As I have repeatedly mentioned on Xenogothic — perhaps one day to my peril — there have been many blogs in my life prior to this one. The longest running blog I’ve had was a 5-year photoblog which I culled in a deep depression at the start of 2016 and, despite the occasional lacklustre attempt, it never got started again. There were a few abortive attempts at writing-only blogs and some that were more hybridised between text and image but they never really worked out. Then Xenogothic was born and it feels like the best platform I’ve ever built for myself online.
Before that, however, I used to call myself “Picture Wizard”…
The sentiment of this blog, despite appearances, was very much the same as Xenogothic. It was an attempt to document the occasional vibrancy and humour and beauty of our “boring dystopia”. A diary of the few things that would make me happy throughout an otherwise hollow and melancholic existent. I really fucking loved that blog.
More recently, as Xenogothic has settled into its own rhythm, and I have become less paranoid and reluctant to associate my meatself with my cyberself, I’ve started to feel less bitter about the bridges burned with these former selves, and Picture Wizard was such a long-running labour of joy that it would be a shame not to let some of these projects that I’m most proud of slip back in under this moniker.
On this old photoblog, I used to collect up all the best photos from each year and make them into print-on-demand books. I’ve tried to post a few things like this on Xenogothic — here and here — but they are few and far between because, much to my own disappointment, I’m out of the habit of taking photos every day.
But I’m still really proud of these books. They encapsulate the love I had for looking at things that I refused to let my undergraduate degree take away from me. Rather than unlearn stuff later on, I decided to double-down on this enthusiasm and let it guide me, unpretentiously, letting photography be a way of processing the world like any other, not wanting it to be infected by a egotistical romanticism that came to define a lot of my peers. (My post-postgrad existence feels driven very much by the same wonderfully aimless energy.)
As a result, I never did make much of a go at being a “professional” photographer — although I had a few fun experiences in that industry, working at music festivals most memorably — but, very much in line with the ethos of this blog, I thought: why should I try and shape what I was doing for the sake of an exhibition when I could just do what I wanted on my blog? I don’t care about impressing people. I just wanna express myself. *hair flip*
The problem with this is that, if people think you’re nonchalant about monetising your work, they won’t hesitate to do so for their own gain. I had my photographic fingers burnt a few times…
These Picture Wizard annuals became a way of addressing this. The blog was added to with fervour and enthusiasm but, at the end of each year, I would take all the images and edit them rigorously into a cohesive sequence over many months, creating a vibrant visual journey that takes you through 12 months’ worth of form and colour.
There are two volumes in this series, documenting 2013 and 2014 respectively, and I remain immensely proud of them. A sequence for the third was completed but the cover art never got finished and then it fell into archive dormancy. Maybe I’ll get it out one day. Whilst my Blurb account is still live, Picture Wizard #01 & #02 might as well be allowed to migrate over here as a glimpse into a past life when I took 1000s of pictures a week rather than writing 1000s of words.
You can see flick-through videos of the books and links to their pages on my Blurb shop over on my now-updated Books & Zines page.