Wuzzles T-Shirt

I can’t remember quite what jogged my memory of the Wuzzles, all I know is that a frantic googling of ‘Bumblelion’ secured my decision to pay homage to this awesome Disney creation.

The wiki article is brilliant: “Wuzzles features a variety of short, rounded animal characters (each called a Wuzzle, which means to mix up). Each is a roughly even, and colorful, mix of two different animal species (as the theme song mentions, “livin’ with a split personality”), and all the characters sport wings on their backs, although only Bumblelion and Butterbear are seemingly capable of flight. All of the Wuzzles live on the Isle of Wuz.” 

How was this not a winning formula? It was cancelled after 13 episodes, the shortest running Disney animated series ever.

 

A Tasty Evening with Johnny Cupcakes

If you don’t know who or what Johnny Cupcakes is: GO HERE NOW.

Now that that’s out of the way, I can tell you about this magical evening he hosted in London that I attended. The idea behind it (other than a little self promotion) was to give advice to and motivate those interested in starting small businesses, and to let us in on how he got to where he is today. I think this is exactly what young entrepreneurs, be it in design, illustration, music or anything, need right now. It is damn hard to find work right now, but there are always opportunities for business if you know what you want and will work hard for it. As this talk fell on my first day fresh from quitting my stable and damn near perfect job at Yellow Digital to try out how far I get freelancing and building Catillest, Johnny’s words couldn’t have been more useful.

He began with probably the driving command that contributed to my latest career move.

Do what makes you happy. I came across the documentary Anima a little while back and so much made me shiver with how right it was. This was one of the golden brain nuggets that came from that too, and I haven’t forgotten it since. If you can make it happen, make it happen.

Which is pretty much Johnny’s next point – this guy does not shy away from hard work. From shovelling snow to selling whoopie cushions, he is a natural salesman and doesn’t quit whether he’s been knocked down or when he can afford a new pair of trainers. I suppose I was at a relatively content point with my last job, but there is still so much more I want to do, and (in the words of Johnny) ‘if you don’t do it, someone else will’. And this cat ain’t gonna let that happen.

He also gave a load of practical advice:

• Can’t afford to make a load of products? Take pre-orders

• Offer an incentive, a gift for pre-orders, a discount etc

• Have a real sample product, get people interested in that

• Talk to people, socialise and network – and floss (so American…)

• If it’s worth doing it, do it right – packaging. People should want to save your packaging (think shoe boxes, anything Apple, and even Happy Meal boxes which are half the fun of getting a McD’s – and don’t cause the stomach brick) Just look at some of this:

Johnny Cupcakes packaging

Johnny also stressed the point of individuality, which I really appreciate. What separates you? He suggested making a list of 10 things that make you stand out from the crowd. Here’s mine:

1. Catillest cat

catillest cat

2. Handmade jewellery with toy pendants

3. Blog covering London, inspiring art & design, and personal projects

4. Stickers for business cards

5. A-Z of zines

6. Customised footwear you can afford

7. A font for all seasons (well, Spring so far)

8. Red hair

9. Not just designer, but builder of websites

10. Mastermind subject: The Simpsons

Ok, list needs some work. But still. Johnny Cupcakes was definitely an inspiring and motivational speaker. I think if I had heard this (much like what he said) at school or university, things could have progressed quicker. But in reality, much of the advice given tonight is true for anyone regardless of how far on in their career/business they are.

Image sources: Shillington, DIY Design Fanatic,  Miss Design

Graphic Novels and Novel Graphics

I’m not going I know the first thing about graphic novels, other than when I go to somewhere like Gosh or NoBrow I want to spend my life savings on the things. I actually stumbled across two of these whilst scoping out my local library (well, local to work). I’m like a library junkie now. Members of Harringey, Westminster and Camden libraries. Anyway, Holborn library isn’t quite the artistic agglomeration that Westminster Reference Library is, but I did spy a nifty shelf of graphic novels. It was even more appealing because there was a guy drawing on a table right beside it, what looked to be a comic. Yes I stood behind him and stared. Real inconspicuous like.

Aaaanyway. One book that attracted me, not only for it’s golden cover, but also for it’s author. I’m ashamed of this fact but I have never read anything by Neil Gaiman. I hear he write good. Oh and the pictures. Yoshitaka Amano, who I also feel ‘WHERE-AV-U-BIN-ALL-MY-LYF’ about, pushes the book into the realm of masterpieces. Each page feels different; some are dark and terrifying, others are glowing and ethereal, and some are explosions of colour. It’s all beautiful and carries you through Gaiman’s words. No imagination needed, it’s all there on the page.

The Sandman comic book series spanned from 1989–1996 and The Dream Hunters is more of a spin-off, in which Gaiman has created his own eastern myth. I recommend you try and find it, even just to look at it’s amazing cover in it’s golden glory (my iPhone hasn’t exactly done it justice).

Sandman: The Dream Hunters by Neil Gaiman (Illustrations by Yoshitaka Amano)

gaiman cover

gaiman inner pages

gaiman inner pages

gaiman inner pages

Next up I spotted this, which equally stood out because of it’s cover. Always judge a book by it’s cover. I haven’t been able to find anything more out about the author/illustrator William Goldsmith, but I do know he’s one to watch out for. I did find this vid, in which he talks about his fictional land of Ystov. This book is funny, charming and with Goldsmiths painted, folksy style; very beautiful. I love how a good illustrator (and writers of course) have the ability to conjure up new places that don’t exist and show them as though they were real. It’s generous and kind; like sharing something very precious.

Vignettes of Ystov by William Goldsmith

Goldsmith cover

Goldsmith cover

Goldsmith inner

This one was not a library find – yes, I actually purchased a book I can have forever. I spotted this in the (extensive) graphic novel (or ‘alternative’) section in Foyles. Lucy Knisley is a girl I can relate to. Or more accurately, aspire to relate to. She has her fingers in many proverbial pies, and pours her heart into all of them. Songs, animations, puppets, books and of course the illustration. Lordy. Makes me feel like a one-trick pony. Which is an out-dated phrase (and harsh on that original pony) so I really feel like a garlic crusher. So French Milk is about Knisley’s month in Paris, and it is a wonderfully personal, funny and unique take on a travelogue. I plan to attempt something similar in one week, when I embark on my 3-week stint in Japan. Hopefully I can do it as much justice as Lucy did Paris.

French Milk by Lucy Knisley

Origami Mobile

I’ve recently been on quite an origami kick. Can’t get enough of it, papercuts aside. But what to do with an ever growing pile of paper cranes and the odd rabbit?
20130224-133731.jpg

Yes, I made an origami mobile from twigs (spray-painted gold), beads, ribbons and my menagerie of paper.

Why Otters Are Orsome

Inspired by a BBC documentary about giant sea otters, I couldn’t resist drawing an ode to the brilliant little creatures. They’re playful, smart, cute and otterly orsome…

otter poster

Otter studies:

otter studies

Lincoln’s Inn Fields

Lincoln’s Inn Fields is one of the best places I’ve discovered since working in London. Our office was based just of Long Acre, so bustling Covent Garden wasn’t always my top choice when I wanted a more relaxing lunch break. A short walk down Great Queen Street and across the hellish Kingsway would take me swiftly to this green haven, surrounded by grand old buildings and a quiet one-way street. Quiet by London terms anyway. According to wiki, it’s London’s largest public square. So, regardless of how busy it gets in ice cream season, I’ve always been able to find a patch with a decent sized radius free from other office douches.

But what to do in the majority of the year, when eating your M&S triangles of mayonnaise with a dash of bread, cannot be done comfortably outside? Well. Firstly you have Sir John Soane’s museum. Open to the public since the early 19th Century, this museum is a treasure trove of ancient goodies. From Egypt to Italy, from parchment to pewter, there’s plenty to keep you entertained on an icy lunchtime. Or you could queue for an unreasonable length of time in the evening, when the museum opens for a late night candlelit tour each month. I would truly ove to do this but so far my patience (or lack of) hasn’t allowed me to.

Next stop, is across the square to the Hunterian Museum. As you may or may not already know, I’m a huge fan of the Wellcome Collection – ie. science-based collections of oddities, and the Hunterian Museum has that in spades. It really is rammed with unimaginably bizarre specimens, some up to 200 years old. Here are some of the snaps I got before I was told to put the phone away:

 

They found ET

Mousey insides

Cthulhu

Duck head

Dino bird

Dog in a jar

 

Mandalas

I thought I didn’t know what a Mandala was until the other day. In actual fact, I’ve known of the concept of one for a long time. These come in many forms and they can symbolise so much. If you don’t think you know what a Mandala is, let me attempt to explain.

Definitions:

Sanskrit, “magic circle.” An archetypal image representing contact with, or a presentiment of, the Self. The basic mandala is a circle with a square or other fourfold structure superimposed. Source.

It represents wholeness, and can be seen as a model for the organisational structure of life itself–a cosmic diagram that reminds us of our relation to the infinite, the world that extends both beyond and within our bodies and minds. Source.

The reason I say I’ve known about them, or atleast the concept, for longer is because of where I’ve seen them before. Take the Celtic Cross as an example. The part that forms the vertical axis of the cross represents the heavenly world; the horizontal representing the earthly world. Together, they unite for eternal life.

More ancient than the Tibetan mandala is the Native American’s medicine wheel, coming from the shaman people. They used the healing power that is believed to come from the circle in their medicine wheels. One interpretation of the medicine wheel mandala is how it represents the human mind. Each section of the wheel corresponds to a part of the brain, so north relates to the frontal lobe, south the rear lobe and so on. The centre represents the subconscious mind. Another form of mandala is the Native American sandpainting. These must be made with such perfect precision in order to be useful, and once complete are washed away with water. I love that this happens – the transience of them despite the hard work that goes into creating them seems to make the process all the more important and rewarding.

Medicine wheel

Image source

The Tibetan Buddhist sand mandalas are very similar. A monk will begin his mandala at the start of their journey to enlightenment, and it will grow as the monk does. Once completed it too gets returned to the earth by being washed away by water. Throughout its life, the mandala is meditated upon: each part of it represents some nugget of wisdom which guides the meditator. This site has a great explanation of the process of making one.

Image source

What surprised me in my mandala research is the psychologist and psychiatrist Carl Jung’s interest in them. He saw them as basic patterns for our dream state and fantasy life through “formation, transformation, eternal mind and eternal creation” (source). Like the Native American medicine wheel, the centre of Jung’s mandala represents the centre of ourselves. This quote from him seems to sum it up nicely: “I saw that everything, all paths I had been following, all steps I had taken, were leading back to a single point — namely, to the mid-point. It became increasingly plain to me that the mandala is the centre. It is the exponent of all paths. It is the path to the centre, to individuation. … I knew that in finding the mandala as an expression of the self I had attained what was for me the ultimate.”

Source: Mandala Symbolism, CG Jung (1973)

Of course now I want to create my own. I don’t think these are hard and fast rules but the classic features of a Buddhist Mandala are:

The Circles

There are four circles, which act as barriers that must be overcome in order to reach enlightenment.

1. The Fire of Wisdom: the outermost circle which is made up of purifying fire.

2. The Vajra Circle: the vajra is a male symbol, representing either a thunderbolt or diamond. (Just so you know, the bell is the female symbol – I think the ‘yin’ to the vajra’s ‘yang’) The crossing of this circle requires strength and fearlessness.

3. Tombs: There are eight tombs, symbolising the eight states of consciousness a person must go beyond. (These are being conscious of sight, sound, taste, smell, the body, the ego and the id).

4. The Lotus Circle: The lotus expresses the open state of devotion, which is needed to enter the palace.

The Centre

So after going through these circles what do you get to? Better be worth it… Oh it is! It’s the Buddha of course. Surrounded by 8 other subpar Buddhas, in a pleasing lotus-like formation.

I should probably stop attempting to explain my understanding of these fascinating things and just let the rest of the internet do the job.

 

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