Amelia’s Magazine | Introducing True Romance: Print Designs chosen for an exhibition curated by East End Prints

True Romance East End Prints Flyer
I am really pleased to share the designs that have been chosen by East End Prints to appear as part of the True Romance exhibition opening today at 70 Paul Street (full listing info here). Helen Edwards of East End Prints has picked the following work, made in response to my Valentines Art Open Brief, to feature on a specially curated wall alongside the rest of her prints. She will offer the ones which are best received during the show a publishing deal to be sold online, and all works will also be available to buy at True Romance. Scroll down to read more about the inspiration behind these pieces and the process of creating them. I’ll be sharing the rest of the designs that were sent in over the following week.

Wuthering Heights by Ashley Le Quere
Ashley Le Quere: Wuthering Heights
My submission is based on Wuthering Heights. I wanted to create something that was a bit whimsical as well referring to what happens in the story, so I started to draw icons that I thought represents parts of the book and the different parts of the story and I loved this quote! It feels very deep and reflects the obsessive, passionate and doomed romance that is the focus of the book. I hand drew the text so it would feel like the diary that Catherine writes about Heathcliff. I think that the texture in the ink reflects the stormy and miserable nature of the book but wanted the icons to be quite whimsical.

Ashley Le Quere is an Illustrator and Surface Pattern Designer. You can see more of her work here.

Carly Watts: Only Lovers Left Alive
My illustration is based on Jim Jarmusch’s ‘Only Lovers Left Alive’. The movie is based on two, centuries old vampire lovers called Adam and Eve. Adam is a musician who reconnects with Eve after a period of separation after he becomes depressed and melancholy. I wanted to create a highly stylised and graphic piece that would capture the main themes of the movie, Adam’s darkness, his love of music, and the quest to find where we fit into society. On a more visual level, Adam is primarily dressed in dark colours, and Eve in light throughout the course of the film; I thought this could be portrayed well through the guitar graphic.

See more work by Carly Watts here.

Death Valley Illustration Annie Hall
Death Valley Illustration: Annie Hall
The poster is designed to resemble a minimalist book cover, and includes the most romantic quote from the film, delivered in Woody’s inimitable style.  The paired back design also reflects the way that both of the characters approach their relationship throughout the film, and the cold reasoning that Alvy uses to reflect back on their time together.  The glimmers of romance in the film are shown by the sparing use of the vibrant pink. The fonts used were Rockwell, Futura and Georgia.

Gavin Shepherdson of Death Valley Illustration has been working as a freelance illustrator and designer since graduating from an Animation degree in 2009. See more work here.

emma russell casablanca
Emma Russell: Casablanca
For this print, I started by making line drawings of Humphrey Bogart and Ingrid Bergman at various points in the airport scene of Casablanca. I added colour and hand drawn type. As I worked I pared down and simplified the image until the two figures made a single silhouette framing Bogart’s parting words.

Emma Russell is a London-based freelance illustrator specialising in line drawings, flat colour, patterns and 3D paper sculptures. Her work often features unlikely champions, jokes and puns, memory, animals and fairy tales. Find Emma at 

Jessica Courtney-Tickle: My Fair Lady
I have recreated the film poster for the 1964 film and musical, ‘My Fair Lady’. At the heart of this love story there are (in my opinion) two very different characters with very different morals, lifestyles and ideas about falling in love. I wanted to describe how free and expressive Eliza the flower girl is compared to the upper classes who are shocked by her accent and way of life. But as you can see if you look closely at Professor Higgins he is actually intrigued by her character rather than put off. The florals are inspired by the very first scene of the film where Eliza is selling flowers in Covent Garden Market. This is the very first place the two characters meet. I created the work using gouache which I then scanned in and played around with on the computer. I added some digital colouring to give the poster more vibrancy and a smoother texture. I was most inspired by vintage picture book illustrations and posters which are rich in colour and character.

See more work by Freelance Illustrator and Designer Jessica Courtney-Tickle here.

Jordana Globerman: Edward Scissorhands
Growing up, I thought Edward Scissorhands was the most romantic film. It captures the fairy-tale feeling of a first love so perfectly. I created my homage to this wonderful film with a mix of media, laying out and ink drawing first before incorporating elements of collage and painted-in details. Different brush work was used to achieve the splashed figure of Edward and the lightly falling snow. I wanted to capture both how the town begins to see Edward and how Kim sees Edward. His figure looms ominously, evoking the fear he instills in the town toward the end of the film. Despite this, Kim can only think of him with a real love and devotion, which is why I made this same figure of Edward hunched into the shape of a heart. This was a fun image to create because the film is so nostalgic and romantic to me. I enjoyed playing with different textures and line quality to create a graphic, yet painterly poster.”

See more work by Jordana Globerman here.

Katie Edwards - True Romance
Katie Edwards: True Romance
I love animals, who doesn’t, I decided they were a great way to convey the idea of Love, Affection and Companionship. I think most people could relate to the imagery I used and feel some emotions. Using traditional photographic and screen printing techniques to produce my conceptual screen prints, which are occasionally combined with collage or freehand textures. My work is largely influenced by the animal world focusing on photographic representation, what images symbolise and their use metaphorically. Objects are often isolated and placed in unusual compositions to result in a surreal, humorous or thought-provoking illustration. Animals often feature in my illustrations because they are very symbolic, as they don’t change with time or technology. They will always stay the same, and so will their symbolic meanings.

See more work from Katie Edwards here.

Lindsay Lombard: The Notebook
The Notebook is one of my all time favourite love films, I love the setting of the film and the whole premise of the movie. The first quote that came to mind from the film was ‘If you’re a bird, I’m a bird’; meaning I’ll be whatever you need me to be to allow us to be together. I then set about creating the imagery – I developed some pencil drawings of two birds taking to flight. I then scanned these in, and set them upon a light background just to soften them slightly. I wanted the placement of the birds to be a representation of them flying freely away together. I added text and the cut out of an open book at the bottom, I tried drawing the book first but I couldn’t get the right amount of detail into the image so I decided to go with a white cut out – I think it works well to have the suggestion of a book but not be too obvious about it.

See more work by Lindsay Lombard here.

La-vie-en-rose by Sophie-Heywood
Sophie Heywood: La Vie En Rose

La Vie En Rose is probably my favourite love song. The melody is enchanting and somewhat haunting, uplifting yet sad, and I feel it conveys the different emotions of being in love more accurately than any other song. I love the original Edith Plaf version, but I think the Louis Armstrong version is my favourite rendition. When painting the hand drawn lettering, I let the soulful vocals dictate the shape of the composition. I wanted to create something simple, yet with an eye-catching pop of colour, creating a piece that can easily be framed and hung in someone’s home. The trouble with the theme of Valentines is creating something timeless and relevant all year long, but I feel this song is something everyone can relate to.

See more work by Sophie Heywood here.

All are welcome to attend the Private View on Thursday 12th February, 6-9pm. Don’t forget, the exhibition also features the beautiful gold leaf prints made for That Which We Do Not Understand.

Categories ,180, ,Annie Hall, ,Ashley Le Quere, ,Carly Watts, ,Casablanca, ,Death Valley Illustration, ,East End Prints, ,Edward Scissorhands, ,Emma Russell, ,Film Posters, ,Gavin Shepherdson, ,Helen Edwards, ,Jessica Courtney-Tickle, ,Jim Jarmusch, ,Jordana Globerman, ,Katie Edwards, ,La Vie en Rose, ,Lindsay Lombard, ,Movie Posters, ,Movie Prints, ,My Fair Lady, ,Only Lovers Left Alive, ,Sophie Heywood, ,That Which We Do Not Understand, ,The Notebook, ,True Romance, ,Wuthering Heights

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Amelia’s Magazine | Meet Carly Watts: Featured Artist from That Which We Do Not Understand

Carly Watts is a Sheffield based illustrator who is inspired by all things cute and whimsical. Her work starts life as a simple sketch before being digitally coloured using a limited palette. The Golden Rabbit is based on the tale of the Moon Rabbit that is popular in a few cultures. ‘I’ve put my own sort of spin on it, showing a rabbit who wants to visit the moon goddess, but as it gets closer to her, it becomes part of a constellation so that it can always be with her.’

How did you learn about the tale of the moon rabbit which inspired The Golden Rabbit illustration?
I first discovered the tale whilst I was on holiday with my family in Florida. There was a gorgeous display in the Japanese pavillion located in the Epcot Park and my mum suggested that I take inspiration from it to create an illustration of my own. I’ve always loved rabbits, and I had plenty of pet bunnies as a youngster, so it seemed only natural to base my piece on them!

What was the process of creation?
All of my illustrations start life as a simple biro/pencil sketch on a scrap of paper, which is then scanned and digitally coloured in Photoshop. I much prefer to work digitally as it gives me more room to experiment and change my mind (which I often do!) and I like playing around with the colour palette too. I really love to work quickly too, I don’t like spending too long on any particular piece as I feel it can get stale and lose its freshness.

What is your favourite subject matter to draw and why?
I’ve always really loved drawing girls and that’s why my blog is usually full of blogger portraits, I think my love of drawing girls stems from my childhood really; I’d spend hours at my nan’s house just drawing random cute girls on a big pad of paper. Lately, I’ve been really inspired by space and the cosmos so that is a subject matter which is starting to feature in more and more of my work, even in The Golden Rabbit!

What is the creative scene like in your home town of Sheffield?
It’s a pretty thriving place full of little galleries, and of course, we have the Millennium Gallery which is a great space right in the centre of town. Just walking around, you’ll see plenty of art if you look for it. There’s lot of Kid Acne graffiti on the walls near my flat which is pretty cool to spot on the way to Tescos! In addition to the visual arts, Forced Entertainment are based in Sheffield, probably my favourite group of theatre practitioners; they are always pushing the boundaries and trying new things – just a really admirable bunch of people.

Where did you study and what was the best thing you took from your illustration course?
I didn’t actually study illustration funnily enough! I graduated from Hull University a few years ago after studying Drama. I tried to focus on the backstage and stage design aspects of it though as I’ve always loved creating art and this was another way to do that. I suppose it showed me how art can be applied to other sectors, there’s a lot you can do with it outside of being a fine artist, something I never considered whilst I was at college. I really wish my art A-level course had touched on illustration more, it’s something that seems largely ignored within the confines of the curriculum which is a shame – maybe things have changed by now though.

What inspired you to start working with bloggers and who have you worked with recently?
I actually had a fashion blog a few years ago so I suppose I already knew about the community, I started my illustration blog some years later and decided to try and reach out to bloggers as much as possible because they really do inspire me. It’s amazing how the industry has grown, just look at Zoella for example! I’ve worked with some really sweet bloggers lately, including awesome ladies such as Gemma from Miss Makeup Magpie and I have a long standing collaboration with the amazing Jennie who runs Sailboat.

BuildYourOwnCastle480px by CarlyWatts
I love the way that you include testimonials from happy clients on your website – where did you learn that it was so important to maintain a healthy relationship with the people you work with?
I think this is something that comes naturally to me as I had a lot of customer service jobs when I was younger. I’m a friendly person, and I think this comes through whenever I take new work on, which means that people are happy to come back to me as they know I’m reliable and understanding. It’s really the only way to be within the blogging community too – if you hope to build connections and expand your network, you really need to show that you can work collaboratively.

Read more about Carly’s inspiration here and pledge for her beautiful limited edition gold leaf print here. 50% of profits go to the artist, so get involved! 

Categories ,Carly Watts, ,drama, ,Epcot Park, ,Forced Entertainment, ,Hull University, ,Kid Acne, ,Millennium Gallery, ,Miss Makeup Magpie, ,Moon Rabbit, ,Sailboat, ,sheffield, ,The Golden Rabbit, ,Zoella

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Amelia’s Magazine | Mother’s Art: Celebrating Women Everywhere for Mothering Sunday

The Virgin of Guadalupe 2- Lally MacBeth
A week ago I posted an open brief to produce artwork inspired by women for Mothering Sunday (celebrated in the UK this weekend). Here are the wonderful results: thanks so much to everyone who took part. If you fancy getting involved there will be another open brief posted soon. In the meantime… enjoy, and make sure you spoil your mum this Sunday.

The Virgin of Guadalupe 4- Lally MacBeth
The Virgin of Guadalupe by Lally MacBeth.
My work almost always uses self-portraiture, exploring the many facets of women and their experience through characters and clothing. This series of photographs was inspired by The Virgin of Guadalupe and her role in Mexican culture as a mother, saint and icon. I have long been fascinated by the representation of saints in paintings and sculpture, in particular their ‘caring eyes’ and the strength they seem to exude. In these images I wanted to expand on this interest by looking at the archetypical mother figure, exploring what it is that draws people to The Virgin of Guadalupe and why it is that she has been such an enduring icon. I drew inspiration from the religious cards available in cathedrals and the poses of devotional sculptures.

BreakingThrough-Jenny Kadis
Breaking Through by Jenny Kadis.
When I read that Mothering Sunday was once associated with breaking fast by eating pie I immediately thought of a line from the nursery rhyme “Sing a Song of Sixpence” – “when the pie was broken, the birds began to sing” – which seemed to be a great metaphor for womens’ global endeavor to break through the glass ceiling.  I often illustrate birds and so they seemed the perfect way in which to represent women breaking free from constraints and striving upwards towards achievement.  

Mother's who Work for their Families- Cressida Knapp
Mothers who work for their families, by Cressida Knapp.
When I was growing up I had a stay at home dad, and a mum who went to work. She would leave the house at 7am and be home twelve hours later. So whenever Mother’s Day came around we would try and spoil her, turning the house into a ‘love shack’, full of freshly picked flowers and sweet treats. Millions of women across the globe are the breadwinners for their families, and these women are my inspiration. I use watercolour to make my images, and nearly always use the first drawings as they have a loose, idiosyncratic look. I then scan the images into my cranky old Mac, and play around with them like a collage. I work fairly quickly, usually at night and always accompanied by some fantasy, sci-fi, or thriller audio book playing in the background, and my dog Sparky sleeping at my feet.

Elephant Tea Party by Carly Watts.
Elephants are known to be compassionate and familial creatures; they are also one of my favourite animals! When I first read the brief, I knew I wanted to create a scene involving a little elephant family and I chose to feature a mother and daughter enjoying a small tea party together out in the wilds. I love these gentle creatures and am always astounded by the bond they share within their family groups, I think they’re the perfect animal to represent Mother’s Day.

Yellow Cathedral_Kat Hassan_LR_Amelia'smagazine
Yellow Cathedral by Kat Hassan.
During the sixteenth century, people returned to their mother church, the main church or cathedral of the area, for a service to be held on the fourth Sunday of Lent. Later it became a day that children and servants could return to their mother church to see family and would pick wild flowers along the way. My piece is a collage of images I’ve developed from drawings of Bath cathedral and flowers. I was interested in seeing how the strong graphic lines combine with the pretty shapes.

Woman in flowers by Karina Järv
Woman in flowers by Karina Jarv
For me every woman is a flower…
No matter what clothes you wear (studded leather jackets or chiffon dress), or style of music you listen, or book you read before sleep, you are a flower! This spring me and my mother found very nice Crocuses in the flower shop, they inspired me to create this artwork. Of course I couldn’t forget Mimosa flowers – the best known flowers in the beginning of the spring in Russia.

Kirsty Greenwood's Sedna-small
Sedna by Kirsty Greenwood.
Sedna is an illustration inspired by the Inuit creation myth of Sedna, Mother of the Sea – responsible for the life sustaining bounty of the Arctic Ocean. The story is a disturbing one in which Sedna, after falling overboard, has her fingers beaten and chopped off (which turn into whales, walruses and seals) by her father as she tries to climb back on board while they are both fleeing from the evil raven she was married off to by her father for a dowry of fish, as he pursues them after she escaped his confinement with the help of her father, who is now terrified and willing to sacrifice his only daughter for his own safety. This story fascinates me, and I feel encompasses the nurturing gift and sacrifice of mothers worldwide.

Nadine Z.R., 'Audrey Hepburn, a Tribute'
Ms.Hepburn by Nadine ZR.
In my attempt to express the limitless beauty of Ms. Hepburn, I drew her form (and that of her pet fawn, Pip) with a line that is both simple and soft – each an inherent quality of this lady. Her pose is one of my favourites, inspired from a fishing scene in the film Funny Face, whereby I place Ms Hepburn under a hail of pirouetting tulip tree blossoms (one of which conveniently adorns her hat). A tulip tree and a tulip are actually two different species of plant, but each illustrates both Ms Hepburn’s wonderfully delicate recital of a poem in another film, Two for the Road (featuring a tulip tree), as well as her preferred flower, the Dutch tulip. Audrey Hepburn is, in my eyes, what too many people are not, and because of this she herself is a blossom who should remain eternally respected.

Wietske Claessen-mother-of-all- birds
Mother of all Birds by Wietske Claessen
We all come from a Mother, who feeds us, takes care of us,loves us with her mother-instinct which she got from Mother earth,  she takes care and nurtures us to let us become who we are, to let us grow , to make the circle go round and so we can also become a Mother in all kinds of ways for everybody around us.

Vaso Michailidou_Joan
Joan Baez by Vaso Michailidou
This is an illustration of Joan Baez, folk musician, social activist, pacifist and all around legend. Produced with pencil, felt-tip pens and painted on Photoshop. She is an inspiration. Someone who used their art in a powerful way, to say important things and motivate people to protest for change. A brave, beautiful lady. I loved working on this and now I think I will be doing a ‘female legend’ related piece for every March to come. There’s millions! But my mom’s next.

Being a Mother by Gilly Rochester
Being a Mother by Gilly Rochester.
Qing is on the right, my incredible daughter-in-law since December. She is with her mum and grandmother in her rural hometown Borzhou – a centre for plant-growing for Chinese medicine and her family’s business, hence the flowers. I based the illustration on 2 photos Qing sent, taken at Chinese New Year 2014, having no idea then (or when we visited China last April) that by August my son & Qing would be living in London (nor they). I accepted that they would be in China for the foreseeable future but was feeling decidedly quakey and bereft. I haven’t met Qing’s mum and granny, I hope I do one day, but they are very much in my thoughts especially now, as although Qing is now back in China for visa reasons, she will be returning to London in May; and they will be bereft. It’s such a difficult thing to do.

True affection_oda valle
True Affection by Oda Valle.
My name is Oda Valle and I am a Norwegian illustrator. I illustrate for magazines and various clients around the world which I love. Screen printing is my latest passion in life. I spend most of my time drawing, listening to indie rock music, drinking my coffee and I dream of going back to New York City. I always bring my ink pens and my music headphones with me wherever I go. Quirky beauty, eccentric people and nature landscapes inspires me. At the moment I´m drawing owls and guinea fowls. I love the shapes and colors of their feathers. I am greatful to my mother for giving me life. I got my creative skills from her.

Categories ,Carly Watts, ,Cressida Knapp, ,Gilly Rochester, ,Jenny Kadis, ,Joan Baez, ,Karina Jarv, ,Kat Hassan, ,Kirsty Greenwood, ,Lally MacBeth, ,Mother of all Birds, ,Mother of the Sea, ,Mother’s Day, ,Mothering Sunday, ,Nadine ZR, ,Oda Valle, ,Sedna, ,Squid Stew, ,The Virgin of Guadalupe, ,Vaso Michailidou, ,Wietske Claessen

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Amelia’s Magazine | Easter Art: Bunnies and Hares and Eggs and Chocolate and Spring Vibes in the Air at last!

Eostre by Sara Netherway
Eostre by Sara Netherway.

I love this time of year: juicy green buds on the trees, flowers unfurling, finally a small sign of warmer weather. And familiar Easter traditions such as bunnies, decorated eggs and eating far too much chocolate. My latest open brief asked for submissions on the theme of Easter and what it means to you…

Sara Netherway (above)
For the Easter open call I’ve been inspired the goddess of the dawn Eostre. I’ve drawn her as a hare, who is taking care of the new spring life in the form of a baby. The image is drawn in pen and scanned with hand drawn textures, then brought together in photoshop with digital colour added. 

Egg Hunt by CarlyWatts
Carly Watts: Egg Hunt
Easter is one of my favourite times of year, I love giving and receiving pretty chocolate eggs (or bunnies) and eating hot cross buns. When I was younger I used to adore having an easter egg hunt in the garden, so I decided to base my illustration around that. I’ve chosen a really fresh and happy colour palette inspired by spring and the warmer weather arriving with cute Easter animals hiding amongst the flowers and leaves. I wanted to create a poster that would not look out of places in a child’s room, or perhaps sent as an Easter postcard!.

Easter Art for Amelia's Magazine by Carol Kearns
Carol Kearns
When I was a child, Easter meant looking forward to chocolate eggs. My favourite was always the Smarties one. Now at Easter I always bake this chocolate cake. It’s deliciously moist and chocolatey and, made with cocoa and evaporated milk, it reminds me of my childhood – particularly when it is decorated with Smarties! The illustration is made with Caran D’Ache Prismalo Aquarelle watersoluble pencils and so the very making of image harks back to my childhood when I would have been using ‘crayons’ rather than the watercolour paints I more usually use now. I’ve included some of my vintage china in the arrangement and, at this season of symbols, I’ve also included my Pantone mugs in my favourite colours to represent my profession as a designer and illustrator.

Lorna Scobie
Easter makes me think of rabbits.
Rather than planning an image before I start, I paint as ideas come into my head, which I hope makes the illustration feel more alive. I drew this piece in my sketchbook when I was on holiday, staying in a forest in Germany, where I felt very close to nature. I intended to draw just the one rabbit but once I started they just kept multiplying! I have lots of different sketchbooks for different things, and this illustration is in a sketchbook that I just use for drawing lots and lots of animals. When it’s full, I hope it will be quite a menagerie!
Lucy Dillamore
My illustration is an accumulation of all my favourite aspects of Easter imagery; spring, nature, animals, happiness, flowers and bright colours! I love looking at vintage greetings cards and this is also a big inspiration to this work; especially through the colors. I’m currently experimenting with hand drawn line coloured in on photoshop which is the process behind this piece. Happy Easter!

Leap - JennyKadis
Jenny Kadis: Leap
For me, Easter celebrations are all about the welcoming of warmer weather and the marking of a new season. My bunny ballerina is full of the joys of Spring!

Fiona Scoble_A hop a skip and a jump (1)
Fiona Scoble: A Hop, a Skip and a Jump!
Easter arrives just as nature goes up a gear, it’s the perfect moment to celebrate new and renewed life. Everything is busy – flowers unfurling, nests neatly arranged – in a frantic joyful race, which is what these leaping hares are all about!  I painted them in watercolour, laying down the initial form from sketches over a lightbox, then building up detail with a fine brush.  

easter eggs Kat hassan
Kat Hassan
Easter eggs, symbolic of the original meaning of easter, a time of renewal and new birth, a celebration of life and new beginnings.

Jana Doubkova
I have studied everything possible at Fine Art College and Uni in Prague for 13years (classic drawing, sculpture and new media) and ended up realizing that I cant live without pencil in my hand. Later I added the watercolour for simply having not enough of enjoyable work on every single picture I was creating. Plus the colour – so important! So here I am! Seeing and drawing after beauty in everything surrounding me, especially fairies & kitties, fashion & tea. Feeling so comfortable living in London with all the galleries and museums and cafes on banksides! I work, without surprise, as an Illustrator for magazines and event companies.

Kiki Kalahari
I tried bringing a bit of a modern and urban flair to the classic Easter imagery, but wanted to retain a sense of the freshness and hopeful feeling that comes with impending spring, hence this fashionable bunny enjoying the first rays of sunlight in the city. Happy Easter!

Easter Art Fashion Spring Collection by Kasia Dudziuk
Kasia Dudziuk
What I love about Easter is all the fresh Spring colours. I’m inspired by Daffodils, Tulips and many other flowers start to appear in the parks and gardens. Clothing shops start selling lots of pretty floral printed dresses and pastel colour accessories. People start to be outside more, sitting outside at a cafe, doing the gardening, walking around in wide rim hats. But of course there are also lots of beautifully decorated chocolate eggs, Spring chicks and baby animals around. In my illustration I wanted to show all the wonderful elements of Easter.

Suzanne Carpenter
I make vector pictures, prints and patterns influenced by folk art and fabrics and foraging round in jumble sales and playing eye spy  and day dreaming and doodling and drawing and dipping my toe and poking my nose in cloud cuckoo land. Sometimes I pick up a pen, point a camera, create a collage and sometimes I get distracted for years and years and years. And often I run out of time – but not this time – this time I’ve got 17 mins left to submit. I’m early. That is unusual.

illuminate-Mayumi Mori
Mayumi Mori: Illuminate
This depicts how sunshine makes people to take their coats and scarves off, as if they were plants emerging in the spring. To me, Easter is about hope, new starts and changes. I have made this image for an online illustration project called 52 Words A Year, which I run with two other illustrators, Leni Kauffman and Oliver O’keeffe.

Categories ,52 Words A Year, ,Carly Watts, ,Carol Kearns, ,Easter, ,EASTER ART, ,Eostre, ,Fiona Scoble, ,illustration, ,Jana Doubkova, ,Jenny Kadis, ,Kasia Dudziuk, ,Kat Hassan, ,Kiki Kalahari, ,Kirstin Eggers, ,Leap, ,Lorna Scobie, ,Lucy Dillamore, ,Mayumi Mori, ,Open brief, ,Sara Netherway, ,Suzanne Carpenter

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Amelia’s Magazine | Palm Ghosts: an interview with Joseph Lekkas

Palm Ghosts - Canaries In The Mine
Palm Ghosts – Canaries In The Mine, by Carly Watts.

Pennsylvania’s Joseph Lekkas makes ‘sun-damaged American music’ in his new guise as Palm Ghosts. His first self-titled album as Palm Ghosts is a beautiful collection of songs inspired by an intense period of depression after the dissolution of his previous band, Grammar Debate. ‘For the better part of three years he lived with daily anxieties, a prisoner to a constant sense of fight or flight. Through the help of close friends and family, he was able to regain his joy for living. He found that translating his thoughts and feelings into song was not only therapeutic, but necessary.

Why did Palm Ghosts come into existence?
Palm Ghosts is a product of sketching song ideas in my studio. I would come up with an idea, have Walt play drums on the song and I’d build from there. Walt and I have been playing together since we’ve been teens. If there is an idea I can’t execute, I call on one of my many talented friends to play. I’ve always played in bands where ideas are hashed out in a rehearsal room. I wanted to try to build song ideas in the recording studio instead.

The material on this record was born out of a major depression and crippling anxiety I was experiencing. I truly felt as though I was dying. It took my a good two years to snap out of it and this record was the exorcising of those demons, if you will.

The name Palm Ghosts comes from the idea that darkness can be found in broad daylight. I always liked that kind of duality. You know, sad songs with major chords, danger lurking beneath the blue skies. ghosts haunting the whitewashed beaches and palm trees of coastal towns and resorts.

Palm Ghosts
What are the most common ghosts of seaside towns?
I assume the wives of lost sailors waiting for their husbands to return from sea. Drunken pirates in the gas lamp lit corners of ancient taverns. The restless children of coastal innkeepers. There is an old victorian town near where I grew up in New Jersey called Cape May. That town is haunted by everything from phantom cats to historical figures. You can feel it when you visit, the energy is palpable.

Who is the girl in the video for Seasons?
The girl is a good friend of mine, Lisa. She is a dance teacher from New Jersey. She has a very 60s style sense about her and I wanted the video to feel like a bit of Breathless mixed with a Georgy Girl vibe. I often live in the past, music-wise. I feel that most of the best music and style came out of the 1960s. Especially from London. English music is my favorite of all time.

What is the story behind this song?
This song tells the story of a person who has essentially given up on life, but then finds a reason to live through a short and intense relationship. The writer compares the short, ecstatic bliss of summer to the fleeting nature of this love affair and autumn time to its dissolution. Relationships and life itself are often compared to Seasons. You know, the springtime of youth to the fading summer of growing old. I always liked to compare weather to points in our life’s chronology. Everything is a cycle.

Seasons Single Cover palm ghosts
How do you make music?
I usually write songs alone, build the song structure with the drummer and then lock myself in the studio for hours, days, weeks or months (whatever it takes) until the song is finished. Sometimes I feel like I can’t relate to the rest of the world after long periods of creativity. It’s like spending 3 days indoors with a flu and then being thrust out into the busy city streets. Very surreal. I wouldn’t change it for the world, though. I’ve already realized that if I don’t create I am a nervous wreck. It’s as potent as an antidepressant drug for me.

Where can we see you play live in the UK?
We have no current plans to play the UK, but hoping that changes sooner than later. I was in London once years ago and absolutely loved it. I love the music and the people. I feel like everything I write musically has some kind of base in English music. It is all I listened to for years. From The Beatles and The Kinks to Suede and Blur. The Smiths, New Order. I love it all. On and on down the line. Hello, UK promoters- Book Palm Ghosts!

Palm Ghosts by Palm Ghosts is out now.

Categories ,Cape May, ,Carly Watts, ,Grammar Debate, ,interview, ,Joseph Lekkas, ,Palm Ghosts, ,Pennsylvania, ,Seasons

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Amelia’s Magazine | Red Lines: an interview with Danish musician Hannah Schneider

Hannah Schneider by Essi Kimpimaki.

Danish born Hannah Schneider comes from an illustrious musical heritage: her grandfather was famed violinist Alexander Schneider, a member of the celebrated Budapest String Quartet and her mother was a violinist with the Royal Danish Theatre. Coming from such a background it is unsurprising that Hannah is a ‘melody fanatic’ with an ear for a good tune and an innovative arrangement. Red Lines is her third album, a glorious miss mash of electronica and classical influences. Here she answers some revealing questions…

What are you up to today?
Right now I’m enjoying the last rays of sun outside on a café in Copenhagen, so right now I’m doing very well! I’m working a lot these days, getting ready for my album release, so a little break is very much appreciated.

How does Red Lines differ from your previous two albums?
My new album Red Lines is very “open” towards people compared to my last album. On Me vs. I (2012) I looked very much inwards, and worked with themes that were very personal. On my new album Red Lines I guess I’m looking out on the world and opening up a little more. This album is very much built by the different songs, more than an overall sound – I felt a great freedom in giving each song what it needed. Also I have gone from a “one-woman-army” who produced it all myself, to working with the two Danish producers Andreas “Maskinen” Sommer and Lasse Baunkilde, and of course that has changed the process a lot. I guess you can also actually hear a little more of a masculine sound mixed with my dreamy and feminine vocals. I like that mix. The songs have very different themes, and I have been inspired by everything around me – from a gripping Chinese contemporary art exhibit at the Hayward Gallery in London, to a lonesome walk in a storm in the Danish countryside. Since my last album, I had a baby girl, and I think that influences my writing a lot – not in the sense that the songs have all become lullabies or talks about diaper change, but more in the sense of the strength and empowerment it has made me feel to be a mother.

The album features quite a lot of synths and electronica, who are your influences in this area?
I’m quite the synthesiser geek – I love old synths, I often hunt small Casios down on flea markets, and spend a lot of time experimenting with synths and pedals. I also write most of my songs on keys/synths, and have production ideas just as fast as melody ideas. On this album we were inspired by the sound of the movie Drive – this 80′s cinematic, synths driven sound- but also very much by one of my great heroes Kate Bush.

There are a lot of classical musicians in your family, how do you think this has shaped your approach to music making?
I think very much in orchestral arrangements, I always have lots of strings, and my brother (cello) and sister (violin) always find their way into the productions. I think it is very much in my blood, thinking in classical melodic structures, and I still listen a lot to classical music.

Hannah Schneider by Carly Watts for Amelia's Magazine
Hannah Schneider by Carly Watts.

You have been described as a ‘melody fanatic’, is this where you start with your songwriting or if not, where do you start?
I love that description – makes me sound like a crazy-person – I think it refers to my great love for melodies that catches you- I try to work with that in my music. I have an extremely broad taste, and love very different kinds of artists, but the common denominator I think, is strong melodies. A tiny bit of melody hummed by someone can be so haunting, sad, interesting and lovely, and I’m fascinated by the structure of melody.

What’s the music scene like over in Denmark?
A lot of great artists right now, and a lot of strong female acts, setting the tone. I think that what we lack in size, we are starting to gain in originality – it seems there’s a “nordic sound” evolving these days..

Out of all the tracks on the album, which is your favourite?
I think the first track on the album, Butterfly Lovers, sums up the album very well- I wrote it with one of my favorite collaborators Kim Richey, in London last year. It was just a great process of writing – we had been to a Chinese Modern Art exhibit at Hayward Gallery on the Southbank, and there was this very scary and gripping lady who did a performance on this old Chinese myth about two lovers who cannot have each other, and the vibe of this story totally set us in motion.. I also really love the song Dreaming Kind – my tribute to the sensitive kinds of people (very much like myself) and the song Everything, that’s basically a happy song about realizing that the facts aren’t as grave as they seem..

If you could bring back one musician from the dead to collaborate with, who would it be and why?
I think I would have a whole festival of dead people!! But to name one, it would probably be Nick Drake – I think he’s absolutely gripping, and he died so young that he didn’t get to do a lot of records – I would love to pick his brain and see what we would come up with!

What’s the maddest thing a fan has ever done for you?
Travelled all the way to the US to see a show !

hannah_schneider-cover artwork
What are your forthcoming plans for the UK with this new album?
I just played a show in London, and I really enjoyed it – hopefully I’ll be back soon to play some shows – we’re working on a couple of opportunities right now. It is my first release in the UK, so in a sense I start all over- it will be fun to build up an audience from the ground- I love performing and working on my live set.

Red Lines by Hannah Schneider is out on the 27th of October on Lojinx in the UK.

Categories ,Alexander Schneider, ,Andreas “Maskinen” Sommer, ,Budapest String Quartet, ,Butterfly Lovers, ,Carly Watts, ,Chinese Modern Art, ,copenhagen, ,Danish, ,Dreaming Kind, ,Drive, ,Essi Kimpimaki, ,Everything, ,Hannah Schneider, ,Hayward Gallery, ,Kate Bush, ,Kim Richey, ,Lasse Baunkilde, ,Lojinx, ,Me vs. I, ,Motherhood, ,Nick Drake, ,Nordic, ,Red Lines, ,Robyn, ,Royal Danish Theatre, ,Synth

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