Tentatively optimistic of Hampshire

It really is the New Year, end of January and its bitter outside. How are you? I hope you’re keeping warm and safe and not feeling too depressed by lockdown 3.0. I’m interested to hear if you’re approaching things differently this year knowing we’ve been here before. I’m wrapped up and can be found mainlining tea in my office although I’m feeling optimistic. This year has got off to a much better start than I predicted.

I started my copywriting course, finally! Rather than squander our second week off at Christmas, Pete and I decided to have a little structure of sorts. Wake up, though not before 10am because you know, we were on holiday, breakfast, train, lunch, social media/news catch up, followed by a couple of hours of both of us studying. And we stuck to it. I’m struggling to wake up early after having so many lie-ins though.

There was something quite pleasing seeing us both study and work together to achieve our dreams. I sat in one area of the sitting room, Pete the other; headphones in and off we went. I made a dent in my course, covering topics I knew already, and others I didn’t. It also made me reflect on the web copy I developed last year, rethinking the way I would have approached the copy if I had to do it again.

I’m nearly at the end of the course and focusing on homework; one piece I must nail is coming up with a ‘spec ad’ in collaboration with a designer. This could be a banner ad, poster or leaflet co-developed by me and a designer for a brand I choose. The idea is that if I want to work as a copywriter, I need to showcase my writing but without any paid copywriting work under my belt it’s a bit tricky. I have a number of examples of creative writing, but I need more copywriting experience than just my web copy examples. The spec ad needs to be designed and written in the same style and tone of voice of the brand I choose so that if a prospective employer or client saw it, they wouldn’t be able to tell whether it was real or not. Ergo showcasing how well I have captured the tone of voice of the brand, and the designer’s creative skills.

What I have found interesting doing this course is the sometimes-conflicting advice I’m receiving. I follow an award-winning copywriter, Kate Toon, who I think I’ve mentioned last year. Listening to one of her podcasts, she and her co-host copywriter don’t agree that you need a spec ad to start out and be noticed; they feel a blog has more clout. Kate says she generates a lot of her business from people who have read her blog, rather than her portfolio.

I am torn, because I do find myself more drawn to Kate’s way of working, style and she has more experience than my current tutor. I am however going to do the spec ad, if only to see what it’s like working with a designer, and how hard I find it. Because I’m still a bit dubious that writing copy for banner, ads, posters etc. is for me!

To do the ad justice, I need clear space in my diary, and hold on to your hat’s folks, I’ve managed to obtain approval for my 4-day compressed week! I honestly didn’t think it was going to happen especially as I was starting a new role, but the new boss is impressed by my work ethic and thinks it’s achievable. What a relief. It’s now all systems go, no more excuses for me.

Another area I need to focus on is beefing up my social media presence. I made a concerted effort one weekend to do more on it, and oh my gosh doesn’t social media marketing swallow up your day before you know it! I spent nearly 4 hours re-doing my Facebook business profile, linking it to my business Instagram account, which has been renamed @staffordwrites. I researched the best scheduling tool (Later) to schedule my posts to both accounts, developed content and built on an idea I had last year to showcase my work: ‘Thank You Thursday’. It’s aimed at giving coverage to brands I’ve worked with, both raising their profile and my writing, and I managed to get my first post created, scheduled and ready to go. I felt quite proud and satisfied at the end of it all. And needing a lie down.

Come Thursday though nothing had been posted. Zip, nada, rien. I wasn’t impressed. And although I’ve tried to fix things, I can’t schedule any posts via Later as it’s a FB issue. Whilst trying, unsuccessfully to fix the FB problem, I stumbled across their scheduling tool which does work, and while it doesn’t give me all the data Later does, I’ve spent way too much time on FB trying to fix it. It will have to do for now.

I’ve updated LinkedIn again and it seems to be creating more interest too. Do you remember my column from July? I discussed my thoughts on the job descriptions I was seeing on The Dots and one that had caught my eye – Chief Change Maker. Well, a Chief Change Maker contacted me about a prospective role as an Innovation writer. Unexpected and very much welcomed and I’ve responded. Even if it comes to nothing, the connection is a good one and who knows what might happen further down the line. I mean, to just know a Chief Change Maker is exciting.

While January started in lockdown, again, and the weather outside is either freezing or wet, this year, dare I say it, has the makings of a good year. I’ve a spring in my step and nervous excitement about possible opportunities. All I want now is a good dump of snow please!

Debris from the past by Amy-Leigh Bird

About the work:

I studied Painting & Printmaking at The Glasgow School of Art and recently graduated from my MA in Creative Entrepreneurship from UEA. Since moving to London I have been making work which explores the ideas of time and place. Walking along the Thames I have been collecting objects and finding ways to use them in my work. From the debris of the past I have been particularly drawn to the many old bones that are found along the foreshore, and I have been finding ways to incorporate them into my practice. I have also been seeking ways of making new work under lockdown by repurposing and up-cycling old work and using the resources I have to hand. Coming from a working-class background has meant that the work I create has usually come from using the scarce resources and material available to me. I have experimented a lot with natural materials in my work, recently creating a sculpture of found bones, Thames clay and scraps of old wood found on my street. Earlier on in my practice I made a curiosity cabinet of found items from the river Kelvin in Glasgow which was later used as my degree show piece. I have always been attracted to the unwanted, discarded material that I find around me, finding ways to repurpose it and bring it a new life.

A little bit about the author:

Amy-Leigh Bird graduated from the Painting & Printmaking BA Hons at The Glasgow School of Art in 2017 and in 2019 graduated from her MA in Creative Entrepreneurship at The University of East Anglia.  Whilst studying Amy-Leigh lived and studied in Jerusalem, Israel at Bezalel Academy of Art and Design and has taken part in several group and solo exhibitions including her first solo show at The Anise Gallery, Shad Thames, The Other Art Fair and at The West End Centre. After her graduation she was selected for Aon’s ‘Community Artist Award 2017’ and awarded the ‘Artist in Italy Residency 2018’ where she spent ten luxurious days walking about the Tuscan landscape collecting inspirational material. Since graduating the award-winning artist has exhibited alongside Christian Boltanski at the Apple and the Lust Gallery in Edinburgh, at The Edinburgh Art Fair and at An Lanntair in Stornoway after taking part in a two-week sailing residency with Sail Britain. This year she will be exhibiting at the prestigious and highly regarded No20 Arts gallery in Highbury and Islington and developing her research on the bones found on the Thames foreshore. She is currently living and working in London, developing her research on the psychology of collecting and the emotional significance of objects and place.

Find more from Amy-Leigh Bird:

https://mybestzine.bigcartel.com/

Solitude in visuals by Jess Mezo

Life’s strange: “Love has a way of surviving in small spaces, pockets of reality, remembrance, earmarks and notes left on the margins of some old diary of ours. Echoes of midnight conversations and summers past find us in contemplation, even though their sharp edges mellow out and blur into watercolours over time. It’s everywhere. You’ll find it within the slow rhythm of the urban heartbeat, or the stanzas of love poems exchanged between French symbolist visionaries Paul Verlaine and Arthur Rimbaud.”
A Shakespearean sonnet: “‘It’s you!’ ‘No, it’s you!’ – it’s always someone else. Maybe it’s a form of recognition, maybe it’s the forces of alienation and the pressures of our capitalist economy. Maybe it’s both. Fact, fiction, past, and present melt into one as we inhabit the same virtual spaces, running through the same loops, playing out the same patterns of behaviour in eerily similar settings. What lies beyond our conditioning? Some things cannot be intellectualised, only experienced.”
Community: “It often feels like the clock stopped ticking months ago. ‘Life as it is’, life as we remember it, ground to a halt, allowing a strange sense of stillness to filter in. Objects are left behind, spaces are abandoned as the rhythm or normalcy skips a beat. It’s been summer for months – it’s been a different year all along, or at least it feels like it. Temporality gets muddied as our perception of time is thrown around by winds of a new decade.” 

A little bit about the author:

Jess Mezo is a thinker, writer, experimental artist, and semi-professional picture-snapper, focusing mostly on political aesthetics, structures of power, resistance, beauty, and the psychology of everyday life in her research, writing, and art. Having seized every opportunity to travel and study abroad while earning her parallel BA degrees, she finally settled down in the UK and completed her MSc in International Relations at the University of Bristol. Jess is currently working as a freelancer and preparing for further studies after a year-long travel break she spent expanding her creative and professional toolkit.

Jess has recently launched her passion project, JessThetics, across different social media platforms to host her social and political commentary, as well as her (visual) essays on aesthetics and modern philosophy. A passionate student of photography and digital art, Jess pairs her articles with pictures and other forms of mixed media shot or otherwise created by her, often solely for a particular piece of written work. She invites everyone to join her on a journey into the realm of the unconscious, experimental, and accidental, as she embarks on a quest to uncover more about the delicate balance that exists between truth in beauty and beauty in truth.

https://mybestzine.bigcartel.com/

Empty Space by Kristóf Szabó

(1)empty space New Delhi, 2020, c-print, 50×50 cm, Szabó Kristóf – KristofLab & Raki Nikahetiya
(2)empty space Moscow, 2020, c-print, 50×50 cm, Szabó Kristóf – KristofLab & Vladimir Stepanchenko
(3)empty space Sao Paulo, 2020, c-print, 50×50 cm, Szabó Kristóf – KristofLab & Elena Kilina

About the work:

The pandemic resulted in the vacancy of previously busy spaces. A kind of error occurred in life, the tragedy of this social situation resulted in putting globalization on hold, while carbon-dioxide emission has dropped drastically. Empty spaces are witnessing our overworked, energy-wasting lives, prompting us to finally change our way of life globally, otherwise situations like this might resurface in the future.
KristofLab, has collected photos empty cities such as Madrid, which was developed into creating a first piece of the series. Subsequently, he received photos from many parts of the world from volunteers for the project. These artists helped to continue the series with their contributions. Kristóf hopes that this project symbolizes well how artistic imagination can help us thrive as human beings in difficult times and the work serves as a definition of our common values across boundaries and to once again remind us that we have never been and will never really be isolated.

Contributors: Kiszner Édua, Antal István, Marcin Idźkowski, Angela Galvan, Gasquk, Kristijonas Dirse, Peter Korcek, Erhan US, Ciro Di Fiore, Elena Kilina, Sangeeth Aiyappa, Vladimir Stepanchenko, Raki Nikahetiya, David Leshem, Haccoun Myriam 

(1)empty space Madrid, 2020, c-print, 50×50 cm, Szabó Kristóf – KristofLab & Kiszner Édua
(2)empty space Vienna, 2020, c-print, 50×50 cm, Szabó Kristóf – KristofLab & Antla István

A little bit about the artist:

Kristóf Szabó was born in 1988 in Hungary. Since 2016 he has been consciously using the term KristofLab as a kind of brand referring to interdisciplinarity and his media art activities. He often works in a team or creates collaborations with other artists, often crossing boundaries between art genres. He graduated from the Hungarian University of Fine Arts (2012). In 2011 he studied with an Erasmus scholarship in Dresden. He is a member of the Ziggurat Project focusing on various co-art collaborations, regularly working with them mainly on site-specific performances across V4 countries and Norway.

(1)empty space Budapest, 2020, c-print, 50×50 cm, Szabó Kristóf – KristofLab & Angela Galvan
(3)empty space Naples, 2020, c-print, 50×50 cm, Szabó Kristóf – KristofLab & Ciro Di Fiore

Find more from Kristóf Szabó:

https://mybestzine.bigcartel.com/

Tales of Guatemalan Worry Dolls


As we enter a new year, we hope to leave our worries behind us. With that in mind, I remembered a small oval wooden box gifted to me as a child. Inside were six tiny wooden dolls from Guatemala, known as Worry Dolls. I remember them being fascinatingly miniature, placing one in the palm of my hand and telling it my worries before sleeping.


Worry dolls are known to have been created by the Mayan’s over 2,000 years ago. There are two trains of thought assigned to their beginnings: the first is that they are modelled on one of the creator gods; the other (and more common idea) is that the dolls are based on a Mayan legendary princess called Ixmucane. In this myth, the sun god gifted Ixmucane the power to solve any human problem.

worry dolls


According to tradition, Guatemalan children tell the dolls their worries before placing them under a pillow. With six dolls included in the oval box, each night should be a different doll, with one days rest. By the morning, the children will be gifted with knowledge of how to overcome their worries, allowing them to sleep soundly. In the morning, it is advised to rub the dolls tummy, so that the pain of carrying bad thoughts is relieved. The ritual of acknowledging anxieties before sleep is seen as beneficial, particularly for children. Worry dolls have now been recognised by paediatric and child therapists as a way of relaying concerns to a trustworthy listener.

Guatemalan Indigenous Clothing


The Worry dolls themselves are between 1-3cm tall and made out of wood, wire and fabric from Mayan garments. The face of the doll can be cotton, cardboard and paper, or clay and the outer clothing from wool or “aguayo” – a traditional Guatemalan cloth. This is all held in place with colourful yarn that is wrapped around each part. Moreover, the fabric used is offcuts from handmade clothes, as a way to reduce waste.

Indigenous Clothing


In Guatemala traditional clothing is bright and colourful, depicting local flowers, animals, geometric shapes and figures. The textiles are woven by hand and the yarns are dyed naturally with flowers, vegetables, herbs and bark for their vibrant colours. There are over 800 different styles of indigenous Guatemalan clothing, known as the traje tipico. The traje is still commonly worn by women, and there are various communities where men also wear traditional embroidered clothing. The most common parts of the women’s traje are the huipil (blouse), the faja (belt/sash), and the corte (skirt). Depending on the region, head accessories include the cinta (a type of headband), the tocoyal (a ribbon that is wound around the head ), and the tzute, which is worn on the head, or as a cloth to carry infants on their back. Wearing the traje is a way for indigenous women to keep culture and heritage alive.

Worry Dolls

The women who make these Worry Dolls live mostly in the rural areas of Guatemala. This provides them with an important supplement to the income they get from agriculture. Now these dolls are famous in Guatemalan culture and are sold as souvenirs to travellers passing through.


I find Worry Dolls magical, both in their significance and aesthetic. They are tiny replicas of Guatemalan people in indigenous cloth, and a reminder of their vibrant culture. In this way they bring a small part of Guatemalan magic into our home and dreams.

Worry Dolls and box

Younger Interviews- An Interview with a Young Artist: Peter Davies

E: So, I’m joined by one of my amazingly nerdy friends Peter (yes that’s a compliment to him), we’ve known each other since Primary school but we really only became friends again after going to see ‘The Rise of Skywalker’ about almost a year ago now. I think we bonded cause we both hated it, but hey friendship. Like me Peter is a fellow amateur artist but for him, it is the art of words.

E: First off how are you doing in Tier 3 which has just been introduced?

P: I’m not having too bad of a time; I feel being indoors allows me to concentrate a bit more. Sometimes there are things that distract me ( like we all feel sometimes) but it helps me think things. The limitations of being indoors, it almost makes you feel more creative, at least in my experience.

E: That’s a really positive way of thinking about it, So what kind of work do you do?

P: Well, I do a lot of fiction writing, I do a lot of short stories and long novels

E: What are you working on right now?

P: A big series, I’m almost finished with Book 1, it’s mostly doing editorial stuff but I’m also starting to work on a short story

E: What’s that about?

P:You’ll find out.

E: Oo, mysterious. Why did you start writing?

P: I’ve always been interested in creative writing, the idea of putting something together like stories has always fascinated me. I’ve found it easy to make things up but also I feel I can convey things through stories. I’ve always had a vivid imagination and I like the idea of sharing that with people and keeping it to yourself is pretty boring and you think ‘What if other people would want to see it.’

E: I definitely agree with you there, that’s why I do what I do and just get it out there for the world to see. Coming that perspective of conveying things in stories, why do you think it’s important for young people to be involved within the arts?

P: Well, it’s important for people, both young but also older people too to be focused in creative things because in a way it’s something we’ve lost a bit as well as gained. I think being creative and especially now adays when the world’s a bit bleak, having a creative outlet is more important as you have a place where you have some sort of control over is powerful as it’s something that people need right now. In a way creative defines us

E: Definitely especially if sometimes you feel invisible when you do when your  young and you feel unrepresented, speaking of Have you felt misrepresented as an artist before, particularly as a young person?

P: In some way I have had some opportunities, when I just start secondary school, I got to take part in a creative writing book called ‘around the world in 80 words’ and I wrote a short story for it.

E: Do you think that inspired you in a way, to keep writing?

P: A lot yeah, starting secondary started the interest.

E: Do you think, though it’s good to have these opportunities, not all people have had things like that. Have you ever felt like that in a way, particularly professionally?

P: Yeah, in some ways once you get serious about it,  you have a responsibility of topping your work and if you feel you can’t then you’re not living up to a potential, there’s a lot of pressure there in all creative people really and I think it’s mainly due to how difficult it is to get into the industry, sometimes it’s easy to get in due to more independent things but the main thing is people want to feel stable so there’s worry about that and because of that I feel young people feel pressured to not pursue it because it’s not going to get me anywhere and that’s a sad thing.

E: What you like to see a standard for the arts once Young people take over in the future like getting rid of these misconceptions?

I think what needs to happen is to allow young people more control of the content that they produce in the future, to allow them to actually have a voice not controlled by a older generation.

Take my own field of publishing, traditional publishing has some good aspects of being able to get yourself out there, but the problem is you have less creative control and you may come out with a product you wanted in the first place because of how corporate it is now  . Same with how it feels all the films recently are just parts of big franchises with big names attached rather than give people a chance.

 That’s why self-publishing has become more popular but that can also have it’s faults as some people won’t take you seriously because of that. Allowing more trust to young people should be the way to go, trust our voices and our stories instead of limiting it and it may surprise you.

E: It doesn’t help when you email and then they Ghost you!

P: Yeah, just tell me what I can do and what I can do better, give me a chance rather than feel like I’m wasting my time.

E: I agree with that. Finally, what advice would you give to people our age trying to get involved in the arts?

P: Keep making lots of things and be broad with the things you do make. If some tells you that you’re wasting your time just do it anyway because they don’t know what they are talking about. Though you need to be determined as the creative arts is something you must keep ramming yourself at to get through so keep going no matter.

Happy Holidays to all of you

Em x

Dwelling for a moment of solitude with Lebasille

About the work:

As an artist, I dwell for a moment of solitude, it is essential to our well-being and crucial for our soul.
To be independent and still in the moment. To accept your own presence and above all, your being. To reflect and turn within.
It is the foundation of exploratory, for a brief instant or a continuous period, until it gets comfortable and you get mentally stronger.
The word solitude comes from the Latin word “solitudinem”, which means “loneliness”. On the contrary, ihey are two different things. Loneliness is marked by a sense of isolation, while solitude is the state of being online without being lonely.

I will always crave for solitude.

UNTITLED, 2019
A conversation between current affairs and different communities and the road to improvement.
ROUNDUP, 2018
“Oh, to live on Sugar Mountain, With the barkers and the colored balloons” (Neil Young)

A little bit about the artist:

Lebasille ° 1989, Belgium

Lebasille – a pseudonym of Isabelle – is a visual artist born in Antwerp, Belgium in 1989.
She makes original collages on paper, with images from magazines, books and other imagery sources from 1920 up to the present. She has always dedicated herself to analog collage, however, she has expanded her praxis to digital works, offering endless possibilities.
Within her analogue and digital work, she plays with proportions, dialectic and context. A conversation occurs between current events and ideals – a social reality with an extra dimension of meaning or a layer of surrealism.
She rediscovers the past creating a vintage future. The transformation of each individual image gives the viewer and his eye the opportunity to reinterpret elements or new ready-made images.
With a growing love for imagery of different worlds, eras and ideals, she started to cut out and assemble countless images. It became part of her daily routine.
Since 2018, she is attending two different courses in the Royal Academy of Fine Arts in Antwerp.
Many exhibitions followed, of which the most memorable was in a museum in The Netherlands about food in art in past and present. Her practice consists of creating imagery for album covers, magazine covers, book illustrations, postcard illustrations and more.

Find more from Lebasille:

https://mybestzine.bigcartel.com/

Untried realities by Zula

About the work:

Untried Realities is about a personal experience of social separation during Covid-19 in East London. Through self-portraiture, I bear the feelings of solitude, craving for human contact, and need for nature. I live in an urban and concrete part of London, without any outdoor space and I started this series on the day of Boris Johnson’s self-isolation announcement in response to the situation. I use mundane household scenes to create a new “reality,” one which is physically in my flat, but one which hopefully visually transports the viewer into a parallel world. I make use of shadows and light to create humorous moments and temporary escapism from my current situation and to facilitate a sense of detachment.

A little bit about the artist:

Zula Rabikowska is Polish-British photographer based in London. Zula was born in Poland, grew up in the UK and worked in France, China, South Africa, India, Palestine and the Caribbean. Her practice is influenced by her own experience of immigration and in her work she explores the themes of national identity, displacement and belonging. Zula often works with digital and analogue photography, and incorporates archival images and documents to challenge conventional visual story-telling norms. Zula has obtained an MA in Photojournalism and Documentary Photography from London College of Communication. Zula also works as a freelance photographer and as a photojournalist for SOPA Images in Hong Kong.

Find more from Zula:

https://mybestzine.bigcartel.com/

Painting in Isolation by Zoe

About the work:

‘Symbolism is a big part of the process and as life is surreal and, at times mad, so are the paintings… ‘

Funny, crude, and surreal imagery help to bring dark humour to the work, acknowledging its’ obscure, psychological nature.

A little bit about the artist:

Zoë uses art to process times of physical and mental vulnerability from relationships with others and herself. These personal ‘thought pictures’ give a feeling of ownership of the stories she tells; reinforcing a sense of security and identity to the viewer. The relationship between the body and mind is always in the forefront of Zoë’s artistic exploration. The fragility and feral nature of what it is to be human, mentally, and physically. Zoë is also a strong believer in art therapy and hopes to encourage others to go forth and get creative in the name of well-being.

Find more from Zoe:

https://mybestzine.bigcartel.com/

Motivate yourself!

Working at your own pace can prove to be quite difficult sometimes. When it comes to my creative endeavors I am my own boss, which means no deadlines, no briefs, no actual boss. I am naturally a very self-motivated person and I find myself doing multiple things at the same time. Thanks to the flexibility of my day job I can easily maneuver between doing my master’s degree, various courses (now it’s mental health, hr and pr courses) and planning to open yet another business – for now there are only plans and even more courses! But how do you stay motivated in the world filled with day jobs leaving you little to no time to relax and have a breather? Let me give you some tips!

  1. Working on a project doesn’t always mean getting stuff done – make a list of things that you need to get done in order to be able to sit down and start actually working. It may be something like getting more pencils and paper from your local shop or drafting a plan of dealing with everything. Get a scrapbook and make your mind map for the project, it makes it easier to keep on top of things!
  2. Every little bit helps – if you find yourself stuck at some point look for inspiration in different places. My current go to are online forums with fellow creators. My favourite one at the moment is the Dots. It’s a platform for creatives run by an amazing creative Pip Jamieson. You can ask the creative community questions, read posts and project plans by other creatives and simply get engaged!
  3. Webinars – in the age of global pandemic there are more and more online webinars which are easily accessible, all you need is a laptop and the access to the internet! Many creatives and entrepreneurs make free webinars where they talk about their craft and how they got started. For example Sophia Amoruso is holding a free webinar on 5 Things you need to know to start your business today this Thursday! If you’d like to sign up for the webinar click HERE.
  4. Set little goals for yourself – I love the feeling of crossing out things I did from my to do list. It gets me going and keeps me motivated. In order to be pushed forwards and not held back by your own lists make sure that what you write down is not a goal that would take weeks or months to achieve. Start small, even with a breakfast plan or morning meditation and grow from there. You need to make sure you know what to do to get to your final goal and not get demotivated by the amount of work you need to put in to get there.
  5. Treat yourself – I can’t stress this enough – happy and comfortable person equals more shit done. Don’t stress yourself, don’t overwork yourself and always put yourself and your well-being first. Make sure you know why you’re doing what you’re doing, eat that chocolate, go watch a movie, buy that book, go out with friends. Things we enjoy doing are not a distraction but a treat and sacrificing doing something that brings you joy to throw yourself into a spiral of constant work has never done any good to anyone…

Keeping yourself motivated can be a hard full time job. It is necessary to remember that we are allowed to have a day off and just… breathe!