Art has no limit or boundaries and I am always to intrigued to get inside artist’s heads to find out what makes them tick. I actually came across freelance illustrator, Nick Willis of nick’s fault, as he entered my herbal tea competition on my other blog. Working in a funeral directors during the day and freelancing at night, I ask Nick more about his creative skill and dreamy, hypnotic drawings.
Where did your love of art come from?
My love of art is an old and deep-set feature of my childhood; my brothers and I would sit backwards on the pews in church as kids and spend the whole service drawing batman and cars – My dad used to pitch in (presumably if he wasn’t all that taken with the message!) and always managed to create really brilliant pictures in an incredibly short period of time, usually of steam trains and the like. I think I always just wanted to emulate him – What young boy doesn’t want the approval of their father? I also had a very immersive experience of picture books as a youngster; a story was never as good if it wasn’t filled with full colour, lucid illustrations. From then on, I always described the world to everyone around me through pictures.
Is illustrating your full-time job?
Sadly, illustrating isn’t my full-time job yet – I try to get as much freelance work as possible and am always working on my own projects but that isn’t paying the rent just yet, so I work full-time as an in-house desktop publisher for a funeral directors, of all places!
What or where do you draw inspiration from?
I try to escape reality in my work and always have. It’s not that there isn’t plenty of interesting stuff to draw from on earth, it’s just that I prefer to study it, learn to draw it and then take it apart, using various elements from everything that I’ve ever seen to create worlds of my own. I look at new and exciting science articles, hand drawn maps, old writings of explorers and biologists anatomical drawings – All of it end up influencing my work one way or another, albeit indirectly.
What materials do you use for your illustrations? And what computer programs?
I try to mix up my working methods but always have a safety net of ink pens and Photoshop – I’m always playing around with printing inks and lino cutting, as well as good old colouring pencils, but when I need to produce a professional final piece of work it tends to be rendered on paper and then coloured on the computer; it just means that I know I can make it print ready for my clients!
If you had to pick one of your illustrations, which has been your favourite to date?
Choosing one of my own illustrations as a favourite is really tough! I think I can pinpoint one which signifies a point at which I started to really raise my game in a technical sense and that’s an image called “Flying Inventions” – It’s just a bit of fun but it reflects my style and desire to create new things, as well as tapping to some more detailed colouring skills. I think I’ve probably created more detailed work since then but, for me, this image reflects my style and captures the fun I have while drawing.
What advice would you give someone trying to get into illustration?
It’s hard to give advice to would-be illustrators because I really still class myself as one too! For what it’s worth, I think it’s important to find your own style and go for it, unrelentingly. Anyone can follow tutorials of how to perfectly render a million photorealistic images online but it’s the people who create their own style from scratch and find a voice through it that have always made the biggest impact. Also, don’t give up if you haven’t made it in a year, 3 years or even 10! If you love it, keep doing it – Make ends meet however you need to but never let go of that small part of your soul that wants to draw something.
Sum up your design style in 10 words.
Escapist, skeletal-free whimsy in a world that’s too serious.
Bang. It’s time to make your content explosive and engaging; the big event that everyone wants to read. So how do you do it? After being on the ‘blogging scene’ a little while, I thought I would share what I find interesting on blogs or sites; the pieces that really work. Here are my top blog post ideas:
1. A picture paints a thousand words. Photographs can be just as, if not more effective (sorry writers), than words. They stand alone and do not need to be supported by any lengthy explanations or superfluous information. Some of the best food and fashion blogs I read are those with high-quality images and nothing else. This prompts readers to interact with the site and leave comments. You leave them wanting to know more.
2. Interview other bloggers or experts. As with any industry you have to know your field, therefore it only makes sense to collaborate with people in the same circle. I love teaming up with other bloggers or companies when possible. For example on my beauty blog I am taking part in the Valentine’s Day blogger swap. This is the perfect opportunity to meet like-minded bloggers (in beauty and fashion) whilst exchanging gifts!
3. Create a weekly, fortnightly or monthly post. I am starting that this year with my beauty blog, by creating a fashion wishlist every month (this coincides with the date of payday, forever imprinted in my mind. A welcome distraction.). This structure lets readers know exactly what to expect from your blog on a weekly, fortnightly or monthly basis.
4. Run a competition. This can be a great way to reward readers of your blog. The prize does have to be of value to the readers (not necessarily in monetary terms) and has to be worth the engagement; answering a question, going on social media etc.
5. Write a ‘How to’ post. These instructional and often informative articles will never become old in my eyes. People are always searching for help and as long as your site provides a new angle then your content is worthy of a read (or a skim read at least!) For as long as the internet is around, bloggers and writers will continue to provide answers as best they can.
One tip that I haven’t mentioned but have often read is be controversial. I think this can often be misleading to the extent that writers think they have to be extremely opinionated to strike up a conversation or to gain new readers, however this is not the case. I would say it is important to use a blog or site to offer your opinion or value but not just to gain attention; be you. You also have to take into consideration who is reading your blog i.e. employers can see what you say online.
I hope my five blog post ideas can provide you with some form of inspiration for the year ahead. If you have anymore ideas that I haven’t covered then feel free to add your suggestion(s) below. I know I will certainly be referring to this in the coming months.
For literary lovers November is one of the most memorable months of the year: NanoWriMo (National Novel Writing Month). I was asked if I wanted to be a part of this fantastic project, and of course I said yes!
The idea is that a group of eight bloggers will contribute one chapter each using Rory’s Story Cubes to guide the narrative. You can read the first chapter from blogger, Sonny and Luca. Here is my contribution of the second chapter:
The house, ‘our house’. We’d only been dating for the past seven months or so, but it had gotten serious very quickly. We met in Area 47 and she was a lot like me; a deterrent of the pollutionators, sharing very much the same vision. Since the great lightning war men and women didn’t quite interact the way they once did so this chance meeting was what we both coined ‘fate’. Everything had completely shifted since that war, including the laws of the land.
I felt my wrist but it was bare. This is odd, very odd, I never take it off. My identity signet ring was also missing. Strange. A clap of thunder rumbled in the sky; I had to get back soon, before the curfew. But how on earth had I ended up in the waste land? Or what seemed like the waste land. The bin man had been of no help. We had to call them men but we all knew them as something different. They were never made to be helpful or polite, but now, how I wished you could hit playback on one of them and retrace my steps. How did I get here? So many questions and no answers; just a thumping headache and a smelly leather jacket for warmth.
I opened up the notebook once again and…
This is daft! How can I make sense of the old human way of writing, it is all gibberish to me. Though I can understand some of their drawings. The creased pages all have some kind of symbol, or marking. It was two small theatre faces. I’d studied these in the early years and apparently a man called Shakespeare had influenced the arts and drama culture of forgotten London. Royal characters living in castles and lots of other (what I considered) nonsense. This world was certainly no fairy-tale now. Who on earth owns this? Everything had been removed since those days and been kept under strict lock and key. One thing was certain, they’d be wanting it back.
Zzz…Zzz…The worn leather jacket was glowing a dim green colour and vibrating furiously. Anonymous. A faint whispering voice, female, “meet me at the sunny face archway. Use the light on this phone to signal your arrival. Head towards magnet town if you don’t know the way, don’t speak to anyone.”
That certainly made no sense. For one, these old mobile phones weren’t meant to exist anymore let alone work! I put one foot in front of the other and followed the sign.
Make sure you visit the Waterstones website and check out the 2013 book shortlist from the finest authors.
Find the next chapters here..
Following a brief phone conversation with my friend who is currently studying at drama school (not university), it made me realise what you miss when you’re away. You’re living away from home, and you have the ultimate freedom. You have no one to tell you when to wake up or what time you have to be back for. You do have to learn to live with others and their living habits, but generally it is fun, sociable and you think you’ve made it.
This impromptu call made me write this, following one thing she said…
“It was good to be back, in familiar surroundings and yes it does feel surreal. When I am living there I forget the endless months I spent being at home and working. Not that much seems different but I feel it. In myself. I know I have only been away a couple of months but I feel different, not this place. The one thing I noticed was they felt different.
In my halls of residence they are light and flimsy. They feel invisible to hold and you simply breeze effortlessly from one room to another. Yet back home they are sturdy and solid. When I curl my fingers around the shape I feel reassured; I know I am at home. The cold metal touches my small hands and I enter my bedroom. It all looks the same, everything in its normal place but I know I haven’t slept here for a while. The air is fresh but there is a lingering sense that time has passed.
I feel the door handle again and strangely it’s the only thing that is different. I have left home and gone away to study and all I can compare are door handles. Yes, door handles. The poorly designed door handles at my halls, to the heavy weighted round handles that I have always known. It seems odd you can move miles away, see different people day after day, learn new things about yourself and the world and you cannot shake the feeling that the door handles are different.
Perhaps it shows just how strong the human nature is, or how we perceive new surroundings and compare. Perhaps it’s a comfort blanket, what we know and what we now know. Whatever it is, I know I prefer my house’s solid door handles. Though I am sure I will open plenty more doors…”
Sometimes the small things make a difference.
Foot stomping, rain dancing, raw talent and the beautiful Dorset countryside, this is Purbeck Folk Festival 2012. PFF has everything you could possibly want from a festival; incredibly talented folk musicians and bands, a picturesque location and plentiful supply of locally produced delicacies and award-winning ales and ciders. Cheers to that!
Running throughout the bank holiday weekend (24-26th August), Purbeck Folk Festival was awe-inspiring, uplifting and managed to successfully encompass the broadest definition of ‘folk’.
What is on offer at Purbeck Folk Festival?
Not only does the festival showcase the most gifted folk musicians, it also offers; captivating poetry slam competitions, beard and moustache competitions, art and craft stalls, woodwork demonstrations, open mic sessions, workshops for fitness, drama and comedy, face painting, Morris dancing, tarot card reading and much more!
Who is the festival suitable for?
This festival has such a friendly, warm and vibrant feel, making it extremely ideal and suitable for the young, the old, families, couples and friends. There are plenty of activities for children over the weekend which just adds to the pleasant environment. This is also a rarity which is often not provided at other festivals.
Which bands/artists stood out in particular?
With such a fantastic and varied line-up it was extremely difficult to choose who to watch. The artists perform on one of three different stages (middle barn, long barn and an outdoor stage, the fire stage) throughout the day and evening. This is a brief selection of some of the artists I had the opportunity to enjoy over the weekend:
Larkin Poe– the song writing sisters really brought soul and joy to Dorset. A fantastic set by the pair, enjoyed by all!
KT Tunstall– headlining Saturday night KT certainly created a stir in the long barn! Her sound was electric, energetic and above all else entertaining. The Scottish singer knew how to work the crowd and we certainly loved her. Playing fantastic hits such as ‘Suddenly I see’ and ‘Other Side of the World’ the crowd were well and truly mesmerised by the chart-topping star.
Shooglenifty– this six piece band from Edinburgh was phenomenal. They played a variety of songs that combined traditional Scottish sounds, rock and electro pop with funky melodies and rhythms. A musical cocktail that sure tasted sweet. They are definitely highly recommended.
Hat Fitz & Cara Robinson– this pair are simply astonishing, bursting with such energy, creativity and flair you cannot help but fall in love with them. Described as ‘beauty and the beast’ they produce such beautiful, upbeat music; think folk, blues, stunning vocals and ladies and gentlemen you are a little closer to understanding what makes Hat Fitz & Cara Robinson tick! You really won’t be the same after these two.
The Penny Red– this four piece band from Wiltshire is a delight to watch. Their music is punchy, emotive and fresh, I can see this band going far with the charming voice of Jess Vincent seducing you on the way.
The Paper Shades– Sarah Dollar and Jon Rixon produce dreamy, acoustic music that really sounds great. They work well together on stage and are a joy to watch.
Ant Henson– Henson’s sound is undeniably infectious and captivating. His lyrics bare honesty, emotion and are the works of a hardworking and passionate, young songwriter. At the tender age of twenty-three Henson is an all-round entertainer and crowd pleaser: definitely worth a listen.
Chris Woodford– He is an incredibly talented young man and when let loose on a twelve string guitar you are unknowingly lured into his magical world. And boy, you won’t want to leave.
The Widowmaker– emotive, moving and mesmerising successfully sums up The Widowmaker. His music discusses on a satirical level, the reality and disillusionment of the modern world we live in. His sound can be described as atmospheric and affective; I can guarantee you will want to listen to The Widowmaker over and over again. Satisfyingly addictive.
Catherine Burke Band– Catherine Burke Band is an upbeat, folk band that uses humour well and are open, honest and downright entertaining.
What makes Purbeck Folk Festival so fantastic?
The rural countryside location, the very reasonable ticket price (which includes camping), the array of unique musicians, interactive events running throughout the weekend and finally, perhaps most importantly, the wonderful people who attend and run the festival.
Help show your support for grassroot musicians. Think folk, think Purbeck Folk Festival 2013; book your tickets online now.
1000 word extract of a novel I began writing this year, based on the London riots, Two Thousand and Tyranny.
6th August 2011
I flicked through my tattered notepad and tried to find her name. What was it? I had written it down yesterday and had painstakingly ensured her name was spelt correctly. There it was. Sumani Youlou Fransendger, age thirty-three and a protestor at Redham Court Flats last week. Pompous Paul had instructed me to find out all I could about her background as a protestor and find a creative way to angle “protester strapped to flats for three days, crumbles”. His eyebrows remained raised and pointed throughout the team meeting this morning.
For the past month of working at the paper, Paul had worn the exact same suit. His reliable grey pinstriped suit perfectly ironed with padded shoulders and no marks. He complemented this look with an off white shirt, black tie and impeccably shiny, grey snake-skin shoes. I imagined his wardrobe; identical outfits hung neatly from wooden hangers in chronological day order. Every day he manages to arrive ten minutes after everyone else: a Starbucks coffee in one hand, a briefcase in the other and always, without fail, a serious motionless face.
A distraught yell banished the images of my daunting news editor, snapping me back into reality and back within the walls of my red Fiesta. Outside Tottenham police station stood three figures in black surrounding a young, short male police officer. One of the trio, a girl easily identifiable by her curvaceous figure, was waving her arms frantically and her mouth was moving at an unimaginable speed. The other two were shifting from side to side and towering way above the police figure that now resembled a trembling mess.
In front of the station a huddle of protestors stood with banners offering support for Sumani. The older protestors in the group remained stationary clinging to their signs whilst the younger protestors reeled off numerous expletives and made disgruntled, animalistic noises.
The sound of screeching tyres came from a white Honda Civic that mounted the curb on the road opposite. Out of the front window a boy, no older than fourteen, stuck out his arm and chucked what seemed to look like a bright sparkler. I watched in horror as it fell in front of the young policeman and the trio scattered. An explosion of orange flames caught the officer’s trousers. Out of nowhere stones and bricks were being hurled at the front of the police station. Smashing of glass and cries of terror were the background noise to a high pitch alarm ringing indefinitely.
I froze. I was unsure whether to stay within the safety of my car or advance towards a scene of chaos and the unknown. Come on Joanna you need a good story after all. Breathe. I am a reporter, this is my job.