Emo AJ

silverAJ v3.1 - musings and art

When I'm teaching drawing, I often tell people not to rub out their lines or throw away old sketches, because you can learn a lot by looking back over your past mistakes, and use them to improve upon future work.

I'm afraid I haven't applied that philosophy to my own blog on here. I deleted or hid every old entry long ago, and I shake my head with a slightly amused smile at who I was when I was 10 years younger. I'm ever grateful not to have crashed and blundered through my cringeworthy late teens and early 20's in the days of Buzzfeed, Tumblr, Twitter, and everything online lasting absolutely forever.

But since it's here, lying dormant and empty, I thought I'd resurrect this blog for the time being as 'silverAJ v3.1' by posting some of the art I've been doing...

Drawing by silverAJ - lady in skull makeup with crow
Lady with skulls, drawn at Art Macabre

Sketch by silverAJ - costumed lady with mirror
Costumed lady with mirror, drawn at Art Macabre

Sketch by silverAJ - naked flamenco dancer
Nude flamenco dancer

silverAJ drawing of naked dancers
More nude dancers

'Ideas' (or not)

Does the English language have a word for an 'idea' that isn't actually one?

eg: Here's this for an idea. Build a car that runs on water and costs £1000 to make. Then sell them for £2000. You'll make a fortune!

ETA: I think the word 'undea' should be made official for this concept!
  • Current Mood
    thoughtful thoughtful
  • Tags
Emo AJ


So there's this internal job role I'm applying for - 'Head of Web Editing'.

My bosses are batshit and I think it'd be a lot of stress and probably like banging my head against a brick wall. I won't start ranting on about how strange the company I work for are, but I drew this cartoon with apologies to XKCD, which kind of sums it up!

So anyway, this job role. I thought I'd go for it anyway as it's a good payrise - but if I don't get it, I'll probably breathe a secret sigh of relief.

So I drafted an email to Boss 2, which read:

Dear Andrew

I just wanted to express my interest in this job role. I think I am capable of satisfying the requirements you've laid out in the job description.
What would you need from me in order to take it further?

Thanks for your time,

At this point my friend E, the marketing guy, came over, and I had him cast his eye over the email. To make him laugh, I typed onto the end of it:

Love from Aaron xxx <3

Obviously this was just a joke, so after we'd had a giggle at the thought of him reading that (he's cold and distant and weird), I deleted the " xxx <3 " from the end.

And pressed send.

Having neglected to also remove the "Love from" preceding my name.

Oh god.
Emo AJ

First Impressions Last

First Impressions Last

My colleague Eric and I went to this event at Kemistry Gallery at lunchtime today. (That's him in the pic, being written about.)

First Impressions Last - a playful look at identity, anonymity, and naturally, first impressions. Visitors are invited into the gallery to stand before 5 writers, seated in the room, and become the subject of a two-minute free writing session. A polaroid is then taken of the subject, which is kept with the writers’ vignettes.
Then, as part two of the exhibit, for the month of November participants and visitors will be challenged to match the portraits with their first impression stories.

It was really interesting - you stand before them, feeling very exposed as the writers all loudly clack away on their typewriters - the only noise in the room. Someone who looks like me is obviously going to be used to people having a reaction to the way I present myself... but Eric, who looks very 'normal', aparently felt pretty self conscious.

Yay for working near Hoxton! Can't wait to see what they wrote...
Emo AJ

Dr Sketchys

Went to Dr Sketchys - the fun burlesquey kinda drawing class hosted by the hot Mr Dusty Limits.

Had no idea the whole thing was structured around short themed drawings which because its Halloween, end up kinda silly! Think I definitely need to loosen up - a lot. I would say that's my biggest weakness in art, if I'm honest with myself, and the thing that's held me back the most. In art, writing, everything really. Perfectionism and an unwillingness to relax. It's a bitch.

Anyway, I did this ("freestyle horror related drawing"), among other quick drawings, which I'll show if anyones interested.

Emo AJ

Berlin Inline Marathon...

So I did the Berlin Inline Marathon the other week! 26 miles of nonstop speedy skating joy.
God damn, it was amazing.

About 8000 skaters altogether, most of them on proper professional speed skates (the ones with small boot bits and huge wheels) and dressed in head to toe lycra, with cycling helmets on. I had been pretty intimidated by this at first, as I was of course in my sexyass Hypnos (although with the chassis modified to fit 84mm wheels instead of 80mm) and just wearing baggy shorts and an army style camo skating helmet.

Just before the marathon Before the marathon, with Simon Libidex

So anyway, off we went... the first few miles were really hectic because it was still hella crowded with skaters all jostling for position.
If you haven't been in many big group skates before, all this is bloody terrifying because you have to spend the entire time making sure your blades aren't about to get caught in someone elses, resulting in a big painful fall at speed and probably taking out several other people too! Luckily I'm very experienced in fast, cramped group skating from the Friday Night Skate - so I know how and when to keep my feet straight and narrow and keep my speed up. Some others weren't so lucky, and I saw a few falls, including one right in front of me who I had to pretty much jump over to avoid swerving into someone else's path. Also, one woman lost control around the first tight corner, and grabbed at me, which would have sent me flying if I didn't have decent balance.

Anyway, having got out of the thick of it and overtaken all the slower ones, I just remember really, really enjoying myself. It's such a unique and beautiful experience for someone like me who skates 10 miles a day on the crowded, car packed, smelly, badly maintained, bumpy, dangerous London streets. These Berlin roads are literally flawless - smooth as silk, massively wide, only the gentlest hills* here and there, and lined with spectators most of the way around, which made it even more fun. Little kids were by the edge of the road, holding out their hands in excitement, wanting a skater to give them a high five as they went past. I got a few, it was so cute.

The only problem was, I had no watch, and there was no way of knowing how far along the course I was. I never really gave it my all because I didn't have any concept of how far 26 miles really was on a course this sexy, with not one traffic light or reason to slow down. I was just gliding along beautifully fast, loving the experience of the total skating freedom.
I ate some energy gel packs. Then I wished I'd brought more water along, because there were only 3 water points, and I'd just missed a drink due to the water being handed out in flimsy plastic cups which just crumpled into my skating glove palm on delivery at 15mph and ending up all over my hand instead of in my mouth.

Me near the end, taken by me, at speed Perfect Berlin roads

And then suddenly I saw a marker saying 30km and for a second (like an idiot) I thought it meant 30km left to go, before realising I was actually 3/4 of the way round the course! I'd been thinking I was more like halfway round, that's how fast it was.
And then I hammered it, realising I had heaps of energy left due to thinking I had longer left than I did! I just sprinted and sprinted, overtaking group after group of skaters up ahead, teams in matching shirts, even some semi-pro paceline packs of people drafting one another**.

The last km or so was amazing. Just incredible. The streets were lined with crowds, yelling and cheering, there was a band somewhere near the end, playing one of those awesome drumming beats which just spur you on and give you this massive sporting rush, and the nearer I got to the end, the faster I went, the more people I overtook. When the Brandenburg Gate loomed into view, the adrenaline and competitiveness just overtook me and I was flying. I have a vague memory of the announcer saying something in German as I went past (and what a sight I must have been, all in black with an army helmet and little fitness skates, manically overtaking all these freaks in fluoro lycra with 100mm wheels) and the crowd making a kinda laughing cheer.

Coming through the gate and over the finish line almost brought me to tears. I have no idea why it felt so emotional - there was my obvious tiredness, the adrenaline, the beautiful landmark that was the end of the race. I've not done anything this sporty and public before, not since I used to ride my horses in shows back when I was a teenager. I loved it, skating is something I'm passionate about, and this was just the ultimate skating experience.

Then I just kind of rolled forward with the other skaters, got handed a medal, got handed a yellow bin liner to keep me warm, then came past a series of tables offering us various liquid refreshments, which I downed in a daze while rolling to the next table. First water, then energy drinks, then juice, then Red Bull, then warm tea, then finally, at the end of the path, a little bar giving out free beer. Wonderful stuff. There was also a big field full of little beds (so surreal) where you could go to get a massage off a massage school student (which I took advantage of, although it was rather mediocre!)

silveraj Just after finishing!  With medal and warm yellow sack Andi is all proud of silveraj silveraj In front of the Reichstag with my Hypnos

Finally I found Andi, who I've never seen look so happy to see me (he was almost crying!) and we wandered back to our apartment, stopping on the way for me to literally inhale a large crepe.

My finishing time was 1hr 45min, which I was thrilled with - it meant I'd been going at least 15mph all the way around. I came 213th in my age group (25 to 30 I guess)

It's just such a shame there's nothing like this in London though. There's a big track on the outskirts of London on which you can technically do a marathon, but I find the idea really soul destroying - skating round a track for x number of laps with my amazing memories of what Berlin was like. I suppose it would be ok if I just considered it training... but at the end of the day I'm just crazy about street skating, with all the adventures that entails.

The rest of the (short) Berlin trip was great - I guess it mostly revolved around food, sleep, massages from Andi, and visiting the Jewish Museum. But I'm totally doing the marathon again next year - probably in my new speed skates which I need to get training in this year in order to be prepared to try and do it in 1:30...

Oh - you can see the rest of my Berlin photos here (public FB gallery)...

* Hilariously, I was talking about the course with a German guy at the fitness expo the day before. He's like, "Oh, eees very smooth most of the way. There is only one or two little mountains..." which caused me to snort as I tried to hold in a massive wave of laughter.

** This is how all pro skating teams operate by the way, skating in sync with no wind resistance - and even non pros do it a lot in marathons, just finding people their speed and latching onto the back of them, matching their stride. I tried it several times in the race and kept getting impatient and overtaking. For some reason, having someone directly in front of me makes me feel like I'm skating slower than I would if they weren't there, and it spurred me on to speed up and leave them behind.