Category Archives: London I love you

A week in the life

Oh man, if only all weeks were like the last one. I’ve seriously had one of the most productive array of days (see? I just used the word “array” – my Processing skills are getting better and better!) since the year started and I must say, it feels good to get shit done. On Tuesday I went to Spitalfields Market to have a look at the D&AD’s New Blood show and actually attended to a nice talk at Poke, where they explained how they developed The Chatterbot, Orange’s Phone Fund game, from conception to completion. It was quite a complicated project in terms of technical implementation and was very interesting to get insight into how they approached the brief and managed to solve the challenges found along the way. Good stuff.

On Thursday, I met up with Oli and Alex at Mother, who kindly took the time to go through my portfolio in person and gave me some really nice feedback on my work. Now, I generally find successful people working in Advertising somewhat pretentious but they were absolutely ace and enthusiastic. Hats off. A couple of hours later, I had a long portfolio crit with my mate Anders at W+K, who is probably one of the funniest people I know. He’s also a stunning creative and a nice human being, willing to help whenever he can. Bless him. Later on that day, I ran into my friend Chris and went for some beers around Brick Lane where he introduced me to CityzenKane, a London-based street artist who makes the most amazing polymer sculptures. What a nice fella. He explained me the creative process behind his artworks, which I found fascinating. This video shows the making of Neon Bug, a fluorescent glow-in-the-dark sculpture. Watch it, it’s impressive.

We chatted a lot about polymer clay and after 3 pints and a quick look at this website, I suddenly decided I’ll get into the vagina moulding business. He said he has all the required materials in his studio so all I need is to learn the craft. Oh yes, and find the vaginas. That’s the tricky bit. I’m pretty confident about getting my moulding skills right but I can’t think of anyone who might be willing to volunteer and help me out on my new artistic enterprise. I guess I’ll need to post and ad and see what happens.

On Friday I interviewed with Elliot at Brothers and Sisters, who also took the time to look at my work and gave me useful feedback on my stuff. Always a pleasure to meet people like him. On Saturday I went to the Wimbledon Championships for a bit of high-class tennis, courtesy of my friend Andreína, who got us free tickets for the day. This was my first time on the legendary grounds of Wimbledon, the oldest tennis tournament in the world, and being a (quite inconsistent) tennis player myself, the whole thing was all very exciting. I remember being 15 years old and dreaming about playing on those grass courts. Actually, I used to watch the matches and later pretend to be André Agassi, smashing balls against the wall in my back garden. Those were the times.

At Wimbledon, the atmosphere was amazing but most important, the place was absolutely packed with redheads. The good-looking kind. It was a beautiful thing to behold. We wandered for a while and as the Central Court was too crowded (as you would expect), we decided to watch a couple of mixed doubles matches; the first one kind of lame and the second one very very exciting. I finished the night at 3am, with a friend, dancing drum & bass or whatever that was, at some random private house party near my place. Odd.

On Tuesday I decided to attend a Live Drawing session organized by the Young Crative Council. I rarely take part in this kind of events, partly because I feel embarrased and partly because I’m too lazy to go. This time around, I got my shit together and went there without any expectations, just to have fun and see what it was all about. Basically, there were Leo Abrahams and Paul Mullen playing a 2 hour long improvised acoustic set as we (about 15 people) painted, drew and illustrated their melodies. At one point, we were blindfolded and encouraged to paint and draw without seeing, just being guided by the music. It was FANTASTIC.

In the end, Leo and Paul were asked to pick their Top 10 drawings/paintings, which are now going to be featured in a Limited Edition vinyl release of the live sets performed that night. Suprisingly, Leo chose two of my artworks, including the one featured below on the left, which I painted at the beginning of the session (acrylic and ink on cardboard). The one on the right, which I drew while I was blindfolded, was not shortlisted but it’s probably my favourite. There’s something about it I really like. We’ve been told all the artworks will be scanned and featured in a website very soon so I’ll make sure to post something here when the time comes.

Finally, on Wednesday I met up with Andrew at Blast Radius, who kindly invited me to their offices to have a look at my work. We spent almost an hour discussing my ideas, talking about radio broadcasting, interaction and all sorts of fun things. Andrew is one of those guys you really enjoy having a chat with, very down to earth and insightful. I look forward to meeting him again.

That same Wednesday also marked the second anniversary of my arrival to London, which felt a bit overwhelming. Two years already? Fuck me, it feels like an eternity. Looking back, I’d dare to say these have been the most intense years of my life and when reviewing the whole thing, I can only think of how fortunate I am. There have been tough times, yes, but that’s nothing compared to all I’ve got out of this city and the people I’ve met along the way, it’s been just an amazing ride. Hopefully, there will be more to come.

I’m holding tight. Fingers crossed.

Sweet Euphoria

A couple of nights ago I heard that according to the BBC, we’re basically not having any summer in London this year. How fuckin’ miserable is that? I knew nothing good was going to come out of that light winter we had, it has totally backfired now. The other day I had to get my coat to go out on Summer Solstice and in that moment, I sort of understood why people living in other places find it so easy to bitch about London… lame weather, crappy food, high prices, bad teeth, women who can’t walk in high heels… you know, there are hundreds of reasons to give this city a hard time but when you find yourself seated in an Edwardian theater like the London Palladium (the largest of some 60 major halls that sprang up in those years), in front of Chris Cornell, his 7 guitars and a record player, all of a sudden every single day of rain and bad food is absolutely worth it.

Last monday, Christopher put up one of  the greatest shows I’ve seen in a long time… and I almost missed it. I had read that all +2,200 seats were sold out and I couldn’t find any tickets on Gumtree, so by monday at midday, the gig was a no-go for me. Then I just decided to ask at the venue if there were any places left and surprisingly, there were a few. One card swipe later, I was in.

I purposely skipped the opening act and arrived just 15 minutes before the main set. Thousands of Soundgarden fans were already in their seats by the time I got in and the moment I stepped into that theater, I knew something special was about to take place. At  8:45pm, the lights went off and the man himself walked calmly onto the stage, his presence inmediately sparking a loud ovation. A friendly Cornell greeted the audience and started the show with “Scar On The Sky”, one of my all-time favourites. From that point on, things just got better and better.

The setlist was impressive, there was everything you could ever ask for… Soundgarden, Audioslave, Temple of the Dog, Mother Love Bone, The Beatles, Michael Jackson, Led Zeppelin, and of course, loads of tracks from his solo albums. It was flawless. At some point, Cornell said he was a bit tired of playing guitar and was going to take a break by singing over a piano track he had pressed on a vinyl record. He walked to the turntable that was sitting on one side of the stage, placed the needle on the black spinning circle he was talking about and proceeded to deliver the most beautiful version of “When I’m Down”, one of the songs from Euphoria Morning. It almost brought me to tears.

Then, just before the encore, he played a wicked version of “Blow Up The Upside World” that left everyone on their feet, drowned in utter joy. It was fantastic and unfortunately for you this video doesn’t make it any justice…

Setlist aside, there were 2 things that really impressed me about Cornell: a) the quality of his voice (I always thought he was very very good on records but I used to believe he didn’t really deliver live – I was so fuckin’ wrong) and  b) his sense of humour. The guy is actually very funny and I think he could easily have a parallel career as a stand-up comedian, in a Henry Rollins kind of way. One bit I found highly amusing arrived when he said “people call me Sir sometimes too, and I didn’t pay shit”, referring to Paul McCartney being knighted Sir by the Queen of England because he paid loads of taxes. If you were there, you know what I’m talking about and you know it was very funny. For the rest of you who didn’t even smile when reading what I just said, forget about it and move on, you’ll never understand.

Actually, you know what? Let’s leave it like that for now. A massive, shiny, warm, yellow thingy has suddenly appeared in the sky and although I’m not very sure what it is, it  certainly makes London look beautiful from my window.

I’m gonna have a look, I’ll be right back.

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Never Forget

Friday night and I went to bed before midnight, I must be getting old. Good news is I woke up this morning feeling like going for a walk so I cooked myself a champion breakfast and jumped in the Tube to go all the way to Victoria Station, and from there, walked to Westminster Cathedral, a place I use to pay a visit every now and then. This is probably the only church I’ve been to since I moved to London and for some reason, I keep going back to it. There’s something about it that I like. I actually remember going there almost a year ago, on April 22 in the morning, in a similar head space as today’s, looking for a little bit of Divine encouragement… I needed it then and I sort of needed it now so I decided to pop by and spend some quiet time with my thoughts and hopes.

Shortly after, I met Ross and his girlfriend for a walk around Soho and along the way we discovered the most amazing gelateria ever: it’s called Scoop and it rules. I had a small cup of Cioccolato Fondente (which apparently has some venezuelan cocoa in it) and Biscotto, the two together make an ace combination. Give it a try if you ever go, you won’t be dissappointed. Anyway, we finished our cups and hit the streets again, only to stop 5 minutes later to get into this very nice second hand shop called Reckless Records, packed with some amazing vinyls. I saw a mint copy of Black Sabbath’s “Paranoid” (pressed on 180-gram heavy vinyl, whatever that means) priced in 12 quid, which is not bad, and a BB King’s greatest hits collection in 4 pounds, which I hope to get tomorrow when I go back to the shop to have a proper look at the records they have on sale. I tell you, having a turntable is more exciting than I thought.

As we walked around Soho, I also discovered this lovely comic shop called Gosh!, which I also want to go back to when I have a bit more time. It has a pretty gay name (as you would expect, considering where’s located) but make no mistake, the stuff they have inside is fantastic. On the counter they had the first two issues of The Comix Readera publication defined by its creators as “Underground Alternative Independent Satirical Carnivalesque Comix Entertaiment”. Pretty cool, uh? I barely browsed through one of the issues so I can’t really tell if the actual content is any good (the illustrations and style of it are very nice, though) but I did see the price and I must admit that I was quite surprised: each issue is £1. One pound? For a very decent piece of art, that’s a bargain. Further research led to this:

Comix Reader #3 Exhibition and Launch Party, Friday 2nd March, 7pm

“The Comix Reader is in part an attempt to recapture some of the free spirit of the underground press, and is also an experiment in publishing : 9,000 copies paid for and distributed by the artists. Printed on newsprint and costing only £1, it’s accessible to fans of the art form and hopefully also intriguing to people who might not have read many comics.”

In other words, for only 3 pounds I can get the whole collection AND free drinks. I love these guys already. If my stupid attention deficit doesn’t betrays me, I will make sure to go to the Launch Party, take some pics and write something about it especially for all of you, millions of people around the world, reading this blog. In the meantime, I would share with you a couple of websites I’ve been digging lately; some of you might be familiar with them already but I hope that at least one of you haven’t heard of them and find them as exciting and inspiring and addictive as I do. The first one is ConsumeConsume, a collection of images that range from interesting, funny or breathtaking to disturbing, shocking or very very odd. Sometimes it’s everything all together. Click on the link, I bet you can’t help to browse through all its 88 pages in one go.

The other one is called fuck you very much and it’s absolutely gorgeous. Basically, it’s about two friends who keep a visual diary and use pictures they find all over the Internet to covey their thoughts on everything, a very simple idea that works beautifully. I was showing it to one of my housemates today and when she saw the February 13 entry, she remembered this video about a couple of guys who bought a lion cub at Harrods, back in 1969, and decided to take him home. They nurtured him but he quickly became too big for their flat so they tried to reintroduce him to Africa, which they managed to do, and a year later they wanted to visit him but they were told the lion, a grown-up by now, was too wild and wouldn’t remember them. They didn’t give a fuck and decided to go anyway…

Now, I must be quite sentimental these days but I think this piece of footage is incredibly moving. It made me ponder for a minute the passing of time and how it affects us, how it might or might not change us, but mostly, it made me think of how those unmatchable bonds we get to establish with certain people could actually survive distance and time, laying there, latent, just waiting to sparkle again. Somehow, I found myself relating to that.

Right, enough of this already. Go back to whatever you were doing, I’m off to check if I still have a penis and a pair of testicles.

Wish me luck.

If only

Do you know at what time did I actually fall asleep last night? No, you don’t and neither do I. It would be very difficult to know exactly because there’s no way to fall asleep and look at the clock at the same time but I reckon it was like 3:30am, maybe 4am. I was in bed flipping like a burger on a grill, not being quite able to find a comfortable position to rest and feeling a bit cold even though the heating was on and I was fully wrapped in wool and duck feathers. I guess I was just too tired.

Eventually, I managed to shut my eyes for 7 good hours and contrary to what you would expect, I woke up feeling like a was ran over by the whole cast of “The Biggest Loser” while I slept. Fucking hell, every inch of my body ached and I had no food to ease the pain. Our fridge is empty as all of us went away for the holidays so all I had for breakfast this morning was a cup of coffee I borrowed from one of my housemates and a couple of slices of bread we had in the freezer.

Despite the hopeless forenoon, I found energy to do some laundry, met up with Mr. Ross Halfin afterwards for a coffee and then went to Wellcome Collection, one of my favourite museums in London, to have a look at the “Miracles and Charms” exhibition they’re holding at the moment. I was particularly delighted by the collection of votive paintings on display as part of the show “Infinitas Gracias: Mexican Miracle Paintings”; some of them quite bizarre, others very very touching. There were hundreds of retablos and I got there quite late so I didn’t have enough time to go through them bit by bit so I’m gonna have to come back some other time to make it right.

There was also a wide range of amulets from Edward Lovett’s collection and some very nice small-scale works in wax by Felicity Powell, which I found fascinating. They have a very nice video showing the making of these very intricated pieces of art but for some reason there’s no way to embed it here so you will need to click on this link to watch it.

All in all, a nice first Saturday of the year. My body still hurts and I have a ridiculously long list of things to do but besides that, I think it would be fair to say it feels good to be back in London again. If only it was warm and sunny…