Thursday, 18 July 2013

Mail Me Art 2013 - Short and Sweet!

Every year for the past few years Darren di Lieto, who runs the massively popular Little Chimp Society illustration blog, has put together a labour of love he calls Mail Me Art.

The idea is brilliantly simple: ask 200 of your favourite illustrators to create artwork on a C5 envelope and post it back to you. Any theme, any subject, any media - the only stipulation being that the art is what it is, without folding or other attachments, and whatever state it arrives in when Darren receives it, that's how it will go into the show!

First coming to our attention a couple of years ago when he was doing a book signing at the big Borders in Leicester, we popped in to see him and ended up chatting online a bit later. We kept in touch, and in the meantime, our gallery space was built here at 71.

It was therefore natural that when it came to thinking about a new space in the Midlands for the Mail Me show, whose traditional home is in London, Darren being a local lad thought of us. And thus, we are proud to announce that Mail Me Art 'Short and Sweet' will be opening here on August 9th at 6.30pm.

This year the show includes work by our own rookie partners in crime Brook Valentine, Bob Neely and Ed Garland, alongside more established illustration stalwarts like Melanie Tomlinson, Jon Burgerman, Linzie Hunter and The Boy Fitzhammond. Oh - and 193 more of course!

RSVPs this time will go to Darren: (But as usual, any questions can be directed to us!)

Monday, 15 July 2013

71 + The Little Hidden People.

Graham's just painted us a new 71 on the front door. We like to ask guests to do this for us sometimes - we had Richard Hogg make us a geometric turquoise one when he had his show here, and the last one by Brook Valentine was in vulgar gold in my choice of much-love Cooper Black.

Graham's was a nice surprise. If you come round to see his work currently adorning our walls, come and knock! And count the hidden people while you wait for us to answer.

Graham Robson.

We are pleased to introduce our new assistant Graham, who comes to us fresh if a little tired from an excellent degree show at Birmingham Institute of Art & Design's Visual Communication BA.

Graham is responsible for the terribly appealing Mole you might already have seen if you're been near my Facebook or Twitter page!

From the tedious to the horribly pressured, the everyday to the mucky-hands-at-the-coalface, Graham is already weaving himself info the fabric of our creative existence with his calm blend of flat-clean graphic illustrations and love of narrative. Coming to us with a high degree of technical prowess as well, he already has a folio which is eager to run off into the world of freelancing, which we hope to be able to ease him into during his time in our slightly chaotic, unorthodox studio.

His nicely organised website is here:

He likes 'making stuff' too, and we're selling his beautiful hand-bound books in our shop:

And he currently has a little show of work in our gallery space, including some first-time large-scale paintings. If you're in the area and would like to pop in and see it, just email us.

Rather than get Graham to talk about himself in the traditional way, we just asked him some probing questions. Here are his answers!

Would you like to be an axeman like your character? He looks like he has the most idyllic, if a little lonely, lifestyle.

In some respects yes - the freedom: to explore and adventure through a landscape where nobody has been before, to build a home with his own hands wherever he pleases.     But yes, like you say - It would be rather a lonely way to go through life.

Tell me about things you have made with your hands (ie, without a computer).

The way my work looks today in many ways was born when I was introduced to linocut, I loved everything about it - the way I had to design everything backwards, even to lifting the lino and  hoping I had a clear print. But I especially loved using limited colours. Although I don’t do as much linocut these days as I would like, it is still at the heart of what I do even when I’m working completely digitally.

I also enjoy book binding, although I have had no training, I love designing little sketchbooks of my own design. I like to give them a theme, e.g. ‘Nautilus’ for my ocean themed books and ‘Lunar’ for my moon themed ones.

And what have you found on eBay recently that took your fancy?

I have recently developed a rather strange interest in Soviet era Russian cameras. There’s just something about them that I love. They look quite different to any other cameras I have seen before; they have this awesome cyrillic script engraved in them and in true Russian style they are built like tanks. The only downside is they seem to have a strange musk to them, that, in the 50 years since my camera rolled off the production line, doesn’t seem to have lessened even slightly.

Why did you choose illustration and not graphic design?

Graphic design is something that has always interested me, and when I started my Visual Communication course at BCU I almost went for it. But I would have definitely missed designing fun characters and interesting landscapes that I’d want to explore, and I would especially miss working with narrative. In some ways I think my illustration has a graphic quality to it, so I think my love of design still creeps through without me choosing it as a career path.

Did you have a plan for after college, you mind that we are gatecrashing that plan (or lack thereof?)

As the end of university crept nearer It started to dawn on me that I might want to make plans for when I finished. I knew I wanted to be a freelance illustrator - and still do. But the finer details of this - working with clients, finances & all the other important parts that enable the drawing bit of being an illustrator were something of a mystery. So when I was asked to help out at Inkymole I knew it was an opportunity I couldn’t miss out on.

What would you like to learn while you’re at Inkymole HQ?

Like I said, I want to learn what it takes to be a working illustrator - to actually make a living from doing what I enjoy. As much as I wish being an illustrator was just making fancy doodles all day, there are lots of other parts that are just as important. And the more that I can learn, from folks who have been through it all before, the better!