INTERVIEW WITH XOXO DESIGNS BY RUTH
BY DEVON HARVEY
What inspired you to create xoxo designs?
I started Xoxo Designs in 2013 after my Mum successful fought Ovarian Cancer and I wanted to say thanks to Maggie’s Centres who were such a huge help to my mum and our family. I donated 50% from my Christmas cards to Maggie’s and raised £400. Every Christmas since, I have raised money for Maggie’s Centres.
What is your favourite product to create, your prints, cards, pins, patches or stationery?
It’s got to be cards. What it started it all and will always be my favourite. I see them as mini art prints and design them with the thought in my mind that people will keep them, and people have even said they have framed them which I just love!
Where do you get your inspiration for your new designs?
Inspiration comes from everywhere, literally! I get a lot of inspo from Instagram, when I’m out and about on the many walks we’ve all done the last year and my most recent bit off inspo came from a front cover of a book! I suddenly saw it walking past and thought ohh that could be a card, and it made it!
We read that you started your Etsy Shop in 2012, how has your business grown over the last 9 years?
I have always been creative and always made cards for friends and family so after graduating from Duncan of Jordanstone I started my business while working full time and over the course of five years, slowly lowered my hours at my day job before I took the leap to full time self-employed. It was scary and I don’t think I felt ready to do it, but due to my mental health I knew it was time to leave my day job and put all my effort into my business. Since leaving my day job in 2019, my business has grown so much, and it continues to every year which just blows my mind!
Finally, sustainability is something spoken about on your site, would you mind expanding on how sustainability fits into your business?
Sustainability is a hot topic and I believe while running a small business I need to work hard to create products that the customer happy and make the environment happy. The environment is so important to all of us and my aim is to work in a sustainable manner and design and make my products in a sustainable way. There is always work to do to help the environment and my business is anything but perfect, but I try really hard to reuse whatever I can and find the best way to be sustainable.
CATERPILLAR AND BUTTERFLY
BY MOHAMMED OMER SHABBIR
The meaning of transformation is kept hidden.
Only noticed by those selected few in the world.
A rare gift that eludes most living beings.
The adaptation deserves special recognition.
One is seen and admired, as the end result is spectacular.
Still the journey to this spectacle is far more demanding.
The trials to overcome real barriers, causing harm.
The dangerous obstacles justify the amazement.
The humble beginning amongst the green leaves.
A landscape enriched with elemental reserves.
Providing vitality to develop and complete the journey.
The primary focus is to reinforce and build energy.
Vast growth allows ease of the next stage.
The chrysalis is devised for evolving safely.
Hidden and protected robustly, with moderation.
The advancement for perfect metamorphosis.
Conclusively ready for emerging into the world.
The final form is breath-taking, absolute awe.
The exhausting trials ended, well adjusted for flight.
The cycle of life searches to persist and reinstate.
Juani Bengali is my nickname and how my friends call me. My forename is Ana, I’m from Spain and I’ve been living in London for two and a half years. I’m currently working full-time as an architect but I’m expecting to move into the visual communication world soon.
I love the ability of illustration to arise different feelings and emotional reactions in people. I believe in its strength to convey concepts effectively and raise contemporary concerns.
Some of my sources of inspiration to develop my projects are based on ideas related to human relations, social claims, nature, or Japanese culture.
ENTERTAINMENT SNIPPET: 5 FILMS & SHOWS TO WATCH IN JUNE
BY HARRY MEMBREY
It’s official - cinemas are back open. You can now go out and enjoy award-winning movies like Nomadland or Judas and the Black Messiah from both the comfort of your own home and even the comfort of a premier seat in the local picture house. What fantastic times we live in, where we’ve all learned to appreciate such simple things in life.
Now that the hospitality sector has fully opened back up (for now) we can enjoy plentiful amounts of new movies and shows on an epic scale at your nearest IMAX screen or just the nearest screen to your bed. For all its many faults, lockdown has at least unlocked a few new ways to enjoy life.
So, without flogging the dead horse that is “wow, look at how amazing coming out of lockdown is” any further, here’s 5 shows and movies to enjoy in June from whatever location you fancy.
A QUIET PLACE: PART II - 28TH MAY - CINEMAS
If you’re looking for a reason to get straight back to the cinemas, then there’s little reason to look any further than this. The first casualty of 2020’s pandemic, A Quiet Place Part II had its world premiere in March last year, but I wouldn’t say that’ll stop this film from doing well at the box office following an extra year of anticipation.
The original movie about a world ravaged by hypersonic aliens was a hit, grossing over $340 million worldwide. Sure, there’s a lot to live up to, but it could easily be a worthy successor having added the likes of Peaky Blinders’ Cillian Murphy to the cast along with returning cast members Emily Blunt and actor-director John Krasinski.
It certainly looks like fun, and easily has the potential to build upon the weight and emotional depth supplied in the first movie. Let’s hope Paramount doesn't just try making the whole ‘silence-thing’ gimmick into a predictable cash cow.
LOKI - JUNE 9TH - DISNEY+
Disney’s first two MCU shows have essentially just been high-concept facades, celebrating a better time with a better cast of caped crusaders. They also suffer from typical TV writing tropes that we’ve all seen far too often over the last decade or so. For instance, not giving the ending the proper execution that it maybe deserves (*cough* Game of Thrones *cough*). They’ve looked cool - but provided little else.
So why should you watch Loki? Because Tom Hiddlestone is by far one of the MCU’s more compelling characters as Loki, God of Mischief - a person with a seriously grey sense of morality. He’s joined by Owen Wilson, the leader of what appears to be a Good Place-esque world with Loki imprisoned in a completely unfamiliar dimension.
It could easily be just another show with a promising concept that only pretends to have any real depth. But maybe, just maybe, it will. Or at the very least it could recapture that golden age of Avengers escapism.
THE FATHER - 11TH JUNE - CINEMAS
The Father stars two icons of British film & TV. Olivia Coleman, Sophie in Peep Show turned Oscar Winner and Silence of the Lambs’ Anthony Hopkins, who won the award for Best Actor within this very picture.
It’s a drama co-written and directed by playwright Florian Zeller, based on his 2012 play Le Père. The film has been lauded for its unyielding portrayal of dementia, the story of a mischievous 80-year-old man living defiantly alone and rejecting the carers that his daughter insists upon.
If you’re wanting to go to the cinema and get completely immersed into a heart-breaking and uncompromising tale that could nestle itself into your very consciousness, then this may very well be that. It promises sadness, but it also promises a sense of sincerity.
RICK & MORTY - JUNE - E4/ALL4
On the opposite spectrum to Loki (and The Father) we have Rick & Morty, a Sci-fi comedy series that pretends to have absolutely no sense of depth or thought put into it, but is actually one of the best written shows around.
In June we’ll be treated to the fifth season of Dan Harmon’s subversive, hilarious, mind-bending and altogether out of this world show that rarely misses a beat. For those that don’t know, Rick & Morty is an animated series about the adventures of Rick, a genius alcoholic and careless scientist, with his grandson Morty, an anxious 14-year-old who’s not a genius.
It’s well worth binging the whole show on Netflix prior to the series’ air on E4/All4 in June, even just to refresh your memory. The latest season started to show a few minor cracks in the show’s flawless wallpaper, but here’s hoping that it returns in style.
THE HITMAN’S WIFE’S BODYGUARD - 21ST JUNE - CINEMAS
To round out the month we have the sequel to 2017’s The Hitman’s Bodyguard. It was an easy-watching cinematic experience in 2017 that joyfully partnered Ryan Reynolds’ unique style of charisma with Samuel L. Jackson’s iconic no-holds-barred hilarity.
The pitch is simple, Ryan Reynolds is the bodyguard to Samuel L. Jackson’s hitman, and they go on a big road trip together that finds them in a multitude of sticky situations. It was a good laugh that’s still worth watching if you haven’t already.
The sequel brings Salma Hayek into the mix as the titular character - Samuel L. Jackson’s wife. The bodyguard comes out of retirement (of course) to continue his friendship with Samuel L. Jackson’s hitman as they try to save her from international terrorists.
It doesn’t look particularly taxing and, like the first movie, won’t feature amongst any of the very best you’ve ever seen. But you’ll probably laugh and that’s what you need in mid-June.
MISH MISH STUDIO
My name is May and I am the maker behind Mish Mish Studio. Based in my South East London home studio, and specialising in the eco-friendly material Jesmonite, I produce Scandi / Nordic-inspired handmade homeware using sustainable materials and processes. Having launched only in January this year (thank you lockdown 2.0), my business is still a baby, and I am currently very much experimenting and learning as I go along. Saying that, I am thrilled with how it has grown so far, and have received a number of commissions and stock requests from independent local shops. I have also met a community of amazing like-minded designers both online and locally which has been invaluable. I am passionate about design, and when not pottering around in my studio corner, I work full-time in business development at Zaha Hadid Architects which offers me a constant stream of inspiration.
I began experimenting in homeware design at the start of the UK's first Covid19 lockdown in 2020. Initially drawn to the minimalist look of concrete, I discovered Jesmonite when researching eco-friendly alternatives. Sustainability is very important to me, and from what I have discovered, Jesmonite is a new trendy material that architects / designers are moving towards using in order to be more environmentally conscious and meet new sustainability targets. I love the versatility of the material, as well as its smooth, stone-like finish, which is often compared to ceramics. I have been experimenting with mixing different things into Jesmonite, including stones, sand and recycled mussel shells. I love terrazzo, as well as monochrome finishes, which I've used for many pieces of my work.
BY PASTEL BLACK
The clouds darken
They threaten rain
The lightning crackles
I am not afraid
I know it will not hit me
Even if it did it wouldn’t hurt me
I am already lightning
My hairs stand
As the rain falls
Hurtling towards the Earth
The static builds around me
The thunder claps
My skin crackles
Heedayah Lockman is a Glasgow-based freelance illustrator and graphic designer, with an architectural background. Inspired by still life and food, she enjoys exploring colour and different techniques by using grids and patterns that contrast the shapes of everyday objects.
It's 3AM and this high-pitched ringing was enough motivation for me to exercise my Bruce Lee skills, wafting my hands, thinking I could swat him/her/it out of the air. I thought I could ignore it and go back to sleep, but this damn Mosquito was very persistent and insisted on his fly by. Annoyed that I was rudely interrupted, I began sifting through my mind for solutions. At the forefront was the mini fan I had adored so much last summer. Small but mighty, this fan was enough to blow the little 'quitos away yet the time I believed that I needed it the most it was nowhere to be seen. Only an image amongst thoughts.
So I began searching, turning on my torch, knowing that in doing so I'm probably going to be wide awake for a few hours. I couldn't let the little 'quito win. I searched high and low, sometimes fast, sometimes slow but to no avail.
I was still fanless.
But wait... there's a fan downstairs, a big one though and I'm currently sleeping in a box room (I’m a shorty; I can stretch my arms out and I'm millimetres away from touching the wall) so it's going to be a mission to get it in the room let alone be quiet about it. 10 minutes later though I can proudly say those CCF days at Christ's hospital definitely came in handy because I was like a ninja. Shout out to the CCF Mandem.
So, I'm in the room now, ecstatic that I can finally get some sleep. I turn on the fan... pause....and a couple clanks later that ecstasy quickly turns into a sunken heart and a dizzying doubt.
One solution found, but I needed a solution more.
The house is asleep, yet Rashaine is wide awake and figuring out how to fix the clanking without waking everyone up. Just a quick brief of what's going through my head at this moment:
“1. I'm tired AF
2. I really thought I won the war, but it turned out to be a battle.
3. Not only do I have to figure out how to fix this fan, but I have to do it silently.
4. If I find that mosquito again it's CATCHING these hands"
Ultimately though, and not too long after if I must say, solution number 2 came to the rescue. It turns out @IKEA self-assembly kits really do work out because I had no problem attempting to take this MF apart to get what I wanted.
No more clanking, it's 6:30 and I'm now here sharing my story with you.
Props to all who made it this far because it's a pretty long story. Big up Unuh selffff!
My name is Rashaine and these are my AM Lessons:
Don't let size fool you, I'm sure all of you know a feisty little person (mine happened to be a mosquito this morning)
Flailing in the dark (literally and metaphorically) simply uses up your energy.
It's difficult to catch what you can't see (never impossible though).
Secondary school, and the activities that come with it, aren't as useless as you'd think. They come in handy when you least expect it.
Life is a series of battles, come prepared for each and every one and you'll be triumphant!
Sometimes you have to break things down to build them back up (big up @IKEA for this one)
‘Tiredness can actually lead to efficiency’ - @adamgrant
Every problem NEEDS a solution, it's a symbiotic relationship.
Use your adversities to get creative and make yourself laugh.
I hope this helps. Holla at your boy!
BY KATHY BALDOCK
A GOOD GIRLS GUIDE TO MURDER BY HOLLY JACKSON
May 28, 2021
The case is closed. Five years ago, schoolgirl Andie Bell was murdered by Sal Singh. The police know he did it. Everyone in town knows he did it.
But having grown up in the same small town that was consumed by the murder, Pippa Fitz-Amobi isn't so sure. When she chooses the case as the topic for her final year project, she starts to uncover secrets that someone in town desperately wants to stay hidden. And if the real killer is still out there, how far will they go to keep Pip from the truth?
This is a debut novel by Holly Jackson and what a novel it is. Yes, this is a YA thriller, but you can be any age to read this novel and I highly suggest you do weather you are 13 or 113!
Soon after Andie went missing Sal, Andie’s boyfriend killed himself and confessed to her murder. However, Andie’s body wasn’t ever found. The press and the town convicted Sal leaving his family the town pariahs. In order to understand is Sal is really guilty Pip uses her intelligence to explore angles and leads that the local police force missed or didn’t investigate.
“But sometimes remembering isn’t for yourself, sometimes you do it just to make someone else smile.”
This novel leads you down so many twists and turns you as a reader feel like you are investigating alongside Pip, this feeling is aided by the way the evidence/ Leads are summed up at the end of the chapters in the beginning summarising what you have learnt which helps keep track in trying to guess how the novel will end. You feel everything Pip feels in the novel and some tough decisions she has to make especially those when the danger she faces is very real.
This is my first Holly Jackson book, but it won’t be the last. If you are looking for something that is utterly addictive and makes you want to pick it up and read it at every single spare moment you have pick this up and give it ago. I am very much looking forward to this series continuing.
Hi! I’m Molly, and I’m the creator of @moonwavey. My illustrations are typically inspired by nature and the outdoors and I really enjoy exploring different mediums and methods of creating my work to make it quintessentially moonwavey! The dream is to go on to illustrating children’s books alongside running my small business.