Sunday, 30 July 2017

Artist Feature: Natalie Andrewson

This blog post is coming to you from back on my window seat in busy, noisy, stinky Londontown. I'd be lying if I said I wasn't happy to be back here. After a somewhat uneasy time in the countryside there's nothing that puts me to sleep like a police siren and a noisy drunk on his way home.

Looking out of the window now the first thing I can see is anti climbing spikes. Despite missing this place I can now appreciate more the security and somewhat serenity of the countryside, however it's a pretty romanticised view. That can be fun sometimes though. Who doesn't love flicking through those expensive magazines in Dr's waiting rooms showing white washed villas on forgotten hills and country piles covered in wisteria? Something illustration is really really good at is romanticising situations whilst putting a little unseen magic in them and you can get a little of that from Natalie Andrewson.

I may have picked a wildflower or err 12 on a long walk with the dog, stuck them in my backpack's pockets and felt like I could blend into the countryside like a wistful woman who lives off the land and bunnies come to her hand whenever she whistles. I may have gone for wander in the woods with a big hat on and wearing all black, cutting across gorse thinking that if someone saw me they'd mistake me for a busy forest witch (no Becky, you're just really weird). But it's fun to pretend(!) and in Natalie's illustrations you can see these fun little scenarios beefed up with backstories and references to the magic and folklore you can find in the countryside.

Natalie has the golden touch as she has also managed to apply this to those magic feelings you can also find in the city. I particularly loved this girl with the ugly shoes. That's exactly how I feel in my chunky all white Dr Marten sandals and sparkly socks. I'm on fire you guys, I'm my own weirdo superhero and so are all of Natalie's characters.

You can keep up with her adventures on her tumblr and on her website 

Tuesday, 25 July 2017

Artist Feature: Nuria Tamarit

My last day of lonely countryside living and I am feeling lost for inspiration. I remember I used to be drawing from the moment I woke up, doodling on the train to work, trying to desperately sketch out ideas on my lunch break, sketching people on their commute home and then staying up until 2am to try and finish whatever my brain had spewed out. But these days I find it hard to even to get started.
In times like this I go hunting for inspiration and in one of my last few haunts around the internet I came across Nuria Tamarit. A Spanish illustrator who's work I have completely fallen in love with. Y'all know I love anything even slightly tribal related, and Nuria has done that thing I always kind of, slightly, not quite do, and has created a tribe of characters going about their fantastic colourful lives in the wilderness. 
Her other illustrations still have this earthy, historical quality around them. Like there is definitely something going on behind that couple bathing with those greyhounds. That couple can't just be on holiday, why do those dogs look so regal? Why does it seem to have that quality of greek marble statues?
And what about that girl cycling home in the rain. But is that rain? And if it isn't why isn't she worried about it? And wait, is she cycling through undergrowth or is that some kind of swamp? Nuria has said in an interview that her tutor once told her that she should try to tell a story through her illustrations and that is exactly what she is doing. Every figure in her illustrations reeks of importance. Each and every one of them is the protagonist and I am desperate to watch their story unfold.
This quality thankfully makes me want to come up with stories to tell of my own, and to go looking for stories to be told. That's inspiration lovely readers, and I hope I can harness a little bit of the magic Nuria puts into her drawings one day.
You can see more of her work on her website but tumblr's where the best stories come from.

Monday, 24 July 2017

Justine Wong

Good morning lovely readers. Apparently it's summer here in Britain although seriously you wouldn't be able to tell from the rainy scene going on the garden next to me right now.

In a month or so I'll start getting really itchy feet. It's like absolute clockwork, like my body is gearing up ready for what used to be the best part of my summer. I grew up in Singapore and it remains my spiritual home but with no family members there anymore I have to find other ways to satisfy my need for a little bit of Asia in my summers now. The mighty Justine Wong does a pretty amazing job at helping me through this hump.

I first discovered Justine Wong on tumblr, who is yet another incredible illustrator from Toronto (seriously guys what are they putting in the water over there?). However Justine has just completed a long stay by the sea in Tokyo. Her wonderful stand alone illustrations act like a photo album of her time there and luckily they are exactly what I like to take pictures of when I'm on my travels. Cute, interesting little shop fronts and great food, mountains of it! 

As you scroll through her pieces her comments let you peak a little into her time there, how much she enjoyed a certain little crunchy bite of katsu curry or the type of day she was having when she entered that particular shaved ice shack.

She lets us live vicariously through her pieces and allows us to come on a tiny little journey with her. Her illustrations, whilst being reportage, tell us a story. I have also lived for a little while in Japan and the sense of nostalgia I get when looking at her illustrations fills me with joy. Especially this project Justine put together called "21 Days in Japan: An Illustrative Study of Japanese Cuisine". I mean, you guys, who wouldn't want to undertake a project like that?

I'm soon to be moving which should hopefully relieve my woes about a lack of summer holiday this year but I hope the next print to go up in my new studio (eep!) will be one of Justine's. Her website is perfect  but also make sure you keep up with her on instagram.

Friday, 21 July 2017

Jiwoon Pak

Happy Friday lovely readers! I have been holding on to Jiwoon Pak here for well over a year but for some reason never got around to sharing her incredible digital paintings.

I'm finding myself retracing the odd paths I used to take and winding walks through the woods when I was stuck in my parents house for those endless weeks of summer holidays. It didn't really occur to me that perhaps this came across as a bit of a lonely past time and to the other people I might bump into it would appear...a bit weird. Now I am back, despite no longer being an awkward teenager, I still stand out as odd.

There's not really two ways about it. There are very few people in their twenties in this little village and even less people that when they see a pathway of curled ferns made by deer feel a need to see where it goes. Or see a huge bright yellow patch of flowers in the middle of a wheat field feel a need to trapse out there and sit amongst them for a while. I can't really tell you why I like doing these things, I'm not trying to be odd. And I never was. I just, really like it out here.

It feels like there's a little more to the nature around us than the average person sees and with Jiwoon's paintings I get that same feeling. Identifying with the characters she creates comes easily to me. They appear at ease with their pretty but quiet and solemn surroundings. Jiwoon has said she wants her work to somehow show those feelings that are at first ambivalent but fade and deteriorate, like nature does around us throughout the year.

Her work has a calming yet strange quality that I get when I drag the dog around on my odd little forays around here. Perhaps being the weird kid isn't so bad. I struggled to choose just five pieces of Jiwoon's work because it's all so beautiful so make sure you take a look around her website.

Wednesday, 19 July 2017

Melissa Castrillon

I'm currently dogsitting in the somewhat suburban seclusion of a little village and as someone used to living opposite a station in one of the busiest cities in the world, being quite this alone is a little unnerving. The smallest unexplained noise sets off a course of fear and curiosity, so you can imagine what a very large lightning storm might do to someone out here with a nervous disposition!

Whilst it was still threatening to come down again this morning I grabbed the dog and got outside to try and put the night behind me and was greeted by humidity (my favourite form of weather) and the most fantastic smell.

The storm had caused the dry soil of the woods to give up a wonderful musty sawdust like smell. Little wild flowers with droopy heads have now popped up all over the quiet roadsides. The wheat fields have this amazing sweet crunchy smell that for some reason makes me sleepy, and the smell of wet pine is hanging over the house.

I've followed the work of Melissa Castrillon for a rather long time. And watching the dog snuffle around all the wet dangly ferns and pretty pink bindweed I remembered her botanical heavy pieces. Where tiny little bell shaped people dance amongst oversized leaves, where almost scientific style illustration is given the flat screen print treatment to make it perfect for telling stories, where flowers and leaves encroach upon everything she draws.

It made me feel better about the storm (and the probability of another tonight) because whilst it scared me without it we wouldn't have all those lovely little flowers. We wouldn't have that wondrous comforting smell the wet forest throws up and we perhaps we wouldn't have Melissa's wonderful illustrations.
She updates her website regularly  but i also recommend her tumblr to keep up with her adventures.

Tuesday, 18 July 2017

"Friends Don't Lie"

As I am a -very nice girlfriend- everyone who donated £20 to my dear boyfriend's charity swim got to request a collage piece of their choice. I didn't think it would take off. I was wrong. However the first request I got was this lovely little scene from Stranger Things and it has been a pleasure to work on. 

Dilraj Mann

 I wanted to come back with a bang and for a teeny bit of time I have some precious time so that time is now dedicated to you lovely readers. Today I give you Dilraj Mann. There's not too much online about Dilraj's background but what I can tell you is that they live and seem to thrive in Dalston in East London. Dilraj's illustrations positively reek of the Dalston strip. 
That crush at 3am as places start closing, that horrible tired electricity of deciding between heading home (from that corner of East that is so horribly not connected to home) or finding somewhere that will squeeze you all in for another hour. 

He has managed to pick out those cool girls I see in passing on those nights out, those girls who effortlessly sling on tight jeans and giant earrings and boss their overground commute, those east London girls with all that confidence I could only dream of. I like looking at that those girls and now Dilraj has made it possible for me to do so without looking like a complete creeper.

Dilraj's depictions of women's features have come under scrutiny however if Dilraj knows Dalston as well as he is putting out there he is completely aware of the controversy he might cause and it is all for impact and appreciation. 

Also I'm throwing this one out there for the girlz with the dangerous curvez (no you've been watching too much Rupaul's Drag Race) it's nice sometimes to have a change from the sylphlike ingenues every once in a while and see well..what more women really look like. Dilraj isn't scared of taking his inspirations from these strong, fashionable women, and with his illustrations neither am I now. 

He's not super duper active online but you can keep up with his releases on twitter and tumblr .

Jenn Woodall

(Oops let this slip a bit again didn't I. Okay let's get this up to date and back on the road again. )

Recently I attended the music festival Field Day here in London. I saw a singer who goes by the name Empress Of and she proclaims in her song Woman is a Word "I'm only an image of what you see. You don't know me." The past couple of years has seen a major upheaval of female illustrators coming into the public eye and completely dominating the illustration world with their own particular representation of -women-. 

I remember a time when it used to seem silly, and improper, for illustrations to focus on just women doing their thing. It filled me with joy to attend ELCAF last week and see so many fantastic illustrations of women of every ilk. Powerful strong female heroes with guns, infinitely cool girls in leather jackets and acid wash jeans, shy girls listening to music in the corners of elaborate rooms, the list goes on. And none of it seemed trivial. Each piece told a story about that girl. You want in on their secrets, you want to be in their sorority, prove yourself so you can be in their girl gang, or indeed help them fight that cyborg! 

They are so much more than a flat image. The focus is on the skill of the illustrator but the idea is more than just "hey, look at this cool girl's jeans", it's showing you that she has a brain, that she has a story and it's a bloody good one. Jenn Woodall, who I discovered at ELCAF is a part of this wonderful movement and has all the bases covered when it comes to showing the world that women are so much more than the flat image so many people use to view us with. 

Jenn has created several zines on the theme of girls and women showing them in all their wonderful guises. As multi-faceted, emotional and thought provoking beings but with a focus on being completely badass. 

She's created a sailor moon style comic called Magical Beatdown and my favourite from her, a collaborative zine known as FIGHT! where she invites illustrators to create their own female fighting character (don't worry there's a friendship themed fight zine too). Jenn Woodall is Toronto based (another one I know..) but you can keep up with her on her website ,which is need of an update because she's just so busy so I'd totally recommend her tumblr and her instagram