Month: March 2014

Mini Crit 3

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So today I had my personal tutorial with both essay writing and practical work. I have got to complete a mini essay (1500 words) that reports and examines how the scrutiny of critical theory, debates and practice may foster ways of moving your own practice to an advanced level. When I read this I was like what the heck am I meant to write about?! After I had my mini crit (2) I thought I could base my essay on something about children’s book, I thought maybe on how you shouldn’t create images that are childish or how they can be gender specific but I thought I have had enough of gender so I thought of this one; why and how is it so hard to get children’s book published? I then could talk about some of the process and what are the problems that I face personally when trying to get my work out there.

I gave myself a saturday and sunday to create it as I tend to work at it in one go and not pace it. I tend to lose myself and what my train of thought if I paced it out and so I like to research and type the whole thing in one go. Also 1500 isn’t a lot (can’t believe I just wrote that!) as I had just completed a 5000 words last term (I think)so this is a doddle! After the saturday I had written it which was faster than I thought but I am glad I did it as I can now relax a little. I sent it to my tutor to see what he thought and I got a pleasant response. He said that it was good that I have had a go at it already and it looked good. During the tutorial he also commented that I was 3/4 of the way there which I loved hearing. I have just got to rearrange a few things and go into a little more depth with certain topics but I can do that!


Now moving onto the next tutorial, I was a little more nervous for this one as I had only created one complete piece of work (the boat scene). However, my lecturer was pleased with the amount of work I had done and she liked the boat scene I had created. She explained to me that when introducing my work it would be a good idea to explain what my work is based on and how it is linked with the Borges text. So I would say roughly that from reading the Borges text I have focused on the emotion response I got from it and how it specifically frustrated me to try and read it as it’s a large cryptic puzzle. The key words being puzzle and frustration and these are the words I have developed my work from. She also said that if I was trying to get my book published and I had to sell my work and why it was unique then this would be a good way to start.

So carrying on I asked if there needed to be a final piece at the end as you don’t have to but she said it would be nice to round of this development by creating something. She then asked me what I was going to do and I said that I wanted to create a picture book for children but I didn’t know what to do next; these are some of the pointers/ideas she gave me:

  • Develop more scenes of inanimate objects
  • Develop the boat scene – create a story out of that scene by panning in or away
  • Maybe show the story of him making his way through the boat chaos – use the same scene but just move him?
  • Make a little mock up book at the end

I have just under 5 weeks to create this and I am raring to go! I love creating scenes and sequential illustrations as I can be a child again and let my imagination go. So I will be starting this soon, probably after I have done the tweaks in my essay as this is in before the bulk of the work. Oh! I also have to create another small essay for the practical work about how I have developed and where I would like to take this but I think I will do this after my concept panel as I could use the feedback to help me decide how I could improve my work and decide where move onto.

The printing continues…logo design continues…

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After I had ago at printing n the pillow case, I thought I would have ago at going back to my previous bit of work when I attempted a logo design. I created a hand design that I thought summed up the word frustration in a hand jester.



These were a few development from the hand position, I created some more but there would be too many to show. I did cut this piece out and paced it on a canvas bag but I felt like it didn’t work and so I thought it might work best on a t-shirt.

This was the final print:


My beautiful friend was kind enough to model it for me and this is what it looked like on her. I think it doesn’t look bad and it’s quite a bold image with the colour and texture. Although, I have just realised that I didn’t flip this image around and the text is back to front but maybe thats a good thing as it’s frustrating to read the text back to front.

This is what it looks like flat and I think that it’s not really a logo anymore as they tend to be smaller but as a t-shirt design it’s fine.


A close up of the image, it’s definitely not for children and I think the audience would be for young adults/teenagers who would wear it. This print came out a lot better than the previous print due to me pressing down harder on the fabric wight he iron although there was still a corner that didn’t stick to the t-shirt but I think I’ll glue that down or something. Also the original image you can see the text in the darker circle but you can’t with this one, whether that’s good or bad I’m not sure it depends what your personal style is like.


Printing on material

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So this week I was going to attempt to print something on some material. As I want to go into children’s illustration I wanted to see what my work would look like if it became either a pillow or some form of stationary like they do in book shops. So I created this picture:

boat with sky


To show frustration with inanimate objects I chose the boats to start off with as I thought that would be a good starting point from the last session. I sketched a few ideas out but I didn’t want to just plonk them on which would look boring and lose the interest of the viewer. So I tried to make a mini story out of the image by using different perspective and scales. I placed the little man in the rowing boat really wall as he has got to cross the large sea that is covered with travelling boats.

I really like this image, I think it could have potential to turn into something but I don’t know what yet. The colours of these types of boats tend to be very similar so I tried to make it interesting by using different shaped and sized boats. I made the water so it looked a little choppy to highlight the fact that this isn’t going to be an easy journey. The scale of the whole image is different, I always tend to work in A4 or A3 dimensions but for this scene I felt like that the scene should be wide horizontally due to the long ships and vast ocean. I think this shape definitely works for this scene and I am glad that I wasn’t too scared to restrict myself to standard sizes. However, if I do get this printed it might be a little expensive due to the odd shape and the waste of paper they charge you for. I’ll deal with that when I get there.

So back to printing, well I bought some paper that you print on from your normal printer and then iron onto whatever fabric. I also bought a normal pillow case which was too big for the image so I cut it down and re-sewn the pillow to fit the image. I printed out the image making sure that it was back to front and the colours were roughly correct compared the screen and this was the outcome:


I stuffed this pillow with socks thats why it is a little lumpy, it’s because I didn’t have any pillow stuffing that would fit this kind of shape of pillow.



This is just the case with the print on. I think it would maybe look a little better if the image was larger but I didn’t want it too large that when it was filled with stuffing you couldn’t see what it was.



A close up of the image, I was a little disappointed with the outcome as I thought the image would be stronger but I think that is due down to the ironing and transfer. Next time I think I will press down harder with the iron so it transfers better. The corner with the white was a mistake, this section didn’t stick to the material and so I tried to re-iron but it stuck to the piece of paper and ripped. So I took a new transfer sheet and re-ironed over to create a more square corner but I couldn’t iron to the edges and so it left a white part. I think it looks better than it did with the ripped area so I’m ok with the look of that.

Overall, I think it doesn’t look too bad as you still can see what it is and the story it conjures up. I chose to iron it on a off white material because I thought white was too bright and clean. I thought about the boats and the seaside with the old maritime/ vintage feel it can bring and so I picked this material and colour. I would definitely try it again as I found it fun to do but I would try and master the technique of transferring the image better.


Come Away from the Water, Shirley by John Burningham – review

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Front Cover

One of the books Martin Ursell recommended to look at was Come Away from the Water, Shirley by John Burningham because uses a clever technique to tell two stories at the same time. Using the double page spread on one side it is showing the perspective and point of view of the parents by telling Shirley not to do things. On the other side of the page it is the perspective of the girl Shirley and she is on a totally different adventure. Here are some examples:


This is the left hand side of the double paged spread, as you can see it shows both parents on their deck chairs and one of the parents saying that Shirley should go and play with some children. However, when you see what Shirley is actually doing or imagining it is totally the opposite…


Shirley is on a rowing boat and sailing across the sea with a dog, nowhere near the beach and rowing in the middle of the sea and about to come across a pirate ship.


Again, this is the full image of the double page spread and the parents are now taking care of themselves asking if Shirley would like a drink but she is too busy fighting the pirates. I think it is clever how there are two stories running either side of each other and you don’t get confused of what is going on. It allows the reader to see something that the two main characters can’t see which allows them to get involved.


The last page of the book and there are no words to explain what is going on, although you can guess what is going on if you have read the book. This is what I like and struggle with, to illustrate an image without the use of words, I am always tempted to use words just to finish it off. Of course you don’t always need that.

When creating a story book I would automatically go for the obvious here is the picture and there are the words to explain what is going on. However, I would love to try and create a story that uses this clever technique of showing the viewer what is going on when the main character can’t creating a pantomime sort of feel. Similar to the Cockatoos by Quentin Blake.


Burningham, J., 2000, Come away from the water, Shirley. London: Red Fox.

Jabar, C., 2010, My Top 10 Awesome Picture Book Friends, [internet] Available from:, [Accessed 18 March 2014, 3.30pm].



Mini Crit 2

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So basically we had to say in a short/couple of sentences where we were and what we might aim for. All week I had been blogging and hadn’t created much physical work and all I had was jigsaws so I was worried of what to show. Also I had brought a new sketchbook because I had to carry a load of library books, laptop, sketchbook and notes book so I was a bit full!

However, it all turned out ok  because I was able to show my blog up on the large screen. I explained how I wanted to create images that show the feeling or build up to the feeling of frustration. Create maybe sequenced images that show some of the things that annoy people but make the viewer work it out rather than use text and tell them. From my blog I had showed them the ‘how to make a children’s book’ reviews I had done and they liked it how I had started to link it into what I wanted to do or to aim for. So I am going to keep referring back to that so I know what is happening in the children’s illustration world. Some ideas they gave me were:

  • Look at the direct feeling and distinguish how it is different from the other emotions like anger or anxiety
  • Experiment using inanimate objects e.g. a large boat and a small boat
  • look at other 3D objects that could relate to frustration
  • Keep making 3D objects, don’t just go back to all drawing

I thought using the inanimate objects was a good idea and I could have a lot of fun with that although I don’t want to over think it so /I’ll start simple. I also thought of using animals as well e.g. monkey can’t reach a banana for a fun thing to do.

For my 1500 word essay I’ve got to do, I think I have a rough idea what I’m going to do. Definitely something to do with children’s books, these are some of the generic issues but which one to pick and expand?

  • Gender
  • Plagiarism
  • Political Correctness
  • Power
  • Originality
  • Loss of a personal voice
  • Ethics in design
  • Representation
  • Audience
  • Technology
  • Meaning
  • Competition
  • Breaking boundaries
  • Formal Concerns
  • Aesthetics – that’s all you do is pretty pictures
  • Inter-texuality

Where can I look for academic and scholarly texts:

  • Library
  • Internet (not wikipedia!)
  • Art full text
  • Design week
  • AOI
  • Design and Applied art index
  • Google Scholar
  • Journals

What I am going to do is find a specific or general problem, find texts to how or back me up and then maybe suggest how I am going to tackle the problem although you don’t have to do that last part. I can link it to the presentation by using the texts I used which may come in handy. So tomorrow I am either going to get up and say yeah I want to start typing my mini essay or yeah I want to work on my Babel project. Although it most likely is going to be… yeah! stay in bed where it is nice and cosy!

Work Update

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Ok so far this week I have been mainly been updating my blog by looking a primarily children’s books and other artists. So I haven’t done as much work as I would like to have done but I still have made a jigsaw which took me a couple of day to cut out using very small scissors and now I have had a numb thumb for a could of days! oops! This is my jigsaw:


I don’t know how many piece there are but it felt a lot!


To make it I printed off the text from Babel and highlighted the words that I thought were linked to emotions and oneself as I thought the amount of ‘I’ and ‘My’ could go into the readers self conscious and they would start to believe they should be feeling like the main character. That probably doesn’t make sense but it’s hard to explain! Anyway, after printing it off I glued it to some cereal cardboard and then stuck on a rouge guide of a jigsaw on the back so I had a guide to cut and the pieces would look correct. After hours of cutting I have finally made a jigsaw! I wouldn’t make it again that small so next time I’m going to make the pieces bigger so it’s easier to cut out. I think anyone who would want to put it back together would get frustrated because you can’t even follow a picture to guide you where piece go!

I also created a video of the moving jigsaw pieces as I was inspired by a fellow student who had created a video about children’s toys leaving the toy box. However, I can’t put it on this blog without buying extras or something so I have put it on Facebook and here is the link:

I put annoying music with it and the pieces are slowly declining. I found making this jigsaw frustrating as it took my ages and my fingers hurt cutting out every little piece! If I could improve it I would turn the pieces around to you saw the text not the blank pieces.

Charles Harper’s Birds and Words – review

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I found this book in the library in the children’s section and it attracted me because of the shape of the book and the images. First released in 1972 which I was surprised about as they look like they could have been done yesterday with the style and technique. All printed by using silk screen and he created hundreds of them. They are created in the style called ‘minimal realism’ which I had never heard of until today – the animal is distilled down into the main core forms. He created these for the Ford Times in the 1950s.They are the same I think as the ABC book also created by Charley Harper as the drawings are very similar. Here are a few images from the book:

Snowy Egret – Pg 76

Clean cut lines and bold colure create a beautiful representation of the Snowy Egret.

Wood Ibis – Pg. 78

Using bold shapes you still can get a sense of the weight of the bird and the rough scale due to size of the Cray Fish the bird has on its beak. The silk screen has created texture to the feathers where the colour has not come through the screen.

Limpkin – Pg. 80

I chose this image as I was interested how he represented night, as I tend to illustrate things in the day time and never at night as I find it hard. He has used blues that are dark but are still light, the moon is a pale cream colour and the reflection of still water in the background shows a sense of calmness and tranquility.

Snowy Owl – Pg. 112

I love this Owl, the eyes are just as piercing as if they were real. I like how he has just used circles to defines the outer ring of the eye and how it’s staring at you like it’s surprised to see you.

Barn Owl and Harvest Mouse – Pg. 130

Again another night time scene, but he has nearly used a lighter black but the bird still stands out. The foreground pieces of grass and a harvest mouse creates a sense of depth with the owl swooping in for the kill in the background. The owl’s face is completely different compared to the other owl, using small circles and lines to define the sharp angles of the face. It doesn’t look so intense yet it still looks like it’s completely focused on getting that mouse.

Flamingo – Pg. 68

A more colourful scene of the flamingo, the loopy neck creating a figure 8 or eternity sign. The sharp straight angles of the legs and feet creates the sense of the delicate yet gangly nature of this bird. I like the flamingo flying in the background bolt straight flying horizontal , there isn’t much background only sky and a slither of water but it makes you focus on the bird itself.

Trumpeter Swan – Pg. 56

Beautiful swan, this image has clean lines and flowing shapes which you tend to get a sense form the bird itself. The cream body not white which is what I would have probably used, the bird itself preening itself of the round front part of its body. Elegance is a word I would sum it up with.

Spotted Towhee – Pg 26

I chose this image not because primarily of the bird but the trees in the background. When creating a forest scene I always think I have to fit in every tree and branch to make it convincing it’s a forrest but then it becomes a dark mush of lines. Here he has only used a few solid blocks suggesting trees and they are getting thinner to suggest the distance of the forrest. The colour is similar to the overall bark of that tree (can’t remember the tree name – silver birch maybe?) With the bird placed in the foreground eating the berry, I find the scene create a sense of stillness. The bird is the only thing that is making a noise in the quiet forrest.

Whilst reading the intro to the book Harper tried work from seeing the genuine birds by stumbling over marshes and rocks until he finally got to his destination and scared all the birds off. This is when he turned to a bird guide illustrated by Don Eckelberry where I quote ‘it had all the info ration I needed and the birds didn’t move‘ (Pg. 9) Which I found hilarious because throughout my education they said that going to see the actual topic is better because you will get a more realistic drawing but here is Harper making his work from a book! It doesn’t give me the excuse to say that now I can just draw from books because being on site is just as important but I will now not worry as much if I have used a picture to reference from.

From looking at this book I think I have learnt a lot, some things I can’t describe in words it’s just a feeling or sense of knowing but I now know that I can simplify images down and they still can shows a great sense of realism and elegance. They can show the same atmosphere and retain the same amount of information as a detailed image. I may try this when exploring my image making because I always feel like I have to add more detail in my work, but maybe I should try the opposite way and go more simplistic, it might or might not work but it’s worth ago!


Harper, C., 2008, Charles Harper’s Birds and Words. UK: Ammo.

ABC’s by Charley Harper

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The ABC’s by Charley Harper is not the normal abc that I have seen. The illustrations are different and quite modern, here are few pages from the book:


This is clever a question within the simple ABC book and using an animal that is in the shape of an x. Pond skaters are an animal that don’t have much meat on them and so using their shape for the effect is perfect. The colour is a colour I would tend to avoid because it’ not exactly a happy colour! But I think it works for this even though I’m still not sure it’s a stimulating colour.


Zebra! Again clever, using geometric lines and shapes to form the mass of zebras in a pattern frenzy. It’s a good idea if you can’t draw the actual animal shape because even though they are clearer not a realistic image you know what they are suggesting.


Not using a specific animal he has used a term to show a group of animals that live in the water together. This has allowed him to illustrate more than one animal and produce a richer scene.


This is for the letter S but I just focused on the illustration because I think it looks beautiful. The colours are intense and fit in perfectly forming the shape of the shell. This image is very different compared to the letter Z which is very contemporary whereas this is more illustrative.


R is for rabbit – only using a bold blue for the foliage and line drawing to create a simple but creative image.


This is very different from from the previous image with the whole scene been coloured in with brown again. A creative concept of the bird using patterns and basic shapes to create it.


Larger than the normal size and seeing the farm and fields through the pig. It will give the viewer something to look at more than just the stereotypical image of a pink pig.


Characterisation with the koalas, the baby not looking like it’s enjoying itself on the mother. Looks like the mother is bending the branch ready to carry on climbing, green to nature.


A large hen chasing it’s farmer, from this image I feel like I can make story for each scene. For example the hen has eaten something that has made it grow massive and now chasing after the farmer because he treated it wrong when small.


I love this colour anyway but this simple form of the crab is again beautiful, the colours suggest the ocean floor with the dirt. A clean white background just emphasises the cleaned of the illustration.

I think this book is simple yet very effective, the illustrations are visually engaging even though they only use a limited amount of colure and mark making. Also I think that an animal can be visually shown without being perfectly accurate. So from looking gat this book I have realised that my illustrations don’t have to be so literal and can be more mature as you don’t want to patronise the reader. You also can mix up the illustration style from perfect formed images to fun, quirky not perfect to scale imagery. When creating work I will try and experiment with the type (material) of the scene as well as the normal perspective.



Harper, C., 2008, Charley Harper’s ABC’s. London: AMMO Books LLC.


Martin Salisbury

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Martin Salisbury (Left) gaining his honorary degree from one of his heroes Ronald Searle (right)

Well when I heard that Martin Salisbury was coming to give a talk about children’s book illustration I thought yes I am definitely going to see that as I had just reviewed a book that he wrote based on this subject. For once there is a children’s illustrator at University that is a well known name! I would love to see Quentin Blake but I assume he is always in high demand and would be very hard to get. Anyway, I went to the talk and it actually flew by which I never find with any presentation. So what did he talk about… again I will write in main points as I know how long blocks of text can put you off from reading it!

He is  the leader of the BA and MA Illustration at the University of Anglian Ruskin and he studied at Cambridge University where Gerald Rose taught him. He defines picture books as a book that delivers a message through pictures and words – they can’t work without each other and that is the difference from an illustrated book and a picture book. When he came out of college he constantly worked on non-fiction as that is the work he could get. Whilst working through his life Quentin Blake gave him good advice which was ‘draw horses in long grass’ so he wouldn’t have to do their legs which can make them look weird if you do it wrong.

Salisbury loves to work in watercolour best as he finds it beautifully technical, this is an image created by watercolours but this was for when he had to make work for non-fiction work.


When he was starting out as an illustrator it was classed as uncool and wasn’t very popular compared to today it’s a popular choice. He is currently working on a book that is looking at 100 children’s books over a 100 years. Salisbury kept saying throughout that there is a big gap between academic study and knowing through making which I totally agree because I love making things but the academic side I find tedious and extremely boring! They need to unite them both so they fit together and help each other rather than this is that and that is the other. He suggested the book The shape of Content which was written in 1956 by Ben Shahn – it basically sums up the tension between scholarly learning and knowing through making. I may look into this book for my dissertation if I focus on a subject that relates to this.

A few quotes that he said I quite liked:

Drawing  is a way of reasoning on paper.’ – Saul Steinburg

Drawing is another way of thinking’ – Edward Bawden

It annoys me how illustrators tend to have to defend what they do is a job and there a lot more to it than just drawing pretty pictures. A book that he suggested to look at is a book called Understanding Comics by Scott McCloud – this talks about the spaces between the pictures and how they work. I will look at this book in another post.

He talked about what some of the students he has taught and what they did for their final projects and the topic was something I would like to consider – animal characterisation in children’s books and part of it was she made a book called Zoom Zoom Zoom. Another student logged the process of making a book which again I thought would be really good as I could produce a lot of work and learn about it as I make it.

He kept mentioning his students as I think he is proud of them; one of the books he mentioned was Rabbityness by Jo Empson

Rabbitynes happy copy
Rabbityness by Jo Empson

Rabbitynes making music

This colourful book is based around the theme death. Sadly when she was studying at university her brother died and she focused these emotions to produce a book. I admire what she has done as this would be very hard to deal with, by showing themes like this through children’s books, children can learn how to deal with this topic if it happens to them and generally educates them about life.

Books that he picked out which uses clever tricks to engage the reader:

Quentin Blake – Cockatoos. This book uses a pantomime kind of technique to engage the reader as shown below:


In this image the text claims that there are no birds in the attic because the man can’t see them yet we as the viewer knows they are there because we can see them and we have more information than the main character. When a child or adult reads this the want to shout out that they are there pointing at the book thinking if they point the character will see them.


By having the text saying one thing and the image telling another it creates a contradiction but it works. I had never thought of doing that kind of technique and I will definitely consider it when creating my next sequential work.

Some competitions that he mentioned were the Kate Greenaway Prize, Waterstones Book Competition and Bologna prize which is a big international competition. The Bologna Competition  seems real good, they have a large festival where books across the world come together and it’s a big thing. I had never heard of it until now!

This is the link for their website which I will definitely check out!

Finally, some of his influence that he has gained over his time:

  • Sid Barrett
  • John Lawrence
  • Edward Gorden
  • Ronald Searle

Something I found interesting was about Ronald Searle; he has had an interesting life as he was in a concentration camp during the war where he spent nearly all his time drawing. He would ask the guards which he thought were the nicest and ask them if they could get any form of material that he could draw on. At one point they thought he had died due to the high amount of disease within the camps, lying there on the ground motionless until they saw his arm move and he was drawing! He survived the concentration camp and is extremely successful in life.

Salisbury showed us Searle’s marks from his education in drawing and they were I would say below average/ average yet here he is having a plentiful life and being highly successful. It just made me think that marks isn’t the thing that defines your life, it’s what you do after that makes your life stories. I am still obviously going to try hard but I’m going to try and relaxed a bit more and not always be so tense to get everything right first time.


Blake, Q., 1994, Cockatoos. London:  Red Fox Books.

Empson, J., 2011, Rabbityness, [internet] Available from:, [Accessed 15 March, 2.36pm].

Orange Marmalade, 2010, The Midnight Fox, [internet] Available from:, [Accessed 15 March 2014, 2.13pm].

Orsen, C., 2012, The Cambridge School Girls who inspired St Trinian’s, [internet] Available from:!image/1271473419.jpg_gen/derivatives/landscape_490/1271473419.jpg, [Accessed 15 March 2014, 2.16pm].


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So when I was doing my presentation I got the group to draw characters on a piece of paper where I already drew a pair of shorts and skirt. I was seeing if they would go for the stereotypical girl wears skirt – boy wears shorts. Here are a few of the outcomes:

frustration 1 frustration 2 frustrationIt was really interesting how people will use their imagination to draw characters even if there is only one item to draw from. After this I asked them if they could write down what they found frustrating in their lives from big things to small things and here are some of the responses:

  • When you smile at someone and they don’t smile back
  • Weak hand driers
  • People who don’t say thank you when you stop their car for the to cross the road
  • Lack of money
  • Social media gives a voice to people who perhaps needn’t be heard for various reasons
  • Adults who are dependant on their parents
  • Being late for something and it’s not your fault
  • Finding something hasn’t been done
  • Annoying noises
  • People who pester you
  • People who ignore you
  • Jobs that don’t go right
  • Dreary Weather
  • Greasy hair and spots
  • Shops no having produce you want
  • Fear and Phobias
  • Other people loud music
  • People who don’t keep to their time
  • Tape measures that move and so the measurement is a guess

Here are just a few but its good that I have done some research as this will give me leverage to start producing images. It’s also interesting on what people find interesting and it’s funny how they tend to interlink as people who read it may say oh yeah that annoys me to!