Like a bear emerging from the woods, the book is coming soon

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When I first met the furries all that time ago ( only 2008..Ed) I was slightly overwhelmed by their costumes, but more than that their sense of fun and mischief. I was there to do a two page report of RBW, which is the Rather Brilliant Weekend. A sadly now defunct furry convention, which was replaced in a way by the Londonfurs summer and winter parties as well as the now more larger Confuzzled.

Alfa Fox and Lupus Londonwolf were two of the first furries I met

After taking pictures for Bizarre magazine and asking a few questions about their costumes, I felt I had managed to ingratiate myself into feeling accepted for a while at least.

After I left, put the camera down and moved on with putting the magazine together every month ( I was the picture editor there for seven glorious years) the furries kept popping back into my mind. There was something about them that seemed to speak to me, sure the costumes were amazing. There was something else though, the playfulness perhaps, the role playing, the mask element, the becoming something different which seemed to stick with me.

At Home With The Furries

A furry walk outside the Tate Modern

I started going to furry meets in London, organised by the Londonfurs. Yes the furries have an organising committee..:-) In fact more than one. In the ten years since I started the project, furry meets have sprung up all over the UK. Leeds, Birmingham, Oxford and Manchester all meet up every few weeks for a social and usually a furwalk.

I had this idea of going to a furry’s house and photographing them in their suits doing something they liked to do, a hobby or something they didn’t, a chore. I hoped to get a mixture of them as people and their characters. First was Smirnoff and although initially my sketching out of what we’d do on the day was very rough ( re…he was clueless..Ed) As soon as the furry in question fursuited up, I seemed to find a way to tell some sort of truth in the picture. Sometimes on the day or sometimes later in the editing suite.

At Home With The Furries

Smirnoff takes five

Why is this long introduction important to the latest status of At Home With The Furries? Well sometimes what we set out to do isn’t the complete sum of all parts by the time we’ve finished. I’ll be honest, as I usually am with the furry book there are times I’ve wanted to put the project down and forget it. I just didn’t see a way to move forward with it. But I truly believe that meeting people, sharing experiences and ideas is the only way to gain inspiration. Whether that’s in person, email or through social media.

It also helps when someone else, a publisher or a gallery drops you a line to say we would like to feature the project in our book about the history of photography or the Royal Academy accepts one of the photographs into the Summer Exhibition

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Syrrus and Lupestripe as shown in Gallery III at this year’s Summer Exhibition at the Royal Academy of the Arts. I’m furry grateful to all the wonderful people who bought a print, the edition completely sold out.

So here we are, one day next month I’ll receive a shipment of books on a couple of pallets on a truck that’s driven from Istanbul. It’ll be an emotional moment, of that I have no doubt. I realised during the course of the book design and concept is that the book has to be a homage to the furry fandom, to the joy, the passion, the creativity and the crazy characters I’ve met during this amazing journey.

At Home With The Furries

Marshall gets his reading practise in before he receives a copy of At Home With The Furries

Why Istanbul though? Well I was introduced to the printer, Ufuk Sahin by the photographer, Kalpesh Lathigra who printed his book, Lost in the Wilderness with Ufuk and his print shop, MAS. The production values of Lost in the Wilderness are superb and I wanted a similar level of commitment to the furry project. In fact I ended up with a level of commitment and dedication to the furry project from Ufuk that if anything went to the next level of what is possible. Mainly because I wanted the cover to be something totally unique, it had to be furry basically. Or at least feel like it. The tactile nature of the furry experience had to be reflected in the book itself.

When I visited MAS last month to be on press and sign off the pages as they came off the printer, Ufuk showed me his R & D room, full of bits of furry material that he had experimented with to make a book. We decided on a felt material that we printed a paw print design onto. It’s simple yet beautiful. I want it to be a surprise for the Kickstarter backers and anyone who has pre-ordered a copy of the book so I won’t be posting any pictures of it until the backers receive their books.

If you’d like to pre-order a copy of the book, go to Stay Free Publishing here

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It’s that Furday feeling..again

Friday is a special day for the furries, there’s a tradition of posting photographs on social media under the hashtag fursuitfriday, (#fursuitfriday) Have a look and see what my fellow fuzzies are up to!

London Furries Winter Ball

A classic #fursuitfriday image of Marshall

In campaign news, the At Home With The Furries Kickstarter is now up to 44% backed with 85 supporters, there are 19 days left so worth getting pledges in sooner rather than later. One thing that’s worth mentioning is that the funds are only taken from backers at the end of the campaign, April 5th. And that’s assuming the target is met, no target, no money and that’s the end of the story. But we don’t want to do that, oh no! Fingers and paws crossed. Click here

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The furries are hugging to get this project over the line

In publicity news, Cosmopolitan interviewed me for their website (the US version) and did a really nice job with the feature. The conversation took place over the phone and I’m pleased that the journalist Kaitlin Menza included my anecodotes about furries, scalies and featheries. Thanks to the photo editor, Kathleen Kamphausen for organising that. See here

At Home With The Furries

Lupus Londonwolf and Alfa Fox

Finally, I was pleased to hear from an old friend, Wolfy who I got to know at one of my very first furmeets in London. It was one of those classic situations where I was with some friends and I noticed he was on his own, we got chatting and it turned out he knew me through the magazine, Bizarre ( I used to be the photo editor there) he was a keen reader and we have kept in touch since through social media and the odd furmeet and convention. He backed the book this week and tweeted the following.

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Wolfy by the artist-VHSrat

Art by VHSrat

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I asked Wolfy about the furry fandom and what it meant to him
“Before (the furries) I had no social life. Struggled like hell with people and often had panic attacks. It wasn’t until I started to go to furry meets that I actually felt connected with people. For the most part the people were friendly and welcoming and very understanding. I still struggle at times in crowds but I have been to conventions, done furry camping. Things that would have scared the hell out of me 10 years ago”
To support the Kickstarter campaign to turn  At Home With The Furries into a published photobook, have a look here and thanks
There are plenty of fantastic rewards available, postcards, limited edition prints, the book and lots of actual fur, including slipcases and tote bags. You can pledge any amount to back the campaign. Click here and let Pazuzu tell you more
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Jeff Minter and Ivan Zorzin from Llamasoft photographed for Wired Italia

Say Llamatron, Attack of the Mutant Camels, Gridrunner and Space Giraffe to a gamer of a certain age and you’ll get knowing glances and a special handshake.

All these games were created by a games company called Llamasoft, in the very early days of video gaming when Call of Duty and Halo were but a glint in a small child’s eye. When the idea of making mobile phone calls and checking where you were on the same device would be seen in sci-fi movies. And when floppy discs (remember them!) were quite literally floppy.

They were designed by Jeff Minter, ‘the Ox’. Lately he’s moved into Virtual Reality with his partner in crime, Giles/Ivan Zorzin, the ‘Goat’.

Giles and Jeff in their 'Retro Room'

Giles and Jeff in their ‘Retro Room’

Last year, I took a trip to West Wales on assignment for Wired Italia to photograph Llamasoft. The brief was that Jeff and Giles live with llamas, sheep and donkeys and that they, Wired wanted the shoot to be as mental as possible. Well the situation was certainly odd, and I had no idea what to expect. But then when one has photographed people like the furries, adapting to unusual situations is something of a forte for me.

Riccardo Meggiato, the journalist for Wired had been speaking with Giles for a few months, lining up the idea of visiting him and Jeff at home. We drove from London, picking up Riccardo on the way from Gatwick airport and met the two of them at their local pub, it was called The Slaughtered Lamb and was on the side of a dark track that led over the moors…kidding. It was however in the middle of nowhere.

At Home With Llamasoft

The following morning, we eventually found their house and as my assistant, the legendary Andy ‘Tito’ Donohoe drove our rented Ford up their drive passing their farmyard. We came across a wonderful old cottage, but what secrets did it hold?

Giles and Jeff playing a video game in their living room

Giles and Jeff playing a video game in their living room

Well if you were to imagine that over the past 40 years or so, Jeff Minter and Giles had collected every single console and game and random bit of gaming tech and stuffed it into every corner of his house, that would be an accurate description of his home. Essentially an Aladdin’s cave for gaming fans.

Jeff asked me if I’d like to see the retro room, as if you need to ask.

Riccardo got busy with the interview, and that gave me and Tito an opportunity to work out where we could do our set-ups. I was thinking three would be an ideal number.

One in the ‘Retro Room’, one in the living room and one outside on the farm. Did I mention already that they raise llamas, sheep and goats? Not to eat mind. Just because they like them, they’re good friends.

The Yak and the Goat in their natural habitat

The Ox and the Goat in their natural habitat

And to the llamas in question…I mean if you’re going to write a video game called Llamatron, then of course one would require the real thing close by, to inspire you.

At Home With Llamasoft

What would a photoshoot be without me hanging out with the boys in their front room, surrounded by pinball machines and random posters of Gridrunner!

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Thanks to:

Francesca Morosini, David Moretti, Andy Donohoe, Riccardo Meggiato, Wired, Llamasoft and of course the llamas.

Connect:

Tom Broadbent

Francesca Morosini

David Moretti

Andy Donohoe

Riccardo Meggiato

Wired Italia

Llamasoft