Thursday, 6 December 2012

Things Happening

There are things happening!

First up on Saturday the 8th December we have the triumphant return of the Canny Comic Con.

What is the Canny Comic Con? It's a small festival of comics and illustration right here in Newcastle. Taking place in the Newcastle City Library, all day Saturday and free to all. There'll be activities, talks, panels and more comics than you can shake a long armed stapler at. What's not to like?

And if one day of awesome isn't enough, well we've got two!

The Make & Mend Christmas Market is kicking off this Sunday at 11.30am. I'm very excited about this one, it's the first time Make & Mend has returned to the Star and Shadow Cinema since I took on organising it. There are some truly amazing stallholders coming along to the last Make & Mend before Christmas.

Wonderful woolly Winter warmers for snug outings in the snow. Soft toys and handmade children's accessories for your younger ones.

Beautiful jewellery and accessories for all tastes including steampunk, vintage and felted creations.

Handmade textiles, wonderfully scented tea-cup candles, prints and illustrations to decorate the home. Plus Christmas cards and decorations to help get you into the festive spirit.

Comics for all and amazing luxury neck wear for the stylish tie wearer in your life.

Tuesday, 27 November 2012

A Visit to Dublin

Dublin, an interestingly familiar city. Paul commented that during his last trip, roughly 10 years ago, it felt a lot like Newcastle. The two cities have a lot in common, architecture, nightlife, that old industry feel. Over the last 10 years a lot has changed in Dublin. It also reminded me of Newcastle but for very different reasons.

Taking in the View

It was a sunny Saturday afternoon when we arrived. We stayed in the Christ Church area, seconds away from what turned out to be the first of many markets we'd see that day.

Jamie Lewis's felt animals
photo from Temple Bar Cultural Trust Website.

The Designer Mart takes place on Cow's Lane every Saturday and has a some fantastic stalls. It wasn't long before we found a book market, and food market too, both weekly and both very good.

The Temple Bar Food Market

We planned to head back past the food market later in the day, I was sad to find out it was only on until 4.30pm. They could do a fantastic evening trade I'm sure.

There was another market just around the corner in a place called Exchange Dublin, the appropriately named Exchange Market.

Image from Exchange Market Facebook page.

Exchange Dublin is a volunteer run space for groups to get together, exchange ideas and put on events. It has a lot in common with the Star and Shadow Cinema, I can see scope for some form of international collaboration of volunteer run spaces there.

Around another corner a strange thing came into view.

The wool is taking over.

Crochet Coral Reef

The Irish Reef, part of the International Hyperbolic Crocheted Coral Reef, a project that combines maths, marine biology and crochet. I have a soft spot for anything that combines science and craft, it's a winning formula. I never did learn how to knit, or crochet. Maybe I should learn, any volunteers?

On Sunday we wondered a little further, stopping for breakfast at Queen of Tarts, it must have been good, I went back there again on Monday for lunch. Delicious. On the way over to the National Gallery we spotted an interesting shop front. It was mostly interesting due to the 3D printer in the window.

Image from Science Gallery website. 

Make Shop is a workshop space for the making of things. All things. From electric buzzers to cross stitch, robots to salt dough creations. Make Shop is linked to Trinity College's Science Gallery, it's a pop-up space with all sorts of fun tools and toys, part workshop part shop of cool things. We had a great chat with the folks there about their 3D printer, the workshops they do and the ups and downs of being in a pop-up space.

Some other highlights of the trip:

Jack of All Trades - an exhibition of illustrations by Jack B Yeats, including his work for Punch Magazine, what fascinates me is how relevant his political cartoons still are.

Drawn to the Page - another exhibition, in the Long Room. I came across this as a result of going to see the Book of Kells which I understand is a thing you should do while in Dublin. The art in this exhibition was amazing, it's on until April 2013, if you get a chance you should go.

The Loft Market - a lovely boutique shop hidden at the very top of a shopping centre. This shop is full of independent designers, artists, jewellery makers and vintage collectors. The collective have been going strong for 7 years and are just bursting with talent.

So that was Dublin. I think I'll go again. What should I look out for next time? What bits of Dublin do you like the best?

An interesting fact, Dublin is twinned with Barcelona, another of my favourite cities.

Monday, 29 October 2012

I did a thing

On 24 hour comic day I created a comic. It was 24 pages long, it made enough sense to be called a story and had characters in it and everything. I'm happy with the result. Above is a little preview of the comic.

I didn't ink the comic though I would like to, I'm saying this counts within the rules of cleaning up for printing. A comic in blue pencil won't print up too well. I'll put up a few more images once I've taken them.

Anyway, here's a thing:

How Britt Survived 24 Hour Comic Day Successfully

  1. Bring lined (or squared paper) for planning, planning on plain paper which should be used for drawing the comic can lead to problems down the line, also squares make the layout stage simple.
  2. Spend the first 2 hours on your plot, write notes, words, themes. 
  3. Go out while it's still light, have healthy but filling food (I had sushi for lunch and noodles for dinner).
  4. Spend another hour on your page by page breakdown and supporting thumbnails, this means that when you get to 2am and have a major motivation issue you don't have to think. 
  5. Every 4 pages take a break.
  6. Drink tea, lots of tea. Good tea. Green tea. Matt where did you get that tea?
  7. Midnight snack, balance your sweet and savoury, sugar rushes will not serve you well.
  8. Music. 
  9. A sleeping bag for warmth... followed by a quick 2 hour nap at 4am - I'd finished.
  10. Mess about for the last 2 hours with music and inks.
Note: this method is how I survived 24 Hour Comic Day, it's not the only method and it may not work for you. Sleeping before the end may lead to being unable to finish for some. 

Monday, 24 September 2012

More Make and Mend

Here's the poster design for October.
I've also set up a website for the Make and Mend Market here:

Christmas is coming. I'll be introducing new Christmas cards over the next month, I've already made some available on my Etsy shop including this set of 6 Snowflake Christmas Cards.

Friday, 17 August 2012

Make and Mend Market

I'm the new host of the Make and Mend Market. I'm rather excited about this. I'd like to invite you all to come along to our first event. You can let others know you're coming by joining the Facebook Event

You can also follow @makemend on Twitter for a good chat about what it's all about. 

Tuesday, 19 June 2012

The Typewriter - A Marvellous New Invention

When I was about 7 my mum introduced me to a typewriter. I had already become familiar with the keyboard layout due to playing games on the family Atari and Commodore64 computers, I think this was an attempt to prove that keyboards weren't just for games but also for creating things. It worked. I would spend hours typing stories, occasionally getting frustrated as keys locked together or didn't quite leave a perfect imprint on the page. 

The typewriter was a strange halfway house between the speedy input of the computer keyboard and the almost illegible, up hill/down hill, laborious handwriting I possessed at the time. I can honestly say that I learned to write on a typewriter. I already knew how to use words, I knew how to put them into an order that made sense but this was the first time I'd used them to create a story, a worthwhile read.

Understandably I have a bit of a soft spot for typewriters, I like to imagine that in dusty archive rooms and certain offices they are still the standard for producing documents quickly. This could be wishful thinking, I have no proof either way.

What is it?

At the Newcastle Green Festival Mike was using his typewriter to document the weekend. Mike makes zines (zine-it-yourself), quite often using this typewriter. 
"I'm Tweeting." Mike said in response to my curiosity over the content of the pages.

I was surprised by the group of fascinated children that soon gathered around him, surprised that they didn't know what a typewriter was. In the end I was surprised that I had been surprised, of course they wouldn't know what a typewriter is, the computer has completely replaced it. Even my own use of a typewriter was a bit of a novelty. 

"Oh wow, what's thaaat?" 
The response to hitting a key and creating an instant mark on the paper was absolute delight. The classroom computers must seem so disconnected compared to this, having to first type, then tell it to print and then wait for the print. The typewriter might seem like brand new technology to the unfamiliar eye, so instant and responsive, rewarding writers with a real time printing of their words. No messing about with print dialogue or page size. 

Each of the children had a go on the typewriter and not one of them wrote 'Hello'. They were very enthusiastic about it, wanting to type something they would be proud of, after all it's in print. At the same time they weren't overly precious about their creations, it didn't concern them that it wasn't perfect. They typed whatever came to their mind. It's probably rare for children to have something printed without it first being approved by someone else. Having the opportunity to create something of their own, not school work and see it appear on paper as they typed must have been a joy. 

There may not be a place for the typewriter in the modern office or school but maybe there is still a place for it on the desks of children. To make fun stories, with instant rewards. 

Monday, 18 June 2012

What Occurred at this is where it's Art?

This is where it's Art happened on the 8th, 9th and 10th of June in the Spennymoor Town Hall and Spennymoor Leisure Centre.


It was great to meet everybody on Friday, the variety and quality of work was excellent. I spent a good part of the day getting to know the other exhibitors and learning my way around the Town Hall in preparation for the busier day that would be Saturday. There was a wonderful atmosphere as the exhibitors greeted one another, shared stories and swapped knowledge. The atmosphere generated in those first few hours lasted throughout the entire festival.


We had a bit of bad weather but the folk of Spennymoor were not put off and the Town Hall was full of curious visitors. Curious in a good way, everybody was genuinely interested, both in the art and the people behind it. At noon there was a flash-mob in the market square, a street dance performance by Kdanz, which unfortunately I missed, though the kids involved enjoy it, commenting that dancing in the rain made it all the more dramatic. Paul picked up some honey from the bee man (South Durham Honey), who had an observation hive set up in the Town Hall bar, they were fascinating to watch, I took far too many photos of the bees and learned a great deal about them while doing it.


The weather cleared up a bit on Sunday and the Town Hall was filled with visitors, some of which had come along on the previous day and returned, this time with their entire family. There were plenty of activities for all ages, including a comic book workshop over in the leisure centre, stained glass fusing workshops in the Town Hall and weaving, which happened in the exhibition space. I mention the weaving specifically as it managed to keep several children occupied all weekend, each going away determined to continue this new hobby.

I'm looking forward to the next one already, it was such an enjoyable festival, full of lovely, friendly people. I even found a new favourite food place in Spennymoor, Bistro Fifty3, which kept Paul and I very well fed during the weekend. Thank you to everybody who came, everybody who helped spread the word and the people of Spennymoor for being so lovely. You can view my photos from the event on my Flickr page. (this post was originally written for the This is where it's Art blog)

Wednesday, 2 May 2012

Wedding Invitations

I enjoy doing markets, I get to meet new people and talk to them face to face. I was absolutely delighted when at a recent market I was asked by Joy and Marc if I would do their wedding invitations.

A few sit downs over coffee and discussions about wording later and we were ready to start making our plans a reality. So, with many sheets of paper, over 1000 Swarovski crystals and a corner rounder I set to work producing the custom designed wedding invitations. Each of the 210 invitations included an invite card, an RSVP card and a poem. The poem card can be seen in the photo below.

There was a lot of work involved, I wanted them to be perfect. After all, they were for a wedding and you don't get to do that very often. Joy and Marc were very pleased with the invitations and had them in the post to their guests the same day.

I hope I get the chance to do wedding invitations again. I've suddenly got so many ideas for something that little bit unique.

Wednesday, 28 March 2012

Choosing Colours

The other day I had an interesting conversation with Paul about design, specifically about how I start a new design. It was interesting because it was something I'd never put real thought into before, just something that I do.

When I start a design the first thing I do is think about what colours it should be and how those colours will work together to convey the feelings of the design. Only then do I think about the shapes and actual layout of a piece. I can't even see a composition properly until there's colour in it, everything just seems flat and the same.

Working in layers of card limits the amount of colours you can introduce to a piece, making it important that all the colours work together for the overall design. If a colour is there just for one tiny dot, then is it required for the design? Can that dot be the same colour as another layer? Does it then help bring depth to the piece?

I've learned a lot in the last year, about colours, composition, cutting and sticking. There's still a lot to learn. Maybe starting with colours isn't the most sensible working order but it's what works for me. Without them life is boring and everything becomes harder to distinguish. Maybe that's why I've always written with colourful pens, much to the annoyance of my teachers. My maths teacher probably had the hardest job, maths was orange.

Some useful colour resources: - make a palette for each of your projects, search through existing palettes, great for inspiration gathering. - everything on Information is Beautiful is worth your time and attention. This is a wonderful diagram of what different colours mean within different cultures, notice how much it differs? It's always worth checking this out, specially if you're doing work for use in a culture you're not familiar with. Check out meanings for your own culture, it might surprise you.

Monday, 23 January 2012

Beach Day

I'm missing the summer. So I thought I'd draw it. The background was painted from memory but I believe it does look like Tynemouth to some extent. It's been a while since I've done some proper digital colouring, I forgot how much more enjoyable it was than using markers. You can create a lot more texture and the colours available are virtually limitless.

Tuesday, 3 January 2012


The new year is well under way. That doesn't mean 2011 is forgotten. It was a big year. A lot of things happened.


By the time December hit I'd already been making Christmas for two months, this was a bit of a new experience. I must say it was well worth it thought. I thoroughly enjoyed making Christmas cards, especially the large order I got for my snowflake design. 

December also saw the first Canny Comic Con, in Newcastle City Library. And the wonderful reunion that was the Made in Newcastle Christmas Market.


I had a table at Thought Bubble during this month. I shared it with Paul Thompson and Cuttlefish. It was super awesome. Thought Bubble never disappoints. I intend to be there next year. 

Lennon Wall - Girly Prague

I went to Prague with the absolutely wonderful Paul. This was the second time in my adult life that I had left the county and only the fourth time total. I love visiting new places and am not going to stop any time soon. I always have a soft spot for October. It's got Halloween in it for a start. During this October I visited the Alexandra Business Park with the #npwalk group. I also did my first Designers Marketplace. And a lot of preparing for Thought Bubble.

Lights over the Tyne

In a sort of back to school tradition September was all about change, doing new things and exploring. I drew robots. I started work on my current comic project, which is almost ready to show some development work from. Maybe. Until then I shall say no more on the matter. 

Walk in the Park

The month of the bicycle. The month of walking through fields of flowers as high as my knees and eating sandwiches outside.

South Sheilds Summer

All about drawing, making cards and more drawing. I went to my first Dr Sketchy's. It was lovely.

Special Delivery

The first month without the Made in Newcastle shop. The month I really started to use my etsy shop.The month I learned a lot of things. 

Indoor Market

Paul and I went to Bristol Expo and bought comics. We explored Bristol and then went South to stay a few days in the New Forest. It was lovely. We were nearly attacked by wild horses. We then went further South  to Bournemouth and explored the coast a bit. Holidays. Yay. 
At the very end of the month Made in Newcastle left Grainger Street. 

Beamish Town

I visited Beamish with the #npwalk lot. We had fun, playing with the shops, the trains and the trams. 


During March The Paper Jam Comics Collective launched the long awaited History And That with an exhibition of History inspired comics at Made in Newcastle. March was pretty cool as the Maker Faire also happened, which was part of Newcastle Science Festival, a week of clever stuff. 

A Picnic in Parc Guell

Barcelona. My first holiday with Paul. 

With Art

It was cold. It was very cold. At least Made in Newcastle was full of warmth and smiles.

And that was the year. Woohoo.