A Solaris sermon for Christmas

In Germany we celebrate Christmas one day ahead of the British and Americans so allow me to formulate some soppy thoughts for the festive season already today on the 24th!

When you get older and grumpier one can say Christmas is just a massive waste of time: Cheesy as hell music on the radio, the pressure to purchase even more stuff and Santa has been invented by Coca Cola anyway. But when you strip away all the religious stuff and consumerist hocus pocus then to me Christmas is about wrapping up the year (no pun intended) and coming together with friends and family to chill.

It’s getting cold and dark, so getting together somewhere cosy and well lit makes total sense to me. Dragging a real pine tree into all of this at the cost of it’s life not so much but hey, I just assume the Pagans knew what they were doing!

Yet, even more classic than the Chistmas turkey is the Christmas family feud. When different generations, points of view and lifestyles collide at the dinner table, shit can hit the fan!

So why is it so hard to keep to keep the peace? I guess apart from the obvious issue of having different people forced to co-exists in the same space for a whole evening I feel it has a lot to do with expectations and needs.


It’s easy to avoid issues when you are apart from each other, but hard when being face to face. Every little annoying gesture or comment can trigger Defcon 5 at any given moment,

 So here are some things I feel help to keep things chilly chill this Christmas :

 1. Do check the technique

Someone is always the host and expects that the guests respect the rules of the house. Yet as a guest you are used to your own rhythm, and it can piss you off to have to adapt to the groove of someone else. Yet peace lies in the compromise: The host needs to mentally prepare that their guests want to feel at ease and might have their own requirements to be able to relax, yet the guests should respect they are entering the realm of someone who has his own groove going on.

Basically: Don’t smoke a blunt at the dinner table, yet your parents should allow you to put on some Cypress Hill when the family unwraps the presents!

2. Don‘t bring the Ruckus

Every family has their quarrels. Parents, Siblings and extended family can easily clash over minutiae: Everyone has an opinion of how the other could/should change their job, relationship or lifestyle. As annoying as this is, normally this uninvited feedback comes from a place of love and care. Parents want to see their kids safe and secure, of cause they would lean towards a more conservative approach regarding life. That’s why your Dad hates the fact you want to go to art school instead of becoming a solicitor or something similar boring.

So to keep the peace it’s important to dial down passive aggressive comments, unsolicited feedback and open judgment.

Just because you are pissed off that you didn’t loose any weight this year there is no need to tell someone else they got fatter and should go easy on the Christmas chocolates, alright?

Ultimately any concern should be about the happiness of a friend or family member. So instead of diving into questions about current jobs and relationships, one should focus more on another question: “Are you happy?”

If the answer is yes, who cares about the details. Just because you feel the urge to earn crazy money on Wallstreet and drive a Porsche it doesn’t mean your cousin who is working as a lumberjack in Canada simply MUST get his act together and get into the banking business. He might be actually happier than you, with more free time and fresh air!

 3. Don’t give shit Christmas presents!

The most common mistake people make with presents is that they gift things they like themselves, and not actually caring what the person they gift to wants to have.

Don’t be that asshole that gives a loved one ugly jumpers in the wrong size or passive aggressive shit like a treadmill or diet books! And don’t try to beat them at their own game: If your nephew is a sneaker head, don’t buy a pair of shoes in the local mall YOU would like to wear. Respect the fact you have no idea what you are doing and step away from making any hasty decisions. Just because it kinda looks like a Yeezy doesn’t mean it’s a Yeezy!

Another festive classic is to re-gift stuff that got gifted to you and you don’t need anymore. People WILL know what you are trying to pull here!

To get some stuff that’s so far removed from any interest you actually have is one of the biggest insults one can make. Better come clean and say: “Dude I actually don’t care about you. So I didn’t bother getting you anything.” That’s more forgivable than gifting a tennis racket to someone who just broke both of his arms!

So on that note do I wish everyone a Merry Christmas, Happy Holiday or Awesome Tree day! Don’t fuck it up… for Chrissakes!


Pencils at dawn: ELCAF 2015

One of the events I always put in bold into my calendar is the East London Comics and Arts Festival… or in short: ELCAF!

The very first ELCAF took place June 2012 at East London’s Village Underground and the festival has been going strong ever since. No wonder with London having such a thriving Illustration, Art and Design community! This year the event was hosted held across two venues just around my corner: The Laundry and SPACE in Hackney. Easy peasy!

With Workshops, talks, gigs, performances and movie screenings ELCAF has something for everybody and the big exhibitor hall is packed with stalls selling zines, patches, screen prints, tote bags and anything else comic and illustration related. Renowned comic shops and publishing houses like Nobrow Press and Gosh! selling alongside local artists is a great concept and provides a good variety.

It’s just awesome to be able to have a chat and purchase some hand pulled screen prints directly from the artist! Bought a great Dracula print by Peow!Studio and a copy of the great female fighters zine you might have heard about on Kickstarter at the stall of Dilraj Mann. PS: Dilray, next time I’ll buy a screen print as well I promise! Love your work!

Although I promised myself not to buy too much stuff I couldn’t say no to this kick ass She-Hulk by the very talented Donya Todd! Reminds me not to piss off the ladies which is not an easy task..

Another highlight are these absolutely great hand painted Wookie badges by Benjamin Wright. Very PHRESH indeed! Plus you can never go wrong with a great selection of vintage trading cards…

Events like this are so inspirational and I got a big energy rush getting back into my own work. So who knows, maybe there will be a Solaris100 stall at ELCAF 2016! 😉

Visit the official ELCAF website here and seeya next year!

A Proactive Saturday

One reason it’s a very clever thing not skip excessive drinking on a Friday is that Saturday has lots to offer to the fresh faced adventurer! Being it a stroll through Broadway Market, hitting Oxford Street for some shopping or ticking off places from the “to-visit” list.

Why, Sir, you find no man, at all intellectual, who is willing to leave London. No, Sir, when a man is tired of London, he is tired of life; for there is in London all that life can afford.

— Samuel Johnson

My plan was to finally pay House of Vans a visit, so I jumped on the tube and headed towards Waterloo.

As House of Vans can be quickly accessed via the Leake Street I was treated to some serious Graff styles and paint fumes. The biggest legal wall in London has been set up by the legendary Banksy himself for the Cans Streetart festival in 2008 and has since then provided equal wall space for Graff Kings and Toys alike.

The tunnel is rough but visually stunning and is a great space for people to express themselves freely. Makes me want to pick up some cans myself and hit the walls. Or maybe not…

The entrance of House of Vans doesn’t really do justice to the massive interiour that awaits inside. As much as I hate big corporations trying to hijack youth culture, Vans feels like a natural fit to provide such an amazing space to skate, exhibit and get creative.

The venue hosts film screenings, concerts and art shows apart from having a cafe and an integrated skatepark. Today was a special event hosted by somewhereto_, an organisation helping young people to find interesting locations for their creative projects. No wonder the arches were buzzing with artists, singers, photographers and other creative types performing and networking…

But onwards! Freshly inspired my plan was to get some drawing done Southbank with a great river view and a cold beer. On the way back through Leake Street I passed even more amazing pieces…

Arriving Southbank I realised that I might not be able to find the space I have been looking for as the new show in the Hayward Gallery is attracting swarms of people who can’t wait to do some sliding… it’s current exhibition by Carsten Höller looks awesome and I can’t wait to go myself! If I can get a ticket that is…

Anyhow, after escaping the hustle and bustle of tourists walking up and down the Thames and the raindrops that fell from the not-so-summery London sky I finally found the Freedom to do some people watching and putting pen to vintage record sleeve…

Hayward Gallery
Southbank Centre
London SE1 8XX


House of Vans
Arches 228-232 Station Approach Road
London SE1 8SW