Friday, 31 May 2013

Fashion Friday: MCQ by Alexander McQueen

MCQ by Alexander McQueen is a more urban, edgier and a bit cheaper version than the main fashion house. With camouflage, dragonfly prints, illustrated shirts, canvas bags, studs and stretch-knits these picks from the collection feel inspired by nature, materials and pattern. Here's a few of my faves:-

 - WOMQDS800002GRE




What MCQ would you pick?

Thursday, 30 May 2013

Summer on Skye: Kilmuir Cemetery

A visit to a cemetery isn't usually high on the list of things to see, but Kilmuir's is kind of special and not just for the well known people who rest within it. There's so many amazing stories of live lived to the full, that while being sad that they are gone, they can also teach us to live for the now as you never know when you'll have to leave.
View on the road to the cemetery

Flora Macdonald is a pretty big deal in Scotland having helped Bonnie Prince Charlie escape capture, disguising him as a spinning maid and helping him over the sea to Skye from Benbecula (cue the Skye Boat Song - I heard it being played the other day on bagpipes while cycling round Uig bay!) and she is buried in Kilmuir Cemetery. It's a huge monument and can be seen from far away, when approaching the cemetery.


She was born in South Uist and there's a nice quote about her on the memorial from Dr. Johnson who met her in 1773:-

"...a name that will be mentioned in history, and if courage and fidelity be virtues, mentioned with honour."

I love how a lot of cemetery's in Skye and the Outer Hebrides are located looking out to the sea. It's such a huge encompassing part of island life that you surely want to be near it in death, maybe to get the peace/energy/ from it?

One of the great stories in the cemetery is that of an unfinished headstone. A stone carver was in the middle of carving a headstone for a man's father (who was a remarkable piper and had easy manners!) who had passed away, when the man himself drowned in the Minch (bringing his cattle over) and the stone-carver knew he wouldn't get paid so he upped sticks and left it unfinished. I wonder what the ending was going to be....and the the (not the place for a typo!) melody of his fingers will.... live on I think!

 I liked how moss had taken over a lot of headstones, death doesn't mean gone forever, we're all recycled back into the earth's energy...

A Soldier and a Boulder - sadly the person was killed by a falling boulder on a Mountain, poignant reminder that while the wilderness is beautiful it can also destroy you, just like that. {so many tragic stories of people lost in the Highlands this year already (and there's been more since that article)}

 Beautiful stone carved lettering in latin, takes you back to another time.
 In/Out of the crypt

The Cemetery also has a memorial to Lee Alexander McQueen, the great fashion designer who was really proud of his Scottish roots (his dad was born on Skye) and there's a beautiful quote on it: 'Love looks not with the eyes, but with the mind'

 Old beside new
War Memorial

Thinking about death always comes with thinking about life and vice versa. We're the only species who knows we are going to die someday, and while it can seem difficult to comprehend it can also be empowering to the life we lead, if we let it.

Rest in Peace.

Wednesday, 29 May 2013

Recovering the Classics: Heart of Darkness


Recovering the Classics is a new project by Creative Action Network (the guys behind the great Design for Obama project) which encompasses 50 classic books which are all in the public domain, and while you can get them free through Project Gutenberg, the covers are pretty hideous, generic and boring. So designers and illustrators have been asked to create new, well-designed and exciting interpretations to put some visual life back into some well-loved classics, that perhaps you haven't got round to yet? (neither have I for most of them).

I was asked to create a cover, so I chose 'Heart of Darkness' by Joseph Conrad and it's just been released, you can buy it here as an ebook or a paperback (the Harvard Bookstore will print it for you!). My cover deals with how the evils of man can never be escaped in the mind, as Marlow finds out!


My cover was also featured on Huffington Post Books, Betabeat, Fast Company Design, paidContent, Publisher's Weekly, figment and Actua Litte (in french!) with articles promoting the project! along with the Creative Action Network emailer! Thanks :)


Submissions are now open to all so why not contribute your own?

Tuesday, 28 May 2013

Spoonflower Patterns

Have you heard of Spoonflower? Its a place where you can upload your own patterns for sale as fabric, wallpaper, decals and gift wrap. I've been having fun getting my head around repeats, copying, moving and transforming in illustrator, it's harder than it looks!

 Here's a few of my patterns, they aren't all for sale yet, (as you have to buy swatches to proof the designs) but you can get 'Whales, Dolphins & Narwhals' and 'Small Grey Flowers' which I created a couple of years ago. My 'Froggy Life' design was created for this weeks weekly contest they have, it's based on the frog's life cycle from frogspawn to tadpoles, tadpoles with legs and their final transformation: frogs! I'll be releasing the other designs and some new ones for sale soon, so watch this space!

The oyster catcher birds are from another project I'm completing which has involved screen-printing and embroidery which I'll be releasing soon!

Friday, 24 May 2013

Summer on Skye: Inverness to Kyle Train

I've had a few changes recently and I'm spending the summer on the Isle of Skye to refocus, work  and have some happy times, so no doubt I'll be posting a lot of photos here. The weather changes so rapidly here, it's wild out there one minute with unrelenting winds, pounding rain and you're freezing cold, the next it's too hot with bright sunshine and I'm getting sunburnt watching a gorgeous sunset and it's not called 'The Misty Isle' for nothing.

Here's a few photos from my journey from Chinley to Uig, which took a walk, bus, walk, 3 hour delayed plane, taxi, train, walk, bus and final car journey to get here! These photos were taken from the train from Inverness to Kyle of Lochalsh and as you can see the windows were really dirty but the views were breathtakingly beautiful. {I quite like the marks the dirt makes, it enhances that inside/outside feeling and makes them look quite painterly}

 Just what you need at a train station- a boat! Thanks Stromeferry!

 Love the two people beachcombing in red jackets, gives a great sense of scale

And here's a little series of opposite window photos:
 It's so exhilarating seeing wild, remote landscapes roll by with little human impact {apart from the trainline!}

What have you seen from train windows lately?