This is my first solo show in London. You can read some official information about ithere. Its sort of about living at the end of the world.
Hard Wood and Heavy Water' takes place along some half-imagined coastline where two houses sit, on opposite sides of a wind-beaten cove. In one lives a man and in the other, a woman. But this is not a love story. Their lives will not collide, the pieces of the puzzle will not happily fall into place. Instead they cross over, pass by one another, peacefully; firewood left at the fork in the road, a box of candles during a powercut, whisky on the doorstep at christmas. Theirs is a story of silent reassurance, the comfort born of seeing a light flicker across the inky black curve of the sea.
This place feels like the end of the world, the last point before the flat of the ocean drops off and disappears. Skies are bigger here, the weather asserts itself with shameless confidence. It is hard to say how these two people came to be here, whether they simply always were, or if they retreated from something, the world perhaps. Maybe it isn't even a 'retreat' but a challenge- squaring up to world, taking as much air in your lungs as you can, filling your greedy eyes with it all.
BRISTOL (and the surround glorious South West) me and Eleni Kalorkoti are going to be at the Bristol Comic and Zine Fair on 5th October. It's going to be a great day with a bucketload of great artists pitching up to sell their wares. We'll be selling zines and prints and desperately trying to appear as though we can socialise beyond the safety of our own flat. We'd love it if you came by to say hello. We're quite needy.
First things first this book is an experiment. There are flawed bits and
good bits and bits that are almost what I wanted but not quite and bits
that are better than I expected. Its mostly me having a go at something and
not always succeeding. But its good to try eh? Its not strictly a comic or even a book
of illustrations; each 'story' is more like a vignette than anything
truly developed. I've done more writing in this book and that feels a
bit risky because its not something I've ever really done publicly, so
you'll have to excuse lazy sentences and repetitive structural habits.
I'm finding my feet.
Secondly yes, its mostly about love, or forms or love- having it,
the memory of it, the want of it. And I realise that, especially with the diary comics, I do a lot of this sort of thing at the moment but I
suppose, I guess, thats what I like. So you'll probably have to put up with it or get bored and walk away.
Finally this book is about real people (though that doesn't really
mean that its all true). In many cases they are people I am very fortunate to
know. In writing and drawing about them I am trying to articulate how
they've all left a dent (in me) and how I am proud of each dent and
scratch, because they are the best people I've known. So. There we go.
Minnows is available now from my shop. The first 50 orders also get a little painting, because I'm nice sometimes.
"Drawing is the simplest way of establishing a [..] vocabulary because it is an instant personal declaration of what is important." Betty Goodwin.
On a few occasions I have been asked why it is that I draw, as though the career I am in the process of crafting for myself has been rationally reasoned and considered. It is a question that, for a long time, I have not taken seriously. I glossed over it with a flippant remark- ‘its the only skill I’ve got’ or something about really wanting to cultivate my terrible posture and poor eyesight. Recently however this question has begun to demand a more considered response. Larger musings, admittedly self-indulgent ones, on who I am at this quarter-century stage of my life have brought me round to thinking through what I do, this thing that has, and will continue, to define much of my life.
I will often say that I draw because I am not musical; that my inability to write a great break-up album forces me to draw it instead. Similarly I might say that it is because I am a poor writer, childish with poetry or dangerously uncoordinated as a dancer. I claim that drawing is my mode of expression by default, that creative failings have led me to plump for this as my outlet. This is all true, in a sense, but it gives short shrift to drawing for, in truth, it is one of the most natural an instinctive forms of expression I can think of. Not for a second do I genuinely feel I have settled for a lesser medium.
Firstly I should establish that whilst I am ‘an illustrator’ I am not talking about illustration here. Drawing is not illustration and illustration is not drawing. Whilst differentiating between the two might verge on the pedantic and is certainly, in many ways, reductive it is also necessary in this context. When draughtsmen recorded nebulous masses of stars through eighteenth century telescopes or the sinewy capillaries of a lung dissected in a victorian operating theatre they were not drawing. The choices they made in the information they recorded determined contemporary understanding. Their medium was explanatory rather than expressive. Where, in drawing, the artist allows for minimal interference between the hand, eye and mind, moving between the three with deft swiftness and an almost unconscious intent, the illustrator must, through their own hand, factor in the eye and mind of the viewer. It is the viewer's understanding that must be met before any of the authors creative goals. Whilst expression and creative flair play an integral role in the desirability of an image the onus falls on clarity of message to determine its overall success. The fine artist's goal is often an emotional one and thus they are afforded a freedom of expression that is not always afforded to the illustrator. We are, perhaps, more generous with our reading of fine art image-making because we understand that the artist's message might not be a tangible or concrete one because drawing is so instinctive. As a caveat this is not to say that illustrators are not artists, nor that a fine artist lacks the capacity to clearly deliver a message. The most successful illustrators marry the two and can create beauty and clarity.
Sketching, which I confess I do rarely at present, is fast and unthinking and and yet you are decision-making the whole time. With every swift stroke across the page you are deciding which parts of your subjects are most important to you. In essence you are re-sculpting one thing into another unconsciously. In filtering visual information from eye to hand you tell a specific story, one that is unique to your way of seeing. Furthermore drawing is hampered by very few obstacles; information travels from eye to brain to hand without having to be compressed into language, rife with barriers and limitations. Feelings that cannot be summarised in words can often be succinctly expressed with the broad stroke of an inky paintbrush or a sweep of pitch-black charcoal. Often drawing feels like taking notes; quickly getting down as much information as possible, keeping a record. My sketchbooks are a mix of images and words but the text rarely feels like ‘writing’ but drawing. There is the feeling of ‘pulling’ something out of the page, shaping it and giving it weight. Whether this occurs with words or pictures is, during the process, almost irrelevant. Instead there is just the feeling of pressing an idea to the page, in whatever form it fits.
For me drawing is a form of thinking. A drawing need never be finished, much as an internal throught need never be formalised into a precise statement. It also benefits from, I believe, an inability to lie. The hand will only do what it can do naturally, there are no dictionaries, no filtered lenses or editing tools to reshape it into a more-perfect thing. If a mistake is made you erase it or paint over it but the ghost of that mistake remains- denting the paper or traceable through the slight relief of paint. In this respect it seems honest. Even those who, perhaps unwisely, attempt to ape the draughtsmanship of another will be betrayed by the habits and limitations of their own hand. A friend, a talented artist, would always draw with a slight incline to the right (similarly, I suppose as to how I write with a slope to the left). His images slanted, just enough to be noticeable, with the motion his hand made across the paper. This was cause for much consternation from the friend, who was adamant that he would eradicate this foible, this habitual lean. Yet I found it compelling. His slanted drawings were not only beautiful but told the physical story of their production so succinctly as they allowed you to follow the route of his hand across the page with the direction of his line.
To return to exactly ‘why i draw’- I suppose it is party born of a need to expel gathered information, which seems a somewhat clinical way to boil things down. As a person to wanting to store as much as possible as memory I find that drawing acts as a way of purging certain ideas before the clamor for attention in my head becomes too cacophonous. I like that it is, in effect, a quietening which is mirrored by my physical state when working. The process encourages me to to slip into a mode of being that is automatic and relatively unthinking.
Finally then, I draw because I want, in some way, to be known. Not in any genuinely intimate way, I’m not angling for romance or hoping to draw myself a soulmate. Rather I draw for the same reasons that, I believe, anyone makes anythings. It feels like people are huge, enormous in fact and so many are frustrated by the limits of their physical selves that they feel fit to burst; filled with vast swathes of thought and feeling, joys and sadnesses. Every single person is so much bigger and I suppose we fear that the rest of us, the parts not represented by body or speech, will be lost. I draw, then, for this part of me, the majority of me I suppose; because that way it might outlive ‘me’. If drawing is the best way of establishing what is important to us visually then it must go some way towards recording what it important to us internally,
----- “Subconsciously I want to make myself immortal among men, leave my mark on the earth to compensate for social inadequacy… So I draw.”
R. Crumb, Your Vigor for Life Appalls Me: Robert Crumb Letters 1958-1977
HEY! I'm selling a few of my original landscape drawings. They've been hanging out in an exhibition in Bethnal Green for a while and now they need a new home. Some are framed and some are not (because I'm too scared to post large frames I'm afraid). Pop by and have a look!
I finished my MA and, in truth, I am incredibly glad that its all over. It is difficult to process how I've felt about the whole experience; often frustrating and anger-inducing, sometimes bewildering, occasionally inspiring. It has been a long and complicated two years and I think it'll take me a while to work out what, exactly, they meant to me.
And now. Now. Hmm.... People keep asking me what I'm 'going to do now' and quite frankly I have no idea. It is as though 'now' is a whole new world, a precipice I am teetering on the edge of and what comes next should be big, bold, a dramatic change. Except it won't be. It'll be exactly the same, at least outwardly. I will keep freelancing and continue to make books and prints and do a bit of teaching here and there. I will carry on taking too many coffee-shop breaks. It is only inwardly that there has been a change, of course there has. Two years of thinking about your work, about what you do and why you do it will undoubtedly change things for you. There are times when I think all that academic navel-gazing has caused permanent damage, other times I think its allowed me to really get to grips with what is important to me, creatively. Either way its been exhausting and now I find myself.... no, actually, I don't know where I find myself. I think my work has been, and will continue, changing. I paint more and draw less, I write a lot more than I ever used to, I struggle with client work in a way I didn't in the past. The only thing that seems fixed is that stories are at the very heart of what I do and what I want to do. It is the story that matters most to be. I like telling them, I like reading them and hearing them. I like how sharing a story with another person can create wonder. And perhaps that means that the stories I tell won't always be told with static images, or even images at all, perhaps I'll write some things, or simply tell them. I wonder whether, for a while, I won't even bean illustrator but something less clearly defined. Its hard to say, hard but certainly interesting. I am learning to see flux as something exciting and not bewildering. I like that my work is not a fixed point, just as I, myself, am not a fixed point. It will change as I do. And whilst, professionally, that seems terrifying, I think, maybe, it'll be good for me.
I recently started trying to suss out animation. Above is a short film I made one day last week as a bit of an experiment. Its still a new thing to me and this is totally jumpy and beginner-y but its a fun thing to mess around with and I'm really intrigued by the storytelling potential. So hopefully a bit more of this in future!
This new zine features
four short stories that explain the relationship between people and
objects and memory. Its one of the projects from my big ol' Master's
project. I'll be sharing more of that work over the coming weeks. In the
meantime the zine is here.
So! In an alarmingly small number of days I will be handing in all my work for my Masters Degree at Central St Martins. This means that in June I'll be part of the degree show exhibition and in order to not totally disgrace myself I'll need to fork out for a tonne of printing over the coming month. So in an attempt to raise some funds for that I'm selling off some drawings and paintings. As usual If you're interested in purchasing
anything send an email to lizzy (at) abouttoday.co.uk and include where
you live so that I can work out the postage. I'm afraid I can only take payment via
paypal. All work is signed and wrapped in cellophane to keep it clean.
Last week I spent four days in Iceland, mostly in Reykjavik, with three of my closest friends. Somewhat predictably I fell totally in love with the place (Mountains! Ice! Multi Coloured Houses!) and am now having a proper sulk about being back in London.
I did a fair bit of drawing whilst I was there and the drawings are now crammed into a zine which you can pre-order here (it'll ship next week once its back from the printer.). Pre-orders come with a postcard print of this drawing from a couple of years back.
done one of these in a wee while. Below are a load of drawings and
paintings that need new home. If you're interested in purchasing
anything send an email to lizzy (at) abouttoday.co.uk and include where
you live so that I can work out the postage. I can only take payment via
paypal cos..you know...thats how the internet work I guess.
AHOY! This wednesday I'll be talking at the Comic Book Slumber Party as part of the Bath Literary festival. I'll be talking with the excellent Philippa Rice about self-publishing and making a living from drawing pictures and whatnot. It might be interesting...at the very least it'll be distracting. There are a load of amazing people taking part (Gemma Correll, Donya Todd and Wai Wai Pang to name but three) and the whole day is totally and utterly free...which is pretty flipping great if you ask me.
Currently I am studying for a masters degree in Communication Design at Central St Martins. Its called 'Communication Design' but as I have no other strings to my, very, flimsy bow I'm sticking with illustrative communication because, lets face it, that's pretty much all I care about. So there are a few strands to my research but my primary goal is that at the end of the two years, which is now fast approaching, I will have a better understanding of what it is that I do.
I think Illustration is important. Not in a real sense, not as how I think feminism is important or social justice or the heartbreaking dismantling of the NHS, of course its not important like that. But within the culture of art and design illustration is significant, not least because it has always been here. Putting information into pictures has been humankind's way of explaining life for centuries; from cave paintings to maps of the stars to diagrams of the human body. Images can be the most powerful, concise and comprehensive way of dispensing information to a varied audience as everyone is, on some level, visually literate. We look at pictures before we can speak, we draw before we write. We know, from childhood, how to read a picture and that makes it immediately more accessible than anything written might be. I think pictures are instinctive and intuitive and, as a result, carry some weight.
However the existence ofphotography and film dictates that illustration need no longer be the single pictorial delivery method for factual information. Instead the illustrator's role is shifting and currently exists in a fairly malleable state in which we, the artists, can decide who we are and what we do. Perhaps we're not even illustrators anymore?
SO. What I'm wondering is what other Illustrators identify their role as being.
How do you define 'illustration'?
Do you operate under the title 'illustrator' or the more general (and increasingly popular) 'creative' or perhaps you have another name for what you do? And is ALL the work you make illustration?
Where do you see your work fitting withinArt & Design?
What is the importance of images for you?
If you have the time, and indeed the inclination, I was wondering if any illustrator reading might email me their answers to the above questions. I'd really appreciate it and I think (and hope) that together we might be able to come up with some kind of portrait of what we do and why our artform deserves as much criticaland historical analysis as any other artistic endeavor. EMAIL TO- lizzy (at) abouttoday.co.uk
The work I did for 'The Call of the Wild' is now on my website. These drawings and paintings focus on my immediate surroundings; the
corner of South London that I live in. It is relatively quiet and
somewhat neglected around the edges. From our bathroom window your eye
can follow a tangle of hedges and fences upwards towards chimneys that
stretch towards Battersea. Whilst not 'wild' in the traditional sense
this place, to me, has a kind of wilderness quality found in the falling
fences and peaceful streets, as though it is waiting to be discovered.