Are you ready to go shopping? Well we are, or rather we were, at the East London Comics and Arts Festival last weekend. It’s Nice That loves an illustration fair like moths love a flame, but for those who weren’t able to make it, don’t worry, we’ve got a rundown of all the brilliant business that filled Hackney’s Round Chapel.
In order to give you a proper peek into who was there, what they were selling and the bargains and swaps to be had, we decided to stage a Supermarket Sweep. For those who aren’t familiar with Supermarket Sweep, it was a televised game show where contestants were given rules of certain products to buy which led to duos dashing through aisles with their trolleys. There were also inflatables.
To embody Dale Winton and stage a game show at an illustration fair we formed two teams, boys vs girls, made up of illustrators Brie Moreno and Stephanie Unger against Evan M. Cohen and Alex Norris. Each team was given the sum of £25 to pop in their back pocket and pick up the best bits and bobs stallholders had to offer. But, in true Supermarket Sweep style, there were also rules. Firstly, each team had to pick up an item that could be physically worn (a pin badge, a hat or t-shirt for instance), then they had to swap one of their own creations with another illustrator and buy an item that could be read.
Pretty easy rules, or were they? This is how they got on…
Round One: Brie Moreno and Stephanie Unger
It’s Nice That: How did you begin? Did you have a strategy?
Stephanie Unger: The way I shop, I browse and browse and browse, and it would have taken too long. I went up to you, didn’t I Brie, and said “shall we go all the way around, take photos of all the ones that we like, and then come back and round,” and you were like — unless we see something like immediately? I realised, okay that’s off the table.
Brie Moreno: I am usually quite indecisive! But I feel like, when it comes to visual things, I know right away whether I like it or not. But I think that it’s also so good to be the way you were because it allows you to see more things, and to take your time.
SU: Yeah! I like to take it all in and then calculate!
INT: What were things that you bought?
SU: Brie found this by Mike Sali Redmond and Faye Coral Johnson and at first was like I’ll just buy it for myself — I really liked it as well.
BM: It’s just really zine-y. The way they’ve drawn it is amazing, it’s very specific and the faces are really appealing and the dogs thighs are quite muscley. They’re a couple from Manchester and they draw quite like, everyday animals that you see, but they do it…
SU: In the strangest way. That’s something that I really admire in an artist, when they draw things that are just not in the way you’d automatically think to draw and you’re like, how do they have the brain to just draw it in that way!
INT: Did you buy any other books?
SU: We bought this one by Charlotte Mei too, it’s a Karaoke Zine she recently put out.
BM: We were talking about karaoke with her and I asked what’s your go to song and she was like, it’s all in this book! They’re all her karaoke songs! So nice.
SU: It’s so good. We were at her table like, we’ve got to get something from you.
BM: Then we got this from Otto Press, he said it was for charity but I was just really intrigued by all the comics inside because they’re by lots of different people, from around the world. There’s a translation too, but the comics just captured what I am trying to do in my own work but can’t quite get to! I need to know more about this comic, I’m just really happy with it.
INT: What were your trades then?
BM: I traded some of my work with Breakdown Press for a pin badge of my own actually.
SU: And the other pin badge trade is by Dominic Kesterton, I love it. Then I traded a postcard of mine with Ed Cheverton. I was really nervous about trading but was like, Ed will be nice!
INT: What’s your favourite thing you bought?
SU: For me, it’s got to be the Charlotte Mei book.
BM: I’m really drawn to this book by Mike Sali Redmond and Faye Coral Johnson, especially as I’d never heard of them before.
Round Two: Evan Cohen and Alex Norris
It’s Nice That: What was your strategy?
Evan Cohen: To go for small things, all very hand held, and we went for a theme of animals.
Alex Norris: We wanted to look around at most things beforehand and then we could be spontaneous after knowing what was there.
Evan Cohen: Then, at the end it was time to pull the trigger. We needed to get things, but it’s so overwhelming.
INT: You took your time then?
AN: We didn’t want to buy straight away because there were so many good things on the first few tables. If we bought everything we liked, we would have spent everything and then just missed out the rest.
EC: It’s so tough because everyone is nice and you want to buy something from everybody.
AN: But we had a theme, which meant we could dismiss people without feeling mean. It’s just about the theme!
Why did you decide on the theme of animals?
AN: There’s lots of good animals!
EC: I think it was the first pins that we got, the boo bees, it’s two bees who are dressed as ghosts, so they’re boo bees.
AN: I love a multi-layered pun.
INT: What did you swap?
EC: We swapped pins for pins.
AN: I swapped a slug for the boo bees.
EC: I had a little flower that I swapped with Ed Cheverton. I love his birds, they’re so fun.
AN: Then we got loads of stickers, and as much free stuff as we could get.
INT: What did you buy?
EC: We have so many things! This is a receipt, covered in dogs, for 50p!
AN: And this is a book by Millertown, made up of Stanley Miller and his dad Henry Miller, Stanley made this book when he was 11, a few years ago now. It’s just this really good joyful zine with lots of snakes. They’re both here, they always come to conventions together.
EC: We also covered the dog spectrum…
AN: This is quite a big purchase. We thought animals, and then a zine, so we got this from Charlene Man and it’s just loads of good dogs. They’re under subheadings in the zine like hairy dogs, big dogs… yeah they’re just loads of good dogs. It’s a really important book I feel. Then we got two ceramics.
EC: This little ceramic rest for your chopstick is one.
AN: Then, at the end we had £4.50 to send and we were going back through our memories and the thing that jumped out was this snake!
EC: It’s the same artist as the receipt! So smart. I love it. Her business cards are great too.
AN: Then we had 50p left so I drew a little face on it.
INT: What do you think is the best bargain you got?
EC: I mean, ceramics, just in knowing how long it takes makes it special.
AN: Yeah, I reckon both the ceramics were £4-5 which is amazing. Just beautiful objects.
INT: Do you have a favourite thing each?
EC: I do love that dog book.
AN: Yeah, and I’m just a massive fan of Stanley Miller but I love this snake. They’re both so wormy!
EC: Also this book by Millertown is so touching. To remember when I was 11, to be able to do this and come to the festivals and stuff, I love it.