Tuesday, December 16, 2014


The idea that you can have too many metallic stickers is bizarre and ridiculous.

Finally, after buying stickers from the US for years, these are British-made, affordable, no-fuss fast-turnaround stickers that sparkle (you can have non-sparkle of course, but why would you?) and are crisp as a bag of Walkers.

Mine were done in the name of Christmas print-bingeing but there’s no need to wait for an excuse.
And then all that remains to be done is to see JUST HOW MANY PLACES YOU CAN PUT THEM. ALL of them! the gold AND the silver!! 



Thursday, November 27, 2014

The Vinyl Results Are In


We suspected this already but this morning’s BBC article confirms that record sales are higher than they’ve been for the last 20 years. This is good news!
We knew our (that's me and Leigh, as Factoryroad and our record label Blunt Force Traumaown vinyl sales were up but, as record buyers all our lives (that’s going way beyond 20 years, FYI) we’ve seen its glory days and the weird and difficult days in the 2000s when music buying seemed to become a messy, confusing maze of dead ends, closing record shops and an off-gassing slagheap of discarded CDs floating in a toxic sea of legal and illegal digital. We seem to be through that now and the places we can go to listen to, test out, buy and sell music are clearly defined – the wheat having been cut from the chaff of endless streaming and music-nicking sites in the form of confident, creative independent record labels (whatever it is, always buy it from there first!) – stores stores such as Boomkat, Piccadilly and Juno; Spotify – albeit controversial, still a place to audition your new records, just as you would stand in a record shop listening to a copy before buying – and Discogs, where that long-sought missing record can be found with a little diligence.
Added to the recent story about the pressing plants being overwhelmed with business, something we’re pleased about but feeling the sharp end of at the minute as we wait for our own new vinyl to be finished, this all makes for a rosy-cheeked industry. One that I'm proud to be involved in, albeit in a small way.
At long last. For a minute there, we all got a bit confused.

Tuesday, November 18, 2014

Open Your Mind!

This was a simple and fast job for Staffordshire University via TBWA Manchester, with whom I previously did the Co-op Christmas Campaign - one of my favourite jobs ever!

Type was hand-painted in red ink on paper and skilfully applied using skills picked up at TBWA’s Hogwarts Department to apply it to the door. Look how the door handle makes the point of the full stop - nice eh?

Stories & Hot Cocoa.

As you might be able to tell from time to time, running a very full-time illustration business is hard work and occupies the majority of my hours.

However, there is and always has been a constant urge to do things which fall slightly outside the description of ‘illustration’ - making things, putting on club nights, doing radio, giving talks, designing and hosting shows and events. These things come under the banner of Factoryroad. Doing these things is extra hard work of course and occupies the rest of whatever hours we might have free for things like telly and reading…but when they happen, they are magical and worth every sleepless night.

With my partner Leigh we hosted a Buddy Wakefield show a couple of years ago (which you can read about here) which was received with glowing - nay throbbing - feedback; warmth, tears, surprise and emotion (as one of the artists participating, below is my piece made in response to one of his poems, ‘Battle Magnet’.). We are happy to say we’re having Buddy back on December 1st for a special gig at The Silver Arcade in Leicester – one of only two original four-storey Victorian arcades in the country – as he stops off in Leicester on his ‘Riled Up And Wasted On Light’ tour.

In this beautiful setting Buddy will be performing his distinctive and very universal brand of poetry live with two support acts from the local area, and on the night freshly made hot cocoa will be supplied to every guest – dairy or non-dairy – courtesy of Silver Arcade resident and manufacturer of very fine chocolates Cocoa Amore. After you’ve watched the gig, you can mooch around the Arcade’s shops looking for ways to spend the £5 voucher that’s also included in the ticket price, in the Arcade’s very Christmassy surroundings. All for the disctinctly un-princely sum of £10.

Nice eh?

If you never came to our first Buddy Wakefield show and want to know more about him, well, we find these words taken from his biography are a good place to start:

“Buddy Wakefield, who is unconcerned with what poetry is or is not, delivers raw, rounded, disarming performances of humor and heart.”
A quick YouTube search for his name will yield an abundance of his live performances – sometimes moving, sometimes heart-rending, almost always funny – to give you an idea of what to expect.

You’ll be able to buy his books, recordings, T-shirts and other goodies at the event, which starts at 7pm.

This is the first ever event we’ve put on as Factoryroad where we have had to charge entry, in order to cover the associated costs, so please do support us and the local scene by coming along!

Book tickets here

The Silver Arcade
Silver Street


The Hilton please, cabbie!

In September we went to Baltimore to be filmed creating a mural for the new hotel chain by Hilton, called Canopy. Its orange-peel logo required the scouring of downtown shops for matching nail varnish for the job, since we were going to be filmed close-up as we launched ink onto canvas before the lenses. Detail, people!

Kitted out in corresponding (and pre-approved) grey tops and our jeans, and with continuity on board for hair and face, we swung into action after just a week’s notice and having designed the mural itself in the few days before flying. Having fine-tuned it at client HZ Design's New York office a few days before, the mural’s design was still being adjusted as we began marking it out with the help of HZ’s crew members Brenna and Chad and their hastily-sourced projector. Materials had been loaded up onto the worktable earlier in the day from Utrecht Art Supplies - imagine being given a licence to buy ‘whatever you need’! - and the snacks were piled up in our bags.

Work commenced in a blur of tracing and measuring, late into the night, and for the next three days the improvised painting space was home to our 16-hour days as we painted with Liquitex markers and acrylic inks with camera lenses poking into every imaginable part of our space. We quickly got used to repeating what would originally be very spontaneous actions - a sweep of the brush, a flick of the hand - until Bryan and his film crew got the 'right one’.

Another consideration was that the work had to appear to emerge on the board in a certain order, so we couldn’t just head in there with pens where it felt most natural. The work was timed with orange post-its and grew outward and into the corners, the final centrepiece emerging last, watched by a camera crew not quite as exhausted as us as we went into extra time. You want it by 7? Nope, but OK.

As the final oranges and leaves and poppies were added to the bottom we realised how sore our bodies had become with all the step-ladder climbing, lying on the floor, stretching into corners and drum-majorette paintbrush spinning. Not to mention to two and a half mile walk to work and back each day! The camera crew got the last shots and headed away to edit it down into the finished thing.

The film’s a promotional tool for the new chain and you can see it here. Considering the many hours of filming you might be surprised how little of us is actually in there, but that’s advertising for you!

Canopy Hotels commence opening in Spring 2015.

Hilton’s Canopy Website, also showing the film in situ:   


Not only have we got an event coming up and the new Christmas cards, we’ve just added nine new colours to our 45rpm adapter range AND launched these new ones which GLOW IN THE DARK!

That’s right, GLOW IN THE DARK.

Only existing as a rumour before now, these innocent-looking natural coloured adapters turn a proper lumo green when plunged into the dark of your club, bedroom or other murky musical space.

They’re here if you want to see them/buy some for the 7” nutter in YOUR family.

(Now do you see why there’s no Inkymole Christmas Shop this year?)

Once upon a time.

We finally visited Seven Stories or the National Centre for Children’s Books, which is (as you might guess) a seven-floor building tucked into a lively, creative part of Newcastle - Gateshead to be exact - just around the corner from the excellent Cumberland Arms, where Ruby will serve a hot vegan full English to your bed. Yes.

In a converted Victorian warehouse, Seven Stories  is there to 'champion children’s books as an essential part of our childhood, our national heritage and our culture. We want to inspire a love of reading across generations.'

It’s also the only place in the UK dedicated to the art of children’s books, and one of just a few places like that in the world. They proudly state that ‘we attract some of the biggest names in children’s literature to work with us to stage exhibitions and to take part in events.’

(And indeed they do. look whose name is on the poster at the bottom. Not not that one - the one beginning with Sarah. Go on, look!)

We went of course because it’s in my job description to go to such places, and feed my brain, but also because I have some work on the walls there - my pen and ink designs of Cinderella carriages, skulls, gingerbread men, roses and lions adorn the walls of the One Upon A Time section, which explores fairy tales. Originality created for my Brothers Grimm cover (shown below), they were applied in vinyl though I couldn’t help thinking that good as they looked, a hand-painted version would be so much more…energetic!

Elsewhere in the Centre you can find contributions by a bewildering collection of writers and illustrators, both still working and those who’ve long put the pens down, including Enid Blyton, Leila Berg, David Almond, Eva Ibbotson, Philip Pullman, legendary Puffin Editor Kaye Webb, Judith Kerr and Nina Bawden. There are lots more of course but you’d have to visit to see them all!

While there, we (that’s Leigh, Michelle and myself) sat in the massive wooden storytelling chair on the top floor with its thunderous exposed beams, played with the wigs (check ma dome below) and costumes and looked after the sad bear in the corner. The ceiling of this room - designed by fellow creatives and regular clients Studio MB - is hung with open books and its walls adorned with drawings by illustrations including some by Oliver Jeffers. The view from the windows will show you the little stream and a family of ducks playing in it too.

Oh and on the way back, we went through the Farm and saw the following:
- a baby rabbit, painfully cute
- some goats
- a really hungry tortoise
- a massive squash
then ate chips
then saw the Angel of the North on the way home.

Couldn’t have envisaged as great a day as that.



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