Monday, 19 June 2017

Two for joy.

As mentioned a few posts ago, I have been working at LCA on the MAGPi pathway of FAD. Whoa, acronym central there or what?! LCA  = Leeds College of Art. MAGPi = Moving Image, Advertising, Graphic Design, Photography, Illustration. It’s been so much fun, I’ve loved being back at Leeds. Last week I blogged about our amazing FAD show, check it out. I also work at NTU (Nottingham Trent University) and trying to fit in my own work alongside being split in half at two institutions, teaching across level 3 up to level 5 (occasionally level 7!) has been (great fun, don’t get me wrong) but has left me time poor to carry on creating my own work, which I feel that I need to do to feed into my teaching practice, and for a general happy creative life. If I don’t draw or make something frequently, I just feel so … sad, so....pent up. It’s like my own Maslow hierarchy of needs - on the bottom rung; food, create, run, go to a gym class. Anyway – digressing…. today was my last day! I have also decided to halt working at the college during the summer holidays – I have been teaching classes with the Young Creatives – a portfolio development class and general art classes for students aged 7 up to 18, which has been so much fun and really inspiring.

The time has come, however, to move on, to concentrate on making more work, to stop giving so much of myself away and be a little bit selfish and make more for me. So as I depart, I wanted to leave a little memento. I’ve been enjoying working with wood recently - one of the many things I want to spend my time exploring more of - playing around making some wall hanging experiments and I thought that two (for joy) MAGPi(es) would be quite fitting. Adios LCA! 

Sunday, 18 June 2017


I've been thinking that maybeeee I need to stop drawing cats. But then they are great to draw and paint and I do love them. Just afraid of becoming a bit of a one trick pony. I just get commissioned for a lot of cats!! Here’s some printed on to fabric and made into make up pouches / large bags, purses and pillows. They are inside my etsy shop now.

Monday, 12 June 2017

Staffordshire Pottery

I love Staffordshire Pottery. I know I’ve said this before. It all started when doing Lila Rogers ‘Make Art That Sells’ course, one of the mini briefs was to draw Staffordshire Pottery figures. I just love how weird they are. It’s become a bit of an ongoing theme over the last year. I’ve just been constantly doodling and painting them. I decided to put together an illustrated zine of the characters that I’ve created. I’m currently doing some applique experiments too – just having a play,. I’ll share them when they are done! The zine is available from my etsy shop right now. 

FAD '17


It’s all been a bit quiet on the blogging front. Mainly because I have been doing a lot of teaching. In November I was asked to come in and help out on the MAGPi  pathway of the Foundation at Leeds College of Art. (MAGPi stands for Moving Image, Advertising, Graphic Design, Photography and Illustration. It’s the ‘communication’ pathway, but also as you can gather from those titles a broad mix of mediums). In 2013, when I was doing my PGDipE, I worked two days a week at LCA and absolutely loved teaching on an Art Foundation course. I was asked to come back this academic year. Foundations are a real gem in the UK educational system – sitting in between level 3 and level 4, they offer a year of unique diagnostic education, a year to be yourself, or to discover what that even is, a year to explore art and design education, which can be restricted at school. Leeds College of Art is one of the best places to undertake a Foundation in the country – and I don’t say that lightly. Not only is Leeds a hub of inspirational activity – from music to art, academic thought to sport, independent spaces and businesses – but the foundation is seeped in history and is different to many other foundation courses around. The students don’t do ‘tasters’ of each subject, but go through a thorough exploration of solving an array of problems – how they solve it,  and how they document how they solve it, determines what kind of artist, designer, thinker and problem solver they are – and what medias they chose to work with. It’s truly exciting, transformative experience – one that I would recommend to anyone, everyone to do – even those that don’t necessarily feel that they will have a career in the arts. The ability to solve problems creatively and to adapt and responded to the world around us is surely needed for every individual, in a technological advancing future, which is hard to foresee. I could harp on about this type of education all day long. It’s important, it’s needed, it’s transformative, it’s intense (teaching it and learning) but so rewarding (yes, teaching it and being on it) you just can’t do it half-arsed. It’s all or nothing – such is the vocational world of design. I wanted to share with you some of the lovely work the Class of ’17 have produced at their end of year exhibition, which was a few weeks’ ago. If you follow this blog, you’ll know that I also teach at Nottingham Trent University, so I have been catapulted into the assessment and end of year show there too, and I will be sharing snippets of that too and other degree shows I hope to attend–including New Designers and New Blood in July.

Photographs show our lovely space at LCA with the eclectic mix of work - MAGPi & Textiles. Directly above are lovely papier mache masks by Annie Hall.

 Interactive Graphics - above based on a project about Play by Courtney Morton, and below exploring typography by Emilla Bermejo-Ford.
An amazing illustrated zine about coming of age, by Emma Barret below.

Strange Conversation is an interactive game, designed by Hannah Carlie - 
a response to over over usage of social media.

Playful textiles by Amelia Galliford. 

Friday, 14 April 2017


The more I draw and paint cats, the more I get commissioned to do more. Which is fine by me! I was recently asked to paint individual cats for a beautiful wedding. Here are some of the gang that made it to the big day. Three different breeds, all painted in acrylic paint and made into name tags. 

Like these above. I love all of the characters I've created! I am thinking about making them into a pattern and printing them on to fabric to make giant wash bags or something similar. I am definitely going to collect all of the cats and make a big print for the bride and groom as most of the guests took their name tags away with them after the big day. 

I may have mentioned this before, but I have my own Cat, which we rescued as a kitten. So the transformation to Cat-lady is well and truly setting in. I draw and make so many cat characters people always assume that I have an army of cats. I do sometimes dream of opening a cattery in the countryside and living a life a pure joy surrounded by furry friends, but maybe that's for later on in life? 

As you know, I deliver workshops up and down the country and last month, I delivered a screen-print workshop in Nottingham to some MA students studying Graphics, Branding and Illustration. I needed to make a positive as an example, and I thought who else rather than Chugsely, my Cat to be the model. 

Here she is being shown her screen-printed portrait, clearly very impressed. 

In other cat news I have made some big pillows from my cat pattern which will be in my etsy shop this week! 

Wednesday, 1 March 2017

Assessment Kills Innovation: Make No Outcome

Hello! I can't actually believe I went through February and haven't blogged - just missed it by the skin of my teeth! It wasn't that I wasn't making and doing anything - I guess, if anything I have been way too busy to blog. I have got a lovely, but big commission to create lots of illustrations and decorations for a wedding, which is really exciting (and involves lots of cats and paper cutting) so its head down for that one during March. Can't wait (already!) to show you the results once the room is decorated and made up. Another reason I have been super busy during February is that I am currently teaching at both Leeds College of Art on the brilliant Foundation Course the first half of the week, and then at Nottingham Trent on the fab Graphics BA the second part of the week - I've managed to squeeze in extra screen-print workshops with the MA course in Nottingham and I also delivered a conference paper at the start of the month at an international (though based here in the UK) conference: The Future Trends in Visual Communication Design. My paper was titled "Assessment Kills Innovation: When Students Make No Outcome."

The paper explored how students view assessment; does it hinder or help them become great designers of the future?  This paper critically reviews the impact of incidental learning through playful practice that takes place in those workshops and aims to answer the questions of how a student of today, being treated and feeling evermore as an entitled consumer can take risks and make playful work within the structure of higher education. It was the second paper I've delivered at a conference - it was great to talk about something I feel really passionate about and had researched. It sparked lots of great conversations after the conference which was great to hear how other academics and students had interpreted the paper. I would love to carry the conversation on and will apply to go to some further conferences in the future with the topic I think. The No-Outcome workshops, which is a practical response to the paper, delivered to all students, outside the curriculum at Nottingham Trent University carries the ethos of the paper and allows students to make and play without the fear of assessment and see what else university can be for - not just a place to acquire one type of knowledge or a grade, but to collaborate, explore any idea safely, build new skills using such a diverse array of facilities, which post-university students may be pushed to have access to... and so much more! Here is an image from last a No Outcome session last week, exploring typographical forms:

The biggest challenge is to accept that not everything that is important can be measured nor is quantifiable... a hard mindset when ultimately students are graded, we all also work for a wage - so we all see a monetary value in what we do and produce and I believe that the dominant forms of education reinforce this from pre-school to sixth form, making it harder to imagine an alternative.  But there is more than one way to live, and certainly more than one way to view knowledge and value. I'd love to carry on the discussion, if you know of any conferences or want to chat, please don't hesitate to contact me - my twitter and contact details are on the right hand side of this blog.

Also in February I ran a workshop for asylum seekers and young refugees in Nottingham - some of which had just arrived in the country a few weeks ago. I am passionate about arts education being available to all the benefits of making and playing for social good and community - as well as the stability and calm having a creative life and making things can bring to individual mental health - and this extends to everyone, not just learners within formal education. It was such an amazing night and I have a lot of work to scan in and organise - as soon as it's done I'll blog about it!

Over on instagram I am taking part in #marchmeetthemaker - not usually one to commit myself to these types of things for a whole month (!) But last year I regretted not being involved, so say hello if you are doing it too or want to see more of who I am/what I do!

Sunday, 15 January 2017

Studio stock take.


I have spent today clearing out my studio - I managed to get some super cheap furniture from the discounted corner in Ikea before Christmas - so I spent today getting my DIY on, and stock counting my makes and creations and putting them into etsy. I thought I would share some photos on here, as I realised I hadn't put the finished cat head pillows on here - which I made a FREE download last year for.

Thursday, 5 January 2017

Hello 2017!

Happy New Year! Here's hoping for a good one. When I reflect on my year last year, I kind of feel like not that much happened. But I am comparing it to 2015, where I ran a marathon in Italy, got a job promotion at work and passed my postgraduate diploma in education with top marks! So I entered 2016 feeling very achieved. However last year I did get to visit Jamaica on a holiday of a lifetime and Iceland which was pretty magical and again a lifetime experience to go to the Blue Lagoon. So I can't be too down on myself! I guess work wise, I feel that things have been slower, but as my boyfriend points out some years you need to plant the seeds that will grow in other years, which is true too. But overall it was a good one ! I am healthy and happy, I have a great job which I love to do so things are pretty good... I guess I just feel that I can and want to push myself further. 

Above is my 'best nine' on instagram for 2016 - where I document my work and pop in a few life things in there too. It seems that a good amount of creations got liked the most - cat blackboards, when I got my cacti material printed on to fabric and whipped up into pencil cases. Halloween fun stuff I made this year - pumpkins, cats, moons and notebooks. A new tattoo and visiting Yayoi Kusama's amazing work in London in the summer. 

I also took the Make Art That Sells e-course which has been super fun and through it I've completely fallen in love with Staffordshire Pottery. I was lucky enough to have my work live reviewed by the fabulous Lilla Rogers for the Uppercase competition I entered! I visited lots of exhibitions, my very fave has to be York Open Studios where I felt so so so lucky to have a peek inside Mark Hearld & Emily Sutton's amazing home. It was so inspiring. I will do a pilgrimage to it every year now. 

I also visited Park Hill flats in Sheffield where the turner prize winning architects Assemble had their brutalist playground which was fun to run about it. I really dig the colours on their foam shapes, and I am a sucker for modernist buildings and the ideology of them so that was a fun day to explore.


I sold my work at a couple of craft fairs last year - I normally do quite a few but didn't do so many last year, for no particular reason. I sold illustrations, zines and creations at a zine fair in Nottingham where I grabbed this lovely screen-printed Rob Ryan zine:

I also did the Crafty Fox market for the second time, which is always fun! I aim to be more organised this year, applying to the Crafty Fox again and looking for more local events, especially towards the run up to Christmas. 

At work I launched a project with the students called 'No Outcome' where, outside of their assessed work there was a place to test out ideas, make and play. I believe that assessment can kill innovation and we all need time to make work without fear of being judged, whether that is a tutor, a client, a stranger on instagram, a peer - whoever! I also believe that the best ideas come when we make and play free from pressure and for the intrinsic joy. I am currently writing a paper about the methodology behind it and what we've been doing so far and am delivering it at a conference 'Design Education for Future Generations' in February which is quite exciting! I aim to develop it a lot this year, exploring design education and design thinking in my research and hopefully showing the world how important art and design education is for all and how everyone should have access to it! Last year, I felt privileged to run a workshop for asylum seeking young people and refugees where we promoted just that idea - that art and design education should be for all and is important for social well-being. I hoe to do more of that this year. It was so humbling to listen to their life stories and make friends.

 Some of the students mid-make work from one No Outcome session:

I continued to work on the Leeds College of Art 'Young Creatives', which again, offers art to all and is so important especially as we see that art education seems to be being written out of the national curriculum. A travesty and something that I want my research to tackle and bring light to.  I did some print workshops with very young children. Those are my mono-printed cats below, not theirs!

And some fun Rio Olympic collaborative screen-prints where we drew directly on to the screen and made one-off prints.

Spending time to work with the kids is fab! It really energizes my creativity and sparks my imagination. I mostly feel like a big kid so I really enjoy talking to them and making work alongside them! 

At work, another highlight was when Mike Myers (legendary sign writer and all round super rad human) came all the way from the U S of A to teach us how to sign write. 

That's my wobberly attempt up there! I also Riso-printed for the first time at Dizzy Ink in Nottingham, and made a little two colour zine.

Thinking back, I also went on some lovely walks this year, saw some castles, walked Snowdon in Wales which was awesome. Explored beautiful Yorkshire:

And I gave two pints of blood for the first time.

So I guess a lot DID happen. Once you actually start to document stuff, I guess you see how far you've come/what you've done. Maybe that should be a resolution for 2017 - to document what I do more? One of the best things was we got a kitten. A little looker called Chugsley who we love and is a big part of our little family. She's the best and I can guarantee that there will be some Chugsley inspired artwork being made in 2017. 

So, what's new in 2017? I want to ride in a hot air balloon this year... a personal goal there! I want to visit the highlands of Scotland, the Lake District (I've never been!) and have a stay-cation in Cornwall. I might go to Australia in the summer. I would love to visit Japan... but we'll see about them. Work-wise I need to release more collections (there's a Staffordshire pottery inspired one and a zine on the way!) Print more fabric, make more stuff, and get it out there more. Since 2013, when I was working on my PGDipE, I haven't pushed my work into shops, galleries as much as I was able to do, so this year, is about that. I'm excited to get planning! But first, I think I'll eat that one last mince pie and just reminisce for a few more minutes about 2016. Farewell, turns out I didn't get promoted, I may not have run a marathon, or finished a degree, but you were a great one afterall!