Catching Up

Hello! It's been a while, hasn't it? Have you been keeping well? Staying busy? I have a few things going on at the moment keeping me out of trouble, such as designing a range of greeting cards. I thought it was about time I jumped back into the card-making business, since I've always had such a positive response to my cards in the shops, as well as selling them online myself. My aim is always to try and make something unique, because I think as an independent artist it's important to provide an alternative to the mainstream market. Perhaps something a little bit edgier than your standard greeting card design? As well as an emphasis on originality and craftsmanship, making sure the printing, paper and envelope choices are eco-friendly and beautiful quality. Well, that's my aim anyway! One of the types of card I'm working on has a big emphasis on pattern design - I hope they'll be really beautiful when they're done! I'm really excited about them, so I'll be sure to post some photos!

More excitement...my work is featured in a new book coming out in October, published by Laurence King in the UK - they do such gorgeous art and design books, I'm so happy to be in one of them, amongst such incredibly talented artists. The book is called Low-Tech Print: Contemporary Hand-Made Printing, you can take a look at it here. Above is the cover and a sample page featuring my prints. From the write-up on their site:

Featuring a global showcase of 100 of the craft’s most exciting and influential practitioners, Low-Tech Print is an exploration of hand-made printmaking techniques and how they are used in contemporary design and illustration. It examines the huge recent resurgence in the popularity of printmaking, with chapters on screenprinting, letterpress, relief printing and other printing methods.

Speaking of printmaking, a little while ago I was interviewed for an article in the Sydney Morning Herald about Riso ceasing production of the Gocco and its consumables. They're still available in limited supply, but it's still such a shame... You can take a look at that article here if you like.

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A couple of weeks ago I visited the art shop and bought a new sketchbook because the lovely, textured, brown krafty paper really appealed to me, and I got some white charcoal pencils as well. I spent a couple of hours one evening, watching The Walking Dead and drawing this portrait of Django Reinhardt on the first page. This gave me the idea to fill the book with portraits, and so a little project was born: Fifty Pages, Fifty People. Whenever I have some free time, I intend to work on filling this sketchbook with more portraits. I'm hoping you might have some suggestions for potential subjects? If there's anyone interesting you think I should draw in my book, please leave your suggestions in the comments!

And one more thing before I go... You might like to take a look at this site that features a fabulous collection of vintage stereo logos and typography from old records.

Print Giveaway - Tell Me About Your Shoes!

I was so happy with the Favourite Shoes print that I made another edition in my favourite colour combo du jour - red & pale blue - & it's now for sale in my Etsy shop.

It's difficult to decide which edition I like best, but I'm really in love with the card stock I used this time, it's a lovely eggshell colour with little red & blue flecks, & looks just like a speckly bird's egg. It suits the print so well!

Anyway, I thought I'd have a little contest & give away a print. All you have to do is post a comment here in my blog giving an anecdote, or description, or even a link to a photo or artwork about your favourite shoes.

I don't really feel a burning need to win one of my own prints, but I thought I'd get the ball rolling with my own shoe story...

I remember walking down King William Street (main street through the centre of Adelaide) with my mum when I was about three or four years old. I know it was near my birthday (in October) because it was mild, late-spring weather. It was a balmy & rainy late afternoon that grew so dark the street lights came on & they reflected in the wet roads & pavements, which reminded me of a poem I had a particular love for at the time (click the image to the right).

I was wearing my favourite outfit - a purple & magenta paisley silk smock dress with swirly brass buttons (I'm talking 1971...my mum always dressed me in these ultra-short dresses, this one was no exception), little white ankle socks, & shiny black patent mary-janes. I loved those shoes. They had buttons instead of buckles - just like my Favourite Shoes print (which is based on a pair of shoes I own now).

I remember walking along the shimmery, rainy street (the acoustics change when it rains like that - the traffic was all echoey) holding my mum's hand, & in the other, clutching a brand new colouring book & box of crayons she'd just bought me. Penny Lane by The Beatles wafted from a shop doorway.

It was just one of those perfect happy moments. I loved my shoes, I loved the day & my new colouring book, & I loved my mum. :)

And have a look - I still own the book with the poem about rainy streets in it that the day evoked in my four-year-old mind...

There are other shoe anecdotes of note that I could have shared...such as the time I set fire to a total stranger's brand new trainers with a flaming marshmallow at a party...but that one's not nearly as picturesque, & anyway, it isn't about my shoes.

So, if you'd like the chance to win a Favourite Shoes print, feel free to share your shoe story. I'll pick my fave in a week's time & announce the winner. Make sure your comment links back to you so I can contact you if you win & get your address!

New Gocco Work

EDIT: Last Wednesday was my 1 year bloggiversary! Yay me! Here's the new work I've just finished for the Gocco Exhibition at the Here Gallery in October. It's all been bundled up & shipped off now. I made the Favourite Shoes print in an edition of 50 & it will be available in a boxed portfolio with prints from all of the other participating artists too. I get a set myself - can't wait! I think I might make a second edition of this design in different colours - I'm quite happy with how it turned out!

And here's the girl from a few posts ago that started as a sketch in my Moleskine. I've made two mixed media pieces on 6x12x1.5" canvas. I printed up a few extras on various types of paper to incorporate into some future pieces I'll be selling in my Etsy shop.

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In other news, I was featured on Design Sponge last week as part of their Regional Roundup series on Australian designers. Hooray!

I was also approached by the fabulous ezine Design This Design That to take part in their Illustration issue, but I was so busy I forgot to send back the interview answers! I'm really disappointed that I missed out, because it really is a great issue, but I'm still featured in the Etsy Treasures section, which is nice. Go take a flick through- it's loaded with amazingly talented illustrators.

Gocco Exhibition

Some of my work is going to be featured in this fabulous exhibition of Gocco artists, Even Dwarves Started Small, being held at the Here Gallery in the UK (& look, one of my pics is on the flyer!). It's shaping up to be a great show (I wish I could attend!) - here's the list of artists...

Arctic Circles | Jill Bliss | Simon Dovar | Rob Flowers | Imakethings | Yellena James |Xtina Lamb | Magic Jelly (that's me!) | Mark Pawson | Nigel Peake | Peskimo | Aaron Sewards |Lucie Sheridan | Julie West | Jazmin Velasco

From the press release:

For over 25 years, the Print Gocco screen-printing system has been used in Japan. The small plastic device is a self-contained screen printing set-up, consisting of an exposure unit, pre-coated screens and inks. Originally marketed for making greeting cards and sold in toy stores, appreciation for the Gocco system has grown amongst artists who cannot afford, or don't have the space for a traditional screen-printing equipment.

We feel that the accessibility of Print Gocco reflects our own DIY ethos in running a gallery, and so have chosen to celebrate our Fifth anniversary with a group show of Gocco based artwork. To accompany the exhibition, we will be releasing a portfolio of Gocco prints, produced in a signed and numbered edition of 50, collected in a custom made presentation box.

We've selected artists who look beyond the limitations of the device, to show that it can also be used to produce fine art works. Those involved are from a range of disciplines; textile design, fine art, illustration, graphic design, and animation.

Sneak Peek

Here's a little preview of two new Gocco print designs I'm working on.  Both involve quite a bit of colour & detail, using four screens each, so I'm having lots of fun (make that headaches) working out the colour separations. One of them is going to be a 6.25x9.25" print made on the larger Arts Gocco & the other is a standard 4x6" design. Still a lot of work to do, but I thought you might like to take a li'l look at my progress! I've been lucky enough to appear in four Treasury lists on Etsy's front page recently. The latest was curated by the exceptionally talented Sonia Romero, who along with the equally amazing Marissa Lee has started an Etsy Street Team for printmakers called Printsy. So if you're an Etsy seller who makes original prints, or a printmaking appreciator, go take a look! It was so great to make it to the front page of Etsy in such good company - what beautiful prints.

Recently I've been working on sprucing up my blog, so things will be looking a wee bit different around here quite soon.

Oh! Almost forgot! Fellow Etsian & super-duper artist Andy Mathis let me know I've been included in decor8's list of favourite Australian blogs - how nice is that? I'm honoured! It's brought masses of traffic to my blog & lots of new subscribers!

Gocco Mania & Other Stuff

Etsy asked me to write a Gocco article for their blog, The Storque, & you can read it right here. Just a brief rundown of the plethora of Goccoed items available on Etsy, & some links to Gocco resources as well. Etsy also very kindly featured some of my picks (& one of my own Gocco prints) on the front page. I took a screenshot!

In other news, I just want to draw your attention to the lovely Pamela Buckley who has a blog called Ophelia Golly. She bought one of my prints a few weeks ago & has just written the most generous & lovely blog entry about my work. I thought it was so great because she's written about how she makes up stories to go along with my photomontages & how she prefers to think they're real rather than a bit of digital sleight of hand. I love hearing people's perspectives of my artwork.

I hope she doesn't mind me quoting her; this is what she has to say about my print Now I Lay Me Down to Sleep:

The story I put with it (almost within seconds of deciding it was real!) was that it was probably a photograph of a magician's children, and he insisted on the dove being part of the photograph as a silent signature of his profession. I am not making this up (well, I am making it up but it is something that I am not lying about believing when I saw it!) and I know that the imaginative talent of the artist was what was behind my suspended belief otherwise I never would have wondered over it at all. (I can also say that having just recently seen the Prestige might have fostered this idea just a little bit too...) But obviously the art is the magic!

I just thought that was so sweet! Thank you Pamela! Ironically, I sold my last 5x7" version of Now I Lay Me Down To Sleep today. I'm happy (& grateful) that the entire edition has sold, but a little sad to wave goodbye to the last one. There are still a few left in the 8x10" edition though.

Whew...this has turned into a marathon post. But I can't leave you without posting this fantastic clip from the Jerry Lewis film The Ladies Man...

Etsy Shop Update

I've been busy updating my Etsy shop with a few new things. Firstly, I've started listing my range of coasters which I'm selling individually for $6.00, two for $11.00, & four for $20.00. There are a lot more designs still to be listed, but there are four available so far, including the three above. News travels fast, I just got a Google Alert that my Femme Fatale coaster has been featured on this great design blog Try this at Home. Thanks for the mention!

Aaaaand I've just listed four new pieces in my Benediction series, since the last lot have sold out, called Chloroform, North, Daily Habit & St. Cloud. I've already kept one of my Benediction pieces because I couldn't bear to part with it, & I'm going to have a really hard time waving goodbye to Chloroform - it's a particular favourite. But hey, a sale's a sale!

I'll be back again later today to announce my November giveaway.  See you then!

Desperately Seeking Cardboard

Who would ever guess how hard it is to find a good piece of brown kraft cardboard (or pad board, or chipboard, or whatever you want to call it)? I spent months earlier this year phoning paper merchants, tapping out desperate emails, feverishly ripping open posted samples, only to be disappointed time & time again. That Goldilocks gal knew what she was talking about...it had to be just right. By right I mean the right colour (more brownish than grey), the right texture (nice & pulpy, but not too coarse) & the right weight (thick enough to hold the weight of a pocket mirror without bending). Are you bored yet?

Anywaaay...I finally found the right cardboard & we're very happy together. I know the people who buy my merch have absolutely no idea of my relentless search for (& obsession with) cardboard. They don't know how much thought & care goes into designing my packaging - or even that it's hand-printed - but I hope, when they see one of my products propped up on a shop shelf, it calls to them & makes them smile, & maybe even convinces them to spend a little money. :)

I'll be listing some drink coasters in my Etsy shop next week, & the week after that, some button packs. I'll also be announcing my first monthly giveaway in the next few days - only subscribers to my mailing list are eligible, so don't forget to join!

Endings & Beginnings

Well, yesterday was my birthday & I waved goodbye to my 30s. I also just happened to finish my current sketchbook the same day (I rip through at least one a month) & my new scanner was delivered. So put it all together & what do you get? A blog entry with some scans from my sketchbook. I'm a perfectionist by nature (& I don't mean that in a good way) so I have to approach my sketchbooks with the attitude that they're for my eyes only & it doesn't matter how messy & unfinished they are. If I was too conscious of showing them to other people, it'd defeat the purpose of having a place to scribble down the seeds of ideas that may or may not grow into something. So for that reason, my sketchbooks are not particularly interesting...but here are a couple of the less scribbly pages.

You might recognise the fox from my Fox & Flowers print. The colour samples are gocco inks.

In other news...I've been adding more pages to my blog, including one about my mailing list (there will soon be a link to it in my sidebar). Just wanted to let you know that subscribers to my mailing list will be eligible for monthly giveaways & the first one will be held at the beginning of November, so go join my email list if you'd like to be in the running for regular Magic Jelly freebies!