The Grawlix and The Anchor
Everyone loves a symbol, a motif, an icon: whatever we choose to love and display on ourselves, or in our homes, speaks volumes without us even uttering a word. I have been obsessed with icons for as long as I can remember: I think it began with my five year old self’s attempt at interpreting the curses that came from comic book characters: namely those that Herge attributed to one of the all time great characters ever created, Captain Haddock. I loved his swearing, his alliterative command of expressive vocabulary, I loved his drinking, I loved his crazy outbursts juxtaposed with his kind nature: but most of all, I loved the symbols that sprouted from his tempers. The swirls, the skull and crossbones, the stars, these all combined to form, in my mind, something far greater and angrier than the words he uttered. I copied the symbolic outbursts on exercise books and in diaries. I began to notice that across all of the comic books I read, symbols meant the same wherever they were used: in my collection of squeaky clean Archie comics, hearts and musical notes were used liberally, red hearts spinning around kissing heads, musical notes emanating from bedrooms and cars. My beloved Jughead (swoon- again, an early crush) was a man made up of symbolic contradictions: sleepy eyes, crown-hat worn askew, large S on his jumper: all of these added to his mystery and in turn fuelled my fascination with the outsider. Symbols and signs spoke to me in a way that the words couldn’t, and I suppose, in adult reflection, I can see now that as someone obsessed with both literature and pictures, comics and the signifiers used in them stimulated my creativity and brain in a way that one pure form couldn’t do on its own.
I have always loved, and used in my designs, hearts and anchors: but if I had to choose, the symbol that I would choose to take to my desert island of design would be the anchor. It represents femininity and masculinity to perfection: sharp arrowheads, curvaceous bends, strong lines: they all combine to form a symbol which holds so many meanings: adventure, soul, and travel, yet the anchor also represents a feeling of home, shelter, and consistency. Drawing the anchor shape is such a natural thing to do, cutting it from paper feels like one whole continuous movement, and gently carving it into lino and printing the backwards image still fills me with delight. I know, it’s not the average way one would choose to describe happiness and contentment: but it suits me fine.
And I can’t resist this: you’ll be pleased to know that actually, thanks to The Lexicon of Comicana, and Mort Walker, they’re not just swearing symbols: they’re grawlixes. How perfectly onomatopoeic is that?
To see more of the linocut range, including the kitchen tools with superpowers, go to the linocut & letterpress area.