Blogs eh? Journals what? Aren’t we being bombarded with enough useless information already? Well to be honest with you we are being selfish because frankly we forget stuff almost as soon as it happens. We take notes, lose notebooks and when folk ask ‘how was it?’, ‘Who did you see?’, well… you know what it’s like… right? So this page is going to act as a kind of diary, of the more interesting days, brilliant things, places and people we have encountered and snapshots of the stuff that makes two snaggletoothed shopkeepers very happy.
We have to start somewhere and where better than a day out on the weekend of the queens 90th birthday… (just for the records). Street Party? Nah… we can do better than that.
In its 5th year, ELCAF is the ‘East London Comic Arts Festival’. Founded by one of our favourite publishing houses Nobrow in 2012, it has grown from being a one day showcase of the best in comics and illustration to one of the most respected festivals of its kind.
For us the great thing about ELCAF is the standard, which has been consistently high each time we’ve visited. It aims to spotlight the most dynamic emerging talent and provides a harmonious blend of comic art and illustration, and for us this is very exciting. Over the years we have been to countless book fairs, comic cons, craft markets and trade fairs and we have to be honest, the majority often fail to float our boat, and for every three trips we find a couple of things we want to bring back and share with you. For us though, ELCAF hits the nail on the head hard. It has the balance just right, it’s a print-based paradise. What we love about it is its layers, its humour and its inclusivity. This is not the impenetrable art book fair or the trend-focused craft market, it is just really ace humans putting out incredible work.
So… go to ELCAF next year!
Here we chat a bit about the folk we met this year and about the things we bought,as well as our personal highlights.
NOUS VOUS COLLECTIVE
When these fellas are in residence we always make a beeline for them to see what they’re up to and what’s new. They are three of the nicest humans you can meet too and are a great example of makers balancing commercial and self-driven projects. A short while ago Jay Cover’s book ‘Nature Calls’ was published via their in-house imprint ‘Nous Vous Press’ You can read a bit more about it and even buy a signed edition if you fancy one.
Nicolas Burrows is in the process of putting a book together too… in fact ELCAF awarded him a prize for it during the festival, but it isn’t ready for our eyes yet so we must be patient. His book, The Elephant Hotel, will be out soon!
William Edmonds was responsible for the thing we bought from them during our visit and here is a picture of it! What a cutie huh?
Kadak are a ‘collective of South Asian women who work with graphic storytelling of different kinds’
(‘Kadak’ means strong, severe, sharp)
Here is what we bought from them… both pieces are by Studio Kohl.
‘Unfolding the saree’ is just about the cutest zine we have ever seen! It takes a look at the saree from its origins and traditions to its more titillating applications in Bollywood films! The zine takes the form of a saree folded over a coat hanger too. Who could resist that? We hope to have these to buy in the shop soon! Keep em peeled.
Shown above is a beautiful print by Mira Malhotra titled ‘Bai Bye’. A kaamwali bai is a maid who cleans for a lot of employers, always dashing from one job to the next to get her work done – we had to have one of these prints, well who could resist right?
Blood brothers is Emile, New Zealand born and London-based.
He describes his style as being ‘inspired by some of the best things this planet has to offer; The Simpsons, LEGO, Japanese culture, the mumps, Baroque art, Norman Saunders and Chris Ware to name a few’. ‘I just really like drawing cowboys’ he told us, which is cool as we really like the cowboys he draws.
We bought a beautiful pink and green cowboy print and an awesome t-shirt, but we also wish we’d bought a copy of his zine ‘Mood Swings’. ELCAF is always introducing us to brilliant new artists and Blood Brothers work was a great discovery.
Ruja Books are based in Madrid and operate as part of a combined architecture practice, design studio and publishing house. We were lucky enough to have a chat with one of the co-founders, Ruohong Wu, and talk to her about her beautiful books. We particularly loved her Play Books project which consisted of three different titles (‘My Windown is a Garden’, ‘My House is a Jungle’ and ‘My Curtain is a Circus’), which could be coloured in and then cut out and assembled. The idea of buying books that you then chop up with scissors should have sent us scuttling, but the idea was so well executed and the images so cute and playful, that we immediately fell for them. There is something about a book that turns into a toy that really appeals, less of a pop-up, more of a cut-up. We spoke for a while, and were fully charmed by Ruohong, who explained many of the books on display. Our favourite item was ‘My Window is a Garden’, partly as we seem to kill plants for fun and these ones don’t need any tending, just colouring!
Icinori are Mayumi Otero and Raphael Urwiller, a wonderful French publishing house. We first became aware of their work via the children’s book Issun Boshi, a re-telling of an old japanese folk tale published by Little Gestalten. We love their combination of archaic, dreamlike structures, animals and vegetation. There is something distinctly odd about these images, an unsettling surrealism which we can’t get enough of. There is also no denying their talent as printers – this sumptuously produced concertina book (Count Down) has been letterpress printed and foiled, and constructed as a concertina with a debossed slipcover. It is a thing of beauty in all respects.
There has yet to be a book put out by this excellent Portuguese picture book publisher that we don’t like. I mean look at the beautiful ‘Om O Tempo’ below (that’s ‘With Time’ for us English speakers), with its sunny, simple bold pop colours and shapes, who could fail to love it? ‘With Time’ shows us what happens when the minutes turn into hours and days – hair grows longer, fruit goes mouldy, and our tans get darker. Yes, these are for kids, but that didn’t stop us two from snapping a copy up. It was while at our first ELCAF visit in 2013 that we met these lovely folk for the first time, and picked up a beautiful print of a washing machine by Madelena Matoso, and it was great to catch up again. Tate publishing have translated quite a few of their titles over the years, but it was exciting news to hear that Design For Today will be translating the next one. Speaking of Design for today…
DESIGN FOR TODAY
It was a proper delight to drop in on Joe Pearson, the man behind small press publisher Design for Today, especially as DFT published ‘Up My Street’ by the lovely Louise lockhart, which was a shop favourite. Joe was a delight to talk to, enthusing about the work he had on show and talking passionately about his amazing collection of WWII period Puffin picture books (how’s that for alliteration?). It was lovely to see some beautiful period books among the new publications Joe publishes, seeing how their influences take shape and work their way into something new. Our favourite piece was the screen printed folding book by Otto Graphic ‘Visa and Solo’ (see below). A lovely nod to the Constructivists in a tale all about the perils of consumerism!
Cachetejack are Nuria Bellver and Raquel Fanjul. They are a freelance illustration duo based in Spain, and they are pretty ace.
They hand-draw bold, energetic, humorous illustrations for a huge array of media including books, clothing and wall paintings. We love their use of colour and their bold poster aesthetic. We didn’t manage to catch up with them as the stall was mad busy! We did manage to peer over shoulders at the amazing wares though and have revisited their site to look at the prints below which we will be purchasing for sure. We also love their recent collaboration with LookMate socks! Their Red Nord Snake Indian design would grace any foot!
We first bumped into Dalston-based Dilraj Mann at Thought bubble in 2014 and have been a fan of his work ever since. We love his clean (and curvy) line work and really wanted to take his ‘Adventure Time Tattooed Lady’ artwork home with us (see bottom pic). There is something about this voluptuous gal in clogs that catches the eye, throw a repeat Adventure Time tattoo into the mix and… well, who could resist? Dilraj has something exciting cooking with Nobrow too, which seems like a match made in heaven to us. Keep your eyes peeled people!