The Difficult Second Album: Euro 2016 – Pens, Pencils & The Beard Of Ledley

Hello again.

It’s been a while. The World Cup seems a long time ago. The drawing, the stickers, the being harassed out of bed at 6.45am to explain ourselves to confused radio presenters… that all seems a long time ago too.

For those who have just discovered us, what happened in the summer of 2014 was this: we, a thrifty pair who wanted to fill the Panini FIFA 2014 World Cup sticker album but couldn’t rationalise the estimated £450 outlay on pictures of tiny men, decided as a cost-cutting measure to draw the stickers ourselves. We began the day the World Cup began, with the faint notion of finishing by the time the tournament ended a month later. The “stickers” we drew, neither of us having much in the way of an artistic bent, were uniformly awful. And I mean awful. All 640 of them. It is absolutely essential that the world understands that we know we can’t draw. But draw we did…

We thought a few friends and family might find our quest gently amusing and, I suppose, we were right. What we hadn’t banked on was that plenty of others would too. Our drawings – our terrible, terrible drawings – found their way to seemingly every corner of the internet, to the BBC and the Guardian, to radio breakfast shows, to the front page of our local paper, to Simon Mayo, to magazines in Iran and Japan and Mexico and beyond, to the “and finally” bit on the actual proper telly news, to a teeny part of a Panini-obsessive book, to a lovely little mini-documentary, and, ridiculously, to an actual exhibition.

Obviously, this was all really, really silly. But it was also fun, and a bit scary, but mainly fun. And, most importantly, we finished on time, putting the finishing touches to our approximation of Spain’s Pedro a mere fifteen minutes before the final kicked off. So, we succeeded – we succeeded in filling the entire 2014 World Cup Panini album for zero pounds and zero pence.

So, that’s where you find us: two years later, a new tournament looming in the shape of UEFA Euro 2016 and Panini having churned out an accompanying album boasting a thoroughly alarming 800 stickers.

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Eight hundred stickers.

I don’t mind telling you that drawing 800 stickers in 30 days, each one taking about 15 minutes, is quite an undertaking. We drew 640 in 32 days last time, and it nearly killed us. There are only two of us, and we have actual jobs and, in many ways, actual lives. I re-read the blog from 2014 recently, and it provides a decent picture of two sleep-deprived people slowly disintegrating over the course of a month, desperately trying to complete a bafflingly pointless quest that had taken over their lives without them ever quite meaning to. It scared me.

With that in mind, to make this foolhardy task worth attempting all over again, we would like to try and harness the wonderful support we’ve received in the past, by raising some money for charity. By clicking on our Virgin Money Giving page, you can donate to two charities very dear to both of us, Cancer Research UK and Macintyre Charities, giving us the motivation to keep churning out our dishevelled little men even when our brains and bodies are telling us to stop. AND, if you’re in our top 100 donors by the time Euro 2016 comes to a close on July 10th and we – hopefully – have finished the album, you will get a personalised Panini Cheapskate picture of your very own face. If you happen to be one of these lucky(?) 100, we hope for your sake you’re not easily offended.

So there you have it. That’s the plan.

800 stickers

30 days

2 soon-to-be-shells of people

1 album

Oh God.

While you wait for Euro 2016 to begin and our odyssey to start, why not give us a follow on Twitter (@CheapPanini) for a constant stream of wonky pictures. Oh, and of course you can CLICK HERE TO DONATE NOW if you’re the super organised type. Please do spread the word, it’d be lovely to raise a tidy sum for two very worthwhile causes, and do check back soon. It’s going to be a very long month, but it would be great to have you along for the ride.

Thanks!

Alex & Sian

Two Weeks Later… A Film! A Book! An Exhibition!

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So, what happened next? Well, the BBC did a lovely little article about us completing our quest, our local paper put us on the front page again, and the equal-parts talented and wonderful Sam King has made a film about our month-long adventure…

Yuck, hearing your own voice is no fun at all. There’s a few other things too… whisper it for now, but there’s a small chance of us finding our way into a forthcoming Panini-related book in the not-too-distant future. Madness! We’ll most certainly endeavour to keep you posted, whatever the heck comes of it. And lastly, but perhaps most-excitingly, we’re going to be exhibiting our handiwork at Fusion Arts in Oxford from Saturday 23rd August onwards, and maybe other places too. More details to follow!

Also, one final thing, and I may regret asking this, but DOES ANYONE OUT THERE HAVE ANY IDEAS AS TO WHAT WE SHOULD DO NEXT?

Love & stickers,

Alex & Sian

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World Cup Day 32 (Part 3)

We did it.

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We actually did it. Somehow, for some reason, the two of us, two confused and thrifty football-addled souls, actually managed to draw each and every Panini 2014 World Cup sticker, all in the month-long space of one wonderful and beguiling carnival of samba-themed ball-kicking.

We drew Germans. We drew Argentinians. We drew Brazilians, Chileans and Colombians. We drew Hondurans, Costa Ricans, Mexicans and Americans. We drew Ivorians, Nigerians, Cameroonians and Algerians. We drew Australians, we drew South Koreans, we drew Iranians. We drew Italians, Belgians and Bosnia-Herzigovans. We drew plenty of nationalities whose collective term didn’t end pleasingly in “…ians”, like the French, the Dutch, the Greeks, the Japanese, the Spaniards, the Portuguese and, of course, the hapless, always doomed English.

We drew in our house. We drew in our car. We drew at our places of work (on our lunch-breaks, naturally). We drew at our friend’s houses, we drew at barbecues, we drew in gardens, and we drew (while at hen parties) on picnic tables in Devon.

We drew while we were tired. We drew while we were sleepy. We drew while were worn-out, knackered and exhausted.

We drew and we drew and we drew, and we eventually drew each and every one of these utterly, oddly terrible pictures…

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…and, it must be said, we had an absolutely, completely wonderful time. We had no idea when we started that our strange little project would attract such a lovely reaction from all around the world. I took a peek at the list of countries from where people have visited this blog earlier today, and it absolutely blew my tiny mind. So, whether you’ve read this blog from the first day, or stumbled on it for the first time this evening, whether you think we’re mad or sad, thrifty or miserly, geniuses or insane, whether you look on these hapless squiggles with affection, pity, joy or alarm, we can only give some very big and humble thanks. It’s been totally surreal and a whole lot of fun, but it gives me real, genuine satisfaction to say that…

WE…ARE…FINISHED!

Thanks so, so much for reading. A lot of people have asked where we will go from here, what we’ll do with the finished album, and what our next project will be. The answer, for now at least, is that we honestly don’t know. We (hopefully understandably) haven’t had time to think for the last month, but we’ll put our heads together (much like in the “picture” below) and try and work out what comes next.

It’s been wonderful, many many thanks to everyone who read the blog, commented, emailed, followed, tweeted, linked to us, wrote about us, wished us good luck, had kind words to say or, justifiably, mercilessly took the mickey. Thanks to all.

Check back tomorrow! See what on earth becomes of us…

Much love,
Alex & Sian

@CheapPanini

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P.S. Here’s our “My Panini” pic for inside the front page of the album. Which one is worse? I’m not saying which one’s which…

World Cup Day 32 (Part 2)

FINISHED!!!!!!! Right on time!

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Oh boy, oh boy, there is much to say, but I think we’ve earned ourselves an hour or two of peace and HEY, wouldn’t you know it but the World Cup Final is on, right now.

So, do check back later tonight for lots of happiness, gushing, and one last round-up of bad stickers. For now, thankyou so much for reading!

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Love!
Alex & Sian

World Cup Day 32 (Part 1)

5 HOURS TO KICK OFF, and a mere seven stickers left. Oh my. And look, those lovely guys at the BBC have done a thing about us. If you’re from the UK, that’s what your license fee is going on…

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Anyway, we’re nearly there! Despite an unpleasant incident involving a hangover (eventually negated by the judicious application of chocolate milk), we are it seems just about to stumble happily over the line… but not quite yet. First, we have the small matter of the World Cup Final to deal with, so, er, I’ve just bodged this together…

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Awful, obviously. And probably wrong, too. I’m pretty sure Di Maria’s injured…

Never mind, here’s a quick look at some of what we’ve done since I chiselled Sian out of bed at 1pm…

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The malicious squint of Noboa. The nervous glance of Matip. The muscular grimace of Schar. And oh my goodness, the saccharine sheen of Riccardo Montolivo… seriously, that man is absolutely gorgeous.

Right, that’s it for now, except to say:
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Croatia? DONE.

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Nigeria? DONE.

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Portugal? DONE.

Just a handful to go, check back very, very soon!

Love!
Alex & Sian

World Cup Day 31

One day to go! It’s enough to make you feel like this:

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Yes, we’re happy, because the World Cup Final kicks off in just a tiny bit over 24 hours. Blimey. And by the time tomorrow night’s referee in the Maracana parps his whistle to end the tournament, bringing to an end a month of wonderfully entertaining (so I’m told, we hardly look up from our pencils) football, then so too will our strange and baffling quest have (hopefully) reached its end. It’s been wonderful, odd, wonderfully odd, and also completely exhausting. We tried to treat ourselves to a lie-in today, which would have been a rare thing in this weirdest of months, but we just lay there muttering that we should really be downstairs drawing tiny footballers. No rest for those with a ludicrous project to complete and an arbitrary deadline to meet. Oh well, only 24 hours to go but…and do whisper it…I think we might just finish on time.

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Today has been productive! 20-odd stickers in the book in super-fast time, and a lovely visit from our friend Sam who is going to make a tiny short film about our exploits. He asked us questions, drank our tea, and filmed us as we churned out the following smorgasbord of rubbishness…

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Some choice faces, there. I’m quite a fan of Alexandros Tziolis, continuing the theme of most of the Greek players having mighty, mighty beards. Similarly, Valentin Stocker shares the smirky half-grin that most of his Swiss buddies seem to favour. How strange. Halfway through drawing Jorge Guagua, I realised I’d done that thing I repeatedly do where I draw too much head and nowhere near enough face. We’ll never learn.

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Russia? DONE.

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Ghana? DONE.

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Netherlands? DONE.

We’re close. So close, we can taste it.. and it tastes like stickers and ink and glue and tin-foil and pencil shavings. But it still tastes good…

One day left.

622 STICKERS DOWN.
18 STICKERS TO GO.

Wow,

Love!
Alex & Sian

World Cup Day 30

Two days to go! Tick tock, tick tock. Two days, and still we can’t rest. We’re both feeling ever so slightly like this guy…

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But not to worry, we’ll muddle through somehow, no matter how large the deadline looms or how bad the drawings get. I mean, look at some of today’s offerings…

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Have you ever read ‘Of Mice And Men’? If you haven’t, please do, because then you’ll know that Emanuele Giaccherini would clearly ace the audition for the part of Lenny in any half-worthy adaptation. Easy, Emanuele, put the puppy down. Speaking of which, Karim Anjarifard reminds me of a guilty dog, shuffling along near the skirting board, eyes darting in a panic of shame, as his owner arrives home to a snowstorm of shredded keepsakes and drool-soaked, formerly cherished heirlooms. Bad dog. Oh boy, here’s Jorge Valdivia, another from our burgeoning Disney Prince collection, He seems a nice sort, but a bit dopey, doubtless soon to be hoodwinked by some wily but lovable street urchin out of a pouch of shekels.

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Algeria? DONE.

Oh boy, not long now. Less than two days to the grand finale, so please do stick with us till then, it’ll all be over soon…

598 STICKERS DOWN.
42 STICKERS TO GO.

Love!
Alex & Sian

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World Cup Day 29

It’s less than 60 hours to the end of the World Cup Final.

I’ll be honest, we’re getting a little stressed. But we’re so, so close to the end, that there’s just no way we can let ourselves fail now. That would be silly. Oh yes, that would be silly, whereas embarking on a quest to draw 640 Panini stickers in one month was the height of common sense. Oh well, bit late to grumble about that kind of thing. Let’s look at some tiny men…

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Hmmmm. I can positively identify Benoit Assou-Ekoto for Cameroon, but that’s about it. I’m enjoying the hands-on-each-other’s-thighs thing being pioneered by the Spanish team. I hope it catches on. Saucy. Right, onto  some individual delights…

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Moussa Dembele looks pretty damn sexy. He’s smiling with his eyes. I’ve heard it’s known as “smizing”. If it’s a thing, he’s certainly doing it brilliantly. Charming fellow. Poor Arthur Boka is doing long division in his head. By the way, he hasn’t had an emergency tracheotomy, Sian insists that there was a “defect” in the blank sticker. I’ll take her word for it. Yikes, Hassan Yebda zooms straight into the Top Ten Weirdest Looking Men In The World Cup, with his blob of macaroni cheese where a normal man would have hair. Explanations are welcome, and necessary.

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Belgium? DONE.

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Algeria? DONE!

Hooray, that’s all from us for now. Sorry this was a little late, (real) life got in the way a bit in the last 24 hours. BUT, we’ll be back later with another update. Promise!

58 HOURS TO GO.
575 STICKERS DOWN.
65 STICKERS TO GO.

Check back soon!

Alex & Sian

https://twitter.com/CheapPanini

World Cup Day 28

The home stretch! Fewer than a hundred stickers to go, and yet we’re still finding new depths to plumb with our hapless ham-fistedness. I honestly don’t know whether to be upset or impressed by our steadfast resilience to improvement. It’s quite amazing. They say that practice makes perfect, but we’re putting together a robust argument to the contrary. Anyway, onwards to rubbishness…

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Jose Miguel Cubero’s face seems to be dripping clean off his head, a waxwork man playing at Icarus and paying the harshest of consequences. Or maybe he’s had a craving for coat-hangers, it’s difficult to say. Spare a thought too for Vedad Ibišević, one eye of clearest blue ice, the other a smudged pinprick with a life, back story, hopes and dreams all of its own. One side of his face is that of a merciless cyborg, the other a harassed and wincing stepfather. And then there’s Juan Carlos Paredes, a vague and nebulous form in our rendering, a mere gentle suggestion of what it is to be an Ecuadorian international footballer.

One of the pitfalls of the slapdash way we’ve approached the question of “who to draw next?” at any one time, is that we’ve ended up with a few teams completed and a few with hardly anyone drawn in at all. To redress this, here’s a whole bunch of Russians:

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Glushakov? Airburshed. Anyukov? Trying to grin, but only managing a threatening leer. Shirokov? Depressed. Fayzulin? Possibly whispering sensual entreaties out of the corner of his mouth. Denisov? Sturdy. Smolov? For the love of all that is holy, he’s sticking his tongue out. This is an outrage.

And last but by no means least today, everyone’s favourite surprise package Costa Rica are finally in the bag. Lovely stuff, and some of our favourite silly faces from the whole tournament.

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That’s all from us for today. Four more days to go… four more days of drawing, colouring, sticking, drawing, colouring, sticking and (occasionally) sleeping. I’m genuinely not joking when I tell you I’ve developed a twitch in my right eye over the last week or so, probably from far too much squinting at tiny pieces of paper. It’s a good job this thing is over soon, our flimsy bodies can’t take it…

FOUR DAYS LEFT.
560 STICKERS DOWN.
80 STICKERS TO GO.

Love!
Alex & Sian

P.S. In case you don’t already… why not follow us on Twitter @CheapPanini? Ah, go on…

World Cup Day 27

Incredible scenes! Germany just gave Brazil a pretty thorough chasing in a pretty bonkers semi-final, and yet we were still unable to properly drag our eyes away from ploughing through yet another batch of disgraceful doodles. The deadline looms, y’see? Only five days to go, and still well over a hundred stickers to do. We had friends round while we “watched” the match, exasperating them with our mindless refusal to stop drawing and look at the TV as yet another goal bobbled past the hapless Julio Cesar. Life gets ever stranger…

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…as do our drawings. I mean, take this selection: Poor Joao Rojas has been cursed with cruelly mismatched eyes, which I’m going to attempt to explain by claiming that one is close to us, and the other is far away. Khosro Heydari gawps like a gasping fish, while Blerim Dzemaili’s combo of kindly grin and serrated teeth brings to mind a particularly friendly fruitbat.

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Oh dear. Mohammad Khalatbari is in pain, grimacing with poorly suppressed agony at some unseen affliction. Maybe he bet on Brazil? Poor chap. Nobody needs that. Then we have the two sides of the ‘Disney Prince’ coin with Ariel Rodriguez and Adnan Zahirovic. First it’s Ariel: snide, snivelling, wretched, forever plotting the overthrow of some benevolent king or seduction of a good-hearted but trusting princess. But then there’s Adnan, a magnificent man, swinging in on a chandelier to save the day, hair flowing, swashes freshly buckled. What a man.

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Well, the less said about this trio of horror the better, I think. Between Van Buyten’s nose, Beckeles’ chin and Ibarra’s mouth, this might be the fuel of my nightmares for years to come.

That’s all for now. Obviously, we’re still awful, and we still can’t draw. But do check back tomorrow! We’re getting very close to the end of this strange and wonderful journey, it’d be very nice if you were to be with us at the finale.

536 STICKERS DOWN.
104 STICKERS TO GO.

Love,
Alex & Sian

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