Thursday 31 December 2009

Love Stickers

After I had made the first two of my small sticker sheets, into The Long Thin Sticker Books and was selling them in various shops, I started to think about my audience more, what they would like, rather than anything that just popped into my head. 

I decided in January 2006 that I would do some love stickers for Valentines day, but not the usual soppy stuff, more of a mixture of feelings. Unrequited love and desperate desire. The result was some quite attractive if slightly unnerving stickers. 

These sticker's did end up in Emma Calder's Moody Day's and became the centre piece of the Love Day section. These stickers differ from the first two sets, as they were not designed to be stuck up in the street, but, were conceived as embellishments, for letters between lovers, for people to stick in their diaries, or on the back of their mobile phones. They were also designed to work in the long thin book format and have a more narrative feel.

The artwork for the Love stickers was mainly created with a rubber stamp heart, that I stole from my son, then scanned into Photoshop, where I drew into the printed and collaged artwork. The various bits of text were sourced from miserable note book entries, from my personal collection of letters and poems never posted. I just took lines out of the poems and put them with the pictures. I also was reading a library book on hip hop at the time and I wrote down the odd word/phase that seemed apt from that. Like “broken windows”, although I can't remember what the book was called now.

For the love section in Moody Days I did actually include one short poem, it is incorporated into the main illustration for the chapter so you can read that when you get to see the book.

The letter never sent, that some of the love stickers were based on was written in 1993. I didn't include it in the book but, I do here. It's now seventeen years later again, talk about being STUCK:

Greedy hungry dying
Hot Hot Hot
Tanned Golden alone
Do you remember how we kissed?

Have you forgotten?

Do you remember the summer of '76

That hot hot summer almost 17 years ago.
Do you remember me?
Just 17.
Tanned, golden, alone.
Do you remember that night?

Do you remember how
I stole thought the fence
Do you remember you?
On the grass cross legged.
Playing your guitar?
Do you remember how I came and sat with you?
How we disappeared into your parents garden.
How we kissed
Do you?

Memory is very selective and funny sometimes. When I wrote Hot Hot Hot, I could clearly remember the steel band at the party, playing a song by the same name. But according to Wikipedia, it wasn't recorded until 1982, although the man that wrote it Alphonsus Celestine Edmund Cassell (Arrow) could, have written it, before it was officially recorded.  Or maybe, it was his band playing that night at this trendy Notting Hill communal garden party. Who knows, it might be my mind playing tricks, it was a hot night and a great steel band.

By turning the internal fantasy into something that others can share in the form of stickers, is turning the dream of passion, into a tiny aesthetic sticker experience.

That is what lies at the heart of Emma Calder's Moody days. Making fun, attractive work, from quite tricky feelings and ideas.

Tuesday 29 December 2009

Stuck Stickers

When I started making and designing stickers after my second child was born, I wasn't working as much as I had formally and I found it quite hard to concentrate on developing film ideas.

The second small sheet of stickers that I designed and a set that did end up in “Emma Calder's Moody Days” was a sheet based on the idea of being stuck and was a silly little pun too. 

I remember sticking all these stickers all over the page and scribbling and rubber stamping quite aggressively. I did most of the sheet at home with my baby on my lap, while his sister worked on a sticker sheet for herself.

Sticker Art became an after school activity. Soon I had done several sheets and before long, I was out sticking them up and photographing them. But, I was quite shy and felt a bit funny sticking them all over the place myself. So I decided to make them into these little long thin hand made books and sell them, so other people could take over the process. 

Sticker books in their purpose built racks

Later the Tate Modern Shop bought them to go on sale along side their street art exhibition and then kept ordering them. But making them up by hand and sticking different stickers on each of the covers was time consuming and getting very tedious, so my agent showed them to Thames and Hudson, in the hope that we could do a more mass market version. The last of the current long thin books are still selling, now in Damien Hirst's shop, Other Criteria. 
Sticker books on display in Other Criteria

I did a total of around 800 of the books in six different designs. Every book has a different hand stuck cover and so soon complete books will become a rarity.

For Emma Calder's Moody Days Sticker Book I also created wrap around illustrations, these were mainly taken from notes and drawings in my sketch books that I have kept since I was a teenager. 

My Biba 1974 Diary age 14

Although these sketch books and diary's  were created when I was very young, I liked the spindly hand writing, written with a Rotring pen, so I based the hand writing style font, that I designed for the book on this kind of script.  

Note book 1979-1980

Some of the stuff from my old books is quite personal but, I remembered people queuing up at my degree show to read my sketch books. So I lifted quite a bit from this source. As I thought people do like that sort of heart wrenching stuff, because it reminds them of things they think and feel themselves.

Small part of a Moody days illustration page. Font is Emma Hand

Thursday 17 December 2009


This is the second week of my blog and today was quite a good one, as I just got the preview copy of Emma Calder's Moody Days. It looks just as I planned and the printing is pretty good. I was so lucky, to be able to design and draw every single element of my book including the type faces and the bar code. (Except I did steal one or two drawings from my children and popped them in here and there). It is rare these days to have the creative say on things, without the money people stepping in and trying to interfere. I have to thank all the people I was involved with at Thames and Hudson, for being so good to work with and professional. 

Apart from being excited, I am also a bit scared, as soon the book will be out there, exposed and ready to be taken home. But, back to the events and work leading up to Moody Days.

After I had my second child and both my parents had died, I became very ill and unable to work for a while. Having spent years making short animated films for people like the BBC and Channel Four and yet still struggling to get funding. I found myself in an impossible position, no time, no money to make films but, tons of ideas. I was deeply frustrated. I wanted my work out there, being seen, making a difference.

Southwark Street London 2005

One morning on the way to work, I was overcome by one idea, it just popped into my brain. “STICKERS”.
I was suddenly over come with all the possibilities.

Emma and Ged 1994. Photographs by Richard Keith Wolff

When I got to my old studio in Sly St, East London, I found some old address labels and I got started immediately. This was the studio that I used to share with fellow animator and co Pearly Oyster Productions founder Ged Haney.

These were the first sticker sheets that I did before I had really worked out what I was doing or why I was doing it. They used some of the button/sewing stuff pictures, that I had been making after my mothers best friend died and I'd inherited her button collection. 

Button Pictures 2004

Initially I had made the button pictures because, I had wanted to use up all the buttons, to dispose of them in an artistic fashion, but then I just started buying more and more lovely buttons. So that plan failed along with the film idea, which I never completed. 

These button pictures are not in Moody Days, but I did end up using three of my original pictures in the book. I won't show you those now as I don't want to spoil the surprize.

This little picture was made as a present for my partner, from an old regency buckle I bought on Bermondsey Market. It's a terrible joke!

More next week.

Saturday 12 December 2009

Moody One

Emma Calder's Moody Days Sticker Book, is the reason for starting this blog.The blog is dedicated to the book and how it came about.

Crossing the boundaries of art and commercial art in one. The book is about reconstructing narrative and visual threads, in a modern urban environment. It's about fragmented story telling and audience participation.

Emma Calder's Moody Days is a sticker book for anyone. It features four moods. Bad, Fun, Stuck and Love, each section has it's own hand drawn, removable stickers. 


The combination of art and ephemera is an interesting mix and appropriate in these days of throw away culture, multi tasking and channel hoping. Drawn and written by myself, an animator which makes the idea of stickers and multiples even more interesting I think.


To be honest Moody Days was a bit like an accident that was meant to happen, one day I started it and the next it was finished. Things rarely happen like that, but... compared to animation, books are fast.

I used a range of my previous work as a basis for the book, including writing and letters going back to when I was at college. I also incuded some of my original sticker sheets from my long thin hand made books.

Fingerprints 2004

This is the first of the small sticker sheets that I designed, each sticker is one of my fingerprints. I liked the idea of sticking these little stickers up  and putting my mark on things literally. Although I didn't include them in Moody Days, I did use the print idea for the cover and for the animated trailer.

Tate Modern Toliets 2005 

Over the next few weeks I plan to show you some of my sketch books, collages and things that got me started with this whole sticker project, and events leading up to Emma Calder's Moody Days Sticker Book. 

old college note book