NickjGraves? More like NickJaGoodGuy!

So the last time someone drew some artwork that featured lil’ ol me I of course posted it here because I was so gosh darn excited and privileged that someone had taken them out of their day to draw something for me. So you can imagine my excitement when today one of my favourite artists not only gave me a shout out but also a beautiful depiction of my 10/10 movie star face.

It truly is beauty and the beastly handsome (also me).

It truly is beauty and the beast-ly handsome (also me).

 

If you follow the link to his post, you can also see the amazing depictions he did of his favourite arty pals. I’m not exaggerating when I say Nick is one of my favourite artists around. His stuff is vibrant and unique, and he pumps out so much consistently good artwork that it’s a regular delight to see a new piece of his pop up on my twitter or tumblr feed. Thankfully, he’s not gone unnoticed as he’s celebrating a fantastic 600 followers over on his tumblr art blog (still not enough though- go follow him! Now!) and I hope his next milestone arrives as soon as possible. His idea to highlight other artists (I don’t think I really count but I’ll take the label “Proficient doodler”) was inspired by my 300 follower post, and it reminded me I really should refresh you guys with some of my favourite arty types and all round cool folks here, in case anyone missed them the first time…

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Notebooks Are So Hot Right Now

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No, really notebooks are so hot right now. As you guys may know, I’m a big fan of diaries, sketchbooks, notebooks and all things handwritten and vaguely journal-y. Last week I posted a wee photo album of my current notebook setup, and I often post pictures of my sketches and various doodles on my Tumblr and Instagram accounts. Unsurprisingly both these platforms are where the majority of attention for my work comes from due to the large artistic and image-sharing base of these websites. Sites like Penaddict, Tumblr blogs and online communities dedicated to discussing the art of diary and notebook keeping are becoming ever more popular. It all ties in to the hipster, thrifty new-age alternate lifestyle subculture that sort of rejects modern products and fetishizes the outdated and less efficient but nonetheless nostalgic & capable technology such as film cameras, typewriters, record players, paper notebooks & diaries, single gear bikes and other outdated items (obviously only to a point- we still need those fancy iPhones to update our Instagram and Twitter feeds to tell you all about the old stuff we use!). Basically, the kind of still that you might pick up in a thrift shop, see propped up in trendy bars or coffee shops, blogged about on new-age news sites, or in the skip behind an Artisanal Portland Kale Garden & Free Range Hemp Chickpea Commune. As much as I’m not a fan of a lot of the arrogance and pretentiousness that goes hand in hand with hipster subculture (though I think I probably despise the ‘cool-to-hate-hipster’ sub-subculture even more, if that makes sense), I am a bit crazy for all things old-fashioned and vintage. Growing up with a grandfather who has literally sheds of old tools, equipment and hoarded pieces of technology from the past 80 years that he still uses day-to-day, I have a bit of a fascination with ‘old stuff’ and trying to adapt or use it in everyday life. This entire movement is very heavily rooted in steampunk and dieselpunk too, of post-war technology and historically anachronistic designs that also appear in a lot of post-apocalyptic fiction, something that I’ve always been very interested in. We’re focusing on notebooks today though, more particularly a style of notebooks people seem to love. Describing it is hard, but the consistent ideas and forms people seem to like most in my own notebooks are:

Pages that are overflowing with content– streams of consciousness and entire pages filled it up with drawings and tightly packed words, with no spaces left empty. This idea that paper is at a premium and that each space must be filled gives your pages a historical, valuable feel- as traditionally often paper was at a premium, and those with an expensive diary or notebook would not waste space or paper, or that on their travels it was the only book they had with them, and were forced to fill each square inch with as many observations as they could.

Excessively random or Obsessively neat and academic– both of these approaches emulate an academic look to your notebook. The first presents it as a constant stream of consciousness, an artistic approach in which all your ideas are spilling onto the page. It has an eccentric, artistic approach that you might expect to see from a traveller or explorer, filling up each page with observations and ideas coming in faster than there is time to writer. On the other hand, an academic, super neat approach speaks to the scientific- it’s sometime you’d expect to see in a maybe Mary Ward‘s journals, or the sketches of an inventor in the industrial age.

Annotations, Annotations, Annotations – notes, subnotes, references, margins, bibliographies, notes and observations, corrections and hastily pasted in notes from other journals- these are the hallmarks of observation and study. Old journals are stuffed with these, with hand drawn illustrations and diagrams then carefully annotated and explained. Not only does it make your journal appear like a work that can be studied and instructed, but it shows that it’s a constantly evolving work that isn’t a work of art but rather something used to learn and teach. Check out How to Train your Dragon 2– does he care if his notebook looks neat? Hell no! It’s stuffed full of notes and extensions and crudely pasted on maps- it’s a journal being used! Which leads me to…

Well TraveledWell Worn, Well UsedThis is something best described as “What Indiana Jones would carry in his satchel“, is something that applies not just to notebooks, but also to satchels and clothing. People like the idea of stuff getting used, worn out, hastily fixed and flecked with rust and grit. They want things not simply sitting on a coffee table waiting to be looked at but not touched, but things that have a history, that can make them feel like they got their hands dirty and worked at something. It’s all a part of the distressed, recycled and well-worn fashion that spreads from everything to clothing, automobiles or interior design. Your notebook should not be handled like a religious text, but shoved in bags and stuffed in your pocket, torn and ripped when the time suits it, and treated like apiece of equipment. You want your notebook to tell the story of where you traveled just by looking at it. Indiana Jones didn’t have time to worry if his notebook wasn’t getting scratched, he was busy fighting nazis! When he got wet, burnt or covered in grime & old mummies, he just dusted himself and his notebook off and got back to work!

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My first Polandball Comic!

Today is a proud day for me, for litzippo can into /r/polandball! Okay I know that made zero sense whatsoever. Let me explain. Polandball Comics are a form of online comics, and a sizeable community of artists and fans have grown around the internet sharing and making these cool little comic strips, artworks and niche, nerdy in-jokes for a few years now. “The comic represent countries and are drawn as balls. The balls interact in broken English and poke fun at national stereotypes and international relations.” (via the Simple English Wikia). The Polandball Subreddit, one of the largest communities and creators of Polandball Comics describes them as:

“Wiggly mouse-drawn comics where balls represent different countries. They poke fun at national stereotypes and the “international drama” of their diplomatic relations. Polandball combines history, geography, Engrish, and an inferiority complex. The comic series first became popular on a well known German image board int ze internetz.”

There are very strict rules and in-jokes built around the comics that the community enforces, as well as a lot of dos and don’t. As such, making and posting comics in the polandball subreddit requires a knowledge of how they work and an understanding of the humour & drawing rules. Only then can you submit your comic to the moderators, who will decide if it’s worthy of posting and letting you post other comics in the future. Here’s some of my favourite examples, such as a comic strip depicting a meeting of all the world’s “unhated nations“, a funny personification of some British-Australian history, poking fun at the sensitive national tensions of Germany or this American-North Korean comic. There’s also more complex and historical ones such as this comic about the Boxer Rebellion.

Anyway. after being a fan for many years, my first /r/Polandball comic “One Upmanship” last week was submitted, and what’s more- approved! I’m pretty proud of it, and I spent a whole day coming up with the idea and drawing it. It was well received on the subreddit too, ranking at number 53 of the top comics of the entire month, which made my day!

The comic is below, but here’s some historical back story that might clear up what the comic’s about-

“This comic depicts the Scottish Navy’s Michael, the largest ship of her time when she was launched in 1512. In direct response to her construction, The English King Henry VIII ordered the construction of the Henry Grace à Dieu, which surpassed the Michael in size and armament.

Meanwhile, across the seas the great and fabled Treasure Fleets of Ming Dynasty China sat and rotted in their harbours and moorings, the new emperor uninterested in the massive fleet built decades before for exploration and trade. They were eventually destroyed or burnt.”

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Referendum 2014: Undecided Independence

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The home stretch is upon us! 18/09/2014- a  date that shall live in infamy- the United Kingdom was suddenly and deliberately voted upon by YES and NO forces of Scotland. Yes, it’s now 2 days until the big decision. If we vote YES, come October negotiations start between the Scottish and UK governments, Scottish Independence Day will arrive on the 24th of March 2016, and on May 5th the Independent Scottish General Election will take place, cementing a place in the history books forever. If we vote NO, Cross party talks will commence on greater powers in Hollyrood, April 1st will see the Scotland Act 2012 come in, giving extra Tax raising powers to the Scottish Parliament and come May 7th, the General election occurs, with Scotland voting on it as part of the union.

So! A lot to take in huh? A lot of unknowns, a lot of promises and claims on both sides. Walking through the streets of most cities and towns there seems to be a strange air hanging over the country, with independence in every conversation, campaigners on every street, claims and promises printed on every leaflet, flier and poster. I can’t say with certainty if it’s an air of excitement or one of fear, but I somehow imagine it’s probably a 51/49% split depending on which you poll you look at. It’s very strange how quickly we’ve gone from a people who so often would joke about those getting too involved in politics, a certain grumpy pride in not getting overly passionate, serious or patriotic about such affairs, to a country bubbling like revolutionary Revolutionary Catalonia in the 1930s. It’s certainly great to see, certainly, in a time when voter turnout rates were plummeting across the board (and in true hipster style I do often wonder where half these people complaining about representation were in 2011, when the pathetic turnout for the Scottish Elections was barely 50% and the winning party only received 45% of that), people becoming interested and passionate about politics again is very encouraging. My hope at least is that this same passion sticks with us no matter which way we vote, but I can already feel the discontent and disillusionment with a vast majority of campaigners if their referendum horse happens to come in last. It with this in mind, and a horrible feeling I’m going to be bombarded with campaigning and articles to read, I have to admit I still haven’t decided what to vote.

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Short Story! A Boy in the Woods One Day

Hey folks! So, I’m working on a  secret(ish) project that involves a lot of script writing and story work, and I’m hoping I can talk a lot more about it at length very soon. However, I can show you this, which is a short story I’ve been working on that features the main character. I wrote this mainly as a kind of writing exercise and to see if I could create a kind of unhinged, crazy character and really make the reader feel  ‘inside’ his head. Writing it in first person did make me feel slightly disturbed however… Anyway! I didn’t want to push out the boat to far and let you guys kind of read between the lines at what really happened, but we’ll see how well that worked!

Now, as I’ve said before, my spelling and grammar suuuuuucks, so please excuse & call me about on it! But otherwise I hope you enjoy A Boy in the Woods One Day

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I’m Writing a Story!

Well, trying at least. Look, grammar and spelling are my two pet hates in the world- I try to get things down on paper so fast with my imagination racing at a mile a minute that it leaves ample time to see if everything actually reads well. But I love writing, and I’ve always loved writing stories, scripts, poems or whatever takes my fancy. I’ve been working on a new idea for quite some time now, spending a lot of time both planning it (something I’m also notoriously bad at) and creating the world and setting that has both continuity and life outside of the story.

Pictured: Planning. Or Alternatively; evidence of an insane man.

Pictured: Planning. Or Alternatively; evidence of an insane man.

 

So, what I figure is posting the first part of my story here, as well as the rest of the story as I write it. It’s only a first draft, but I figure I’ll update it as I go on my blog so that I can keep track of it better myself. Since the story is presented a bit like a diary, I figure it works on the blog quite well. I don’t want to let on anything about the wider plot, but what I’m presenting is essentially the character of Jamie, his journey and an accompanying history of an Island. Give me feedback! I want to know what I’m doing wrong!

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“Some Shenanigans of Thrones”

Light A Game of Thrones Spoilers ahead!

 

So I’ve started a a digital piece that’s probably my most ambitious and largest artwork yet. Drawn on 630x890mm canvas, I hope to include as many of the Game of Thrones characters, locations and references as possible. I’m pretty pleased with the progress so far, but I still have a while to go with it. This is probably about 3/4 hours of work so far.

 

Robert Baratheon is my favourite.

‘ol fatty Robert Baratheon is my favourite.

I’m trying to put as much detail into the castles and locations as possible, and stuff it with injokes and references from the books (without spoiling too much)

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King’s Landing. Complete with Fleabottom and the start of Stannis’s attack on the walls!

That tower is basically just the journey of bran stark. Plus Maester Luwin's sleeves with flying scrolls!

That tower is basically just the journey of bran stark. Plus Maester Luwin’s sleeves with flying scrolls!

Either way, I still have a loooooong way to go. However, once I finish it’s going to my my favourite piece by far. I’ll update you guys as I go!

Lucky I don't have to worry about ink this time.

Lucky I don’t have to worry about ink this time.