While I understand the conventional wisdom that Christmas cards are a postal-service-propping hassle, my good lady Lilly and I do like the annual excuse to put our tiny letterpress through its paces.
Like every year, we try and make the card vaguely thematic to an event from our own past-twelve-months, and this year’s standout event was Lilly showing how excellently she does something when she turns her hand to it – she won the World Bread Award for her home-baked wild-yeast bread this autumn!
Alas, we don’t even have a garden for a wood-fired stove, but Santa’s affinity for chimneys made it a good way to link the season with the achievement. Like one of Lilly’s loaves, the card came out great!
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!
I’ve got into the habit of making my own fresh flour tortillas. They’re more satisfying and less alarming than the store-bought ones you get here in Britain, and as a bonus you can make them the right size for the job, instead of the not-quite-burritos-but-too-big-for-tacos one-size-fits-all approach they have here.
They’re not difficult to make either, but things do start getting a bit jugglesome when they’ve finished their second rest and it’s time to cook them. I usually find I could do with several extra pairs of hands between the rolling out, transferring to the pan, flipping, and putting in the tortilla warmer, which happens on loop until I’ve run out of dough.
Several extra pairs of hands, or a squad of small robots! I realised the process was prime for the production line treatment.
As ever, this is an animated gif that loops about every second, but there is a lot more to look at than just one second of looping. As the dough disappears off the bottom and top (under its cling film), you have to imagine it’s going to rest for twenty and ten minutes respectively.
These robots are doing a pretty legit job of making these tortillas otherwise. We’d need an army of hungry people to eat them before they go stale though!
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!
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”
More newness! Here is the artwork I created for Krakota’s debut album. He called the album ‘Strange System’, which is totally up my alley when it comes to record titles.
The title made me think of black boxes (as in science/engineering, not aerospace), which are systems that you can give input to and get output from without having any idea of what happens inside the system. I had some crazy idea to create some artwork completely obscured by a black box, but that was too, well, obscure. Everyone on the project seemed to like what I was drawing to go into the box though, so we ended up with that as the cover itself.
Everything is connected in this artwork! Clearly some of the objects are straight out of the mechanical/system corners of my noggin, but a lot of it comes from Krakota – his love of vinyl, celebratory beers and coffee to fuel the writing process, audio bits and pieces, and objects taken from some of his track titles. On the cover is a xylophone (from Xylo), a ghost, some samphire, an ice machine (for Ice Hands), some bones (for Lazy Bones), and the odd elastic bands. There are more track titles in the gatefold artwork too.
I kept my illustrations on this artwork as geometric as possible to make it feel very mechanical, so to contrast that and bring it back into the world of humans, we had all the artwork printed on a nice and heavy unbleached card stock. It roughs it up just the right amount and looks pretty fresh in physical too.
Check the Hospital Shop if you need a copy in your life!
I received a package from Russia this week, which isn’t something that happens very often in Ricky Trickartt HQ. Inside were finished copies of some artwork I had created for St. Petersburg’s Microfunk – more cardboard cassettes, but in a totally different vein to last time!
The album is a collection of tracks from various members and friends of the Microfunk collective that were lost or unreleased over the years. The concept was about finding new life in something that had been left behind. I was commissioned by Bop to illustrate this concept with the bouquet from the bowl, and got to have plenty of fun filing the inside with pipes too!
I love print so much. The art looks great on the heavy brown paper stock and white ink – it almost looks like I drew each copy myself with some super-fine white Posca markers.
Thanks to Bop and everyone at Microfunk for the project. You can get a copy on their Bandcamp page.
With Christmas well and truly over, hopefully everybody has received all the Santa Cruiser cards destined for them by now! Here’s the story (and a few pictures behind the design.
I really wanted to do this illustration I came up with last christmas I called ‘The Nutkraken’ for our cards this year, but even after drawing it all up properly, the idea was nixed by Lilly.
Back at the
drawing board post-it pad, I set about coming up with some other ideas, including this one I called ‘Santa and his Elvis’. This was nixed too:
Eventually we came back to trying to reflect what happened in the past year, and decided that getting bicycles was probably the biggest thing. I put Santa on various bicycles, including some more conventional bikes like our own, and fancy racing bikes like my cat stickers, but his rotund nature meant he was best suited to a very upright cruiser bike. Here’s the final sketch, before tidying up:
Everything was manufactured and ready to print:
The pressing wasn’t without problems, but it came out pretty good in the end:
…And for our digital-native friends I did a special gif version to email them!
The other big album project I’ve been working on lately is London Elektricity’s ‘Are We There Yet?’. Tony already had the image he wanted for his album cover from a photo shoot while touring in Japan, but he wanted to go all-out for the special edition of the album, and it was left to me to figure out how.
Because of the album’s travel-related title, we agreed to do a series of twelve postcards (one for each track on the LP) and a fold-out map too. First I was given a list of track titles, then I got to listen to the album not long after. Tony’s music always sounds like a slightly-retro adventure to me, and I know he’s really into science fiction, so I decided to treat each track as an intergalactic destination, and made each postcard to be a 1960s-inspired travel poster.
Once I finished all the postcards I turned my attention to the fold-out map. I couldn’t really make a conventional map as the elements from the postcards transcended planets, oceans and objects, so I came up with this abstract illustration for the job.
The style of this work is a little bit outside of my usual repertoire, but I’m really pleased with how everything turned out! The map artwork is included in all formats, but to get the postcards, you had to get one of the super-limited box sets.
Something that really captured my imagination while travelling around Africa last summer was the dutch/wax print fabrics that were popular in Rwanda. As is plainly obvious, I’m a total sucker for bright colours, but what I also loved was the sheer madness of the designs themselves.
Like the woman casually walking down the street with the weight of a small Vespa in potatoes balanced on her head, wearing a dress adorned with chevrons and plaice fish. Or this cheerful lady wearing a skirt emblazoned with itnernational currency symbols:
It really made me wonder how they settle on the random objects to turn into these wonderful patterns. I love a good pattern, and I love drawing strange things, so I’ve gathered up some of the irregular patterns I’ve been drawing into this new page on my portfolio.
I’ve put a set of ten up in the portfolio – look at them here! It’d be amazing to see a pattern I drew turned into fabric one day. I would be so honoured!
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