Tag Archives: Paul Kercal

The Frog, The Flamingo and the Gadget Show Live. Behind the scenes and initial thanks.

Oh my golly, oh my goodness.

It’s been a week. I fully intended to blog throughout but… Well, we’ll get to that. This is NOT the blog about the show. That’s to come.

A few short weeks ago, in the middle of February, the idea was mooted that the event co-ordination we did for the World Skills Festival could be replicated at the Gadget Show live. It seemed a HUGE amount of work at one of the busiest times of year (academically) but one that would be far too cool to turn down.

So I did. Exams and time and pressure and money won. But fortunately for me (and, hopefully, others) the Gadget Show Live team were persistent and somehow we managed to find a happy middle ground that saw me saying yes to 64 square m of space in one of the coolest tech hubs in Europe.

So far so good. Stop me if you’ve heard this before.

Then, at one point, we were ROYALLY done over by Travelodge (quoted just under £3k final bill nearly £5k. Long post about that to come) and, despite support from Microsoft, SMART board, Autodesk, ArtRage, Sampli, Wise and others it all seemed like it would all come crashing down. On one of the planning days – the worst planning day – I managed to catch a glorious 3 hours sleep – mainly because I fell asleep within ten seconds of sitting at the laptop with a coffee perched in my hand. Fortunately I didn’t move I was so deep asleep and the coffee was removed from my hand as soon as my wife realised I was solid gone. This has been a month of 18 hour days and, ironically, it told during the Gadget Show week itself, although hopefully no-one but me noticed…

Somewhere along the line (I’m looking at you Sally) I received an email that, I quote, asked us to take on a “small bump” in space. From 64 sq m to 84 sq m. And then, somehow, it turned into 119 sq m. I should learn to say no. But my inner egozilla believes I can do anything so I didn’t.

It was pride – my pride – that caused some of the issues we had in the final two weeks… I was so determined to make it not cost any money for the College I work at that I should have asked for money earlier. As it was I didn’t and tried all other avenues but time, by this point (far) less than a month away, and Travelodge seemed the enemy. Well. Travelodge mainly, but the clock was certainly ticking.

And then, somehow, despite all worries to the contrary, it all came together. The College I work at put in £2.5k which means, on a budget on less that £8k we managed to run, very successfully, the 10th largest stand at the show (if you exclude the speaking stages, 18th if you include them…) You can check out the floorplan here: http://www.gadgetshowlive.net/birmingham/files/gadget_show_final_201327.032.pdf

I absolutely could not have done it without the staff who helped on the stand and looked after the students as I did my thang: Dave, Kath, Helen, Terry (stand and minibus) and Chris (also a fabulous minibus driver who’s also a new dad, hurrah Team Chris).

Nikki was, of course, fabulous. She did all of the risk assessments as a: she’s one of those strange people that likes paperwork (sorry, still doesn’t compute) and had an interest in doing so as 5 of the students we took were Aspergers or Autistic and she is the ASD specialist in the college. She was on the stand every day an ASD student was in need of her skills but also ran everything brilliantly as I ran from one side of the NEC to the other when we needed a camera or similar.

Nick Thatcher was, of course, (cue the A Team soundtrack) the person behind the Tablet Eye Stand, the easel security system and much more and, sadly, the only thanks I could give him was a 15 sq m stand for him to show off his AMAZING one wheeled Raptor arduino controlled “Segway” like device. He is amazing, you should check him out.

The visiting artists were brilliant: Kyle Lambert rocked every screen he came into contact with and Stefan Marjoram – who I found out a couple of years ago that I went to college with – was as awesome as he is modest. It turns out I was also at college with is wife who is as lovely and generous as Stefan is. They’re a good match.

Paul A was a brilliant in house film maker and I can’t wait to see what he puts together of the week.

Fiona from (cough: the Marmaraiti :cough) was a brilliant visitor as was Ewen Rankin from the British Tech Network.

Sally, Helen and Anne were fantasticaly helpful, patient and kind. I spoke to some of the other exhibitors and their teams, and their 10 x my paltry budget, were, I’m sure, far less bother than I was. But we all managed to come together with something magical in the heart of the show and loads of people started their questions to me with ‘yes, but what are you selling…?’

We were joined brilliantly by the lovely Lumilyon. If you don’t know her name you should – she is one of, if not the, most prominent and fabulous phone photographers I can think of. No-one shoots more diverse images and cleverness than she does and integrating her into the mix was one of my dreams come true. And, of course, when you have a world famous Phoneographer in the house, a Lumen Prize Finalist, a world exhibited artisan of high regard, you can’t not have her on the stage, so, on the Saturday and the Sunday, without fanfare or prior notice, hundreds of people were given an explanation of her artwork and working process. Lucky people! I was so busy I only caught a quarter of an hour of the two 45 min sessions 🙁 But if I could afford her for every event I would do so – she is a star and, in this case, I was lucky.

But the biggest thanks goes to the students. Without them it would not have worked. 40 of them spent 3 – 7 days holed up in a Travelodge (more on that later*) and the Birmingham NEC without complaint, without pause, without hassle.

DO NOT DISS STUDENTS. Some can be, yes, moany alcohol fuelled brats I’m sure. We all were weren’t we? But  I took 40 to the Gadget Show for a week and they were awe inspiringly amazing. I shall write more of them later I think. But to spend a weeks residential, working 12 -15 hour days, walking around 8 miles a day or so, showing them off as possible work experience stars? Never anything less than a pleasure. I like my students a HUGE amount and if you need digitally literate IT or graphics work exp kids give me a shout..

Only at one point did I have to tell anyone off for noise past the 11pm curfew and, it turned out that it was a non-College Travelodge user. Still, after I gave him my patented death stare

Would I do it again? In a heartbeat. But… not just yet ok? I’ve honestly never been so tired.

More to come – pics, vids etc… but for the moment – that was the College at the Gadget Show Live 🙂


Stylus t. Frog and the book on the digital shelf.


So, now it’s here: Stylus t. Frog and the Weapons of Mass Construction. 100 pages of iPad artwork.

Yes, my ability to pick a succinct and snappy name still eludes me, that much is certain. But I like Stylus t. and felt he deserved equal billing. Although, again, bearing in mind he is in the title and I am a footnote also says a lot about me, psychologically, I suspect.

Anyhow, a sample can also be found at the same link above, and at £4.99 for 100 pages for the full on version  it’s…. good value? Hard to work it out. Some books are cheaper, some more expensive. Hopefully it’s a fair price. I am a struggling artist with a next generation Absenthe style addiction to uphold (hello Comixology app).

Hope you like! Let me know, if you do 🙂 There’s lot in there from art apps (Brushes, Adobe Ideas, Art Rage, Eazel, Sketchshare and more), styli (Nomad Brush, Pogo, Stylus Sock and so on) and much much more…


Previously, in Kercalblogland:

(apologies is that’s confusing. I just realised I’d buried the lead in a big way).

Oh boy this has been a bit of a journey.

In Feb Apple released a desktop app called iBooks Author. I was instantly smitten, inspired, excited and so on. Within weeks I’d produced 90% of a book on iPad art.

So far so good. The application was easy to use, had a couple of niggles but nothing show stopping, and the process flowed pretty well, often late into the night, night after night.

And then I read the T and Cs. To sell a book I needed a US tax code. That took…. a while… I needed an ISBN. That was a little easier. And it needed to clear Apple iBookstore QA. That also took a while (6 weeks in fact although, fair play to them as soon as they opened the floodgates that must have been a LOT of words they had to read from a large number of submissions).

Hundreds of screen refreshes later I was rewarded by the little green dot and was so delighted I didn’t know what to do. As it was just gone 6am (having been woken by my son getting cross with Mario Kart) I tried and failed to get another half hours sleep. Now it’s the morning of emailing, texting, tweeting and as much as I can do to get any sort of interest in the work. We’ll see how that goes…

…and a brief info burst, as I’ve been asked for one:

Who: Paul Kercal – A level graphics teacher and iPad artist. And youth worker. And occasional writer. Where? Guildford College mainly. Why? Love iPads and iPhones: the screen offers a lovely immediacy – it’s fab to be involved in friction free artworking. When? I draw on busses and trains off and on. Sometimes in cafes, occasionally in pubs. For more info contact wd ((at)) kercal ((dot)) co ((dot)) uk


The Louse Guard.


Low day yesterday. Sent off a good few Sylver and Wombat emails over past week and had one reply. And taht was about something different. Hey ho. The path to any sort of visibility on both projects seems to be steep and rocky and (ironically) I’ve also done my back in yet again and am shuffling around like a Zombie film reject. And I mean a proper zombie, not one of the rubbish running ones.

Anyhow, when things are tepid I do seem to hide back into Brushes and I doodled this yesterday during my lunch hour. Normally I don’t get one, just a sequeway between one project and the other, but yesterday I had an idea, gleaned from an off hand Twitter post, and this came out of it. I’d change a couple of bits if I did it again, one arm seems confusingly attached to the Louse’s head, but for 59 (ahem) minutes it’s not so bad.

Music by the mighty Open the Skies. If you ever see their name attached to a Boileroom gig get thee there. They OWN the place. Very good stuff indeed.

Hmm anything else? Nothing springs to mind and 4% battery so onwards again. Oh yeah, one thing – quickly 🙂 – the image/vid is a nod to the Uber Brilliant Mouse Guard comics by Mr David Petersen. They are an artistic wonder, beautiful books and well worth a look see. Not only that but in reading various blog posts (and the odd email we’ve exchanged) David also comes across as a thoroughly nice guy, which is good. I’m glad a few of them walk the planet 🙂


Doodle doodle dood dood.

Couple more pics. Showed another class the massively lovely Harmony page and it was a lot of fun to see a new group pick it up and play. To explain how it worked I pretty much did this pic and just finished it off over lunch. Hurrah 🙂

Wish, wish, WISH it did vectors so it could upscale but hey ho, you can’t have everything and that’s like saying it’s a shame David Beckham can’t play the saxophone. What Harmony does well it does brilliantly 🙂

Man I should be on commission 🙂

That said it’s a free piece of art playfulness so commission wouldn’t buy me the luxury Sushi I crave.

Also: team Pixelmator – if you ever read this please get this into a future iteration of Pixelmator 🙂 Would love to have things like undo, shading, higher detail etc…

(incidentally – finished in Pixelmator as always 🙂 )

Wombat and Wambot…

One of the things I’ve been working on, well, two of them actually, comes to leave my hands and go to the hands of others soon enough.

The first, Dr Sylver and the Tapestry of Time, hits shelves in April after the most protracted birth of any of my projects, ever. Oh boy.

The second hits shelves before hand, despite only having been worked on since Christmas in any real sense. It’s been a theraputic piece of work in some ways, exciting in others. Ladies and Gentlemen meet Wombat and Wambot. It’s the tale of a small, furry amnesiac and his large robotic counterpart. Fairly obviously the name came first and the story… Well, there’s a little bit of this and a little bit of that in there. Sometime soon it becomes my own and then, shortly after, it’s going to be given over to others: much like the Big Book Draw the fun of Project Wombat is that others will fill in the middle up until the last page or so. That part will be the most fun of all. I had intended to show the project off sometime in the Summer but with the release of Brushes on the iPad in a months time it makes more sense to try and hit before then which has compressed my stretching out and relaxing time to a small, stressed ball of lack of time off. Still, I do love working on a project so hey ho, all part of the game.

Anyhow if you’re so inclined you could join the twitter feed at @wombatwambot or add the facebook page here… The more the merrier (and of course the more would help me out in showing the project off to others in the future so any adds would be gratefully appreciated).

Also: mini books status report…


Getting there. Strange to think this has been a 5 month plus project that fits into a small sandwich box. Then, when they are all set out, it seems like a much larger project.

Some things yet to do and it looks like the sending off party which’ll split all forty to different parts of the planet never to be reunited will have to be delayed until January which I’m a little disappointed about. But hey ho. Patience and all that.

After that, loads of stuff to do, but just finished a long teaching day to have a brief break before doing youth group in an hours time. Onwards (wearily).

Big Book Draw: Epilogue 1.

(May or may not be the final epilogue). (In fact you should see the amount of artwork-x-FINAL-2c.jpg type files I hav on my machine).

(But: onwards).

Big Book Draw was lovely in so many places, not least of which going through the kids artwork to pull it together into a story. It was a doozy of a day – although as soon as it’s finished I’m always so tired I fail to see the lovely parts because of all of the problem fixing on the day… But it was ace and a little distance softens the smudges.

This is one fortieth of the result. Sadly WAY too many people to do a book each – they’re a little fiddly to do and take about an hour and a half each to pull together. But they look LOVELY so I want to do some sort of showing of them later. In the meantime one will go to each of the sponsors, helpers and fish doodlers and that’s probably – time wise – going to be as many as I can manage. I can’t wait to take a photo of all of them lined up before posting though 🙂 I think that’ll look fantata.

Already got the story for the next Book Draw bouncing around my head as well as an interim project aimed more at teens. We’ll see how each progress (and I’ve passed the ideas onto someone else to see what they think… We’ll see would be lovely to get some sort of distribution in a way but all bridges to be vaulted).

So: here’s the Big Book in some of its finery. The story is a few posts down if you want to see the journey of it from start to finish. If time allows I’ll do a website of the whole thing but that won’t be for a while I think.







((the last one is a size comparision. I do have a smaller copy – about 3/4s of the size but this ones fiddly enough to make I think…))

(((Also: obvious joke ahoy. At 40 copies this now becomes one of my highest print run books! Badoom TISH))).

Anatomy of a splash:


Depending on a variety of issues life over the next two weeks will be a bit chaotic. I may be posting stuff, may not but the Big Book Draw looms large (as do a couple of other deadlines) so I’ll be focusing on them as much as I’m able.

Nearly all Book Draw doodles are in from the kind participants. That’s been very gratifying and encouraging. To pick favourites would be silly – everyone who’s sent me doodles are ace and some will appeal to different participants in different ways. A couple strike me as wonderfully bizarre and creative and that’s great. Can’t wait to see people’s reactions to them.

The above image is the workflow of the picture that comes up near the beginning of the story that is given to people to elaborate on. I must admit to having mixed feelings about it nowadays, having doodled the original pic a couple of weeks ago, as images of floods have weighed heavy over the past few weeks. But it’s a hard image to swap and hopefully not something which people will take a less happy message from. I don’t think it has the sort of feel that you can take a more ominous message from it but, that said, I often teach my students that if you can see a hint of a second message in an image take it out if you can. Time’s just not with me to change that much of the picture.

Righto, back to work for me. Hopefully in a few weeks time I’ll look back on all this and laugh. As it is Big Book Draw and Sylver 3 are… well, there’s a lot to do lets just say.

Big Book Draw day stuff…

OK so October is shaping up to be a doozey. For a start I’m fairly sure we’ll see Dr Sylver and the Tapestry of Time hit the streets (third and final book in the Everything series although, not necessarily, the last we’ll see of Sylver).

Then I’ll be doing the Big Book Draw with my youth group kids, a couple of friendly teacher helpers, some students and all sorts. Should be ace. The venue is BRILLIANT for drawing and creating in and they’re keen to be involved which is always good in a partnering venue. As well as all that the story is strong (although I always say that, egotist that I am) and the beginning and end doodles look pretty cool (massive ego ahoy). (Well, I like them anyhow 🙂 )

Better than that this years book draw is different because I’m approaching well known people and asking them if they could fill in a template of doodles for inclusion into the whole piece. So the kids (of all ages) can go away with a book written by them and Tom Merritt (Buzz Out Loud host and writer of Boiling Point), Jan Pienkowski (Meg and Mog), Paul Cornell (writer of Marvel comics and Dr Who novels), Emma Dodd (loads of books for Templar publishing). Nick Page (The Longest Week, Whatever happened to… and many more books) and more. Which is great… So far spent a good portion of the evening sending out more begging letters so shall see what I get back. But whichever way round it’s going to be an interesting day.

I think we’ll be doing a second book draw day but that’s very much tbc so we’ll see what happens on that score. More info later, maybe.

And then, lastly, someone offered their venue as a host to an exhibition in Oct for the Brushes artwork for the BBD and more besides so it looks like that one may be a goer too. We’ll see. All exciting stuff.

Less excitingly wifey was DIYing (I was doing kid duty and setting up youth work stuff for tomorrow) and… hmm… let’s just say that one tin of paint should have had a top on. And not be trodden on. And catapulted over two carpets, a wall, two library books, four books of photographs etc. Oh well, we’ll look back on it and laugh I’m sure.

Righto, onwards. Loads to do, just fancied a rest from it for a min.

Finished one and one other possibility…





The first two are from the finalised image for the Guildford Book Festival brochure and I’m quite happy with the way it turned out, all things considered. Bearing in mind the majority of my brushes work is done on a bus going to and from work I think they came out remarkably unjoggly 🙂

The final two… Hmmm…. for a long, long time I’ve wanted to exhibit some artwork. I often get the bug when I’m organising (or attending) gigs by the youth group bands. I love them all to pieces but a part of me wishes that I could step on stage and perform even a little bit as well as they do. I can’t, of course. They’re the musicians and I’m merely the organiser. But I can draw and that’s been a nagging voice in my head for a couple of years now. With Brushes I have a body of about 20 or so paintings that will look very nice printed out large, on canvas, small and framed etc and it’s in my mind to pursue, to see if it’s feasible (sorry, Dith. I convinced myself 🙂 but it’s by no means a definite.) So, anyhow, drew this… Y’know… Just in case…

If it does happen I’ll try and organise one test showing around the book festival date (probably a week after) but we’ll see… Very much up in air/back of brainwaves sort of mulling…