Flip Flop Flying

An old sketchbook

with 15 comments

A few months ago, I mentioned that one day I would put some old drawings and stuff up here for you to see. Well, today is that day, because I finally bought myself a scanner last night. Dunno why it’s taken me so long to get one, I guess I always thought they were more expensive than they actually are.

So I got it all set up and randomly grabbed an old sketchbook. The sketchbook I grabbed is one that I made myself, as it happens. Quite proud of my work I am too. It’s got a cloth-covered card cover, and decent proper-book-style binding.

Plus, when I used this sketchbook, I followed the art student’s golden rule: the thicker the sketchbook, the better the grade. You could be Picasso, but if the front and back covers of your sketchbooks are still parallel when they’re full, you’re buggered. What you need at art school is a good angle, with stuff stuck in there to make it thicker. Basically, anything that looks like it’d be a challenge to cycle up, were it a hill, equals good grades. That’s my art school tip for thee.

Anyway, this sketchbook is from the late 1994/early 1995. A weird time in my life. I’d had six months doing virtually nothing, cos my HND course had finished, but I was due to do a kinda catch-up course from January ’til June so that I could jump onto the final year of a BA course. (Plus, having just had glandular fever, my doctor gave me a sick note for the whole period, allowing me to sponge off the state. Yay!) Anyway, I lasted ’til April on the catch-up course. Things happened… I wasn’t particularly happy with life and I got kicked out for non-attendance. I hope my mum’s not reading this, cos she still thinks that I chose to leave the course. If you are reading this, mother: oops, sorry!

That non-attendance wasn’t slacking off, I’d like to add. I was constantly busy during that time. I took to sketchbooks with a frenzy that was slightly startling. I was obsessed with making little books. Any type of paper would get lashed together with thread and scribbled on. And more than anything, that period was really the beginnings of what became Flip Flop Flyin’. It was the first time my mind wandered of its own accord, rather than using it for school, art school, or university assignments. I was drawing for my enjoyment, not for anyone else’s.

I miss those sketchbook times, really. Much as I love doing FFF, I do it knowing that other people will see it. I’d quite like to go back to keeping sketchbooks that contain stuff for myself, rather than the sketchbooks I keep now, which are just places to work out stories and character drawings and stuff. Maybe one day I’ll scan some of those too…

Anyway (again), here’s some stuff from that sketchbook. First up, Subbuteo Angel. Not sure how this came about. But it’s something I still think about. I’d still like to see Subbuteo figures with wings on them. I was very into Tipp-Ex and Dymo tape at the time, both of which are employed here.

Next is a photo masking-taped into the book. This is the kind of thing I was making at university at the time. I was, partly cos of the attractive costs of such things, using a lot of reclaimed materials. Wood I found on the street, metal from junkyards, etc. One day I’ll find the photos of more of this kinda stuff and show you them.

This particular thing was something I made for my then-girlfriend. I stole a loose grate of a drain in the gutter from a street in Derby, built the simple rectangular box, whacked a lightbulb in there and sprayed the plug and cable bright pink. That was something I was into, too: making the least interesting part of a light or piece of furniture the brightest, most eye-catching bit. The best thing about this light was the shadows it flung on the ceiling when in use, like a big geometric spider’s web.

Thirdly, something from that era that eventually evolved into an FFF thing. Specifically, it evolved into a Fun Fun Fun thing.

(An aside: has anyone actually seen the Fun Fun Fun book in a shop? I’ve been told it’s in some shops, I keep being told it’s gonna be on Amazon any day now; yet I’ve not seen it in shops, on Amazon, or heard of anyone who has found it. If you have seen it or bought it anywhere, could you let me know, please? I’m getting a bit frustrated with the people who are supposed to organise these things…)

So, yes: what you will see in a few scrolling-down seconds eventually became this:

Maybe you’ve wondered what the hell it’s about. Well, in the back of the book, I explain everything. But that’s no use to you right now, so I’ll explain here. The idea of a monkey rubbing a grapefruit came from hearing a sound on a record, I can’t remember which record, but that sound is also on the Beastie Boys’ Shake your Rump. It’s this sound, behind the drums, the one that sounds like, well, a monkey rubbing a grapefruit.

Aaaaaanyway, I was asking someone if they knew what the instrument was called, (I’ve since found out that instrument is called a cuíca), and when trying to describe it, those words just popped out of my mouth. I made a note of it, then did this drawing:

It’s drawn with Tipp-Ex correction paper (the precursor to those Tipp-Ex mouse things that disappear from office stationery cupboards quicker than you can say “Bing Crosby”) on a stretched out piece of pink balloon rubber, wrapped tight around, and glued to, cardboard.

That, dear reader, is nearly the end of today’s show-and-tell. So let’s come back to the modern world for the last thing: the Berlin-y advent picture. It’s a photo taken in my local supermarket of some festive toilet paper. The Winterduft (winter fragrance), by the way, smells horrible. It’s kinda like a fake gingerbread-y smell which does very little to disguise the oh-so-real fact that you’re doing a poo.

Written by Craig

December 16th, 2005 at 9:33 am

Posted in Uncategorized

15 Responses to 'An old sketchbook'

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  1. hi craig,
    to fun fun fun:
    the day before yesterday i went to a bookshop in the Wiener stra├če in berlin, that was on your list of book shops who are supposed to be selling your book. the man looked it up in his computer and told me that it wasn’t even listed in the big available-books-database-thingy. i kept saying that the author (you) said, that its available and he kept searching for different keywords but no chance: he couldn’t find it.
    i’m very sorry but i keep asking for it, i’ll promise.

    so far the situation in berlin. :)

    have a nice weekend!



    16 Dec 05 at 10:31

  2. Anne, thanks for the info. I had a feeling this sort of thing was going to happen…
    (If you happen to be in this area, though, Fr. Smillas cafe on Pappelallee have some copies. 10 euros. Thanks)


    16 Dec 05 at 10:55

  3. Blimey, it does sound like a monkey rubbing a grapefruit! And so true about fat sketch books. The more obscure objects you could stick in too the better!

    I am going to try Magma in Clerkenwell later for your book. An early Christmas present to myself – I’ll let you know if they have it.


    16 Dec 05 at 12:46

  4. I’ve never in my life been able to fill an entire sketch book. I’m useless at it. I said to myself in January this year that I will fill a page with drawings every single day. It started well, but then it got to the 6th June and I just…stopped. I really should start again. Also, when I was a school girl, I got a ‘B’ in my art GCSE. I was really shocked cos, without sounding too big-headed, I was the best damn artist in that school. Turns out I just didn’t have enough work to show, even though what I did have was ace in my opinion. I should have filled loads of pages with any old drawing, but its just not in me to do that!
    I shall make it my New Years resolution to fill a whole sketchbook, maybe I’ll succeed this time!! I’m loving the monkey by the way, really lovin’ it!


    16 Dec 05 at 12:57

  5. CoCo: Yep, if you can stick twigs in there, you’ve got an A+.

    Anna: you know the trick? Keep it with you all the time. Especially when you’re watching telly. It’s amazing how much telly is watchable with half your brain focussed on something else.


    16 Dec 05 at 14:03

  6. Alternatively, buy a sketchbook with less pages!

    I had a candle in my sketchbook, nearly burnt down the house getting it there. Wax, fire and Spray Mount are never a safe mix but fun none the less!


    16 Dec 05 at 16:14

  7. Ah, cuica! Funkadelic and Parliament seemed to use that a lot.


    16 Dec 05 at 17:12

  8. The best ad I ever saw for toilet paper was a spoof one in Viz: ‘Andrex: gets the majority of the poo off your bum’


    16 Dec 05 at 17:36

  9. Is that your Dad at the top?


    16 Dec 05 at 18:23

  10. By the way, Dave, do you really wear pistachio nuts for shoes?


    16 Dec 05 at 18:23

  11. No, it’s my grandfather. My dad’s dad.
    More photos of him next week, I think.


    16 Dec 05 at 18:26

  12. Hi Craig,

    I bought the Fun Fun Fun book yesterday from “La casa del libro”, a famous bookstore chain in Madrid.

    It was all alone in the design section, and I asked if they had more copies, as the back was a bit dirty. A (to my surprise) really nice girl told me that they were sent 2 copies, and that one must had been the last one, so:

    a) You sold out!
    b) I got a 5% discount!

    alberto romero

    17 Dec 05 at 12:40

  13. Thanks Albert! Good to hear it was in at least one shop. Thanks for buying it.


    17 Dec 05 at 13:27

  14. hey craig.
    saw your book in the miro museum in barcelona, if you wanted to know. loved it. But couldn’t buy it. Broke.


    1 Jan 06 at 14:40

  15. I found your FFF book in my favorite book shop down here in Innsbruck, Austria, between all those beautiful design and art books. I didnt know your work or this website before, just browsed through the book, loved it and bought it. In 5 words: yes, its in the shops.


    6 Jan 06 at 23:10

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