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A R T F A G M A G A Z I N E


C O N T E N T S


I N T R O D U C T I O N ARTFAG

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I N T R O D U C T I O N

Artfag

was born as the product of four Birmingham City, Visual Communication students, embarking upon their first project. The first issue has been a mixture of experimentation, collaberation and realisation, that four opinions are maybe better than one. Taking into acccount each individuals personal style, interests and talents, we have created something that can hopefully grow and evolve over time. Enjoy.


C U S T A R D A N Y O N E ? Birmingham offers a wealth of

vintage stores in the centre of town, and also several visiting and resident fairs. Digbeth is the heart of Birmingham’s ever expanding Creative Quarter, showcasing a variety of independent stores and small business’, catering for those of us interested in fashion,craft and all things creative. Just a 10 minute walk from the Bullring, off Digbeth High Street, is the Custard Factory. Built by Sir Alfred Bird, of Bird’s custard powder, over 100 years ago, it is now home to Birmingham’s many independent creatives and businesses, all designing, producing and selling a whole host of different crafts.


From

vintage apparel to beads, book binding to screen print, the list goes on. All things crafty have taken a massive increase in popularity over the past few years, and the Custard Factory has definitely taken that in their stride. The Birmingham Bead Shop, which opened in the summer of 2009, is the only one of its type in Birmingham and a must for any aspiring jewellery maker or embroiderers. Not only do they sell beads but also charms, jewellery making kits and equipment, they also offer tutorials and classes for anyone wanting to learn how. Another store offering a similar service is the Stitch Perfect Yarn Shop. Dedicated to all things knitting, sewing, crochet and contemporary craft (to name a few,) this is the place to go if you are curious about any of the above, or wish to further your existing skills and knowledge. Stitch Perfect offers a huge range of classes, from basic techniques to fully fledged projects. Their small classes emphasise hands on learning and the pursuit of a thoroughly good time.

Vintage has also dramatically increased in popularity in a small period of time, and in the last few years the number of stores providing this second hand luxury has more than doubled in Birmingham. The Vintage Fair, which visits the city twice yearly, is a mixture of all things old and new, selling handmade goods, house hold wares, clothing and even cupcakes. It never fails to create a buzz, with up to 70 stalls of vintage finery. Probably the best for that cherry picked, higher quality source of vintage attire is the appointment only, Frock On Boutique, located in the newly refurbished Zellig building of the Custard Factory. Set up and ran by Pam Cheema, it is a cut above the rest for those looking for something specific. In an interview with Pam I found out why, where and when she finds time to single handidly find stock, and also how she managed to get a concession in Birmingham’s Topshop store.


Pam, where did this start? Do you come

from a fashion orientated background? No not at all, I studied socialology at University of Birmingham, and then went on to work as a researcher for the BBC and Channel 4. I started selling some vintage pieces at fairs and a local flea market, and was always complimented on the high quality of my stock. So I set up a website and quit my job. It just came from a hobby really, and having a passion for vintage. What do you think makes your boutique stand out from the many other vintage outlets in B i r m i n g h a m ? I think that it is a very personal experience, both for me and the customer. I handpick every item that I sell, making sure that all the pieces are in perfect condition, which can be difficult with some items, shoes and furs for example. I spend days searching for the right pieces that I know will suit my customer base, both for the boutique and also the collection I have in Topshop. I think that I also try to source pieces that work with the latest trends, which you don’t find in other vintage wholesalers in town. What sort of feedback to you get from your customers about the boutique and the appointment only approach? My customers love the relaxed, yet exclusive approach to Frock on. I think that the appointment system only works well due to the location of the store; obviously you don’t just come across it walking down the street. It also works for me, as I spend at least one day a week sources new pieces, usually from Leeds or Sheffield. So I can fit my travels around my appointments. You mentioned your collection which is featured in the Bullring branch of Topshop, how did you manage that!? Yeah I never thought I’d be able to get my brand into such a huge high street store, little old me! I had thought for a while that my wares would fit in well in Topshop, we have a very similar type of customer base, obviously not on the same scale, but I always found

that my customers considered Topshop as one of the best high-street stores. So I contacted the head buyer, and had to go down and pitch my brand, tell them what made it special and why it would be suitable for Topshop. You recently spoke at the Running In Heels event, for professional and inspirational business woman, how does it make you feel knowing you’re already making such a big impact? It’s amazing to know that somebody sees me as an inspiration! It always comes as a shock to me, as it still feels like just a hobby! I’m not in it this for the money or even the recognition, it’s just my passion so things like that are an added bonus! I’m very proud of the fact that I have started this myself, from scratch, with money that I had earned. No rich parents or anything like that. I think that passion is the basis of success, if you have the passion then longevity is more likely. What makes the visit special or different from high street shopping? I think that it is such a different experience for most shoppers. No crowds like you can find on the high street or searching though rails of crap like in some vintage stores! I can also provide outfits and styling for customers who are not sure how wear their vintage pieces which I always enjoy doing! I’m also available any time and day, Monday to Sunday, And finally, any advice to for aspiring young entrepreneur’s? Don’t give up, persevere and take risks. If you believe in your idea then it’s likely others will too! Don’t be afraid to network, attend events and promote yourself and your business as much as possible. And have faith, you’re as good as anyone, you don’t need to worry about others, your passion will be the base of your success!


I N S E R T T I T L E H E R E

Nowadays

the cult of personality arises on individualism and uniqueness. The quantity of people, who dare to speak out of the crowd, increases each day. Regardless of whether people are bringing out issue, or simply need to be heard, their communication approaches get drastic sometimes.One of the most exiting ways of conveying a thought or simply expressing yourself is Street Art. This phenomenon is slowly taking over the world.


I N T R O D U C T I O N ARTFAG

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I N T R O D U C T I O N ARTFAG

is the Um nobis veliquid

newest

molendaectum

voles

sunt.

Ipsa con porIdest re voluptam, cusam

exerisi

temperitias

alicae

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mendic pa

sequissed

doluptat

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dest, que volut

delis aci utaquam ea sit, si optae volor autem. Ommoloreror aceraec

eperiat

ommossendae

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eum

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aliqui tem fugit a voluptium ut a nossus nostionsequo cum estiis eaqui doluptibus aliandit que ipsam sim dolori nos aspellum faccus

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What

Birmingham is no exception.

The Metropolis provokes and inspires. A strong mixture of cultures, lifestyles and ideologies stimulate artists. There are few zones that bound to draw attention: typically urban pockets that could use a bit of life. They’re easily visible and the locations don’t harm businesses or homes. However, the real variety of “masterpieces” is usually hidden under the bridges, in subways, warehouses and other abandoned or derelict areas. You get a sight of interaction with the space, as well as the overall feeling. One of the artists that has been around for more than 20 years, named Title, agreed on giving a sneak peak on his personal thoughts and views.

drew you to graffiti at first and what motivates you on staying in this sphere up until now? Like so many other young impressionable kids in the UK during the 80’s, I was drawn to all the new stuff that was being imported from the States around that time... Skateboards, BMX, Hip Hop etc.... But I guess it was the fact that I had always been good art and drawing had always been something that I enjoyed that got me thinking that graffiti could be my thing. I was really into racing BMX then so it took a while before the art of writing my name took over as my favorite passtime. As far as my motivation goes, other than painting... I’d have to say its my family and in particular the smiles on my children’s faces that makes me want to get out of bed every morning.


Can

you share with a couple of personal process details, such as: What comes first, the idea or the surface to work on? Improvisation or well thought through and planed pieces, which do you prefer? Preferences in terms of subject matter? Whether it’s a character, letters or any other theme, it’s always the idea that’s most important. I usually like to plan things first, particularly if I’m planning a production wall with other artists. But that’s not always the case, improvisation can be fun and I’ve had some great results from completely freestyling stuff... I’ve no preferences in terms of subject matter. It’s all good! In which cities have you painted? Which one is your favorite? Why? I’m not too well traveled and I’ve only been outside the UK a handful of times so I’ve never had the luxury of painting abroad. But I have painted in quite a few cities here in the UK...London, Nottingham, Leeds, Blackpool, Leceister, etc... I’m not sure whether I have a favorite, but I guess it’s the Capital that stands out to me as a place that has a good scene. People talk about Bristol, but I’ve never painted there.

What is your opinion on street art in Birmingham? Are there any specifics, principles in this area that artists prefer? I’m not too keen on the street art thing... Stencils and Childlike Characters don’t really do it for me, I prefer freehand letter styles and quality well painted freehand characters. There are a lot of good artists here, but the scene isn’t as big as one might expect from a city the size of Birmingham, probably down to the fact that there aren’t any decent legal spots which is pretty poor considering we’re supposed to be the second city! Some of the younger guys have got permission from local businesses or claimed there own walls in Digbeth and I’ve been hearing whispers of other spots cropping up here and there lately so hopefully things will start to change. Maybe you could give any advices, tips or thoughts to newborn street artists? The only advice I’d give to the young up and coming is stick to the rules... If you can’t burn it don’t go over it! Respect other peoples work, but never try to copy or emulate it... So never bite! Biting is rubbish and you’ll never develop your own style that way. Keep don’t

it

real and smoke

definitely crack!!!


I N S I D E

I N S E R T

P I T L E

T I T L E

H E R E

H E R E

It`s really nothing more that what our thoughts look like on paper‌

Photography,

unlike many other art forms, is unique in the sense that is has the ability to freeze a single moment in time. That moment becomes iconic in the sense that it has it`s own story. A story which could be of friends long passed, places seen or feelings long gone. It is something often underestimated by most people, but greatly admired by those who do.

Illustration,

like many other art forms is such a broad subject; no two illustrators are the same, everyone is different, with their own different opinions, techniques and creative procedures. Whether you’re an illustrator, a fine artist, a graphic designer or a photographer you learn a discipline that helps you become a successful image maker and communicator.


Unlike

an illustrator, the photographer is inevitably tied to some form of technology. The camera, the lens, the film‌all become companions for the photographer, ones which he must master before being able to manifest his visions or memories. Like many other forms of creativity, making a photograph is taking a part of yourself and putting it in context. That context is the one that decides whether the image is relevant or it’s just another guy forgetting to set the exposure. It is in many ways like a game of cards: you never know what may be next and rely on a great deal of luck‌but you can always improve your chances. Like illustrators, photographers tend to look for themselves in many of their images. Someone walking in a hurry on the street, a girl standing in the rain...Places or people that seem familiar to the photographer are always a source of inspiration. As if looking for past events that didn`t actually happen, but are closer to reality than what reality looked like. Many people may not realize it, but photography can be just as personal as drawing, the photographer has the option to choose what will be in his image, much like an illustrator. They are putting together dreams of memories. Regarding photographers, there are only two kinds: The fisherman is the kind of photographer that gets his idea slowly.

WORDS BY ION MATES

It needs time to gestate and grow into something as relevant to what he feels. It is only then that he or she picks up the camera and starts trying to take the shot. This is usually the way still life pictures or most portraits occur. It is a documentation of people`s thoughts. On the other hand, the hunter is quite the opposite; restless and hard working, he relentlessly searches for his photograph, as if he just took it but lost it somewhere on the street, in a park or in the mountains. The photograph closely resembles a snapshot, but is different in the sense that the photographer already saw it in his head, he just needed to find it. They can be influenced by anything such as a sunset, a favorite song, someone`s words of even a scene from a movie. It is usually the case with landscape photographers. It is interesting seeing how two different minds can come up with so different perspectives of the same scene. A photographer can provide scenes that illustrators can hardly think of, while on the other hand, an illustrator can show photographers a very different world in which rules aren`t always there. Curiosity is one of the things that drove us to do this article, and see how a different view of our work would look like. Differences in the creative process are things that make us push ourselves to learn from each other.


F or me drawing is all I have that helps me communicate with

others, it’s an essential tool I utilize to help share my ideas. I’m a perfectionist, in the past I’ve had to draw pieces numerous times until it’s up to a certain quality, so I feel comfortable that people won’t look at it later and think “What is it supposed to be?”, “Why has he drawn it that way”, or “What message is he trying to get across.” Drawing the same thing an infinite number of times until I feel I could draw it with my eyes closed is an exercise that I do in my spare time. To some that may seem boring or tedious, but to me it can become quite therapeutic. Eventhough illustration is my passion, it’s not a spontaneous act, everything has to be carefully thought and considered before putting pencil to paper, everything must be planned to avoid making a mistake. My inspiration comes from reading comic books and graphic novels. My favourite mediums are mechanical pencils, biro pens and when I’m working on more serious pieces I move on to fine liners and water-based paintsWhen I first heard the idea for this collaboration between photography and illustration I was reminded of the work of Honoré Daumier, who was a 19th Century French illustrator, printmaker, caricaturist, painter and sculptor, whose work offered commentary on social and political life at the time.

WORDS BY MATTHEW PARKER

One of his most successful pieces was a lithograph from 1856 titled “Photography: A new procedure, used to ensure graceful poses”, a satirical illustration that features a couple getting their portrait taken by a photographer. Because of the technical limitations, the subjects must remain perfectly still to insure their photo doesn’t turn out blurred. The couple are sitting in specially made chairs with vices on them that are attached to the back of their heads to stop them moving. It’s a very funny piece and now it has become very influential. It questions whether the beauty of fine art has influenced the way photo are taken or whether the realism of photography has influenced art since its invention and for me it was an important starting point, when considering how this project would work. feel that this collaboration has truly shown us how other artists work. As an illustrator, I’ve always wondered how photographers produce such amazing works, it has shown me their dedication to getting the perfect image, spending hours until they know what they produce in the end is a carefully considered piece of art. If I adopted these methods to my work I know that it will make me a better visual communicator.

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ARTFAG7