Atomium Escalator: Travelling through hyperspace in the Belgian tourist attraction
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As a copywriter I'm confronted by the Oxford Comma question on a daily basis, but when it comes to the usage of this controversial piece of punctuation I definitely fall into the pro camp. However, I've never considered where it came from or the etymology of the phrase "Oxford Comma". The good folks at Vox have done their research though and in one of their recently uploaded (and very nicely produced) videos explain the Oxford Comma origin story.
My case for using the old Ox Com is that even if it isn't completely necessary all the time the assurance of 100% clarity when listing things is always better than anything less. The video above certainly isn't going to settle any debates but it will at least add some interesting new content to discussions about this copywriters' bane.
Being a freelance copywriter and content creator I'm always looking for new sources of inspiration, places I can visit to jump-start the creative bits of my brain. Luckily living in Devon means there are many opportunities for inspiration right on my doorstep and I know that if my creative juices are dry a fresh breeze, an uplifting landscape, or something unusual are only a short trip away.
Below are a few of my favourite places to visit when in need of some fresh ideas or suffering with writer's block:
Shrouded in mystery and foaming at the mouth with folklore Dartmoor is a national park that's filled with dramatic rocky tors, boggy and foggy mires, and Tolkienesque woods. Haytor is the picture postcard place that most visitors are familiar with but there are many, many other tors to be explored, as well as woodlands and quaint villages.
The most well-known writer to have been inspired by the place is of course Sir Arthur Conan Doyle whose fictionalised version of Dartmoor provided the backdrop to the classic Sherlock Holmes tale The House of the Baskervilles.
Whether ghostly goings on, an epic tromp through the countryside, or a nice cream tea is your idea of inspiration Dartmoor is a must if you need to blow some copywriting cobwebs out of your head.
Together with its neighbouring counties Devon is home to a large section of the South West Coastal Path, a route of 630 miles of stunning coastline. Varying in difficulty level and character Devon's stretches of coastal path range from gentle rambles and romantic strolls, to challenging (and sometimes hair-raising) adventures.
My favourite coastal walk so far has been the 14m route from Brixham to Kingswear, a varied and occasionally punishing walk that will leave you feeling energised in both body and brain.
If the beach is more likely to trigger your next bright idea then the gentle walks around Dawlish may be a better option. Dawlish was also a hotspot for 19th century writers on their holidays, including the likes of Jane Austen.
While Devon isn't as stuck in the dark ages as the media would you have believe it does have a high quota of quaintness, with many towns and villages that have been largely unaffected by the passage of time.
Totnes is probably the number one place to go in Devon if you want to take a step back into the past, with a town centre that has largely resisted change (its basic layout has hardly altered since it was established in medieval times) and Norman Castle managed by English Heritage. Writers will be inspired by its history, its scenery, and its general likeable oddness.
So there are three places to check out if you're a copywriter or creative who's looking for somewhere inspiring to visit – whether you live in the county or are just thinking of popping down for a break. Notebooks and a pen are a must wherever you visit, but don't forget to pack something waterproof if you're heading to the moors or the coast.
The pictures I want to share in this post aren't from a book which is that old, but features sketches for the illustrations of two of my favourite old books – Alice's Adventures in Wonderland and Through the Looking Glass.
Tenniel's Alice was printed in 1978 by the Department of Printing and Graphic Arts at Harvard University and features images from the university's archive by Sir John Tenniel – his preliminary sketches for the Alice books.
These drawings provide a fascinating glimpse of his iconic wood-engraved illustrations before they were carved into wood. According to the introduction the sketches would be made on paper, transferred onto the woodblocks and then carved into the block (the white space being the bits that got removed) by the well-known Victorian engravers the Brothers Dalziel.
Equally as interesting is Carroll's own illustration of Humpty Dumpty, an example of one of the author's drawings which weren't considered good enough for publication but gave Tenniel a place to start.
Tenniel was a pretty prolific artist, who was blind in one eye and lost his sight entirely later in life, but is best known for his Alice drawings. They're inspirational as artwork and as an example of how images can work with storytelling and writing to create something that's even greater than the sum of its extraordinary parts.
I've been assembling a list of the lesser-known books Tenniel created illustrations for and hope to track them down and share the scans in future posts. Check out my Pictures from Old Books Pinterest Board for the full gallery of Tenniel's Alice.
Choc Edge has often proven itself to be one of the more unusual tangents my freelancing journey has taken me on and this week was no exception. When BBC Radio 1's Academy asked Choc Edge to participate in its week-long series of workshops in Exeter I jumped at the chance to organise our day there and get one of the DJ's involved with 3D chocolate printing for some unique on-air content.
My pitch was simple – print 2D chocolate portraits of all DJs present (which only required a photograph) and a 3D chocolate head from a scan of one of the DJs that they could be presented with on their show. The Radio 1 Academy producers liked the idea and from there it was only a matter of getting the chosen DJ Scott Mills scanned in 3D with the help of Exeter's Fab Lab.
In the end the scanning happened on the day prior to the event leaving me with only a few hours to process the 3D scan and make it suitable for chocolate printing, but I managed to create a trio of 3D printed chocolate Scotts.
The tasting seemed to go down well on air, providing a rich source of inspiration for Scott's legendary innuendos. The joke was that he was expecting a life-sized clone of his head in chocolate but instead got a more bite-sized version. Social Media also seemed to enjoy the reveal which proved to be one of Radio 1's most popular tweets that day.
Getting to create such fun content for a radio show I'm a fan of and in a building where I hangout and work was an exciting experience, and it was great to meet and see the response of the bright young people attending the Radio 1 Academy.
Although 3D printing or the company wasn't mentioned on the show I've optimised the full story on the Choc Edge blog to make sure that anyone who searches for Scott's chocolate head will be able to find out where it came from.
Mark is a freelancer who specialises in creative copywriting and content creation. Starting out as a freelance blogger he's experienced at putting his copywriting skills to work on a variety of subjects and can easily turn his hand to different styles. In his years as a freelance writer he's always brought a creative edge to everything he's written.
In addition to being a freelance copywriter and a hard-working wordsmith Mark has also forged other forms of content for the web and print working as a photographer, video editor and a general content creator on a freelance basis.
Based in Devon Mark lives within questing distance of the UK's Middle Earth aka Dartmoor. He likes his detectives hard-boiled, his eggs runny, and his time travel non-paradoxical.
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