John Baskerville | page 06 Type designer and printer, known for his unique style and printing - Katie Bennett Tony Arfin | page 10 An exciting Photographer and Graphic designer and an insight to the exhibition in the IKON gallery - Katie Bennett
The Culture | page 15 Birmingham based four piece band that are worth following - Rebecca Bowen Barbara and all that Jazz | page 18 An afternoon that needs to be repeated, music that relexes you and band member that absolutely love music - Marina Stavrinides
Louise Moore | page 23 Canal boat enthusiast shows us her work and talks about her creations - Eliza Bradley Sharron Baker | page 28 Vibrant pieces of work and a short summary of this artist exciting work - Eliza Bradley Jo Ruth | page 32 Inspiration for our front cover and a very interesting interview with the artist - Eliza Bradley
George Gadd | page 37 Music enthusiasts gather, this talented being tells us about his lifestyle as a musician, and maybe tips on how you can make it big too Marina Stavrinides W.Inks | page 40 Experience of the real life of a tattoo artistRebecca Bowen and our response tothis issues content -
We are proud to launch this creative art magazine. String’s editorial emphasis has been one of empowerment, education and entertainment featuring artwork in Birmingham City. We strive to bring you articles that will brighten your day, broaden your mind, and keep you up to date on the artistic lifestyle of today. This initial issue is based in Birmingham. It brings you exciting reviews of upcoming bands – taking you behind the scenes. It includes reviews of modern day work as well as important artists from the past, containing photographs of fascinating artwork. The magazine also features exclusive interviews with inspirational Birmingham based artists, highlighting their next exhibition dates to make sure that you don’t miss out! I’d like to thank all our contributors for their patience, guidance and for sharing their words with the us. We hope you enjoy reading String as much as we enjoyed writing, designing and producing it. Be Inspired by our Cities, From Team String
Having been an early admirer of the beauty of letters, I became insensibly desirous of contributing to the perfection of them. I formed to myself ideas of greater accuracy than had yet appeared, and had endeavoured to produce a set of types according to what I conceived to be their true proportion.
John Baskerville, 1758 07
John Baskerville was a Birmingham-bred, writing master, type designer and printer, born in 1706. Known for his unique style and printing process which enabled him to be innovative in his time and produce one of the most popular and classic typefaces for print, Baskerville; a serif typeface most known for its crisp edges, high contrast and generous proportions.
The typeface Baskerville, designed in 1754, is considered to be a transitional typeface as it has both traditional and modern qualities to its aesthetic, from its rounded bracketed serifs to its use of high contrast. Although John Baskerville was illiterate, he became very interested in calligraphy and practiced hand writing and inscription. This style was later visualised in his printed typeface. The typeface came about at a time when printing technology was forever being experimented with and refined. John Baskerville produced contrasting dark inks which he pressed onto his own beautifully bright woven paper, to create his unique style. He felt that the existing printing presses did not capture the subtleties of his type and so he created his own method of printing, which allowed for more pressure from the press and produced deeper type depth as a result.
It was only after John Baskervilleâ€™s death in 1775, that his typeface became a success. The original Baskerville punches and matrixes were sold to France, by his widow and soon, the Baskerville typeface began to circulate among foundries and make a huge influence on type design in Europe. Many designers have since created their own versions of â€˜Baskervilleâ€™ type, such as the modern faces Didot and Bodoni, which reflect the sharp finish and high contrast letterforms of the original. The typeface was also re-casted from its original Baskerville matrixes, causing its revival in the 20th Century. It was the combination of his process of printing, his sharply cut letterforms, the bright glossy paper he used contrasting with the intensity of his inks, that made John Baskerville incredibly influential on the type design industry. Baskerville is still widely used today for print, due to its legibility and refined aesthetic.
Tony Arefin became known as a graphic designer during the late 1980’s and his art catalogues made him one of the most important figures in the British art scene at the time. Being a self-taught designer didn’t stop him from being innovative, as the qualities his work boasts from the beginning are still distinguishable today, from his smart typographic formulations, photography and use of colour to his talent for reduction.
Born in 1962 as Abed Mohammed Arefin in Karachi, Pakistan, he was later nicknamed Tony by his mother. Arefin moved to London along with his family in 1974, where he began work as a picture editor and design assistant for several London magazines. He then went on as a curator at ‘The Photographer’s Gallery’, where he came across the influential designer Neville Brody and his work for ‘The Face’ magazine. Taking inspiration from Brody’s work, Arefin began to design catalogues and refine his own unique style establishing himself as an independent designer. His designs
brought about exciting visuals which made a refreshing change to the often unadventurous and traditional look of art catalogues at the time. Arefin suddenly found himself working for many of the city’s major art institutions and alongside upcoming young British artists and designers such as Damien Hirst, Jasper Morrison and Cornelia Parker. In 1993, Arefin left London and began work in New York as Creative Director at I.D. magazine. For the next four years he was extremely busy, taking on the role as Art Director of three other publications: Bomb magazine, Blind Spot magazine and Art + Auction magazine. Despite the intense workload, Arefin’s work for magazines in New York was his most confident, enabling him to fully express his expansive vision of graphic design. During his career, Arefin collaborated with photographers, illustrators and typeface designers to produce some of his most striking and dynamic work.
In 1997, his innovative style attracted the advertising industry and he became Art Director at the agency Wieden & Kennedy, spending a year in Portland before returning to New York as a partner at Ogilvy & Mather. He went on to produce the award-winning work for IBM’s ‘Magic Box’ Campaign, as well as working for clients such as Nike and Microsoft. It was through advertising that Arefin was able to commission on a larger scale, the photographers, type designers and illustrators, whose work most excited him. The IKON Gallery, Birmingham, has recently exhibited the full extent of Arefin’s work, from his early designs in London to his work produced in New York, including examples of the four magazines he directed. What struck me the most on my visit to the exhibition, were the examples of his advertising work. I particularly liked his ‘Sex has consequences’ advertisement for ‘the national campaign to prevent teen and unplanned pregnancy’, 1999.
The theme of the advertisements is to promote safe sex amongst youths by revealing the harsh truth that ‘sex has consequences’. The message is clear and straight to the point, linking the teenager’s quote to the reality of how people view them once in that situation, making the adverts communicate strongly to the viewers as they can’t be ignored. The use of type with photography isn’t uncommon in the world of advertising but it is the way that Arefin conveys the message through his layouts which stand out and make his adverts memorable. They are intriguing because the first thing you notice are the large letters in red set on top of the photographs and you immediately link the teenager to the bold word, assuming that they are descriptions and you’re left wanting to know why that particular teenager has been defined in that way.
Tony Arefin was active as a graphic designer for fifteen years before his sudden death at the age of just 38 in May 2000. The timing of his death just as the internet was becoming the powerful platform for expressing design that it is today, means that Arefinâ€™s work is not circulating. This makes him the best designer youâ€™ve never heard of, which is why the IKON exhibition of his work was so important. Arefin formulated a bold and intensely colourful visual language which has strong influences on the contemporary graphic design that we come across today.
In an underground you don’t have the notion of successful failure. You just have the notion of making something. And that’s what saves you. It’s not how proffessional it looks, it’s because you are doing what you are doing because you believe in it.
- Tony Arefin, Emigre magazine no.24, 1992
Joey Barrett- Vocals/ Guitar Dylan Oâ€™rourke- Vocals/ Lead Guitar Thomas Simcox- Vocals/ Bass Patrick Worral- Drums
Just by looking around this venue tonight, you can tell that the unsigned four-piece, The Culture have been making a name for themselves in the Birmingham area. Even though they are the supporting band they have without a doubt have created a buzz of their own right- the venue is so crowded and chaotic there’s barely space to move! If there is a moment of doubt for this band, just the memory of this night, in front of an audience as expectant and enthusiastic as this surely is the cure. Watching these boys get sweaty and express their love for their “fast hard music”, brings a complete communal experience to the intimate stage of The Rainbow as all of the audience is standing, putting in as much energy in as they’re getting back. What a way to kickstart a gig, and what an amazing achievement for these boys to be supporting Childhood and Palma Violets pointing them in the right direction to bigger stages.. Next gig at the Rainbow in DigbethDecember 14th at The Rainbow, where they’ll also be giving away copies of their EP ‘Alice Sweet Alice’ Influences: Libertines Arctic Monkeys The Enemy Babyshambels The Cribs
Barbra and All That
On my hunt to find new things to do and experience in Birmingham, I remembered the Botanical Gardens I visited last year and enjoyed very much. I knew they sometimes had live music going on, and what’s better than listening to a bit of Jazz on a nice sunny morning surrounded by grass and flowers. I was there on a recent Sunday when “Barbara and all that Jazz” were entertaining the crowd with their nice music some of it was their own and some cover tunes. After strolling and looking around and taking pictures with my friend and stopping to enjoy a cup of tea, I approached them to introduce myself. I told them of my interest to write about them. Barbara,
the singer, was thrilled to be written about, and I’ve been in contact with her ever since. She comes from a town, not too far away from here, called Cannock in Staffordshire. The very talented singer was once with another band that had decided they didn’t want a vocalist, but many other musicians persuaded her to continue singing so she created the band “Barbara and all that Jazz”. Although the members live far from each other they are willing to travel a long way because they enjoy playing so much. For the past 9 years the band have regular gigs throughout Midlands and they play at different jazz festivals.
Barbara also mentioned that they perform in Wales, and they have a house together with all the members there, all the members and their wives gather and have a great time. Their music was so relaxing and playful at the same time. Of course the big grass lawn inspired the children to play and dance to the music, which made everything ten times more charming. The band played well-known songs like ‘Let’s Do It, Let’s Fall in Love’, which was written and first introduced by Cole Porter and has been sung by various jazz, soul and blues singers. The band also played ‘Bear Necessities’ from the famous Disney production Jungle Book and, as I am a Disney fan, that made me ridiculously happy. Barbara enjoys music so much, and she finds it easy it easy to perform in the Midlands and Birmingham. They have a following that enjoy their music, and they are happy for that. They hope to be doing just that for as long as they can. Barbara is very passionate about music; she also sings with Burtonon-Trent Big Bands, her church choir, and the Gospel church. In other words, music is her life. You can find Barbara and All That Jazz’s music mostly on Youtube. Anyone interested in jazz and blues, or good music in general shouldn’t miss them. I promise you’ll be in for a good surprise.
â€œI love experimenting with images, colour and shape. I see each picture as a journey, and every time I take it it is different to the one beforeâ€?
Louise Moore is a member of the SAA and of the Guild of Waterways Artists. She has beautiful paintings in private and public collections across the UK including Severn Trent Water and Wragg & Co Solicitors. We went to visit Louise in her studio where she held a small exhibition; by chatting to her we got to learn more about her work. Eliza: Where did you grow up? And what led you to become an artist?
Louise: I grew up in Coventry, and by
the time I got to my GCSEâ€™s I knew that I wanted to be an artist. I had a natural eye for drawing, and I loved to work with design and photography. This led me to carry on to A Level art, then a Foundation course at Coventry University. When it came time to choose a degree subject, it was a close call between a design course and Fine Art. I opted for a Fine Art course at Nottingham Trent University. I live on a narrowboat called Da Vinci, and in 2007 I brought another boat (unpowered/designed to be towed and called a Butty) in which myself
and my partner could work on art and craft projects. One half of the boat is a wood/rope workshop, and the other half is my studio/clean area. This Butty boat is called Lowry, as he was an artist who depicted industrial life. I also have my computer set up in Da Vinci as I use this for photographic post production, and for CGI work. Eliza: What do you like about Birmingham? Louise:I find Birmingham very inspiring. I have a keen interest in Industrial history (I studied History
up to A Level), and Birmingham and the West Midlands was the Hub of the industrial canal network. I like to read the layers of history that are present in the landscape (coming from Coventry there wasnâ€™t much of this left after WWII) and the buildings. There are only remnants left now of the industry of the past, and I feel it is important to capture the grandeur of these before they disappear completely: not in a romantic sense, but in how they sit in contrast to todayâ€™s landscape.
Eliza: What artists do you research? Louise: Iâ€™m not one for researching a particular Artist, and there is not one particular Artist or style that I like, except for perhaps Da Vinci whoâ€™s drawings I find inspiring. I do research particular techniques for using materials and processes, and I collect images that may have useful elements I want to incorporate into my work. These range from renaissance masters through to Steampunk and Lowbrow.
Eliza: What medias do you enjoy working with and why? Louise: My favourite media to work with is currently photography and computer generated art. I donâ€™t have a great deal of time to paint in a traditional media, although I do have a preference for Oils if I am working on canvas, but I find working on a computer liberating. Rather than being constrained by the limitations of a particular media, I can combine Photography, drawing and painting in any way I want. To me the final image has always been the most important element, as it is this that speaks to
an audience, and I believe it doesnâ€™t matter how you get to that, as long as you do it well. Eliza: What is the main subject for your work? Louise: The main subject for my work is industrial architecture both new and old, contrasting with elements of natural beauty that are found along the canal network. Eliza: Do you collaborate with any other artist? Louise: I donâ€™t collaborate with other
artists to produce individual pieces of work, however I am a member of the Guild of Waterway Artists. We share a common love of the waterways, but we all express this in different ways and styles. Eliza:What has been your most successful piece and why? Louise: My most successful piece so far is the series of photographs I took of Gas St Basin and Cambrian Wharf in Birmingham during a snowstorm. These are the ones found in my winter collection at canalartist.com
Sharon creates vibrant pieces of work using inspiration from graphic art and popular culture: typefaces, adverts, posters & films, found images as well as using her own photographs. These found images are starting points for pieces that explore trace and memory. This modern day artist studied Fine Art at Wolverhampton University in 1989 â€“ 1992 and then carried on to Coventry University in 1997 â€“ 1999. She is now based in Birmingham where she is open to any commissions whilst frequently exhibiting her work. She alters many of the images, signs and themes by playing with the original context to invite new meanings. I learned that she creates her pieces using mixed media â€“ including painting, collage, drawing, print and photography; this adds different textures and patterns to her work. By using prints acts as source materials for collages and as an element in the paintings. This variety of media and mark makings are important as it adds a rhythm
and balance within the images; finalizing her extraordinary pieces of modern art. Sharonâ€™s art is known for the use of tessellation and grid arrangements whilst restricting the use of colour. Her work reminds me of that done by the famous Andy Warhol whereby she uses contrasting blocks of colour against a simple structured image, for increased visual impact. Andy Warhol also used this use of grid arrangements and repeating images, creating a pattern within itself to draw in the audience. However, unlike Warhol, Sharon cleverly uses a border around her images creating vast space around each subject matter. This attracts the viewer making them look more closely at each image. When viewing her work I noticed that the colour black is favored for the use of her subject, adding depth; it boldly contrasts against the bright colours in the background, highlighting the importance of the image.
Sharon Baker has recently exhibited in The Royal society of Painter-Printmakers in London which was held on the17 August - 2 September 2012.
This was a brand new printmaking exhibition, selected from a large open submission by a well-known group of artists, academics, curators, print dealers and collectors. She also exhibited in the ‘Wrexham Print International’ in Lancashire on the 12thMay – 7thJuly 2012
Coming soon, Sharon Baker will be exhibiting her work in the 8th British International Mini Print Exhibition on the 24th Novemeber 2012 – 20thJanuary2013 at Gracefield Arts Centre, Dumfries; and then at a later date on 25thJuly to 6thOct 2013 at Mascalls Gallery, Kent. – So don’t miss out!
Jo Ruth is an inspirational artist based in the outskirts of Birmingham. She is a memeber of Birmingham Printmakers; commisioning work for Bass Brewers, university of Birmingham, Ark of Oundle and many more. Jo has exhibited her work aroud the country some of which include : Buckinghamshire County Museum, Royal Birmingham Society of Artists, Botanical Gardens, ArtsFest Birmingham and Dudley Museum and Art Gallery. Jo works in a variety of media exploring qualities of mark making, texture and colour. She creates her images using a combination of digital technology and traditional printing techniques. Jo comments, â€œLiving in the outskirts of Birmingham I am always amazed at the variety of birdlife in our cities. I am also influenced by the growing culture in this environment for street art â€“ huge painted walls with exciting textures colours
and expressive marks, some on a very large scale”. Elements of the urban art that surrounds Jo has crept into her work, using suggestions of weathered walls and street markings in her prints. Her work is a continuation of long-standing themes exploring her own photographs of an urban environment and the decorative quality of birds. Chatting to Jo further, she reveals, “I’m based in Bourneville in Brum and, like many artists my ‘studio’ is my back bedroom! But I also tend to take over other rooms in the house. I am also a member of Birmingham Printmakers which means I have access to print facilities that I don’t have at home”. I asked Jo; how did she get into art? Jo: I did a degree in Fine Art in Reading Uni and then went in to teaching. I have always created work whilst teaching but decided to make it more commercial 8 years ago – this is the work on my website.
Eliza: I love your portfolio of birds. The Peacock is beautiful, what media do you use? Jo: Thanks for your enthusiasm! Well it really depends on what I am doing.
I do quite a bit of digital work (the spirit of Birmingham images) and the bird images are often mixed media. Sometimes watercolour with collage and drawing (the cranes), the Feather Paper Stone images are acrylic and spray paint and also, I do screen and lino print. Eliza: Which artists inspire you? Jo: Many hundreds â€“ but at the moment quite a lot of the SWLA â€“
Robert Gilmor, Darren Woodhead, Thelma Skyes, Lisa Hooper. Also, I am very keen on calligraphy and the graphic mark and some Japanese and Chinese painting. Eliza: Your favourites? Jo: Difficult to say but I was really pleased with Magpies in Spring. The colour â€˜singsâ€™ and I love the contrast of the black & white magpies against the pink blossom. I saw a group of magpies in the cherry blossom in Bournville last spring and just wanted to capture that beautiful sight. Jo will be exhibiting her work in Hereford at the end of November 2012 at the Courtyards art centre. More details are available at www. joruth.com
George Gadd, Contemporary Music artist.
Gadd grew up in Nottingham, but resides in Birmingham where he is studying Music Technology at Birmingham City University. Besides his course he shows his talent and great interest in music. Several times a year he does live shows. I had the opportunity to see him at ‘The Yardbird’, the jazz club; where I remember him singing some a good cover of a Blink 182 song, and a Busted song as well as his own written and produced songs.
Gadd is very pleased to be in Birmingham; he says the
convenience of Birmingham inspires him because he can easily get around town and walk to gigs. He has made a select group of friends in town which makes him feel part of the community, especially in the music spectrum. His music is an acoustic Indie Folk genre, with an autobiographical style of lyrics to his songs. He’s influenced by various artists such as: The Gaslight Anthem, Manchester Orchestra, Ryan adams, Bruce Springsteen, Bob Dylan and of course his friends, as he puts it.
This guy, is passionate about creating what he loves most – Music. He started out playing his first gig at the ‘Sound Bar’ in Birmingham, which used to be on Corporation Street, where he got to play again two days later after they called him up. He’s played in a couple different venues, as well as in the US where he was this summer. He expresses how Birmingham has built up his confidence, and how it looks ‘good’ to have played in this city. Although he started playing in Nottingham, he bloomed and grew in Birmingham. He finds it amusing that people of all sorts of background, that live here,
and go to listen to his music and enjoy it. This makes him even more confident about his work. He’s gained a following and he’s enjoying how they enjoy him. Gadd is excited about offers he’s got for the future, and he, is very much anticipating the next time he enters the studio to record He is considering to produce vinyls as well. That’s a nice idea isn’t it? He tells me that his writing this timewill be about his friends, because they do no stop being a basic source of inspiration. It is easy to find this talented guy, either google him where you probably will find him at the top of the page with his Facebook page: http://www.facebook.com/
twikkimusic/info and http:// georgegadd.bandcamp.com/.
bands there and they offer open mics for newcomers.
His advice to someone who wants to become of the scene a part and play their music was to not stop hunting for it. There are enough opportunities if they search in the right place. George does wish Brum’ had more open mics, because not enough people are being heard, but they are there for people who are interested. In particular ‘Gosta Green Pub’ has open mics, and I’m sure other pubs and bars do this as well. His favorite place to play and hang out at is ‘The Yardbird’ where he says they play good music. He has discovered good
George Gadd has released 3 albums, Thorneloe being his latest and released in October, Exit Strategy Single and Circles. You can find them on his website. This guy will not stop and he will be the one you will say later on “I remember when I saw him at...”, so catch him playing in town or follow him throughout his entire route to absolute greatness.
After watching many an ‘ink’ video of the art of tattooing, interviews with tattoo artists, and the universally recognised and popular television series LA. Ink, I decided to go and see for myself the reality and lives of tattoo artists at work. Visiting the W.Inks tattoo shop in the West Midlands was just the closing step of my insight into the tattoo culture, and the reality surprised and converted me!
stereotype of tattoo parlours - I’d seen and heard about drunken tattoos designs and ones that had become infected due to dirty needles- and even the term ‘scratch artist.’ (an artist who does a terrible job, only to be fixed by a real artist.) For that reason was so relieved when my cousin, Fabrizio had invited me to look round the shop where he was currently working as an apprentice for tattoo design.
I confess that I, amongst others had bought into the intimidating
Anxiously walking in, I quickly scanned the studio - but I was taken
â€œwhen people come into winks they expect the full experience, and enthusiasm is key for thatâ€? 41
aback. Where was the dark and dingy workshop with the disease ridden walls? Where were the beef heads advertising every single available design of tattoo on their face alone? Light and airy was not what i expected. I realised gone were the days of exclusion in tattoo culture- it was no longer just for the bikers, the facially pierced, the heavy metal lovers or the hardcore... In the studio, customers varied from the heavily modified, to first-timeteens to full-time moms. Tattoos used to serve people by
defining and bonding them to a subculture but in the last decade, more people have been getting tattoos than ever before, whether that be because the design has a symbolic reason or they just like the look! One of the things that baffled me was realising how much work is necessary in custom designing tattoos! Being a great communicator is paramount as the client needs to be completely satisfied with the design before it is transferred onto
their skin permanently. The tattoo’s meaning can be very personal, it can be a design that represents a time which heavily impacted their life in either a positive or negative way. As an example, a man had a phoenix tattooed on his skin to represent the love, grief and memory of his nephew. Details such as orange tips on the wings were essential for the artist to perfect as they represented the colour of his nephew’s hair.
Most importantly they must be clean at all times- if a client gets an infected tattoo from an unsterilised needle it can potentially bestow the reputation of the company- word travels fast! Alongside this they also have to research into other design options for clients. The artists take on a host role which comes with natural entertainment and provides the customer with feelings of comfort
and excitement. The owner Ste said, ‘when people come into winks they expect the full experience, and enthusiasm is key for that.’ For tattoo artists drawing all day everyday transforms their loved hobby into a fulfilling career. Their profound talent involves: learning about symbols and how they create a design; shading techniques and how they create a mood; and different themes meaning. Not the diehard party lifestyle I was expecting, but nevertheless a respected profession which involves something new everyday.