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

Schoolmates

 

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.

Last-minute Valentine’s cards

valentines hearts by Myfanwy Tristram

I was a bit pressed for time this Valentine’s day, so no massive, hand-crafted works of art from me. Fortunately, my nearest and dearest are forgiving recipients.

valentines cats by Myfanwy Trsitram


A pair of cats, dashed off late at night, for my husband. The theme and composition kind of suggested itself, once I’d started doodling on the one size of card blank I had around the place.

I quite like it though, as the seed of an idea. Would it be oh so wrong to develop it into a more polished piece, for sales purposes? Woman in ‘exploits relationship for gain’ shocker.

valentines hearts by Myfanwy Tristram

And this card was for my daughter, who is still at the age where she is thrilled to get a card, even if it’s from mum. Again, this was very much a last-minute job. There is something about it that reminds me of cartoony cards of the Seventies – maybe the colour scheme?

I was also gratified to receive a card back from her – an enormous one, that had made – with permission! – use of my collage pile. I know this is a cliche, but it was kind of effortlessly beautiful, graphic, exuberant… plus she’d done something with a speech balloon inside the card that I never would have thought of, and it looked brilliant.

So hooray for small people, I guess. It’s nice to feel like the learning isn’t all one-way. Lots of lessons there, if we look for them.

All my #hourlycomicday posts in one place

February 1st is Hourly Comics Day, when (mad) people commit to drawing a cartoon every hour that they are awake. I saw this happen on Twitter last year, somewhat wistfully, because by the time I knew it was happening, my day was half over.

This year I was no better prepared, but I did at least see a tweet about it just a few minutes after waking up. Typically, my train of thought went:

– Nah, I can’t possibly commit to that. How do people DO things, AND find the time to draw them?
– Well, I might just draw ONE cartoon…
– Argh, this is ON – there’s no way I’m stopping now.

And that’s how I always get sucked into these things. Click on each of the images below to see them bigger.

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Hourly comics day is huge

If you’d like to see what other people have produced, you could be in for a long read:

What I learned from Hourly Comic Day

  • It’s exhausting!
  • You don’t have to record every single thing that happens. I did, and that’s probably why I found it so tiring, but some of the best ones I saw just focus on one small event from each hour. Those cartoons tend to be funnier, too.
  • You have to let go of any desire to present perfect drawings. Actually, it’s quite liberating to discover that when people read a project like this, they tend to appreciate the content more than the fine art.
  • Use a smaller sketchbook, so that when you come to scan them at the end of a long long day, you don’t have to scan every page twice.
  • Don’t expect to set the world alight. I barely received *any* comments on Twitter – I guess there are so many people posting (and frantically drawing between times) that it’s hard to stand out. Conversely, things went down much better on Facebook – but then, the people who follow me there tend to be personal friends with a pre-existing interest in me and my life. :)

What I didn’t learn from Hourly Comic Day

  • How other people handle sex scenes. C’mon, people, really?

Will I do Hourly Comic Day next year?

Right now, I’d say ‘no way’. But when February 1st comes around again, you might just see me getting pulled in.

Buy a Myfanwy Tristram print

As you’ll remember, I had a few giclee prints made up for Spitalfields Market. I now have a few extras for sale – very few, so please act fast if you’d like to buy one.

Here’s what I have available (if you’d like a close-up look at the images, click on each picture below – or see the original artwork here.):

Meusli Mountain, small size, by Myfanwy Tristram

Meusli Mountain, large size, by Myfanwy TristramMuesli Mountain, large size only (small is sold out) (above). This drawing is based on the Hanover area of Brighton, featuring its trademark grid of terraced houses and the Pepperpot at the top. Now sold out

Skittle Cat small size, by Myfanwy Tristram

Skittle cat (above) – small size only (large is sold out). Here you can see the cat that the sketch was originally based on :). Note, the cellophane wrapping is still on the prints in these pictures, but once it’s off, your print will not feature those pesky diagonal wrinkles, promise! Now sold out

Animal Tea small size, by Myfanwy Tristram

tea-large

Animal Tea, small size only – large now sold out (above). In this image, a variety of animals take their tea in suitable ways – the penguin likes his iced, while the camel, of course, likes his with two lumps. Mr Beaver, meanwhile, likes a cup of builder’s… you get the idea.

framed-tins

Tins (above) – small size only (large is sold out). This one looks lovely in the kitchen. Now sold out.

Sizes, etc

The prints come in two sizes:

SMALL: 21cm by 30cm, (A4)

LARGE: 30cm by 40cm (the same width as, but just a bit shorter than A3)

These are both standard sizes which will fit into the sort of frames you can find anywhere – for example, Ikea’s RIBBA frame (£6) would fit the smaller or the larger size, with or without the mount*.

All prints come unmounted/unframed, wrapped in clear cellophane. They are giclee prints, and archival quality which means they will last for many years without fading or discolouration. I have to say that they actually exceeded my expectations when I first unwrapped one and took a look at the depth of colour and print quality.

Prices

Small prints are £15.00

Large prints are £25.00

Postage and packing is £3.50 in the UK, for one or more prints. International shipping? Please mail me for a quote.

Every pound I make from this sale will go into funding the next batch.

How to buy

I accept payment by PayPal. Drop me an email and I’ll be back in touch to confirm your print is still available, and to give you my payment details. As soon as your payment has cleared, your print will be on its way to you, safely backed by cardboard and in a padded envelope.

As there are only a couple of each design, I’ll be operating strictly first come, first serve.

But don’t worry if you miss out, because…

What would you like to buy next?

As I say, this sale will be funding the next print run.

I’d like to get some other images printed up, and I would love to hear if there are any images you particularly like. Consider it market research, on a shoestring.

One of these, perhaps?

Stamps landscape by Myfanwy TristramStamp forest by Myfanwy Tristramred-roaster-in-shade

* Disclosure: I have’t actually tried it! I’m going by Ikea’s measurements. But what I’m saying is, you won’t have trouble fitting them to a frame, ok? Ok. :)

Happy Birthday, Dude

Thanks to poor forward planning skills, our family suffers a quadruple whammy at this time of year. As soon as all the kerfuffle of Christmas and New Year is over, it’s our daughter’s birthday, and then, just a week later, my husband’s.

I spent the first few days of the year creating a winter wonderland birthday party fit for a nine-year-old. Then it was time to turn my attention towards my husband’s big day.

He’d just asked for money this year, as he’s saving for a new laptop. It’s hard to make a cheque exciting to open, so I thought I would put in some extra effort and let his card double up as a piece of artwork.

Dude birthday by Myfanwy Tristram

And here it is before I added the colour.

Birthday card line drawing  by Myfanwy Tristram

I think the likenesses were very slightly better before I put the colour on, but ah well, never mind. The dude in question didn’t seem to mind.

And now, maybe I can return to my normally scheduled artwork… until Valentine’s Day.

Now you can buy my prints!

I’m very excited to say that my work will shortly be available at the Art Market in Spitalfields market.

You’ll be able to find prints of the following (and just in time for Christmas!):

Washing Up by Myfanwy Tristram“If you have to wash up the same things every day, make sure they are beautiful things” by Myfanwy Tristram

Animal Tea by Myfanwy TristramAnimal Tea by Myfanwy Tristram

Tins by Myfanwy TristramTins by Myfanwy Tristram

booner by Myfanwy TristramSkittle Cat by Myfanwy Tristram

Iggy by Myfanwy TristramIggy by Myfanwy Tristram

I haven’t seen these in the flesh yet, but they should be available on Thursday until Sunday (I’ll be going up on Thursday to take a look). If they go down well, I will be looking at selling prints online, too.

I’m hoping people agree that the tins, the tea design and the washing up print would all look excellent in the kitchen. The cat pictures? Well, if you’re a cat-lover, you’ll appreciate them anywhere in the house.

Booner

booner by Myfanwy Tristram

Poor Booner. She’s our oldest cat, and has never got over her own nervousness. She was a rescue cat, and we think she must have been badly treated in her previous life. No amount of love and cuddles (slightly too enthusiastic cuddles sometimes, from our daughter, I’m afraid) have allowed her to relax completely.

This week she’s been diagnosed with a hyperactive thyroid. What with £107 worth of blood tests, and medication for the rest of her life, it’s a good job we love her.