The creative leak

Yesterday a thought blasted like a horn through my foggy mind as I stood somewhere gaping at my phone and thumbing through pics and info:

This phone is making me stupid!

Then, softer, clearer: This behaviour is making me stupid.

Straight away I considered an extended break from teh socialz, particularly FB. But I am reluctant, because there are upsides to the place. I am glad to have excellent friends there. They post good links and quality lolz.

Then today I spotted this headline in a friend’s feed:

Drowning in a Sea of Information: A personal account and analysis of information overload

and immediately clicked because that’s what I mean. Too much information.

I wasn’t surprised to find that others are already considering our stupefying online behaviour. Digital information is affecting our thinking, and our eyes scan the printed page differently than a screen.

Spending so much time online (TEN! HOURS! A! DAY! according to this piece I flitted past) also has the potential to drain the well of creativity or certainly suck up a sizeable portion of time that could otherwise go to creative pursuits or the very important time doing nothing.

Creative thought happens when I’m in the moment (as they say), and rarely when I’m connected to a gadget. In other words, feeding your head (as Lewis Carroll didn’t quite say, but Grace Slick did) is not so much about reading every.single.thing. that you can get your eyes on, but about giving your mind time to wander.

Personally, I don’t feel I can concentrate the way I used to. I find it harder to sit still and focus for long periods of time. Sometimes, reading a book, I catch myself skimming left-hand pages and reading right-hand pages.

But I don’t think the phone has killed my creativity (yet), and I’m not swamped (yet) by idea debt…my lifelong need to draw has resurfaced lately and I’m happy to give it as much free time as I can. But that resurfacing could be a warning sign from deep in the brain: fix the creative leak. Feed your head.

There’s a site to help with that! I could take two minutes and start now.

Then, perhaps it’s time to consider a different approach to connected life.




Moar uke

So there’s lots of art in this blog, right. Why did I call it she plays ukulele?

It’s because–regardless of what I have done in my life, from living in other countries to drawing a lot to having kids to working various interesting jobs–when I meet new people (which happens often because of the lots of different things I like to do), my introduction almost inevitably includes the phrase “She plays the ukulele”. (Except for one friend, who always introduces me with the phrase “She got shouted at on the phone by Phil Spector!” Which is true, but another post.)

This info is apropos of the fact that I realised how little uke content is actually in my blog. So that needs fixing. Here’s me and Sailbad the Sinner busting out Elvis’s ode to tinned pineapple, “Beach Boy Blues”, at the Hillbilly Hoot last week. We are happier than we look, although it was a really cold night and I admit we do look downright grim.

Maybe we were sad that it’s not beach weather. Anyway, it’s always uke weather.

hillbilly hoot ukes

Cold night at the Hillbilly Hoot

Obligatory uke geek comment: I am not the uke collector that the man to my right is/was but I have a handful of em. This travel Kala gets the most outings. I almost always pack it along to the Hoot, even if I don’t think I’m going to play. It fits in well especially when the stage gets crowded. At which point people always go “That thing is so LOUD”. (Piccie by Ian Fisk)



True stories

In the movie of my life, here was this morning’s scene: I’m in the cafe getting my morning takeaway, in heels and black dress for work function later, and I realise as I wait that I’m the only woman in the place. And the cafe is like a casting call for good-looking hipster blokes aged 28-40 auditioning for…*something*. Soundtrack: a-ha, Take On Me. PS It appeared to be a comedy, as my coat was covered in cat hair.

Of course I felt compelled to storyboard it.

drawing of woman in cafe surrounded by hipsters

Strange/silly but true

I’m late, I’m late…

I’ve never tried drawing my dreams until now but this one was so vivid (in colour and memory upon waking) that I couldn’t resist.

I’d redraw it (without soluble ink! grrr!) and work a bit harder at my lettering if I had more time right now … So I took some time to clean up the comic and re-do the lettering digitally. And added colour, which looks much dodgier on my monitor at work than at home on my dodgy old iMac.

As always, a clean drawing is better than hours in Photoshop. Someday I’ll learn.


I dreamed I was a bridesmaid at a massive wedding…

The Rules


I made a zine out of a single sheet of paper today — you basically fold your page into quarters and quarters again, for 16 pages including a self cover, which is a form I could play with forever.

This one is called The Rules, because there are rules to how you build it. And that’s kind of what the text is about too. (We love a bit o’ self-referential art.)

What looks like the title is actually the first rule.

If you see me out and about, I’ll happily put one in your hot little hands, but there’s a catch: you have to construct it yourself. Feel free to bribe me to teach you. Or read the Rules for the Rules (aka instructions), below.

Those of you who aren’t going to run into me soon or are going “But I want it now” can download a copy. So here you go:

Here’s the tried-and-tested A4 version of The Rules.

I’ve tried to format it to US letter as well but I’m not sure if it will work.
(Maybe somebody in the US can have a go and get back to me on that.)

Catch: you still have to build it yourself. Plus print it out. Here’s how:

Rules for The Rules

  1. Download and print two-sided.
    NOTE: Print head-to-head so the top left of one side reads “What if nothing goes according to plan?” and when flipped, the other side begins “Sometimes you will find…” reading vertically.
  2. Fold in half horizontally. Unfold.
  3. Fold the top and bottom in to the centre fold. Unfold.
  4. Crease these three folds again in the opposite directions.
  5. With paper unfolded, repeat folding process vertically, including re-creasing everything.
  6. Unfold paper and find the side with the dotted line, which goes in a squared-off spiral.
  7. Tear carefully along the dotted line. Make sure not to go past the corners!
  9. Beginning with the page “Sometimes it is good to know what to expect before you begin.”, fold the pages back and forth til you get to one with the drawing, which is the front cover, and the one with the seven Xs, which is the back cover.
  10. Now you can read it. Maybe.

I’d love to know what you think!

picture of finished zine

Clear as mud?

The Salty River

I love a bit of visual metaphor—it’s one of the unique narrative possibilities open to the comics artist.  But it’s surprisingly rare. Lots of graphic novels, while well-drawn, read like illustrated scripts. Entertaining, but not making the most of the medium. 
But last week, I picked up The Salty River, an autobiography by German artist Jan Bauer, and it’s been a delight to read. Every panel, every page, is beautifully designed, and the images do things words alone can’t do to expand the story’s emotional boundaries.
Learn more at Twelve Panels Press (where you can find this preview image and more).

Page 5 from graphic novel The Salty River

Jan Bauer’s autobiographical graphic novel is about his trek through outback Australia in search of solitude