Wednesday, 3 June 2015

Inspiring Illustrators | Getting to Know Neil Clark and Rusty the Squeaky Robot



*Not too long ago, Nicola worked at Tigerprint, a creative studio in the heart of Bradford. There, she met Neil Clark, an illustrator. Since then, Neil has written and illustrated a children's book and app. She caught up with him to find out all about it!

First things first, tell us about Rusty The Squeaky Robot. What’s he all about? What does he like and do?

Well Rusty and I have spent a lot of time together recently. He's a great robot, but he isn't a very happy one. We all have something we don't like about ourselves, and for Rusty it's his squeak! Luckily, he has some pretty cool friends on Planet Soundbot who can help him out. You'll have to read the book to find out more!

Ma Bicyclette: Inspiring Illustrators | Getting to Know Neil Clark and Rusty the Squeaky Robot

Where did the idea for Rusty The Squeaky Robot come from? Are you happy with how it turned out?

It was a project that started when an old friend of mine, Tom Forth, showed me an app he'd made. Tom runs a great small business called Imactivate, designing apps that let physical objects tell stories in a digital world. Tom had created this amazing technology that combined image recognition, sounds and language learning. Perfect for a children's book! Tom knew I was an illustrator and he trusted me to write and illustrate Rusty. I was hugely thankful for the opportunity and we're so pleased with how it's turned out.

Ma Bicyclette: Inspiring Illustrators | Getting to Know Neil Clark and Rusty the Squeaky Robot
What were your favourite books as a child, and why?

I loved comics as a kid. From Beano to 2001AD and Marvel classics. The story books I remember at a younger age are Pigeon Street, Cockleshell Bay, Funnybones, all the Mr Men, and anything by Roald Dahl. The Jolly Postman by Allen Ahlberg was one I used and abused until the pages fell apart. It had letters, notes and postcards that you could pull out and deface! As a kid it really took you on a journey. I guess that whole interactive thing is something that stuck with me, and something that links with Rusty.

What do you love about illustrated books? Is the story as important as the illustration?

For me the illustrations come first. That's the reason I'll pick up a book. Imagery draws you in, and it's those images that can stick with you for life. There's still illustrations from my childhood reads that pop up in my dreams now! But then the story plays a huge part and needs to be right. And it's often the story that will entice you back in again and again!
I'm the same with music (a lot of people will hate me for this!) but initially I'm fully focused on the instruments, the sounds, the effects. They say so much on their own. Then I'll go back and take in the lyrics another day!

Ma Bicyclette: Inspiring Illustrators | Getting to Know Neil Clark and Rusty the Squeaky Robot

When did you realise you wanted to be an illustrator? What made you choose it as a career?

I don't think I ever planned it. It all just fell into place, one art class at a time. The only thing I ever wanted to do, as well as play music, was draw pictures. I always knew it was something I could do- my mum and my grandad were both artists. I guess the encouragement from my parents played a huge part- my mum got me onto a great uni course by ringing them up and demanding an interview, and years later she got her friend to put a good word in at Tigerprint where I got my first job as a designer. I've just realised I'd probably be picking strawberries for living if it wasn't for my mum! I feel pretty lucky to be able to make a living from illustration.

Ma Bicyclette: Inspiring Illustrators | Getting to Know Neil Clark and Rusty the Squeaky Robot


Tell us about the app for Rusty The Squeaky Robot.

So this was all Tom's idea. This was the starting point. The app is so impressive- as you turn the pages it can read out the words to you, it recognises the characters and let's you play with their sounds. You can switch language, enabling kids to learn as they go. Great for multilingual families and schools. It's totally unique. So my task was to create a story that worked great as a stand alone kids book, but could really come to life when married with the Soundbots app! I was so excited by the idea of combining an app with something real, something physical. That physical connection with something is so important. I still buy books, magazines and vinyl. The print industry isn't going anywhere! It's been great to see so many kids enjoying flicking through this book, and then getting creative with the app. The best of both worlds!

How long did the whole process take? Would you encourage others to do the same?

It's been a slow burner. It's almost a year since I started sketching ideas.  Once I'd drafted story ideas, the character design and illustrations flowed quite quickly- it was so enjoyable! Since then, there's been so much work behind the scenes- a huge amount of thought went into the technical side of things. Tom & his team did a lot of trials and testing, with children and teachers. Once the book was printed and approved, we began getting the all important website and social networks up and running. It's been a fully independent project. So proud of that. It's massively rewarding. I'd  recommend that approach to anyone!

Ma Bicyclette: Inspiring Illustrators | Getting to Know Neil Clark and Rusty the Squeaky Robot

Are you planning for a series of Rusty The Squeaky Robot books?

I hope so! It's still early days, so we'll have to see how far we can push this one first. I love the idea of getting fans of the first book to suggest ideas for what Rusty will get up to next! Who knows what else could go down on Planet Soundbot! In the meantime the app is being updated and improved all the time, and we're focusing on getting books into stores as well as online.

Ma Bicyclette: Inspiring Illustrators | Getting to Know Neil Clark and Rusty the Squeaky Robot

What’s next in the pipeline for Neil Clark?

I've got all sorts going on. I've done a series of graphic prints that should be available soon. There's a couple already up on my society6.com/neilclark site. And I've started illustrating another story. I'm exploring an underwater/outerspace world, where jellyfish float through the stars, and stingrays fly alongside rockets and whaleships. 


Monday, 1 June 2015

Home Inspiration | Wall Art

This week, I've been scouring the web looking for the very best pieces of handmade wall art I could find, and it seems there are some really great things out there for you to hang on your wall! Think beyond framed photos and prints (although I have included a few of those too!) - here is a wide array of fun and beautiful pieces to cheer up your walls!

Woven Wall Hangings

Ma Bicyclette - Buy Handmade - Wall Art - Blooming Alice  Ma Bicyclette - Buy Handmade - Wall Art - Boho Bentley  Ma Bicyclette - Buy Handmade - Wall Art - Le Petit Moose

Faux Taxidermy

Ma Bicyclette - Buy Handmade - Wall Art - Perspex Stag  Ma Bicyclette - Buy Handmade - Wall Art - Textile Stag  Ma Bicyclette - Buy Handmade - Wall Art - No Gallery

Prints & Posters

Ma Bicyclette - Buy Handmade - Wall Art - Blue Tit  Ma Bicyclette - Buy Handmade - Wall Art - Retro Print  Ma Bicyclette - Buy Handmade - Wall Art - Isn't She Lovely

Banners

Ma Bicyclette - Buy Handmade - Wall Art - Make It Happen  Ma Bicyclette - Buy Handmade - Wall Art - Seek Adventure  Ma Bicyclette - Buy Handmade - Wall Art - Bonny And Joy

Dream Catchers

Ma Bicyclette - Buy Handmade - Wall Art - Bright Boho Dreamcatcher Ma Bicyclette - Buy Handmade - Wall Art - Floral Dreamcatcher  Ma Bicyclette - Buy Handmade - Wall Art - Making Things Happen

For Kids

Ma Bicyclette - Buy Handmade - Wall Art - Lego Man  Ma Bicyclette - Buy Handmade - Wall Art - Name Bunting  Ma Bicyclette - Buy Handmade - Wall Art - Clouds


Steph H
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Thursday, 14 May 2015

Inspiring Artists | Kollektiv Plus Zwei

Kollektiv Plus Zwei consists of two designers, Stefanie Hogl and Matthias Borowski. They work together along with craftsmen, material experts and others involved in the manufacturing process in order to make aesthetically pleasing objects and designs. They say that the word ‘Kollektiv’ stands for the people involved in their work along with the inspiration they get from ‘the social and cultural environment’.

Please join me on a journey of exploring their work.

Ma Bicyclette: Inspiring Artists | Kollektiv Plus Zwei - The Importance Of The Obvious

This image is from a series of work called ‘The Importance of the Obvious’. The aim was to take a closer look at the characteristics of materials. This is something that I feel the Kollektiv have been very successful in doing. Matthias took a close look at food, then went on to create furniture based on his findings.

Ma Bicyclette: Inspiring Artists | Kollektiv Plus Zwei - The Importance Of The Obvious

Here’s a closer look at some designs from the series. Here he was looking at the ‘dormant potential of materials’. The creations can be used as seats and tables. A great variety of materials have been used to create them.

Ma Bicyclette: Inspiring Artists | Kollektiv Plus Zwei - The Importance Of The Obvious

Ma Bicyclette: Inspiring Artists | Kollektiv Plus Zwei - Stone

‘Stone’ shown above is a marble stool that was made for a French design brand ‘Haptein’. It is a sculpture that can be used as a stool or side table. This sculpture is interactive in that the viewer is to move the ten marble sections to ‘give rhythm’ to it. I like how it lends itself to the mood or rhythm that is unique to the viewer.

Ma Bicyclette: Inspiring Artists | Kollektiv Plus Zwei - Knitula

‘Knitula’ is a knitted tube lamp. It was created with the idea using minimal space and costing as little as possible along the way. Designed so it can fit and be posted in an A4 envelope, it fits with the modern world that Kollektiv believe is defined by ‘transportation and logistics’. I’d certainly love to receive a knitted lamp in the post!

Ma Bicyclette: Inspiring Artists | Kollektiv Plus Zwei - Knitula





Ma Bicyclette: Inspiring Artists | Kollektiv Plus Zwei - Experiment Abfallprodukt


‘Experiment Abfallprodukt’ looks into ‘misunderstood waste’. The project explores the uses of objects and materials that are just thrown away. I think that this would have been such a fun experiment to carry out. Such interesting furniture has been made in the process.

Ma Bicyclette: Inspiring Artists | Kollektiv Plus Zwei - Experiment Abfallprodukt

Product designer Philip Furstenhofer also worked on the project. Local companies were utilised and visited as part of the experiment, along with ecologists and waste management sites. The final collection consisted of eight items.

Ma Bicyclette: Inspiring Artists | Kollektiv Plus Zwei - Experiment Abfallprodukt

Ma Bicyclette: Inspiring Artists | Kollektiv Plus Zwei - Die Masche The Stitch

There are so many cool and innovative things that I could share with you that Kollektiv Plus Zwei have created that I could literally sit here all day. However I am mindful that you may have other things to do. So I shall finish with ‘Die Masche’ (The Stitch) as shown above. This is basically all about the bow tie consisting of ‘strong colours and high quality leather’. The idea is simplicity. It even comes with a brooch needle, so can be attached to literally every garment the wearer chooses to team it with. Personally I’d go for the pink :)

Ma Bicyclette: Inspiring Artists | Kollektiv Plus Zwei - Die Masche The Stitch

If you’re feeling as inspired as I am and want to explore even more of the work of Kollektiv Plus Zwei, you can do so by clicking on the links below.

Website
Facebook

Rachel
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Monday, 11 May 2015

Good Eats | Super Healthy 5-Ingredient Granola Bars

These granola bars are the perfect sweet treat if you're trying to eat a little more healthily - they are delicious, super easy to make, and will keep you satisfied for much longer than most things you could reach for. Knock up a batch of these (it will take you no time at all!) and keep them close to hand for when that 3 o'clock slump kicks in!

Ma Bicyclette | Super Healthy 5-Ingredient Granola Bars

Below is a super easy NO-BAKE recipe, which only contains 5 ingredients (yes, five!), however with this recipe you can really feel free to experiment so go a little crazy and let us know what you come up with!

You will need:
1 cup pitted dates (either chopped up really really small, or blitzed in a food processor)*
1/4 cup honey (or maple syrup, agave, or anything else that takes your fancy!)
1/4 cup peanut butter
1 cup seeds or nuts (I used sunflower seeds)
1 1/2 cups rolled oats

*Note: If your dates don't seem sticky and moist, soak them in water for 10 minutes before you begin. This will help hold the bars together much better!

Ma Bicyclette | Super Healthy 5-Ingredient Granola Bars Ma Bicyclette | Super Healthy 5-Ingredient Granola Bars

Once you have all your ingredients, tip them into a big bowl and mix.

Ma Bicyclette | Super Healthy 5-Ingredient Granola Bars

Line a baking sheet with parchment paper, tip the mix in and press down evenly. 

Ma Bicyclette | Super Healthy 5-Ingredient Granola Bars Ma Bicyclette | Super Healthy 5-Ingredient Granola Bars

Pop the tray into the fridge for 20 minutes to harden, and then chop it up into bars.
And there you go! Your granola bars are done! Make yourself a cup of tea and enjoy one :)

Ma Bicyclette | Super Healthy 5-Ingredient Granola Bars

If you want to make the bars extra tasty, and aren't so fussed with the healthiness, I can really recommend drizzling some melted chocolate over them! Mmmmm hmmm!

Ma Bicyclette | Super Healthy 5-Ingredient Granola Bars Ma Bicyclette | Super Healthy 5-Ingredient Granola Bars

Steph H
X

Wednesday, 6 May 2015

Inspiring Artists | Laura Callaghan

Laura Callaghan is an Irish illustrator who is based in South East London. Her colourful designs are hand drawn using a mixture of watercolour, Indian ink and isograph pen.

Ma Bicyclette: Inspiring Artists | Laura Callaghan

This image ‘The Wall’ is so full of detail. From Frida Kahlo on the wall to the bottle of vodka strewn on the bed, there is so much going on in this illustration. On an aesthetic level, the eye is just drawn in. The wall itself is reminiscent of any young person’s room growing up. Like a journal full of memories, accomplishments and interests.

Ma Bicyclette: Inspiring Artists | Laura Callaghan

‘The Diner’ again has so much going on within it. I love how Laura pays so much attention even to the minutest of details. From the patterns on the clothing to the writing on the menus, every area is full of life. The colours she uses are those that I would never imagine putting together in an illustration but this makes the image itself even more realistic. The colours that Laura uses work so well together.

Ma Bicyclette: Inspiring Artists | Laura Callaghan

This is one of Laura’s editorial illustrations for the weekly fashion column in the Sunday Telegraph’s lifestyle supplement ‘Stella’. I love how Laura uses darker tones to create the creases in the model’s clothing, along with how she uses the colours in the background to bring both the model and the rest of the image together.

Ma Bicyclette: Inspiring Artists | Laura Callaghan

This image was created for part of a series of work to promote the Urban Outfitters sale. These illustrations are far more clean cut that the ones I have already shown. This shows how versatile Laura is in her work and what she can do. Despite the difference in approach, Laura’s unique style still shows through.

Ma Bicyclette: Inspiring Artists | Laura Callaghan

I love how this and many of Laura’s illustrations portray real moments in life. Both the good and the bad.

Ma Bicyclette: Inspiring Artists | Laura Callaghan

This and the above image were done for a print magazine ‘Until Now’. The Magazine focuses on the coming of age. Filled with images and musings about who we were back then, who we are now and how the two impact on one another. Both images are so full of telling secrets and private moments.

Ma Bicyclette: Inspiring Artists | Laura Callaghan

This illustration was made for ‘The Lifted Brow – The Ego Issue’. The images in this issue sought to portray issues concerning the self, identity, ego, arrogance and related matters. I love how Laura’s images always say so much about the subject within them. The personality of the character she is portraying shines through in this and all of the illustrations that we have viewed.

I feel all inspired after looking at the work of Laura Callaghan. She definitely utilises both colour and pattern throughout each of and every one of her illustrations. She has so much to say and to put across in each image and I feel that she is very successful in this.

If you would like to check out more of Laura’s work, you can do so on the links below

Website
Instagram
Tumblr
Twitter

Rachel
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