Love & catastrophe

It’s a funny world we live in. No, that’s not quite right. Actually, it’s an amazing world – it’s the age we live in that’s ‘funny’.

The age of a ‘traditional’ beginning to a relationship is just SO far behind us. We are no longer limited to meeting someone in our neighbourhood any more, or finding a connection only through our immediate ‘real life’ network of friends and colleagues. The internet is so deeply intertwined in our work & social lives now that it has become a socially acceptable dating tool. I’m not entirely ashamed to say there was a short period of time I had a profile on a ‘dating’ site. I had been single 5 years and, although mostly that was a great thing at the time, it became fairly  depressing.

Now we have things like ‘Tinder’ – the really pre-fabricated off-the-shelf fast food version of cyber-love. I’ve watched people using it, flicking people away… I spend more time choosing an avocado at Woolies. I can’t say a single nice thing about it, but I’m sure it suits the needs of some out there. Personally, I can’t fathom it, but I’m old and am more likely to enjoy a night in and weekends with no plans than out bouncing at the discoteque (they’re still called that, right?). Tinder wasn’t designed for me, and I’m very comfortable with that.

Yet somehow, with all of these resources, finding the right ‘someone’ to love is difficult  in this funny age we live in. I feel like, perhaps, we just meet a lot more ‘wrong-ones’. Which makes the following fact even more amazing – I met my ‘someone’ online.

When all this scribblegraph stuff grew online as it did, I met a hell of a lot of people in a small amount of time. A staggeringly huge amount of people wanted my attention, most of them looking to see if they could make a bit of cash out of me and what I was ‘achieving’ on social media. It was hilarious to me, because none of them realised I wasn’t making any money, and I wasn’t really trying to. A small number of people ‘got’ what I was trying to do, which was just to enjoy drawing and spread a bit of joy around the world. One person in particular really got it, and that was Flea. We met on Google+.

A very long and dreamy love story follows, with lots of international flights, Google Hang-outs and icky romance. We have now been together over 3 years, and Flea has relocated from London to Perth without issue or complaint (except for those relating to the bone-melting heat. She really loathes the heat). Flea will have been living here 2 years in February.

That is: if she’s still here.

Last week I was in Sydney for a bit of a mixed work/R&R week when Flea called to let me know her application for residency had been refused. We experienced the first 12 months of our relationship living apart; that was barely survivable. Not being together when we got this news was completely shattering. She received a simple email with “REFUSED” in the subject line, followed by instructions that she should be out of the country within 28 days.

The provided explanation was brief and required a lot of follow-up work before we fully understood what happens next. There are several paths and avenues open to us, none really more positive than the other. We are lucky to have very supportive family around us who will do everything they can to help. We know there are a lot of people around the world cheering us on (thank you!) – particularly those who know us from Google+. We have countless offers from people to write comprehensive stat. decs. for the review process we’re undertaking. It is helping us stay sane, knowing that there is so much support & love out there.

ash & flea

So – that’s pretty much where we’re at. Catastrophe. We’re only ‘fairly sure’ she won’t have to leave in a couple of weeks, and then the appeal process can take months. AND we’ve been told to expect that to be refused, with near certainty. It just buys us time to find another solution.

The whole point being: this ‘funny old age’ we live in hasn’t caught up with itself. We can find love pretty much anywhere, but it’s so bloody hard to keep it in your life.

Australia Day and All The Things

This isn’t much of a photo really now I look at it, but if you’ve ever been to Point Peron in Western Australia on a warm day, this is heaven. This is the southern side of the peninsula, a little bay surrounded by a reef line. It is one of the most stunning places for a swim and a snorkel; the visibility is superb, the sand is clear, the water is deep, there are amazing fish to see, and it’s largely protected from the big surf when the weather chops up. Most importantly, it’s a place only the locals know about, because it’s a little off the beaten track. Perfect! Oh, and most importantly – this is where +Yoon-Mi Kim will be calling home very soon – she’s finished up her last day off work, done her celebrating (and is still sleeping it off) – and is making the enormous move from chilly London to glorious Perth early next month. It is a huge time for both of us, and we couldn’t be happier:) …and sorrier for all the poor sods stuck in the rather-more-than-cold UK!

…people like +Paul Stickland incidentally – who celebrates his Birthday today! Happy Birthday Paul! Not much of a segue, I know;) Happy Birthday anyway mate, from a place you’d most likely rather be! I hope we can catch up soon.

What else? Oh! Jack Carty is touring again & is in WA this week. In case you don’t know who he is, you’re rather behind the eight-ball because he’s so famous now that he’s got his own wiki page (true story!) – I think he’s doing Dunsborough first, then a gig in Perth on Tuesday. You can catch the info via – he’s one of those Facebook people and you can catch the stuff & the things there. If you like message bombing people to get off facebook and explore Google+ go bomb him here: +Jack Carty and say I sent you.

And of course, Happy Australia Day to all the Aussies enjoying the glorious summer (that’s you Perth!) or the cloud and drizzle (that’s you, everyone else from what I hear!). I’m settling in to do some scribbling & enjoy the Triple J Hottest 100!

Paper Lark

I have recently had the pleasure of meeting with Alys McAuley, an accomplished illustrator with many years experience including working for both the Disney & Fox Studios. her next project is Paper Lark and she is bringing something wonderful and new with her designs.

ASH: Working for Disney sounds like the illustrator’s nirvana. What did you take away from that experience?

ALYS: I was just out of University where I studied Graphic Design when I got the job at Disney. I worked in the Animation Dept and animated the ‘interstitials’ (break times) of the cartoon channel. As a company Disney encouraged us to take time out at lunch, relax, go to the gym, keep healthy and be a happy employee with the proviso that you get the work done by end of the day. My boss was amazingly talented, a great teacher and so funny and we are still friends today. The Disney offices in London are a very colourful and noisy. Every desk is crammed with cuddly Disney toys, merchandise, fluffy Mickey mouse pen tops or mouse mats, mugs…everything is ‘Disney!’. Made your eyes sore after a while.

Working for Mambo in fashion must have been quite a different experience. Did you find that fulfilling as an artist/illustrator? What did you take away from that?

Yes, Mambo was a fulfilling experience as their graphics were much more ‘my’ style of art. Art and humour is a great combo. The deadlines in fashion are relentless and you miss one at your peril. So the pressure was greater but so were the perks. I travelled to London and Paris on buying trips (yep, paid to travel and shop for clothes and inspiration!) and spent time in Hong Kong visiting factories where the garments were made.

Are you still inspired and finding time to work on you own work projects?

Yeah I am always still inspired to create my own work. I think deep down it’s what makes us designers truly content and happy. However finding the time for me was always a problem. So a year ago I made a decision. To make my own ideas and projects a priority over paid work and see where it takes me. It does sound like a recipe for disaster or more likely bone-crushing poverty ;D but sometimes you just have to make a plan, make the leap and have faith.

Have you experienced a large evolution in your own ideas and processes after working with different studios/writers?

Yes I have. That’s a great question. I think I have evolved quite considerably over the years. I felt I had to keep up with trends and styles and what the market wanted. Your own creative intuition adapts and grows over the years picking up from learning experiences, good and bad. So years later you know and trust the right answers will come from somewhere in your head.

What’s the one greatest experience you’ve had professionally?

It was starting a business with my older brother…a two year learning curve of epic proportions! We opened a co-working space in Sydney. We were an office that rented desk and private offices out to freelancers who were bored of working at home all alone. We built a great community. Trying to grow a business can be all consuming though, it tested me, pulled me in all directions, exposed my shortfalls and kept me up at night planning how the business could be the best it could be. The business lasted 2 years and when we closed, although it was not successful in terms of money, one of our customers said to us ‘you’ve changed my life for the better’ – and for me, in terms of success, that was all I needed to hear.

What piece of advice would you give to a fledgling illustrator?

You have to listen to the voice in your head that is your own creative intuition. It’s what YOU think that matters, that’s why people pay YOU for it. Don’t get too bogged down in what people are going to think of your work before you create it. It will only stifle you. Oh and don’t work for free. You only have to lie in a chair and open your mouth for a dentist to charge you $100. You are a Designer, it’s a profession, just like the rest of them, so why should you slave 10 hours over a design for free!

What is your worst experience?

Slaving over a design for 10hrs for free! I learnt the hard way 😉

Paper Lark” is your next project, tell us a bit about what you’ll be doing!

I have just launched an Etsy shop called ‘Paper Lark Designs’. I have always worked alongside photographers and so have an understanding of their needs and perspective about Graphic Design. Then one day last year a friend of mine sent me the most beautiful photo of her baby taken by a photographer, but that’s all it was, a static photo on an email. So I thought about designing cute products that photographer could use to offer their clients after a shoot. So Paper Lark offers downloadable artwork for iPhone covers, mini albums, luxe cards, dvd covers, bookmarks etc, all of which can be printed with the client’s photos. The photographer just buys the template and inserts their own photos before sending to the printers. The feedback has been great so far…and I am loving it.

Alys’ Paper Lark Etsy Shop

Paper Lark Designs on G+

Paper Lark Designs on FB

Paper Lark