Review: Low Tech Print & Walk the Line [GIVEAWAY!]

Low Tech Print

Low Tech Print

Low Tech Print

LOW TECH PRINT

By Caspar Williamson / Softcover / 224 pages

There is always something intangible that jumps right out at you when you’re looking at something that’s printed by hand – and I’m not talking about the results of moving one’s cursor across the screen through the mouse. No. I’m talking about those that need an apron to keep the stains away, where paint gets deep under your fingernail and where the term “registration” isn’t about signing up for something online.

Low Tech Printscours the studios, artists and designers who are currently making contemporary hand-made printing hip again. The book captures the subtleties offered by printmaking in its full glory through generous spreads that contain not just the finished products, but also the process that goes behind them.

Divided into four different sections: screenprinting, letterpress, relief printing and other printing methods, the book is a visual feast of hand printed goodness of the best kind. Not only does it introduce you to lots of inspiring work done by current top designers and studios – it invites you to join in, first through its history and then a simplified guide to each printing process. Available on Amazon.

Walk the Line

Walk the Line

Walk the LineWALK THE LINE – THE ART OF DRAWING

Ana Ibarra & Marc Valli / Hardcover / 320 pages

To tell you the truth, I’ve always been a little skeptical of the pencil. I think it has something to do with looking at a large amount of student work who uses the medium as a starting point, but never quite venturing very far with it. Heck, I’m guilty of that myself! But a flip through Walk the Line has changed my mind – and my perception – of what a pencil and an artist that wields it can do.

The book is an interesting mix and match of styles and techniques – whether it’s exploration of skills through pencil or charcoal, or how some of the artists have managed to turn other mediums (like watercolor and even chalk) to resemble works made by another medium; it’s an interesting browse into the subject of drawing. What I loved too was the brief but insightful interviews with each individual artists that sheds a light onto their processes and technique.

The subject of realism is touched upon here too – as a lot of drawing tends to stem towards capturing the essence of “real” things. While I’m not a fan of realism, the drawings that did capture my attention were the ones that detailed out imaginary landscapes and creatures, of objects and stories – things that could have just stayed in an artist’s imagination – but instead were brought to life via drawings. It’s a great book for artists who’s obsessed about pencil! Available via Amazon.

PIKALAND X LAURENCE KING PUBLISHING GIVEAWAY

Here comes the best part! Laurence King Publishing is giving away a copy each of the books above to two lucky Pikaland readers! All you have to do is to leave a comment on which book you’d like and why. Easy peasy! The giveaway is open from now till next week (3rd of April) to anyone, anywhere; so hop on over to the comments to join in!

Winners will be announced on this post and also be contacted via email.

** The giveaway winners are: Kristin for Low Tech Print & Alessandra for Walk the Line – I’ll be in touch via email! Thanks so much for entering the giveaway folks!**

Both winners were generated via random.org – I deleted multiple submissions and then organized the commenters by the time they submitted their entry!

 

Review: Lighter than my shadow

Lighter than my shadow by Katie Green

Have you ever been in a situation where you had a friend tell you a secret? A secret that they’ve been carrying all this while; one that has deeply affected them – but you had no idea before?

Lighter Than My Shadow (Amazon UK) is Katie Green’s first graphic novel – a tale of struggle and recovery; of abuse, betrayal and awakening. I’ve known Katie online for several years now and while I knew she was working on her first graphic novel about her eating disorder – I didn’t anticipate the range of emotions that bore into me as I turned each page. All 500 of it. I was curious, confused, shocked, angry – some of them all coming together in a flurry of emotions that caught me off guard as I devoured it in one sitting. It was beautiful, uplifting, and most importantly – incredibly brave of her to put her story out into the world.

I sat down with her over virtual tea for a bit of a chat about her book, and about her progress so far:

Katie Green; photograph by Chris Bertram

Image by Chris Bertram

Hello Katie! Can you tell us about the book, and why and how it came to be?

When I was first diagnosed with anorexia I went searching for a book that would tell me how to get better. I wanted all the answers and I wanted to do it right. I wanted a step-by-step guide, and I was disappointed not to find it anywhere. Every book I picked up seemed to tell me that I’d be fighting this illness at the back of my mind for the rest of my life, or that recovery was simple: all I needed to do was think positive and snap out of it. I wanted to write a book that was different. Honest about how hard it is, but still hopeful and encouraging that it can and does get better. It was always going to be a prose book until I discovered graphic novels in my early twenties – where had they been all my life?! I fell in love immediately with the language of words and pictures, and knew it was the ideal medium to express the story I wanted to tell.

What emotions did you go through as the book progressed? 

There were so many! It dragged up a lot of stuff that I thought I’d left firmly behind me in the past, so it was very emotional to be reminded of some of the most difficult times in my life. I had to really go back there, feel all those emotions again in order to tell the story well. Some days it was hard just to keep myself sitting at the desk – it was as though my brain was trying to protect me by avoiding confronting those things.

Also, interestingly, my understanding of recovery changed throughout the course of working on the book. The result was that I didn’t produce the step-by-step guide I’d always wanted. I came to understand why no such thing existed, and it drastically changed the story I was telling. It made me question everything about my recovery, my artwork, my life. It got a bit rough at times, but I think it made the book better, more honest, more real.

It was hard, but it was also immensely satisfying. Making comics is a lot about problem solving, and being something of a workaholic I kind of loved knuckling down day after day, month after month towards finishing this tome I’d been imagining for so long.

And how did you feel when you saw it on the bookshelves for the very first time?

I still don’t feel as though it’s real! It’s very strange. Even though I’ve had book launches and given talks, been on the radio and in the national newspaper, I still can’t really believe I’ve actually finished it.

How long in total did you work on the book? 

Formally, after signing the contract with Jonathan Cape a little over 3 years, but I had worked on it as a degree project before that and as a personal side project before that. From idea to publication was about 12 years, but in terms of full-time work probably about 5.

How has the response been so far?

I’m finding it all quite hard to take in actually. The reviews have been extremely complimentary, but more importantly than that I’ve been quite overwhelmed by responses from people who’ve been through similar experiences, or have friends or family who have, and have found the book insightful or encouraging, or just resonant with their own stories. To know that through sharing my story I’m reaching out to other people, well, that’s incredible.

Has the book affected your recovery in any way? While I understand that it’s an ongoing process, how are you doing these days?

I worried during the writing process that reliving the past to that extent would set me back in my recovery. My therapist has confessed she worried at one point that my unhealthy patterns around food might be returning, but thankfully they didn’t. The thoughts cropped up occasionally, but I was always able to choose not to act on them. If anything, revisiting it all in the book reminded me – or perhaps taught me – how close it all still is. While my daily life is no longer affected by my illness, and I don’t have to keep constant vigilance over my own mind, I am aware that those obsessive thought patterns are still there and always will be: they are part of who I am. Likewise though I no longer suffer so intensely with flashbacks and the after-effects of the abuse, it is still part of my story: writing it down did not make it go away.

I’m learning that when I remain aware I can direct my obsessive tendencies towards less destructive things. They can become an asset as well as a weakness. They were certainly helpful in disciplining myself to draw a 500 page book! You’re right when you say it’s an ongoing process, but it is thankfully no longer a fight, more of a curious enquiry. I’m always striving for balance, and never quite getting it right. But then seen as my struggle was a lot about striving for perfection, perhaps not getting it right is in fact as right as it gets.

What’s next for you?

Right now I’m actually enjoying a well-earned rest, although it’s been a few weeks and I can feel an itch in my drawing hand for sure. I’m looking forward to returning to my regular project, the Green Bean zine, which I’ve been self-publishing every few months for almost four years now. Aside from that, I don’t really know, but I’m quite excited to see what might evolve in the giant book-shaped space in the middle of my life.

For readers who are interested to tell their own story through a graphic novel, what advice would you give them?

Don’t wait for everything to be perfect. Don’t tell yourself “I’ll start when I’m a good enough illustrator, a good enough writer…”. Start! Make a rubbish first draft, get angry with yourself and throw it away, but learn from what you hated about it and draft again. And again. And again.

Then stop about three versions before you’re completely happy (a deadline helps with this bit).

 Thanks so much Katie!

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To read more about Katie’s book and to get a 24-page preview of the book, head on to her website – http://lighterthanmyshadow.com; and if you’d like more information about Katie’s work, here’s the link to her personal website: http://www.katiegreen.co.uk/.

So you want to start a magazine? [YCN magazine review]

I remember the thrill of being a magazine editor, just before I left the publishing arena a little more than 6 years back. The seemingly never-ending work of changing paginations and shuffling of ad space to make everyone happy. The swoosh one feels as time ticked closer to signing-off time, and when deadlines were looming so quick the only way to slow down time was to focus on the task at hand.

So when I saw the first issue of YCN’s magazine – given out as part of a subscription in their latest new membership site, it brought back memories. Very specific memories of that harried time of printing presses and multiple edits.

The theme of their inaugural issue was about magazines – specifically, the publishing of independent titles. With a very meaty 10-point-plan into staking your very own corner in magazine publishing by none other than Jeremy Leslie (who runs the fabulous Magculture blog), the magazine is off to a sprinting start. This is then followed closely by a look at some independent publishers (I was thrilled to see some of my favorites like Wrap, Oh Comely and Anorak profiled), along with words of wisdom garnered along their journey; and as their spotlight into magazine publishing progressed, a couple more articles on the oftentimes perilous world of publishing wrapped it all up thoughtfully.

The magazine then moves on to profile some interesting individuals and their enterprises – with a firm nod to beginnings. I particularly enjoyed the article on Charles Olive who designed his first tie collection with Microsoft Excel (because he didn’t know how to do it any other way.)

A section dedicated to travel is in the magazine’s second section (there’s 4 main ones altogether), where the focus is on Antwerp, Belgium. The third opens up to various writings on tech, sports, food, travel, an in-depth interview and miscellaneous musings in between. The last chapter is a showcase of talent recommended by the contributors themselves, and runs gamut from photographers, illustrators and artists.

What made YCN’s magazine special was the extended features that made up a big chunk of the first half of the magazine. It was helpful enough for anyone who wanted to break into the magazine publishing industry, and shared enough advice from others who came out the other end triumphant; all the while without being dry or condescending.

What I look for in a magazine comes down to whether or not I was being entertained and enlightened at the end of it – and YCN has certainly managed to surprise and delight with a broad enough range of topics that served to inspire. A strong beginning indeed for what’s to come, and I can’t wait till the next issue rolls off the press.

You can get your subscription of the quarterly magazine, bundled with their Super Membership over here.

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[Images from YCN’s website]