Monday, 11 February 2019

On the 12th Day of Christmas...

... this blogger gave to thee...
... twelve drummers drumming...
... eleven illustrated Instagrams...
... ten sassy soaps...
... nine creative weirdos...
... eight things I've loved...
... seven shoes to choose from...
... six party dresses...
... five gold rings!..
... four silly socks...
... three Etsy shops...
... two tuneful gizmos...
... and a great soup for cold winter days.

It's been a year since I started this post. This actually takes into account the fact that I'm a month late in posting it, because last year, in February, I made the decision to approach the 12th Day of Christmas a little differently from other years. The approach was instead of just listening to music throughout the year and relying on my memory to populate the track list, I made a list.

Every time I obsessed over a song, got one stuck in my head or couldn't stop playing it, I made a note, whether it was old or new, I did this every month and this gave me my not so short list. And this all officially started on February 28th of last year, as we were a few inches deep in snow, during a week of amber and red alerts for freezing cold winds from Siberia, as the Beast from the East, hit the UK and Europe.

Almost seems appropriate to end the run of posts sitting watching the snow, writing a list, and hopefully this will a better idea of my listening habits and the soundtrack of 2018 for me...

... except, I've been writing this post for more than a week. In fact I've been writing it since I published my last post and this, what I'm typing right now, is I think the fourth or fifth iteration. I don't know why I'm finding it so hard this year. It's editing a list of the music, that I've already populated throughout 2018, down to eighteen and then writing about why I picked them. Yet, I'm either rambling, over emotional and long winded, or I'm making an attempt at brevity and feeling unable to express why I gravitated towards a song for better reasons than, "I love it! It's great! It makes me feel good/sad but happy! I love the musician! It gives me the music feels! It has an amazing video!"

Instead, I've stared at my laptop, binge watched season one and two of American Crime Story; created a lucky dip for palette pot luck*; birthday shopped; birthday shopped with my gran; pre-birthday cooked so I get half a chance at spending some time with the birthday girl (mum); run around during a birthday and been distracted by saved up YouTube videos! But basically either I've tried to avoid writing during the day or failed to focus on it at night. I'm not even sure what tact to take next to get this post finished, but I feel like just sitting and babbling for a little bit and pointing out a song or two that resonated with me a lot this year is probably the next and safest option.

Because in 2018, I listened to a lot of music. I got obsessed by a lot of music, lots of which made it onto my playlist and a lot that didn't. Some of my favourite musicians released new music, there were some random and brilliantly done covers and a year long love affair started with one artist which garnered him five places on the ever growing list I needed to cut down. Cut down from forty two tracks to eighteen, so some songs I loved were going to get edited out, which sucked...

Which is why I'm not going too. You're getting the whole shebang!

(There are two songs missing, Track 7: Melania by Tom Rosenthal and Track 28: Using You by Mars Argo. Both are on the video playlist. Not too fussed about the latter, I'd considered removing it anyway, but you should watch Melania.)

Hogmanay 2017, I mostly spent in bed, attempting to get into a comfortable position because my back was still sore - it didn't right itself properly for a couple more months - so I didn't join my family during our traditional New Years movie night, where we inevitably choose the wrong movie to watch. By the bells, we usually switch to watching Jools Hollands Hootenanny, have a glass of something to welcome the New Year in, and complain about the fact that we can't stand Jools Holland. This year, that meant the first song I heard in 2018 was Here Comes The Girls by Trombone Shorty. That was a really good song to start the year with because it's so upbeat, which seeing I was in pain and not in the greatest of head spaces, was a really nice song to get stuck in my head.
In March I became genuinely obsessed by Watermelon. Tom Rosenthal, was a mainstay of 2018, creating both comedic and beautifully touching songs alike. Whether he's singing about Melania Trump, loneliness or Christmas, his songs and the videos he creates to accompany them, just seemed to seep into my brain. This is why Watermelon, had to feature in my playlist. It's catchy, ridiculous and funny, and I love it, and I love torturing my sisters with this glorious ear-worm. Seriously, I can't stop singing it and all I need to do is 3 seconds of the dance Rosenthal does in the video, whilst dressed as a giant watermelon (him not me), or give her an evil grin when we're talking about music, to get it into her head! I know I'm evil, but that's a siblings job right? {Mwhahaha!}
Such A Simple Thing by Ray Lamontagne, is, on the other hand, simply beautiful, and harks back to his first albums and the kind of music I love from him. It's the kind of music and tone of his singing, that gives me that happy, calm, slow heartbeat feeling, that I guess you would classify as a type of music chillls or ASMR** response. There are only a few musicians I get that from, and I was so happy when I heard it for the first time at the end of last March, I couldn't get it out of my head and I played it a hundred times in the first week.
I'm not going to say much about This is America, but I think we can all probably agree on the fact that whether you're a fan or not, that May 2018 was the month of Childish Gambino, because this song was a force to be reckoned with. I feel I would be amiss if I didn't point out just how much I was obsessed by this song.
On Netflix, there is a series called Schitt's Creek, a show I initially ignored and thought would be irritating. I couldn't have been more wrong. It's funny, ridiculous and yes, sometimes irritating, but it's also comforting and impossibly sweet at times.

For example, during an open mic night when Patrick (Noah Reid) expresses his love for David (Daniel Levy) by covering Simply The Best by Tina Turner. An odd choice, maybe, and you, like David, would be perfectly warranted to look at it sceptically, even with a little dread at the potential embarrassment... but you'd be wrong, it is the most stupidly romantic and lovely moment.

I love this cover. It's sweet, and lovely, and even though I know TV shows are scripted to manipulate their audience, and that they give us unrealistic expectations about love, I don't care. Doesn't everyone want someone, anyone, to look at you in that way, with that amount of love, just once? 
It has been eight years since James Blake released his first self-titled album. This was and still is one of my favourite albums (specifically the edition with the Enough Thunder EP tacked on the end) and he remains one of those musicians I wait eagerly for each new album to drop. Don't Miss It, is the first single Blake released from Assume Form, his fourth studio album and I was instantly sucked back into that sound that I loved so much from eight years ago. 

Part of my love for this is down to the video, which is a simple screen record of the songs lyrics being typed out on a note app. It sounds incredibly boring, but it makes the song read more like a diary entry, with spelling mistakes, edits and flow of consciousness. You can imagine him sitting writing this trying to get the thoughts out of his head and that really appeals.

Later in the list, Blake gets a second spot covering Don McLean's Vincent, so look forward to that because it's beautiful.
Old Friends by Ben Rector (featuring his high school band, Euromart) is a song YouTube recommended to me. I instantly became obsessed and played it over and over, mostly because it gave me all the feels, good and bad, about school. It makes me feel happy and sad and envious... which is a confusing feeling.

I've always felt like the third wheel. I know I had good friends, people I love to this day, but I always felt like I wasn't fully part of the group. But that says more about me than anyone else.

Thing about this song, is as sad as it makes me feel because of my self inflicted ostracisation, is how at the same time, it makes me feel happy and nostalgic for my friends from school and college. For the afternoons walking home and spending another hour chattering at the end street before actually going home; walking home from Battle of the Bands and singing Build Me Up Buttercup; singing loud in the car as we carpooled to uni or spoke in silly voices in the workshop; roller blading around the neighbourhood and sitting in the library hiding out from tutors with practically my whole class because our tutor was reading everyone the riot act... 

... Old Friends is the experience you want. If you have that, if you still have people in your life that shared them with you, you're very lucky.
The Hug Song by Colleen Ballinger and Erik Stoklin, isn't a song I would normally put on this list, but after I heard it, I couldn't get it out of my head, it's honestly so adorable. Known more as her YouTube character Miranda Sings, Ballinger asked her nephew Parker, how do you show someone that you love them, and Parker replied: "A heart, I give them a heart, I make them a heart with a pen, and they keep it in a hiding spot."

Taking Parker's reply Ballingers along with Erik Stocklin, her co-star from the Miranda Sings Netflix series Haters Back Off, turned it into the sweetest ukulele/piano duet. It's only made more adorable by the fact that the couple soon revealed that they had not only been hiding their relationship, but that they were expecting their first child (Flynn) and were engaged (now married). Their relationship was a huge topic of speculation among her fans, which was only compounded by the release of the video for The Hug Song and the the way the two were looking at one another.

I follow Ballinger on YouTube and personally find her really funny, though I understand why the Miranda Sings character can be very irritating. However, I find the way the couple are together really sweet and incredibly enviable, and this song even made me break out my ukulele. Guess I'm just being a sappy romantic, but I still can't get this silly little song out of my head.
Time in a Tree by Raleigh Ritchie is the first song of his for a couple of year that I've been really obsessed by. The song, in video form, sees the singer in a lift, re-experiencing his life as it stops on each floor from childhood, through adolescence, his teens, the highs and lows of fame and beyond, and feeling the need for both support in, and peace and quite from life:

"'Time In A Tree' is about needing some peace. Some respite, some time away from your own mind. The ways that you can get in your own way on the way to those things. It's about the fear of not being deserving of happiness, or that you're not doing enough to get the kind of happiness you want. It's about needing validation and confirmation that you're loved and supported when you're struggling. It's about needing time in a tree, like a kid - off the ground and halfway in the sky.(Raleigh Ritchie on Time in a Tree for Clash)

It's a very familiar feeling expressed it a song I could and have listened too over and over again...
Damocles, is a commoner who switches places with King Dionysius for a day, after pointing out how fortunate his king was compared to him. Accepting this proposal, he becomes King and enjoys the spoils this gives. However, King Dionysius arranges for a sword to be hung above the throne, suspended by a single strand of hair from a horses tail, to mimic the constant feeling of fear, anxiety and danger that the King - who had many enemies - felt daily. Damocles soon begged the King for the switch to end and for him to be allowed to go back to his normal life, realising that though with this high position you gain fame, power and fortune, these were often outweighed by the fear of responsibility.

Rufus Wainwright - a mainstay of the 12th Day over the last few years - wrote his interpretation of The Sword of Damocles, to President Trump during the midterm elections in the United States. It was intended as a parable on the fact that with great power comes great responsibility and the parallels between Trumps rise to power and the 4th Century story of Damocles. The songs video, which features Wainwright as King Dionysius and Darren Criss as Damocles, sees the latter sitting alone with the sword handing perilously above his head, before leaving the word "Vote" on a black screen, as encouragement to the viewer to go and register to vote, and have a say as to who is or isn't in power...

I'm not going to say anything about politics given the ridiculous mess the UK has gotten itself into with the whole Brexit debacle.
Something consistent in Rosenthal's work - this being the fourth of five tracks on this list - is the creativity of his videos and the mood they create alongside the music. Whether it's dancing like a watermelon, trudging through snow wearing fairy lights or creating tension by not having people hug, I will admit that I didn't truly start enjoying his music until I started watching the accompanying videos, but sometimes having a visual helps get across the emotion that the song has. How Have You Been? is exactly that, a mixture of stop motion and traditional animation in which a character, whose job it is to bring people calm and peaceful dreams (based on the idea of the Sandman and Hypnos, the Greek God of sleep) is himself living with depression and loneliness. Eventually, he is joined by another character, nicknamed Shadow by Rosenthal and Heather Colbert - the videos director, and Hypnos is given the contact with another being that he needs to survive. It's so beautiful, in both appearance, sound and sentiment that I teared up a little the first time I watched it. It's incredibly touching.
 I'll Still Have Me by CYN aka Cynthia Nabozny, is this sweet and honest song about relationships ending, whether by choice or the inevitability of time. It's not sad, despite its subject matter, it's warm and positive and Nabozny creates the feeling that everything's going to be okay even though you're sad, because it was good while it lasted and you still have the memory. It helps that it reminds me of Keaton Henson a little, because of the sliding sound between each guitar note, which I always find such an attractive sound. I just really like this song, and that's the point of this list, it's stuff I like.
The penultimate song on the list is When The Party's Over by Billie Eilish, which is sort of fitting. I got completely obsessed by this song over the latter end of the year - though I forgot to write it down like a dummy. Luckily I noticed!

I didn't know who Billie Eilish was before seeing a thumbnail for the music video, in which you see a girl with blue hair, in a white room, with black liquid pouring from her eyes. I clicked on the video out of curiosity, but I was instantly hooked. It's this haunting and emotive song which gives over a feeling of loss and sadness even more when watched alongside the video. However, according to Eilish, it's not a sad song:

"It’s like, 'I’ll call you when the party’s over,' you’re on the phone with someone and you can’t hear them, they can’t hear you, it’s loud, they’re mad at you for some reason. I feel like everybody’s had that struggle with someone – somebody on the phone yelling for some reason, and you’re just like, 'You know what? Fucking leave me alone.'"

To me though, it's the end of the night, on those rare occasions I've been out with friends in the past - something I'm bad at, it just makes me feel anxious and out of place - and despite the fact that I've had fun, the feeling of being out of my comfort zone starts to creep over me as I've driven home, and that feeling of inadequacy and loneliness rise back up. It's something you try and fool yourself into feeling okay about, but you're not, and even though you've said you'll talk to everyone soon, there's just as big a chance I'll disappear again and that'll be it.

Despite that, I love this song, it's beautiful and I'm excited to listen to more of Eilish's music. Plus, there have been a couple of covers which appeared pre-2019 which are also worth listening too. The first is by Kina Grannis, in my opinion the queen of the cover, and her version is this beautifully soft cover that I expect from Grannis, the other is by YouTuber Abbey Glover, and in some respects her cover gets across that feeling of pain and and anguish even more pointedly that the original. It's full of emotion and I think I've listened to it almost as much as the original, so I've included both after the track on the video playlist because I think I owe you all some extras!
 Lastly is Haim covering That Don't Impress Me Much by Shania Twain for Like A Version, a segment on triple j, an Australian radio station aimed at younger listeners, in which musicians perform covers of other acts... so essentially the Aussie version of Radio 1's Live Lounge. This came out mid 2017, but this is the song I listened to on repeat as I dressed the Christmas tree and was the last song I heard before it was officially Christmas. I was feeling the need for something really happy and potentially nostalgic and who doesn't remember Shania Twain in that ridiculous leopard print outfit? Oh, yeah, probably a lot of people born after 1999 when this song was released in the UK...

... I suddenly feel very old.

Haim singing this iconic song however makes it cool and modern though, right? I don't have to go back to listening to the original just because I was born in the eighties do I? Because I really freaking love this cover!

Either way, this as I said was the song I listened too while dressing the Christmas tree and preceded the sound of Noddy Holder screaming "IT'S CHRISTMAS!", which has been the official marker for the start of Christmas in my household for many years now. That came from the loudspeaker hidden in Santa's sleigh as he drove around our town collecting money for charity, another tradition in our town, and that seems like a very long time ago now.

So that's the list, more than twice as long as it should be, and more than a month late. It's actually scary that Christmas seems so long ago, given it's barely over a month since the house was strewn with fairy lights and glittery ornaments, we had a tree in the living room and were running around like headless chickens trying to get things ready in time. We've even started talking about next years Christmas window for the practice and I've already drawn plans, which is just insane.

Can I just say now, thank you so much to anyone who has beared with me to the end of 2018/19's 12 Days of Christmas. I realise I've taken my sweet time about it this year, been a little sad and down at times during my posts (okay, a lot), and probably had several mini breakdowns during them as I've attempted to be honest and explain some of the crap that's been going on in my head, for not just the last year, but probably the last ten or more.

I'm the kind of person who bottles things up and hides. I've cut myself out of all my friends lives because I didn't want to make them hate me or bring them down, then stayed away because I'm embarrassed that my life is how it is. One friend has reached though thanks to these posts, and I am so grateful and love her for that - always have loved her, even when we had fights or stopped talking for year on end. And I will force myself into getting in touch, it may just take me a while to get the courage.

Confidence and courage are two things I lack completely. If I've ever had them, I'm not sure, but being honest and a little bit more open over the past twelve posts has helped in taking away a little bit of the stress from everything that's been going on in my head. It's giving me a distraction and somewhere that I can vent. And now once these posts are officially up and over with, that's when thing really need to start. I can't let myself put things off. Where I'm to start, I don't know. But I need to start somewhere.

I do hope you've enjoyed these 12 Days posts, even if it's just to look at the pictures and you've ignored my rambling, and it has been rambling! I've had more saves on this years than I think I have ever had before, and people really seemed to like the posts where I highlighted some Etsy and Instagram accounts, so that's something I may, as I find people, post through the year or save for next year. I would like to start posting outwith the 12 Days again, maybe monthly, maybe randomly, but I think it would be good for to stop being scared to even write on here.

Anyway, I need to stop typing, finish editing, get the last images and links*** inserted and get this bloody thing posted! But whatever day or time it is you're reading this, let's pretend it's drinkies time - 5 o'clock by my grandpa's watch - and raise a glass (tea, coffee, gin, whatever) and wish everyone a Happy New Year one last time, and good luck for 2019. Or just raise a glass and make a wish, because fuck it, whether you're five or ninety five, making a little wish in your head can't hurt... but if you're five:


Merry Christmas & Happy New Year!

Love, Emily xxx

* It isn't original, but Palette Pot Luck, is my way of trying to use more of my eye shadow palettes as part of my Project Pan. I numbered them, put the numbers in a tub, then each month I'll pull a couple out and I have to use them exclusively for a month. This month I have all metallic's, a palette with a crap ton of fallout and a quad I knew I loved and may make the other two workable. If my eye makeup's good this month, it may be a miracle! 
**  I've linked a couple of web pages about the difference/similarities between music chills and ASMR response, however if you aren't aware, ASMR stands for Autonomous Sensory Meridian Response, which means some people get a happy, tingling sensation when they experience stimuli such as whispering or ambient noises produced while eating, moving, crinkling or crunching noses. It's more involved than that, so if you're curious, Google!
*** OH MY GOD! Adding all the links to each artist and any extras has taken me about 4 hours and while doing it I realised that I have a couple of typos in my images, so I have to fix those now too! So if I've missed any I apologise. I swear I've got more white hairs now than when I started, and it's getting harder and harder to think of them as hair tinsels and not a sign of stress and age!

Link || Trombone Shorty || Website || Instagram || Twitter || Facebook || YouTube || Spotify || iTunes (1|2)
Link || Cinematic Orchestra || Website || Instagram || Twitter || Facebook || Spotify || iTunes
Link || Sophie Ellis-Bextor || Website || Instagram || Twitter || Facebook || YouTube || Spotify || iTunes
Link || Ida Maria || Website || Twitter || Facebook || YouTube || Spotify || iTunes
Link || Bon Iver || Website || Instagram || Twitter || Facebook || YouTube || Spotify || iTunes
Link || Tom Rosenthal || Website || Instagram || Twitter || Facebook || YouTube || Spotify || iTunes (1|2|3)
Link || Ray Lamontagne || Website || Instagram || Twitter || Facebook || YouTube || Spotify || iTunes (1)
Link || City & Colour || Website || Instagram || Twitter || Facebook || YouTube || Spotify || iTunes
Link || Janelle Monรกe || Website || Instagram || Twitter || Facebook || YouTube || Spotify || iTunes (1)
Link || Childish Gambino || Website || Instagram || Twitter || Facebook || YouTube || Spotify || iTunes (1 - by John Biehler)
Link || Noah Reid || Website || Instagram || Twitter || YouTube || Spotify || iTunes (1)
Link || The Lonely Island || Website || Instagram || Twitter || Facebook || YouTube || Spotify || iTunes
Link || Year & Years || Website || Instagram || Twitter  || Facebook || YouTube || Spotify || iTunes
Link || James Blake || Website || Instagram || Twitter || Facebook || YouTube || Spotify || iTunes (1|2)
Link || Ben Rector || Website || Instagram || Twitter || Facebook || YouTube || Spotify || iTunes (1)
Link || Villagers || Website || Instagram || Twitter || Facebook || YouTube || Spotify || iTunes
Link || Colleen Ballinger || Website || Instagram || Twitter || Facebook || YouTube || Spotify  || iTunes (1|2)
Link || Panic! At the Disco || Website || Instagram || Twitter || Facebook || YouTube || Spotify || iTunes
Link || Tessa Violet || Instagram || Twitter || Facebook || YouTube || Spotify || iTunes (1)
Link || No Rome || Website || Instagram || Twitter || Facebook || YouTube || Spotify || iTunes (1)
Link || Chance The Rapper || Website || Instagram || Twitter || Facebook || YouTube || Spotify || iTunes
Link || Lil Dicky || Website || Instagram || Twitter || Facebook || YouTube || Spotify || iTunes
Link || The 1975 || Website || Instagram || Twitter || Facebook || YouTube || Spotify || iTunes
Link || Rag'n'Bone Man || Website || Instagram || Twitter || Facebook || YouTube || Spotify || iTunes
Link || Raleigh Ritchie || Website || Instagram || Twitter || Facebook || YouTube || Spotify || iTunes  (1)
Link || Mars Argo || Website || Instagram || Twitter || Facebook || iTunes
Link || Elohim || Website || Instagram || Twitter || Facebook || YouTube || Spotify || iTunes
Link || Florence + The Machine || Website || Instagram || Twitter || Facebook || YouTube || Spotify || iTunes
Link || Andy Hull & Robert McDowell (Manchester Orchestra) || Website |Instagram (Hull) || Twitter (Hull) || Facebook || YouTube (Swiss Army Man) || Spotify || iTunes (1)
Link || Poppy Ackroyd || Website || Instagram || Twitter || Facebook || YouTube || Spotify || iTunes
Link || Rufus Wainwright || Website || Instagram || Twitter || Facebook || YouTube || Spotify || iTunes (1)
Link || CYN || Website || Instagram || Twitter || Facebook || YouTube || Spotify || iTunes (1)
Link || Kodaline || Website || Instagram || Twitter || Facebook || YouTube || Spotify || iTunes
Link || First Aid Kit || Website || Instagram || Twitter || Facebook || YouTube || Spotify  || iTunes (1)
Link || Billie Eilish || Website || Instagram || Twitter || Facebook || YouTube || Spotify || iTunes (1)
Link || HAIM || Website || Instagram || Twitter || Facebook || YouTube || Spotify || iTunes (1|2)

Link || How similar are ASMR tingles and music chills? by DR Richard via ASMR University
Link || Getting Chills When You Listen To Music [...] by Jaclyn Anglis via First For Women
Link || Janelle Monรกe’s Latest Video Is More Than Just an Explicit Ode to Queer Sex by Matt Keeley via Hornet
Link || Childish Gambino's 'This is America' And The New Shape of Protest Music by Jason Parham via Wired
Link || TODAY’S SONG: [...] CYN’S “I’LL STILL HAVE ME” by Adrian Vargas via Atwood Magazine
Link || The Sword of Damocles via Wikipedia

Listening: Giant - Calvin Harris & Rag'n'Bone Man 

Friday, 25 January 2019

On the 11th Day of Christmas...

... this blogger gave to thee...
... eleven illustrated Instagrams...
... ten sassy soaps...
... nine creative weirdos...
... eight things I've loved...
... seven shoes to choose from...
... six party dresses...
... five gold rings!..
... four silly socks...
... three Etsy shops...
... two tuneful gizmos...
... and a great soup for cold winter days.

The 11th Day of Christmas, kind of eluded me. I've spent the last few days since publishing day ten (and a lot before) worrying about what I was going to write about and coming up with ideas I couldn't quite get behind. I considered writing about papercut art, but I couldn't get past the idea I'd done that a year or two before this. I really liked the idea of doing a post on miniatures - which I may still do a post about - but was falling into the world of doll houses, which while they can be incredibly elaborate, wasn't quite what I was going for. I also considered a post on random things I've been making or art, design and random books I liked, but I kept putting off actually writing the post because it didn't feel right.

Enter the little sister, who said, "what about webcomics?" this seeming logical to her as I had recently made an Instagram account, so I could follow other designers, illustrators, makeup artists etc and a good number of the ones I instantly gravitated towards were indeed webcomics. So, thank you for that, because it was genuinely the best idea and I quickly filled the eleven spots on the list with a few to spare! Not bad given I've had an Instagram account for only really a month*.

So Day 11 I am using to introduce you to some thoroughly entertaining, relatable and goofy webcomics that, if you like them, you could follow on Instagram. 

For anyone not familiar with Instagram, some of the images will have arrows right and left on them, which will lead you to a second or third picture in the particular webcomic, so don't forget to click through to continue the various stories...

My head and my heart don't work together. Not properly. My heart wants to be creative and have fun and be happy, to make and keep friends, to fall in love... my head however is constantly telling me why I'm not good enough, what will go wrong and why the things my heart wants are never going to happen. They appear to be completely incompatible.

However, it's this seeming incompatibility that Nick Seluk, the cartoonist behind Brain and Heart, has managed to so perfectly capture. Originally the duo were featured as characters in The Awkward Yeti, a series following Lars the yeti through his day to day life, as he experiences social awkwardness at work and social life. Brain and Heart, who later became a spin-off series, were Lars' inner dialogue

Brain and Heart play in many respects, the roll of the angel and devil sitting on Lars shoulder, trying to convince him one way or the other. Who plays which role is a little hazy, however Heart is optimistic and joyful, excitable and encouraging, but is impulsive and rushes in without thinking. Brain, is always trying to do what's right in the correct way, he's methodical, he wants to do all the research he can and he's cynical about life but petrified of making the wrong decision... they're a little bit of both really, devil and angel. Both want the best, and they're better working together than apart.

Seluk's Brain and Heart is remarkably relatable, even when your heart and head are a little more compatible than mine.

Instagram || Twitter || Facebook || Tumblr || Website

Being relatable is part of the draw of a lot of webcomics. They rely on the fact that while most of us feel alone in the way we feel about our lives, actually there's always someone else out there who is feeling the way, and part of feeling better about our inadequacies is being able to laugh at them.

Sarah Andersen's webcomic, Sarah's Scribbles is a self-deprecating, semi-autobiographical portrayal of a wide eyed, messy haired Millennial (Sarah) and her issues with social anxiety, body image, menstruation and the feeling that she's really not equipped to be an adult. Also cats...

But my God does she hit the nail on the head.

(I bet you're already sensing a theme with these choices already, and we're only on number two!)

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Writing/illustrating a webcomic semi-autobiographically may seem like the obvious choice for an artists subject matter, it's also the logical one. Who is it easier to make fun of, to tease about insecurities while also being brutally honest about the sometimes ridiculous nature of them? Writing about yourself as a character seems like a pretty cathartic way of coping with your feeling, experiences and problems, even if they are first world.

As part of her webcomic series, Cassandra Calin focuses on expectations vs reality, a lot of which in turn focus on the joys of being a curly haired girl, not an archetype and not feeling ready to adult.

Or in other-words the joy of life. I love Calin's comics, I love the way she draws and the contrast between the beautiful illustration of expectation verses the less than perfect image of reality. She's not afraid of letting her character show its imperfections and that feeling is so perfectly familiar. Why is the person I see in shop windows and dressing room mirrors not the same one I see in the mirror at home? Are they specifically designed to reflect your inner troll?

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Adam Ellis (also known as Adamtots), claims he "left art school after a fellow student presented her final project to the class, declaring 'I put a condom on the Virgin Mary,' and the professor loved it."

I remember those people at university. I remember the stories of the person who urinated on canvases and got a first in their degree, and the guy whose photographs gained him a first, but he never took the photographs... but the nice thing about Ellis and his decision to leave art school, is that it's proof that actually a degree doesn't mean you can't be an artist. Ellis had a successful stint at Buzzfeed as a cartoonist and writer, before leaving to pursue his webcomic about the joys of S.A.D. (Seasonal Affective Disorder), low self-esteem, brief obsessions and the absurd moments of his daily life...

...and of course his cats Maxwell and Pepper. I'm honestly starting to believe a cat or a pug may be necessary if you're intending to be successful writing a webcomic...

Instagram || Instagram (Maxwell & Pepper) || Twitter || Facebook || Tumblr || Website

... because when you don't want to write about yourself, but want to write from life, who do you write about? Your pet of course! There are a few staples of the internet that will never truly disappear, including social media, pornography and cats. It doesn't matter what platform you're on, you'll always find cats.

In 2017 Lucas Turnbloom rescued his pet cat and thus How to Cat was born, and instead of serialising his own life, Turnbloom turned his cats crazy antics into a webcomic. Honestly, if you're a cat owner, as soon as you read a few of his webcomics, you'll quickly realise that this illustrator knows cats! Even their internal monologue.

So not only is this an adorable looking illustration of a cat, it's so eerily accurate that I'm kind of scared.

Plus, could all the people who have given their cats (or dogs or hamsters or whatever) a voice in which they talk to you and other family members, please make themselves known. Don't worry, this is a safe place, you're one of us now. Welcome.

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Inkpug is the work of illustrator Laura Stohler and Gareth Campbell, and I have been in love with their illustrations of poetry spouting and stupidly cute pugs since well before I knew Instagram even existed, let alone had an account. They were one of the first accounts I started following when I started using Tumblr, and one of the only reasons I ever used to check my feed once I realised that Tumblr wasn't for me.

I'm even pretty sure that Thunder Buddies was the first of their illustrations I ever saw. I even wrote about them here five years ago! So I shall direct you there and keep this short and sweet instead of rehashing that post, leave you with their reply to being asked if they ever got sick of drawing pugs:

"Secret is: I am not drawing pugs. I'm drawing feelings, and the pug is my conduit. So far, I haven't run out of feelings. If I do, I'll probably do fun stuff or sad stuff or general stuff until I have feelings again."  (Do you every get sick of drawing pugs? July 15th 2014, Inkpug!)

I don't know if you can technically count Inkpug as a webcomic, given they are individual illustrations, but they deal with life and anxiety and are a way of the illustrator working through what's going on in their heads, which is what the majority of webcomics I like seem to be. Instagram is also my chosen platform for keeping up to date with their antics these days, and thus this to me makes them count. One hundred percent, and I encourage you to look at their work as it's impossible not to at least smile when looking at them.

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Now for something sickeningly sweet. What do you do when  the silly little things in your relationship are just funny? You make a ridiculously sweet and endearing webcomic which is just so freaking adorable that I can't be a surly single person around it!

No matter how much I want to be.

Catana Chetwynd began her webcomic, CatanaComics, in 2017 after her boyfriend, John Freed, told her the idiosyncrasies of their relationship would make a good cartoon. Using the silly, sweet and ridiculous moments of their relationship as inspiration, Chetwynd turn herself and her boyfriend into her simple big eyed couple, even down to the marked size difference, Freed towering over her at six foot six. But it's the silly little things in this webcomic which warms this sad singletons heart, like someone changing your mood by just being happy to see you, or being excited at the most ridiculous things, such as getting enjoyment from the same terrible joke or watching a Roomba vaccuum the floor, and having no problem that your first reaction is to anthropomorphise it with googly eyes...

... I hope for a guy who doesn't mind that I like putting googly eyes on inanimate objects just because it makes me laugh. But I want a guy who does it before I do because he knows it makes me laugh.

These webcomics should be obnoxious, but their not. They're incredibly endearing and I applaud Chetwynd for that.

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Enough with enviable relationships  and back to cats and social anxiety with the webcomic of Hannah Hillam. Obviously two of my favourite things when it comes to webcomics and Hillam provides us with an almost daily dose of both. Helping to prove that cats are almost certainly fluffy gits plotting our demise, but that we can't stop ourselves loving them, and that our brains are trying to sabotage our lives and drive us slowly but surely insane...

...actually cats and brains are quite similar in many respects, they're both all about mind games. Hillam's furry friends are called Battleship and Bear, just in case you're interested.

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I've always been a little ashamed that I can't speak French past the very, very basics. I'm pretty sure if asked my name and age I'd manage both, but still tell you I was fifteen. This feeling is because my gran is half Belgian and French was her first language, something the younger generations of our family have failed to pick it up. My inability to speak or read French however, doesn't stop me loving the work of Margaux Motin, as her sense of humour in her illustrations, for me at least, transcends the language barrier. That or the actual joke is totally lost on me, but I'm just happy looking at the pictures.

(Translation: "Hey! Look how beautiful she is!!! Loooook!!! LOOOOOKK!!!! Look! Look! Look! [Kids: Mum... seriously...] - When you have the mental age of five and everyone else is older than you in your family.")

I've also realised a couple of things over the past few days of looking at the her exuberant, colourful and overwhelmingly joyful illustrations. First is that a lot of webcomics rely on  a black and white colour palette, with minimal use of any other colours let alone the full rainbow like Motin. Secondly a lot of the humour comes from the dark side of the brain, whereas again, Motin's world is incredibly positive - though I may be missing a darker context when I don't go to the effort of translating her text. Thirdly I think I've realised what her illustrations remind me of, and that's the illustrations on the covers of some of the few books I actually read and loved as a kid, Ms. Wiz by Terence Blacker.

The illustrations in question were featured on the original 1990's covers by Kate Simpson, and the book that reminds me most of Motin's work is Ms. Wiz Love Dracula, where we see an almost deranged Ms. Wiz completely besotted by what she believes to be the iconic vampire. I can't quite put my finger on why, but as i was sitting looking through her posts, that's what came into my head. I even went searching for my books... and while I know exactly where they are, and I even managed to get a couple out, unfortunately I've stashed them on a shelf, behind a heavy filing cabinet. We'll see if I'm dumb enough to move it by whether there's a picture of all the books here or not.
(I failed/didn't want to hurt my back again being stupid and moving 
heavy furniture, but did find the correct edition on

I know they're not that similar, but there's something familiar for me about the comparison, and it's nice that Motin's illustrations remind me so much of a book I loved as a kid, because she's currently illustrating two of my favourite books. For Tibery Editions, Motin has illustrated a limited editions version of Jane Austen's Pride and Prejudice and Persuasion, which I've loved since I was a teenager and even though I have multiple editions of each**, I would have these in a heartbeat.

Instagram || YouTube || Facebook || Tibert Editions || Website

Beth Evan's webcomic, Beth Draws Things, traverses her experiences of depression, and being anxious, of feeling as though she's being left behind by her peers as they get married and constantly post baby pictures on social media, and generally feeling like a less than brilliant adult in the grand scheme of things...

I'm going to give Evans a second image because as I'm scrolling through her feed because I can't pick and I love that she posts both things that scare her but things to reassure everyone...

So while that's incredibly familiar for me and her illustrations are both funny and poignant, and incredibly reassuring for someone who feels many of these things, they're also eerily familiar for me because of these...
... these are origami water balloons I made during my Masters Degree, when I was struggling to put my work down on paper. It seemed like everyone else was adept at using mind-maps and show their working, but I just couldn't. One particularly day we were handed a sheet of paper and told to fill it and I was stumped. Luckily I was talking to one of my tutors, and somewhere along the line it came up that I'd been making hundreds of origami water balloons for a window display, and she encouraged me to find ways to stop the blank sheet of paper I was staring at less scary, like transforming it first. So I made huge origami water balloons out of flipboard paper and started drawing these ridiculous potato people. I don't have a clue why I drew them like this, but it helped me out of a rut in a creative way. By the end of the year I had dozens of these in different sizes blown up to their full glory, piled on my desk with ideas and research and designs and lecture notes and potato people all over them. And I loved them, and my tutors and friends were tickled by them and I'd just kept making them, because apparently while I find mind-maps and empty sketchbooks intimidating, give me a few of these and a Sharpie and I'm okay.

That's what Beth Evan's work reminds me of, and it instantly endeared me to her.

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Of all of these illustrators, I think Gemma Correll is probably the best known of the bunch and likely the one some of you may already be aware of. Primarily because I reckon anybody who has bought a greetings card over the past few years, has probably seen a few of Correll's humorous illustrations lining the shelves. Whether they've been about yoga anxiety, veggie dinosaurs, rainbow unicorns, sozzled goldfish or proud ass spiders...
(via Paperchase)

... Correll's cards are unmistakable and have been a staple of my card giving for a few years now. That's because pugs, cats, food, puns and panic are, apparently, inherently funny to me. Plus her concerned looking pugs are ridiculously cute in every guise that she's created them.

Keep an eye out next time you're looking for a greeting card, because I'm positive you'll come across one of her designs somewhere.

Instagram || Twitter || Facebook || Pinterest || Society6 || Website

I've been avoiding creating an Instagram account for a while. As I've said repeatedly over this years posts, I feel pretty inadequate about my life and work etc, and to me social media sites like Instagram, Twitter and Facebook are all about showing off the wonderful things you're doing with your life. So my feeling has always been, if you're someone who doesn't feel like you have anything in your life or work to tell people about, what's the point in having those platforms? Especially if it'll just add to your anxiety and potentially make you feel worst about yourself. Wouldn't it just be embarrassing having your friends and peers, strangers even judging you on your inadequacies? That's why I left Facebook, or at least stopped logging on, it's why even when a lovely old friend reaches out I feel like I can't reply to their messages. I couldn't even explain that feeling to my gran when she asked if I had friends online, like my sisters do, or if kept in touch with anyone from school or university, because I just felt like a complete weirdo. It's should be simple right?

But these illustrators for the most part feel, or have felt, relatively similar to me, they've had similar experiences and have managed to stay afloat. Expressing and working through their issues by illustrating their lives and having other people respond positively has been cathartic. They've successfully emerged from their anxious little cocoons as actual, relatively functional - at least as it seems online - adults!

There's something so attractive about their openness. I've always kind of envied illustrators, who can express their emotions through their drawings and have it so easily recognised by others. I'd love to do what they do, and get some of the nonsense out of my head, and I realise I'm looking at with newbie rose tinted glasses, but ;'oi1[

...okay, I'm going to interject this mid-sentence as editing Emily, because as I'm sitting on the floor going through my post which has taken me way longer to write than intended because my brain has been useless this week, my lovely cat has just launched himself at my toes. He's then proceeded to wriggled across my keyboard to attack higher up my leg when I objected... for no other reason than I wasn't paying full attention to him for the two seconds he's actually been away today - he's been asleep on the bed ALL DAY! See, that would be the kind of thing an illustrator would be able to make hilarious, instead I'm sitting writing about it with a chunk out toe, covered in hydrogen peroxide!

Anyway, despite the fact that I'm looking at this through newbie rose coloured glasses, I really think that Instagram is a wonderful platform for artists trying to show their work in an approachable and accessible way and I can see why so many have migrated from sites such as Tumblr, because it has many of the same attributes without some of the downsides.

But that's Day 11 done, if you like go show some of these people some love and find some others to recommend and share the wealth. I'm sorry this post has taken so long, I've found it really had to concentrate on writing this week, but seeing it's nearly the end of the month and these should have ended on the 5th of January, I don't think anyone is surprised or I hope you don't mind.

Happy New Year, Merry Christmas and one more day to go! Part eleven after this short commercial break with something I wanted to work in this year and have failed to do, a beautiful piece of animation by Ainslie Henderson called Stems...

Link || The Awkward Yeti || Instagram || Twitter || Facebook || Tumblr || Website
Link || Sarah Andersen || Instagram || Twitter || Facebook || Website
Link || Cassandra Calin || Instagram || Facebook || Tumblr || Website
Link || Dina Mata Comics || Instagram (Comics) || Instagram (Illustration) || Etsy
Link || Lucas Turnbloom || Instagram || Twitter || Facebook || Patreon
Link || Inkpug! || Instagram || Twitter || Facebook || Tumblr || Etsy || Website
Link || CatanaComics || Instagram || Twitter || Facebook || Website
Link || Hannah Hillam || Instagram || Twitter || Tumblr || Website
Link || Margaux Motin || Instagram || YouTube || Facebook || Website
Link || Beth Evans || Instagram || Twitter || Tumblr || Website
Link || Gemma Correll || Instagram || Twitter || Facebook || Pinterest || Society6 || Website
Link || Ainslie Henderson || Vimeo || YouTube || Twitter || Tumblr

* Yep, I have Instagram, here is my page, but I've not posted anything of my own yet, nor do I intend to for the time being. I will, but only when I have something good or interesting to post. My intention is this may end up being my professional/work account for stuff I make in the future. But, until then it'll be a quiet place for me to lurk around and look at other peoples pretty pictures.
** In my defence of having multiple copies of books, my feeling is that if I love a book, I want to have a reading copy that I can dog ear and abuse and can looked like a cherished and more importantly read and re-read, and another, preferably in a hardback edition (for example the cloth bound Penguin Classics by Coralie Bickford-Smith or a Folio Society edition) that I can keep pretty on a shelf... I don't know if that makes me weird, but that's my system and seeing I don't read a lot of fiction, it makes me look like I have more books than I do!

Listening: Stems - Poppy Ackroyd
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