Mixtapes and Messy Tuesdays

I was so excited to read Kirsty’s post reviving the Messy Tuesdays concept that I immediately vowed to write a Messy Tuesdays post of my own this week. Happily I am never short of a creative mess or two (or three or four or five…) to document on Messy Tuesdays, and the affirmative power of the idea is just what is needed to compliment the positive atmosphere created by the fresh sunshine that I have been enjoying so much of late.

This is the workspace in which me and Stav – last Tuesday – (messily) worked out our ideas for a forthcoming venture: Mixtape Consultancy. Partly a public service, partly a nostalgic celebration, and partly an interactive artwork, Mixtape Consultancy will first be presented at the Zine Fair which is being held at Oxford Castle as part of the Editions of You series of events, curated by Oxford Brookes University’s Pop Art Research Unit. You can find all the details here, here and here. In essence, Mixtape Consultancy will be providing free, hand-printed mixtape/mixCD stationery, a workstation for customising CD and mixtape sleeves, mixtape contents consultations, and decorative materials such as glittery nailvarnish and potato print stamps for the creation and fulfilment of elaborate mixtape fantasies. Our hope is that people will leave our stall with an enhanced idea for what they want to do with their next mixtape project, and with completed moodboards, mixtapes and/or CD cases to enhance this. Blank CDs and tapes will be given to gallery-goers who participate in the project and avail of our mixtape project expertise and encouragement so that – once they are home – they can complete the project which was started through interactions with Mixtape Consultancy! It is our hope that our stall will provide encouragement; an opportunity to play; and the possibility to reflect in different ways on the rituals and particularities of the mixtape creating process. We are facilitators or instigators, and so – although Mixtape Consultancy has a certain brand or feeling about it – it is important that the materials which we present are explicitly customisable. We therefore spent a good deal of last Tuesday examining both the brand identity of blank cassettes, and the possibilities for personalisation which they present.

Also in our mess – amidst the detritus of blank cassette and CD paraphernalia – were a huge stack of beautiful, old, watermarked accounting papers which we purchased from the Oxfordshire Scrapstore to turn into cassette/CD customisation worksheets. I have dimmed the image so you can see the watermark… this is wonderful watermarked paper from OYEZ – who still appear to be producing documents for firms!

On one such sheet of paper we drew our ideas together. I deeply enjoyed the tactile and physical way that we organised our ideas, and the diplomatic and conversational medium of a shared drawing for making creative decisions. It was energising, intense, full of debate and deliberation, and very absorbing. We made much mess with our pencils and decided through this exercise on a very simple design for our stationery. The paper is covered in lines, some rubbed out, some left there still… mess that evidences thought processes, learning, and thinking through making.

We had to test out the workability of our CD sleeves so we cut out prototypes from our stash of legal stationery, and littered the table with handmade CD sleeves and tape cassette boxes.

The mess continued yesterday in the Oxford Brookes print room, where we created a silkscreen, with which to turn every one of our thick, creamy ledgers into mixtape/mixCD customising stationery. This involved much pleasing, inky mess, and resulted in prints which look a little bit like this:

Having debated over typefaces, CD and tape box placement, design size and style etc. together on our drawing previously, it was only natural that we should consider carefully the colour of the ink for printing said Mixtape Consultancy stationery. I looked at the vast array of mixed inks in the printing room, for one which I could customise and turn into the perfect, Restrained Navy that we had identified as being The Colour for our project.

Screenprinting inks are mixed from acrylic paint and then combined with a medium which keeps them viscous and thin for pushing through the silkscreen. The acrylic colours are intense primaries to begin with, and I generally spend a long time mixing them, as I am exacting in my selection of shades and averse to crass, in-your-face shades of Cadmium Red, Ultramarine Blue, Cadmium Yellow and Process Black. These colours are so definitive, so utterly dominating wherever you place them, that they require much work to be honed into something subtle and specific. Because of this, and because I like the thrifty reusing of things, when mixing my screenprinting inks I generally start with leftover, premixed colours that other students have left behind. I find these murkier, already-mauled shades are far more personal and pleasing to use than the shouty globs of cheap primaries which may be extracted newly from the paint pots.

So I was cruising the ink selection for a good, murky blue to commence with for our Restrained Navy. Scanning the old jam jars full of students’ left over colour experiments, I edited the selection; too cobalt; too much white; too greenish; too warm; too murky; etc. I eventually settled on one jar which just seemed to be perfect; a warm, rich blue with not too much white or black in it, and a green-ness which could be warmed just right with a touch of ultramarine and a reviving orange to balance. I plucked the jar from the stash and turned it around to reveal this:

…it turned out to be the Restrained Navy which I had mixed myself to print the SOUNDWALK stationery last Summer! I guess what we can learn from this, is that colour is – like mixtapes – a very personal thing.

Do you notice you have specific trends in the way of colours? I hope you are all enjoying nice messes today.

6 Responses to Mixtapes and Messy Tuesdays

  1. Kate says:

    Mess = fun! The accountancy papers are lovely, and I look forward to hearing more about Mixtape Consultancy. I love how you gravitated toward YOUR ink jar. Perhaps it is the Spring springing or summat, but I am currently knitting a thing in a very lurid combo of blue and orange…

  2. Liz A. says:

    I can’t believe I’m out of town on the 9th and so unable to benefit from a little mixtape consultancy (and indeed to finally meet the famous Stav). Hope it goes well and you are able to help lots of people create the perfect mixtape.

  3. colleen says:

    As ever, inspiring about mess, sound and inks. I think I could definitely do with a bout of mess therapy.

    Really interesting that you chose your own pre-mixed ink. I’ve been doing a fabric printing course and find that I choose the same tones again and again – slightly muted, autumnal shades. So I have been trying to make myself use different colours and tones together which might not be my usual choices. Shades of pink have featured in this experimentation, to my surprise, and quite in the face of the anti-Cath Kidston effect I’m aiming for.

  4. Pingback: Editions of You feat. SARU practitioner Felicity Ford, in collaboration with performance artist Stavroula Kounadea | SARU – Sonic Art Research Unit

  5. Pingback: Mixtape Consultancy - with us, it's personal!

  6. Pingback: Mixtape Consultancy « stavroula kounadea

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