Wednesday, 30 September 2009


A while ago, reader Scottie and I were discussing the things that influence me as an artist and I promised to write about them when I returned from holiday. Well, it's been more than two weeks since I got back and it's high time I actually did the things I said I would. Procrastination is my middle name...

Firstly, I have already written about a few artists who I think are amazing - Chris Ware, David Hockney, Dylan Martorell, David Hughes, Anne Herbauts, Rébecca Dautremer, Tom Gauld, and Donna Wilson. These posts can be found under the labels inspiration or illustrators in the bar on the right.

Image by Marcel Dzama from

So who haven't I mentioned so far? Amongst contemporaries there is the wonderful Camilla Engman, of course. How about Marcel Dzama, with his fascinatingly odd scenes and wild imagination (and the colours!)? Sara Fanelli is one of my favourite children's book artists. And Crankbunny's beautiful puppets and paper-cut animations have also been on my radar recently... check out this animation in particular.

Invitation to Ron Arad's Milan show, by Sara Fanelli.

From 'Sometimes I think, sometimes I am' by Sara Fanelli.

Older artists whose work I have admired includes things that everyone loves - Quentin Blake, Maurice Sendak, Edmund Dulac, Arthur Rackham, Winsor McCay... (can't be bothered to find links for all these).

I'll keep thinking of more artists and write about them here, so keep coming back!

Lady Spider Paper Puppet by Crankbunny. Buy it here.

Of course there are other things that influence me other than artists - and possibly even more so than artists - I'm an introspective creature. My zoological background, my love of weird people, outcasts, monsters and freaks, my obsession with alter egos, personal secrets, self-esteem, people's private thoughts. What else? Insecurity, body image problems - just everyday stuff that comes from reading junk, people-watching and looking into my own head.

When I'm asked about artists I am influenced by, I'm often stumped for an answer unless I sit down and think about it. No-one, absolutely nobody, can claim not to be influenced by other artists, that is just fatuous, ignorant arrogance. Whilst I look at lots of things and am sure that they all feed into what I do as an artist, I am not a slave to a style - I don't try to be what I'm not. That's the biggest thing I learned at university: to look but don't touch, to try techniques and ideas out but do it in your own way, to explore why you like something but not try to copy it. In the end you are an individual and therefore what you produce will be 'original' if you follow your instincts.

Monday, 28 September 2009

the weekend...

was lovely - I was home with my parents and sister alone, no spouse. Good, guilt-free excuse to go girly shopping without fear of boring the poor husband. Watched football with my dad. Did zero work - not so guilt-free.

I discovered that my mum still possesses (but does not wear) a wax jacket from circa 1989. It's not Barbour but M&S, dark blue, great condition... and it is MINE now! Hooray! I'm so happy to have another :-) I think the husband, who hasn't been informed of this, will think it's excessive, but if he's going to bugger off to Belgium for five days and leave me to my own devices, these are the small ways in which I make him pay for his neglect :-). This is how I feel:

Thursday, 24 September 2009

ugly or what?

This is the face pot I got at the charity shop on Saturday. 1970s kitchenalia rocks - it's so ugly it comes round the other side in my opinion (or is it just hideous? I don't care what you think!). I think having a crying onion for a pickle jar is a wonderful thing. But I might take the lid off and grow some chives in it like hair.

Wednesday, 23 September 2009


I have spent so much of my adult life liking only white crockery. I have a beautiful set of white, but now I want pattern to cheer things up. I particularly like to serve things in the middle of the table on pretty plates and bowls. I have been coveting this set of four hand-painted plates (£196) from OKA for months now. They are even nicer in the flesh.

Of course I'd also like more vintage crockery, but it's quite hard to find something that's really beautiful rather than just quaint. Does that make sense? Should I stop writing about crockery? This shop, The Oxford Tea Party, has some very nice things. Looking through their products makes me want to buy a set of cake plates and a vintage hamper and go off for a picnic in the countryside near the beautiful riverside town where I grew up. These art deco plates would do nicely :-) and they are a good price at £12.99 for a set of 6. Shame it's not summer any more.

Last time I went to Bewdley was this summer, two and a half years after my parents moved away. I was emotional already because I'd just driven more than 20 miles of terrifying road to get there (and I hate driving), but once we were standing by the water's edge I started to cry my eyes out in that shoulder-shaking grief kind of way. It was embarrassing. I told my husband that the spot we were standing on was the very place where my sister and I once released an eel, which my dad had caught, back into the river. Silly really, crying over a memory of a fish, but that's me.

Bewdley images from and Wikipedia. I don't seem to have any pictures of my own.

Tuesday, 22 September 2009

busy busy!

I think this is going to be a busy week, so apologies if I don't turn up here as often as usual. I am doing work for a friend - website, wedding invites, and also juggling lots of tests for other briefs I have received recently. I am so good at procrastinating but so awful at sitting down and focusing. When did my attention span get so short? Seriously, I don't think I can spend more than ten minutes on one thing at a time before I'm off doing something else.

Monday, 21 September 2009

the weekend...

was charitable. We went scouring out local charity shops for stuff. I bought a pickled onion jar that I think the husband secretly hates and a small pile of books to keep me happy.

Otherwise I did very little. I have a burgeoning list of things to do but I feel lethargic and can't be bothered to address them yet. All I can think of is buying boots on eBay. It's tragic - the mound of work grows but footwear reigns supreme here.

I can't quite believe it's nearly autumn. What the hell happened to summer? We had maybe two weeks of blistering sunshine and we stupidly got all optimistic that it wouldn't rain all summer again. OK, so it didn't rain too much but the sun vanished some time in early July and never bothered to come back: it couldn't be arsed I guess. Buggered off on holiday in Italy. That said, we've had a beautiful weekend here. I love the different light you get at this time of year and the mist that hangs in the air. I can't wait to wear my wax jacket with a floral dress, chunky boots and legwarmers.

My pumpkins are coming along nicely, although I left too many on the plant and now they are all tiny.

Friday, 18 September 2009

an apology

Yesterday's post left me feeling bad, like a shallow stagnant puddle with bits of my dignity rotting in it. I am not that frivolous. I AM NOT THAT GIRLY! I don't want this blog to turn into another one of those ooh look at this skirt isn't it pretty, what can I wear it with? blogs. Please help me to stop writing about boots and dresses! It is undignified. Who on earth is interested in the everyday things that I like? Sure, maybe I can write about odd things wax jackets or 1980s pixie boots, but I mustn't indulge too much. That said, I see a lot of nice things out there that might be interesting to at least some of you.

I promised a reader a few weeks ago that I'd write a post about my influences as an illustrator. Maybe I'll do that soon to get me back on track. There are a lot of things I would like to achieve before Christmas but I'm not getting them done if I spend all my time on eBay looking at shoes!

I have been working on some characters for a pitch. Here is one of them - he is the science correspondent for a really boring news channel.

Thursday, 17 September 2009

whilst I'm on a shopping binge...

I'm going to go off on a girly thing. Bear with me whilst I indulge myself. I'm busy with work for the rest of the week, so random stuff about junk shopping in NY can wait for a while. I've been thinking about lots of things. Brown mid-calf length boots (can't find any that are just right - they must be quite plain, no engineer-style straps across the top of the foot, round-toed, loose like wellies around the ankle, low, dark brown not tan, not too cowboy-like, and available in ENGLAND, goddammit!). I found these clog boots by Sanita, but I prefer them in black (pictured below) to brown - but can I find them anywhere? Just one pair in brown on eBay in the wrong size. They were in Plümo's collection last year, but this year they've got a yucky dark tan thing going on. Sigh.

What else? I'm also after woollen tights: grey and ribbed like the bum-itchy ones I used to wear at school. Beautiful big leather satchels that don't cost the earth (more about these another time). The autumn Toast catalogue, especially the roper boots (shown in top image, only they are the wrong colour!) and this dress (below). Boden also have a pair of shortish boots but somehow they don't seem right, certainly not for £169!

Images from Toast, Plümo and Sanita.

And how about selling up my tiny Fulham flat and buying a house for renovation in N17 instead? Fun or stupid?

Tuesday, 15 September 2009

New York

Well. I'm sure there are WAY too many people out there who go to New York and, upon their return, decide to write a lengthy review of all the things that they did. I'll try not to waffle on too long, but I don't think I will be able to help myself.

We were there for three full days and spent the large part of our time walking around trying not to be tourists. You know what I mean? I don't see the point in turning up to a site or landmark and having my picture taken there: it's just pointless. Unless it's beautiful in which case a photo, unsullied by my physical presence, will do the trick just fine. So what did I think? It made me feel kind of guilty because it was like cheating on my beloved London and Paris. It made me wonder if London could be as fabulous if only I took my eyes off the pavement and my mind off my immediate destination and instead chose to see it afresh. What if (like in NY) I didn't mind that each Tube journey costs £2 and went somewhere new just for breakfast? Would I love London more? I don't know because right now I am having a torrid affair with New York.

But it wasn't so much Manhattan that we loved, although the food was awe inspiring (I could just live in the East Village and get fat on Ukrainian food), it was Brooklyn. We took a trip to Williamsburg one morning after stuffing ourselves with congee and bubble tea for breakfast. It was innocent. I'd read about a thrift shop there. I half-knew that it was good for shopping and was considered to be a 'hipster' area of town but I did NOT prepare myself for how much money I wanted to spend there. I'd found the vintage shops in Manhattan to be good but usually pricey - Edith Machinist, Marmalade etc. were lovely but I am not about to spend $250 on an old skirt even if it is Calvin Klein... The shops (and my LORD there were so many of them!) in Williamsburg were much more my kind of thing. I could have spent days there. I think I will go to NY with an empty suitcase next time and thus force myself to buy new outfits of fabulous vintage clothes. And maybe order a shipping container for the homewares I wanted from Junk and Ugly Luggage. I ended up with two new dresses from Pinky Otto, ridiculously reduced to make space for their Fall collection, and a tidy little shift dress originally from Bloomingdales for all of $7. Oh, and all I could find that was small enough to take home from Junk was a pair of vintage bobbins that I will use for garden and kitchen twine in the style of RE and other places. More on Junk next time... I think I'll leave it here for today.

Here's a little guide to the area we went to (wow, I didn't see a lot of those places). The photos were taken over Japanese lunch at Supercore.

Monday, 14 September 2009

I'm back!

And I have so many things to write about. New York was incredible. Put it this way: I spent some money on pretty things and I ate an awful lot of great food... I shall be writing about the food over the next few days over on my other blog. I have to gather my holiday-scattered wits before I launch into regular proceedings here again. Just give me a day or two... this has been too good.