Last week on Modern Daily Knitting I joined Kay, Ann, Ashe and two hundred or so MDK subscribers to talk about KNITSONIK Bullet Journaling and to lead a fun, informal creative exercise: Make A Flier Of Your Year. Find a recording here. While Make A Flier Of Your Year isn’t strictly part of KNITSONIK Bullet Journaling, it is loosely related. It’s an activity that is:
- should be done without overthinking
- involves taking a particular view of time (in this case, a year on a page)
- is designed to be affirming and celebratory of your real life
It’s also an exercise in which I encourage everyone (just like with journaling) to use and enjoy cherished art supplies and to create space and permission to play.
It’s a great activity with which to kickstart some journal love if you have fallen out of the habit.
Today I thought it would be nice to talk about the history of this idea – Make A Flier Of Your Year – to share some of the fliers I’ve made, and to finish up with instructions in case you’d like to give this a go for yourself.
Make A Flier Of Your Day
This activity was inspired by Make A Flier Of Your Day – one of the exercises presented in the brilliant art project Learning To Love You More by Miranda July and Harrell Fletcher. In this project, Miranda and Harrell created an inspiring list of creative assignments that anyone could do, and invited folks to submit reports once they had completed the tasks. These reports have been since uploaded to the project website and curated into a book. They are an incredibly moving collective document that affirms and attends to daily life in fun, surprising and often poignant ways. You can see the reports of Make A Flier Of My Day here, and I discussed some examples in the MDK Zoom.
I have loved this idea of “Make A Flier Of Your Day” for a long time; in 2009 I was part of a group exhibition called Love Is Awesome in which I featured my own report. It looked like this:
The flier describes getting up on a wintry day in Oxford, taking the bus into London, knitting on the bus “until I got travel sick at Hillingdon”, going to a meeting with the Sonic Arts Network about a commission, getting apples at Borough Market, visiting a DEPRESSING ART INSTALLATION at TATE Modern, becoming very excited about the giant pencils in the gift shop and walking to Tower Bridge with happy dreams of pairing giant pencil with tiny notepad in mind. I met a pigeon, saw distinctive street signage, visited Prick Your Finger in Bethnal Green (legendary and now sadly closed haberdashery, gallery and art project of my friend Rachael Matthews), ate apples and pizza with cherished girlfriends, walked back to the bus in my Birkenstocks, and traveled home. In all its biro details and distinctive little Felix drawings, it is imbued with memories and emotions.
I was having a difficult time when I made this flier. Mark and I had temporarily broken up and I’d moved into a bedsit. I was heartbroken, struggling for work and money, and trying to regain my mojo. I strongly recall how empowering it was to make this flier. I took everyday details – pencils and apples, pigeons and shop signs – and turned them into something mischievous and uplifting. This flier of MY AMAZING DAY represents a refusal to be too sad, a manifesto for finding the hope and the joy. Depicting my absurdist jokes about the GIANT PENCIL with a TINY NOTEPAD really cheered me up, and writing about the day helped reinforce just how sustaining those apples, pizzas and chats with cherished friends were. I have a very bodily memory of my solid but tired feeling on the bus ride home; of how my feet in my Birkenstocks ached after all the lovely walking. I know if I walk by TIP TOP TEXTILES in East London again, the whole memory of that day will come flooding back of that day, that era, that moment.
Over the years this Flier Of My Day has become an enduring reminder of the power of committing the little ordinary details of which our daily lives are made, to paper. It is both a record of a day, and a reminder that that day – all days – matter. The importance of cherishing everyday life is an overarching theme for Miranda and Harrell’s project, and something that’s been integral to my own art practice too, over the years. It’s definitely a theme for KNITSONIK Bullet Journaling which – in another way – is also about committing our lives to paper, and cherishing and storing their little details and memories for posterity.
When I was running Zoom sessions for KNITSONIK Bullet Journaling in 2020, I reprised Make A Flier Of Your Day as an exercise to share these ideas with course participants. I ran two sessions, and these are the fliers I made.
This one tells the story of a day spent dealing with Methotrexate injection side effects; of waking with a headache; drinking coffee (seemingly an ongoing theme), doing the laundry; chatting to my friends on WhatsApp, DEEP CLEANING THE DIRTY FILTHY SINK (“AND NOW IT SHINES”), going for blood tests and knitting on my Missy Elliott sweater swatch. In the visuals, it’s full of mischief and glee. Representing the headache with a spree of hammers, stamped emphatically on the page with black ink; penning BAD MOOD MORNING in red pen with a cross-face emoji; celebrating CLEAN PANTS in the washing machine with an illustration of frilly elastic; appropriating Rosy Riveter to represent my great achievement of cleaning the sink – all these things stand up like a creative tide of refusal against what was essentially quite a shit day of feeling sick, having no energy, and being wiped out by the side-effects of my immunosuppressant arthritis medication. Instead of that, I remember the feeling of catharsis and agency of stamping those hammers, the resilient joy of CLEAN PANTS and SHINING SINK. Of winning on a day when I felt like I was losing. Of how pen and paper, rubber stamps, washi tape, felt pens – whatever works for you – can be about that.
The one made two days later is similarly jubilant. LOW SPOONS START points to ongoing energy/chronic illness issues, but MADE A SOUP FROM LEFTOVERS! and a happy montage of ticked TO-DOs feel victorious and happy. THANK YOU THANK YOU THANK YOU recalls a positive and helpful meeting with my therapist, while watered the garden and a TAKE CARE OF YOURSELF sticker speak to sustenance and nurturing.
These fliers both record what happened in a day (the WHAT of a flier), also the mood of it (the HOW), and the WHEN. All stuff you’d see on a gig poster, except the gig is my life, and I’m the headline act.
I love that Flier Of Your Day is kind of a throwaway medium. It’s not “make an oil-painting” or “a self-portrait”; it doesn’t come burdened with the weight of artistic output and the creeping perfectionism that such activities might evoke. The emphasis is on communication (what, how, when) and immediacy rather than on aesthetic perfection. I love that fliers are the things you find in cafes and cinemas, heaped up for you to read, telling you what’s going on in your town… and the idea that in between the concert and film listings could be a subversive stack of information about the much more happenstance and private events of an individual life. In the original exercise you are in fact meant to distribute the fliers. Yet even without doing this step, the imaginative idea of the flier as an everyday, throwaway medium that doesn’t have to be well-designed and just has to give you information feels permissive, enabling and doable.
A great test of the usefulness and value of art ideas is to try them out with my eight year old niece, Scarlett, in our semi-regular art lessons – “Auntie Felix’s Art Class”. One Friday last year in July, we made fliers of our days in which I learnt about Scarlett’s school uniform; preferred school lunch (such care and attention placed on drawing the baked beans!) and the glorious special insight that Scarlett assigns a colour to each day. Friday is BLUE. My flier records the all-important coffee (!!!), PORRIDGE OF DREAMS, the antics of the much-loved and missed JOEY MUFFKINS who came up to wake me that day; we clearly had grilled lettuce with walnuts and blue cheese for lunch (enthusiastically documented), and I was busy working on Yarnadelic Remixes 0.1 as one of the playlists was the soundtrack for that day. In a very meta way, the exercise in which we are making the fliers is documented on the flier, and I’ve used an A5 piece of grey cardboard and a collection of green, blue, brown, black and white inks that I had to hand. Raindrops celebrate that I PUT HOUSEPLANTS OUT IN THE RAIN FOR A BIG DRINK! I love that doing this exercise enabled my niece and I to exchange such moving little details of our lives, to learn these little things about one another, and to create physical memories together of shared time.
This is the flier I started during the Zoom session last week; I spent the 10 minutes allocated in the session on it, plus a further 10 minutes adding gold ink and extra bits afterwards.
This flier explores how, for me, 2023 was about THE HORROS of moving house and the ultimate JOY JOY JOY of now living by the sea. If you are a person who doesn’t find moving house deeply disturbing and stressful on every level, I salute you… but I am not that person! I can’t tell you how cathartic and life-affirming it was to claim some of the emotional hangover of moving house in the stamping out of HORROR… nor how happy and uplifting it was to counter that with JOY JOY JOY.
Looking at the fliers I have made – mostly of days but now also my first Flier Of My Year – I am really struck by how they are really ME. The heavy-handed rubber stamping, expressive use of ALL-CAPS, enthusiastic, maximalist decoration and heavy emphasis on food, coffee, and bodily stuff (walking, medication, eating, drinking etc.) all feel very true to me, and show clear prioritisation of what I wanted to record and remember from each day. To my eyes there’s something uplifting and resilient in these depictions of my disabled life, put side by side with a triumphal use of colour and happy recollections of the little happy things that brought me joy. My Bullet Journals are full of this as well, though not all the pages are as busy or pictorial. Your flier of Your Day won’t look like these fliers – it will look like YOU; and the same goes for your journal, which is something I emphasise continually in KNITSONIK Bullet Journaling.
One of the things I love about keeping a Bullet Journal is that the dot-grid can be used to make different views of time. You can have a page – or a spread – for a really busy day; or just keep all your lists for a week on a single page – whatever works for you. I like to have a spread that shows the year just for getting an overview of the shape of the year, and being able to see what’s coming up in six months’ time or whatever, and I also like to have more detailed views for the month and sometimes for a week. Sometimes a single meeting of an hour will take up three or four pages of notes… It’s an elastic and forgiving system in which you can give windows of time as much or little space as they require. So when thinking about a fun task for journalers and non-journalers alike to think about the year that’s been or the one we’re just starting, I thought Make A Flier Of Your Day might be easily stretched to Make A Flier Of Your Year.
To do this exercise you’ll need at the bare minimum a sheet of paper (or a journal page) and a pen or pencil.
You can additionally add stickers, rubber stamps, ephemera, photos, inks, watercolours, felt-pens… whatever works for you.
It’s worth looking at the report page for Make A Flier Of Your Day for ideas about what you might choose to share about your Year.
With all that in mind, without overthinking it or spending too long on the task (I spent 20 minutes in total on my flier)
Choose whether you’re going to focus on 2023 or 2024.
The WHEN of your flier.
Think about the big headlines. What happened in your year/what do you hope will happen?
Does your year have a name? Like a band name?
What do you want to highlight as big happenings/thing that are going to happen?
The WHAT of your flier.
Who was with you/will be with you?
The WHO of your flier.
Then decorate/illustrate embellish the info you’ve chosen to include on your flier in whatever ways you feel speak to the mood and texture of the year.
There’s no right or wrong to this exercise and it can be as messy, imperfect and playful as you like – remember, it’s just a flier. I do hope, though, that at the end you’ll look it and recognise – in a kind and comforting way – the textures of YOU in all your humanity and realness, because that’s the best part about Make A Flier Of Your Day/Week/Month/Year, and the thing that makes these little documents so precious over time.
Let me know how you get on and Happy New Year, KNITSONIK-style!