Without wanting to sound ridiculously immodest I think I’m fairly OK at my day job (which is as a College Graphics and Creative Media teacher).
I’m not your average teacher and I don’t teach in an average way. Which is good, just don’t tell the Government because it’s not about being good any more it’s about standards and compliance. You’re not good unless you’re outstanding and you’re not outstanding unless you toe the party line.
I don’t. But all the students stay and they all pass with grades they weren’t expecting and, along the way, we tend to do huge trade shows and events as we go.
And now I’m ridiculously lucky to be joined by a Photography and Fine Art teacher who are equally good and equally mad. It made EGX an absolute joy and when we all decided to be Muskarteers on the final day, well that’s a perfectly rational decision for us, really. It’s going to be a fab year in the School of Art. Unless they make us comply too often in which case it was be an above average, semi-soulless, standardised sort of year.
We even took over the Cosplay stage for the final hour of the day, dressed as Muskarteers and with anyone with a sword joining us. It was as excellent as that sounds.
As was drawing on tablets dressed in Cosplay 🙂 As was EGX as a whole in fact…
…but, true to form, I was finishing off the Cosplay on the train up to day four of the show. While I lauded the two newish teachers at the College – and it is excellent to be part of an A-Team – I’m always supported by my excellent wife who made the tabard and boots and so on. She left a space on the front for me to draw the crest which I did on the train.
…and which she, being the long suffering and excellent wife that she is, filmed for me…
First Cosplay. Definitely (hopefully) not the last.
It’s not post show blues, just a realisation that sometimes things don’t go to plan or my mind is putting more plates on sticks that can realistically be spun.
The Chill Out And Art stand was run by a bone tired teacher, assisted by a second teacher – equally tired (because there’s no let up from enrolment to classes and no we don’t get the whole summer off we get the same amount of days holiday you likely get just fewer places to use them and thank you Mr Gove for your parting present of everyone having to change all of their paperwork, again). It was set up by three dog tired teachers, one daughter, one boyfriend of the daughter and a brilliant friend of the college who’s always been there to help when needed.
And for an hour each day we were running the sixth largest stand at EGX14 with only Ubisoft, Nintendo, Microsoft, Activision and Sony having larger floor footprints.
So basically? We did OK and the students did brilliantly.
Generally I go on gut feelings. I knew the wallpaper would work and OH BOY did it. I knew we could rock the Cosplay stage and it was fab 🙂 I thought the Graph’It pens would go down well and holy heck they certainly did…
All told? It was a heck of a week.
The problem was it was the best show we’ve ever done.
Actually the problem was it was around £2k and a few bits swapped around from being the PERFECT show.
Post show the marvellous Nick Thatcher and I sit and cogitate (cogitate being Latin for chat over a beer) and discuss what we should have done differently. And the list this year was so small it was frustrating to be so close to where I could have dreamt it to be.
The things that would have made it perfect were a little out of our control but still grate. The stand looked awesome – we had loads of compliments and it’ll be interesting to see how many people wallpaper their stands next time. The Graph’It pens worked a treat and we ran out of paper at the end of the third day as it was such a popular addition to the stand. Bearing in mind the total budget – if I put everything together -comes out at less than £2k that was a HELL of an achievement in and of itself. All in all? Not a bad three weeks planning/one week of solid work 🙂
My main sadness is that we didn’t have the IWBs (beyond the budget) or a cool new projector which allows you to draw directly onto a wall. I still want to do a console art corner (Art Academy on Nintendo Wii U, 3DS + Colors and PaintPark Plus on Sony PS Vita). We’ve not cracked 3d scanning and printing yet but we know exactly how to do it and were tantalisingly close this time. I just need a couple more jigsaw puzzle pieces in place for that one.
I REALLY want to do a tablet and stylus bench where people can walk up and try as large a range of styli against as large a range of tablets as possible. As an example we (finally) got the demo Surface RT units working and I ran off to my pencil case of styli to use for a picture…. but because I’ve used most of the styli I know, for example, that the Surface RT works best with the Dagi range of styli in terms of connection but unless you meet a complete nitwit that tries all styli against all screens (ahem) you’re not going to find that useful nugget of information out.
And the main miss of the show, of every show since World Skills, is that the app that would work with and around the event has never been quite there. World Skills Fest would have worked so perfectly with the app I had in mind, as would Gadget Show Live. We’ve always been close but never lit the cigar, let alone removed it from the cool cigar tin that taunts me from the shelf it’s placed on, a smidge out of reach. One day I might get there… but I suspect I may never get to doing the show and the app together. It’s the thing which feels most beyond anything I can plan or budget for.
That’s what drives me on to do the next show and then the one after that. There’s always something new and cool that we could get onto.
The biggest negative point was that, for the second year in a row, Eurogamer fell on my son’s birthday… Both years we bought him to the show on the final day and, both years, he’s met his favourite character (Sonic) which was great. Hats off to the Nintendo booth who, as soon as they heard that there was an autistic child who desperately wanted to meet Sonic, rearranged some of the times of their character walk arounds and got it sorted for Sonic to meet son and vice versa. Was hugely touched by their kindness and thoughtfulness. Next years EGX dates – and venue – have already been announced and they don’t fall on the birthday but they do happen in Birmingham NEC which, budget wise, might preclude us from participating. I hope not as EGX has been a brilliant show to be a part of for the past two years. We’ll see what happens when that conversation comes up.
I’d say when’s the next event, although I know. Sort of. There’s a couple of smaller events to come but I’ve got high hopes on the next biggie.
The main thing is that the kids come through the year thinking they’ve been a part of something amazing and, more importantly for the college and my year on year stats, that they all succeed in their relevant courses – especially graphics. last year we did 20 shows and most came out with As and Bs. But this year I have three times as many students to think on so it’s all that much more stress and work. If I were sane I’d batten down the hatches, teach the basics, standardise the sketchpads, do one event at most (most teachers take their kids to a couple of exhibitions and that’s that).
Well that was a fabulously truly bonkers week at Earl’s Court for #EGX14.
The highlights started a couple of weeks before the show. I’d asked some wonderful tablet artists to donate pictures on a given theme and the results were fabulous. The digital paintings were printed off at A1 size, attached to foamboard, displayed at the show and finally given away to the charity stands at the show for them to fund raise with (Special Effect, Make a Wish and National Autistic Society).
SO many people joined us to draw. Loads of students attended each day, a lot of them Cosplayed, Graph It pens were used and used and then used some more, iPads, Hudls, Surfaces and 3DS’ were drawn on, new artists started a new hobby and brilliant artists shared skills with others.
The best thing? Possibly the Cosplay stage space for us. We co-ordinated with two Cosplay troupes: the Lots Of Us and the Birds of Truth (as well as thematically linked Cosplayers on the day) and took over the stage for an hour on the four days of the show. For every session we set up a diorama for people to paint/draw/photograph and it was always, ALWAYS, ace. Blog post to come but here’a a few representative pics:
(click on the pics to get the larger ones…)
So on a budget of… well… nowhere near enough… for an hour each day we had the sixth largest stand at EGX. Truly and utterly fabulous and bonkers all at the same time.
Also: the new aluminium stand for the show (the hat stand) worked brilliantly 🙂 (so now we have two fab Aluminium bespoke tablet art stands – the hat stand and the eYe, both made by the very fabulous Nick Thatcher of Thatch Industries).
The lowlights? Less that 6 hours sleep each night for the past two weeks. Also – some of the receipts will be paid but I feel like I’ve partially bankrupted myself on emergency coffees and bottles of water – HOW MUCH??? – as mine ran out no matter how much I took I always drank more. My throat is completely clobbered and I’m going to be teaching with a whisper for the next week.
And also: general event shatteredness.
… and this is bearing in mind that the phone that had the pedometer on was also being used as a wifi hotspot so I didn’t have it on me for a few hours each day. And yet I STILLL could have cosplayed easily as Jabba the Hut (as opposed to what I did do: a Teletubby Muskateer mash up).
It was – so very nearly – the best tablet and drawing event ever, definitely the best one we’ve ever done….
Now normal teaching service is resumed… I’ve got over 100 students to get to an A* in 10 months 🙂
Although… will try and get the #WelcomeToGuildford awards sorted out soon…
I lose count (which I shouldn’t, but at the moment I’m so tired I can barely count on two hands let alone up to 20 or so).
The College I work at has done a few trade and STEM shows over the past two years, capably demonstrating out skills at Tablet Art.
How many have we done? Hang on…. (Teentech x 2, BETT x 3, Royal Ac, Barbican x 2, World Skills, Magic Summer, Adobe x 3, Gadget Show x 2, Dell, Bohunt, STEMfest, LITS, MCM x 2, LMUG x 1, Autodesk and Eurogamer… and.. um… brain gone).
Anyhow, we’ve done a lot. They kids were, are and have been great.
This time it’s Eurogamer. Which is fab. It’s a heck of a show.
Which leads to the next question.
WHY THE HOOTING FLUMP DOES EVERYTHING ALWAYS GO DOWN TO THE WIRE WHEN WE DO THINGS???
On Tues the very excellent Dame Kath of Jone and I dashed up a hatchback full of easels and so forth to Earl’s Court and, literally, dropped it on our stand and ran out of the doors as they were being shut and locked.
Then on Weds we worked from 11 – 8 setting up the stand.
Which looks AWESOME.
Some pics here. Day one blog next.
The stand looks fricking amazing and the above people are why (plus additional pic of me at the end 🙂 )
If you’re at EGX pop over to the Chill out and Art stand and say hi!
A lifetime ago (well, three long years) I was asked to do something that changed everything and added around 20 years onto my forehead. My hair was uniformly orange back then and now it’s a mixture of citrus and snow.
I was asked to run a stand for the college at the World Skills Festival, to be held that year in London at London ExCeL.
To my shame I knew nothing about the World Skills Fest. I didn’t know it was the Olympics of education, nor that it had been running for decades all over the world. I didn’t know that students competed for a place to represent their country nor that they showed off the best of industry working with education. World Skills is a fabulous thing. Had I known how good the opening festival would be I would have taken my daughter with me, for example. It was a little less Olympics and a little more Eurovision and it was utterly brilliant. I fell asleep during the show once, but only because I was absolutely shattered. I had probably worked two 80+ hour weeks back to back and had one more to come.
I pitched for a space, with this picture, saying that we’d be happy to run a, say, 2 x 2 m stand showing off tablet artwork.
(which I drew on my trusty iPod touch using the very lovely – at the time – Brushes app v2).
They came back with a positive suggestion.
Could I do a slightly larger stand? 50 square metres or so?
and, when filled with people (as it frequently was) it looked like this:
… and if you don’t believe me, check this video out. Still makes me smile/gives me chills.
Since then the students and I have done a couple more events (BETT, BETT, BETT, Teentech, Teentech, Adobe, Adobe, Autodesk, Magic Summer, Eurogamer, MCM, MCM, Channel 4, Sky Arts, Bohunt, Barbican, Surrey Skills, Surrey Skills, Royal Academy, Digital Surrey, London Mac User Group, Art on the Street, London International Technology Show, World’s first tablet only life drawing session and so on…)
And, of course, the Gadget Show Live:
Which, at 120 sq m, almost broke me, I’ll admit. Organising 70 students, a residential and everything on the stand to an available budget of £2,500 was a ridiculous challenge but one that worked out beautifully in the end. Well. Not at the end, naturally, as the end saw me wrapped up in carpet and frog marched to the coach.
I mention all of this as I’m deep in the heart of organising our next event: a 60 sq m stand at Eurogamer Expo. And you know what? I’m enjoying the doing of it, because I always do. So far it’s all moving along quite happily and mostly all the jigsaw puzzle pieces are in place. A couple are still left to do but it’s merrily ticking away.
I probably shouldn’t say that 🙂 but hey. Organising something like this I’m happy. I can’t wait to see the stand, there’s some ace artwork already coming in, I get to see the disparate pieces for the stand banner come together tomorrow and it’s just fun. Organising events? Yeah, I can do that.
Two weeks from now… Can’t wait…
And, for the first time, I’m going to Cosplay at one of the things we’re doing. All sorts of fun planned…
But why Black and Redline for the title? Well… The stand is entitled ‘Welcome to Guildford’ and we’ll be riffing on the Guildford games heritage. The original idea was to print screenshots of games from Guildford but that turned into a complete minefield so, instead, some tablet artists of fabulous note are going to change the history of Guildford games and create the titles that could have been… It’ll be amazing, trust me. I’ve seen the pictures as they’re coming in. It’ll be brilliant.
The theme for our interactive gallery stand at this years Eurogamer Expo is the League of Extraordinary Guildfordians (as organised by Guildford College, run by Guildford students and focusing on artwork made by Guildford Devs).
The Cosplay diorama themes will be (dates subject to change but I’ll confirm on Monday):
The Lots Of Us (Sept 25th). Joels, Ellies, zombies and clickers all very welcome. Syndicated Assassins and victims (Sept 26th). Syndicate, Assassin’s Creed and historical characters? Rock on up. NintendoSegaLand (Sept 27th). Any Nintendo or Sega character? We choose you. The Alien Cantina (Sept 28th). Star Wars, Who, Mass Effect, any alien of any flavour? Come say hi and join in the gathering.
Come and join in. If you’re cosplaying you can be painted on our stand either separately or as part of the group effort. If you’re an artist and want to paint on a tablet or Interactive Whiteboard using one of a wide range of styli then turn up and say hi 🙂 I’ll be the stressed one with, I hope still by that point, orange hair.
If you’re a Guildford games artist give me a shout too, would love to hook up with some at the show. We’re also aiming to do a couple of tablet and computer only art sessions around Eurogamer time so give me a shout about those dates.
So! Eurogamer! Exciting. Want to do some touch screen awesomeness? Check out the gallery stand. It’ll be all sorts of awesome.
The middle bit:
So here we are, 3 weeks before the next big one, a large space (60 sq m? About that?) in Eurogamer Expo. We’re going to do some awesome things with tablet art teaching, large screen artworking (tbc), Cosplay painting, Cosplay dioramas, all sorts of awesome stuff. We hope to have bespoke computer game artwork up (some sorted, some at the mercy of as many emails as I can send out around paperworking and new student enrolment and so on). Exciting stuff. Apart from footprint (and to be honest I don’t know whether I could ever do 120 sq m again, as for the most part this is just me sorting things out).
I’m also relating this years Eurogamer to the Gadget Show in my mind as it’s the first one I’ve had a theme completely planned out in my mind and can’t wait to see realised. Obviously what we do is important on the stage, but to know what the stage will look like, especially the image which welcomes people to our space, is cool to be thinking on…
The beginning bit:
The students and I have been on some grand events over the past few years, drawing for Dell, Adobe, Barbican, Royal Academy, Sky Arts, Eurogamer and more….
The last one is the most pertinent – The Gadget Show Live was the largest show we’ve done, 120 sq m, a small budget, a LOT of reliance on hardware loans and the excellence of students over the week. It was a little bit of an energy drain; I worked 90 hours that week (and that’s ignoring all of the set up), walked 40 miles and fell asleep waiting for dinner with the students one evening and, um, sitting down mid way through a day causing a small man hunt as I’d said I’d only be off the stand for five minutes.