The Beautiful Artwork of Koichi Murai

I am incredibly fortunate to be friends with Koichi Murai, a master of the art of Japanese Calligraphy and ink artwork.  He is a soft-spoken, humble young man with an immense talent and unique style.  He is living back in Japan after being in the UK for some time, and has been working tirelessly as a volunteer clearing up the most damaged parts of the country following the Tsunami/Earthquake.  As a master of calligraphy, he creates stunning ink on ricepaper works, using traditional techniques and tools.  He also uses these traditional crafts to create incredible works of art, many themed around Samurai and Bushido, but he can turn his hand to anything.

I wanted to introduce you to Koichi-san and some examples of his unique artwork and recommend him to you if you are looking for something personal and beautiful.  His artworks are bespoke and incredibly well priced, and make great gifts for yourself or some very lucky friends and family.

Here’s a gallery of some of his works, and if you’d like to learn more about getting one of these pics or something unique, please drop me a line and I’ll be happy to put you in touch with him.  You can also join his facebook page by CLICKING HERE

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Somewhere Between Fact & Fiction You Will Find…FICTS! #4

Day 4…and therefore it is time for FICT #4:

(c) Neil Gardner & Robert Rankin (2009)

(c) Neil Gardner & Robert Rankin (2009)

Blog Cover 2

In my time as a radio presenter and producer I have written many short-form comedy items, but the one that was the most popular by far, and kept popping back at every station and on every show I worked on was something called ‘101 Interesting But Blatantly Untrue Facts’.  Over the years I have thought about trying to get these surreal and ridiculous little non-facts published as one of those little books you see by the tills in bookstores.  And then in early 2008 a publisher friend suggested I add illustrations to the book, to make it more appealing.  Who did I know who was an ace illustrator?  Who other than best-selling author of far fetched fiction Robert Rankin!  I sent the full list of 200+ non-facts to Robert and asked if he would illustrate a few IF he found the idea funny enough.  Well, he did, and so far he has produced 20 sample illustrations, all of which are, frankly, superb.

Blog Cover 1_5I have put together a sample book and have been taking it around various publishers and agents for the past 6 months.  I am also trying to get the now retitled FICTS (part fact part fiction…Robert’s very good idea) into a national newspaper as a weekly cartoon.  Whatever happens, I thought you might enjoy seeing a few of them here first.

So, every weekday, for the next 4 weeks, there will be a DAILY FICT for you to feast your eyes upon!  If you enjoy them, PLEASE PLEASE PLEASE recommend this blog to friends and family, mention it on Twitter and Facebook, and if you know anyone who might be interested in publishing the book or use FICTS in a magazine, do send them our way.

Do please leave comments and feedback, links to other interesting blogs, and do also please vote on whether you like the FICTS or not using the 5-star ratings at the top of the page!

An Inky Issue

Such Inky Goodness

Such Inky Goodness

So what is it with the packaging of printer ink cartridges?  I just bought a couple of replacement HP21 black ink carts, got them home, and then spent a good 5 minutes fighting the bastard things to get them open.  It is bad enough that HP wrap the buggers in several layers of cardboard, which have a tendency to catch that little flap of skin at the base of your thumbnail when you try to open them using the ‘easy-to-open’ serated endings…but then they, or the retail stores, encase the whole shebang in heavy duty plastic sheathing, a la Han in carbonite.  This isn’t mere shrink wrapping, it is full on plasticised WAR!

First off, there is no way in to this thing.  No easy-tear strip, no clever little widget stub things that interlock and keep the beast closed.  Nope.  This casing is heat-sealed all the way round, I presume using some super-secret military grade laser!  You can’t tear it.  You can’t break it.  You can barely dent it.  I am thinking that this is the same plastic that those toy babies that are the only survivors of plane crashes are made out of.  It is surely the stuff the future robot warriors that will annihilate us as a species will be made from (in a gratuitous act of genocidal irony!)

So, how to get to the lovely inky goodness within?

Kids, make sure you have a responsible adult to help you with this – although, thinking about it, it will probably be quicker with an irresponsible adult to help!  I tried the kitchen scissors, which weren’t up to the job.  I tried the kitchen carving knife, which worked but came dangerously close to cutting my hand off in the process!  Luckily, as a suicide-waiting-to-happen (or maybe just an audio editor), I have a stash of single edged razor blades.  And so, with trusty blade in hand, I eventually uncorked my fluffy gooey HP ink.

So what’s the deal with all this plastic wrapping?  As a fairly well educated man, I can guess that it serves as a deterant to the idle shoplifter.  By hiring the Ugnaughts of Cloud City to encase each and every HP ink cart in carbonite, the retailers think shoplifters will take one look and go, “I aint hiring no Galactic bounty hunter just to open that!” and give the idea of stealing some ink the bum’s rush.

BUT!  If I was a determined ink cart thief-type, surely I wouldn’t worry about the wrapping.  I’d gather my ill-gotten hoard, take it to some lock-up and make like Arthur Daley with the old razorblade or crate knife?

HOWEVER, I wonder if I am off the scent here a little.  Maybe it isn’t to do with theft, but something more worrying?  Maybe it is the ink inside.  Maybe it needs to be protected ffrom the evil air that surrounds us and fills our lungs and taunts our goldfish?  As we all know, HP ink is now the single most expensive commodity IN THE ENTIRE UNIVERSE!  That is why it is doled out in such minute portions, and why they charge so much for so little!  It is also THE MOST UNSTABLE ELEMENT IN EXISTENCE, as proven by the fact that, no matter how recently you bought it, and how little you’ve used to date, there is never enough left to print what you are trying to print.

Therefore, it is my belief that the impossible-to-open plastic wrapping, is in fact there to keep the ink trapped and away from the evil air, so that as consumers we take home our little cartridge of inky joy, and only once opened does the process of ink-evaporation begin…thereby helping HP to avoid lawsuits and dimensional destabilisation.

That’s my theory and I’m sticking to it…at least until a better one comes along 🙂

N.B. – Hello HP lawyers…this blog is SATIRE and IRONIC.  I don’t really think HP sells magic evaporating ink, or has a hidden agenda regarding it’s packaging.  So please don’t sue me.  This blog is meant as humour.  That being said, please feel free to make your outer packaging a little less impossible to get through, and maybe a little more environmentally friendly.  Oh, and if you could make the ink last longer than a a couple of dozen pages (that’s sarcasm!) it would be ace.  Thanks 🙂

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