Bragging sARTSurday: Plushies At Home

#plushie #plushieathome #seagull

In this week’s sARTSurday, I want to show off my own creation, for once.

Because of the lockdown, we had to sacrifice not just our conventions, but also our visits to Kew Gardens — and despite it reopening next month, we’re not sure if we feel safe enough to go and visit, since with diabetes I’m considered at risk. And Kew is where I would usually spend some time taking pictures with the weather we had… and that’s not happening any time soon.

Instead, since I started this weekly column, I have been taking quite a few more pictures inside the apartment. I even decided to invest in a couple of accessories for my camera to make it easier to take pictures of those and my art project — namely a flashgun, and an L-bracket (which will be useful even in Kew when I’ll be able to get there again.)

So for the past week or so, inspired by the last post header picture, I decided to take “candid” shots of the plushies that we have home. Most of these used to be on my desk at the office, both in Dublin and London — but given the current situation, they are likely going to stay at home for a while.

Good morning! Your usual?

I’m clearly not a professional photographer, I’m not even a particularly good photographer. But I thought it would make people smile to see them, and that’s all I care about.

If you want to see more pictures, particularly of squirrels, you can find them on Flickr, Facebook (separately from this blog) and Instagram. I have some more pictures to take of Star Wars plushies and LEGO sets, so keep your eyes on them if you’re into those.

Sweet Slice of Life: Sarah Graley

It’s a bittersweet time to post this, but very sweet content in it, so I hope it’ll brighten your days, as all sARTSurdays aim to. This weekend was meant to be the MCM Comic Con weekend in London, but in the current situation, the ExCeL center where it was supposed to take place is still the NHS Nightingale, as far as I can tell. With the rescheduled July date also cancelled, we’re currently not sure when, or even if, we’ll be back to a convention. And in particular at this MCM we were planning to look out for Sarah and Stef (again), to grab the set of Our Super Adventure books.

At the last MCM (October 2019), we were just walking the floor when we saw a giant kitty showing clearly on top of the booths — cat people as we are, me and my wife ran straight towards it. We had at that point no idea what Sarah and Stef were — but the Pesto plushie was too cute not to pick up, so we bought it, and for the following day I had her mischievous glare staring out of my bag.

A little later we were queueing for my photoshoot turn with Simon Pegg and decided to take a look at the comic — and loved it! But content warning: if you’re the type of person who suffers being alone or lonely, it might be bad for your mood. I know that I wouldn’t have appreciated the comic nearly as much, if I hadn’t found it as a newlywed. But otherwise, it’s one of the sweetest and cutest online comic I’ve ever read — and positive, too! It’s not trying to make it sound like life is completely carefree, but it’s also making light fun of the harder moments of a relationship, and that made out outright laugh on the floor of the con.

Our plan for this MCM was to go and see them again, and pick up a book or two (or three) — we had a preference to pick it up directly from them, also to thank them for the many laugh we got from their comic — but given the situation, online ordering will do. And this weekend there’s an exclusive pin thrown in, which was supposed to be exclusive for the MCM. (Sigh, I did say bittersweet, right? Every time I type MCM I’m sighing.)

In addition to Our Super Adventure, which is posted on their website, Sarah’s Instagram and Facebook page, and probably a few more syndication websites, they stream their game sessions on Twitch, where this very Saturday they have been running an “Our Super Stream Con” from home. (Although by the time you read this post it’s probably mostly over, unfortunately).

So if you’re up for a sweet laugh, particularly while laying in bed with your significant other after an exhausting lockdown day, give a read to Sarah’s and Stef’s adventures. You won’t regret it.

Artist Spotlight: Patrick’s Art Room

As you might have noticed from the previous post about Sezzadactyl, we like our Pokémon art. And while a lot more people might have seen Joshua Dunlop‘s Pokémon Zoology renderings (and we have some of his art as well), today I want to put a spotlight on a less well known, but totally worthy artist, who we have seen multiple times in the past few years.

Patrick’s Art Room in particular has a very distinctive mark: the terrariums. These sizable dioramas set into a Pokéball are very eye-catchy at a conference, and I have to say we had trouble deciding on which one to get for home — we might get more later on, because they are just so cute.

In addition to the terrariums, Patrick has lots of other cute art. The same pictures can be found in various formats, including as cushion covers, and the postcard format you see in the picture. We went for postcard size this time because we didn’t know where else to fit everything otherwise, and we loved the red/white colour on the frame and mount, to stick with the Pokéball theme. The frame is, by the way, again from Frame Company.

It’s not just Pokémon, though — other games, and mashups of other games with Pokémon, with a very soft texture that fits neatly both the cushion covers and the canvases.

If you want to follow Patrick’s work, in addition to Instagram, you can find him on Facebook. And hopefully soon at the conventions, when they restart.

Artist Spotlight: MrEchoAngel

Back to the convention scene for our artist of the week! MrEchoAngel is an artist that we saw multiple times at conventions in London last year — and I’m glad I managed to find them the second time while my wife was busy somewhere else, so I could surprise her with the set of lovely Studio Ghibli art cards that you see pictured on the right.

The brown paper look of the prints is what probably attracted me at first, but the way the artist is presenting the well known characters makes my heart warm — every time I see Jiji I want to scratch his belly!

Despite not being a particular fan of the frames I used here – they are not from my now-usual supplier – I find the 4-in-row arrangement very satisfying for the prints. I was happy to show it to MrEchoAngel themselves when we stumbled across them again later last year.

Like many other artists on the convention scene, you can also find quite a few vinyl stickers, which for a lot of tech-conference goers, at the very least, tend to translate to laptop stickers. I have honestly stopped sticking things on my laptop simply because I kept scratching them, but I found that there’s another good use for them: identify (and name) devices that you have multiples of in the same environment: powerbanks, Kindles, Nintendo Switch, … This works not only when using them at home, but most importantly when you meet up with friends.

Subject matter wise, take a look at their Instagram, as well as the website. You’ll find a variety of different anime and videogames. As well as a number of original characters that might not be entirely safe for work (although, with everyone working from home, that might be less of an issue).

Artist Spotlight: Jenika Ioffreda

Micia is us: at home, around the world, at a concert.

This week’s focus is on an artist that is special to me and my wife both — Jenika is a friend, and comes all the way from Italy. I first met her back in Dublin, at what at the time was the MCM Comic Con, and we kept bumping into each other at various cons, both in Dublin and London over the years.

Her work is focused on Micia — the black cat you can see above, following effectively our family life: at home, around the world, and at metal concerts, but it’s not just cutesy prints, it’s also a character from her very own comic book story.

Micia has been for months the first thing we see when we wake up, as the frames are directly across our bed, and it makes us smile.

Since this year’s convention scene is likely going to be significantly scaled down, make sure to stop by if you see her, and keep yourself posted by liking her page.

Also you can see more great frames from Frame Company — we loved the colour (Candy purple), and they executed great for the custom mounts to keep the related pictures side-by-side.

Artist Spotlight: Sezzadactyl

A sampler of different art by Sezzadactyl

The times are bleak, with a fourth of the World’s population under lockdown or quarantine. I don’t particularly like dark times, and so I would rather bring some fresh air and happiness to people instead. For this reason, I decided to add a third weekly post on my blog, not to rants, or technical content, but rather as a way to show off more artists that deserve appreciation, and probably the support of those who can share, given that conventions are being cancelled left and right.

Sezzadactyl was at the top of my list. Her art is awesome, we stumbled across her booth at the MCM Comic Con London last year, but we were in a hurry at first (I had a photoshoot booked), and we just promised to come back. Unfortunately we forgot to write down the booth we were at, so it took us a while to find her again, but we were very happy to have a chance to get some prints of hers.

And we didn’t stop there. My wife got me as presents her 2018 and 2019 art books, for my birthday and Christmas. I was (and am) so happy, because I really couldn’t choose which prints to get!

As you can tell from the Instagram feed, she covers a wide range of subjects, from Pokémon (which admittedly was the first thing that caught our eyes) to Studio Ghibli characters, to video games, to dragons and pets.

Her Etsy store is currently on hiatus, but I do recommend, if you like her work, to get a notification for when it’ll reopen. As you can see we already have quite a few pieces, but we’ll look forward to get more in the future!

By the way, I want to give a shout out to Frame Company, where we bought the frames and mounts you see in the picture above. We have so far ordered more than a dozen frames from them, and they don’t just have a great selection to match any art style, but they do custom mounts, including multi-opening ones (you’ll see more of them in the future).