Thursday, December 06, 2007

Long Term Relationship Hell

A load of quick strips that I drew, judging by the Big Brother references, sometime last summer.

Tuesday, December 04, 2007


For my OMG WTF BFF Beatrice's birthday gift, I thought I'd print a design of mine onto a T-shirt. She like's seafood, cooking it and eating it, and I like drawing dead fish so I thought I'd do something around that.
I started with this ink drawing.

Then I coloured in the lines, thinking a light minimal colour-scheme would suit a T-shirt.

But it all looked a bit too light and minimal, so I blocked in the colours.

It was around this point it was brought to my attention that there are some differences between boys and girls. Girls, I was reminded, have breasts. And their shirts have complicated and cryptically named necklines: scoops and vs and queen annes and halters. These things mean that trying to put a design on a t-shirt for them is to enter a strange and confusing world, as difficult as gift-wrapping a bicycle. Also no girl really wants the phrase "I like fishfood" across their chest. Given these factors, I decided I'd make the design into a kind of art print instead.
So I put some gradients and bitmap overlays in over the flats to add interest.

I didn't like the way it was looking, but I was running out of time. I dug out this picture of some wood.

I laid it over the top, and it didn't look so bad. I printed it out and framed it all nice, and I think it was alright. It wasn't exactly warmly received on the night, but still...

Just in case you lost interest at any point there, let us recap (you may have to click this to see the "animation"):

You may have noticed I've changed this blog so that the post headings come up in a lovely blue. This is to complement my new look website I made last week. Hopefully it's a bit more professional than the last version, with that silly silly sandwich. I cut out loads of less strong images and all of the card section, but I think it's better.
Have a look. Go on.


Friday, November 30, 2007

Hair today

I'm not sure why, but I've done two hairdressing bits recently.
Here's a girl-friendly strip:

And here's a noone-friendly watercolour postcard:

The football result from Wednesday, if you're wondering, was 12-1. Still morale is high, and we're confident that when our ABCDE FC kits arrive we'll be turning those scores around.

Wednesday, November 28, 2007

Football, football, football

Here's a thing for The Thing Is magazine, to accompany this article, an interview with "BT futurologist Ian Pearson".

In 2050, apparently, we'll all be old, degrees will be worthless and robots will play football.
And talking of footballing machines: I am one.
I have joined a football team. Not a likely move for me, as before last week I'd only played once since 1996. That one time was a battle between two student houses which I had to sit out from after five minutes as I'd turned green with the overexertion. Back in 1996 though, aged 12, my skills (along with my football knowledge) peaked. I was good, then. Captain of my school team and everything. Since I've got steadily worse, but somehow my self-belief has barely waivered.
Our first game was last Wednesday. I'd found out about the team, Abcde FC, the day before from Welsh James, a team mate from my last game who obviously clocked my potential that fateful day. I spent the next day panicking: we're not kids anymore, technically. James said you only need one thing to play: not a basic level of health, dedication or a drop of ability but shin-pads. That's when I knew it was serious stuff.
On the Wednesday it was raining horribly and it was cold. As I sat on the bus to deep dark South East London, my shiny new Sondico Pro Armour pads protruding from my thin black ankle socks, I began to get really scared. I'm just a cartoonist, not a grown-up amateur sportsman with the associated tattoos, scars and comfort in using crude language.
When I arrived I walked, as instructed, round the side of East Dulwich's big Sainsburys and listened out for the shouts and whistles. As I was introduced to the team, my team, I was relieved to discover that they were all as unsporty as me: of our team of of eight, only one already owned shinpads (clearly this is the best judge of a footballer. Someone should have told Steve McClaren. Eh!).
We got changed in a rickety shelter constructed from corrugated iron. It was so backstreet and makeshift it was almost exactly like Fight Club, with me in the Meatloaf role.
As found the other team and introduced ourselves to their manager, suddenly we were intimidated. A manager? They've got a manager? "Ah, but...", we said, "do they have shin pads?" They did have of course, along with full matching kits.
The game wasn't too painful in the end. We really would have benefited from a goal keeper, but we did alright. As it was we took turns in a Monkey Rush style, which didn't help in shaking our schoolboy appearance. My contributions were:

  • winning a free-kick by falling over in my own half
  • one good kick (which turned out to be illegal)
  • encouragingly shouting out all the football-y phrases I know ("mark 'em up, mark 'em up", "square ball", "and the rest")

In the end it was 6-1. 4-0 by half time, and then 2-1 in the second half. I was disappointed to discover there is no third half, since by logical extrapolation we'd have won that.
Having made such negligible contributions to my new team I endeavoured to secure my place in the squad for any further games by designing a logo for the team. Everyone knows if you do the logo, you're automatically selected for the team. That's why [insert the name of a footballer who repeatedly gets inexplicably selected] is always in the [and the relevant team name here] fc squad!

The rain cloud remembers the stormy conditions of our first game, and perhaps our drizzly future prospects, whilst the yellow swirls that look like sperm echo the curling shots we one day hope to be pulling off (no really, it's not sperm).
The next game is tonight, in 2 hours in fact, and apparently we have no substitutes so I'll be playing for the full forty minutes. It may not be pretty.

Monday, November 19, 2007


I was quite disappointed to find that looking on Wikipedia for a description of the wheelbarrow (sexual position) revealed only nonsense about the hand-propelled vehicle. Surely the actual wheelbarrow has been made redundant by the internet, or something, by now?

There is a definition, proving that I haven't made this up and thus it is eligible for the IA (combining education, illustration and titillation) in the "Urban Dictionary", but the parental control on the bus wi-fi won't let me find it to link to it.

Thursday, November 15, 2007

Life Drawing

Life drawing. Always the most boring type of sketch-blog post.
My first week. I'm consistently shocked by how bad I am at this.

Generally I try to do proper pictures for a while- with charcoal and winking at my thumb and all that- and then treat myself to using pen, which I'm sure is in breach of some rule somewhere.

Where are the jokes? Where are the mild-profanities?
Oh, go on then:

Thursday, November 01, 2007


You'll no doubt notice the reference here to classic Hitchcock thriller Rear Window. Low-brow filth, indeed...

Wednesday, October 31, 2007

Obligatory shit halloween drawing

Sketch blog etiquette dictates a necessity for a wacky happy halloween drawing on this day.

I did this a few days ago. What's really scary is my apparent mid-nineties Britpop reference frame.
Actually, there's another rule that says you should celebrate your blog's first birthday by drawing a cute cupcake with a candle in it, but I missed that. It was on October 11th.

Friday, October 26, 2007

Wham, Bam... depressing.

A long time ago, it seems, I entered the Observer/Random House graphic short story competition. I'm pretty much relying on winning some such competition, some illustratorial X-Factor, to springboard me into career success. (And I don't mean just beating a bunch of nine year olds in a colouring in competition, as in my previous post). So I put a lot of time into writing and drawing this, and was then bitterly disappointed when I didn't win.
Looking at the winners and other entrants though (conveniently collected here) I'm less upset. Most of them are stylish and bleak and have a single figure word count. That's not really what mine is about. Mine's more Beano than 2000AD, or whatever it is serious graphic story-tellers are into. Mine's a comic, and I think that's what I prefer.
There are definitely far too many words in there though. I need to save those up for my novel. In Crumb, the Terry Zwigoff documentary about Robert Crumb, you meet his older brother Charles who is psychotic. You are shown Charles' cartoon strips he made as was growing up and see that as he gets older, and more mental, his panels become more and more crammed with words. The characters have to hunch down in the bottom until eventually the pages are just panels filled with tiny words. That's what mine reminds me of. That, but with more shit puns.

Thursday, October 18, 2007


I watched Knocked Up in the cinema and didn't laugh once whilst the rest of the audience fell about. Maybe I was bitter because everyone I was with booked seats in the middle at the front, and I had to sit on my own in the back corner. In a subsequent bid to get onto the Judd Apatow bandwagon, unsettled by my differences of opinion with the side of the bus and the internets, I downloaded 40 year old virgin and here we are watching it. It's still pretty dire though.

Now Ratatouille, there's a film...

Tuesday, October 16, 2007


The big news sensations of the modern age, the scandals, the scoops, the scourges, break right here in the blogosphere. It takes weeks if not months later for the real world, for the print media, stumbling from the cave and blinded by technology's bright lights, to catch up. It was true with Britney's transmogrification into a fat bald bad mother, and it's true here.
You may remember, several months ago this post of mine of some shameful Lily Allen fan art which led to me being mocked and ridiculed in pubs, on facebook and behind my back. Now skip forward a few months and what's that splashed across page 2 of London's favourite free paper? Just next to none less than Stella McCartney? Yes, it's my picture of Lily.

In the intervening weeks, you see, I saw advertised a poster design competition themed 'My Hero' being run by MTV and Penguin books, all to promote the new yoof-orientated Nick Hornby novel Slam. I casually sent in my picture, and it won.
A few weeks later Charlotte and I went to the glamorous Slam book launch at the Design Museum on the South Bank, where the shortlisted posters where all up on display. It easily surpassed the time I saw Adam Buxton in Nine Elms Sainsburys as the most glamorous occasion of my life. There were hors douvres. There was a bar with no cash till. There was John O'Farrell. Nick Hornby made a really funny speech and then announced the winner. I looked surprised, but I'd actually been meticulously pre-briefed. I skipped up to the front and Nick, as I now call him, gave me a new iPod (a nano, not a touch) a child's t-shirt and a hug and the Penguin MD handed me a bottle of M&S Champagne.
The next day my entry was in thelondonpaper, which pretty much everyone I know evidently reads as I was bombarded with literally three or four text messages of congratulations.
The poster is to be on display for all of November in the Design Museum. They asked me to write a few words about why Lily is my hero for the display, but apparently my submission- a cloying bid to scrape back some street-cred by mocking her- was not serious enough. Here it is:
"When I was younger, I didn't have posters of my heroes up on my wall. Lily Allen, however- despite looking, sounding and probably smelling like a chav- is a pop star I wouldn 't mind being in my bedroom. She's pop royalty and yet I feel I have a lot in common with her: we both made most of our friends on MySpace, we both like the Specials and both are pretty rubbish at playing the guitar. Most of my friends seem to think she's fairly talentless and has only been as succesful as she has because of her rock 'n' roll dad, but whilst I accept these are valid points I think she's alright, still. Plus, she's a lot easier to draws than Amy Winehouse."

So there you go.

Thursday, October 11, 2007

Louis Theroux

On Sunday we watched Louis Theroux getting cosmetic surgery on television. Charlotte had to shield her eyes from all the cutting and bleeding and sucking and drilling, but I have had medical training and so was fine.

Friday, September 28, 2007

Three laps

Bored and depressed, on an early morning bus trawling through outer London with my trousers grey-rain sodden, I pull out my moleskine sketchbook to distract myself by sketching my surroundings. With pen poised I look around to realise that of everything around me: chairbacks carpeted like classrooms, chewing gum rocks with set dental records and the backs of peeling septegenarian heads, the most interesting thing to me is my own lap. On completion of my uncomfortable drawing I leaf back through the pages and see the previous two drawings are pretty much exactly the same. This initially prompts a brief internal crisis about my own inability to take interest in anything other than myself, but I think it's more just that recently I've only been sketching mindlessly out of pure boredom, and as a last possible resort.

My life really is vaguely exciting, certainly exciting enough for me to not always be prepared to ruin it by stopping to draw the good bits. I don't want to end up like the tortured artist at my Uni who you'd often see sitting in the back of nightclubs scrawling poetry on discarded receipts or wraps and generally being too angst-ridden to function. He probably thinks of himself as a kind of Junglist Wilfred Owen. I imagine his poems go something like:
I'm in a drum and bass club,
it is early mornin',
everyone's dancin' and happy,
don't they care 'bout global warmin'?

Wednesday, September 26, 2007

Amy, why not?

I'm still not sure where to go with this bloody promotional postcard, so to waste time I tried redrawing the Any Winehouse one.

Can you read the 5-a-day bit? I don't want the serious healthy-eating message to be lost...

Tuesday, September 25, 2007

Joe Blogs

Several months ago I answered a call for illustrators from online magazine The Thing Is. The thing was, and is, it turned out, actually a project run by fellow Brightonian Bristolian Afro Jimmy, also known as Jimmy Tidey. I'm not sure which of those is his real name and which is a nickname, seeing as he doesn't sport an afro or come across as particularly tidy. Really nice guy though, and his thing is nice too.
The article I was to illustrate was written by Jimmy (thinking about it, maybe it's the Jimmy bit that's the nickname, maybe he's actually called Afro Tidy and has a predilection for crowbars). The article is about how now the blogging culture is apparently so widespread now there is a huge amount of personal information out there, so psychologists and anyone else interested have a huge bank of information open to them like never before.
First off I was really keen to do something really elaborate and moody with highly technical overlaid transparencies like Matthew Woodson would, but when this came out I was pretty disappointed- it just looks like one panel in a rubbish strip about ghost doctors.

The next day, on the bus to Oxford, I sketched out a design for another version. The bumpy ride made it all the lines wobbly and free. I later scanned it in and next time I was on the bus I coloured the sketch, with the same loss of control. It ended up being one of my favourite pieces.

Blog etiquette meant I couldn't post it until the magazine came out, but then I forgot all about it. But then it has been on my website for a while. Here it is in context:

Which is nice.

Friday, September 21, 2007

Purple face and sweet potato

Two sketches drawn whilst I've been waiting for something else, programmes to load or sweet potatoes to cook.

Wednesday, September 19, 2007

Promotional Postcard

The next stage in my post-graduate evolution from number-crunching ape to fully erect illustrator, following building up a portfolio and setting up a website, is, I'm told, to order the printing of hundreds of self-promotional postcards. A dozen or so of these are then to be sent to prospective employers, the Guardian, say, or the "internet". After that, the plan is, I'll be comissioned to knock out a few anarchistic post-feminist comic serials, move in with Damon Albarn, design a cartoon pop band and go on to draw a Chinese musical.
A promotional postcard traditionally has to encapsulate within it's scant 139mmx107mm every aspect and dimension of an illustrator's supposed strengths. Apparently though these days that's not quite so important, as the postcard works as a shop window enticing the viewer to look at the associated website. Now your image needs just be the foreplay whereas once it had to be the full service: foreplay, kissing, topping, penetration, climax and post-coital embrace.

This was my first idea, thinking to put in a celebrity likeness(ish) and a nod to topicality.

And this unsettling image was my second. It's supposed to look like a tart card, and so is deliberately a bit shit with it's terrible font and cheap pink/red colour scheme. Though this may be a bit of a counter-intuitve way to promote myself.

I don't really know what angle to go with, I wanted to post three on here as a testing ground before ordering the printing, but can't think of a third design. My last blog post- a hungover Sunday scrawl titled "Meh" and tagged as "rubbish"- has had two positive comments from strangers which is the most ever comments by two, so I guess I really don't know what, if anything, of mine is good anymore. Hopefully some readers of this blog, maybe even both of you, can tell me where to go with the postcards. I'll thank you from the top.

Monday, September 10, 2007

Tuesday, September 04, 2007

Three controllers and winehouse

I hope Jamie T wins the Mercury prize tonight. Amy Winehouse is in the papers enough as it is. The anti-drugs league shouldn't worry about her being a bad role model though: she's helping them by looking as so weird as she does. She's a one woman scare story. What with her tiny wire frame body covered in cheap tattoo transfers, her burly uncontrollable sideburns like a rocker, stuck on mrs potato head eyes and lips all topped off with a greasy nest of synthetic hair that probably smells of stale vomit, she's a poster child for keeping clean. Having said all that, I do think she's hot.

Monday, September 03, 2007

In Vogue

A Pretty girl I copied out of a glossy magazine. I think she was in a shampoo advert. Everyone likes pictures of pretty girls, boys and girls. I like pictures combining pen and pencil, though I haven't found a good way of colouring them in yet.


I like pocket cartoons. I have my google page set up so that I can see the days Matt one every day without having to expose myself to any of the Telegraph site. Here's a quick one I did while at work last week to go with this Pitchfork article about a choir that sings their complaints.

I had my first Vindaloo last night. It made me feel pretty big and clever at the time, but today I've regretted it. By midday I'd gone for a poo in four different toilets: at home, on the bus to Oxford (there's a toilet on the bus to Oxford), in the bus station and at work.

Thursday, August 30, 2007

Madeleine again

I've never liked that EP artwork I did for Maddy for that EP she never made, and always intended to do another for her. The other day, entirely on the bus, I did this with a photograph Jacob Todd took that she doesn't like but I do.


Char and I went to Edinburgh for an extended bank holiday weekend to check out the festivals. I never believed all the positive reports about going up I've had over the years, I think because my knowledge of Scotland is formed almost entirely by Trainspotting. Even when we walked around the city, which was constantly impressive, whilst I was not shocked by the large amount of pretty and tanned people there were milling around in the sunshine- I assumed they were fashionable London media types seeking out some culture, like myself- but I was, to my shame, always shocked when I heard them talking exactly like Begbie. It really was amazingly fun (read: expensive). We saw loads of shows and comedy in our four day stint there, and some of which was good but a lot of it was really dire. The advice is often given to listen out for word of mouth, so when we arrived and our new housemate listed some of her must-sees, we immediately rushed out and booked ourselves up for most of the weekend. Unfortunately after the first show: some family-friendly acrobatic slapstick nonsense, Traces, it became clear our new friend has the mental age of about two. She probably made her recommendations based upon those that had the best shiny bits on the tickets, a view that was reinforced when we sat through two hours of children's puppetry the next day, which was like an itsa-bitsa remake of a kind of dumbed down Tweenies. As we watched it, hungover and trapped in a small black oven, it was obvious why all the infants around us were crying.
As you wander around the city, all the posters are crammed with stars and plaudits from vaguely credible newspapers and slightly-less-so websites. A lot of the things I'd seen before and I was bewildered as to how anyone can possibly say these things. There are very average comedians boasting quotes like "definitely the funniest man that ever lived" and you just have to wonder how anyone can ever think these things, let alone apparently write them down and put them in the public domain. It'll probably turn out that our housemate is a journalist with the Scotsman and although if that was the case the quotes would be more like: "I liked the way the man wore a hat indoors...". We did see some very funny stuff, but most of the laughing was definitely done with/at our friends who were there too: Archie, Sophie, Sandeep, Arron...
I went there to broaden my mind and reignite/ignite my flames of passion for theatre and live performance, but came back less keen than ever. However I did re-realise several of my other passions: wandering around, super shandies, rum and ginger, falling asleep in clubs, McDonalds breakfasts and seeing old friends.

Wednesday, August 22, 2007

Just did Italy

Just had a really fun time in Italy for a week with Char and her family. Here's a collection of photographs to prove it, including a couple of inevitable I've-got-a-phone-with-that-panorama-function-and-so-use-it-at-every-opportunity shots.

I didn't get to really draw that much whilst I was there, but I started this one from the poolside:

And did this one of the house, which I really enjoyed doing but am quite disappointed with. Nonetheless, expect more water colours from me.

Otherwise I haven't had the chance to do that much. I'm trying to think about entering this competition and working on a couple of genuine bona fide commissions (all top secret, of course), but most of my time is spent travelling round Grey Britain and beyond. Not only (though primarily) to Oxford for my two-day-a-week job, but also back and forth to Italian villas, down to Brighton- where I was for Loop festival this weekend, not that I paid much attention to it once I was there, and tomorrow up to Edinburgh to see Sarah's play and to stand around in the rain drinking and perfecting my Scottish accent. It's really like I've got several jobs, but I get paid in fun rather than boring old money.

Sunday, August 05, 2007

IA: K, L , M, N, O, P, Q, R, S, T, U...

The Inappropriate Alphabet: it's back. I should have this filthy childrens book ready soon. Printed up and on the shop shelves, or at least, printed up and in my desk drawer...
Charlotte's away in Italy this week, leaving me home alone. And whilst this does give me a break from the endless drudgery of married life (lawnmowing, bickering, Big Brother, Big Brother's Big Mouth etc.) and chance to work on "projects" like this it has been pretty lonely knocking round the house on my own. The two shootings pretty much on my Stockwell doorstep in the last week and a half have ramped up my paranoia from it's default code orange, which still means that when I'm home alone I mute the TV every five minutes because I think I can hear someone creeping up behind me (though I do this a lot less since I realised we have surround sound installed) all the way up to code FLASHING-FUCKING-RED. Utter, all consuming paranoia. I've been spending most of the days urgently, nakedly and armed with a non-stick frying pan pacing between the many windows and doors of the house, checking to see if the human hairs taped across their openings remain intact.
Living in complete isolation has driven me slowly insane.
Within about an hour of Charlotte's leaving I was arguing bitterly with an avocado onto which I'd drawn a disapproving face. I have entirely abondoned ablutions and dressing and just sit, for hours on end, dizzy with the heat pulsating through the closed blinds above my desk, flicking emptily through porn (as research) and that is it. My life alone. Sweaty. Filthy. Disgusting. Scared. I even did my shopping in Iceland.
Still, I'm off to Italy to join her tomorrow, so that's alright.

I'm not sure about V, W or X. Any suggestions?
I also recently did this elaborate sketch of a pretty girl, and idly started colouring it on the bus to work. It looks shit and off-balance now- not helped by the complete lack of lips, but may turn into something quite pretty. Then I'll ruin it by drawing in the rest of her, tromboning some old pervy Chris Langham type.