Finally over!

Posted on: March 12, 2014 at 12:11 pm | Work | No comment made yet

I signed up to do a graphic design course two years ago, paid for by my old workplace with the view that I would be able to use what I learned to further the aims of the organisation.  I left the organisation last year, with my course unfinished.  The course was through the web-based London Art College and I was unsure at first how useful the qualification would be – I’ve never done any distance learning before.  I found it extremely helpful in the end – my tutor was very supportive and I was glad to have some constructive criticism of my work from a professional graphic designer.  The briefs for the course were interesting and varied and my confidence has increased greatly as I tried new techniques instead of relying on my PC to do most of the work for me!

I never studied art at school.  I always blamed my sciencey-type parents for that.  Mum was a physics teacher and Dad was a chemistry teacher.  Art, although appreciated in our house, wasn’t considered a plausible career option – in common with many families.  It was all I was interested in – I was good at other things, but all I wanted to do was some kind of design – architecture, fashion or art.  Then I ended up studying medical biochemistry.  The reality of course is that, although I was encouraged to do science by my folks, one of the reasons I didn’t end up doing art was because I didn’t demand to do it.  This was perhaps because I didn’t really like the art teacher I’d had in first and second year.  I really hope that when my daughter is older, she feels free to have an opinion or a preference that is different to mine, without thinking that it will affect our relationship.

Lost in Translation poster

Anyway, I completed the course (with a ‘Distinction’) and have refound my motivation to do more with my time and abilities.  Sadly lacking for the past few months.

I even managed to complete a poster for a brief on the IdeasTap website to produce a poster for one of a selection of films directed by women for the Birds Eye View Film Festival.

Next I’m looking to learn how to take decent photos.  I can make a bad photo look okay, but I can’t take good photos for shit!  Also figure out why my blog looks like crap on Internet Explorer.


I don’t do New Year’s resolutions

Posted on: January 9, 2014 at 12:14 am | Stuff, Work | No comment made yet

I don’t really believe in making them.  I don’t.  I don’t believe in telling people some way in which you are going to revolutionise your life and then putting a deadline on it.  It makes you somehow accountable to them.  So that when you fail, you have to repeat it over and over again, to everyone you let in on your plan.  It rehearses your failure and reinforces it.

Or maybe it’s just me.


The simple answer of course, is to simply not tell anyone what your resolution is.

That being said, I am FINALLY back on track for the graphic design course I started nearly two years ago.  I started my new job at Glasgow Uni in October and have done next to nothing creative since then.  This week, I made the time to finish a unit on logo design and started a unit on packaging, which I had been putting off because it didn’t inspire me at all.

I really need to manage my time better.  At last count, I have FOUR paintings which need to be started.  I have the paint and the brushes, but space and time are at a premium in our wee flat.  Space, I can’t really do much about.  Time, on the other hand…  Over the Christmas holidays, I bought a total of about ten PC games on Steam.  I bought a similar number of books for my Kindle.  I mean, is The Complete D.R. and Quinch really essential to my life?  No.  But it’s so freaking funny.

So, I am not resolving to blog more often.  Or to lose weight.  Or to move house. Or finish my course.  Or do the paintings.  Or anything else.  Here’s a drawing of Poor Drummer Boy, who I resolved to turn into a comic strip about two years ago.  Ha!

The Scotland Question

Posted on: September 21, 2013 at 11:00 am | Politics | 2 comments made

Och ayeI went through a phase as a teenager of believing in Scottish Independence. I had pretty strong political opinions at the time, in common with many other people of that age, borne of lack of life experience and youthful idealism.

I continue to have mostly leftward political leanings, but with age have found that my stance has become slightly more conservative with a definite small c.  I became distrustful of nationalism and of any political party which founded their stance on what could be considered a ‘them and us’ stance. ‘They’re not like us.  They’re [insert nationality/skin colour/gender/religion/orientation here].’ Bollocks.

Until recently, the most compelling argument I heard for Scottish Independence was this.  ‘We are stale as a nation and we need a change to shake things up.’  I think the person who suggested this to me was referring this to a kind of longstanding post-Imperial funk in the UK.  I could see his point, but it didn’t really convince me totally at the time.

Until recently, I would have voted ‘No’ in the referendum.

I don’t think I would now.

I have been thinking about legislative changes of the past few years which have frankly left me very fearful.  There is a sense of death by increments.  Tiny chippings-away of our rights and liberties which are frankly starting to put me in mind of the gradual rise of nazi-ism before WW2.  That might sound like an overstatement, but I think parallels can be drawn between the UK at present and pre-war Germany.  Okay, I’m not in any way a student of history but on the surface, that’s how I’m starting to perceive things.

A breakdown:

  • Bedroom Tax and Universal Credit – Welfare Reform Act 2012 – Horrible policy which unfairly penalises people for having an extra bedroom.
  • Privatisation of the NHS, Education, roads, probation services, Royal Mail blah blah blah
  • Recent outsourcing of assessments for ESA to Atos, a private company.
  • Privatisation of Social Work Services for vulnerable children in England – Morally reprehensible.
  • Transparency of Lobbying bill – Frightening prospect for many small charities.  Now U-turned, but I doubt it’s the last we’ll see of it.

And that’s just what I can think of at this moment.  I have never signed so many online petitions in my life as I’ve done in the past few years.

I generally don’t trust the press.  I lived in China during the NATO bombing of the Chinese embassy in Belgrade and the experience of following the coverage in the UK press over the internet and watching the English-language Chinese news on TV showed up so many direct contradictions that I was left convinced that news from neither side was truthful.  My husband worked for a press cutting agency a number of years ago and has been left with a similar mistrust of the press, as he noted contradictory articles about the same incidents appearing in the British press.  I have to acknowledge therefore that the information I get about the government is very much dependent on the newspapers I chose to read.  I am as biased as the next person.

Don’t get me wrong, I don’t really trust politicians either.  And I’m not a fan of Alex Salmond.  I am under no illusions that an independent Scotland will be free from corrupt politicians and policies I can’t stand.  But at least with an independent Scotland I can more easily hold my government responsible and have a better say over what happens in my country.  As someone recently pointed out, in most recent elections it wouldn’t have mattered if every single person in Scotland voted for the same party, we would still get the government decided on by England and Wales (Wings Over Scotland have a pretty good illustration for this and actually seem to have made an effort to use actual data instead of pulling it out of their arses).  And let’s face it, Scotland’s political landscape is very different to England’s.  And last week’s Sunday Herald (image here)  shows just how much David Cameron cares about whether or not we remain part of the union.  Either that, or he genuinely doesn’t think there’s any chance of a Yes vote.

So, yes.


Posted on: September 20, 2013 at 5:07 pm | Unemployment | No comment made yet

The saga continues…

Glasgow City Council have awarded us housing benefit! Shock! Scandal!

Yes, it’s true.  Two months after I finished work, after meeting their impossible deadlines and sending them every piece of paper they required and many many phonecalls and a rejection letter that was before our case had even been considered.  Hurray!

And the other shoe drops.

So instead of paying the backdated benefit into our bank account so that we can repay it to the bank and you know, eat food, they paid it to our landlord, in spite of us sending them the letter and form required to ensure that we could receive the money directly.

Cue ANOTHER phonecall to the council to ask why and to try and get the money paid to us directly.  But no!  The money has already gone to our landlord (‘but I’ve suspended your benefit for now and sent a request to change it to your bank account from now on.  Sorry about that! That was our mistake.’)  Not only that, but the amount they have sent is different to the amount on the letter.

Cue phonecall to landlord.  The money will not be paid to them until the 30th September apparently and they have no idea how much they’re going to be paid.  They don’t get that information apparently.  So where is the money in the meantime?  No idea.  But I will get it back at some unspecified time in the future.  Well, as long as there’s something in my bank account before the rent comes off on the 1st.

Seriously.  What a fucking mess.  And the scary part is, I’m stressed out of my mind, and I’m one of the lucky ones who have the capability and the resources to deal with this stuff.  This system is designed in a way that hinders the most vulnerable and prevents them receiving the help they need.  Appalling.

Encouraging week!

Posted on: September 17, 2013 at 6:14 pm | Work | No comment made yet

Balloons!So chuffed to have a piece included in Coffee Rings and Beautiful Things, which is a themed online creative blog, every month exploring a different topic. This month’s theme was Time.  The painting is in acrylic and is one I’d started months ago and then just kind of ran out of steam… Find it here along with some lovely pieces of work – particularly Andy Glascott’s long-exposure photographs.  Gorgeous.

A couple of years ago, I started a distance-learning Graphic Design Art course at the online-based London Art College, which has been a very encouraging experience all round.  I’m nearly finished at last – a benefit of being unemployed!  My most recent work for the course was highlighted on their blog this week, too.

It has been a really good week, all round!

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