About Elsa Vulliamy

I am a Philosophy student at the University of Sheffield. I grew up in Camden, London, surrounded by interesting and colourful people and an amazing music scene, which has made me who I am today. I’m super opinionated and I love to debate and ask questions. I'm obsessed with journalism in all its forms. I love to write features and comment and my mind is always swimming with new ideas. My work has been published in newspapers such as the Observer, the Independent and the Guardian and I recently started writing for the political blog Left Foot Forward. I am the features editor and former arts editor of the University of Sheffield's student newspaper, Forge Press, and I dedicate all my free time to making the section as interesting as possible. When I get a break I write features, reviews, comment and news stories of my own for Forge Press as well. I love contemporary art and independent cinema. My hobbies include watching entire box sets in one sitting, going to live gigs and drinking a lot of coffee.

Tom J Newell

Having lived in Camden Town my whole life, moving to Sheffield to study was a strange experience. It can be hard balancing a life in two cities, one wishes that there were something you could bring with you to both places. Imagine my delight when I discovered the striking similarity between the dark yet fascinating cartoons I was used to seeing on the side of the Unicorn Pub down the road from me in Camden and the equally beautiful and twisted work on the walls and in the burger menus within The Harley, Sheffield.

The man responsible for these home comforts (and the beautiful artwork) is artist and illustrator Tom J Newell. Raised in Chesterfield, Tom J Newell has worked on all kinds of projects. Aside his fabulous wall murals he also produces paintings, comics, posters and all things in between. Born and raised in Chesterfield, he has now moved to Sheffield a five year stint in London, working closer to home in a city that is bursting with creativity.

Tom’s inspiration seems to spring from all over the place, which perhaps is what makes his work so unique. Taking influences from the Beano and Dandy as a child, he began drawing comic book characters, and was further influenced by video games and graffiti as he grew older.

Moonlighting as a DJ, its not just the visual that keeps his creative juices flowing. He also takes a lot of inspiration from music and literature. “Music and musicians inspire my artwork just as much as visual sources” he says, “I approach the construction of a new image by manipulating existing imagery”.

It’s not hard to see that Tom is a forced to be reckoned with, his illustrations alone have had something of a viral effect already. His artwork is splattered across the menus of the Twisted Burger Company, Kraken Rum and all over the walls of bars, tattoo studios and galleries.

What’s more, despite significant grounds for arrogance, Tom J Newell strikes me first and foremost as a a wholeheartedly Decent Guy. Won’t take my word for it? Ask Sheffield Children’s Hospital, where he ran workshops in 2010 “That was another great excuse to get out of the studio,” he told me “and seeing the approach that kids have towards drawing is always inspiring.”

Still working in his studio developing old doodles that he did in school and having his work put up all over sheffield and beyond, Mr. Newell is a fireball of compassion, talent and ultimately an unrestrained creativity. His imaginative, sometimes slightly unhinging illustrations are impossible to forget.

Curious? Visit TomJNewell.com.

Amber Run

Amber run is a five piece indie-rock band based in Nottingham. The boys first caught people’s attention when they uploaded their melodic cover of Imogen Heap’s ‘Hide and Seek’ to the internet. Since then, though, they’ve exceeded all expectations with their original songs, despite only having been playing for just over a year. The catchy yet captivatingly haunting track ‘Noah’ caught the eyes and ears of yet more music fans, leading to their becoming increasingly popular on the local scene.

My first encounter with the band was at Sheffield venue The Harley, where they shone bright playing songs from their self released EP ‘Heaven’ (first released under the band name ‘Amber’) and new songs from an upcoming EP, which they hope to release this year. But I was late to the game; the band had already played Reading and Leeds on the BBC’s Introducing stage having captured the heart of BBC presenter Dean Jackson who’d listened to the tracks the band had uploaded on BBC Introducing.

Amber run fit right into an increasingly popular brand of indie music, combining the melodic harmonies that brought Mumford and Sons into the spotlight with catchy indie rock we all know and love. But that’s not all that makes them special – what’s sets them apart for me is the poetic nature of their lyrics which are dripping with a gritty kind of honesty that one rarely comes across in today’s sex-and-drugs fueled music scene.

The band have recently played in London and will be supporting Irish indie rockers Kodaline on their sold out UK tour.

You can listen to their stuff here.

John Kilburn

Bristol Born John Kilburn’s  enthusiasm for illustration goes back to the early years, his first go at illustrating a book during primary school, where he produced the masterly “Ossie and the Boogy Boogy Boo” for a project about Australia.

John graduated from Falmouth University with a distinction in Authorial Illustration in 2012, and since then has been making his mark on the “small but burgeoning scene of artists in Falmouth and Cornwall” with illustrations in many different forms, from paintings and comics to pop up books and coffee packets. His strikingly detailed pencil art and bright colours create somewhat of a signature style, but all of his works possess their own unique character whatever the medium.

What strikes me about John in comparison to other artists of his demographic is his involvement in the community at large. He runs a small art space in Falmouth with other graduates and works closely with the Cornwall-based Atlantic Press; which works to publish first time works of authorial illustration. He also takes part in various life illustration and comic events around the country – keeping an active role in the artistic community.

John Kilburn has made an impact nationally and locally with his work, and with his art space just kicking off, and the final project for his masters, The Golden Plaice (which happens to be an illustrated book about a clever prawn searching for said ‘plaice’) is being shipped off to the USA as part of the Yale Center for British Art collection.” I find it hard to say no to anything” he says “I always look to push myself in new directions and unfamiliar places.”

 Visit www.johndkilburn.com to feast your eyes on his work.


Brothers David and Michael Champion first started playing and writing songs in their teens when their dad bought home a rugged old second hand guitar from a charity shop. The boys grew up on the quiet and scenic pastures of the Isle of Wight and have been recording together since 2001.

Now the Champions are back as part of the appropriately named Champs- a three piece featuring David and Michael Champion playing alongside fellow Islander Tom Gardner of well-known Isle of Wight indie rock band The Bees.0, when they released an EP as part of indie rock band The Shutes, who recorded three records and embarked on a European tour before going their separate ways.

I first came across Champs when they sent out an appeal on the community-focussed Isle of Wight blog On The Wight, the purpose of which was to ask swimming pool owners if they would allow the brothers to jump into their pools as part of a concept for a music video for the title track of their first EP Spirit Is Broken.

Having started out playing in local churches and at Island music festivals, Champs have rapidly caught the attention of the indie music scene. They sent their self-recorded single St Peters into BBC Radio 2, which led to them doing a live session with Dermot O’Leary, giving an interview which primarily revolved around the chickens kept in the mum’s garden.

Champs have far more than their domestic Isle of Wight charm to offer. Their beautifully poetic original lyrics combined with catchy yet faintly haunting melody make their songs impossible to cast from your mind once you’ve listened to them. Their soft vocals and tuneful harmonies are reminiscent of acoustic English folk music, but these come along with plugged in indie rock undertones which thrust the classic melodic feel into the modern era.

The band’s original request was honoured by many a swimming pool owner – and the music video became a reality. Since then the EP has spread like wildfire over the internet and has caught the eyes and ears of many a radio DJ. Champs have created for themselves a humble yet dedicated fanbase through social networks and word of mouth, along with a lot of support from family and friends.

New-found fame aside, they still are sure to come home and play in a locally every now and then, playing as part of the Bestival line up and setting themselves up in a Church this summer to play as part of a local fringe festival. That’s not all though – the boys are set to go much further. They have already played several headline shows in London and around Europe, and are even planning heading across the pond to Pennsylvania in November to play in the US for the first time.

Alex Ekins

Anyone walking around Sheffield the past few weeks might have noticed a new addition to the neighbourhood. Wheatpaste images of Sadhus – distinctive looking Hindu monks in striking dress – have started to appear on the walls of the city.

These Sadhu images are the work of Alex Ekins and his 7 Sadhu project. Alex is a Sheffield-based artist and photographer specialising in international travel and adventure photography. He studied photojournalism at Sheffield College, and began working internationally as a rock climbing and adventure photographer. Alex took an interest in photographing people in “unwelcoming circumstances and strange environments”.

“I’m looking at people on the margins of society” he says “I like the idea of people going where perhaps society doesn’t want them to be.” With this in mind, Alex travelled to Kathmandu, Nepal to photograph a group of people living on the edge of society – the Sadhus. The Sadhus, as Ekins puts it “have chosen to give up work, materialism and the trappings of modern society” and have removed themselves from common society to focus on their spirituality.

After befriending a Sadhu, Alex was able to take many photographs, which he brought back to the UK and blew up to life size. Wanting to introduce the Sadhu to the UK urban landscapes, Alex cut them out and put them up over the city.




Mister Phil

Mister Phil grew up in Portsmouth and currently resides in Brighton, where he has lived since attending Brighton University and gaining a degree in Illustration.

He uses cartoon illustration and a compelling blend of block colour to create eye catching and unique images whose psychedelic nature demands attention, giving one the feeling that there is a story to be told behind each one of them. “There’s a sense of surrealism in the work which mainly comes from not thinking too much about what I’m trying to achieve” he says, “allowing the work to create itself based on what comes before. I react to what I’ve put down on the paper, try not to stop too long and think about it, but act in an intuitive way.”

Mister Phil’s main platform and focus at the moment online, he explains “as long as something goes up every day then it’s OK. I enjoy the immediate feedback from twitter and internet – it keeps the momentum going…  I’m on a mission with this daily doodle project, looking forward to seeing where it takes me as ideas evolve very quickly when you force yourself to work under a strict deadline.”

Describing himself as an all round “creative person”, Mister Phil works with photography and web design alongside his illustration and animation work. “If I make something I really like when I see it again, then I’m content.” He says, when asked what his own work means to him. “I like the idea that within the space of a couple of hours you can create something that didn’t exist before, that hopefully no-one else would have created.”