so we've snapped one up. Below is a little peak at my favourite items but please go and have a look at the whole range.

Four Camping themed symbol cushions.
Pup tent, like those cat caves but 1,000x nicer to look at.

Running a Crowd Funding campaign is really hard work with no guarantee of reward. Even it you can't help out financially please think about sharing a link or telling a friend. These little things are so greatly appreciated and really do make the world of difference. 

Sunday, 29 September 2013

Seasons' Eatings 2014 Sneak Peak

Pardon the pun but I've rather bitten off more than I can chew with this years calendar. I feel like I've been drawing nothing but food for months now. I long to start drawing hot dudes for tea towels again. I'm running horribly behind and I'm so sorry for this. There is light at the end of the tunnel though and everything is starting to come together. 
The success of the PledgeMe campaign was wonderful and totally humbling for both Bron (the clever recipe writer) and myself. I fear we have both been a little overwhelmed and turned into perfectionists. Wanting to make sure we deliver a product worthy of the funds we raised. that's not to say I think the work I am doing is perfect just that I'm being super critical of every drawing I do and find myself redoing and redrawing items again and again.
When I'm not being a crazy artist though I can see that it's all coming together nicely and the recipes  Bron keeps emailing are month wateringly good.

My aim is to get the calendar to print in the next 5-8 days and providing I don't get called into my freelance job more than a day or two I imagine it should be achievable. In the time being I though I would share some of the illustrations.... Just to show I'm not slacking off

Tuesday, 24 September 2013

DIY Fabric Printing

This weekend I did a short course at the local Polytech in 'beginners fabric printing'. The focus was mostly on basic screen printing using paper stencils rather than photo emulsion screens.

If you haven't heard of screen printing before it's basically a way of making multiple prints by using a stencil process in which an image or design is superimposed on a very fine mesh screen. Printing ink is then squeegeed onto the printing surface through the area of the screen that is not covered by the stencil.

I've been thinking a lot lately about getting a screen printing set up at home and now it feels more achievable than ever. Mostly it's just a case of saving up for the equipment. I'm going to try and share some of the gems of information I picked up over the weekend, mostly though this post will act as a shopping list for the basic kit you need to get set up at home.

1. Screen printing screen

2. Screen printing squeegee – you'll want a couple of sizes. I found the small (shown below and medium most useful) also cooking spatulas and plastic spoons are really useful for mixing and spreading the ink.
3. Paper to cut we used news print which worked really well the better quality thicker paper I also tried didn't work any where near as well so I'd say the cheaper and thinner the better.

4. Craft knife or scalpel and cutting mat.

5. Padded surface. The Polytech had desks covered with a hard foam top (search or ask about underfelt foam) this was covered with a blanket then everything was covered with calico, pulled tort and pinned into place.

6. T- Pins for holding your fabric in place.
7. Masking tape

8. Solvent free print paste and ink dyes. You mix a couple of drops of dye to a cup of the paste to make your printing ink. You can of course mix the inks to make new colours, just like painting. The paste comes in transparent, which is what I used and opaque white which is good for printing lighter colours or onto dark fabrics.
9. Fabric or garments for printing on. Natural cottons work best.

10. An iron or heat press to heat set the ink.

11. newspaper and plastic sheeting to keep your house ink free. Apron, thin plastic gloves to keep yourself clean. Set up in a space near running water so you can clean your kit quickly and easily.

1. Draw your design onto the newsprint paper. Make sure your design is smaller than your screen. Stencils work like/as silhouettes so you can't have any details within a shape that is being cut out.

2. Using a scalpel or craft knife cut out your design.

3. if you are printing onto a garment or item like a tote bag put a sheet of paper between the front and back to stop any ink sinking through. Then use the t-pins to attached your fabric or garment onto you desk. The t-pins should easily push into the foam top.
4. Use masking tape to attach your paper stencil to your screen (you can mask of areas of your stencil to use later with a different colour ink as shown below)
5. Mix your inks ready to print using a spatula.
6. Spread the ink onto your screen in a line behind the start of you stencil.

7. Holding the squeegee at a 45 degree angle. Pull it through the ink towards you (often you would be recommended to flood the screen with ink before printing but our teacher didn't recommend doing this with a paper stencil as the life of a paper stencil is limited to 5-10 good prints before degrading and becoming unusable). If your pulling your squeegee correctly it should make a zip noise when pulled.

8. Lift your screen carefully from one side like opening a book and that's you done unless, like me you want to print more colours. Really you should wait for the ink to dry before printing onto the fabric again but who can be bothered with that! Plus you have to clean the screen before the ink dries which means losing your paper stencil.
9. I used one half of the stencil to print the blue and one half to print the yellow, masking off with paper as shown above. Once this was done I felt like it needed a third colour so i cleaned the screan basically with an old rag and did one final print in a pink ink.

10. Clean your screen and equipment in water, the faster you do this the easier it is to get the ink off. Leave the ink to air dry on the fabric around 2 hours depending on how thick the ink is. Once it's dry heat set using an iron for around 4 minutes. Place a piece of paper between the iron and the fabric so your iron doesn't get ink on it.

We also got to try out the thermal copier that makes a simple photo image screens from photo copies. Not as high quality as a photo emulsion screen but good for trying out little illustrations or motifs,
Copier shown above and the floppy fabric screen it makes shown below.

I used a mix of paper stencils and a thermal printed screen to make these prints.
I love the over prints and double registration. I hardly ever play around with making pretty stuff just because. It was really good fun not to be worried about a target market or design concept for once and i'm keen to keep letting myself play with just creating for the sake of it for a while. If you're thinking of starting screen printing at home I'd highly recommend doing a short course first as getting the hang of pulling the squeegee is a bit tricky. If you can't find a course though, this etsy film is a good starting point.

Tuesday, 27 August 2013

What the Hell to Buy Your Dad...

If you're anything like me, buying for your Dad is always the hardest. With Fathers day just round the corner I though I'd ask my Partner, Scott (a real life man) to pick some affordable gifts that would make even the grumpiest Dad smile. 

Shameless plug alert my 'More Awesome that 2Pac on a Unicorn' t-shirt has just been restocked in all sizes and is a pretty neat gift for telling Dad how cool he is. However if 2Pac's not your Dads' bag. Here's Scotts list. Most of these are NZ finds so you should still have time to sort for Sunday.

The Smith Journal by Frankie Press ($12.95 NZ in most bookstores like Whitcoulls, Paper Plus etc) … a quarterly mag for discerning men which surveys interesting, creative and genuine folk with stories. Your Dad can gloat that he knows 'what's up' cause he reads Smith. Volume 7 out now. 

Samurai Sword Chopstick Set by Think Geek ($7.79 US or a set of 3 for $19.99 US) … you know your Dad doesn't eat pies for lunch he eats sushi! So facilitate him to do so in style and annihilate his lunch with these samurai sword chopsticks.  

Rude Hand Gestures of the World Book ($21.95 NZ from the online store Wocolate) … description writes itself.

Bear Grylls Scout Folding Knife by Gerber ($52.50 NZ from Top Gear) … although your Dad can't be Bear Grylis, let him fantasize about being so with this Bear Grylis knife. He can open any can, slice an apple or just scratch his back. 

The Dude Abides Sweater ($48.00 US from the Lebowskifest Store) … all Dad's love the Big Lebowski and now you can confirm that he is also the DUDE. 

Regional Art Prints by Ink Big ($30 NZ  for a A2 art print from  Ink Big, other sizes available) … for your Dad's home office, get some beautiful illustrative prints that give sentiment to the wonderful family holidays of summer past. They can replace that scantily clad poster which has been up for ages but no one will acknowledge as art, let alone talk about. 

App Store Gift Card ($30 and $50) … a none physical option.  Dad loves to tells you the latest apps he got for his phone but as you know your Dad, there are more things than Angry Birds out there. These are some more practical options. 

Camera Noir ($2.59) … Your Dad is probably not into Instagram but likes to take photos. This allows him to take 'beautiful' black and white photos without having to go to his home developing studio. 

Wake Alarm ($2.59) … it's hard enough to get Dad up in the morning. This alarm is pretty though so surely he can't get too mad with it when it wakes him from his slumber. 

Multi-Measure HD ($2.59) … bring your phone into the workshop. This will allow Dad to keep things level, measure angles and with the decibel function allow him to tell you how much noise you are making. 

Convert Bot ($2.59) … this is unit conversion robot. When your Dad is managing his shares or just needing to know how many pints he will get out of his micro home brewery this will do the trick. 

A huge thanks to my lovely better half Scott Savage for taking time out of his day to write this.