My Manifesto.

This is something I wrote last year, whilst making my report of the work I have done this year for my Masters in Graphic Design. It’s not a definitive thing, but will give you a glimpse into my mind…

Surely we all want the space around us to nurture us and make us feel welcome and at peace.

Comfortability in our surroundings is hard as we are constantly bombarded by signs of financial troubles, inequality and consumerist greed.

Life can seem hard at times, simply because we are not ‘at home’ in our environment. ‘At home’, in my mind, is a feeling of warmth, acceptance and also, to an extent, armour against the bad things in the world. Do we need to be constantly reminded of this?

It seems like since 9/11, we have been encouraged to enjoy life a little less. The ‘war on terror’ involved us being put in a state of terror. What is so wrong with laughter and frivolity? We need to learn to laugh again. I know that may sound somewhat Marie Antoinette like.

‘Every little helps’ with removing that feeling that we have no control over our lives. Just as the Tescos marketing department have told us. Price reductions are nice, but it’s only money.

By having a DIY kit, could we feel more control over our own destiny? As a concept, DIY can be empowering. Save money and possibly learn something? Orwell described us a “nation of shopkeepers”. Does this inbuilt resolve mean we all want to be in control? With small businesses struggling in the face of the multi- national giants, more of us now are in less control of our working lives. We are encouraged to see our employers as benevolent empires, enlightening our lives and lives of their customers. Most people would probably agree they work to live, not the other way round. (my Grandad sees it in much simpler terms, as those who live to eat, and those eat to live. He is definitely in the former category). Why should we show allegiance to our employer? My brother works for a major energy supplier, and changed to their (more expensive) utilities package out of loyalty.

Is our freedom being eroded by global issues? We are being paid less in real terms (if we still have a job), being subject to searches and our public services have we been cut hard. How can we complain or make our voices heard without being counted as the ‘great unwashed’?

Naomi Wolf’s concise and logical call to arms with regards the Occupy movement very eloquently points out that the 99% should stand together, without huge rhetoric, but with organisation as a movement against our civil liberties being curtailed and the erosion of what we, as a society have created. I personally don’t feel comfortable with mass demonstrations, after an embarrassing event at a student fees demo in London proved. Can things be done on a more local level​ as we have seen with the occupy movement; but without the seriousness and tents? Can small, personal  interventions have as much of an impact as the Sheffield occupy franchise? After reading reactions on Sheffield forum to the protest, it does not appear to have a positive response. It seems they are tarred with the same brush as anti-establishment agitators. This is more than a case of apathy. We have been indoctrinated to leave politics to the ‘big boys’.

The concept of self expression in a democracy has been eroded in the public mind.

As a child, I attended several NUT marches through Leeds with my mother. I enjoyed wearing the badges and designing placards. But the chanting and camaraderie made me feel uncomfortable. I think it was the feeling of being forced into a group rhetoric, having to feel passion on demand ( a similar feeling to the student march). Emotions or passions that are demanded of me are not greeted with aplomb. This even goes for being asked to dance. I’ll dance when I feel like it OKAY? Even of it happens to be ten seconds later.

All this is why being able to find my own way of subversion is appealing. Given the space and time to do it my way.

DIY gives you that ability. The ability to choose how and when to take action. Kits take away a certain creative boundary; they start you off. As my friend Harry says, “getting out of the door is the hardest part”. This is said in context of running, but this can be true with ideas too.

If the designer is the ‘ideas factory’, can that take away a stumbling block to beginning, whilst leaving a wide set of possibilities for the user? Just like Donna Wilson’s ‘make your own monster kits’, can you encourage people to act in dissent? Blue Peter has been a driving force in getting the viewing public who don’t consider themselves creative into making something to a loose script. Can this inbuilt  crafting ability we all possess to a certain extent be translated into articulating our innate aggressor?

Design by numbers could have a positive impact in helping us feel at home with acts, not of civil disobedience, but of ‘disagreement with established norms’.

Could the humble moustache create a new movement, through light hearted humour?

Anyone who has even been bored with a brio and a newspaper has encounter the urge to colour in a tooth black, or a draw a silly set of glasses or moustache on the front page. The question is, can this be converted to real, 3D moustaches being placed on large scale media domains in the public realm i.e. billboards and advertising signage?

Jon Stewart’s ‘Rally to Restore Sanity’ in America showed that it is possible to get the population engaged, simply by appealing to their creativity. The placards were intelligent and witty, the opposite of the language used by U.S. media outlets and the Tea Party movement.

As well as being unique for being made by individuals, can they not also be made site specifically? There would be no meaning to putting a black handlebar moustache on David Cameron, there would be no logical reason, but does that make it more fun? But scale and to an extent, colour must be taken into account.

I am strongly against the use of iconography related to European dictators. This doesn’t bring any kind of intelligence or humour, it simply offends. Those who compare our political leaders to fascism are idiots. There is no parallel. Humour is at it’s most basic when used in those terms.

Can I stop people making Hitler moustaches? Of course not, but is that not part and parcel of creating something that the control is given to the user?

Moustaches are an out of date phenomena. Even the goatee has had it’s day. There is something comedically retro, along with pipe smoking and nylon bedsheets.

Movember has capitalised on the humour inherent in the nostalgia of the moustache. It is also a masculine construct. (Without poly-cystic ovaries, a woman could not conceive of growing such a thing.)

The UK is awash with moustaches at this time of year (Halloween/ bonfire night/ Movember). They make people laugh. They transform someone’s face into another context. That context can depend on the style. For this year’s Movember, the most popular appears to be the handlebar, unlike the traditional English design. This helps the wearers to feel more comfortable, as it is clearly grown for the silliness.

Movember has its roots in comedic value as a way to make people give money for charity. In the same way Comic Relief has been such an enormous success, ‘something funny for money’. Even the Race for Life campaign illustrates women dressing up as fairies as being intrinsic to the whole event.

I want to raise awareness of silliness in society at large. I want to get people to act silly whilst fighting for their way of life, not just for a cancer charity.

What message would people get by placing moustaches on billboards? Is it anti-capitalist graffiti, idiotic, funny, clever, churlish?

There is no guilt attached to putting a handle bar moustache on Cameron et al. This does not need to concentrate on politics.

We walk past tens of billboards, advertising and signs on the way to work. We have plenty of material to subvert in our own time and on our own terms.

There is someone in my area of Sheffield who has stuck ‘stop eating’ stickers on the stop signs which now read ‘stop eating animals’. It makes me smile every time.

By placing a moustache on Keira Knightly advertising Chanel, what are we making a statement about? Is it about the credibility of the star, an attack against the company. Is it about making the dull stuff we ignore everyday a bit more fun and democratic?

Does it have to be a grand statement about how seriously we take this kind of stuff? This is inoffensive and fun. No one is humiliated or made to feel bad.

Custard pies have been used to primarily humiliate the recipient. They are very effective at creating media coverage. But is humiliation a reasonable or civilised tool for punishment? Questions of fairness are always raised. Moustaches are more a gentle piss take.

Small acts of rebellion attract, by placing moustaches, eyes, beards and blackened teeth can make someone feel a connect to the physical and human environment.

Crikey, that was pretty wordy, well done! x

hello moustache!

Sent in by Kerry Worley, decorating her work space. happy joy!

greek tash

Hermes, I wonder what he is trying to tell us. Sent in by Chris Jones.

Teapot tash!

Mr Teapot, sent in by Mrs Lucy Scarborough.

Family Tash!

The Lapish family have been having fun. Thank you Auntie Janet, Uncle Mike, Orin and Sally.


Hairy Connick Jnr

Na-Tash-a Beddingfield


Split ENDZ-dub

These delightful puns have been created by Darren Nixon and Nicola Dale. Photoshop eh?

Golf moustache!

Sent in by my aunty Susan. Golf-tastic, and very artistic.

Snow moustache!

I found this on my camera the other day, from the beginning of December. I want the snow to come back so I can make some more.

Make your own 3D eyes.

I think eyes are even more fun than moustaches. I started making wobbly eyes before the tashes came about. The large eyes i have previously designed are primarily for the public realm, although they started out life in a domestic setting. I imagine these on billboards, adverts on buses, signs and on anything or anyone else that can be poked fun at, or made a bit more friendly looking.

Now, obviously you don’t all have vacuum formers, laser cutters, vinyl cutters and bandsaws, like I did when making my eyes.

Because these eyes are probably only going to be on static objects, they don’t need to be wobbly, you simply place them facing whatever direction you like. To make it wobbly, make sure the plastic top is shallow and use a black bottle top for the pupil, without gluing it down.

I have tried to make some 3D eyes you can recreate at home, using things you should be able to find around you, or not cost you much. As they are so cheap and quick to make, you can stick them to stuff and leave them! (but not without taking a picture and sending it in.) It would be great for the eyes to stay in position a fair while, but this needs to be balanced with not damaging property, I don’t like that man. Try to use glue that peels off (Pritt Glue dots, for instance) or don’t worry too much if it’s on a paper billboard, as they are temporary. Did I just say that? DAMAGE NOTHING, I don’t want to get sued.

Let’s get cracking, better go and get some more M&S shaker salads (also look like McFlurry tops) and head into the world.

The things you need are:

  • Clear plastic top from a drink or boxed salad.
  • White card (thin enough to cut, but still be sturdy), like mountboard.
  • Black card.
  • Coloured paper (optional)
  • Eggcup or similar sized circular thing to drawn round.
  • Glue, PVA or Pritt Stick. And a glue gun if you have one.
  • Scissors or craft knife (plus cutting board).
  • Something to stick it to stuff. Think carefully about this. try and find some glue dots that are prepositional, like what you get to hold cd’s onto the magazine.Firstly, with your white card, get your lens i.e. your plastic top. Draw round, with the back of the card facing up. Now cut this out, carefully cutting about half a centimetre outside of the drawn circle, so it is just a little bigger than the plastic top. You can do this either with some strong scissors, or with a craft knife. Please note, I had to hold the camera with one hand, so am only using one hand in these photos. In the interests of health and safety, and this turning out right, use TWO hands.

Next, you should cut out the pupil. Draw round your eggcup onto the black card. Cut straight round this, keeping carefully to the line. Now, this is where you can get a bit more creative. If you have some coloured paper, you could make some coloured irises, but that’s up to you. Just find something else to drawn round, maybe a jam jar lid, as long as it’s clean.
Now you need to glue it all together. You can see I used clear craft PVA, but you can use a glue stick, or even a glue gun if you like. Once they are in place, it’s time to stick the back to the front. Now, the easiest way of doing this is to use a glue gun, as it flows easily and dries like lightning. But you could also use double-sided tape on the bottom rim of the plastic top. If not cellotape used very neatly may do it too.

And that’s it. Simple eh? I got a little bit carried away and made some eyelashes for this one. I just cut up some more of the black card. Now, unless you are having this close to you at all times, it might be best to think of these in the same fashion as you would a pantomime set. i.e, detail is not so important, because it is designed to be seen from far away. By all means, make a super duper neat one for inside the house!


where it all began…

Long ago, in a year far far away (2011), I began making big wobbly eyes. I had no idea where this was taking me, especially when thinking about my masters course. I like wobbly eyes, so i make some big ones. But with all projects like this, it needed a purpose to save myself from a futile end.

I started thinking about eyes, and where to put the ones i had made. At first, reaction to the idea of having a big eye on your living room wall was muted to say the least. Bog Brother is watching and all that. But i then sat on my home, on the sofa, and realised i had 29 sets of eye peering down at me. In my entire home, i counted 139 sets. This isn’t some kind of coincidence. Eyes make us feel comfortable. They could be the eyes of loved ones in photo frames, or a child’s toy. But they are passive or friendly eyes.

Old people’s walls are full of photographs. In the majority of living rooms of the elderly, across the world, you will find family plastered all over the walls. This shows elements of boasting as well as recreating company.

Could having an eye on you bring a sense of comfort as opposed to a feeling of being spied on?

There are some instructions to follow in the next few days on making your own eyes to see.

Here are a few prototypes I have been working on.

They are all made using the same techniques. All the lenses for the eyes are vacuum formed from styrene, with the backs from birch ply or various thicknesses.

The smaller ones have white styrene on the backboard, with a sticky vinyl pupil. The lager two have a white acrylic lasercut base, with lasercut acrylic pupils. I have used small pieces of dowel i turned to attach the lens to the ply, masquerading at lashes.

The backs have a keyhole fixing, so can be hung on the wall, and the one with the eyelashes has a rudimentary mechanism that lets you choose which direction the pupil is facing.