Last Sunday I went to Ocean Studios for the Illuminate 2017 festival. Local artist Rosie Drake-Knight of Native Makers led a workshop on making a reflective heat transfer vinyl t-shirt and I was able to have a go.
First I had to sketch out a design. I chose the Junkrat symbol from Overwatch which is one of my favourite games.
Next I copied my sketch on to the back (the matt side) of a reflective vinyl sheet, with the design reversed.
I cut out the individual pieces and arranged them on the t-shirt shiny side up.
Rosie worked the heat press for safety reasons. She had to hold it down for a short time. The heat press has a heated plate on the bottom and the top, so it is like being sandwiched between two irons. Apparently you can use a dry iron instead to do this at home.
The last stage was to peel the shiny plastic off the top of the design. Underneath was the reflective design permanently sealed to the t-shirt fabric.
Here I am wearing my new t-shirt! I have hand painted and stencilled t-shirts before and this seemed to take less time and was a much easier process (as long as you’re only using one colour and the design is simple, like this one). Here is how the reflective vinyl looks using flash photography:
I am going to research using an iron to do heat transfer vinyl to see if I can make more things at home. The heat press was actually borrowed from my college so I am also going to see if I can access it or maybe one of my tutors would let us use it one day.
I had a look around some more of the work on display for Illuminate 2017 at Royal William Yard. It was really impressive, there were light shows and huge animations projected on the buildings.
There was a DJ playing music to match the beats of the show on the walls. It was a freezing cold late November evening but the atmosphere was upbeat and exciting.
Inside Ocean Studios was this Ray Of Light installation by Paige Alexander. This was my favourite piece on display and it is made from ultraviolet string that glows different colours under ultraviolet light.
Illuminate is an annual event to commemorate the sailing of the Mayflower nearly 400 years ago. There will be lots of other events happening in Plymouth over the next few years linking up to the Mayflower celebrations and I’ll try and visit as many as I can.
Today my plan was to visit as many of the Plymouth Art Weekender events as possible before the festival ended. I wanted to make sure I took part in some of the different art workshops around Plymouth, so finding venues with workshops happening was my highest priority, and I had two boxes left of zines to take with me. I sat down with my family and we made a plan together.
Our first stop was Ocean Studios. I dropped off some YEA ’17 zines in the cafe area and had a look at the portrait exhibition U + ME = US by Jojo on the way to the Made In Plymouth Maker’s Table, where we created papier-mache people for a family sculpture. I haven’t worked with paper-mache much before, and though gluing layers and layers of paper over each other was messy and fiddly, I had a really good time. While I was there, lots of families and young children came and had a go at making the sculptures, and the atmosphere was friendly and active, but also relaxed. We left our paper people with there to be arranged later into the bigger sculpture.
I wanted to see Laura Edmunds’ drawing and sound exhibition A Soft Introduction upstairs, so I left the workshop early to check it out. I spoke to Laura and learned that the sounds had been recorded on very sensitive microphones placed around her body while she drew and painted her pieces. There was a circle of speakers and I stood in the centre to listen, the sounds were soothing and mysterious, and reminded me of the sea. On display were around 69 of Laura’s drawings, and she described drawing them as almost like making musical notation. I thought they looked like a visual representation of her subconscious train of thoughts, and the overall feeling was serene.
I made my way back downstairs to join Sue Lewry’s monoprinting workshop. I was given a small rectangular plate which I inked with a roller, then I arranged pieces of textured wallpaper, cardboard and other materials on top of it, and each piece I inked with a different colour. I placed it carefully for registration with a piece of paper on top then it was put through a rolling printing press. This workshop was more quick paced than the earlier one as lots of people were around the table using the inks and press, but it was still a lot of fun. I like monoprinting and would like to try incorporating it into my illustration work in the future.
I headed off from Ocean to my next destination which was to Plymouth School of Creative Arts (PSCA). I delivered the last box of YEA ’17 zines here, and went up the stairs to visit the exhibitions. First I looked at Three In One, an exhibition by Janet Sainsbury, Andy Coldrey, and Charlie O’Sullivan. Their art worked well together, and I liked Charlie’s sculpture of paper houses and paintings made on a long scroll of old book pages.
We then headed up to Janine Rook’s inkblot painting workshop. Janine was one of my art tutors during my first Saturday Arts Club at Plymouth College of Art, so it was good to see her again and tell her about my new college course. This workshop was also popular with families, and there was a big display of inkblot paintings from lots of children that had taken part as well as more paintings on all the flat surfaces around. I used pipettes to carefully place a small number of coloured ink drops on my paper and then folded it down the middle to create patterns. I learned that inkblot painting is called klecksography and enjoyed the peaceful atmosphere with even the smallest children very quietly concentrating on their pieces.
On the same floor as the inkblots was one of the highlights of the day, Funny Blind Date, an exhibition of collages sent to Plymouth from around the world that has been collected together by Object Recordings. Everything in the collection is an analogue collage, meaning it was put together physically using magazines, posters etc, and scissors and glue, rather than being produced digitally. There was work from eleven different artists and I was surprised how each one had a very different style and mood to their work. Some of the pieces were very humourous or witty, and others were more serious or political. I have never been to an exhibition of collages before and Funny Blind Date was inspirational, showing me that collage can be just as visually interesting and meaningful as drawing and painting.
I had to move on but I paid a quick visit to the Union Street Party just around the corner. It was smaller than previous years and the road hadn’t been closed off, but even the rain hadn’t stopped people gathering to play drums and dance. I was disappointed that I didn’t find any participatory art projects here this year as in previous years I have really enjoyed that element of the Party, but it was good to see that even in the rain Plymothians can have a good time!
I also stopped to have a look at Bouys and Girls by Mary Trapp in PSCA’s playground. This installation features wire and foam sculptures of children wearing lifejackets, suspended over water alongside orange buoys. It made me think of public information films, on first look the figures look like they are having fun, jumping or dancing, but as I spent more time looking at them they looked more like they were struggling against currents or trying to escape. I thought it was a really interesting piece of art and I would like to see where Mary takes it next, as she suggested that she would change the arrangement when she moves it to new locations.
My next stop was to the Park Bench Reader by Bram Thomas Arnold, who was going to read from Jurassic Park, but unfortunately my family made a mistake and went to the wrong location so I missed this event. I was disappointed as it sounded like a fun piece but I am going to look out for Bram’s future projects. I then went to the Athenaeum to take part in a zine workshop from Make Stuff/Drink Stuff, but unfortunately that had been cancelled! I think I need to pay more attention to messages on social media next year so I can keep up with the changes that can happen in a big event like the Art Weekender. Fortunately there were other things to do at the venue so I watched some of Rhys Morgan’s video and sound collage Platform, revisited the Handling Collection, and listened for a while to some poetry on stage (about pants!) for Tears In Rain. There was a real variety in the building!
I was feeling quite tired by now but I really wanted to see some more of the things on my list. I headed for Studio 102 which had a really interesting sounding exhibition in the PAW programme, I Don’t Believe Birmingham Exists by Adrian Bishop. I am really glad that I decided to keep going because as soon as I entered I felt energised by Adrian’s paintings. This is a collection of absurd beliefs illustrated in ink, and the paintings are colourful and energetic and got us all talking and really actively engaged by the work. Adrian’s exhibition is on until the 8th of October and I would recommend everyone interested in illustration or political and satirical artwork visits the gallery to experience it. (I only just realised I have seen work by Adrian at Studio 102 before and wrote about it here)
Our last stop was Plymouth Arts Centre as it was just around the corner and I wanted to have a better look at the Dwell installation upstairs. There was a peaceful tented area with cushions and books by Niamh Lily Wimperis, and a quiet and contemplative arrangement of a dresser with items on top where everything was painted white, by Megan Kathryn Heywood. I have a copy of their zine (also called Dwell) which I plan to read later.
I had another look around PAC which has been repainted for Ciara Phillips’ work which is ongoing and will be added to over the course of the exhibition. I plan to visit regularly to check on it and see how it grows as she works with local groups of people.
That is the end of my Weekender posts this year! I didn’t manage to get to all the things I wanted to, but some exhibitions are still available to visit so I will try to get to them. I wish the Weekender was on for longer, some of the things I missed but really wished I’d had a chance to get to were Rosie King’sG O N E (preserve us) and the Flameworks Open Day. I also missed Sketch 2017 at PCA but luckily that is on until 6th October so I will make sure I go before then.
I hope everyone else had as good a Weekender as me and I hope to get even more involved in PAW 2018!
This year was my first year taking part in the Plymouth Art Weekender with my own art project. I worked with other young artists from YEA Plymouth to put together a zine, YEA ’17, full of our art and interviews. I was the project manager and zine editor and we have been working on the project for the last couple of months. We applied for funding from Vital Sparks and Horizon and we were able to create 200 copies of our zine, including handmade badges, to give out for free for PAW17. We numbered all the copies because they are limited edition and exclusive to the festival. We delivered small handmade boxes full of YEA ’17 zines to some of the Plymouth Art Weekender venues this morning, including Plymouth Arts Centre, Plymouth College of Art, and Plymouth College of Art Pre-Degree Centre (my own college).
Our group was also offered the opportunity to have a table event in the Plymouth Athenaeum. So today we made up our table, then we spent the day giving away copies of YEA ’17! We also sold solo zines (including my Gurt Noodle #0) and YEA Plymouth badges to raise money for future projects and materials. We put a section of our Zine Library out on display for the public to have a look through and brought a typewriter and zinemaking equipment for people to play with.
This was the first time we had ever had our own table at an event/fair, and even though there weren’t many of us to share the load we still had an amazing time. It gave me an idea of what manning a stall is like, which I really needed since I have my very own stall at this October’s DevCon! We had to sit and wait for visitors, and when they came we had to talk about our group and our project. We met some interesting people and they had a lot of questions for us, especially about how YEA Plymouth began. I was also interviewed by Eleanor (Ellie) Burfitt for her film about the Weekender.
The Penryn Handling Collection is a “collection of objects made by artists, using traditional and modern craft skills in untraditional ways”, and was developed as part of the Penryn Arts Festival (2017). Visitors were allowed to touch, play, read and talk about the objects on the table. Some of the most interesting pieces on display were a giant blue plywood hand by the Juneau Project and a travel wallet by David Shrigley.
The book-making workshop was organised and led by Muster Press. A few YEA Plymouth members (including myself) took part in this. Our theme was ‘trees and growth’, and we created stamps of trees. We made the stamps by carving stamp foam with scissors, pens and scalpels. We then stamped our creations into books in arrangements, to seem as if we were “growing” a forest.
It was refreshing to try work on objects normally seen in backgrounds, as I struggle with drawing backgrounds and need practice. We sat round the table and formed a production line, which was fun to work together with other people I had never met before, and the books we created are really beautiful. We weren’t able to bring the books home as they needed some finishing but the guys at Muster Press are going to send them to us later and I will post pictures then.
Flikkin is a ‘Flicking Counters’ game, and the first to three goals wins. Lots of people (even complete strangers) played together and bonded over it. Some interesting facts about Flikkin are:
There are only six boards in the world (so far) and the creator Holly Knowles brought three along today.
As well as being the creator of Flikkin, Holly is also the current world champion!
My dad, brother, and little sister loved it!
Jenson (my brother and another YEA Plymouth member) demonstrated how to use one of our typewriters to lots of people. Younger children were really fascinated by it but lots of people had a go. One of the people there put together all the words and phrases that different people had written into a minizine of found text.
YEA Plymouth members also helped visitors to create their very own minizines, and we added photocopies of them to our Zine Library. We have eight new minizines from this event.
It was a long day but a really good experience being part of the Weekender as an artist and as an organiser. I got to participate in a workshop and meet a lot of people. We sold a good number of Gurt Noodle and Sweet Tooth zines and our badges and I feel that the event was successful!
Find out more about the Plymouth Art Weekender here.
In April, I set up my first Zine Workshop in collaboration with MESH at ThinqTanq, Plymouth. I didn’t charge a fee to take part because my intention was to introduce zinemaking to people who hadn’t tried it before as well as attract current zinemakers, and I thought it would be more likely people would want to come and have a go if it was free! I created a “zero” issue of my zine Gurt Noodle (issue one is in its early stages) to give out as a simple guide to zinemaking for people who had never done zinemaking before. In this issue I included a brief history of zines, some ideas for new zinemakers (zinesters) and instructions on how to make a minizine. You can look through my portfolio for this issue in the video below:
I chose to do my zine in a comic style because I am an illustrator who loves reading comics and drawing characters! One of the characters is a comic version of myself and the other is one I invented. I knew I would be printing in black and white (because of the costs involved) so I used different crosshatching styles to provide texture, shade and ‘colour’. On the back cover I included a folding guide to make a minizine. I packaged an A6 copy of Gurt Noodle Issue Zero with a minizine I had made earlier (each pack got either Robot Ads and Odd Creatures or The Tale Of The Girl Who Ordered Zelda: BOTW But Could Not Play It Because The Console Broke) and a handmade Gurt Noodle badge in a clear plastic envelope.
Around 14 people took part in the first workshop, including some professional local illustrators and a number of young artists. A few participants had made zines before but others weren’t completely sure what a zine was. Everyone seemed to like my Gurt Noodle package (I have now given away around 200 of these all over Plymouth!). At the workshop I demonstrated how to fold a minizine and helped some of the participants to come up with ideas. I also made a few minizines myself.
As we worked, we shared and passed around the zines we had made or were still working on. Everyone made at least one design for a badge, and I used my badge-making machine (a birthday present!) to make those into badges that they could wear home. At the end of the workshop the feedback was really good and everyone wanted to come back again. Most of the participants had made minizines on topics as diverse as The Short Lived Life of Hairyworm John or How To Function As A Human Being. We left with bundles of minizines and ideas for our next projects and I felt the entire workshop had been a huge success!
In May, I organised a second workshop, again supported by MESH. This time, I had to charge a small entry fee towards the (discounted by ThinqTanq) venue hire, MESH provided snacks and drinks, and I brought all my zinemaking resources from home to share (vintage typewriters, white paper, black pens, scissors, stapler etc). I made a new flyer (above) and this time I drew a typewriter as I was hoping to entice some writers into coming along, to hopefully provoke some collaborative work between them and the illustrators who were already planning to come.
Again there were around fourteen participants but not exactly the same people – a couple of different professional illustrators came to take part and a couple of new young people came to give zinemaking a try, but for the most part the participants from the first workshop came back again. Although I was intending to introduce some teamwork exercises, unfortunately I didn’t have a very good plan to encourage work crossovers and collaborations, and no new writers came along. It didn’t seem to matter though as everyone seemed quite happy with the work they were doing and with the workspace. I have also collected quite a decent collection of zines (mostly perzines or comic style zines, and many are by local zinesters) for my Zine Library (available to browse at the workshops) and the participants seemed to really enjoy looking through those.
The next Zine Workshop is on the 24th June (TOMORROW!). I plan to take along some short creative exercises for anyone who would like to try those. I would like to collaborate with some of the other participants on a project, so I am taking some ideas for how we could do that. I hope that previous participants come back and that new people join us!
There is a fee of £2 towards the venue hire, but there will be tea, coffee, biscuits, and zinemaking resources (such as paper, spare pens and pencils, scissors, and glue) all there to use for free. I will also be taking my badge machine (making a badge will cost 50p to cover the cost of the materials) and more copies of my Gurt Noodle Issue Zero for anyone who doesn’t have one yet! If you or anyone you know may be interested, you can find more details and book on the MESH Eventbrite link or you can contact me via email or Instagram.
I have added a Gallery page to my blog. It collects together a selection of my work as a young artist in Plymouth. There are examples of my illustration and game art work as well as examples of other types of creative work I have completed or participated in. Don’t forget to check my instagram as I add new work there regularly!
I have never been to school but most of my friends do go to school and we have lots in common. We like a lot of the same things, like going into town, chatting to each other, and watching Netflix together. We also study some of the same subjects, like English and Art. We all have to work and study and do housework at home, the main difference in our lives is that in school my friends have to do specific subjects according to a set timetable, whereas I have a choice of what I want to study and my timetable is quite flexible. So for example while they go to school every Monday to Friday (in term time) from early morning to late afternoon, some days I don’t do a lot of study and instead I play games or go to events and exhibitions or maybe just hang out with other home ed friends. However, on busy days I might work from the morning until late evening, I often have work to do at weekends, and for me school holidays are usually even busier than term time!
Another thing I have in common with young people who go to school is that we all have goals in our lives, like going to college or university, having a career we enjoy, and growing up to be happy and satisfied adults. My own goals are to study Graphics, Illustration and Game Arts at Plymouth College of Art, to sell my artwork and meet lots of other artists and illustrators, and to find work in concept and character design in the video games industry. Just like young people in schools, I have to work hard so that I can achieve my goals, but instead of focussing on GCSE exams in lots of different subjects, as a home educated person I can focus my time on building the skills I enjoy and I know I will definitely need.
I don’t tend to study different subjects every day, but I do have things that I do most days. On a typical day, for example, I start with working on my art skills. Starting with drawing helps me warm up to the day and to relax. Usually I will do a 30 minute character sketch in pencil from my imagination or following a prompt (I like using artprompts.org), or I work on a previous sketch, inking it or colouring it. After that, I work hard on my English Language study, because I have an assessment coming up at the Art college. This is quite hard because although I think I have okay English skills (I read and write a lot!) I am not used to working towards an exam or having to answer those sorts of questions.
I spend quite a bit of the rest of my day doing art things, for example I work on projects to learn new techniques like printing, linocutting and costume making. I do a lot of sketching in my sketchbooks (I have several which I use for different purposes), and I follow online courses and books full of tutorials. The online courses I am following at the moment include one on drawing backgrounds, one on pixel art, and another on figure drawing and human anatomy. The art books I work from and study include Keys To Drawing, Making Comics, and Urban Watercolor Sketching. I think I probably spend a few hours most days either doing art or reading about art, and I follow other artists and illustrators on Twitter and Instagram to see what they are doing and to participate in online projects like #inktober and #dailysketch. Studying art includes studying history, culture, anatomy, technical skills with different materials and software, psychology, and all sorts of other subjects.
I also try and keep track of current events and read articles especially anything to do with art and games, and especially local things like what the college is doing, or exhibitions and events that are happening. I like to take part in things that are happening in Plymouth and its important to me to support local artists and to be part of the community. I write about some of the events and places which I go to on this blog but I go to so much more than I have time to write about! In the past few weeks I’ve been to a contemporary music concert, a performance by a folk band, an Open Day at the arts college, an exhibition of ‘upcycled’ skateboards, an exhibition about the Titanic, the Eden Project, a vintage toys exhibition, an exhibition about plastic dumped at sea, and more. Today is Sunday and later I am going to a research performance where the audience will influence the soundtrack. Going to all these different events expands my view on the world and what is possible as an artist.
Most days I also read fiction, at the moment mostly I am reading comics and manga but I do enjoy novels as well, especially funny ones. I listen to music (all sorts, from game soundtracks to Britpop to Japanese pop and metal) and I practice playing my guitar. I chat to my friends and if I can’t see them in person we talk online using Skype and Whatsapp. At the end of the day I try to always write a bit in my journal and sometimes I read or draw in bed, or watch a film. My About Me illustration at the top of this post gives more details about the things I enjoy.
As well as all this, every week I go to kickboxing twice (I have earned my Junior Black Belt!), I have either a guitar or a drum lesson, and I go to a local coding/tech club for young people. I also go every week to a home ed activity group and a home ed social group, I’m a member of the National Art & Design Saturday Club and I go to two Youth Clubs. I’m quite busy most days! I don’t see myself just as a student but I also think of myself as a working artist and blogger and I hope to help the organisations and adults I meet to take young artists and writers seriously and see how we are part of the community too. Although I do work hard at art and writing this part of my life can be really difficult as I am quite shy in person and often I am the only (or one of a small number) of young people at an event. I can struggle with what to say as I worry about saying something that will be embarrassing whereas when I am blogging or tweeting I have time to think and edit before I say something. I take a sketchbook everywhere I go and that helps because if I’m nervous I can draw and that comforts me.
I could write so much more about the things I do as a home educated young person. For example I also am learning to make games using Scratch, I am learning about electronics and coding using my Shrimp and Raspberry Pi, and I am trying to start a band! I participate in game jams and create and publish video games with my brother. I go to comics and science fiction conventions and I like to do cosplay. I play with my little sister and sometimes we draw together, and I am used to spending time with kids of all different ages in our home ed groups. My life is so full, but I do make time to relax and see my friends.
I hope that reading this has helped give an insight on what it is like to be home educated. In some ways of course it is different to going to school but that doesn’t mean that we don’t study or have social lives. We all have goals and worries just like any other young people, and we all have interests and are passionate about them. If any other home ed young people are reading, please add me on Twitter or Instagram, and if you are a young artist in Devon or Cornwall add me too and maybe we can meet up sometime!
THANK YOU FOR READING! Please remember to check out the other blogs on this bloghop and learn more about how different families do home education.