Review: This is Bacon + Competition

Bacon

Laurence King Publishing’s ‘This Is‘ series continues with This is Bacon with words by Kitty Hauser and illustrations by Christina Christoforou.  The series of illustrated biographies by different authors and illustrators, feature artists including Warhol, Pollock, Gauguin and Dali amongst others.

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After reading Brian Talbot’s Alice in Sunderland some years ago, which is essentially a history of the North East and how it inspired Lewis Carroll’s famous work, I personally felt that more history/text books should be in graphic novel format. I’d have never have thought to have picked up a text book on Sunderland (no offence to Sunderland!) but Brian Talbot’s work combining history and illustration, made for fascinating reading.

The same goes for art history books: as much as I’m interested in art history in general and various artists in particular, including Bacon, these days with time precious and other fish to fry, I would be unlikely to pick up a weighty tome for further, casual reading.

Yet this series, although not exactly a graphic novel, more an illustrated guide, is very appealing. From the minimalist cardboard covers to the quirky visuals that help to tell these artists’ tales, the images here break up the text into manageable, digestible chunks and break away from the usual format of weighty biographical works.

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 This is Bacon doesn’t break new ground in terms of his story, those very familiar with Bacon’s biography won’t uncover anything new, but it does serve as a great introduction to the artist and his work, and what is new, is the way it’s told with succinct text combined with engaging visuals by Christoforou.

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As well as the illustrations, the book features 19 of Bacon’s painting and discusses the pieces in terms of their impact and interpretations. The biography covers the major events and turning points in Bacon’s life from his beginnings in Dublin, his time in Berlin, Paris and London, his circle of friends and muses: everything you’d need to know to get a good grounding in Bacon as a subject.

These books succeed in making the often lofty subject of art history accessible and engaging thanks to its highly visual format. As a text book for students or for someone with a more general interest in art, it’s the perfect balance of words and visuals adapted for the internet generation’s diminishing attention span, my own included.

WIN A COPY OF THIS IS BACON OR THIS IS GAUGUIN!

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Win my review copies of either This is Bacon or This is Gauguin – two separate prizes with three ways and chances to win. Either like The DIY Eye Facebook page and comment on the competition post, follow me on Twitter (@JoWaterhouse) and tweet me your entry, or follow me on Instagram – @The_DIY_Eye and comment on the comp post or tag me in a post about it. You can enter via any or all of those methods, i.e. if you enter by all three, that’s three entries. Also let me know which book is your preferred prize. Competition is open to all (not just the UK) and the two winners will be chosen at random on the 11th January 2015, so there’s a month to enter. Good luck!

Glen E. Friedman: My Rules

My Rules, the touring exhibition by esteemed photographer Glen E. Friedman is currently showing at 14 Henrietta St, Covent Garden, London until 18th January 2015. It’s open daily from 12-8pm and features over 50 of Friedman’s iconic images of skateboarders and musicians, with many of the images not exhibited before now. There’s also audio and video accompaniment from the likes of Ice T and Ian MacKaye, as well as a previously unreleased audio interview with the late great Jay Adams, one of his last interviews before his untimely death earlier this year. Not to be missed.

Affordable Gifts from Independent Artists and Businesses

It’s the time of year that will fill you with good cheer or dread, or a combination of the two. It’s Small Business Saturday in the UK tomorrow, so I thought it fitting to do an obligatory Christmas gift post on some of my favourite things from independent artists or businesses. These are all completely bias choices, from nice people I know, items I covet or have bought myself.

This could’ve been a huge post as there’s so much good stuff out there but this is just a small, personal selection. Do spend time to look for and support other independent artists, shops and businesses and your local High Street this Christmas. Where you choose to spend your money makes a huge difference to communities and individuals.

ARTWORK

Lovely lino prints by Chris Bourke from £50 and under, click the image below to go straight to his Etsy shop, these his trademark bird prints are just a few of my favourites. There’s so much texture to these prints, the images struggle to do them justice:

Lino Prints by Chris Bourke

JEWELLERY

Datter Industries: any/all of these have been on my wish list for a while now. They’re gorgeous handcrafted jewellery in a variety of metals by designer and illustrator Kaye Blegvad. These items are £68 and under.

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ZINES & PRINTS

Two of my current favourite zine makers and artists:

Eleni Kalorkoti produces beautiful zines, I bought the Super Hero zine below earlier this year. I also love this Riot Grrl digital print and the Glitch t-shirt. £18 and under. Click the image to go to her online shop:

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Kristyna Baczynski produces fantastic comics and illustrations, I bought Vantage on a trip to a comics shop in Newcastle and was instantly impressed with her style of storytelling on existential topics. She has released some lovely Christmas cards and the genius Power Pack lucky dip gift package, of random prints, cards and zines. Click image to go direct to her shop, Items are £15 or below.

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BOOKS

Laurence King Publishing are the biggest business to be featured in this list. Over the years they’ve become one of the world’s leading and respected arts publishers. Through their books they’ve supported many independent writers, (including me! With two of my books still part of their current catalogue, as well as publishing my earlier books promoting the DIY arts community) artists and illustrators, as well as publishing works on world renowned names.

These are my current favourites in their collection and those on my wishlist: the new, awesome Fifty Years of Illustration is one I can’t wait to see in person;  This is Bacon from their This Is range of illustrated art history books (I have a copy of this and it’s superb, look out for a review here of this book coming next week) Low Tech Print which I’m also very keen to read and The Art Game – a top trumps card game. As most people love a game of something-or-other after Christmas dinner and this beats Charades hands down. Prices here are £30 and under.

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VINTAGE

I love all things old, odd and vintage for it’s quirky and one-of-a-kind-ness. I’ve worked with Clare from Second Hand Rose on various projects over the years, including events, a book and curating a big vintage fashion exhibition. Her online shop is THE place for affordable vintage from across the eras. Click the image below to visit her Etsy shop. She has a great range of clothing, jewellery and some fantastic vintage decorations. Items here priced from £15 to £50.

SecondHandRose

Check out previous posts on The DIY Eye for more ideas for independent artists, photographers and businesses to support.

Zine Review: OOMK Issue 3 – Drawing

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When I first discovered OOMKOne of My Kind zine earlier this year, it was like a breath gust of fresh air. I don’t read any mainstream ‘women’s’ magazines these days: glossy fashion rags full of clothes I’m never going to wear (or afford) and celebrities I couldn’t give a hoot about.

With OOMK I’d found the perfect independent magazine: an eclectic mix of arts, DIY, politics, current affairs and culture that doesn’t reduce its readers or contributors to the kind of 2D stereotypes like elsewhere in the media, and thankfully there’s no mention whatsoever about this season’s perfect party wear.

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Illustrations by Zoe Taylor

OOMK is written by women of diverse backgrounds for women of diverse backgrounds, covering weighty issues in first person stories, as well as arts and culture, in an accessible, comprehensible and a highly readable way.

There’s such a lot of good stuff crammed into its 80+ pages and each packed issue is focussed around a central theme. Issue Three’s theme is Drawing.

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Untitled Sketchbook Pages by Pascaline Knight

Inside this issue you’ll find plenty of impressive drawing and illustration as well as interviews with some of the artists. There’s also writing and photography on diverse topics including: an introduction to journalist and radical campaigner Claudia Jones, an interview with creative collective The Lonely Londoners, roof top photographs by Nasreen Shaikh Jamal Al Lail, vegetarian Vietnamese culture and an interview with charity The Madras Cafe. There’s also images and info about Molly Crabapple’s haunting illustrations for the 100,000 Names memorial project, which honours those killed in Syria – and that’s just to mention just a few.

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OOMK is a zine with gravitas, an empowering publication giving a voice to those often marginalised by mainstream media. I highly recommend picking up an issue if you haven’t already. The founders of OOMK also regularly attend and curate DIY and zine events in and around London. Keep an eye on their Twitter and Facebook feeds to keep up to date with their activities.

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Anxiety by Jasmine Parker

Zine Review: Draw By Four Issue One

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Draw By Four Issue One is the first issue of a new zine by Australian illustrator and student Rachel Ang. It features three stories and one panel on the theme of childhood.

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The first story The Mountain is about childhood imaginings, fears, new experiences and ways of seeing.

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The Beginning takes us back to the moment of creation with some big existential concepts adeptly translated into short, visual story form, all beautifully rendered in pencil.

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The final story The Wasp Nest features a messy back garden, a wasp’s nest and an awkward adolescent interaction. By design, necessity or error, the last but one page in this final story contains a loose page sheet, page ‘29.5’ which I really liked as an interesting design feature.

I’m really looking forward to the next issue of this thoughtful, softly illustrated zine that perfectly captures the relatable uncertainty of growing up.

To buy a copy visit http://drawbyfour.bigcartel.com/product/draw-by-four-book-one

D.A.T.E Antwerp

The D.A.T.E Antwerp project – Discover Antwerp Through Experience is an initiative from Antwerp tourism board This is Antwerp.

They invited 12 international creatives to come and experience the city through the eyes of fellow creative locals. They visited independent businesses, other local artisans and passionate creatives, participatied in workshops, visits, cycling, architecture tours and sampled local produce and dining. All in all spotlighting a new perspective on the diverse and culture-heavy city by documenting the project in a series of short videos.

The project is a stroke of genius to revitalise tourism in a city swathed in history, by showcasing the subcultural, DIY, contemporary, independent, creative gems that appeal to younger travellers looking for destinations rich in their idea of culture.

I think this project is something that smaller UK cities could learn a lot from. Often what’s happening on a subcultural/DIY/grassroots level gets overlooked (or councils are completely oblivious to) in favour of larger, established attractions and institutions that have historically been the focal point of main tourism campaigns, the cathedrals, the old museums, etc. By embracing what’s happening on this grassroots level, cities can find new ways to inspire and encourage visitors, as well as supporting existing independent arts and culture scenes.

Miami Project/Joshua Liner Gallery

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If you find yourself in or near Miami this week (no? Me either) you might want to check out the big arts fair event Miami Project and in particular the Joshua Liner Gallery at booth at 619. They have an impressive roster of artists displaying new work including Evan Hecox, Geoff McFetridge, Stephen ESPO Powers and Thomas Campbell, to name a few personal favourites. Visit the gallery page of the project site here for more details.

The whole event runs from the 2nd – 7th December in the Miami Project Pavilion in the Midtown/Wynwood district.

Don’t Make A Scene

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Actually, do make a scene. That’s the whole point of the new Don’t Make A Scene zine released today. It’s a guide to putting on DIY gigs through a series of helpful essays, guides, interviews and illustrations.

From the press release:

“Putting on DIY gigs is rewarding, fun and often important in bringing communities of musicians, artists, writers, photographers and audiences together in spaces removed from the mainstream and in places largely absent from tour itineraries.  However, without inspiration and information from others, it can seem daunting to try and get started.

Don’t Make a Scene responds to this need. A group of DIY promoters, musicians, label heads, tour managers, bookers, sound engineers and audience members from across the UK draw from their own experiences to offer advice and resources in the form of articles, interviews, illustrations and photographs. What results is a diverse, informative and easily digested how-to (and how-not-to) guide for the fledgling promoter.

The contributors to Don’t Make a Scene are largely drawn from people that the zine compilers Rob St. John and Bartholomew Owl (from Edinburgh band eagleowl) have worked with or been inspired by in their collaborative promoting and music making over the last decade.”

The zine features an interview with Marie Tippex (from booking agent Julie Tippex), and articles on DIY sound engineering by Tim Matthew (regular engineer for Lau and James Yorkston); on all-ages gigs by eagleowl’s Clarissa Cheong, on setting up DJs and club nights by Malcolm Benzie (Papi Falso) and Lisa Brook (founder of Cafe Kino in Bristol and DJ Cupcake) and advice for prospective promoters from experienced touring musicians David Thomas Broughton, Mark Andrew Hamilton (Woodpigeon) and Dan Willson (Withered Hand).

Topics covered also include how to set and keep to a budget for a gig, legal aspects to event organising, how to act professionally with an itinerary template to send to bands/managers, and how to get over the first hurdle and actually doing something, with ‘DIY Bother’.

All in all it’s incredibly in depth, authentic and informative from people really in the know. Some of the advice is also generally relevant to putting on other kinds of events and would particularly be helpful for new bands just starting to get gigs, as it’s a real insiders guide to the ins and outs of music events.

The first edition of 300 copies of the zine are released on today on www.dontmakeascene.co.uk 

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