Tuesday, 18 October 2016

First Years Attend Frank Santoro Comics Masterclass

As part of our involvement with The Lakes International Comic Arts Festival we took a group of First Year students to attend a lecture and workshop given by the legendary comic artist (and theorist) Frank Santoro (33).

The venue was 'The Box' in Kendal, an 'interesting' piece of architecture so modern it hasn't been finished yet.

Yes 'The Box' seemed a bit wonky to us too. 

Frank gave a very entertaining and informative lecture on the construction and pacing of comics, ably assisted by Aidan Koch and ex-Marvel artist Connor Willumsen.

 Frank in full flow

Geometric construction of a comic page

 Connor, Aidan and Frank (all 33)

Artwork by Frank

Wolverine artwork by Connor

Artwork by Aidan

After the lecture the students (and staff) attended a comics masterclass with Frank and Connor.

 Nick Dodds (33) thoroughly enjoying himself in his special 'comics glasses' (his workaday pair are on the desk)

We used frames taken from various Alfred Hitchcock films 

 The ambidextrous and double right-handed Gemma (21)

 Hard at work

 Frank dispenses pearls of wisdom = Nick gets very excited

 The inevitable post-workshop group photo

Thank you Frank, Aidan, Connor, Kendal College and The Lakes International Comic Arts Festival

Sunday, 16 October 2016

Gig Review - Holiday (featuring two ex-Grillust students)

Two of our recent graduates Nathan Linney and Peter Aspey, returned to serenade us at the opening of the Phono+Graphic exhibition with their three-piece band Holiday (with Joe Hiscoke on drums).

Their unique blend of West-Coast (Cumbrian that is) Rock and 90s Emo (think Built to Spill meets Aqua) went down a treat with the lively, home crowd.

Here's a video clip of their triumphant encore, Tin Opener to give you an idea of what we're talking about...

Here at Grillust we are always are happy to offer our students  helpful, constructive criticism and we certainly feel qualified to offer Holiday  the kind of advice that will swiftly propel them to ' the next level' so, with that in mind, here is some quality, post-gig, Grillust feedback:

Pros: Well done! Jolly, lively, toe-tapping numbers with a good range of contrasts (quiet/loud, fast/slow etc.) Would work well at weddings, birthday parties and also at Maxwell's, Hoboken.

Cons: Holiday need to try harder with their song titles (please see the set list below):

As you can see, these titles are far too surly and blunt, often exhibiting a poor grasp of punctuation - where's the apostrophe in Peepin' Tom for instance?  We therefore strongly suggest that Holiday should seek inspiration from the more literate stars of yesterday (Chris DeBurgh, Sting, Enya etc.) and give their tunes more poetic and/or explanatory titles. Here are some alternatives we have prepared for them to use:

  • Kirby Misperton home of the blues
  • Fran├žois Truffaut's experimental jet-pack
  • Frankly my dear I don't do the Lindy hop!
  • You've got me feeling Coeruleum Blue
  • Not as clumsy as a blaster
  • More tea vicar?

Group Members

Joe Hiscoke (drums)

Pros: a very pleasant and well mannered young man with a nice, simple drum kit although this could be further improved with the addition of a large, six feet diameter, brass, oriental gong positioned to the rear of the drum stool.

Cons: Needs to smile more and learn how to throw his drumsticks theatrically up into the air (and subsequently catch them) at moments of extreme passion or pathos.

PS Joe, you've got your bass drum on upside down. All the low notes could fall out!

Peter Aspey (bass)

Pros: a very smart and supportive team player who performs well throughout. 

Cons: our only beef with Peter relates to the close proximity of his bass to his chin. This presents us with both a health and safety and 'coolness' issue. At present it's far too Mark King and not enough Peter Hook. 

Mr. Aspey, extend that guitar strap forthwith and let's answer the age old question; 'Bass, how low can you go?'

Level 42's Mark King - NO!

New Order's Peter Hook - YES!!!

Nathan Linney (guitar/vocs)

Pros: a gifted instrumentalist, singer and songwriter. 

Cons: Nathan does tend to mumble his words and needs to focus more on both the projection and pronunciation of his self-penned lyrics. You have a lovely speaking voice, please apply this to your singing.

Nathan also 'lets the side down' through his unfortunate choice of stage attire. His apparel, while being eminently suitable for a hobo or tramp jamboree, has no place in the 'glare of the spotlight'. It's time for you to smarten up your act young man!


For Holiday to make it to 'the big time' only one drastic measure needs to be taken... 

...learn the important lesson from the popular beat combos of yesteryear - kit yourselves out in sharp, matching suits and sophisticated Cuban-heeled boots!

Gerry and the Pacemakers, forgettable songs, memorable suits...

Phono+Graphic - The Exhibition, Vallum Gallery, University of Cumbria

The University of Cumbria Institute of The Arts' Vallum Gallery is currently hosting the exhibition 'Phono+Graphic'(as part of our involvement and support for the Lakes International Comic Art Festival).

Phono+Graphic explores the work of 60 comic artists who have created artwork for vinyl record sleeves.

Cartoonist Robert Crumb, Gorillaz creator Jamie Hewlett and Judge Dredd artist Brian Bollard are just some of the graphic artists to have designed artwork for record covers featured in the show.

Curated by internationally renowned comic artist Sean Phillips, Phono+Graphic showcases a selection of classic and contemporary record sleeves – the only criteria being that the design work has had to feature on 12 inch vinyl.

Also featured is a rare outing for some comic related albums owned by Grillust's very own Mr. Tony Peart (33). 

A small selection from the Peart Archive

Tony describes his collection as varied, but also mostly un-listenable (featuring as it does much Prog Rock and Hardcore Punk). However, it is remarkably effective at scaring small children and keeping cats (and bats) well away from the Peart household.

The exhibition was kicked-off with a private view last Wednesday which also included a set from the band Holiday - featuring Graphic Design graduates Nathan Linney (33) and Peter Aspey (33) along with Joe Hiscoke (whom we assume is also 33).

Holiday perform under the watchful eye of event security ('Dwayne' Dwayne Bell and 'Future' Dave Robert - both 33). 

University of Cumbria illustration student's work also features in the exhibition.

A small selection of what's on offer.

Here are a few more highlights...

 Jack Davis

 The Peart Archive, Part II

 Jethro Tull 'Stand Up' inner sleeve

 Ron Cobb

 Oliver East (who had an exhibition with us last year)

 Jean Giraud (aka.  Moebius)

The exhibition runs until Friday 18 November and everyone is welcome.

Thursday, 13 October 2016

First Years, First Project

Working in teams of two, we asked the students to produce a digital magazine that attempted to capture something of the essence of a location of their choice.

The idea here is to point out from the start (N.B. we would never use the phrase 'get go' because we hate it...) that design and illustration are not impersonal, neutral activities. 

Having passion and something to say are central to the production of memorable, communicative work.

Here's some of what they produced:

Friday, 23 September 2016

North to South (or South to North)

Order is the prerequisite for rational observation, imagination, understanding, and thus discovery and innovation. 

This is the human prefrontal cortex at work, which is why animals seem content in the chaos of the wild and yet we humans feel drive to progress and move forward.

Here at Grillust Towers we like to exercise our prefrontal cortext to achieve order as much as the next person and do this by getting our new students to line up from North to South...

Monday, 19 September 2016

Grillustasi 2016 have arrived!

Do Nuthatches go up tree trunks and Treecreepers down?
Do Jays croak and Jackdaws caw?
Exactly how much blood is there when a Sparrowhawk swoops down on its unsuspecting prey?

There can't be many University campus' where these questions can be so graphically answered by simply walking out of the door. But, happily, the lovely leafy Brampton Road campus that hosts the Institute of the Art is one of them. And, these lovely people (the chosen few) get to study here for their degree in Graphic Design or Illustraion, the lucky Devils!

Meet the class of 2016. Remember their faces. In years to come they will follow in the great Grillust tradition and become the people who's work you want to see, the people you want to read about. 
Welcome one and all!

Wednesday, 14 September 2016

National Cycle to Work Day
We'll post about a non bike thing soon
We Promise!

Today is National Cycle to Work Day. If nothing else that sounds like a great excuse to play on bikes. We're in!

Cumbria is an AMAZING place to cycle, with both the Lake District and Scottish borders being right on our doorstep. We're surrounded by world class scenery, trails and access. Whether you're a road cyclist, mountain biker or if you just enjoy a bit of fresh air and a 'plooter' you really can do far worse than Cumbria.

Illustration Lecturer, internationally renowned bus drawist and advocate for men over 14 using Lynx deodorant, Dwayne Bell, has the most picturesque ride to work, coming as he does across the border from Scotland on a daily basis (on a bus most days). Here's some pics that he took en-route this morning.

Warning, the following images contain no wheelies or jumps and they are a bit 'arty' and heavily reliant on shadows.

Arty shadow shot #1. 'He Leaves'

Arty shadow shot #2. 'Lone Mail'

Bendy bike panorama shot

Wait a minute! Why have I stopped to take a photo of my feet?

Arty shadow shot #3. 'On the Verge'
Fields. Lots of fields. 

Nearly there


Of course, the downside to biking to work, is, of course, having to bike home.

Wednesday, 7 September 2016

The Tour of Britain in Carlisle.
All the facts.

Here at Grillust Towers we take our cycling very seriously.

Luckily for us, the tour of Britain visits our fair city on an annual basis. Here's our recap of 2016's visit.


The big draw this year (again) was Sir Bradley Wiggins, fresh from his Rio Olympics success (Gold medal for the Team Pursuit). 'Wiggo' was delighted to visit Carlisle once again, saying (possibly) that among other things, it's got one of the best TK-Maxx's in Britain and as he was on the hunt for some new desert boots he was hopeful of another Gold, in that regard.

A pair of desert boots, yesterday.

The first sign of Bradley's imminent arrival was his team's vehicles bagging the best parking spots out the back of TK-Maxx.

It's a little known fact that 'The Wigginator' has, as a result of wearing a helmet that was several sizes too small for much of his early career, a very bad memory and as a result his team are forced to write 'Bradington's' name on all of their kit - like a Mum does to a 6 year old's school clothes - just in case he gets distracted by some paisley pattern and becomes separated from the group.

Spare bikes in case one or two get misplaced (we assume)

As everyone knows both a shopping trip and a 188km cycle race really only get underway with a visit to a coffee shop. Whytes Cafe & Bar was 'Wiggly's' choice for a cuppa. Look at the spectators amass to thrill as their hero orders a coffee. Did he have sugar? Did he have milk? - a little? a lot? The debates rage and have already taken their place in local legend!

(side note - we don't know if 'Big-Bad-Brad' had any, but we can vouch for the quality of Whyte's cheese scones).

We'll probably never know if 'Wigston' had a Whyte's cheese scone.

Finally it was time to race. 'Brad Fit's' race tradition, if you don't know, is to take a pre-race selfie with his lucky dog 'Little Captain Pedal Paws'. The crowds gathered to share in this famous tradition, and what a spectacle it was!

Say "cheese scone"

And with that, they were off.
But, as is often the case, 'Christopher Wiggins' had forgotten something, this time, his helmet. Here he is his, shamefaced, returning to the 'big van with his name on' to retrieve the much needed safety precaution. The rest of the riders, used to such last minute muddles, milled about outside WH-Smith's and waited for him. They're good like that.

It turns out that 'Truly Madly Bradley' was 5th last. So that was rubbish.

But still better than these misinformed riders who were refused entry on the day.

Reasons for refused entry from top left: Too many wheels, too foldable, too much luggage, too many engines, a dog.

And to end on...

ignore the distorted baby and look at all those bikes
ignore the bikes and look at that castle
ignore that man with a giant head look at that man with a giant head