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A Harry Potter Book and early film inspiation

April 1, 2019

For all fellow Potter fans out there, I came across a book last week by Titan Books called ‘The Art of Harry Potter’ (apprently originally released November 2017!).  It should have been selling for around £50, but instead was on offer in Asda for just £20. Unfortunately (for me), It wasn’t as interesting as it could have been. I had imagined a book showing pictures from the sets and imagery from the films themselves, but this was other people’s imagination and artwork inspired by the Harry Potter films. Some great illustrations non the less and a beautifully glossy publication too. Definitely one for the hardened fans.

Magical beasts and baddies.

Dragons and dramatic places.

Other types of Dobby, the house Elf.

Beautiful scenes and settings.

Dark drama too.

Evocative work.

I came across this page by page walk through here on youtube, for those of you who want to see more. Happy viewing.

Whilst in Edinburgh the other week, I discovered this lovely find for £3 in a charity shop. Illustrated by Don Bolognese and dated 1967, it’s full of wonderful creatures that J.K. Rowling could have drawn upon for her Harry Potter Books.

I think these quick sketches show such expressive characters.

All kinds of weird and wonderful monsters.

From many different parts of the world.

The wonderful Hippogriff (above) and Griffin (below) are at least two characters from the HP books.

Each of these monsters have a name, a place they derive from and an explanation detailing what scary deeds they do.

The donkey and rabbit illustrations are amongst my favourites.

Fishink’s early influences and a Vintage Fair

March 25, 2019

From time to time I have mentioned the strange, chance happenings, that lead me to or from, writing a blog post. Today was one of those.

I’m sitting researching a classic Danish designer who made wooden toys in the 1960’s.  His work reminded me of some little figures (above) that I wrongly remembered as a child as being Gnomes but were actually Vikings, that I’d see sitting on my grandparent’s sideboard when I was a small child.

It made me think about my grandparent’s house and the kind of Ercol or G-plan style furniture and objects that surrounded them. My Grandfather was a tall, broad man who’s hands were that of a giant (at least four times the size of mine) and who could turn his own hands to anything, being particularly skilled at making things out of wood. He had a tiny shed in the back yard and I used to wander in and watch him at his work bench, marvelling at all his tools lined up neatly hanging on the walls. Turning the handle of his sanding-grinding-stone just to hear the noise of it revving up as it span around with my nose full of the smells of oils, tools and wood.

In his spare time my Grandfather would make nail and thread pictures and intricate wooden carts to be pulled by the ceramic shire horses he admired. My Grandmother was skilled with fabrics and would spend time sewing clothes or making rag or latchhook rugs, very similar to those pictured below. They both had other professions but enjoyed making new things for their home and gifts for the homes of their children and friends too.

Thinking about these things, it suddenly struck me that, their house and the items that they made / collected over the years, were the very things that had formed my interest and fascination with fifties and sixties objects. They were not only inspirational themselves, but were the very crafts people and artists that had helped influence the designer-maker I am today.

They were kind people, warm, generous with their time and would help anyone at the smallest request. They gave my parents and my aunt and uncle respite at the weekends by shipping my brother and I and four cousins away to their small caravan in Wales. How we all fitted in I don’t remember, but nothing ever seemed too much trouble or was ever a problem.

Thinking about their now vintage home, I suddenly thought that the Manchester Vintage Home Show was usually on around this time of year, I googled it and lo and behold, I discovered it was about to start opening it’s doors in about 15 minutes time !!! So of course I had to go.

I’ve covered this show for a few years now. I can’t explain why, but there’s something warm and reassuring about the fair that makes me think of my grandparents and that close association sits comfortably within me. It’s the perfect venue too… Victoria Baths.

Seeing this plate from the Homemaker range reminded me that we used to eat from these as a child, again I didn’t realise that Woolworths used to sell them. Another give away as to why I like this style of design today.

Given the choice (and money) I would totally live in a sixties styled home today. Look at that furniture, warm and rounded, it’s so far away from the angular, hi-gloss kitchens that people like today. Who remembers Observer books ?

Very tempted by this little proud chap on a seventies plate too.

Of course there’s good and not so good pieces there, but on the whole most items are authentic and a curiosity if not a joy to behold.

Hornsea Pottery.

John Clappison fish mug here and Squound had a lovely array of coloured glassware and lamps.

This compact-case, or shell-like seat made me smile, not my taste but I could see someone totally falling for it.

Lots of great fish ceramics, and some blue and red ladies adding some classic style to the day.

Another tempt, this magnificent man in his flying machine.. with dog riding the tail seat.

I’ve seen how this fair has grown and grown in popularity, a fabulous event.

What do you recall from your parents or grandparents homes that you enjoyed ?

Ladislav Sutnar Graphic Input

March 18, 2019

Ladislav Sutnar was born in 1897 in Plezn, Czechoslovakia. A Renaissance man, like many in his era, his activities were multidisciplinary and he studied painting at the School of Applied Arts in Prague, architecture at Charles University, and mathematics at the Czech Technical University concurrently.

This silkscreen print was published as a promotional kit for the Build the Town building block set Sutnar designed between 1940 and 1943 while living in the U.S. This print is 1 of only 2 promotional materials Ladislav produced for the modern toy design market.

Starting in 1924, Ladislav designed toys consisting of simple geometric structures of animals and puppets.

He attempted to introduce modern aesthetics into children’s toys by developing a building kit that consisted of sawtooth roofs, cones, and pieces in the colors of red, blue, and white (this remained a prototype).

The 1960s proved to be a difficult time for the designer as he turned to publishing Strip Street (1963). It was an album of 12 erotic silk-screen prints. He organized two New York gallery exhibitions of his nudes, In Pursuit of Venus (1966) and Venus: Joy-Art (1969). These works outside of his norm still included his hierarchical design approach as a father of modern information design. The term “posters without words” refers to Ladislav’s distinct poster-like design that characterizes the individual prints of this series.

His racy Strip Street compilation has relatively been forgotten. He wrote an essay to accompany these works. “In these disturbed times of cool and alienated society,” he wrote, “if the paintings can inject the feeling, the mission is accomplished.” An influence of Pop is notable despite Sutnar’s dislike of Pop and Pop Art. His paintings are reproduced today in a 392-page monograph.

Ladislav Sutnar is most notably a pioneer in the field of information design. He worked with many media including print, painting, products and interior design.

He went to school to learn how to make utensils, pots and other ceramic works. In 1923, he became the professor of design at the State School of Graphic Arts in Prague, and was later made its director. At the same time he worked as a designer at other firms too. Ladislav also did much work in exhibition design for a number of World Fairs, including the one in 1939 located in New York where he was to design the Czech pavilion. The exhibition ended up being cancelled due to the Nazi invasion of Czechoslovakia. Still, his work brought him to America, where he began a new chapter in his life.

Ladislav transitioned from industrial designer to graphic designer during his time in the States. He responded to the chaotic nature that he saw in American graphic design, starting his influence in information design. His work brought simplicity to the complex. His personal philosophy on visual design was that it should not “sink down” to the level of public taste, but rather inspire the general public to improvement and progress. He believed designers are called to perform to their fullest capacity and should “think first, work later.”

He placed a heavy emphasis on precision and clarity in information display, and on simplifying the complex.

His style reflected this philosophy in many ways, using grids and a strict layout, as well as a limited color palette and choice of typeface. He often used geometric form to guide layout, and also asymmetrical compositions to draw visual interest. Ladislav was also greatly inspired by movements such as Modernism, Bauhaus, and De Stijl. He used vivid colors, especially with his penchant for orange. A distinguishing feature of his work is the use of punctuation symbols to organize information.

After settling in America, Ladislav became the art director at F.W. Dodge’s Sweet’s Catalog Service in 1941 until 1960. His contributions here are seen in use even today. To replace the messy design that originally characterized Sweet’s pages, he created business-friendly templates and layouts for clarity of vast amounts of information and easy consumption by the general viewer. He contributed graphic systems to several companies and manufactured items. Also among his innovations was the use of double page spreads as opposed to only single pages. He was also the one to put parentheses around the area code in the American telephone numbering system.

Ladislav’s contributions to the practice of information design are still applied to graphic design today. The components of web design and navigation today can be accredited to his methodical Modern-style graphics, which are widely borrowed and applied. His designs transformed the face of business data, organizing massive amounts of information into not only comprehendible but visually interesting displays.

Though far from a household name, Ladislav Sutnar is a giant in the history of design. A Czech American who had a prolific career in his native Czechoslovakia in the 1920s and ‘30s and subsequently in the United States. He was an innovator in graphics, product design, exhibition design, and information design—a forerunner of web design. He is particularly known for his work in typography, including the innovation of adding parentheses around area codes in phone numbers, a seemingly small change that makes long strings of digits easier to read and remember.


Fishink In Edinburgh Part 2

March 11, 2019

Welcome back to part two of my recent travels to Edinburgh. I was lucky to see two more exhibitions whilst here. The first features the photography of Robert Blomfield and is on at the City Art Gallery until March the 17th, the end of this week.

Robert Blomfield practised street photography across the UK from the 1950s to the 1970s, beginning in Edinburgh, where he studied medicine. He adopted an unobtrusive fly-on-the-wall approach, seeking interesting or amusing scenes in the rapidly changing post-war period. An engaging manner and healthy disrespect for authority allowed him to get close to a myriad of subjects, taking photographs that are in turn tender, bold and humorous.

A subsequent medical career meant that Blomfield’s vast collection of striking images – which carry echoes of Henri Cartier-Bresson and Vivian Maier – remained largely unseen, until a stroke forced him to put down his camera in 1999. Timed to coincide with his 80th birthday, this first large-scale display of his photographs will provide an opportunity for Blomfield to receive the recognition he rightly deserves.

The exhibition displays a selection of this stunning private archive, documenting the dramatic shifts taking place in Scotland’s urban landscape during the 1960s. It includes candid portraits and group shots, children playing amongst crumbling tenements, public gatherings, student life and evolving architecture, offering a rare opportunity to reappraise our understanding of Scottish culture at that time.

If you like Robert’s work, you may also wish to view my post about Vivian Maier.

Such a fascinating insight into life in Edinburgh in the mid sixties.

The second exhibition, I was very lucky to catch before it finished on Feb 23rd at the Scottish Gallery was Mark Hearld’s solo exhibition called “Studio Life”.

A wonderful collection of his paint and collage work.

Wonderful to see such an array of themes and sizes. Painted ceramics too.

It’s hard to appreciate the layering and texture that goes into Mark’s work without seeing it close up.

He still appears to be passionate about the birdlife he sees around him.

A friendly fox.

And a possible whippet too, Boo will be pleased.

More ceramics.

And a few close ups of details.

Great to see some of St Judes Fabrics with Mark’s designs in the exhibition too.

I felt very lucky to see Mark’s show and I always love the Scottish Gallery too, such a great space and friendly staff too.

I think my dog Boo enjoyed her first Scottish trip too. Hilltops, beaches and woodland walks, she had them all.

It was a fab time to visit with all the spring flowers in bloom too. Thank you Edinburgh, see you again soon.

Fishink In Edinburgh Part 1

March 4, 2019

We were lucky to grab a few days up in Edinburgh last week and even decided to take the dog with us!

What a beautiful city it is. This must have been, easily my tenth visit over the years and every time I’m there, I’m reminded just how much I love it’s vibe, and the buzzy cafe/art culture.

Everywhere you look there are intreaguing little details that help paint the portrait of this city.

Talking of portraits did you know that the beautiful Scottish National Portrait Gallery (which has recently been refurbished) is showing the BP Portrait Awards at the moment.

The Gallery was designed by Sir Robert Rowand Anderson as a shrine for Scotland’s heroes and heroines. It opened to the public in 1889 as the world’s first purpose-built portrait gallery.

The last few times I’ve visied Edinburgh it’s been closed, so it was great to see inside and appreciate its hidden treasures.

The portraiture prints and drawings collection consists of 20,000 prints and around 2,000 drawings and watercolours dating from the 16th century to the present day.

The print collection comprises Scottish, English and foreign sitters whereas the drawings are almost exlusively Scots.

Sculpture, painting, splendour, exhibitions, food , gifts and a bookshop…. all in one building !

It feels like your almost in a painting yourself.

Also don’t forget to drop in on the BP Portrait Awards exhibition itself.

Miriam’s portrait of her mother gained her first prize and when you see it infront of you, with it’s wonderful clarity, you can really appreciate why.

The BP Portrait Awards 2018 are open until March 10th (i.e until the end of this week) at the Scottish National Portrait Gallery, hey it’s even free, so do pop in!

Two further exhibitions are featured in part two of my Edinburgh blogpost, join me on Monday to discover who they’re about.

Derek Yaniger Modern-retro styles

February 26, 2019

Contemporary illustrator Derek Yaniger is a creative guy who has a history with Cartoon Network and Marvel Comics. Nowadays however he works on his own illustration. You can head over to the wonderful Korero Press for an interview with Derek that tells you everything I would normally tell you personally. Needless to say I love his creativity.

His work explores the area of Tiki Art.

Lots of cool dudes and smart hipsters.

Cocktails for the kids, non alcoholic of course!

Musical beatniks jamming.

A few shifty characters too.

Such a great style and you can see more on his Instagram account.






Elya Yalonetski Ceramics from another age.

February 18, 2019

Elya Yalonetski is an award winning Berlin-based artist. Her work appears to stem from another period in time, yet not one that you can easily put your finger on.

A mixture of Greek mythologies, Chagall dreamscapes with a nod to the worlds of folk myths and fantastical wonder.

I smiled as soon as I came across it. I also love how she creates such large pieces carefully balanced on such tiny points. For me this also gives her work a sense of wonder and fascination.

I can’t imagine how long each piece must take to create, such detail and fine line work, I’ve a feeling Elya must be quite a steady handed, patient ceramist.

Her photographs also are like mini stage sets, they show her work off quite beautifully.

This wonderful Edwardian couple and their tiny tattoos.

Her tower of Babel must have taken weeks with all those characters. Amazing work, don’t you agree.

Elya says:- ” I have been working with ceramics for the last 20 years, successfully combining my initial traditional education from the Abramtsevo Art school in Russia with the Baroque and Renaissance elements in my sculptures and figurines. For me ceramic is a very mystical art medium. Being very fragile it can still survive over ages and epochs. Having mostly unknown authors each ceramic piece keeps the personal aura of its creator and whole cultures are named after certain ceramic styles. With over 1000 objects sold to the collectors around the world, I hope that some thousands years later someone will be able to “read” the feelings from my artworks like I can feel them admiring the work of ancient craftsmen in some archaeological museum.”

You can see more from Elya on Facebook and purchase some of her wonderful work here.