Lilly and I went on a summer holiday to Sardinia this year, and while we were there, we were astonished by the amount of Pandas everywhere. Of course, I’m not talking about the Chinese bears, but the Fiat manufactured in the 1980s and 90s.
It was almost as if Sardinia is where Italy sent its Pandas not to die but to just keep on living.
We were both charmed by these boxy little powerhouses, so it was a good cue to make Lilly a new piece of artwork for her birthday. I began researching the materials that were used to sell the car during its original run, but there was no escaping this being a car of the eighties:
As magnificent as those are, I was looking for something that spoke a bit more to how thirty years later, the cars were still so happy rattling through the dusty landscapes of the Mediterranean. The native Italian materials weren’t any more inspiring with their woefully stretched typography, but France proved to have some more playful typographic ideas for selling these little Fiats:
The only trouble is I had no idea what the French typography said, and online translation wasn’t being much help to me either. My first few attempts of running the full slogan ‘Les Voitures à Malices’ through the internet tried to tell me it meant ‘The Cars With Malice’ or ‘The Malicious Cars’, and I couldn’t imagine even the French would try and sell a car on the idea that it would harm you.
Instead I decided it must’ve been idiomatic, so I asked a French friend to help me (her response: ‘I’m so French it’s beyond belief’), who explained that it meant ‘cheeky, facetious, witty all at once’, and was like boite à malices, ‘a box with lots of stuff that would be fun for kids’; a box of tricks. That sounded perfect to me, so I had to get back into the other hard part, illustrating the car in a way that captured its humble boxiness.
My first couple of attempts looked too boyish, and like something from a video game. Definitely not the right flavour. Instead, a basic profile shot proved to be the winner, and when combined with a bit of the mountainous terrain of Sardinia and a little more of the French marketing materials, everything came together just right.
Of course, the most important thing in all of this is that Lilly loved the artwork, so we immediately put it up on the wall!
Since I started making an effort to publish a new Post-it note every day, these books have been filling up a lot faster! I filled up my latest sketchbook in February, and it covers the time from Summer 2015 to now. It’s like watching my life flash before my eyes!
“This isn’t what I expected when I said I was looking for a more fulfilling job”
A recent experience of having a letter go missing in the postal system inspired another looping factory gif. This one is simultaneously simpler and more complicated than the previous robot-laden ones – there’s a lot less happening in this one, but it’s also a seamless tile. That means this one loops in three dimensions – horizontally, vertically and in time.
A bit like my missing package!
The hardest part about drawing a new illustration on a Post-it note every single day is coming up with the idea. The horrors of the US presidential election campaign, though, provided plenty of low-hanging fruit. Join me as we look back across the past year-or-so in horror – it’s the scariest American invention since Halloween!
16th November 2015:
Panic ensues in Rickmansland over whether Bernie is a Sanders or a Sanders. I remember back to my Year 9 English class, taught by a Mr. Sanders, who stipulated he was Sanders, and not like the KFC mascot. Unfortunately for me, sixteen years later I can’t remember which was which.
8th December 2015:
If it wasn’t already obvious, the New-York-based reality television star has clarified that he will be campaigning for president on the platform of good old-fashioned fascism.
12 February 2016:
I wonder to myself, if this person is as powerful as he believes himself to be, then why does he have to prefix his twitter handle with the word ‘real’? Is it to differentiate himself from an imaginary Donald Trump? Who is actually a nice person? And not totally self-absorbed?
24 February 2016:
It finally dawns on me: This is Biff from Back To The Future running for President of the United States! This man-child behaves like a cartoon high-school bully. Why doesn’t half of America seem to mind!?
1st March 2016:
Super Tuesday is here, and the field is thinning out. Republicans are left choosing from a rotund vessel of chopped animal organs, a folding ironing board, and a pair of unwashed sports socks. Across the aisle, Democrats are forced to choose between an angry duck and a half-eaten sandwich. The two-party system works!
19th April 2016:
“It’s very close to my heart because I was down there, and I watched our police and our firemen down at 7/11, down at the World Trade Center right after it came down, and I saw the greatest people I’ve ever seen in action,” Mr Trump said.
10th June 2016:
One way to make ‘again’ make sense
18th July 2016:
Wannabe-despot seeks running mate to aid in campaign to Make America Grate Again
The Campaign Proper
2nd August 2016:
The election in one drawing
8th October 2016:
After the Billy Bush tape is unearthed, the humanoid with expired toothpaste for hair is forced to make an admission.
10th October 2016:
I guess it wasn’t worth apologising for after all, it was just ‘Locker-room Talk’. I guess if you look at it this way…
12th October 2016:
The Republican candidate attempts to set things straight in the wake of the Billy Bush tape:
“Nobody has more respect for women than I do, nobody”
20th October 2016:
As my American voyager and I watch the final debate of the campaign, I wonder to myself what exactly Hillary is marking down behind her lectern?
28th October 2016:
Mr Reality-TV has been attributing the creation of America’s enemies to the ‘huge vacuum’ that Obama and Clinton left behind in the middle east. ‘I wish someone would come and collect it’, the locals think to themselves.
Thank goodness it’s all over tomorrow. Let’s hope we wake up in a peaceful world on Wednesday!
This weekend’s project was an upgrade of sorts for Speakerbot, the little robot that lives beside my turntables.
He originally came to be because my speakers sat on different shelves that weren’t the same height in an old apartment. Of course the way to remedy that was to make a robot to bring one speaker up to the right height. Here was my original illustration of the idea:
A couple of days later, he emerged from the cardboard
Then he had a well-received lick of paint
About five years later, the cardboard was starting to get a little soft and wobbly, so this weekend I rebuilt him out of MDF. Who knew cardboard could be so human-like?
An upgrade was done to his electricals, including some new switches on the light-matrix and a new meter that can just-about be hooked up to the music to display its current.
He stands a lot firmer now, and will hopefully last longer than the cardboard incarnation did!
Maybe I’m becoming a closeted sports fan?
Every summer for the past several years I’ve been wondering why all the people around me who support sports teams throughout the year go off to music festivals in the summer, while I prefer to stay at home listening to Wimbledon.
Yet I continue listen to Wimbledon while I work. Then the notion of summer sports ambience expands to the Tour De France, and as part of trying to figure out how on earth this sport works, I’m left wondering what the hell mining explosives suppliers and unopened hotels are doing sponsoring professional sports teams.
The next thing I know, it’s a Summer Olympics year and I’m watching that too.
The Olympics is a kind of madness though
Two weeks where hundreds of people from all over the planet gather to show off how they’re really really good at doing some really obscure (usually) physical thing, and the BBC is dedicating dozens of channels to presenting it all live for the nation’s bafflement!
I find myself watching Synchronised Diving, wondering why they made an insanely complicated way of jumping into a body of water even more complicated by expecting two people do it in sync. I’m not even going to try to keep a straight face when ‘Steele Johnson’ is on the screen in his tiny Speedos.
Next my attention is diverted to Taekwondo, where two people are trying desperately to kick each other in the head, live on prime-time television. After that, I’m watching a field of grown adults on undersized bikes race around a concrete obstacle course and hoping they don’t break their necks.
There’s so much going on it demands the attention of my post-it pad!
The intrigue begins with the cycling road race. A bit like a miniature Tour De France, humans race in the space in a couple of hours over a distance I couldn’t cycle in a week. The race is won by a Belgian chap whose name sounds an awful lot like Greg Van Lavamat. He probably would benefit from having a motor inside of him as well.
Look at the swimmers, propelling themselves 100 metres in the time it takes me to paddle 25! They must live in the water, a bit like the ducks on the canal.
I can’t say I’ve ever watched fencing before this Olympics, but I have to wonder if it’s the fencers that have taken a lot of influence from Daft Punk in recent years, or if Daft Punk were influenced by fencing?
Never mind that, it’s stopped raining so the tennis is back on. Oh look, it’s Rafael Nadal, sweating profusely, going through his pre-serving routine. Have another banana, Rafa!
There are people who aren’t on television who take table tennis very seriously. To call it ping-pong would be offensive. I can see why- this sport is madness. Their postures remind me of dinosaurs, but they move like fireworks. I can’t even!
Oh yeah, basketball, that’s a sport that is totally competitive outside of the United States. Why is the coach drawing his tactical plans on an etch-a-sketch?! Is chalk too old-fashioned? Is an iPad too modern?
What would the Olympics be without a little bit of the track-and-field? I find myself wondering – am I the only person who thinks this is completely insane? I mean, pole vaulting, how do you even get into that? Is that your only job as a human? Or do you run online marketing pyramid schemes between vaults or something?
Strange as all that is, it only barely scratches the surface. I don’t even know what to write about the dancing horses event or the synchronised swimming duets, except that a fortnight later I still can’t work out which is more bizarre. I’m exhausted from just having watched!
Watching the Olympic cycling road race last week, I was struck by how unadulterated the cyclists’ uniforms were. They had essentially no sponsors at all, which is in stark contrast to the teams in which the cyclists ride.
One of the strange/charming things about professional cycling teams are that they are named for their sponsors. This would be a bit like Manchester United being called ‘Team Chevrolet’, or the England cricket team being called ‘Waitrose Pro Cricketeers’. Except pro cycling is such a fringe sport, oftentimes these teams are sponsored by companies who probably aren’t widely heard of in their native countries, let alone on the world stage.
The whole thing got me wondering – what if UCI WorldTeams were simplified to what the sponsors’ companies actually do?
I thought these team names were strange before I set out on this quest, but things only got stranger as I dug deeper! Continue reading “UCI World De-tour”
CES is in full swing this week, and its many slightly-robotic household appliances cast my mind back to a series of Post-It notes I drew a while ago. Here’s a twelve-panel story about the rise and fall of my domestic robot (now with a splash of colour)!
I hope they find a better power source than bunny rabbits soon, my carpets are getting filthy!
Prior to meeting my better half, I had never seen a James Bond movie. I considered this an achievement of sorts. Lilly, however, has a fondness for them, so over the past eight years or so, I’ve seen what I assume is all of them, and most of them at least twice!
The problem with this is a bit like being introduced to twins, or how I used to have back-to-back German and Spanish classes in high school – everything just goes into the same file in the brain-cabinet. In that spirit, here is me tipping out the contents of the James Bond file as it currently appears in my mind.
- There’s an early one with Odd Job, who has a deadly bowler hat. They are fighting over some gold
- Wheelchair villain scooped up by a helicopter ‘I’ll buy you a delicatessen in stainless steel!’
- There is one where the villain is a man with three nipples who has a sociopathic dwarf assistant. They live on Thunderbird Island
- There is one with Willard Whyte. Baja?!
- There is one where the villain is on a boat called M.Y. Disco Volante. Does he have an eyepatch? He says ‘jettison cocoon’ and James Bond is dressed up like a saveloy sausage
- There are two with Jaws, one where he falls out of a closet in a train and one where he falls in love with a tiny blonde girl with glasses in space
- There is one exceptionally racist one set in the bayous of Louisiana? Or are they all exceptionally racist?
- Roger Moore’s tiny plane that appears out of a horse’s backside? Lesbian pilot school?
- There is one starring Christopher Walken and Grace Jones, Walken has a blimp and Jones rides a bomb Dr Strangelove style
- James Bond rides a cello down a ski slope?
- There is a Pierce Brosnan one where he drives a car around a car park from his giant Nokia communicator, and one featuring jungle thug Goldie. I’ve no idea if they’re the same movie
- There’s another Brosnan movie where he makes his car invisible at some big ice palace
- In one of the modern Daniel Craig ones he uses a pocked defibrillator on himself. It may or may not be the same movie where there’s some nasty rape scene in that hotel in the middle of the desert that I thought was totally inappropriate for a 12A-rated movie
- In Skyfall they blow up the big house in Scotland and Judi Dench dies
…That’s about the extent of it. If nothing else, I think I got the chronology vaguely right?