Tuesday, 31 December 2013

A real New Year's Resolution

I don’t normally make New Year’s Resolutions, in fact I don’t think I’ve ever made one. I figure if I’ve got something I really want to achieve then I’ll do it whether it’s the 1st of January or the 1st of August. I think most people feel that way, either that or they say they’ll do something like go on a diet or take up a new sport and don’t even last through to February.

But for 2014 I have a real resolution and I have no excuses not to stick to it because it’s super easy:
Listen to more music. New music. New bands. New albums.
(And old bands/albums that are new to me.)

It can’t be that hard can it? I pay for a full Spotify subscription every month and almost all the music I could want is on there. (Well, they don’t have The Gaslight Anthem’s first album, Sink or Swim, but then that’s not at all new to me.)

I decided on this resolution when I did one of those end-of-year-album-chart thingymajigs and realised my three most played albums of 2013 were all three The Menzingers albums, none of which were out in 2013. I didn’t expect any different really, I have been a little obsessive over the band this last year (ahem, Greg replied to my tweet earlier today!!!). So I’m not saying I’ll be listening to The Menzingers any less, they have a new album out in 2014, but I’ll listen to lots of other bands/albums as well.

I should probably go back at listen to some great albums I’ve missed from 2013 first…

Thursday, 26 December 2013

New toy

I got a new camera ready for my Japanese adventure next year. So far I’ve barely worked out how to use any of its features but I have taken a few initial photos…

There is normally a path across here…
Bit fuzzy, but just testing the super zoom.

Monday, 23 December 2013

Rush Hour

“Say hello to Colin the Commuter, this little guy needs to get to work! Help him along the London Underground in this new retro 8-bit open world adventure.”

Saturday, 21 December 2013

Santa classics

“Santa Classics is a new series of images created by artist, photographer and Santa devotee, Ed Wheeler. Wheeler imagines Santa entering into the great masterworks of art, with humor and reverence for the originals.” Santa Classics

Tuesday, 17 December 2013

Sinister Santas

The weekend before last I met up with some of my Falmouth friends for a little pre-Christmas/end of the year get together. We did the typical Christmas time things of eating gingerbread, drinking mulled wine and watching a Christmas film (as well as Pitch Perfect, but that’s irrelevant). However, it wasn’t your typical cheery and merry, child-friendly Christmas film…

“In the depths of the Korvatunturi mountains, 486 metres deep, lies the closest ever guarded secret of Christmas. The time has come to dig it up! This Christmas everyone will believe in Santa Claus.” – Rare Exports

Rare Exports is a Finnish [subtitled] film set in Lapland, on the border of Russia – a place as dark and cold as the humour in the film. It made for a far more interesting film than most festive rubbish.

The Santa in the film is a ‘Joulupukki’ or Yule Goat – which might not sound so scary but legends tell of a devil-like creature who terrified children.

“Joulupukki was once a symbol of fertility and more of a frightening figure back then than today. He was clad in thick fur-lined coat turned inside out, wearing a mask and a pair of horns on his head.”

But Finland isn’t the only country with a more sinister kind of Santa, in fact many countries around the world have their own variations. I read a great little article at the weekend, courtesy of Scroobius Pip on Twitter (as in, he led me to it – he didn’t actually write it).

“Earlier this year I set out to research the history of Father Christmas. I was fascinated by this mythical housebreaker who rewards the good and punishes the naughty. Santa struck me as being an older, gentler Robin Hood and I wanted to discover how and why the fabled gift-giving of St Nicholas had transformed into this magical character with a home at the North Pole and a workshop of elves.

What I discovered instead were stories of strange and terrifying creatures that wandered the winters of medieval Europe. Before Santa, and before Christmas firmly took hold in Europe, the middle of winter was seen as a harsh, sinister time filled with deadly and demonic monsters.” Paul Hawkins, Naughty or Nice?

On Paul Hawkins’ blog he has been posting a different Bad Santa article everyday as part of an advent calendar, which accompanies the book – Bad Santas: and Other Creepy Christmas Characters. The first two of the illustrations below are featured in the advent calendar (and book) and link to those posts. The others I’ve found elsewhere on the Internet.

The Greek Kallikantzaroi (illustration by Mel Four)

The Dutch Sinterklaas (illustration, again, by Mel Four)

The German (and Austrian, Hungarian, Slovakian, Croatian… etc.) Krampus

The Icelandic Yule Lads
Merry Christmas!

Sunday, 15 December 2013

Merry Christmas from Prew and Cleo

Lovely snowy background from here.

Let's talk turkey

I feel sick and I haven’t eaten turkey for about 13 years (maybe more?).

“Around ten million turkeys will be eaten in the UK this Christmas – 90 percent of them factory-farmed. Salford design agency Raw has launched a colourful yet shocking animated campaign explaining the controversial process, and hopes it will convince some consumers to opt for meat-free or free range alternatives…” – Creative Review

Thursday, 5 December 2013

Back to the Future Birthday

I made this birthday card for my favourite Back to the Future fan person. When I say made I mean I drew the letters several times, referencing the BtF logo, then re-drew them once more on the computer and added a gradient. I think I did a fairly good job of making it look like the original logo lettering? It was well received by the birthday boy at least.

This is the most creative thing I've done outside of work for ages. Life is busy. But Christmas is coming.

Tuesday, 19 November 2013

Glory Days

My latest record sleeve design – I say as if I’m a professional record sleeve designer, haha! (this is my fifth) – has been signed off and sent to the printers. The actual record, of which there will be 500 copies, is not due to be released until February but hopefully I can get my hands on my own copy before then. It’s a gatefold sleeve which is something I haven’t done before so I can’t wait to see it in the flesh.

Just the front of the sleeve (with sticker) to share for now.

Sunday, 17 November 2013


Arcade Fire and Spike Jonze made this video live at the YouTube Music Awards, need I say more?

“If only all emotional break-ups culminated in you dancing through Narnia to a live Arcade Fire show complete with a group of children’s violinists and Win Butler serenading you out of your misery.” – It’s Nice That

Sunday, 10 November 2013

If best-selling albums had been books instead…

I stumbled upon these amazing book covers based on best-selling albums yesterday at the Rough Trade record shop near the Old Truman Brewery, East London.

“The Record Books are cunningly fabricated trompe l'oeil pictures of well-thumbed but imaginary-books, whose titles derive from classic records, old and new. What started as a handful of doodles turned into a labour of love comprising over 100 carefully wrought images inspired by words from the world of music and visuals from the world of words.” Rough Trade

The images are the genius creation of Christophe Gowans – his website is well worth a visit. There are so many great ‘book covers’ he’s designed but here are some of my favourites…

Sunday, 3 November 2013

So, this is actually happening

Last night I booked my flights and paid the deposit for my holiday to Japan next April. I don’t think it’s quite sunk in that it is actually happening yet, having wanted to visit Japan for… well, forever.

I’ll be in Japan for 15 whole days and visiting these places, starting with Tokyo…

I made this map myself (well, I labelled it).

I’ve planned my holiday with Inside Japan Tours which seemed like a great option for a first time (and lone) traveller to Japan. But I’m not going on a guided or group tour in the traditional sense, I’ll be on my own for the most part.

I’ve been able to tailor what I want to do into my own holiday plan – like the Studio Ghibli museum in Tokyo, Matsumoto castle and Mt. Fuji. As well as getting to visit traditional samurai villages, take part in a tea ceremony and stay in traditional Japanese accommodation – I don’t think I could have organised much of that by myself.

Needless to say I’m excited, even if I am feeling a little short of money now. I don’t doubt it will be well worth it. The count down starts now… 157 days.

Saturday, 2 November 2013

Funny bones

I haven't done fancy dress or face painting since I left university a year and a half ago, and I have missed it. So when one of my colleagues said they were having a Halloween party I jumped at the chance to be a skeleton.

Sunday, 27 October 2013

How to waste a Sunday afternoon as a Menzingers fan

For the last few months, well the last year really, I haven’t been able to stop listening to The Menzingers. I’d say it’s verging on musical obsession now, especially considering what I spent several hours doing this afternoon…

So because I’m a sad and slightly obsessed Menzingers fan, whenever I listen to them I like to play a game of ‘Greg or Tom?’. This basically involves trying to work out who the main vocalist is for a particular song. They both have pretty distinct voices to be fair but sometimes they both sing at the same time and it can be difficult to work out on some of the older songs. I’ve even seen comments on You Tube where people have said they didn’t know that band had two singers!

What did I work out? At least if my own ears and YouTube observational skills are accurate enough. I’m sure I may have got a few of these wrong (No We Didn’t in particular, I had to listen to several times and I’m still not certain it’s Greg singing).
  • Overall, it seems that Greg sings more songs but that’s more because Tom has a lot of songs where Greg joins in for the chorus, which doesn’t seem to happen so much the other way around.
  • They both sing at the same time in a lot of the earlier songs, particularly the choruses if not the whole song.
  • Tom sings a lot of the earlier stuff including when Greg sings a bit (A Lesson in the Abuse of Information Technology and Chamberlain Waits). Whilst Greg has the majority on the latest album (On The Impossible Past).
  • If you count the songs that are ‘Mostly Tom’ as just being Tom and the same for Greg, they sing an equal amount of songs… But then maybe that’s just how my ears worked it out.
And that’s how to waste a Sunday afternoon as a Menzingers fan – and a graphic designer.

Coffee Pot

Alex Turner has a certain way with words… at least I thought he did, until I looked up the lyrics to I Wanna Be Yours and discovered that he didn’t actually write them – John Cooper Clarke did. Anyway, he does have a way with words in other Arctic Monkeys songs. I saw them live for the first time last night and it was great so I felt inspired to make this…