Monday 6 December 2010

Brixton Village

It's good to get ones work in shops locally and so I thought I let you know that Emma Calder's Moody Day Sticker Book, plus some of my small sticker books and my new childrens book Paper Angels are all selling in Circus, in Brixton Village. London.

Circus sells a mixture of vintage and artist driven products. It was their attractive decor that brought me into the shop and made me think that they could sell my stuff.

Brixton Village is in the old Granville Arcade, which recently had lots of empty shops transformed by artists and performers in an attempt to regenerate the market area. In fact I suggested this idea on some consultation form from Lambeth and they did it, but I am sure lots of people must have said the same thing. The artists all had a rent free period although not many could stay on after it was over. New cafes and shops have opened now. so it's still quite buzzy. It's a pity they couldn't have let the artists stay longer. But the vintage shops and Cafes are doing OK. Luckily for the Arcade it has recently been listed which is a relief, as we thought they were going to turn it into flats.

Thursday 18 November 2010

Emma Calder's Sticker Books at Other Criteria

I thought I let you know that my original hand made, Long Thin Sticker Books are now back in stock at Other Criteria in London's Marylebone. Several of the designs in the shop are not in Emma Calder's Moody Days Sticker Book, so if you want to collect more here's your chance, It's a lovely shop too, if you are in the area. 

Emma Calder's Hand

These books are great for going out and sticking up stickers and this one of the reasons I designed them this shape. Here is a picture of me just before a sticker outing.

One of the Other Criteria's favourites are my XXXmas Stickers which are getting very seasonal again. Here are a couple of Photos from a sticker outing last year.

XXXmas Sticker's Brixton 2009

Emma Calder's Santa Sticker Oxford Street 2009
Photos are welcome of my stickers, stuck up, if you find any in interesting places.

Tuesday 12 October 2010

Funday Stickers from Moody Days

When Jamie Camplin managing Director of Thames and Hudson, publisher of Emma Calder's Moody Days Sticker Book first discussed the book with me. He tentatively enquired if I could add another section to the themes I had already planned, one just a tiny bit more up beat, a set of happy stickers and illustrations.

He was by no means forceful, it was just a suggestion. I liked the idea, it seemed a real challenge. I had already done the Bad Day Stickers, Stuck and Love and all were a reflection of difficult times. It seemed a good idea for the balance of the book to cover a more optimistic frame of mind.

 The Funday title was a photograph of art on a balloon by Oliver aged six

But Happy......? Actually, I ended up calling the section Funday, well that was hard for me to get my head around. Mainly because, my personal work exists partly to cheer myself up through the process of writing, drawing, exploring all the thoughts and feelings that make me and others I know feel bad. So the end result is often tinged with sadness.

Maybe it's just me, maybe I am a very negative person most of my childhood memories in particular reflect this. Just because unfortunate things have happened, it doesn't mean that everything need always be bad. That is the great thing about having the confidence in oneself as a creative being. Because in that world you can make anything happen.

So taking Jamie's suggestion on board I racked my brain for moments of happiness. All my happy memories of recent years have been with my own children and partner, ironically.

Luckily, for one of the illustrations for the book, I found the perfect collage already done, on a page in one of my current sketchbooks.

So for the accompanying writing I wrote down the true story that had inspired me to do the collage in the first place. For those of you who haven't seen the book here it is. 

The first lollies Oli ever had, he carried
around with him all day unopened. He'd never
had a lolly before, because his mum was very
strict, usually. But today she had relented,
when the shop keeper offered them, for free.

He held them tight all day, not once asking
if he could open them, his mum was surprised.

When his big sister came home from
school, he went and sat down next to her on
the sofa. He told her quietly that he had
something for her and he gave her one of the
lollies. She helped him unwrap his, before she
unwrapped hers and then they sucked them
silently and happily together.

 As silently as it was possible to suck a lolly.


Also included in this blog is the photo of Oliver trying to touch stickers that I had just stuck up in the street and holding the very same lollies mentioned in the text. 

Oliver Elephant and Castle 2004

Thursday 16 September 2010

Bad Day Stickers by Emma Calder

The day I started to design the bad day stickers that ended up in Emma Calder's Moody Days sticker book, I was feeling really fed up. Also I was thinking about my father who had died some seven years earlier.

 Bad Day Stickers

This is the piece of writing that triggered the stickers off.

On Bad Days

On bad days I think of the saddest things like the day my father died for instance. (I also think of my own mortality.)

I had been sitting in the hospital for about four hours my father had very bad pneumonia and couldn't breath without an oxygen mask. He hadn't spoken once but, then he said, “I feel so sad.” Those were almost his last words.

Then the nurse came and asked me if I wanted the priest to come. I didn't know what to do, so I said: “Yes” even though we were not religious.

The priest stood by my father and my father opened his eyes and said, “Oh fuck.”
And those really were his last words. I knew then that getting the priest had been wrong.

Two hours later he was dead it was exactly 9.20pm.

Later I slept.
I began to fall
and fall.

Then a dull thud.

He had landed somewhere.

When I woke up, I went out to the shopping centre.
Somehow I did what I did.
But it was odd, my feet didn't touch the ground and my head was up to the roof.

Floating home out of my body.
Then to the hospital to pick up his things.
The grey plastic bag with his shoes, wrist watch and old clothes.

I know it's still down the garage somewhere.

Orginally the bad day stickers were cut up to make a long thin book, that is partly why the woman featured was so long and thin, but it was also to reflect the strange feeling of tallness I felt after my father died.
 Bad Day Woman

Friday 10 September 2010

Google Me

It's been a long Summer Holiday and I am just getting back into work, even though one child is not even back at school yet (due to the rebuild of the once iconic Pimlico School) and the other is ill and off school. 

As I try to pick up the threads of what I was working on before the holidays, I have been going through my notes and ideas for stories. Flicking through my file, I came across the piece of writing that inspired the cover of Emma Calder's Moody Day Sticker Book and also one of the other illustrations featured in the book.

Emma Calder's Moody Days in Foyles April 2010

Black Paper

A large piece of black paper dropped in front of her face.

The tears pushed towards her eyes.
A pain spread down her throat.
She felt sick and desperate.
Her head buzzed and buzzed.
The room became smaller.
The windows had gone.

She walked from wall to wall, up and down.
A trickle of brightness came from nowhere.
Dust particles danced in the light.

Now I am grown up I google myself all day long

Thursday 22 July 2010

Coco Cripps Graffiti

I have been bad at adding to this blog recently since finishing Emma Calder's Moody Days and have been so busy working on new stuff, that I have had no spare time. But yesterday morning, I was so distracted that I went and stood by my fourteen year old daughter, as she sprayed her first graffiti stencil in the Skatepark in Stockwell. 

 Coco spraying in Stockwell Skatepark

Her work is so good already but, what is the future for the young creative artist now, even less opportunties now, than before. Less places at colleges high fees, student loans jobs!

 Tree Kiss by Coco Cripps

I do have a new book coming out soon, so I shouldn't be gloomy, Paper Angels published by Bloomsbury, 4th October 2010. There are always ways to get work out there if you don't get too fed up with the effort. Doing the stickers were one way for me and now Coco with her graffiti.

 The opening page from Paper Angels by Emma Calder


Wednesday 16 June 2010

Emily The Inventor

Emily The Inventor by Emma Calder

When I was digging through old stuff, I found my first ever attempt at a children's book 'Emily the Inventor', which I wrote when I was thirteen. It was a story about a little girl, who hated doing things and was very lazy. She invented loads of gadgets to save her the bother, unfortunately she got very fat, so she chucked them all away and wrote a book instead. It was very before it's time, or maybe not. People were very aware in the sixties and seventies about environmental/ consumerist issues.

They just forgot it all in the eighties.

I never did anything about getting it published, I suppose I thought it was too scrappy looking. Or I had just moved onto other things and thought I could do better. The story of my life...

So before I forget, if you haven't seen a copy of Emma Calder's Moody Days Sticker Book yet, please check it out. 

Monday 24 May 2010

Jon's 50th Birthday Card

It was my birthday recently and one of my best friends the day before. His party was on my actual birthday and I wanted to make him a card, I never buy cards, ever. But, that day I was feeling birthday moody and lazy. I spoke to a friend about doing the card and she said. 'Just do it, enjoy it and forget about all the other stuff you should be doing. By the end of the afternoon you will have invented a new style for a book or something.' The day before as my birthday treat, I had sneaked off to Spitialfields Market in the East End of London and bought two fantastic vintage stencil kits, so I put them to good use. Here is Jon's card.


Saturday 1 May 2010

The Young Graphic Designer

When I was fourteen, the age daughter is now, I decided I would become a Graphic Designer, mainly because I liked the idea of doing art that was out there, visible in the world. 

Self Portrait age 14

From my second attempt at book illustration. My 1st Alphabet book. B is for Bird about age 14

I was reminded of one of my first proper Graphic Design jobs, by a friend, who came along to my Moody Launch. He had commissioned me to do a series of posters and leaflets in 1984 when he was working for Camden Tribunal and Rights, an organisation set up to help people who had lost their jobs unfairly. He hadn't seen any of my graphic work for a long time and he was struck by my use of collage cropping up again, after so many years, in Emma Calder's Moody Days Sticker Book.

 The first poster for Camden Tribunal and Rights

Camden Tribunal also commissioned me to make a Christmas card for them, to send to Margaret Thatcher. Unfortunately I never got round to developing the pictures of the card being delivered. I do have the film some where though. Margaret Thatcher was out, funnily enough but, we gave it to a nice policeman, in those days you could go right up to the front door of number ten. I thought I'd put this in the blog, not because it is a great piece but, more as a salute to the good old days. In case people have forgotten. 

The card said:

'Merry Christmas and thanks for nothing from the people of Camden.'

Emma Calder holding the Christmas Card to Margaret Thatcher
 The inside of the card signed by the people of Camden

Thursday 8 April 2010

Emma Calder's Moody Days Sticker Book Launch

Two weeks has past since the launch of Emma Calder's Moody Days Sticker Book. 

 Emma Calder signing books
The evening went really well, all a bit of a whirl and it was great that so many old friends turned up.

For the event at Beaconsfield, I put a lot of effort into framing up some of the original artwork from the book and a selection of work that started me off on the whole sticker thing. 
Some of the work on display at the launch

One person has offered to swop an original Banksy for one of my pictures, of course I said, “depends which one”, my daughter said “you are joking, didn't you think, swop yours and sell the Banksy,” of course not, that hadn't occurred to me, Oh well, that's why we have children.

 Collage made from stuff I dug out of our back garden

As I said in an earlier blog, it was doing the button pictures, that began it all and then trying to find a vehicle to somehow show the world what I had done. The stickers were my mini gallery and luckily for me, it came off as a way of getting my work seen. Resulting in Thames and Hudson asking me to do a book, which I never expected.

 One of the long thin sticker books on display at Beaconsfield

Having ones work in shops all over the world means, that plan A worked (The work is out there), the outcome of plan B is yet unknown, will any one actually buy it, or take it down from the shelf! 

 Emma Calder proudly holding book at launch, photo needed a little help

Thursday 11 March 2010

In the Shops

My book is finally out in the shops and I am sorry that I have neglected this blog for a few weeks but, I have been busy finishing off a children's book. Paper Angels for Bloomsberry which will be published on October 4th 2010. 

Also I have been writing a proposal for a film submission, which I so hope to get funded, but I have to keep that numb feeling going in my head when it comes to expectations and concentrate again on Emma Calder's Moody Days Sticker book. As this Friday 19th March 6.30 - 8.00pm is my London book launch and signing at Beaconsfield art space in Vauxhall. If you are interested in attending please email Maudie Gunzi at Thames & Hudson to be put on the RSVP list.

Moody Days is dedicated To all the friends I never see any more...

And today, one of them rang me up from Australia, because he had just been walking down the street in Melbourne and in the window of a trendy little bookshop was my book. He was very impressed, went inside the shop and asked to see the book. It was shrinked wrapped, so as he is a very shy person he didn't dare ask the shop to unwrap it and as he hasn't sufficient funds at present to buy the book, he was unable to look inside and see that the book is actually dedicated to him. I was so pleased to chat to him on the phone, I forgot to tell him.

And here is the illustration that ironically inspired me to to do the dedication, which just goes to show how different days and different moods can transform ones attitude totally.

I know I was feeling very bad about one old friend the day I did this.

Friday 5 February 2010

The lost generation

Today I woke up and my daughter came into my bedroom and exclaimed. “You know most of my friends can't even sew a button on!”

And I thought of this button picture that I did back in 2005. It just made me think of her friends. The lost generation (at least when it comes to buttons), the result of their parents success. 


At least my daughter can sew buttons on really well. And mine too.

another button picture from 2005

What is it with people, too lazy to cook, or even sew, or mend stuff. The throw away culture. 

Two stickers from my 2008 XXXmas Sticker Book. On the theme of toooo to much.



Here is an illustration that nearly made Emma Calder's Moody Days Sticker Book, but didn't.

Don't forget it's valentines day next week. As if you could. 

Wednesday 20 January 2010

Emma Calder's Collages

Carrying on from the last Emma Calder's Moody Days Blog on the subject of collages. Here is one I did for Moody Days.

Now back to the history bit, on how the style has developed and changed over the years. 

And one from about 1968.

I set up my first studio with college friends in November 1983, in an old de-lousing centre at the Elephant and Castle. I can remember the first week sitting in the freezing cold studio with no commercial work and we had to think of ideas for projects to do. 

Emma Calder and Ged Haney South London Press September 14th 1984

As we really didn't know where to start, another studio member suggested that Ged Haney and I start making a picture library for the studio. We brought in hundreds of old Sunday supplements, started to cut out all the pictures and filing them. After a few days I'd had enough of this activity full time, so I started making lots and lots of little collages out of the remaining pictures in the magazines. I wasn't exactly sure where the pictures would lead but, as I was planning to get work as an illustrator, I used the collages to build a new portfolio.

Detail of scrap/recycled letterhead the other side had a collage on it

One character produced in those first few weeks was a fish lady, it ended up being used for our company Pearly Oyster's logo, six years later and I still use it today. Don't know what happened to her friend though.

Some of the other collages I produced in those first weeks, were these hoover women, which triggered the idea for my animated film Springfield. 


Matt Forest a pop video director from “Big Features”, had seen some of my line tests for Springfield and he asked me to put her in a pop video for the Art of noise, “Close to the Edit” that he was doing. I didn't want to use Springfield for a commercial job, so I suggested that he let me do a sequence based on some of my collage illustrations. 

 Still from Springfield 1986
 Still from Springfield 1986

Luckily for me I was the first animator to have their stuff ready to shoot and Matt told me to begin filming immediately, do as much as I could and what ever I fancied. Those were the days, I did cut out animation (moving paper cut-outs under a rostrum camera) and all I had to do was make sure that what ever I did, fitted with the soundtrack. As you can see my bit used knives, forks and spoons, but why? I can't remember now.

 Close to The Edit Pop Promo. Band The Art of Noise. Sequence by Emma Calder

It was a really well paid footage rate and they used twenty five seconds of my stuff and I shot it all in about six hours, I was very pleased, as I orginally had been only asked to do ten seconds. It was a excellent pop video, lots of talented designers and animators worked on it and it had a cinema release too. You can watch it on you tube. Everyone else was pissed off though, as they all worked solidily for two weeks night and day and most ended up getting paid less than me. I think the money was running out towards the end and not everybody's work got used. Something like that.

Tuesday 19 January 2010

Emma Calder's Different Art forms

Collage is the medium for Emma Calder's Moody Days Sticker Book. The illustrations are a mixture of small stickers stuck on, or bits of pencil drawing, watercolour, photographs, scanned images, rubber stamp printing etc...

Like this image for the Stuck section of Moody Days, which was made with rubber stamps and drawings on tiny stickers.  

And this one from the title page. (Every sticker is a different face but it didn't take long too do, just mad sticker frenzy!)

When I was searching through old portfollios for this blog, I came across this drawing I did at five or six years old and I thought it was strickingly similar to the Spots above. Even though I hadn't seen it for over thirty years.

Over my career I have used many different artforms for my animation, instillations and graphic work, from motorised sculptures to jewellery design but, my favourite has always been collage. 

 Grandma's knitted tie and hangman earrings 1978

So for this week and the next few weeks blog, I am going to show you some of my old collage illustrations from the days before Photoshop was invented. These designs show partly the evolution of the sticker style in Moody Days.

One example of my student montage work is this poster for the Royal College of Art M.A Degree show in 1983. 

Each character included in the poster was a collage of different students work, from different departments in the college. 
I was quite naughty because, before checking with anyone, I found the technician who was printing up photographs of student work for the degree show catalogue, asked him for all the reject prints and also got others out of the bin. 
Back in the graphics studio, I cut them up, drew into them, photocopied and then coloured them. 

 Emma Calder in the Graphics Studio at the R.C.A 1983.

After I had done the artwork, I tracked down students whose work I had used and got their permission. I accidentally forgot to tell one person and when he saw the printed poster he got very annoyed. I had used a piece of his product design, for the head of one of my characters. He did forgive me luckily. Trouble is, if I had asked everyone in advance, people might  have said no, or grumbled if their work was not included. You have to take chances in life sometimes.

 Emma Calder with Paul Javis and Stuart Jane in the Graphics Studio at the R.C.A 1983