Tuesday, October 30, 2007

A change in the weather...

Recently, over at the IS, we've had a CD compilation exchange. The theme was 'A change in the Weather' which was inspired by the change of the seasons from Summer to Autumn, but the brief was widened to also include any real change in your life. I was pleased with my compilations, and even more so with the cover. I knew that although the brief wasn't strictly tailored to that subject, I wanted to keep the Autumnal feel. I struggled for a while getting something I was happy with, but once I had the branch and the bird in place, it all seemed to fit together. I'm starting to find the best way is to just to throw everything at the image and then cut it back until you're left with something you're happy with. It seemed to do the trick at any rate.
The lucky (or perhaps not so) recipient of my CD was Paula Bowles. I hope she's enjoying it. The tracklist was as follows...
01 Manic Street Preachers - Faster
02 The Tragically Hip - My Music At Work
03 Pearl Jam - Rearviewmirror
04 Rush - The Spirit Of Radio
05 Rilo Kiley - Portions For Foxes
06 The Samshing Pumpkins - Today
07 Death Cab for Cutie - Why You'd Want To Live Here
08 The Cooper Temple Clause - Who Needs Enemies?
09 Tool - Stinkfist
10 Incubus - Aswethinkweis
11 Ben Folds Five - Alice Childress
12 Steve Vai - Sisters
13 Boards of Canada - Telephasic Workshop
14 The Postal Service - Sleeping In
15 Rush - Closer To The Heart
16 The Tragically Hip - Escape Is At Hand For The Travellin' Man

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Thursday, October 25, 2007

AOTM - October 2007: Kate Miller

You know how it is. Every now and then, you'll be working on an image (or some such other piece creative-creativeness) and, even though you're excited, motivated and really want produce something great, whenever you try and get in touch with her, all you recieve from the creative muse is an 'Out Of Office' reply. It's frustrating. The ideas are there, and in your head they look wonderful, but you just can't quite get them nailed down. I was in such a situation this week. I'm always genuinely excited when I'm asked to produce DVD covers for Hipfans releases, but the current one just seemed to be a non-starter. I have no idea why, but it was.

So, in order to kickstart things, I decided that it was time to trawl the web in search of the missing inspiration. And who was the first name my brain plucked out of it's archive of illustrators that I love? None other than the fantastic Kate Miller. It was perfect. Kate's colourful and organic work has just the sort of feel I was after, and her unique grasp of composition helped me to steer my way through the mental blockade. I only hope that I can one day have a similar loose but confident flare to my drawing style. It's not easy.

Take a look at her site, and enjoy!

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Tuesday, October 16, 2007

The Photoshop Professional?...

Well, apprently so (sort of). I was approached by Nick Spence to answer some questions about creative online forums (or "fora" as the plural should be?) for Advanced Photoshop Magazine. This was an invitation I duly accepted, and lo and behold, my insane ramblings were actually used, along with one of my images being printed! It's all rather exciting...

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Friday, October 12, 2007

EuroHip: Day 10

I've woken up late on the morning of the last day - Probably too late, especially considering I have to check out in less than half an hour! Oops! I've got a text message waiting for me from Trevor, asking if I want to come and pick my camera up as they're all ready to leave! I throw some clothes on and leg it upstairs to find Trevor, Adrian, Mark and Matt leaving to start their journey to Germany. Part of me is ready to head home, but another part of me really wants to stay on (stupid work getting in the way again!). After collecting my camera, I head back downstairs for a swift shower and packing session, before checking out, donning my wet weather gear (it's raining again) and making the ten minute walk to Brussels North station. As I'm wandering along the road in the rain, I find myself becoming increasingly worried by the
sounds of drums and the waving of flags. There seems to be some sort of protest going on, and I'm heading straight for it. Joy. Images of closed railway stations, angry Belgians and stranded, rain soaked English travellers filled my head as I approached the mass. Fortunately, they weren't protesting against the Belgian rail service, and I found my way clear to nipping down a side road to the station. After negotiating a series of bus lanes under the station, I finally found my way inside, and out of the rain. Now, the phrase "worlds most depressing place" is thrown around a lot these days, however, if I ever find myself on the board of judges for such an event, I know what'll get my vote: Brussels-Nord Station. I'm sure the gray skies, wind and rain do nothing for the ambience of the place, but it was certainly putting on a pretty poor show even without the outside assistance. It's vast, sparse and devoid of any human faces that have seen a smile in at least the last six months - and at this moment in time, I was hardly doing anything to redress that balance. I stand and scour the departures board, desperately trying to find the train to Amsterdam! It seems to take an eternity to appear, but when it finally does, it warms my heart! That series of sorry looking, yellow LED's signal my iminent (well, just under 30
minutes) departure from this place. I decide to kill some time, and try and find some food.I find a little bakery, and order a sausage roll and Danish pastry and make my way into the waiting room. I bury myself into my book until the train arrives, and I settle for the three hour journey back to Amsterdam...
The journey was fairly uneventful (I've spared you the gory details). It wasn't until I emerged at Amsterdam Central that I realised that perhaps getting off directly at the airport might have been a better idea. D'oh. A sift ticket purchase and some nimble footwork later, and I was back on the train following the motorway to the airport. I'm starting to get a little nervous now, as things seem to be taking an awful lot longer than I was expecting. As it turns out, my nerves were unfounded and I'm at the check in desk before my flight's even called to check in! I wait for about ten minutes, whizz through the check in and head to the departure gate. I use a bit of spare time to get online and catch up with a few things before joining the security queue and boarding the plane. Much like the train journey, the flight goes smoothly and before I know it, I'm stood on the chilly platform at Gatwick waiting for a train to Victoria. I finally get back to the flat, dump my stuff wherever it happens to land, stick the kettle on (my God am I desperate for a cup of tea!) and order a Pizza. So, that's it, the dream and the trip is over. It's been a great journey and even better than I hoped! I've met some great people, and made some new friends along the away. Friends that hopefully, I'll be able to catch up with again soon.

Now begins the mammoth task of editing and uploading photos, audio and video footage - Perhaps the journey's only just started...

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EuroHip: Day 9

It's raining in Brussels. I thought, due to the light streaming through the curtains of the Hostel room that it would be a nice day, but on closer inspection, it really isn't. By the time I've showered and gotten dressed though, the rain has begin to ease off. I wander upstairs and knock on the door of the other guys rooms - They are far from ready to go, and Adrian fixing something for work remotely, so I leave them to it and head downstairs to kill some time catching up with things on the net and to drink copious amounts of free coffee. After an hour or so, Matt comes down to get me and, loaded up with wet weather gear, we venture out ontp the mean streets of Brussels. When we checked in, we were given a back-packers map of the city which showed all the main places of interest. We put Mark on navigation duty and headed off in the direction of the main square. We stop at a pub for (what is now) lunch time. We order some beers (Trevor A and I have a Raspberry based one, while
Mark, Adrian and Matt go for cherry) and after trying to decipher the menu, Matt and I both go for the special: Mussels! We certainly weren't disappointed. I think Adrian ,who avoided them as he didn't want to risk getting ill, was kicking himself when he saw them arrive! There was an absolute mountain of them, and they were delicious. After we were fed and watered we made our way along the shopping streets where all picked up some chocolates and beer, and bumped into Ricky, The
Hip's head of security - probably doing the same, before we finally reach the main market square. It certainly is a sight to behold! A full 360 degree, hugely ornate and decorative architectural experience! We stay there and take a ton of photos (as well as accepting our free Orio cookies that were being handed out) before we continue our exploration to find the Manikin Pis. We follow the signs, and make our way down winding roads until we see a crowd of people in an otherwise seemingly featureless street. I'm surprised to find such a famous monument to be tucked away down such a small side street. the fountain itself is also a lot smaller than I was expecting, but it's cool to have seen it. After a few more photos, we find our way back to the main street and stop by the venue to find out details about the evenings show. It's getting towards late afternoon now, so we make our way back to the Hostel. The other guys get their heads down for a while, and I get back online and read some of my book before it's time to go! It's brightened up considerably, and has become a very pleasant evening as we walk along the main street the venue again. There's about five people in front of us in the line, and while we're waiting, Johnny's drum tech comes out and we chat to him for a while. Before long the doors are open and we're into the building. We get held up at the doors to the venue itself though, while Racoon are soundchecking (rather late!). After another twenty minute wait or so, we're let in - No security checks again. Either Ricky's been onto the venue staff already or they're just a lot more laid back on the continent. Mark, Adrian and Trevor set up by the soundboard, and I head upstairs to the baclony to the left of the stage - It's a prime spot! I set up the gear, and settle in to watch Racoon. They're pretty decent actually. Probably the best of the support bands so far. About ten minutes before The Hip are due to come on, I start Mark's camera running - Or at least I tried to! there's some issue with the Firestore which gives a few frantic minutes trying to sort things out! Finally everything was sorted and we settled into watch the show.

The setlist was the standard "hits" one (similar to those in Groningen and London), but the performance was outstanding as always! The lighting was great as well, which meant some great photos. Unfortunately though, the technical hitches weren't over completely and I had some tape issues (all my fault - I forgot to check the times, and put the 60min tape in for the main set instead of the 85min - D'oh!) Also, we were joined up on the Balcony by "Captain Canada" who proceeded to hang of the edge of the balcony for more or less the entire second half of the concert, waving his Canadian flag - much to the "delight" of those around him. Thanks for that...

After the show we packed up and chatted with various people who were asking what we were filming for, and many hipfans fliers were given out. It was also when I got down to join Adrian, Mark and Trevor that I learnt a very sad fact - 'Escape is at Hand for the Travellin' Man' had been on the setlist but had been skipped due to time constraints! I was gutted. I love that song. I guess you can't win them all - Sadly...The night was still young though, and after a quick stop off at the hostel to drop of camera gear, and to pick up some extra t-shirts to sell we hit some bars on the main street, picking up a large group of various other fans on the way.We sank a few more Raspberry Beers and laughed and chatted the rest of the night away. A doner kebab and a short walk later, we finally got to bed at 2am. Again.

...I love being on tour!

28-09-2007 - Ancienne Belgique, Brussels Setlist:

The Lonely End Of The Rink
My Music At Work
Grace, Too
It's A Good Life If You Don't Weaken
In View
Ahead By A Century
Yer Not The Ocean
Courage (For Hugh Maclennan)
World Container
Springtime In Vienna
At The Hundredth Meridian
The Kids Don't Get It
Fully Completely
New Orleans Is Sinking
Escape Is At Hand For The Travellin' Man (On the setlist but not played - Boo!)
Band Blow At High Dough

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Saturday, October 06, 2007

EuroHip: Day 8

After a very good nights sleep in my new, pitch black in the very bottom of the hotel (I moved from
the double room to a single when Snoo left) I'm packed up and ready to go. I lug my stuff upstairs, check out and head for the tram. Luckily, there's three tram lines right by my hotel that all lead to the Station. I hop on a number 5 after a couple of minutes wait, and before long I'm winding my way through Amsterdam again. The trams certainly a nice, comfy way to see the city! The journey takes about 20 minutes. I head into the sta
tion and queue up to get my ticket to Belgium! I'm surprised and relieved to find put that not only do I have to get one train all the way, but it'll also only cost me 52Euros for a return ticket! I've lucked out big time! I get my ticket, and after consulting the boards, I decide to wait around and get a later train so I can get some food. I get on the train at around 1:30pm and sit and watch the (flat) Dutch countryside whizz by. The journey takes about three and a half hours, and is pleasant enough. I listen to a live Rush show and read some more of my book, and before I know it I'm into Belgium. Sadly, the nice sunny weather that greeted me in Amsterdam has decided not to travel, and a light Beligian drizzle has taken over. An announcement comes over the tanoy informing us that, for reasons unknown, the train will be terminating at Brussels North instead of the Central Station. I gather up my stuff and get off the train at the North station. After a bit of consultation of boards, I find a train and travel the remaining stop to the centre of the city. It's not until I leave the station that I realise that I have no clue where the Hostel is! I decide the easiest course of action would be to get a taxi. I get in a cab at the near by rank and we crawl through the packed streets as the driver gives me the lowdown on the different areas of Brussels (including, and he was very pleased about this one, where the red light district was...). We finally pull up outside the hotel (which ironically was considerably closer to the North station than the Central one - D'oh. I'm suprised to see Adrian, Trevor and Matt waiting outside the Hostel, which was very fortunate! We all check in, drop our stuff off in various rooms and meet up again to explore. It's a gray and drizzly evening but we wander along and take in some of the sights. We venture up and find the venue before heading back to a restaurant called Chichi's (a chain which has long since been defunct in North America, but who Adrian used to work for apparently) for a Tex-Mex dinner, some huge beers and great chat. At around about 11pm he make our way back to the Hostel and call it a day...

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