2017 – a year in drawing

Myfanwy Tristram cards

No matter how much time and energy I put in, I never feel like I’m doing quite enough drawing, so it’s always good to look back over the year and realise quite how much paper (and pixels) I’ve stacked up! Here’s a quick run-through of how 2017 looked.

February

On the 1st, I took the Hourly Comic Day challenge, where you draw one frame for every hour you are awake.

Inevitably, my piece reflected some of the day’s political events:

Myfanwy Tristram Hourly Comic Day 2017 www.myfanwytristram.com

I’ve definitely got the Hourly Comic Day bug now, and I hope to participate again on Feb 1st next year.

Draw The Line logo by Karrie Fransman

On the 21st, having been beavering away since October 2016, we launched the Draw The Line project website.

This is the biggest comics project I’ve ever attempted: it brought together 114 artists from many different countries, each depicting a positive political action that anyone can take.

I’m still hoping to put out the print version of Draw The Line, and in the new year I’ll be looking at ways to make that happen.

April

Draw The Line safely launched, I spent the next few months finishing my comic Ladies of the Lakes. Follow that link to read it all online in installments.

Ladies of the Lakes by Myfanwy Tristram

I also had it printed up so I could sell it at various festivals and stalls over the year – as you might expect, the Lakes Festival was where demand was highest.

Julie Gough’s Illustrated Women in History project mounted an exhibition and I contributed a small image of the Boston marathon runner Kathrine Switzer.

Kathrine Switzer by Myfanwy Tristram banner

May

The Inking Woman exhibition opened in London’s Cartoon museum, and I was honoured to have a piece included in it. This coming March, an accompanying book will be published.

I was away so I couldn’t make the opening night, but here’s a picture from Myriad publishing’s Corinne, featuring many of the exhibitors (click to see it at a larger size):

and here’s a bit of my exhibited image from when it was still in progress:

go cross country by Myfanwy Tristram

April

This is the month when I shared some life drawing I’d done in pastels. I’ve been going along to life drawing sessions most weeks though, so there are plenty more where that came from. Here are a few (click to see them larger):

life drawing by Myfanwy Tristram

Some weeks I still come away with some awful drawings (and my attempts at the quick 3 or 5 minute poses seem to be getting worse and worse) but on the whole I do feel like I’m making progress.

August

I entered a strip into SelfMadeHero’s Jeremy Corbyn comic. Sadly it wasn’t selected for publication but at least I had fun drawing cat of the moment, El Gato.

Corbyn and el Gato header by Myfanwy Tristram

September

I designed some nice postcards to sell alongside my comics at festivals. I still need to sort out a shop so I can sell these online too! Click to see them bigger.

Myfanwy Tristram cards

October

My love/hate affair with the Comic/Cape/Observer Graphic Short Story contest continues and this year I once again submitted a strip. Needless to say it didn’t elicit even a quiver of notice! As usual, I did my round-up of other unsuccessful (and successful) entries once the shortlist had been announced.

I also spent every day of October doing an ink drawing in the name of Inktober, something I enjoyed (mostly, though it was occasionally a bit of a squeeze finding the time every day) and which I think taught me quite a bit about composition. That was my vague aim so I’ll count that as a win.

November

‘Only’ seven months after returning from a trip to Florence, I finished the sketch diary I’d been drawing. I also sadly concluded that I probably won’t do any more of these in the near future – they just take up way too much time and the result, while very nice to have, doesn’t really help to further my work.

Florence sketch diary by Myfanwy Tristram

This month I also spoke at the Graphic Brighton / Caption event. My topic was Draw The Line and specifically how to organise a large comics project from a distance. I’d like to do more talks like this so I’ll be actively pursuing a few opportunities next year.

herding cats banner image by Myfanwy Tristram

December

Recent readers will recall that I made, and blogged, a four-colour linocut Christmas card. Despite a few hairy moments (literally in some cases, when the cats wandered past still-drying ink) I enjoyed this and would love to have time to get better at working with this medium.

Lino cuts by Myfanwy Tristram

I received the very welcome news that Draw The Line had been nominated for a Broken Frontier award. The results will be revealed in January.

And in my last drawing task of the year, I made a party invitation for my daughter:

It’s been a great year, and one aspect which perhaps isn’t reflected in this account of solitary work sitting at my desk, is how sociable and supportive comics people are. It’s been a pleasure to meet and chat with so many of them this year.

Deserving a special mention are Zara Slattery, who has been my accomplice at pretty much every comics event I’ve attended (not to mention all the lifts home from life-drawing classes!), and Simon Russell, who was on a one-man mission to make small press comic-selling more viable with his pop-up stalls.

And now… forward into 2019! Hope it’s a goodie.

What you’ll be able to buy at the Lakes Comic Arts festival

The Lakes festival is going to be loads of fun this year: not only are there so many great events in the programme, but there will also be some fantastic comic-makers selling their wares.

My partner-in-comics Zara Slattery and I have a table on the ground floor of the clocktower building again; you can see where we’ll be, and everyone else, on this plan (PDF).

So what can you buy?

Well, from me, you’ll be able to get comics, stickers, postcards and posters. Here’s a quick run-down of everything I’m planning to pack into my bulging suitcases.

Comics


Ladies of the Lakes If you enjoyed the serialised story from last year’s festival, now’s your chance to buy it in print form with a beautiful matte cover that makes you want to stroke it all day.


Everything my 10 year-old daughter wore in November The pocket-sized comic with the extra-long name. She’s 12 now, but you can still enjoy this glimpse into a tween’s eccentric clothing habits.

Two Birds by Zara Slattery and Myfanwy Tristram
Two Birds Zara and I are in the process of having our first joint comic reprinted – all the same content, but in a larger format. One for the completist collector — or anyone who found the lettering a little too small in the original.


#HelloWorld A post-apocalyptic short story that (literally) unfolds into an Instagram feed.

Postcards

I have two sets of designs this year. The first are, well, I can best describe them as having a loose theme of ‘things everyone likes’. Everyone likes a picnic, right? No-one hates a rainbow. And who would turn a puffin down?

These are beautifully printed by Moo and also have that matte finish that I love.

 

And the second series are my best-sellers but recoloured for a fresh look. They’re smaller than the ones above, standard postcard size:

Stickers

comics totes count sticker by Myf TristramComics best thing ever Sticker by Myf Tristramcomics literally the best sticker by Myf Tristram

These are just great for sticking on laptops, sketchbooks, skateboards, and anywhere else you want to project a comics-positive message. Give them to your child and then watch it come back to bite you when you tell them to read a prose book for their homework (why yes, I do speak from experience).

… so, I look forward to seeing you at the Lakes, if you can make it. Remember to bring cash, and lots of it — I know from experience that there will be plenty to tempt you beyond our own table.

If you can’t be there

Do not fret. All of these will also be available online after I return.

As you may have noticed (although you’d have to be quite the Myfanwy Tristram superfan if you had, and I’m not sure I have any), I’ve removed my shop from this website for now.

This is because the software I was previously using changed from being a free service to a paid-for one, which is entirely reasonable on their behalf, just not very suitable for people with modest selling ambitions.

See you at Thought Bubble

Thought Bubble

Things are moving much too fast at the moment: I need to tell you about so many recent events. First though, let me remind you about the massive comics festival Thought Bubble, next weekend in Leeds.

If you’re planning on coming, do drop into the New Dock Hall, where you’ll find me and Zara on table 96a:

dockmapfinal-719x1024

Here are your instructions:

  1. Go to cashpoint. Take out lots of lovely comics dosh (yes, BRING CASH – most stalls won’t have card facilities)
  2. Take out a bit more. You know you’ll always come across that one comic you really wish you still had money for :)
  3. Proceed to New Dock Hall. Follow the nice yellow dotted line that I’ve helpfully added above, direct to table 96a.
  4. Look for these faces (you may need to add further bags under the eyes and some heavy yawning for total accuracy, given the rate and intensity of the past couple of weeks…!):

Myfanwy Tristramzara slattery

5. Engage chat facility while browsing our selection of lovely comics, postcards, posters and stickers. Buy them all (optional but highly recommended).

6. Check out all the other wonderful comic makers in the hall. Here are my top picks for this room (but there are also plenty I haven’t come across before and I’ll be enjoying exploring them too):

  • Felt Mistress Monsters made of felt and Jonathan Edwards Amazing illustrations. Table 140
  • Joe Decie Fellow Brightonian and subtly surreal comic artist. Table 123
  • Katriona Chapman Delicate comics about travel and gentle pleasures. Table 160
  • Lucy Bellwood Stateside boat enthusiast whose recent interview on Make It Then Tell Everybody had me astonished at so much comics wisdom being contained within one so (as it turns out) young. You should listen to that. (It’s possible I’m being stupid but I can’t actually see what table Lucy will be on – however I’m sure it will be findable)
  • And of course that very Dan Berry himself. Table 122
  • Phillipa Rice Paper cutout comics and more. Table 126b
  • Jade Sarson Recent winner of the Myriad first graphic novel prize. Table 61
  • Wobbly Rock Next door to us! Large scale, intricate comics. Table 97
  • Hanna-Pirita Lehkonen Thanks to my recent visitors I have a whole list of recommended Finnish comic artists to share, and that’s another post — but I have already gobbled up Hanna-Pirita’s wonderful Immortal Nerd web comic and will be hightailing it to table 68 at the first opportunity.

7. Go home and enjoy reading all the lovely, lovely comics you bought.

See you next weekend!

Save

The Myfanwy Tristram shop is updated

yay comics postcard by Myfanwy Tristram

I’ve just added new postcard designs and stickers to my online shop — the ones that have previously only been available at comics fairs.

Now’s your chance to send someone a hearty “Yay! Comics” message, or slap a “Comics totally count as reading” sticker on your laptop, so everyone knows exactly where you stand on that issue.

myf stikers
Stickkkkerrrrs!

Other designs include the girl-positive Girls Rock and Girls Rule images, taken from my comic ‘Everything My 10-year-old daughter wore in November” — which you can buy too. Go on, treat yourself!

girls rule postcard by Myfanwy Tristramgirls rock postcard by Myfanwy Tristram

Come to Comica

Comics best thing ever Sticker by Myf Tristram

Don’t forget that it’s London’s comics festival, Comica, on Saturday.

I’ll be at the Comiket Market with my pal Zara, selling our comics:

  • Two Birds, our joint compendium
  • Everything My Ten-Year-old Daughter Wore in November, my collection of daily clothes drawings
  • If you are quick (I don’t have many left), Salon of Rejects, the anthology of non-winning Cape/Comica/Observer strips
  • Zara has a fantastic new comic out, Don’t Call Me A Tomboy
  • We’ll also have postcards and stickers, yay! Some of these are brand new designs, which I haven’t even put in my shop yet (and some are reprints of previous designs). I will add them to my shop, but probably not until after Comica.

Stickers

(available as a pack of 3):

comics literally the best sticker by Myf TristramComics best thing ever Sticker by Myf Tristramcomics totes count sticker by Myf Tristram

Postcards

yay comics postcard by Myfanwy Tristram

swimmers postcard by Myfanwy Tristram

girls rock postcard by Myfanwy Tristram

girls rule postcard by Myfanwy Tristram

booner postcard by myfanwy tristram

tins postcard by myfanwy tristram

iggy postcard by myfanwy tristram

muesli mountain postcard by Myfanwy Tristram

Hope to see you there. Swing by for a chat, even if you don’t buy anything: we’ll still be happy to meet you. :D

(But if you do want to buy, remember to bring plenty of cash: most sellers, including us, won’t have card payment facilities).

Three handmade birthday cards

tapir card by Myfanwy Tristram

It took me about 30 seconds to decide what to draw on my daughter’s birthday card this year.

We’ve both recently been charmed by Neko Atsume, a Japanese kitty-based tomodachi-style game/app, bonding over our collection of pussy cats and trying out different virtual cat food to attract them.

If you’re hooked too, you’ll recognise the smiley cats below (apologies for all the phone snaps in this post, but hopefully you can still get the general idea).

Neko Atsume birthday card by Myfanwy Tristram

The cats in Neko Atsume are almost all the same basic shape, and are seen in one of a limited repertoire of poses.

My original plan was to make a little rubber stamp of one of those standard poses, but it turned out too be too fiddly for the amount of time I had at my disposal. For my second attempt, I went for the primary-school technique of tracing paper and pencil (basically a monoprint if I want to make myself feel better about it).

As always, I learned something from sitting down to try and replicate someone else’s drawings. The Neko Atsume cats are all marked in some combination of a small group of colours: dark grey, light grey, orange, light tan, white, and black — and all marked in a combination of stripes, spots or one colour all over.

Neko Atsume birthday card by Myfanwy Tristram

Inside was the greedy white cat Tubbs, who comes and snaffles all the posh cat food from time to time.

The card went down even better than I’d expected: those Japanese kitties sure provoke some strong emotions!

Just a week after my daughter’s birthday, it’s my husband’s. Recently, he’s been going through a mid-life crisis sporting a surprising range of hair colours: I never know what my own husband will look like next!

This quick card is meant to be a gentle mockery of that.

Hair birthday card by Myfanwy Tristram

That t-shirt was one I picked up at Thought Bubble as a way of saying thank you for staying home and doing the childcare while I flitted off to Leeds.

Finally, while I’m showing greetings cards, here’s one from last summer.

My friend and colleague Dave has a particular fondness for tapirs. Sadly, he also has a particular dislike of people making a fuss for his birthday, but it was too late by the time we’d discovered that: a rousing round of ‘Happy Birthday to you’ and a candle in his cafe breakfast granola it was, then.

Hopefully a nice tapir card went some way towards making up for the embarrassment:

tapir card by Myfanwy Tristram

It was a layered accordion-style card so that it had room for all my colleagues to sign it.

Inside, we wrote the very best tapir-based pun we could come up with after several days of hard thinking: Hope the celebrations don’t TAPIR out too soon.

Dave accepted the card, read the inscription, then replied, I don’t mean to sound UNGULATE-ful, but…’. Ah, his pun was better than ours.

What happens when your New Year’s resolution is “Draw More”?

Santiago sketch diary by Myfanwy Tristram

My new year’s resolution for 2014 was a fairly complex one, but in essence it boiled down to two words:

draw more.

…and it has felt like I’ve drawn a lot this year. Not as much as someone who doesn’t have a day-job and a child, of course, but a steady stream of stuff nonetheless.

Some of it I was pleased with. Some of it I was not – and I’ve learned to call that stuff part of the learning process, rather than a failure.

January

It was my husband’s birthday and I made him this card:

Dude birthday by Myfanwy Tristram

February

February first is Hourly Comics Day! I entered into the spirit of things, and tried not to care about putting out unpolished work – after all, that’s what it’s all about.

MyfanwyTristram_Hour3_2014

I’m quite looking forward to the next one already – and let’s face it, February is not usually a month to look forward to.

March

I made another collage in my series of birds’ eye views, this time featuring lots of very small roofs made of stamps:

Birds island by Myfanwy Tristram

April

In April, I really enjoyed doing some life drawing.

Life drawing by Myfanwy TristramThis was also the month that we went to Bath for our family holiday, and I made a holiday sketch diary. Of course, sketch diaries are another form where, if you share them, you have to put out the pages you’re pleased with as well as the ones that didn’t work out quite so well.

Tree by Myfanwy Tristram

May

Straight after we got back from Bath, work sent me to Santiago in Chile! I was working, so keeping up a sketch diary was a bit more of a challenge, and I finished a good bit of it after I got home.

Myfanwy Tristram Santiago sketch diary

July

It looks like I had a month off from drawing in June! In fact, I was starting work on my 4-page graphic short story for the Cape/Comica/Observer competition: you have to start early if your time is limited.

In July, though, I started a series of pictures of the plants that grow alongside Brighton beach, where I go running and also spend a lot of time with my daughter:

Seaplants by Myfanwy Tristram

There are more plant drawings here and here.

August

Those sunny days seem far away now – hard to believe I was sitting drawing on the Level (our local playground) while my daughter mucked about in the fountains.

Sketches by Myfanwy Tristram

The weather turned, naturally, right before our week in Jersey – fortunately there was plenty to do there anyway. Not least,  drawing another sketch diary:

Toop and the telescope by Myfanwy Tristram

September

I shared my graphic short story competition entry:

Giddy_Heights by MyfanwyTristram_page3I’d entered it, all the while knowing it wasn’t quite the right thing to get placed – not polished enough (but I was very pleased, later on, to discover that my friend Beth had been awarded runner-up prize).

October

Never mind, I waded straight into another comic strip, this time based on recent experiences with a community archaeological dig:

GreenLadyHill_by Myfanwy Tristram – and, at very short notice indeed, I threw together a collage for the Association of Illustrators competition:

Fly Across London by Myfanwy TristramThat was also the month I created the Hashtag Underdog strip. October must have been the peak of my productivity! I should scrutinise what the prevailing conditions were, and try to bottle them.

Underdog by Myfanwy TristramNovember

I didn’t do Clovember but I did paint my daughter in her lovely bright clothes – right at the prescient moment, it turns out, as she’s recently announced a desire to wear only black:

Tabs watercolour by Myfanwy Tristram

I also made a short comic strip about working from home:

Working from Home by Myfanwy TristramDecember

Close friends and family had one of my linocuts bestowed upon them:

IMG_0757

– and I moaned a bit about how long they had taken to make. I must say though, that everyone has been very nice about them, which is what every homemade card creator really wants – so it was all worth it. :D

Clearly, the effort of all that lino-printing has taken it out of me because, other than a couple of sketches of my daughter and husband, I have not drawn since.

Next year

I’m hoping that a similar resolution for 2015 will result in just as much artwork – but I need to do some careful thinking as well, about just what I want out of all this endeavour.

This year brought a couple of commissions. I find these quite stressful, and it made me wonder whether to refuse all commissions from now on (on the other hand, that means relying only on my own inspirations to drive me forward, a situation which, of course, many artists would be envious of, but which may well narrow my horizons).

This was also the first year that I’ve sold my prints online, as well as in Brighton’s Open Houses. While this was not stressful, it did bring home to me how narrow the margins are – at the scale I was operating, and with the time I have to dedicate, you can’t earn much. It can only really be done as an exercise in spreading your name about a bit.

And as for that – spreading my name about – well, I haven’t done as much as I hoped. Reader numbers on this blog are pretty low (though boosted greatly every time someone tweets or shares the link on Pinterest or Facebook, so thank you very much to everyone who did that).

In 2015, I think I will have an additional resolution to get some strips published in existing comics: that means that someone else is doing the distribution and the marketing, and probably doing so far better than I would have time to do myself.

Sounds like a plan…

Winter animals linocut Christmas cards

Crow and hare linocut by Myfanwy Tristram

I haven’t sent Christmas cards for quite a few years.

I think many artists and makers feel like me: they don’t want to send cards unless they’ve been handmade, or can act as a showcase for their artwork.

But, if you think it’s hassle buying your cards, writing them out, and getting them to the pillar box before last posting day, well, imagine making the things from scratch as well.

I’ve just learned that lesson again, for, indeed, somehow, this year, I have made my own cards.

And, indeed, they did take absolutely ages.

Hare by Myfanwy Tristram

Which is partly my own fault, because I decided I wanted to do a linocut. The theme was originally inspired by one of the Christmas carols my daughter is learning at school: “The rising of the sun, and the running of the deer”.

I did cut a deer, but ironically, it was the design I was least pleased with, and I ended up not using it.

Crow linocut by Myfanwy Tristram

It’s ages since I’ve done a linocut, but fortunately it’s really simple. The only thing to remember is that the print will come out facing the opposite way to the design you create  – so in the final prints, this crow flies right to left.

Crow linocut by Myfanwy TristramI thought that some of the detail in the feathers might be too fine for the medium, but I switched to a craft knife instead of the linocutting tool, and it worked.

Crow and hare linocut by Myfanwy TristramAt this point, I remembered that a friend of mine has a fondness for both hares and crows, so I thought that if I made him a print, I could try the lino-cuts out, and create him a Xmas gift, all in one fell swoop.

I made a foliage linocut as well, so the hare had something to be leaping above.

I did several copies across a roll of brown paper, so that I could pick the one where all three elements printed out cleanly. That turned out to be a good strategy, because there were very few where that was the case. It’s not exactly hard to make the prints, but you do have to be paying attention to ensure that every part is inked, and that you’ve applied the right amount of pressure across the whole print, otherwise you get missing limbs and blobby bits.

It would also have been a nice way of making wrapping paper, though, wouldn’t it? And the imperfections wouldn’t matter so much.

Crow and hare linocut by Myfanwy TristramHere is the card production line. I was originally going to do each card featuring a hare OR a crow, but when I fiddled about a bit, I decided I liked it better when a) each animal was spread across the fold, and b) the crow appeared as a surprise when you open the card.

I made a few variants – some have foliage on too, and some don’t have the crow element at all, and some are *just* the crow element.

And there are some in the bin – deer, mostly.

IMG_0757

Now, you can’t go about an art activity in this house without a certain nine-year-old wanting to get in on the act – and as it turned out, that was great. Once we had all the equipment set up, it was an efficient way to make the 40 or so cards she wanted to send to her classmates, teachers and friends.

IMG_0678

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IMG_0680We added some red glitter to the kitten’s Santa hat at the end, but I didn’t get a photo of that before we packed them all into envelopes…

So, now. Did it take a long time? Yes it did. Maybe a week’s worth of evenings to cut the linos, and a couple of weekend days to print everything out. Plus the trips to the art shop, of course, to buy materials.

And THEN the faff that everyone experiences, whether they buy their cards or make them, of chasing up addresses, writing a note inside each card, buying stamps and envelopes, etc.

For once, I’d planned well enough ahead to actually get it all done ahead of Christmas, so, yay me.

If you’re feeling jealous about that, don’t forget I posted some cards that you can print out for yourself, as well – you’ll find them here.

Free Christmas card downloads

Snowy Holly by Myfanwy Tristram

What good is drawing?

I draw mainly in the evenings, and generally while listening to the radio – and the later it is, the more serious the subject matter becomes.

Fretting over a frivolous piece like the Underdog cartoon does start to seem slightly insignificant when there’s an interview with Ebola nurses coming across the airwaves, or there are doomy tales of food banks and poverty in our own country.

Well, here’s an idea that might redress the balance slightly. If you like the Christmas card designs below, you are welcome to use them. And if you do, please donate a couple of pounds to charity in return.

You can print them out from the PDFs at the foot of this post. They will fit an A4 sheet of card, so you can print them on your home printer or take them to a professional print shop.

Tree Christmas card by Myfanwy Tristram

Christmas tree card by Myfanwy Tristram

Garland Christmas card by Myfanwy Tristram

Snowy Holly by Myfanwy Tristram

snowhollyblsfwCreative Commons Licence

These Christmas cards by Myfanwy Tristram are licensed under a Creative Commons Attribution-NonCommercial-NoDerivatives 4.0 International License.

How you may use these images

I’m releasing these under a non-commercial creative commons licence. That means:

YOU MAY print these out for your own use, provided that you keep the attribution that I’ve put on the back of each card.

YOU MAY NOT sell them commercially or modify the images.

(If you would like to sell the cards for charity, drop me a line and we can talk).

Donate

Here are some charities where you might donate, or feel free to choose your own:

The Red Cross Ebola appeal

Oxfam, working on poverty in the UK as well as internationally

The Fawcett Society, fighting for equality between the sexes

Downloads

Here are the downloads in PDF form, ready to print:

Tree with a star (Large, one card to an A4 sheet)

Tree with star (Small, two cards to an A4 sheet)

Garland (Large, one card to an A4 sheet)

Garland (Small, two cards to an A4 sheet)

Tree with lights (Small, two cards to an A4 sheet)

Holly in the snow (blue) (Small, two cards to an A4 sheet)

Holly in the snow (black) (Small, two cards to an A4 sheet)

Thanks – and do feel free to spread the word around.