As many of you will have seen, Cheap Panini are drawing every single one of the 682 Panini World Cup stickers for charity. Kicking off at the same time as the World Cup and finishing in time for the final, Alex and Sian have 32 days to complete around 170 hours of drawing between them… oh, and they have a baby to look after, how’s THAT for multi-tasking?
As the couple prepare for this enormous challenge, Hollseey was lucky enough to take some of their time for an exclusive interview!
1. Confession time… who suggested drawing the stickers first?
I think we’re equally culpable. On the eve of the last World Cup I (Alex) was gently badgering Sian, because we’d seen a couple of our mates in the pub with their swaps, and the lapsed child inside me wanted to join them. I felt I had unfinished business with Panini stickers after, as a 10-year-old, cruelly coming within a half-dozen or so stickers of completing the World Cup ’94 album. So – I wanted to get the stickers. However, there was an article doing the rounds at the time that suggested the likely cost of completing the 2014 World Cup album was about £450, and Sian (quite rightly) pointed out that there were possibly more important things for us to be spending our money on. Over a pint, we collectively hit on the idea of getting the actual album (which you could pick up for free from a branch of Co-Op) and drawing in the stickers ourselves, thinking it might be a fun little bit of silliness that might amuse our friends. I can’t say with 100% certainty who is truly responsible for the idea, but suffice to say: I blame Sian.
2. I read it takes around 15 minutes per sticker, have you managed to get faster at drawing?
Unfortunately not. Despite drawing nearly two thousand of these little guys, our startling lack of talent and general clumsiness means that we still have to take a fair bit of time to get anything even vaguely recognisable. I’ve said this before elsewhere, but we are remarkably resistant to improvement. I think if we were going to get better/speedier, we would have done so by now.
3. What’s been the biggest challenge?
Time. Time. Time. There just isn’t enough of it. Both the 2014 and 2016 albums were ridiculous undertakings – after 2014 we said “Never again!” but enough people suggested using it as a way of doing charity fundraising that we were convinced to do it all over again two years later. And now, a further two years later, here we are again sharpening our pencils. The actual drawing itself is fun, because we’re both so hopeless that we can make each other laugh with our own ineptitude, but it’s just finding the time to do it that’s hard, and will get harder this time round. We were both in work full-time during 2014 & 2016, and while at the moment Sian is on maternity leave, that obviously means there’s a tiny human on the scene now too. It turns out babies take up quite a bit of your time and energy – who knew??
4. If each of you had to choose your favourite sticker you’ve drawn… which one is it?
Mine is without a shadow of a doubt Salomon Kalou from 2014, because he looks like he’s had ninety-seven espressos. Sian meanwhile was very fond of her Danny Welbeck from the last World Cup, where his flat-top hair is just about too tall, enough to make the whole thing very silly.
5. What’s the fundraising target for the World Cup 2018 stickers and why have you chosen the charities you have?
We don’t *really* have a target, anything at all really will make all this nonsense worthwhile. We raised about £4,500 during Euro2016… so if we can match that, great. If we can beat that, amazing. If we don’t, not to worry. We both work for charities, and know full well every donation helps, so whatever we can raise we’ll be proud of.
We’ve chosen Cancer Research UK as we (like almost everyone) have friends and family who have been touched by cancer. Sian lost her Dad to it a few years ago, and I work full-time for the organisation now. Sian works for MacIntyre, another of our charities, and they do amazing work for kids with autism and learning difficulties. We’re also fundraising for Stonewall and Nordoff-Robbins, both great causes too. It’s a four-pronged charity attack.
6. Is there anyone you’ve really struggled to draw?
To our eyes, everyone. But there are definitely some that are harder than others. Having no discernible drawing ability, it’s certainly easier if there’s a big chunky recognisable feature to get hold of – a big afro, a bushy beard, a wonky nose. It’s easier to (badly) draw Marouane Fellaini than Jordan Henderson, y’know?
7. Do you follow football? If so, who do you support?
I’m a Spurs fan, mainly owing to some formative Italia ’90-related experiences as a youth. Sian plays football more than watches it, though I think through osmosis down the years she’s gradually warmed to Spurs at least a little bit. We’re both from Wales originally, so we had an awful lot of fun shouting at the TV during Euro2016. Made me sad our Hal Robson-Kanu picture was such a stinker.
8. What have family and friends said about your challenge?
Gentle bafflement and incredulity, slowly giving way to enthusiasm and encouragement. There’s a fair bit of “Oh God, you’re not doing that again are you?” too because they know how much we complain about the all-encompassing nature of this foolishness.
9. How difficult is it going to be to get all stickers completed in time for the World Cup Final?
We’re trying not to think about it. When you spend fifteen minutes trying to draw Jamie Vardy and it still looks NOTHING like him, even though you’ve genuinely tried really hard but it doesn’t matter because you’re just irretrievably rubbish at drawing, you can’t allow yourself to become demoralised by the six-hundred-odd blank stickers staring at you from across the room. If I think too hard about what lies ahead and how we’ll achieve it, my brain capsizes.
10. How are you managing to find time to balance everything?
In short – any time we’re both conscious, in our house, and our baby is asleep, we’ll be drawing. Mind you, I think last time round we had to take our pencils to barbecues, to birthday parties, to pub gardens… Sian ended up drawing Frank Ribery while attending a Hen Party on a beach in Somerset. Idyllic, but probably not what the bride was expecting.
11. Is there any chance of your baby helping to draw a sticker or two this time around?
I’ve had a brief chat with him about his responsibilities this summer and how much we’re expecting of him, and of the absolute paramount importance of staying in between the lines. However, as he’s only nine months old, this was met with disinterest and lots of dribbling. He’s going to have to step up.
12. Anything else you’d like to add?
Please do sponsor us! It makes spending the entire World Cup staring at our laps trying and failing to draw Granit Xhaka (or whomever) infinitely more rewarding:
Also: our blog is here, it’s been dormant since the Euros but will likely see action once again this summer: https://paninicheapskates.wordpress.com/
Give Cheap Panini a follow on Twitter @CheapPanini and please do get involved; donate if you can and give them words of encouragement to keep them going!
Thanks for reading and bring on the World Cup,