Brighton Naked Bike Ride poster

We are nature Naked Bike Ride Brighton 2019 poster design by Myfanwy Tristram

I love drawing clothes and fashion, as evidenced by my work in progress Satin and Tat, and much of my previous work including Everything My Daughter Wore…

So it was quite a surprise to find myself working on an illustration where everyone had to be naked! All for a good cause though: the annual Brighton Naked Bike Ride poster.

And I was happy to oblige, given my love of bikes, my belief that we need to challenge car culture, and, clearly, a need for self-punishment given that bikes are notoriously hard to draw (fortunately I’d had a recent bit of practice since the principal character in Satin and Tat gets about by bike).

Here’s the finished design:

Myfanwy Tristram naked bike ride Brighton 2019 poster design

And here it is with a tight crop and the wording added:

Myfanwy Tristram naked bike ride Brighton 2019 poster design

I’m really looking forward to seeing it around town: people have already been sending me photos of where they’ve spotted it.

(Thanks Scotty H, BNBR and Inksplattery)

One challenging aspect of this commission is that the design had to work equally well for an A3 sized poster, and for the tiny business card sized flyers that the ride also creates each year (they’re easy to put onto parked bikes to help spread the word). My first, rational thought was that I should stick with bold shapes, nothing complex, and that if I could design it at the smaller size it would scale up well into the larger one.

As you can see, I then went on to completely ignore my own advice, coming up with a very intricate picture. The crazy thing is, I think it works, even at the tiny size.

It was a real honour to be asked, especially as I’ve had one of the previous artists, Mike Levy‘s own small cards framed and up on my wall for years (click the images to see them bigger).

Mike Levy Naked bike ride Mike Levy Naked bike ride

This might be the first year I actually take part in the Naked Bike Ride. I’ve been an appreciative spectator for many years, but it seems like the right time to take the plunge and actually join in.

I will be taking full advantage of the ‘bare as you dare’ maxim though. In my case, that’s… not very bare.

Bonus birdies

by Myfanwy Tristram

marimekko birds by Myfanwy Tristram

There’s a fab shop in Brighton called Blackout, which sells all manner of brightly-coloured stuff from around the world. Don’t visit if you’re a minimalist!

They’ve been running workshops over Easter and my daughter and I popped in with a friend to do their Marimekko-inspired bird collage session (possibly a string of words you would only hear uttered in Brighton). You can see mine, above, on the right, and my daughter’s on the left.

Here’s the workshop in progress (image credit Blackout): you can just see my right eye peeking out from behind the instructor, Caroline — best view of me, probably. It was very nice to have the kids and the adults all mucking in together on the same project.

I knew I liked Marimekko, but this was also a good reminder that I enjoy collage and I really must get back to doing some more — and not least because I have tins of nice scraps of paper saved for such a purpose.


It’s really really soon now, you guys

Woah, those Finns are arriving pretty soon!

In case you’re not sure what I’m talking about, you might like to catch up on the history of my madcap idea to bring two complete strangers over to the UK to sleep on my sofa and talk about comics — hopefully to an audience, which is of course where you come in.

You can see Siiri Viljakka and Lauri Tuomi-Nikula speaking at four events in Brighton, London and Hastings, next week.

I’m pretty sure these are going to be the best Finnish-comic-and-FOI-related events ever held in the UK (and possibly the only ones) so I’d advise you to grab a ticket while you can.

A cartoon about running

No Excuse by Myfanwy Tristram p2

Click each page and then click again if you would like to view these pages at a larger size.

No Excuse by Myfanwy Tristram p1
No Excuse by Myfanwy Tristram p2

Last January, I realised that I had run far fewer miles in 2014 than in previous years, and that this was because I’d got into the habit of skipping runs if the weather looked at all unpleasant, or if I was tired, or all sorts of other excuses.

So I set myself a target that I’d only be able to meet if I went out no matter what, and that’s what this cartoon is about.

This approach has reminded me that, actually, runs in the rain can actually be some of the most enjoyable ones. And, like the cartoon says, if you didn’t go out when it was raining, you’d never go out – well, certainly in this part of the world and at this time of year.

I’m glad to say that I reached my target in 2015 and I’m still on the same ‘no excuses’ regime this year, so it works for me.

In fact, such is my dedication these days, if Nick Cave does pop round, I might have to hurry him out of the door before he asks for a second cup of tea.

Four graphic novels worth putting your back out for

Drawn and Quarterly 25 years: actual size

Here’s a good tip: if you are going away for Christmas, make sure you give small presents that fit into your luggage.

Or, be like me, and buy your husband a book so vast, and so heavy, that transporting it requires a flat bed truck, seven shire horses and a police escort.

OK, I exaggerate, but barely. Here’s a picture of me with the book in question, so you can see just what scale I’m talking about here:

Drawn and Quarterly 25 years: actual size

Another good Christmas tip is to give your partner something you’d like to read yourself. Drawn and Quarterly: Twenty-Five Years of Contemporary Cartooning, Comics, and Graphic Novels tells the story of the Canadian micro-publisher in just 776 pages, and proved to be absolutely ideal fodder for snaffling and dipping into while others were watching Christmas TV or preparing the sprouts.

The first lengthy portion consists of first-person accounts of setting up D&Q, finding money and staff, and, of course, cartoonists. There are many descriptions of babies and toddlers playing amongst teetering piles of books: D&Q prides itself on being one of the catalysts that brought women so wholeheartedly into the comics scene.

The second half showcases some of the names they’ve published over the quarter-century.  I have to say that some of the best known names, like Joe Matt, Peter Bagge and Seth leave me pretty cold, and although Julie Doucet and Lynda Barry are names I became familiar with in the very early days of my own forays into comics, they’re not really my thing any more.

But there is still plenty that I found exciting, not least the discovery of Geneviève Castrée, whose work is right up my street:

Geneviève Castrée

One strange side-effect of this volume’s heft is that when you experience that little downcast moment as you approach the last section of a really good book, you realise that in fact, there are still 200 pages left.

While I was grunting and sweating under the weight of my luggage, it turns out that my husband was also lugging some pretty solid gifts, as well. We are united in our lack of practicality.

My presents from him included The Sculptor by Scott McCloud, itself almost 500 pages. Of course, the irony of a good graphic novel is that you race through what must have taken the artist a year or more to draw, and I did get through this in a single evening. I hadn’t previously considered buying it, but I was absorbed and found it a very enjoyable read.

Also under the tree was volume 1 of Sunny, by Taiyo Matsumoto. Volume 5 had been in the mixed bag of goodies that was my prize for the Thought Bubble comics competition, and while I hadn’t come across this Japanese artist before, I instantly fell deeply and irrevocably in love.

(I kind of saw this gift coming, thanks to my husband’s arch questions on the lines of ‘You know that book you really liked? What was it called?’ in the weeks before Christmas – not that I am complaining; it’s the perfect gift).

I can’t state enough how perfect this series is, in style and content both. You read in the Japanese manner, back cover to front, and right to left across the pages, and subtly, in tiny details, the stories of kids in a children’s home unfold.

Not much happens, but the little things that do happen are just the sort of incidents that loom large in a child’s memories and imagination. Honestly, it’s breath-taking, really something to aspire to. I’m probably going to have to buy all the rest in the series.

sunny by taiyo matsumoto

Finally, talking of Japanese graphic novels, I’m going to mention Just So Happens by Fumio Obata. This came out some time ago and I read it then, but Fumio came and spoke at a recent Cartoon County, the Brighton-based comic artists’ meet-up.

I loved it before and I love it just as much on rereading, and having listened to Fumio speaking a bit about it. I found myself gazing at the pictures for ages: they are so skilled and beautiful (that’s not one of them below: that’s my far less skilled and beautiful sketch of Fumio during his talk).

fumio obata by Myfanwy TristramIt was very interesting to hear that he’d been reluctant to trade on the one big thing about himself, the fact of being a Japanese person living abroad, but that eventually he’d decided that was the most authentic and compelling experience he had to draw from.

Similarly, he’s recently been drawing around the Fukushima disaster. Along with other strips that deal with the terrible and yet fascinating things in life, this does lead to a very peculiar train of thought. On the one hand I curse my nice stable lifestyle, which gives me no injustices to rail against or campaigns to turn my pen to the aid of –  while on the other hand I am, of course, exceptionally grateful not to be experiencing hard times.

Fumio also said that he’d entered the Cape/Comica/Observer Graphic Short Story competition four times, being shortlisted as a finalist twice. And that really shows how hard it is to win (although Just So Happens was published by Cape, so it did bring him to their attention).

I suppose it depends on your character whether you’d take that as an incentive to keep trying, or a sign that you should give up all together.

So, that’s what has kept me busy over Christmas: now how about you? Any good graphic novels under your tree?




Podcast: Erica Smith on Girlfrenzy


Back in the 90s, when I was fairly new to Brighton, I had the good fortune to meet a woman named Erica Smith.

Erica was the force behind a feminist zine, Girlfrenzy, to which I contributed a few cartoons. There isn’t an awful lot on the internet about it, but what there is has now been bolstered by the addition of an interview with Panel Borders, the comics-themed podcast.

I listened to it at lunchtime today while I was on my run, and as I pounded past the i360 (Brighton’s stupidly-named viewing tower, under construction) I was gratified to hear a brief but complimentary namecheck about half way through.

Listening to Erica’s reminiscences, and those of the audience, I was reminded of how on the ball she was. I don’t think my (biro-drawn, unconfident) cartoons would ever had had such a wide audience without her energy and knowhow. A professional graphic designer, she put out comics that looked a whole lot more polished than the more usual photocopied, handwritten efforts of the time.

Not just that, but she organised accompanying events: spoken word evenings, gigs, exhibitions and comic fairs. All, like she says in the podcast, sorted out by face-to-face meetings or by post, for these were pre-email days. As I puffed along the seafront today, I castigated myself for not having even a fraction of her can-do attitude.

In the interview, Erica talks about time away from the comics scene. I also had time away. In my case, it was to do with full-time employment, followed by parenthood.

Now, Girlfrenzy made a point of highlighting female cartoonists, which at the time were rare. It’s been a bit of an adjustment for me, coming back to find that there are many, many vociferous, opinionated, talented, diffuse female voices in self-published comics today.

I mean, obviously it’s wonderful — but it certainly feels very different. These days I’m just one voice in a massive sea of women cartoonists. What? You mean suddenly I have to stand on my own merits?!

The funny thing is, I bet many of today’s young cartoonists haven’t even heard of Girlfrenzy. They should do themselves a favour and look out for back issues on eBay. Make sure you don’t get the DC Comics ones though. Therein lies a tale that I don’t think Erica covered in the podcast.



Brighton Illustration Fair

BIF wristband by Myfanwy Tristram

I’m really feeling the pressure of time at the moment. It’s a fine old thing to have a drawing blog, but that becomes a bit problematic if you find yourself having the choose between updating it and actually doing some drawing!

So this is a bit of a fly-by post.

I just wanted to tip my hat to the organisers of the Brighton Illustration Fair. This is a brand new event which had its debut couple of weeks back.

The focus was mostly on comics (just the way I like it). I’d just been bemoaning Brighton’s lack of a sizable comics fest with a number of other local cartoonists,  and for us visitors, the event just materialised, like manna falling effortlessly from heaven.

In reality, it must have taken tons of preparation. The hall was so busy for the whole weekend, with talks, screenings and activities, as well as the table top sale of zines and artwork. I think we can safely say that the illustration/graphic novel/zine scene is booming here in Brighton, and rightly so given its famously high-quality art school.

I mean, look at it! Heaving first thing on a Saturday morning (Click to see this picture bigger; yes, guess who just discovered the panoramic function on her phone camera).

BIF panoramic by Myfanwy Tristram

Here are some of the artists I met, listened to or bought stuff from, together with some links so you can find out more.

Catherine Faulkner


I’ve been following Catherine’s pun-filled Instagram account for a while now (typical example above), so it was lovely to  meet her in person. You can see her website for more.

Lizzy Stewart

Lizzie Stewart travel diaries

I’ve mentioned Lizzy before on this blog, because she does gorgeous sketch diaries. I wish I’d bought more from her, actually, but reading Four Days in Marrakech and Swim was a real treat.

You can buy them on her website.

Maria Herreros

Marianna madriz at Brighton Illustration fair

This was a bizarre thing: I was recently in Madrid with work, and one evening I was very pleased with myself for scouting out a little shop with a back room full of indie comics.

I bought a handful of the most interesting-looking ones (another blog post I haven’t written) and what do you know? The very same comic was sitting on a table at BIF, along with its gracious creator.

This could be a story about how annoying it is to buy something unique while you’re abroad, only to find it’s readily available in your home town, but I’m choosing to think of it more as a beautiful coincidence.

 Luke Drozd

Luke Drozd

Luke had some funny patches that really tickled my Brownie daughter, but I was more taken by his gorgeous poster-size prints, like this one for the Handsome Family.

Eleni Kalorkoti

Elena Kalorkoti

I bought a couple of cards with this grey cat on them, because he looks like our cat Sushi. More here.

Laura Callaghan

I found myself listening to a panel featuring Laura and Marianna (above) and Donya Todd (whose work I hadn’t come across before, but who must be well-known as she was given top billing!).

Laura’s work really won me over when I saw it on the big screen: lots of very detailed interiors which look like they’re done in felt pen, although it’s actually watercolour.

Laura CallghanThis talk really gave me pause: I was sitting watching comics creators who were evidently in their early twenties, saying how comics have changed in the last decade. I thought to myself, argh, I was creating comics *two* decades ago!

The whole scene is different now, though: as with every other sector, the internet has allowed people to organise, to self-publish and to market themselves, and this new generation of young cartoonists have a much brighter prospect. That must be part of why the whole scene seems to be blooming at the moment.

Matt Taylor

Matt taylor

Matt’s comic shows how to create a comic in monotone and still have it come out beautiful.

In summary

That’s not even all. There was a film; there were activities to keep children busy (my daughter loved drawing on the 3D Exquisite Corpse and designing a t-shirt); and there was Warwick Johnson Cadwell talking an audience through how to draw his particularly loopy imagining of Tank Girl. There was Joe Decie (mentioned in blog posts passim) and nice fox pendants.

If you’d like to see more people that I haven’t even mentioned, all exhibitors are listed here.

Yep, that really was a fun weekend. Next year, my supremely talented illustrator and comics friend Zara and I pledge to have a comic PRINTED and FOR SALE so we can be on the other side of one of those tables.

Graphic Brighton: Drawing in the Margins

On Friday night and all of Saturday, I was at Graphic Brighton, a conference about graphic novels and comics creation.

The overarching theme of the conference was “Drawing in the Margins”, and it brought together practitioners who represent some form of minority or marginalised group.

Brighton living up to its name

“I’m going out to a discussion on gay manga” may be the kind of archetypical Brighton sentence that makes most of the country mock us mercilessly, but it was very interesting, and I say that as someone with very little knowledge of the form.

mangapanel2sfwNote: I think I got Inko and Chie mixed up in this picture – apologies

There was quite a bit of talk about Yaoi, comics about gay men, usually drawn by women and aimed at a female readership.

One apparent contradiction I found very interesting: it was said that these comics grew from the longstanding cultural repression of women in Japan, and represent women taking control of their own fantasies.

I asked whether women who drew these comics would be frowned upon, but I was assured that that’s not the case; on the contrary, they are celebrated. The comics are available everywhere, even in corner shops.

And yet, I was told, although ‘everyone reads them, no-one talks about it’. I think there’s something cultural there that I haven’t entirely understood.

Difficult lives make good comics

After the panel, there were five-minute talks by 14 different cartoonists. These also acted as a series of enticing previews of comics I’d like to read (I’ve pinned many of the comics mentioned throughout the event on Pinterest, if you’re interested in doing the same).


Subjects here included working with people with learning difficulties (Brighton’s own Joe Decie); having a child with Down Syndrome (Henny Beaumont, of whom more later); being brought up by a single mum (Wallis Eates); working with the elderly as a doctor (Ian Williams), and motherhood and birthing (kudos to Kate Evans for pointing out that this is not really a minority pursuit, although one can certainly see the case for calling aspects of motherhood marginalised).


There was only one downside to listening to people talk about all these fascinating, human-interest topics for their work, and that was being left feeling that my own life isn’t troubled enough to base a graphic novel on!



The next morning, I met up with my friend (and super-talented illustrator herself) Zara for the luxury of another full day of comics chat.

This began with Karrie Fransman in conversation with Tim Pilcher. Most relevant to the topic was Karrie’s cartoon about a refugee, Over Under Sideways Down, but I also really want to read her The House That Groaned and Death of the Artist now.

I did find Fransman’s approach to getting work interesting: it could basically be summed up the single word, “hustle”. She describes sending her cartoons (which she says, in retrospect, were just scrawls in biro) to every national newspaper in the country, then following up with an email a week later. This bagged her a strip in the Guardian.

She also tried pitching for comic versions of newspaper standbys such as book reviews and articles, but found that papers didn’t want to pay any more than they would a written-word journalist, so that was a non-goer in the end. Pilcher also pointed out that these days, we’re used to a much quicker turnaround on a news story than an artist can provide.

Cartoons by the elderly, about the elderly, and for everyone

Next up was a sessions about the representation of old age in comics, with Corinne Pearlman (a cartoonist herself, and also Creative Director at Myriad Editions), Julian Hanshaw (The Art of Pho, mentioned in a previous blog entry) and Muna Al Jawad, who works as a Consultant in Elderly Medicine (the new word for Geriatrics?) and uses comics to educate both colleagues and the wider world about associated issues.

Books I’d like to check out following Corinne’s talk include Paco Roca’s Wrinkles and Roz Chast’s best-seller Can’t We Talk About Something More Pleasant?

“Ageing is the new black”, said Corinne, and made the point that a generation of comics artists is entering old age, having become used to chronicling every other stage of life. Meanwhile, Hanshaw pointed out that the subject need not have a limited audience: we middle-aged readers are happy to read comics from younger makers, and there’s no reason that that shouldn’t go both ways.

The Yes! project

yes projectsfw

After lunch, Laura Malacart and Dan Locke talked about a project they’d collaborated on. As you can see from the image above, I found Malacart’s look (and especially her hair) really beguiling to draw, but I just could not quite get it down on paper!

Malacart was commissioned to make a film about a real-life case of a non-verbal person with autism who was found to be able to vocalise through singing.

After filming the footage, she decided that actually, film wasn’t the right format. That’s when she found Locke and they worked together, instead, on a graphic novel, which can be read online at the Yes! project website.

 Challenging the motherhood narrative

motherhood panelsfw

In the final presentation of the day, three women came together to talk about representing motherhood in comics.

Henny Beaumont will shortly have a book out which tells her story of having a child with Down Syndrome. From the excerpts she read and showed in this session and on Friday night, it looks very funny as well as beautifully-rendered.

Beaumont used the Brushes app on her iPad to draw much of the book. Previously, she has worked as a portrait artist, and this showed. There were times when she was standing in front of one of her pictures of herself on the screen, and the posture, face and expression were identical.

This book, like the one about autism, has an interesting side-purpose in that it will inform medical practitioners about how better to approach such scenarios.

Evans (who, I ought to mention, I know from way back when, when we both lived in a Brighton housing co-operative) and Cassavetti both had a similar point to make, really, and that is that motherhood/parenthood can be a massive shock, a time of extreme worry, and an opportunity for everyone to prescribe the One True Way of birthing a baby, keeping them safe, and getting them to sleep through the night.

Given the harsh realities of everything from morning sickness to poopy nappies, it does seem extraordinary, they pointed out, that mainstream publishers still insist on selling us the image of motherhood as a constant source of delight. I have to say, if I’d read Bump instead of Gina Ford, Jools Oliver et al, I might have side-stepped a lot of misery and self-flagellation about the fact that my daughter barely went to sleep for about three years after she was born.

The day ended with a wrapping-up session (plus the question of what topic people might like next year – ‘war’ being mooted), and then I made Kate and Zara come home with me to eat cake and meet the kitten. These being modern times, I knew that the pair of them had hit it off when they followed one another on Twitter.

I could easily have sat through another full day of talks, but it’s probably a good thing that the event ended where it did, as this blog post is already probably longer than anyone will read all the way through.

Bid on some artwork, and contribute to something amazing

The short version

You can bid on a whole variety of artwork, including a couple of my prints, at Bids are open until Saturday 14th March, and there are a few ‘flash sales’ where certain pieces are offered for 24 hours only.

The proceeds from this online auction will go to fund an open air theatre here in Brighton, a project that’s very close to my heart.

Here are the prints I’ve donated:

Tins by Myfanwy TristramStamp forest by Myfanwy Tristram– and if you don’t like them, well, there are lots of pieces of work by other artists up for grabs, including original comic strip art, paintings, and even a couple of vases. Go and bid!

The longer version

Back in 1990, when I finished my BA, I moved to Brighton to share a house with my best friend, who was in the final year of her degree course. Everyone else in the house was in the same year of the same degree, so naturally, I made quite a few friends from that course.

As it was a fine art and performing arts course, as you’d expect, they were a pretty creative, outgoing, energetic bunch of people: putting on theatrical performances, club nights, stand up comedy, and exhibitions. There was never any shortage of entertainment.

Among the wider group of friends was a guy named Adrian, who was a fairly rare mix: a writer, a performer, and also a builder. This latter skill, as you might imagine, came in very useful when people needed a set building.

Fast forward twenty-something years, and… Adrian was the first of our peer group to pass away. Pancreatic cancer is, apparently, generally late to be diagnosed, and quick to progress, and there’s very little that can be done about it.

Now, I can’t pretend that Adrian was still a great friend of mine by this time, but he was certainly a very great friend of a lot of my great friends, if you see what I mean, and I’ve seen the ripples that his death has caused.

His death has caused great sadness. It’s also done something amazing, which is probably the best possible outcome for a death, and something we should all be so lucky to bring about.

Because apparently, Adrian was still as ambitious, and still thinking on a grand scale right up until the end. And he trusted his friends – one of whom is the husband of that friend I shared my first Brighton house with, if you follow me – with… well, what shall we call it? A legacy? A crazy plan? A millstone round their necks? I’ve heard it called all of these things at various times since.

He wanted them to build an open air theatre for Brighton.  He had the site pinpointed (a disused bowling green within one of the city’s parks) and he had used his building knowledge to draw up detailed plans for a grassy amphitheatre with special acoustics incorporated within it.

“Oh yeh, easy”, said his friends, of course. I mean, you’re not going to say no, are you?

And then of course, the reality turned out to be much harder than you’d have thought. In the last few months, that small group of friends has formed a legal charity, created a board of trustees (chosen, before his death, by Adrian), fought for – and won – planning permission, raised money with a variety of events, run a publicity campaign, and seen the construction work begin.

It’s not as if those friends lacked a purpose in their lives at all, but by gosh they’ve certainly got one now. In retrospect, as well as being obviously hard work (I say, as a bystander who has done little except attend those fund-raising events and offer the occasional retweet), it’s actually a brilliant legacy because not only does it give a new performing space to the city, but it allows all of the trustees to contribute to it in a meaningful way.

I think that’s about the best outcome you can hope for from an untimely death. And that is why I would encourage you to go and look at the artworks on offer and see if there’s one you fancy, and then bid for it.

Hello, people: all about me

Hi! By Myfanwy Tristram

A funny thing happened at the beginning of Janaury.

My phone is set to ping every time someone likes one of my blog posts or follows my blog. This has not been, in general, exactly what you might call an intrusion: it normally happens in a cluster after I make a new post, or otherwise about once or twice a week.

But all of a sudden, one Tuesday night, the alerts started coming through every few seconds. “Spam”, I grumbled to my husband, as I turned off the light and went to sleep.

By morning, there were hundreds more – and there were comments, too. And, on closer inspection, those comments were not spam: they were well-written, friendly reactions to my posts.

It turns out that my post What happens when your New Year’s resolution is “Draw More”? was selected as one of WordPress’ “Freshly Pressed” picks, meaning that it’s gone into a stream that every WordPress user can access.

Which is amazing! I’ve been keeping this blog for just over a year now, and like any unmarketed corner of the internet, the audience was small and growing slowly. Now, WordPress tells me, I have 1,407 followers (and those pings are still coming, albeit at a more sedate pace). That one post has had 277 comments and 1,125 “likes”. Thank you to everyone who followed, commented or liked (and apologies that I haven’t replied to every comment).

This is me

It occurs to me that most of you don’t know anything about me, beyond that post, so here’s a brief introduction.

I’m an illustrator

booner by Myfanwy TristramWhat’s the difference between an illustrator and an artist?

The flippant answer is that illustrators are ‘allowed’ to draw black lines round things – something that I distinctly remember an art teacher telling me was no go in fine art.

A more accurate answer is perhaps that illustrations tend to accompany and complement text, whether that’s in a book or next to a magazine article. I grew up drawing comics, and I still identify strongly as a cartoonist. For me, cartoons and graphic novels are the acme of pictures and words going together.

I grab drawing time where I can



I’m not a full-time illustrator: I have a day job, and I’m also a parent (albeit with a very patient husband who shares a lot of the childcare and housekeeping).

In practice, that means that if I want to draw, I have to work very hard to find the time. At weekends, I sometimes get up at 6 or 7 to draw (but I have to be really excited by a project to do that). Otherwise, I have to prioritise drawing in the evenings. Often, the answer is to draw the things or people around me, like my daughter and her friends.

Right now, I have a really satisfying, varied day job, with some of the best workmates I could wish for. A few years ago, though, I was working in an office in a very corporate environment, which was not a great fit for me. I used to dream every day of being able to do more drawing, and kick myself for not having pursued illustration as an occupation.

Now that I’m in a happier position workwise, I’m far more conflicted. I don’t want to leave my job, I just want to have double the amount of days in the week! Or, more realistically, I’d like to be in a financial position to work three or four days every week, and draw for the rest of the time.

Maybe one day.

I have other hobbies too

I like to go running – I do that in my lunch hours. Yeah, my days are pretty closely timetabled. I have three cats. I’m mildly obsessed by my hometown’s resident rock star, Nick Cave.

All of these things sometimes come into my drawings. Here’s a picture of our recently-departed and much-missed cat Buffy, and here’s one of our solid old tuxedo cat Iggy.

And here’s a silly cartoon that brings the unlikely topics of running, and Nick Cave, together.

I live in Brighton

red-roaster-in-shadeBrighton is a seaside city of about 160,000 on the south coast of England. I’ve lived here since 1990, having only ever planned to come and live with my best friend for a year while she finished her degree course.

Instead, I stayed here, having acquired a house, husband, daughter and the aforementioned cats.

I am very attached to my adopted hometown, and would like to draw a lot more of it, but see above as regards not having enough time in the day.

I am a bit of a clothes obsessive

Everything my daughter and I wore in November 2012I like buying clothes, but, fortunately, I also like charity shops, which keeps the habit affordable if not entirely containable.

Probably connected to this is the fact that I love drawing clothes. I like dressing the people in my cartoons, too.

And one November, I drew everything that I and my daughter wore, every day for a month. I’d like to make those drawings into a book one day.

I’m not ‘talented’

It was really lovely to read all the comments you left on my New Year’s Resolution post: people were so kind and complimentary.

Two comments kept coming up: first, that my post had inspired that person to get drawing themselves; and second, that I had great talent.

I cannot complain about either of the sentiments behind these thoughts, but I will quibble the latter point.

I am more than delighted to have inspired more drawing in the world. I get great pleasure out of mine, and I am sure that pleasure is a universal reaction to seeing something take shape where previously there was just a sheet of paper and a pen.

I am more reticent about the word ‘talent’. Like anyone who draws, I am sure, I am never quite satisfied with what I’ve drawn, and can always tell you six ways in which it could have been better.

I can also look back on a long period of drawing – since my childhood – during which I can see my own improvement. It doesn’t feel like talent, it feels like practice. I’m pretty sure anyone can attain a level of drawing they’d be happy to share with the world, if they just do a little bit of it every day for a few years.

That’s me, now how about you?

OK, now you know a whole lot more about me. What about you?

I’d love to follow some more art, comics or drawing blogs on here, but 1,407 followers is a lot to go through and check all at once.

If you keep an art blog, please do let me know in the comments below, and I’ll check it out.

Green Lady Hill, a one-page comic strip

Green Lady Hill by Myfanwy tristram

GreenLadyHill_by Myfanwy Tristram

As anyone who knows me will see immediately, this strip is inspired by real-life events. There is a hill at the end of my road, and I did go on an archaeological dig there last month.

The Habitat mug anecdote is also a true story, though it happened to my father rather than to the dig facilitator.

However, the hill has not yet turned into a furious giant green woman.

People-watching and people-sketching on the Level

Sketches by Myfanwy Tristram

Have you ever tried to draw while your pages are gently splattered by the spray of a water pistol? Me neither, until last week.

Sketches by Myfanwy Tristram

Here in the UK, we’ve had an unusually consistent, hot summer, and for residents of Brighton, one obvious place to find some relief is at our new playground, the Level, where, every half an hour, fountains spurt up from the paving slabs.

They run for thirty minutes, and then, in some sort of energy-saving or equipment-protecting policy, they disappear again.

level sketch2sfw

You can tell when they start up, because there’s a ragged cheer and children run from every other part of the playground. Toddlers walk blithely through the columns of water; cheeky kids figure out how to obstruct part of its exit so that it squirts violently in unpredictable directions; hot kids just stand blissfully on top of a fountain and let it soak them to the skin.

character sketches by Myfanwy Tristram

As a sketcher, it’s a blessing of a subject but also an immense challenge. Kids, especially excited ones, never stop moving. And it was hot, which makes one feel lazy.

Sketches by Myfanwy Tristram

My friend Giuseppe – who happens to be an art teacher – and I sat in the only bit of shade, and we had a go at sketching  anyway.

I gave up on the actual children pretty early, and started drawing the adults around the periphery of the area instead – they were far more likely to stay still (well, relatively speaking.. under normal circumstances I’m sure I would have been complaining that they were moving too, but compared to the comet-like accelerations of the children, they might have been statues).

Afterwards, Giuseppe said that what he liked best were my small sketches showing parts of children before they had moved off. I looked at his sketchbook, and he’d managed much more complete compositions, including the actual fountains themselves – quite a different approach.

Sketches by Myfanwy Tristram

I think if I’d been less lazy that day, I could have made some composite children that wouldn’t have represented any single one of the kids who were really in front of us, but which took some generic stances and movements and put them together. Hmm, maybe next time.

Meanwhile, back at home, I have been doing some first exploratory character sketches in watercolour, for a children’s book idea.

character sketches by Myfanwy Tristramcharacter sketches by Myfanwy Tristram


More plants that grow by the sea

Seaplants by Myfanwy Tristram

Seaplants by Myfanwy Tristram

Photoshop is such an incredible luxury for illustrators – it’s no longer the end of the world if you make a blot, or a line goes awry.

Seaplants by Myfanwy Tristram

The one on the left is written over the top of a clapping game that my daughter came home reciting: it must be a fairly recent variant, as it mentions Britney Spears (not that she knows who Britney is; she actually asked if ‘spears’ meant hips, because of the action that goes with that line!)

Sketch of plants that grow by the sea

Sketch of seaplants by Myfanwy Tristram

Sketch of seaplants by Myfanwy Tristram

Click if you’d like to see it bigger

Scanning doesn’t do full justice to the white and lumnious yellow inks. But anyway. I enjoyed drawing something other than my comic strip.

I wonder if those blobby leaf shapes are under the influence of the Matisse cut-outs exhibition that we saw last Thursday.

Graphic facilitation course


My recent post happened to bring together my day job and my illustration work. By coincidence, I saw something today that would also straddle both parts of my life – a course in graphic facilitation, right here in Brighton.

Regular readers might recall my slight sense of unease when drawing in work meetings – now here’s a professional skill that completely validates such a practice!

Fantastic, imagine being able to say “Oh, I’m just a visual thinker’, or “Oh this? I’m just graphically facilitating” if challenged over your compulsive doodling.

I’m seriously considering putting in for this course; maybe you should too (it needs a minimum number of participants to run)!


(Images taken from Nixon McInnes’ post about the course)

The secret thing about picture books is that they aren’t for children at all

Mini Grey, Chris Riddell, John Vernon Lord and Emily Gravett by Myfanwy Tristram

I’ve got rather a busy couple of weeks coming up, thanks to the flurry of booking I indulged in a few weeks ago when the Brighton Festival programme came out.

Tonight, I went to see a panel of children’s book illustrators: John Vernon Lord (revered illustrator, to quote the blurb on the back of his Nobrow book) led the conversation and Mini Grey (born in a mini, or so she claims), Chris Riddell (author/illustrator of Goth Girl) and Emily Gravett (Rather Good At Rabbits), all Brighton graduates, chimed in with their experiences.

 Click to see bigger:

Mini Grey, Chris Riddell, John Vernon Lord and Emily Gravett by Myfanwy Tristram


Mini Grey, Chris Riddell, John Vernon Lord and Emily Gravett by Myfanwy Tristram

In case you can’t read my handwriting (who could blame you) here are my take-away snappy quotes:

Vernon-Lord (talking about whether he uses digital media): “I like the noise of the nib scratching across the page”.

(talking about how writers can sometimes interfere too much): “I like illustrating dead authors”.

(talking about inspiration): “It’s a lifetime of looking. Looking and listening should be on the school curriculum.”

Riddell: “I’m addicted to Tumblr”

“Kickstarter is a very 18th century way of doing things” (ie, get your sponsors to commit to the work before you make it).

“You can watch people walk past Carluccio’s” (because the branch in Brighton has a huge window you can sit at and observe people walking by, and this is a good source of inspiration).

Grey: “The secret thing about picture books is that they aren’t for children at all” (they are also for the adults who buy and read them, and there aren’t any other channels where you can match illustration and text so perfectly. She was a bit doubtful about graphic novels – too much on the page).

“Sometimes your best ideas come from playing with your food.” [Shows slide depicting a toy dinosaur with a hat made from a raspberry] “Lots of my books feature food going out of control”.

Gravett (talking about where to find inspiration): “What do I fancy drawing?” – ie, draw whatever you feel like drawing.

A few bits and bobs

Frame from Overstock by Myfanwy Tristram

I am back from Chile

Myfanwy Tristram Santiago sketch diary

It was wonderful.

I did expect to have a sketch diary to share with you by now, but work trips are very different from family holidays.

For starters, you’re working rather than drawing – although, I was very pleased when work asked me to draw the conference that I went out for. The trouble was that I also had many other things to do, so while I drew for about half an hour, it didn’t really constitute having a Conference Artist on hand.

And then, with family holidays, you have long evenings where you’re stuck indoors. That wasn’t the case in Chile, so I was either out at night, or trying desperately to catch up on some sleep.

However, I am determined not to let the sketch diary slip away. I will keep working on it, and most likely post it in installments as I finish a batch of pages.

The Open House has started

prints by Myf

The Open House began its run last Saturday. If you haven’t been yet, don’t worry; there are still three more weekends. I haven’t been myself yet! I was travelling home when it opened up.

I have put together a Facebook page for it though, and now you can browse through a gallery showing everyone’s work. Such nice stuff! If you don’t come for the artwork, come for those scrumptious cakes, surely.

Full details are here.

The Cape/Observer/Comica graphic short story competition is open

Frame from Overstock by Myfanwy Tristram

Yes, the contest with the most unwieldy name in comics has rolled round again – I can’t believe it’s been a year.

I do always like to put an entry in, because it is a great opportunity to sit down and create a longer strip that’s as good as I can make it.

If you’re short of inspiration, you might like to look at the round-up of entries I made from last year.

My shop has reopened

Use the link at the top of the page to get to my shop. At the moment you can only buy cards, but once the Open House is over, I’ll be adding any remaining prints.

Or let me know if there is a particular print you would like to buy, and I’ll be in touch to arrange postage.

That’s it for news, I think!

Don’t forget the Brighton Open Houses

prints by Myf

Brighton Open House flyer 2014


I’m off to Chile tomorrow, but before I go, here’s a reminder about the Open House, which begins its run before I return.

The prints are all ready, and they have come out very nicely. I’ve had far too much fun painting signs, making price labels, and finding random things in charity shops to paint up and use as display units for my cards.

What you can buy

The prints I’ll have on sale (framed or unframed) will be:

I’ll only have a couple of each though, so come early if you want something specific. I’m also selling postcards and greetings cards.

There are also ten other artists displaying (see, for example, Jack Stew’s fish in the image above) – there will be wonderful bags, jewellery and clothes too. So bring your pennies (on that note – cheques and cards are not accepted, so it’s best to bring a wodge of cash if you think you’ll be buying).


The house will be open on every Saturday and Sunday from the 3rd of May to the 25th of May, from 11:00 am to 5:00 pm.

I will be around on the 11th May (11am – 2pm), 18th May (11am – 2pm) and 24th May (2pm to 5pm), so do please come and say hello if you’re passing.

Getting there

Here are details of the house I’ll be exhibiting in: 116 Balfour Road. It’s part of the Independent trail – see the whole trail here.

Here’s a map of the whole city, which features every trail. We’re Open House number 22 on that map.

The 5B bus will get you there from the city centre – here’s the bus route. You get off at the stop called Beaconsfield Villas top, where Beaconsfield Villas meets Preston Drove.

Or take the train to Preston Park station, and it’s about a 15-minute walk


Brighton Open House information is up

Brighton open houses1

Yay! The Brighton Open House website has put all their listings live today. Above is what you should be looking out for if you want to pick up a paper brochure. I like doing that, because then I can leave all kinds of biro comments, and mark out my route around the houses, and I end up with a dog-eared, post-it-note-filled souvenir of the festival.

And yep, my name’s in print. Here are details of the house I’ll be exhibiting in: 116 Balfour Road. It’s part of the Independent trail – see the whole trail here.

They even provide a map of the whole city, which features every trail. I told you they were organised. We’re Open House number 22 on that map.

The 5B bus will get you there from the city centre – here’s the bus route. You get off at the stop called Beaconsfield Villas top, where Beaconsfield Villas meets Preston Drove.

Or take the train to Preston Park station, and it’s about a 15-minute walk.

More details about what I’ll be selling here. I hope to see you there!

I’ll be selling prints at the Brighton Open Houses

Muesli Mountain, large size, by Myfanwy Tristram

I have lived in Brighton for more than two decades, but 2014 marks the very first year that I will be participating in the Artists Open House Festival.

What are Open Houses?

Brighton’s Open Houses are a real institution, dating back to the early eighties.

It began with a few artists who lived in and around the Fiveways area of Brighton. They opened up their homes, treating them as a kind of open gallery space where anyone was free to enter, browse, and perhaps buy.


The idea took off – bigtime – and now, every year, hundreds of houses and studios open up each weekend during May.

It coincides with the main Brighton Festival and the Fringe Festival, so for any culture-loving Brightonians, and visitors to the city, it is a very busy month… in the nicest possible way.

Jay Collins' studio

I have always loved walking round Open House trails, looking at the massive diversity of artwork, and – let’s be honest – enjoying a shufty around other people’s abodes.

It’s a well-known fact that half the visitors come to gawk at the interiors, especially in Brighton’s grander pieces of architecture. Sometimes you can sit in the garden and eat cake, too.


I think I’ve passed the habit on to my daughter. But that’s ok. Open Houses tend to be child-friendly. Remember the bit about cake? Sometimes there are pet cats as well (and once, a tortoise).


If this all sounds good, you can find all the details online from 11th April – or, if local to Brighton, start looking out for the catalogues around town on that date. They’re superbly put together!


Where to find my prints

Yay! This year, I will be a part of it all myself. I’m sharing wall space in an Open House at 116 Balfour Road, not far from the Fiveways area where the whole thing began.

I’ll have prints, cards and postcards for sale, and there will be several other artists’ work to peruse as well. The owner of the house is also behind the Real Patisserie, the Brighton cake shop/institution, so expect a superior range of refreshments to be on offer.

What you can buy!

The prints I’ll have on sale will be:

I’ll only have a couple of each though, so come early if you want something specific.


The house will be open on every Saturday and Sunday from the 3rd of May to the 25th of May, from 11:00 am to 5:00 pm.

I will be around on the 11th May (11am – 2pm), 18th May (11am – 2pm) and 24th May (2pm to 5pm), so do please come and say hello if you’re passing.

More information nearer the date.