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Mid-Century Modern Graphic Design

May 7, 2019

The up side to ‘meeting’ like-minded folk through my blog, occurs when somebody gets in touch to ask me a question, or better still, to say that they like my blog or admire the artists that I also admire. This happened with Theo Inglis who contacted me back in August last year.. when his opening line went a little like this :-

” Hi Craig, I hope this email finds you well! I’m currently writing and designing a book about Mid-Century Modern graphic design and illustration, your blog keeps coming up in my research about some of the illustrators whose work I’m showing. It is such a fantastic collection. ”

Needless to say I was hooked from that moment and consequently we swopped numerous emails where I would recommend how he could contact an artist he wanted to feature or suggest one he perhaps didn’t know and Theo did the same for me. So now, some 8 months later, what should arrive at my door, but a preview copy of Theo’s book in all it’s glory. How kind and boy what a book!

Beautifully bound in a square format from Batsford and available here direct from Theo himself for a mere £20. With over 250 pages it’s definitely one of those volumes that will take a fair few days to really absorb and visually consume.  Theo gained an M.A. in Critical Writing In Art and Design from the Royal College of Art back in 2017, and he’s clearly not been slow to get moving with his project since then.

I really like the way that he’s created the chapters on Book Covers, Record Sleeves, Posters and Promotions, Magazine Covers, and Illustrated Books   with numerous illustrations to show examples in each section. It’s a visual smorgasborg!

Featuring work from many of my favourite artists Bill Charmatz, Abner Graboff, Jim Flora, Richard Erdoes, alongside the list that Fishinkblog readers will already be familiar with, illustrators such as Aliki, Bernice Myers and Helen Borten.

A beautiful book that every designer interested in Mid-Century artwork should have on their shelf.

When I asked Theo what his next plans for writing might be he remarked ” No concrete plans for another book, hoping to do something but might need a bit of a break haha. Maybe more on illustration as that chapter could have been a whole book by itself.”

Now that would be worth waiting for… watch this space !!

Macclesfield Treacle Market

April 29, 2019

Yesterday I met up with a few of my old school friends and we went to the Macclesfield Treacle Market.

What a wonderful treat for anyone interested in Crafts, design, art and amazing food. I chatted to quite a few of the stall holders who were very chatty and excited to be apart of this busy designer market. Artist Andrea Joseph creates wonderful portraits of whoever happens to want one.

Manchester based Illustrator Dick Vincent, has a wonderfully dry outlook on the world around him. I really like my new Hockney badge and card I got from his stall.

Stunning woven goods from Suzanne Horwell who helps to run a working farm in the Peak District and a company called The Royal Edge, making beautifull wool and wire products from her own sheeps fleeces.

There was a great (but a little meloncholic) range of dog prints and cards by artist Lauren Van Helmond, who also sells antiques and woven blankets.

Some crazy guitars made from Cigar boxes alongside antique and modern design stalls too.

I also couldn’t resist this wooden Rabbit from Chorlton based designer Bear Print Design.

fishinkblog 11959 Treacle Market 7

Town Criers and a local Choir, something for everyone. Thanks to my school pals for a grand day out too !

Next weekend I’m taking part in the Green Walk Open House event in Whalley Range, Manchester.

It’s a beautiful setting in a cul-de-sac of very artistic houses which open their doors to the public and show approximately 60 different designer-makers work over two days, which this year is May 4th and 5th (Sat and Sun) open from 12 noon until 6pm both days.

I’ll be in House no 3, Green Walk, off Wood Road, Whalley Range, Manchester, M169RE. With a range of my ceramics and illustrations. There will be food from Tibetan Kitchen and music on the green itself, so do put the date in your diary and pop by to say hello.

Reiko Miyagi Storytelling Ceramics

April 22, 2019

Happy Easter everyone, I hope you are having a great break and time off. The UK has been amazingly warm and not what we’ve come to expect from Bank holiday weather at all so it’s a welcome change for us who are having a few days break. I’d like to introduce you to a wonderful ceramist today, who is also a skilled illustrator and artist.

Reiko Miyagi‘s decision to be a potter came while she attended college in Tokyo.

She says:- “I studied, contemporary art and museum curation. It wasn’t pottery related so after I graduated, I went to a ceramic school called Bunka-Gakuin, where there were great teachers who had studied under National Treasure-level potters. I was able to study a variety of outstanding styles and skills there. I also learned functional pottery making skills for two years and then took an apprenticeship in the pottery town of Mashiko.  Mashiko had a very open and diverse atmosphere compared to other traditional pottery towns in Japan, probably a result of the folk-art movement there in the 1920’s lead by Shoji Hamada.  I enjoyed interacting with many excellent artists who lived independent life styles in Mashiko, including quite a few people from overseas who came to learn pottery making. ”

Reiko works using white stoneware with free hand-painted black slip and sgraffito decoration. Sgraffito is the technique where a layer or numerous layers of glaze are painted onto the hardened clay, before being scratched away in a design or pattern to reveal the surface of the clay beneath. It can create quite crisp imagery. You can see this technique in progress below. Reiko says:- ” I use all kinds of scratch tools, mostly made from metal, such as a needle tool, scratch board tools and an exacto knife. It really takes them all to make my work but since I’m also a metalsmith I like to modify my tools. For example, I like my loop tool because I was able to customise the shape for my needs by forging and filing.

There ia an ancient Japanese belief that all beings and objects have a spirit and divinity within. Being born and raised in Japan, Reiko’s aesthetic sensibility was largely influenced by the traditional art and crafted items that reflected this philosophy. Using black slip on white stoneware, Reiko creates her own sense of inner spirit and with the moments of bliss she receives whlst working with the clay, she expresses her belief in idea that all beings are connected and the appreciation for our surroundings, make us what we are.

I love the folk art element to her work.

Her studio name “Tabula Rasa” comes from the latin expression meaning to start with a clean slate. ” I was first exposed to this expression when I bought the music CD, “Tabula Rasa” by Arvo Pärt thirty years ago. I chose it for my new studio name when I moved to the US because I was making a completely new start. I have interpreted the words in my own way which is, “every moment is unique and a chance for a fresh start,” just like in Zen philosophy. We are easily distracted by thoughts of the past or future rather than being fully present in the moment but when I make my art and am having a good flow, I truly enjoy the feeling of this moment of “bliss.”

“I draw a lot of animals, trees and flowers. My culture has an animistic philosophy that all beings and objects have a spirit or godess within them. Animals and flowers have complete beauty and it’s like having a universe within so I never get tired of drawing these “millions of gods.” I also draw a lot of musicians, too”

“The pieces below are some of my “Tree of Life” plates. It’s an image in use for a long, long time in many places. I’m very interested in the patterns and imagery that you can see in different areas of the world and throughout a variety of time periods. Some images have literally travelled through time, whilst some are very similar but it cannot be explained why they have this similarity without any communication between them. Perhaps it comes from something humans are born with. Either way, I love looking at images and patterns that appear in historic and tribal work that play with my imagination and make me question what the artists went through to express these images”

Birds are a common theme and stem from mythology, stories and folk imagery.

Beautiful shapes and couplings.

I love these little Owls, they definitely feel like pottery discovered from Greek mythology.

Cups and vases with great little feet.

Her whimsical character-driven ceramics, almost suggest stories and create strong emotive responces to their narratives.

Nowdays Reiko is living in North Carolina with her partner and you can follow her work on her Instagram account over @studiotabularasa.

Happy Holidays.

Vanessa Lubach Cutting the Countryside

April 15, 2019

Artist Vanessa Lubach studied Illustration at Brighton, graduating in 1990 and has been illustrating, printmaking and painting ever since.

She has three children, four cats and a chicken called Pumpkin. Living in Norfolk, her work, (which is mostly taken from observational drawings), is a mix of what appears to me to be, ‘The Good Life’ and a tribute to the beauty of the landscape and countryside that surrounds her.

Her cats often appear as the subject matter in her lino cuts, and with so many willing (or unwilling) models around, then why not !

She also has a passion for beautiful chickens and hens.

Company Elite Tins have a wide range of her work on their storage containers.

Vanessa shows her love and understanding for nature in these beautiful scenes.

Her work is multilayered and intricately carved into lino, sometimes using as many as 14 colours !

She has also had her work featured on greeting cards and book jackets.

Through images on Vanessa’s instagram account, we can see how her beautiful work develops, step by step.

This process demands a steady hand, patience and the skills of a craftsperson, artist and designer all in one.

You can only start to appreciate how much detail goes into each linocut.

Of course the colours Vanessa selects also have to blend together well to create such a pleasing end result.

Whether its the countryside or the sea.

She has also been featured in the 2012 National BP Portrait awards with her painting ‘Rosie and Pumpkin’ (below, top right).

I bought a selection of postcards from her shop on Etsy and you can also treat yourself to a limited edition print here too.

One of my favourites being this tiny lino cut for a Henry Moore sculpture, which is just so beautiful and serene with the light shining through the trees.

Those of you who visit Fishink blog regularly might recall that I also featured Vanessa’s husband here back in 2017. If not you can visit Peter’s work here.

You can follow more glimpses of Vanessa’s life through her Instagram account here, and do pop over to here etsy shop here and make a purchase too.

Thanks Vanessa for letting me show your wonderful creativity here in all its colourful delight.

The Green Walk Arts and Crafts Weekend Open House 2019

April 8, 2019

Last year you might recall that I visited the Green Walk Open House event in Whalley Range, Manchester. This year I’m very excited to be taking part.

It’s a beautiful setting in a cul-de-sac of very artistic houses which open their doors to the public and show approximately 60 different designer-makers work over two days, which this year is May 4th and 5th (Sat and Sun) open from 12 noon until 6pm both days.

I’ll be in House no 3, Green Walk, off Wood Road, Whalley Range, Manchester, M169RE. With a range of my ceramics and illustrations. There will be food from Tibetan Kitchen and music on the green itself, so do put the date in your diary and pop by to say hello. This was the scene on the green last year.

I will be exhibiting some new Fishink Ceramics and illustrations like these. Brooches, badges, wall hangings, wall art etc.

Everything is handmade and original. Do spread the word around your friends in Manchester and if you can’t make it on that weekend but would like to make a purchase, please just drop me a line craig @ Fishink . co . uk Look forward to hearing from you soon.  Thanks Craig

There’s a link to their facebook page here.

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 ?