The UNdane Interview.

Interviews with creative types doing awesome things. Scroll down for every past UNdane Interview.














The Make It Happen Series

Pt I - Roisi and the Rollergirls.

My friend Roisi likes roller derby. She does not have a local team, so she creates one. She is awesome. Here follows a quick chat with the founder of the Surrey Rollergirls...






Hi Roisi. Tell us a bit about yourself.

I'm a slightly opinionated, very loud Scottish person. By day I'm a Designer at Supermassive Games. By night I'm a roller derby coach and skater for Surrey Rollergirls.

How long have you been rollerskating and what got you into it?

I had never rollerskated before I started roller derby in 2009, although I had skated inline briefly in my teens, and I did some figure skating before that.

When did you start taking part in roller derby?

Towards the end of 2009. I had learned about it from some advertising for ARRG (Auld Reekie Rollergirls) in 2008 but was way too scared to join. Finally I took the plunge after moving to the Midlands - with the Central City Rollergirls in Birmingham.

How would you explain roller derby to someone who knows nothing about it?

Always such a tough one! I tend to first have to dispel the myth that it is anything like rollerball. My goto comparisons are British Bulldog and rugby on skates, where the ball is a girl, but even that doesn't do it justice. It's a full-contact, highly athletic, all-female sport played on quad rollerskates, and we go from there!

What do you love about roller derby?

It's the first sport that has even remotely interested me to the point where I actually wanted to improve my fitness levels in order to play better. Beyond that, the community is a HUGE draw. It's incredibly inclusive, and the DIY nature of it means that everyone is incredibly supportive of one another and willing to help out new teams, like the Surrey Rollergirls.

What prompted you to put together your own team?

I had finally recovered from a lingering back injury, and after moving to Guildford in Surrey decided that I wanted to start playing derby again. I did some research, but there seemed to be a hole in the South East that wasn't really covered by any teams. The closest, Portsmouth, Windsor and Croydon, are all about an hour away using public transport. So I decided to fill the hole and founded the Surrey Rollergirls!

You've had so much interest in the team - tell us about how it has grown from an idea into something fully formed.

It has been constantly surprising to me just how much support and enthusiasm I have got in such a short space of time. I was fully prepared to have maybe two or three girls interested to begin with, so when fifteen girls turned up to our first meet and greet I was very excited and humbled. From that first meeting, things snowballed from there. We now have around twenty regular skaters, with more interested in joining. We also gained a sponsor in the form of Obsolete Industries, who are dealing with our merch and kit. It is growing from week to week and I'm so excited to see it expand. A personal highlight for me was going to watch a London Rollergirls bout and getting a shoutout for the Surrey Rollergirls read out by the announcers. There were about twelve of us there and hearing everyone around me yell and cheer made me feel like a proper proud mother hen!

Whats been the most challenging aspect of putting together the Surrey Rollergirls?

I thought it would be starting, but it has been keeping track of everything growing so quickly! I had never coached before, so coming up with practice plans has been a challenge. Also, just the sheer amount of work involved. Before we set up our committee, I was easily spending upwards of 20 hours a week on derby stuff on top of my regular job.

You have a fundraiser coming up. Tell us a bit about that.

I'm so excited, as it is Surrey Rollergirls' first public event. We have four bands playing. Cynotia from Gloucestershire, 4hours from London, SR Radio from Guildford and ashestoangels from Bristol. We will also be having a yummy bake sale and a raffle. The proceeds of the raffle will be going to Guildford Action, which is a charity that helps the homeless in the Guildford area.

What would you say to someone who has an idea for a hobby, group or organisation they'd like to put into practise?

Just do it! Don't be scared to ask people for advice and help, and don't think that you can't do it. It might take a lot of work, but if you're passionate about something the reward far outweighs any risks.




Roisi and the Surrey Rollergirls will be having their first fundraiser on 5 April 2012. Learn more here.

Learn more about roller derby here.

Get your custom-made roller derby name here. According to this, mine is Cherry Downagain. Lovely.


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Ever since 2007 there has been a new force on the streets of Brighton...

Devil's Eye by bydefinition

By Definition are a 5-piece, self-proclaimed 'stoner rock' band based in Brighton. They are Rob, Dan, Fil, Stex and J and they've agreed to talk to me about music, playing gigs and...socks.


Let’s start at the beginning. Describe your sound - Using only song titles by your favourite bands.

'Mice and Gods, Super Terrorizer, Hungry Child, Ahh Blugh.'

(Clutch, Black Label Society, Corrosion of Conformity)


How did you come up with the name ‘By Definition’?

'Ironically we originally wanted to do all sorts of music, so “By Definition” would be funny because we were indefinable. As it turns out we quite easily slipped into ‘Stoner Rock’ and have stuck with it. So, for now at least, we are By Definition = ‘Stoner Rock’.'

Where did you play your first gig as By Definition and what was it like?

'Our first gig was at the much missed Pressure Point in Brighton. It went pretty well. The reception was better than the material.'



What’s been your favourite and least favourite gigs over the years?

'So far our favourite gig has been our EP launch at the Brighton Freebutt. Had a great turn out and even had people singing along! Doesn’t get much better than that. As to our worst? I think the gig at a club which will remain nameless, where we finished our first song to a deafening silence. Not even a sympathy clap. They LOVED us…'

Of all your songs, which is your favourite? Give us a reason to immediately listen to it.

'Currently we'd say Red Lines (a new track we are working on ). Awesome groove, killer riffage, vocals ain’t too bad either…'

What’s been your biggest achievement as a band so far?

'Probably getting through to the final 6 of a recent battle of the bands. Good to see a pretty face, and pointing at your crotch can get you everywhere…

Also, successfully releasing our first EP and receiving reviews in Rock Sound magazine and airplay on Total Rock Radio.'


What are your goals for the future as a band?

'Gigs, gigs and more gigs. We are aiming to develop our fanbase outside of Brighton so keep your eyes peeled. We could be coming to a town near you!

We are also writing like crazy at the moment, and have lots of new material in the works which we are hoping to record in the near future. Hopefully early next year.'




I want to start a band but I have no idea where to begin. Give me some start-up tips.

'Get some like minded friends and practice, practice, practice! Don’t expect things to happen all at once and don’t be afraid to chat to other bands, they don’t bite and inter-band friendships can be beneficial to everyone!'

'UNdane’ is the concept that beauty, happiness and creativity can be found within the mundane. Using this definition, what does UNdane mean to you? What is your idea of the UNdane? Give me some examples of UNdane things that make you happy.

'Dry socks – we can’t stress this enough. Maybe not beauty, but happiness and creativity are much helped by having them.

The first cup of tea of the day – ‘Nuff said.'



Seven-Tailed Scorpion by bydefinition

What’s your favourite song at the moment?

Si - The Soapmakers - Clutch
Rob – Come to Me – 65daysofstatic
Dan – On March the Saints - Down
J – Redneck - Lamb Of God
Phil - Warzone - Slayer.




By Definition Upcoming Tour Dates:-

9th October – The Hydrant, Brighton (downstairs) – FREE SHOW with our mates Gutterfly

31st October – The Wingspan, Crawley – (with This Means War & Gutterfly)

2nd December – The Wingspan, Crawley

EP Details:-


We self released our debut EP ‘Eyes on Wires’ in February. We have been selling physical copies at shows but it is also available to download from –
iTunes

7Digital

We have also released a 2 track sampler from the EP featuring the track ‘To The Bone’ and an exclusive track ‘Seven-Tailed Scorpion’ which you can download for FREE from –
http://www.musicglue.com/bydefinition


By Definition are shouty and growly and I approve. You should listen to their stuff immediately and then go to a show. And then buy a T-shirt.

Photographs by Aperture Ninja and Immortal Decadence

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Leon the DJ

This week it's Leon Jackson's turn to face the UNdane interview. He's a 28 year old Computer Support Engineer from south London who juggles work with a new family and a daily commute to Central London that can take 3 hours. He LOVES music more than most people I know (he introduced yours truly to a LOT of the music I now love and has made me countless mix CDs over the years) and DJ's in his spare time. From getting firmly on the decks at a house party to rocking out over the airwaves with his weekly radio show, when it's not about everything else it's always about the music.

What do you like about playing music for other people?

I love introducing people to new music, giving them something that they didn’t even know existed. I can’t really describe why but it’s an awesome feeling and very addictive.

When did you first get into DJing and what inspired you to carry on doing it?

My good friend Crusty ran a promotions company and wanted someone to DJ between bands. I volunteered my services and that’s how it all began, way back in the Cartoon club in Croydon in 2001.

How did you get your name – DJ Guttersnipe?

Guttersnipe is my Net moniker – the definition is “street urchin: a child who spends most of his time in the streets, especially in slum areas”, which at the time I thought was particularly fitting seeing as I was from Penge and spent most of my time out and about in Croydon/Bromley/Central London etc. And I was lazy so just put ‘DJ’ on the front of it.

Where do you think your love of music comes from?

Not sure… probably my mother - she was always listening to something or other. Up until my late pre-teens I wasn’t into music at all. A couple of my friends were though- one of them gave me a copy of The Offspring’s “Smash” on tape and it all started from there.

What is the first album you ever bought?

As I said, I was given stuff on tape by mates of mine, so I accumulated quite a few of those before buying anything. I think the first album I bought was Green Day’s “Dookie” back in 1994. Though I had the whole Megadeth and Metallica discographies on tape at that point as well as some late 80’s/early 90’s grunge on disc that my Mum gave me.

You have your own Wednesday night rock show on the Internet. Tell us about that.

I currently DJ on the XLMAX channel @ www.xltrax.com. I play mainly Rock/Metal/Alt with some sprinkles of randomness in between. Currently the show is on 21:00-23:30 GMT so if you’re reading this then tune in some time! The more the merrier!

What would be your dream venue/radio station to DJ at?

Commercial radio doesn’t really appeal to me; it’s too restrictive, too many adverts and way too many f****g repeats! You also have such a limited playlist - I’d only do it if I got paid enough to not have to work anymore. As a result of that mindset I’m quite happy on xltrax.com, the only thing that would make me happier is if they added an alternative/metal substation and I did my show on that. That would be awesome!

You fit your radio show and general love of music in around your day job and family life. Tell us why it’s important to keep your hobbies in your life as you grow older and things get more hectic.

It helps me to stay me rather than turning into my job like I see with so many people. All they do is work for the stuff they want; house, car etc but they have less and less time to enjoy it because they have to work so long and hard for it. Hobbies are a happy medium.

Do you have any tips for people looking to get into DJing but not knowing where to begin?

Just take the opportunities when they arrive and make some of your own while you’re at it.

‘UNdane’ is the concept that beauty, happiness and creativity can be found within the mundane, the little things in life. Using this definition, what does UNdane mean to you? What is your idea of the UNdane? Give me some examples of UNdane things that make you smile.

UNdane means a hell of a lot to me! It’s what makes life beautiful and interesting. Yeah the big events in life are awesome, but it’s the little things that really make you appreciate how wonderful life can be. An UNdane example would be something I saw years ago. I was on the underground and sitting next to an elderly couple, they must have been in their 70’s at least. What struck me about them is the fact they were holding hands and talking to each other in a way that seemed like they were just as much in love as when they first met. The passion that you think burns out with age was very much there and alive. It certainly made me smile and it also made me hope I am as lucky as them when I reach their age.

What’s your favourite song at the moment?

That I cannot possibly answer - by the time you publish this it would have changed. As I write this it is “William, It Was Really Nothing” by The Smiths. It has stayed my favourite for a while longer than my usual favourites.

Thanks Leon :)

Leon the DJ


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"I think that even after death I will come back as a zombie and continue working. Sometimes I think that may have already happened."



David is a 27 year old Animator and Special Effects Compositor. He works as a Digital Artist for a TV post production company in London. He has worked in graphics, animation, and film in some form or other for roughly 7 years. He is a very proud geek, and can be found staring longingly at toy train sets in Hamleys stores very often. He insists that Brainz should be spelt with a 'z' at the end.

Hi David. Do you prefer to be called an animator, digital effects artist or ‘other’?

Hello! Both really. As I have been learning more skills I have been finding it harder and harder to define my job. At work they call me a "Generalist", which is apparently a polite way of saying "the one who's name you shout regardless of what problem you are having." If someone threatened to break something precious of mine (like my Nintendo) if I didn't pick a title then I'd say I prefer animator, it sounds more interesting than digital effects artist.

What inspires you to create animations?

Usually it's a small thought at random, expanded into a full story. Like, "wouldn't it be cool if we had steam powered space ships", or "lets animate my dreams". Currently I am working on an animation about two people that don't know each other both secretly crushing on each other on a crowded underground train. I wrote it when I crushed on a stranger and started pondering what it would take to get two strangers on a train together. I like expanding fantasies into stories, especially small, inconsequential ones that people rarely remember for long.

Describe one of your favourite past projects for us, and the thought process you went through to create it.

My favourite finished project is probably my latest project called 'Stark'. It was based on a dream I had. In the dream I was the creature locked in a room with no doors and only a small ball for entertainment. The first half of the animation is literally exactly what happened in my dream. In my dream, however, I never made it out of the dark corridor, so I decided to make it more of a happy ending. It's interesting that I didn't really consider it important to show what happened after my little blue creation escaped, but people keep complaining to me that they want to know what happened after he escaped.
For those people I created this:




Music is always a dominant feature in your work. How do you choose which music should go with each animation?

I normally choose the music before I even get around to storyboarding (drawing out the animation in a comic book style to work out the sequence of events). There is a reason for that. I normally have a song that reminds me of the mood of the project I am going for. I tend to listen to that song while I am planning. Nine times out of ten the music I listen to while working out the project ends up being the music I use in the final piece. If you ever see a stranger listening to the same song over and over on his music player, sometimes repeating the same 30 second section of song over and over, you are probably sitting next to me.

What is your greatest ambition, career or otherwise?

To be able to travel around the world, and to continue to make short films until I am over 100 years old. Making short films is certainly not easy. It's long, stressful, and exhausting and if you do it in your spare time, it's expensive. You have to really love it to keep at it. Luckily I do really love it. I like to think I will never stop as long as I live. In fact, even after death I think I will come back as a zombie and continue working. Sometimes I think that may have already happened.

Do you have a message that you try to convey through your work? If so, what is it?

Not really a message so much. This sounds pretentious, but it is more feelings or moods I try to get across. If I get an idea for a quirky happy animation, I will try and make people bounce and grin while they watch my finished animation/film. If a sad song inspires a solemn story idea, then I will try to make people feel that way. Luckily I haven't thought of any good depressing ideas yet, but be warned. It may happen one day.



Who are your favourite artists, designers, animators etc?

I do love the Studio Ghibli (specifically Hayao Miyazaki) films as well as most of the Pixar animations. In Pixar there is a specific director named Andrew Stanton, (he directed Finding Nemo and Wall-E) that I am a big fan of. Artist-wise I am really bad with holding onto names which is a pretty horrible habit, but there's still a couple that are drilled into my head that I love, like M.C Escher, and Salvador Dali. Outside of that, a lot of the people I am fans of are actually just people I know either online, through work, from my university days or just friends to be honest.

What are you working on at the moment? Any projects in the works?

Yes, as I mentioned I am working on a project that hasn't got a final name yet about two strangers on a London underground train. By sheer coincidence they always end up standing next to each other everyday, and are secretly crushing on each other really strongly. The idea is that all the forces in the universe seem to be conspiring to make them do something about it. Such as the over crowded carriages crushing them together. The train bumping them into each other, and faulty lighting creating mood lighting. The music's already chosen, the script is written, and the storyboard is almost at a fairly final version. My real life day job is slowing down the actual creation, but I am hoping to be done before Christmas this year.

‘UNdane’ is the concept that beauty, happiness and creativity can be found within the mundane, the little things in life – you embody this with your work. Using this definition, what does UNdane mean to you? What is your idea of the UNdane? Give me some examples of UNdane things that make you smile.

For me UNdane means to see everyday things that people ignore in a new way and find them interesting again. Two years back I was creating a glass of beer for someone else's 3D animated project. It was the first time I was being asked to create glass (or beer) at the level of realism they asked for, so I did what I normally do, I researched both glass and beer. It should have only taken about 15-30 mins. In the end I ended up losing an entire nights sleep reading up on them.
I now know the process of beer production in a level of detail that is ridiculous for someone that's never been in a brewery. I know how the glass is made and why there are often those imperfection patterns in pint glasses. I know the physics behind what causes the bubbles in lagers to form and a good few other things as well.

The point of the story is that now when I am in a pub and everyone goes to the toilets or on smoking breaks at the same time and ask me to look after the drinks with guilt in their eyes, I say, "that's fine" and I really do mean that. Because I know I will be entertained just staring at their pint glasses in thought.


What’s your favourite song at the moment?

Can I cheat and have two favourites? Yes? Ok good.

Sneaker Pimps - Six Underground and
Gotan Project - Epoca.


Visit David's Youtube channel here for a selection of his work, including 'Stark'.

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This week I've been speaking to Jo Tulley, an Illustrator, Character Designer and Jewellery Maker from South Croydon. Jo lives with her partner and their son. She has two online shops; one is on Ebay that sells jewellery and the other is on Etsy selling handmade soft toys, cushions, and one-off creations. Both are under the name of Kidish. In the past year she has held stalls at several local craft markets and a selection of her creations have started to be sold at a store in Manchester called ‘Not For Ponies’.




Hi Jo. You sew plush toys and sell them in your Etsy shop and on eBay. How and when did you get into sewing, and what made you decide to begin your creations?

I have always loved to do crafts and draw. I started an eBay jewellery store just over 5 years ago, which I enjoyed (and still do) but I felt I wanted to make more hands-on stuff. After having a baby and finishing college I was a bit out of sync with illustrating, and I couldn’t get a full time job so I thought I’d have a go at working from home. I started experimenting with sewing, using my doodles and illustrations to make plush toys. I’m still learning but there’s definitely a big difference in how I sew now and how I did a year ago, it just takes practice.

Chocolate doughnut plush (zoom)

In your Etsy store, you give each of your toys a cute little character name and back story. Do you have a favourite character?

The back-stories have started to be a good and bad thing, because I get way too attached to them! I have lots of favourites but if I had to choose one it would have to be the Mad Hatter plush, just ‘cos he was such a pain to design and sew. He has pride of place in my front room now.



You’re also an illustrator. What do you use to create your illustrations and what most inspires you to draw?

I usually just draw in black ink or biro, then if I have time I use Adobe Illustrator. Everything I draw just comes from my head, usually in the middle of the night, or early in the morning when I’m still half asleep!

Dradgen illustration

How did you develop your unique cartoon style?

My dad used to be a technical illustrator and when I was small he’d give me drawing lessons so I think a lot of why I went into studying illustration spurns from that. I’ve always been jealous of people who can sit and draw something accurately; I’ve never been able to do it well. I’ve learnt to focus on what I can do rather than what I can’t, so I doodle everywhere especially when I’m bored at work. Once I get an idea in my head it’s hard to stop.



Tell us about the process of creating one of your products, from the initial idea to the finished item?

It’s a pretty long process because I tend to do all my designing and cutting at the same time then one by one sew them together and stuff them. It can start with a drawing or sometimes I’ll just think of something to make and then cut the felt freehand. I stick and sew all the features on, then turn the felt inside out and sew it together, then I cut a hole in the back, pull the inside back out and stuff till it’s nice and cushy. Finally I sew up the hole, cover it with a heart shape or patch and it’s all done!

Tweet Twoo Owl

What are you working on at the moment?

I’m trying to think ahead. Halloween is the next major seasonal event so I’m playing about with clowns, ghouls, monsters and zombies at the moment.

devil illustration

What are your greatest creative ambitions?

Just getting my stuff out there is already an ambition achieved. To own a gallery/shop has been my dream for quite a while though.



I’m interested in learning to sew. What do I need to get me started and what is a simple project you can recommend to get me into the swing of things?

All you need is needle and thread and to experiment with different types of stitches. A great book to pick up is ‘Let’s make cute stuff’ by Aranzi Aronzo. These books teach you all you need to know and they’re easy to follow. I’d say to start easy by making a brooch or a keyring.

Alice In Wonderland Necklace

‘UNdane’ is the concept that beauty, happiness and creativity can be found within the mundane, the little things in life – you embody this in your everyday life with your creations and illustrations. Using this definition, what does UNdane mean to you? What is your idea of the UNdane? Give me some examples of UNdane things that make you smile.

UNdane is in a lot of what I do. I take something that is plain, it has no character, no spirit, and I give it an identity. I always like to change things, when I see a blank canvas I want to fill it. Smiles make me smile, so I draw them everywhere.

Plush Frog Prince

What’s your favourite song at the moment?

My boyfriend is a dubstep producer/DJ/Record label owner and he’s got me into a lot of his stuff, so I’m liking Magnetic Man ‘I Need Air’ at the moment. The Glee soundtrack is still a constant on my playlist. I love my cheesy pop.

Thank you Jo :)



Shop for lovely things from Jo at:-

Etsy

eBay

Not For Ponies

Find Jo on Flickr


fire breathing


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Sheldon K Goodman.

Part of the point of The UNdane Interview is to showcase the talent of people who really should be famous one day. Or now. Right now. These people will take over the world, and Sheldon K. Goodman, Artist, Illustrator and Grower of Plants is a perfect example.

Sheldon is 23 and resides in Bromley, Kent. He has a keen love of graphic design, music, cooking, Marilyn Manson and gardening, and can name at least two plant species in their Latin names. He's Anglo-Indian, but nobody ever believes him on this. He has been illustrating seriously since 2008, but has been drawing since he was a toddler. Today, Sheldon tells us how people can learn to be good at something, his creative processes, and how he dislikes Dizzee Rascal.


(Iris Jones Vs The Great Mundane would like to add that all views regarding Dizzee Rascal expressed here do not reflect the views of...erm, Iris Jones Vs The Great Mundane. We think Dizzee Rascal is Quite Nice.)


Describe your style of illustration using a 2 stanza rhyming poem.

Bold black lines and sweeping strokes
Such imagery I hope evokes
An admiration of my art
And not disdain, like a rancid fart

The cheeky smiles, the surprised looks
The well thought colours that’d look good in books
Dynamic like a river ‘pon changing tide
The style always changes, not much to hide.




What inspires you to draw?

I could be really pretentious and say everything, and I’d really like to say that. But most of the time these ideas literally just flash into my head and I quickly find a notebook to write it down. It depends entirely on the situation though, sometimes I’ll see something on TV and think ‘oh, that could work’ or I’m in the pub and someone says something funny which tickles me. I also have a slight dislike of my drawing style, so that pushes me to keep going and improving. Old family photos give me a lot of ideas as well. Drawing is also a form of immortality. I hope that when I’m long dead, my etchings and doodles remain behind so people can see a little bit of me while the rest is 6 feet under being consumed by Lord knows what.

When did you first put pencil to paper and think ‘hey, I’m not bad at this?’

It’s always been other people telling me that I’ve been supposedly good. I am my harshest critic, and I honestly think the stuff I produce could be better. I enjoy doing it, but I look at peoples work in awe thinking ‘urgh I wish I could draw like that’, and that seems to be a common feeling among artists. I’ve always drawn, I inherited it from my Dad who’s penmanship is amazing. He works for Santander so that talent’s been wasted, but he drew Carlos Santana’s first album cover when he was my age and it was stunning.

I suppose I started to feel more comfortable in Secondary School when my humour and writing ability started to match the artwork, my classmates being impressed with what I drew. The teachers weren’t. I was supposed to be writing about the housing development in Cheadle Hulme, Manchester.




Fiendish Feet

What mediums do you use for your illustrations?

Nowadays, I’m all 21st Century, so draw everything on a digital tablet that feeds straight into Photoshop. Which is great, because it gives me a line quality that I struggled to get with my old Biros and rollerball pens. I’ve tried using the traditional dip pen and Indian ink method, but my patience wore out with it. I couldn’t master it. So I went into Photoshop, which initially I wore out of patience with as well, and it all kind of seemed to click.

The problem I find though is that the digital illustrations seem to be a bit lifeless and bland, and my drawing technique now is a lot smoother than it was. I’m not sure if I’m satisfied with that. During my GCSE’s I studied the works of William Hogarth, and I absolutely adored it. I replicated his business card using a pen, and it was great to be using that technique of cross hatching and immense detail to give an image so much depth. Nowadays though it’s all about simplicity and bold colours, but I’m keen to go back to that kind of drawing for a bit.


Do your illustrations have a meaning? Commentary on society or particular themes for instance?

The ones I make public are more one shot ideas or things that interest me, but usually they all have a reason for their creation. I did one about Dizzee Rascal about a year ago, when that blasted ‘Dance Wiv Me’ song was just released, that people thought was quite good, but actually, I intended the piece to be more of a ‘look, this song has rubbish lyrics, has a very basic musical arrangement, and a vocalist who sounds like his mouthwash of choice is Cilit Bang:, this is the ludicrousness of it for you, depicted HERE, in pictoral form’. He riles me, that bloke.



Dance Wiv Me

I also did a comic about Swine Flu that went down well, analysing how the media inflated it. So far we’ve had Birds, Horses and Pigs try to kill us all with their sniffles, what next, the majestic Pine Martin? Red tops should be banned. Most of the time, I draw just to relax from a world that does its best to irritate me.




Los Adveturas De Swine Flu

Share with us three of your favourite illustrations and the stories behind them.

The first one is a comic strip I did about two years ago. It featured a character whose name I shan’t repeat here, as he had the unfortunate affliction of having ladies genitalia for a face. He was devised in a pub after a night of drinking Cider, and the premise of it was that he’d turn up in all kinds of situations (most of them completely innocent), and make them worse. There was this one strip where these two fishermen are wondering why, after years of trawling the sea, fish stocks unexpectedly drop off. My character then comes bounding out of the sea on a penny farthing, pursued by King Triton, muscled and mer-man like (I coloured him the same as the Sub-Mariner’s people from Marvel comics) who was seeking vengeance on him for devouring his kingdom, stopping en route to tell the Fishermen to purchase the re-release of ‘The Little Mermaid’ on DVD because ‘he was Human coloured in that’. Artistically and in terms of writing, I don’t think I’d been on such good form. It’s a joy to behold, that strip.

The second one is a piece I call ‘The Observatory’, which I did as a piece of concept art for my webcomic. I deliberately kept a very limited colour palette for it to try and rein in my obsession for putting orange into everything. I also tried to thin my line quality and have the piece resemble and oil painting more than anything. I ended up making it this panorama of a cliff side at sunset, with the orange sky (yeah, I couldn’t resist) fading into a purple twilight, with an observatory overlooking the sea, at the top of a path flanked by flaming torches. I love pieces like that, landscapes that don’t need to say much to convey an idea. Stylistically it was influenced by Bill Tiller’s work on the third Monkey Island game, of which I’m a huge fan, and the artistic style of a web-comic artist named Sarah Ellerton, of Phoenix Requiem fame, who paints these beautiful landscapes into her comic pages. I was so, so ecstatic when I finished it, but I made the original too small. I’m doing a second larger version now which I’ll tweak and hang in my house somewhere.





The third piece is a bit of promo art I did for my web-comic. It wins this accolade of being my favourite because of how intensely personal the project is to me. The image is of one of my characters by a memorial in this harsh, almost apocalyptic landscape, holding his hat, silently crying in the torrential rain, while intense beams of energy shoot down from the sky from behind the clouds. This particular one really pushed things for me in terms of drawing and style, as it also reintroduced me to drawing in a slightly more detailed way than I’d grown accustomed to. It also means a lot to me because the pictures on the memorial are of my old characters, who’ve clearly been killed. Once the damn thing is ready, it’ll be a new chapter for me whilst looking back to my ‘old days’ of drawing and all the old characters of that era.




Tell me about some recent projects.

I’m currently working on my web-comic, which is a very cathartic process and one that’s been going on under several guises for about seven years. I’ve been a fan of web-comics for a long time and always wanted to do one of my own, it’s just a question of finding a story that captivates me and finding characters who work well together. It’s been influenced by love and loss, something I’ve had to deal with this year – my Grandmother passed away in May, so that kind of hurt and want of someone who’s passed on is a theme that’s being explored.

I’ve also tried to distil myself into it, so the main characters are parts of me given their own voices, and the product so far has been quite eye opening. Trying to curb my sense of humour’s been tricky. It’s dirty, to be brutally honest, and as a challenge to myself I’m trying to tone it down a bit. There’s also a side project from this that may serve as the prologue to it, which directly deals with death in a humorous way, and to which I’ve done a basic plot outline and character design for. Tough idea though, I’m seeing where it’ll go.

I’m also co-writing a screenplay with a friend. A modern ‘Are You Being Served?’, if you will, but with far more emphasis on the customers and the death of the high street. We may film parts of it, but failing that, I think it’d work as a comic. And I’m working on ideas for expanding a character of mine, who I’ve given a Facebook profile to, who’s been very well received.


Any tips for people thinking of learning to draw?

My cousins, who’re nine and eleven, love the Beano and Dandy, and that was all down to me insisting they got the annuals for their sixth birthdays onwards. As a result, they’ve seen what I can do, and my younger cousin particularly, has taken up an interest in drawing. He asked me for some pointers, to which I said ‘draw’. He was confused, but then I explained that there really isn’t any one way to draw. Just pick up the pen, and see what happens. I’ve told you this much, as you remember! I often quote the ten thousand hour principle, which basically says that no-one’s actually any good at anything; they only seem to be because they’ve spent ten thousand hours at it. It’s all about practice. I mean that’s all I’ve done, and it’s a continuous process. I can draw better. I mean, I don’t even hold a pen normally, but it’s never stopped me trying.

What irks me is this ‘I’m not very good’ mentality. My cousin thinks this, seemingly instilled in him from school where they’ve clearly shown these dazzling works of art and offered no encouragement to push themselves to try and have a go at the same level of magnificence themselves. And I told him that you should never compare yourself to anyone, just do what you do. Stick men can be pretty funky. Ignore what other people think. If you enjoy it, stick with it. If other people don’t like it, murder them. Well, not murder them, but tell them to shove off.




The Frustrated Artist

Describe your sense of humour and how you apply it to your work.

My humour is very off the wall. I love shows like Snuff Box, Futurama, The Inbetweeners, IT Crowd, The League of Gentlemen and the classic but often forgotten ‘Aaargh! It’s the Mr. Hell Show!’ featuring the legendary Bob Monkhouse. Unchecked, my humour is a little near the mark, but cheeky enough to make you roll your eyes laughing saying ‘oh God!’ For the longest time I held back on my humour, and what I thought was funny. As a result, the stories never really worked. I’m a bit of an eccentric, and I was always being told to try and channel that into my work, and I feel I only made progress with that after reading the ‘How to Make Web-comics’ book by Scott Kurtz, Kris Straub, Brag Guigar and Dave Kellett. I’d recommend it for any artist, it’s a very good book.

Most of my own characters are warped, perhaps lonely individuals, a telling depiction of their creator, maybe - and with that, I suppose their outlook is just as skewed, so I work my humour into them. I write for myself and that’s probably the best way to do it.




Borough Green's Most Wanted



‘UNdane’ is the concept that beauty, happiness and creativity can be found within the mundane. Using this definition, what does UNdane mean to you? What is your idea of the UNdane? Give me some examples of UNdane things that make you smile.

UNdane are the things in life that are always there that you almost always ignore, unless you close your eyes, take a deep breath, calm down and re-examine your surroundings. The churches you never look at. The alley ways you never go down. Seeing how people tick, for example. Sometimes, as people who I’m talking to are speaking to me, my mind sometimes wonders and I look at what makes them them. The hand flick every time they say ‘whatever’. The false laugh and involuntary eye wink of someone who didn’t understand the joke you just made; the licking of the lips as they’re about to insult you. I love seeing these quirks in people that only I notice because I like deconstructing people.

UNdane in nature, as well. The Robin that perches next to you as you’ve dug over a flowerbed. The annoyed Wasp that was sitting on the leaf until you came along and pulled the plant up. The Rabbit from next door wildly bounding about the garden because it’s never you’re your garden before. The seedling growing into a blooming plant, just because you gave it he attention it needed. To enjoy gardening especially if you’re in your early-twenties like me, UNdanity appreciation is VITAL.


What’s your favourite song at the moment?

‘We Tried’ by The Drums. A band I’ve warmed to after I came across them in a magazine I picked up. Very basic music without any chords, but what I like is the potential they have. Two or three albums in, they’re going to be blinding. A very pleasant song to have on in the background when drawing a cartoon character trying on a tutu.

Thanks Sheldon :)

Hey Shelly

See more from Sheldon here.
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Stephanie Sadler.

Stephanie Sadler is a 26 year old New Yorker who fulfilled her dream of moving to London in 2007. She is a writer, journalist and photographer who has her photographs regularly featured on The Londonist and she keeps a blog all about life in London. She appreciates the little things, loves street art and international cuisine, and wants to travel the world.

What inspires you to take photographs and what do you love about doing it?

An endless curiosity about this fascinating, beautiful, dirty, eccentric city and the diversity of people who come from around the world to make it their home is what inspires me most. I want to capture the London I see somehow and photography is one of the most fulfilling ways I know how. I love taking photographs because they freeze a split second of a moment that will never happen again. It’s rarely a perfect truth, but it’s being able to look back at the beauty in the little things and smile later that I love about it. Also, it’s a great excuse to wander and explore.

Tell me a bit about three of your favourite photographs.

It changes quite often and I like different photos for different reasons, but here’s a few of my faves:
Eleven and a Half

This was taken on Fournier Street in the East End. It’s just a door and a window, but there’s a certain sense of a story in it and I love that the house number is Eleven and A Half. Also, it’s my favourite colour blue.

Brick Lane

I shot this on Brick Lane. It was almost an accident, but it captures a little moment of intimacy and tenderness in two people with otherwise tough outward appearances.

Artist and his Canvas Wall

This one was taken just last weekend on Leake Street. This artist was hard at work. I asked if I could take his photo. He grinned at me and said, “Sure, but I’m gonna put my hood up first!”

A running theme in both your writing and photography is finding the connection between people and different cultures. Tell us a little about that.

I’ve always believed that if we all made an effort to understand each other and have a bit of curiosity and empathy, the world would be a much more peaceful place. There are a million ways to approach this life and we only get one shot. I find it incredible to see how much people around the world differ in their traditions, beliefs, fashion, art and lifestyles in general yet how similar we are in so many basic ways as well. Seeing people from every country interact in a city environment like London is an incredible experience and I have learned so much from sharing life with such a diverse group of friends. It’s something I want to document and share.

Stephanie Sadler.

Your web site tells us that you live for the little things in life. What are some little things you’ve encountered this week that have made you smile?

An elderly couple sitting in Holland Park in the early morning sneaking a kiss, their canes leaning on the park bench; finding out that there’s a street called “Horse and Dolphin Yard” in the middle of Chinatown; my friend surprising me with a traditional felt bag from Mongolia; a little black cat playfully pawing at a dangling spider on my walk to work; I saw a man who is hunched over in his wheelchair on South Bank who plays amazing music on a keyboard – with his toes.

You wander London taking pictures of the things you come across. Do you have a favourite London place to shoot?

I’m always drawn back to the colourful East End atmosphere around Brick Lane, Shoreditch, Bethnal Green, Old Street, Hackney. Finding a new piece of street art can make my day. I love Blackall Street for this reason. I love the down and dirty places in London because they always feel vibrant and alive. I also love taking my camera to the markets – Portobello, Camden, Borough – and down to South Bank and Leake Street, or just get on a bus and get off somewhere I’ve never been before. Another great place is the cemeteries, especially Kensal Green and Brompton.

Borough Market 10

Borough Market by Stephanie Sadler

Creature on Blackall Street

Blackall Street by Stephanie Sadler

Something you’re very interested in is setting up projects that bring together people from all over the globe in sharing a common creative goal. Tell me about one of these projects, and what you achieved with it.

One of the most recent was called Photo Scavengers (which I recently passed on to someone else to run). I set a list of 20 key words and people from all over the world would go out and take a photo for each word – their personal interpretation.

At the end of the month, all of the photos would be compiled into diary entries and linked to one page on the main site. It was fascinating to see how many ways there are to interpret a word in a photograph and it produced some incredible work that made the participants think about things from a slightly different angle. It also encouraged everyone to get out there and think creatively which is always rewarding. I just started a very scaled down version of the same idea on my blog – one theme a month, best photos from the Flickr pool posted.

The theme for August is “drinking tea” if you care to join in.


You run popular London themed blog Little London Observationist. What’s it all about and why should we all immediately visit it?

It’s colourful and full of photos. There are fun and vibrant bite-sized entries to devour during the weekdays. I post every day. On weekends, I run two projects: Saturdays I post a Q&A with a Londoner where you can pick up some great ideas from the locals on where to eat, drink, shop and explore; every Sunday there’s an interview with a London-based artist – from tattoo artists to photographers to graffiti artists – to show off some of the city’s brightest talent. Little London Observationist has a focus on the little things and on the people who inhabit London. You should visit it immediately because it rocks and, if you love London, you won’t regret it. (If you regret it, I owe you a cup of tea…)



You moved to London in 2007 from New York State. What are some of the little things you miss most about home?

Besides spending time with friends and family, I miss the fantastic fire of Autumn leaves, cheesy Goldfish crackers, friendly neighbours who acknowledge your existence, peace and quiet, loads of snow at Christmas, my big front porch and hammock on the back balcony, basements, Buffalo Sabres hockey games.

...And some of the little things you love about London?

A perfect hand-warming cup of tea on a rainy day; the impossibility of getting lost as long as you can find the nearest bus or tube; hearing six different languages being spoken all around you at the same time; being able to buy groceries from all over the world in local corner shops; the irony of people walking around with “I love London” brollies when it rains because usually the weather is something complained about; mainly, little things like buskers who encourage a free smile, graffiti popping up on canvas walls and that “London feeling” that I’m sure you know if you live here.

I Love London Rain 2

'I Love London 2' by Stephanie Sadler

If London was being knocked down in its entirety to make way for a giant shopping centre, which 3 parts of the city would you save?

That would be incredibly depressing. I suppose Oxford Circus can go then. I would save South Bank because walking along there slowly on a warm night was when I really fell in love with this city; the area around Brick Lane because it’s so vibrant, multicultural, full of personality and sitting on the kerb with a tin of Sri Lankan curry and people watching is one of my favourite things to do; and I think I would save Hyde Park because I have wonderful memories of kissing under willow trees in a rainstorm and feeding the ducks by the Serpentine.

‘UNdane’ is the concept that beauty, happiness and creativity can be found within the mundane, the little things in life – you embody this in your photography and the projects you put together. Using this definition, what does UNdane mean to you? What is your idea of the UNdane? Give me some examples of UNdane things that make you smile.

I think UNdane is the little things you don’t notice in everyday life unless you are consciously observing. There’s beauty all over the place – in the patterns made by bark on trees, in light seeping through a fence in the evening, in droplets of water clinging to windowpanes, in the fog settled over an empty car park soaking in the early morning sun. There’s a little baby bird that lives in my back garden. We call him Pepe. He’s so tame, he will eat off the table in front of you if you give him a piece of cake. He likes to have his photo taken. He makes me smile.

What’s your favourite song at the moment?

I’m in the mood for something completely different every day. Today, I’m enjoying one of my old faves: “The Scientist’s Canvas” by Stage.

You + Your Character

You + Your Character by Stephanie Sadler

Have a look at more of Steph's photographs at her Flickr page

Visit the Little London Observationist here



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This week, meditation guru Sarah Jarrett helps us chill out with some talk of using the little things in life to help you quiet your mind, and what happens when you learn to relax.

Sarah is 26 years old and lives in London, United Kingdom. She works for an Insurance Company as a Claims Validator. She has been practicing meditation for 4 years. She enjoys film, music, psychology and helicopters.


Wifey Thinks

When and how did you first discover meditation?

I first discovered meditation 4 years ago when I was working in a London theatre. One of the girls I was working with practiced a form of meditation called Sahaja Yoga. The technique is called ‘Self Realisation’. She taught it to me when we were all bored one day and I was going through quite a stressful time.

More

I practiced this technique for a while but then I looked into other practices that were more suited to me. However, Sahaja Yoga is very good at using positive affirmations to boost your confidence in yourself.

Where do you draw calming inspiration from?

Nature in its purest form. Ideally anything with wide open spaces and fresh air – on a beach or on a hill surrounded by countryside for miles around. It’s often beneficial when meditating to visualise something that calms you as it can help relax and focus your mind.

It’s so easy to get lost in public transport, work, stress and money, that when it comes down to it, the very basic things in life that can help us feel better are all around us. If I get bored or stressed at work, I just look out the window or go for a long walk at lunch; at least it’s something that can help chill me out!


How do you typically fit meditation into your daily routine?

I usually meditate at night before I go to bed. I find it helps me quieten my mind after a hard day at work and settles me down for bed. I sleep very well if I have meditated an hour or so before sleeping. However I sometimes meditate twice a day by taking a few minutes before work to focus my mind for the day ahead.

Describe for us a couple of your favourite techniques.

I like to practice simple meditations. There are lots of different techniques of meditative practice out there, so it’s always best to play around and find one that best suits you and your pace of life.

Simple Meditations

Chakra Meditation

What is your ideal meditation environment?

I prefer meditating somewhere quiet, warm and private so I won’t be disturbed. Ideally in my room on the middle of my bed, as it’s comfy and I feel safe there. I sometimes meditate outside, but I do find that challenging as I tend to get distracted, or someone walks by, regardless of how remote the area is that I have chosen!

Do you listen to music as you meditate?

I listen to some tracks from the Simply Meditation collection. It has 4 CDs - each one with a set of tracks from a different genre. My favourite CD in the collection is Eastern Sounds , as the tunes are very melodic, slow and I find I can go quite deep into my meditative practice listening to them. Music really helps to relax you, but you need to choose suitable music, preferably something that won’t distract you. Go in to your nearest New Age shop and you’ll find a really good range of them there.

Do you have advice for anyone who is interested in trying meditation for the first time?

Do not think that you have to be religious or spiritual in any way to enjoy practicing meditation or exploring the kinds that are around. The basic foundations of meditation are remaining still, breathing deeply and calming your mind. In essence you are taking some time out to be by yourself.

For me personally, I see the benefits of it from a more psychological and physical perspective. When I meditate, my breath rate lowers, my blood pressure lowers, my muscles relax and my mind stops chattering. I feel calm and at peace and a lot happier. I find my mood is far more positive after meditating as there are no negative thoughts eating away at me. For others, a practice of meditation can help deepen their faith. Some people can see or feel wonderful things when meditating, so whatever your reasons for doing it, it is still a nice thing to try.

Try and meditate when you’re not really hungry (you’ll find that your stomach rumbling can distract you, or if you are really full (you’ll feel sleepy). Try and aim for around 5-10 minute meditations when you first start, it can be quite a challenge to keep the mind still and quiet.

And don’t take yourself so seriously. If you forget to meditate one day, don’t worry, just try and do it another time. And don’t worry if you can’t keep your mind from chattering, everyone’s brain gets restless. Meditation is a skill, to sit still and not think of anything and being aware that your are still and your mind is quite is very challenging but once you crack it, the benefits are really lush ;).


I’m feeling stressed but it’s nowhere near the end of the day. Give me some quick and effective tips for calming down.

This sounds really cheesy but it works – take deep breaths. Deep rhythmical breathing starts a good meditation anyway, so consciously stopping and taking some deep breaths helps. Breathe slowly and deeply through your nose; really focus on the sensation of the air flowing in through your nose. Notice that it feels cool and when you exhale through your nose, notice that it feels warm. Observe the feeling of the breath flowing into your lungs and stomach, making your stomach expand and chest rise, and when you breathe out, your chest lowers and stomach relaxes. Aim for 10 breathes – seriously, you’ll feel chilled afterwards.

‘UNdane’ is the concept that beauty, happiness and creativity can be found within the mundane, the little things in life. Using this definition, what does UNdane mean to you? What is your idea of the UNdane? Give me some examples of UNdane things that make you smile.

UNdane to me means seeing and appreciating the little things in life, however big or small or how unlikely. And that when you can, try and seek these out, for it can change your perspective on things.

For me it’s searching out a really funny laugh in a big crowd of people during the working week. Looking on a train full of miserable people and finding the person who is moving their head or tapping their foot to the music on their iPod, or smiling to themselves whilst thinking of something. It’s couples on the platform before work sleepily propping each other up. Its men who can’t help but look at pretty women walk by and forget where they are walking. Its people who work for charities asking for money on the street, surrounded by people who ignore them and then seeing the one person stepping forward with some change and get a sticker put on their chest. It’s the smell of your washing when you’re hanging it up to dry. It’s getting the giggles when you really shouldn’t.

It’s saying rude words at really quiet times.
It’s when children say or ask really inappropriate things on busy journeys that really shouldn’t be laughed about but that make you laugh to yourself. It’s even funnier if the parents laugh whilst trying to keep a straight face. It’s when typing up reports at work the little Microsoft Office Assistant paperclip pops on the screen and offers me help, it’s the way that Google change their icon every now and then to celebrate a certain day and how you click on the icon to find out what that day means, it’s getting silly at work and breaking the mould and no one else around you understands. It’s seeing an airplane in the sky and wondering where it’s been and where it’s going.

It’s looking between the concrete buildings and litter and crowding to see allotments, gardens, trees and flowers that still survive. It’s looking out over a city at night time and seeing the twinkly lights…
There are lots and lots of things – you just have to find them.


What’s your favourite song at the moment?

Human Nature – Michael Jackson.

Thank you Sarah!




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Darren Maskell is a 24 year old Stand Up Comedian living in Croydon, South London. He takes his abstract style all over the UK in the form of a bizarre set of comedy props and an even more bizarre (but wonderful) set of musings on life, the universe and everything. Mainly everything you wouldn’t immediately expect. He deals in talking about the little things – the big things are unimportant (it’s not about your career or your mortgage, it’s about Shergar. Yes it is.).


Darren is a unique comedy act who describes himself as ‘almost gaining the respect of the whole of a county’ after being runner up at the Reading New Act of the Year 2009 awards. He’s also ‘achieved the acclaim of half a county’ by winning the North Essex New Comedian of the Year 2009. He’s only been on the UK comedy circuit a short time but he’s clearly destined for much bigger things. Today he talks UNdane with us and shows why he’s the perfect person to kick off this series of The UNdane Interview...



Describe your style of comedy for me using only a haiku.

Fat man on a stage
childhood innocence he has
With props of wonder


You use a lot of strange and often absurd props on stage. Do you have a favourite?

I've been doing a bit with hangers. I really like that routine. We all have to deal with hangers at some point in our lives.

What has been your favourite heckle and how did you respond to it?

Ha! Hecklers. I was heckled with some fat comments once and I responded with ‘if you really want to heckle, be constructive. How about "hey, switch to wholegrain pasta and rice, its less calories and it fills you up quicker."' I liked that because its true and you cant really come back to that can you? That is the most witty I've ever been on the spot. I usually just crumble.

Who or what inspires you and your comedy?

Myself. I'm a complex man and I have to deal with myself and the way I think everyday. I think the biggest mistake people make is to try and look at comedy through other people's eyes. People are more interested in your own unique perception of comedy. It’s the best I can offer them anyway.

You hail from sunny Croydon. Tell me a fun fact about Croydon.

I think you can only truly experience the greatness of Croydon by subscribing to the magazine SPAN. Which is the Spring Park Association Newsletter. It always has great letters about cat kidnappings, bins overflowing, pavements with cracks in them and suspicious vans.

Tell me a bit about your tattoos.

I have 3. One is a forest spirit from the film Princess Mononoke. The next one is the Jurassic Park Logo and the other is the Daz automatic washing detergent logo. When Jurassic park came out in 1993, I was 7 years old. I was that films target demographic. All of the movie magic, the lunchboxes, the press hype, the McDonalds toys, they were all blasted in the face of a little chubby boy in Croydon and he was in awe. I really liked history as a child as well and loved going to the Horniman museum. The walrus is legendary. The Daz tattoo is because my nickname is Daz, but also I think the logo is very representative of British 90’s culture, if anyone remembers the Daz doorstep challenge.


You’re off up to Edinburgh for the Fringe next month. What festival essentials will you be taking with you?

The right attitude. Im a big comedy fan, and I just want to have as much fun with my comedy as possible.

In Edinburgh, you’re doing a show with comedian Hatty Ashdown called Ashdown and Maskell’s Trade Show. What’s it all about?

Hatty and myself share the same fondness for the tat that British homes collect. In the show we both talk about our upbringing and tat weve found. We've also brought along some of it. If people bring their own tat to the show, we invite them to trade their tat for our tat. However, they have got to convince us why their tat is so valuable.


You write a blog in which you often talk about the mundanities of life. Tell me a story about something that happened to you this week.

I had my ears syringed at the doctors because my ears were filled with wax. For the past week or so, the world has been muffled. It has been nice, as I've just kept to myself and got on with my own little routine. The nurse gave me a prescription for some ear drops and I thought to myself, ‘right, I'm a grown up now. Going in chemists and picking up prescriptions. Like responsible people.

Who is your favourite surrealist comedian?

I like Reeves and Mortimer, Python, Harry Hill, Brian Gittins. I'm a little confused as to what surreal comedy is to be honest. Is Caroline Mabey Surreal? I like her. I think Sean Lock can be quite Surreal.

‘UNdane’ is the concept that beauty, happiness and creativity can be found within the mundane – you embody this on stage by finding comedy in the little, seemingly unimportant or absurd things in life. Using this definition, what does UNdane mean to you? What is your idea of the UNdane? Give me some examples of UNdane things that make you smile.

I think my comedy is very much in the spirit of UNdane. I think the idea of the UNdane is so captivating for people as it focuses on the imperfections, and as human beings we are imperfect. We don’t want to hear stories about how great life is. We all hate our lives, or at least some aspect of it, and we want to hear how others hate theirs. On the London Underground escalators there's a black brushy bit. I always brush my shoes against it, pretending that it is giving me a little shoe shine and it always makes me smile that I've given the escalator an extra purpose.

What’s your favourite song at the moment?

I am totally out of the loop with music. I used to be very much about finding new bands and going to gigs. Let me have a look at my iTunes……It says the most played is Kenny Rodgers ‘She Believes In Me’, Scout Niblett ‘Wide Shoulders’ and Black Eyes ‘Deformative’. I am clearly lying about the last two.

Give me a must-see tip for the Edinburgh fringe (aside from you of course!)

Kitson and Lee of course. Two Episodes of Mash. James Acaster, Nick Helm, Ben Target, Daniel Smith, Caroline Mabey, Paul Foot, Alexis Dubus, Richard Herring.

Darren Maskell is at the Edinburgh Fringe Festival all this month. You can catch him at Ashdown and Maskell's Trade Show for the Laughing Horse Free Fringe at Espionage every day at 2pm (except 23 Aug) and with Alistair Greaves and Laurence Tuck (now in 3D!) at the 3 Sisters every day at 5.10pm.

The UNdane interview will be a weekly interview with people out there who embody the spirit of the UNdane - who follow pursuits in their spare time that make a creative and interesting difference to people's lives, however small.