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It’s not often the windmills are upstaged in the Norfolk skies, but a murmuration of starlings should do it (yes, it’s a murmuration, not a menstruation; Chrome, please take note). A bewitching, spectacle that can involve anywhere from a few dozen to a few million birds, primarily a defence mechanism against predators. It seems it has a similar effect on them as it does us – the hypnotic sight of countless starlings twisting and turning in unison makes a catch virtually impossible.

This was really just a bid to shake up the nine hundredth or so Norfolk and/or windmill landscape (not that I apologise for that). I tried to capture this phenomenon a year or two ago, but never posted it as I wrote it off as, well, dreadful. Looking at it now, though, I kinda like the landscape, so I’m showing it for that at least – and, if the starlings have taught me anything, there’s strength in numbers.

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electric-recharged-2-02I’ve been in a typographic mood of late – even more than usual. It’s most welcome. Even so, this was a bit of an impromptu jolly; I was playing with a face I cut several years ago now, long before the days of this blog. It was called Electric, and this is shown in orange above. Inspiration came from the frontage of a rusty, run-down electrical shop in Norwich; it bore lettering of a slender form with enormous, authoritative slabs – delightfully retro-futuristic and, as such, most appropriate for a store likely still selling VCRs and 8-track. Them’s the future.

The blue counterparts were made this evening – essentially, I was curious to see what would happen if I were to reverse the thickness of each character, across the entire alphabet. It does look rather more burly, doesn’t it? Some letters were scuppered slightly – particularly Q – but overall it seems a worthy companion.

It’s quite fun using the two in combination.

The simplicity of both faces means you can do virtually anything with them. They can be warped, scaled, squashed, or pulled however you want, and still look pretty stable. Such versatility can come in handy when you have a specific message in mind.

I did also experiment with Illustrator’s ’rounded corners’ feature, which somehow managed to make the lettering even more delightfully retro:

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Ah well, nothing spectacular but just a bit of fun. I’ve been so woefully unproductive this year, I’m going to jump on any burst of inspiration that I can!

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Who needs rationale when it comes to making letters? I certainly don’t! The most fun lettering exercises, as I doubtless say every time (sorry) are the ones where you just run with something and see where it goes – it’s all about that iterative process, as one wonderful man always used to say.

And so, eyeing a coat hanger and seeing that its lines and curves could easily be bent into several letterforms spiralled into a afternoon of work. That’s an achievement in itself at the moment, regardless of the result. Thank you, coat hanger – potential there was! I ended up with a veritable wardrobe full of alternatives:

The process, there. Having sliced those up in Photoshop and Illustrator, they were a bit rough and ready, so I had a go at refining some of the stronger ones. Among my favourites are probably the M, W and E, who came out of the closet looking quite bold and trendy. I did enjoy using the hook for slimmer, twisty forms too, though, as you can probably tell.

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Well, it gave me something to do with my Sunday! I wonder if there are other objects lying around that I can subject to similar experimentation…

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It’s happened. I never expected it to. I have a new favourite wrestler – or rather, I have a favourite new wrestler. What is this? Well, I say ‘new’, but the adorable Jervis Cottonbelly has actually been teaching his opponents some manners for several years. Ever the gentleman, he characteristically trades the strikes and slams for hugs, tickles, and light-hearted trickery. This chap is the epitome of wrestling theatricality.

My first Cottonbelly experience was actually a couple of years back, when he was a guest on a Twitch live-stream I was watching. I wasn’t convinced at the time, but he was memorable, that’s for sure, and curiosity was there. Recently, I read about his mental health issues, and gained real admiration for him using the character to share his own experience whilst also allowing the sunniness of Jervis to brighten the day for others. It certainly worked for me; it’s been a low couple of weeks, but just a few minutes of his motivational speech (and mean ukulele) at least had me creating again. Thanks so much, Jervy!

A fun, lovable character with what seems like a genuinely sweet guy behind it, I wish Gentleman Jervis nothing but success.

Obviously, there was no contest for subject here. I originally went for a vanilla portrait, but ended up turning him into some kind of desktop wallpaper. How very 1990s of me. Hopefully, the fuzzy cocktail of violets, daisies and tie-dye possesses both the pleasantness and razzmatazz that so exudes Mr. Cottonbelly.

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I’ve been gaming a lot more than creating lately – unforgivable, I know. But it did, at least, lead me to our subject: wrestler Shelton Benjamin.

A young Benjamin decided against training for the Olympics to become a professional wrestler. He signed with the WWF in 2000, and made his debut on television a couple of years later. This was at the tail-end of my watching wrestling – I was far too big and grown-up for it by then, of course. It was just silly. Whilst there was an element of that, I think a bigger factor was that I was starting to admire certain superstars in a different way; newcomer Shelton was no exception, his impressive figure squeezed into a royal blue singlet. It was confusing and scary in equal measure, but I think we can safely say it’s no longer either of those things.

On a less shallow note, I remember Shelton as a pure and gifted athlete, though, such were the times our paths crossed, I don’t know an awful lot about his career. He enjoyed multiple tag and Intercontinental title runs, upset Triple H once in a great match, and there was an incredible moment where he leapt off the top rope into a super kick from Shawn Michaels which looked, as the youth of today would say, sick. As this is not part of a series from two years ago, we’ll move swiftly on. What I do know is that he’s an avid gamer, often challenging fans at conventions, and art lover. All of this made him a natural choice. I hope you approve, Shelton. I recently made a new texture brush, and used it here – swifter movements brought about some promising results at first, but, characteristically, I found a way to overwork it, the face in particular. There’s a likeness, though, so we’ll run with it.