Help, my toothbrush has a personality!
Sometimes I like to draw from real life. Here is a drawing of real life.
I've got a little exhibition on at the really fab bookshop/cafe Bookish, in Crickhowell, South Wales. These photos are really bad (I am really bad at taking photos as you can tell) so ill put up the digi images on my website as well. It was a lot of fun to make, with lots of endlessly repeating lines and patterns which is my favourite thing at the mo.
If your in the area please go and check it out! Have a cake while your at it.
Its been a while! I've been busy working on series of children's picture books with Welsh publisher Graffeg, and Otter-Barry Books, as well as work placements at Moonpig and Hallmark, plus an upcoming exhibition!
I also moved house! Now I'm based in the hilly wilds of South Wales and have an actual studio rather than just the floor in the living room.
My Desk, where I am writing this right now.
Shared book library area with Amy. Plus Tablas from my uncle that have been chewed by a rabbit.
All important tunes, although I spend most of my time listening to Kermode and Mayo Film Review Podcasts (hello to Jason Issacs, love the show Steve etc.)
Had this cupboard since I was a little'un. My mum got it from a charity and painted it groovy colours.
And Amy's side of the studio, which is infinitely nicer and more tidy and has better interior decoration.
I've been trying to use the virtual pens of the future that are on photoshop to do some pictures. Haven't got the hang of it but its good fun playing around with all the different pens and tools, but I'll still use real pens and scan them in for a while.
My mum used to have a normal job, but now she makes little creatures out of felt and animates them, and writes books about them and makes a living from it which is pretty inspiring! To announce her latest book deal, I helped make an animation. All I really did was press the capture button and eat a biscuit.
We're on holiday in Sweden so we animated it on the beach while the wind blew the little felted voles about. Its a pretty cool film, It should be below these words and also have a look at her website
Me and my lovely illustration buddies from Hereford College of Arts had a stall at New Designers. There was a lot of new design!
I saw the presenter from the Great Pottery Throwdown wandering about, and that wasn't even the best bit! It was really exciting to see what other colleges have been doing, there is some cracking work about.
I was picked by Hallmark cards to do a two week work placement at their design studio, and Moonpig gave me a card saying they loved my work! I Have been very busy since then, many exciting things in the works, so I best get on with it!
Heres a picture of me at our stand trying to show off.
Drawing that I made on the train, not drawings of trains.
What a great workshop with Jess Smith, the lino cutting extraordinaire! She show showed us a technique called "Chin-Colle" which results in layers of colour and imagery, by gluing tissue paper and general ephemera to the print in a way a can best describe as "mashing!"
With my lino cuts I hacked some of my favourite collage shapes out, and then raided a book about air planes and stacks of tissue paper to use in the Chin-colle technique.
I was surprised by results, them looking like I had screen printed over my Linocut, and by not fully knowing where I was placing the tissue papers as I was doing it, resulted in unintentional results far more interesting than I could of intended.
(Please excuse the terrible photos!)
The lovely folks at Anorak Magazine commissioned me for their collaboration with Hull City of Culture 2017, which is free magazine given out to school kids in the city, called Hello Hull. For it I made a pattern inspired by legendary Hull Textile designer Shirley Craven.
As always it was great working with Anorak, and hopefully school kids in Hull likes my picture!
Here are some other pictures that I made for the project:
I've been continuing to create a children's book with the work in progress title of "My Friends". Its meant to show to children that a friend can be someone who you just like to be quiet with, listen to music with or even be imaginary. I've developed a way of creating images for the book that is so far working well for me, with one of my tutors Nicholas Stevenson advising me on some tricks and tips to get my pictures looking that bit more pro.
The book is going to end with "and sometimes I just like to be by myself" with a picture of assorted toys scattered about, and then a series of activity pages for children to draw their own friends (with some prompts and questions).
Im currently planning my last major project at university, which will be displayed at the degree show and later at New Designers in London. So far my plan involves a simple children's book that emphases the importance of certain aspects of friendship that people sometimes overlook, (such as the friend you like to be quiet with, or listen to music with). Im also keen to create some simple fabric soft toys of the characters in the book to accompany it, so here is me creating the first "sketch" of one of these toys.
I took this sketch I made to base the toy off, as it is nice and simple.
Next I drew it on to some fabric with fabric pens (this is an early sketch, please don't judge). The Front and back of the image have to be the same shape and size because you need to sow them together.
I brought my mum around with her sowing machine (and so she could actually teach me to sow as well!) Shes a pro at this sort of thing! Here she is explaining what a sowing machine is to me.
I started of badly until I learnt to aim a small line on the needle in the direction I want to sow, after this revelation I wasn't so bad, and managed to make this...
Once I had sowed the two pieces of fabric together, after stuffing with wool, we had this scrappy little dude!
Im planning to have my designs printed onto the fabric in a more professional manner and also create little hats and cars and things for them to hang out with, and do my best to sow them like a normal human being.
I emailed the wonderful the wonderful Bowie Styles of the Print And Pattern blog on the off chance that she might like my work, and she featured me on the blog! Very Happy!
I've been working on a cover design for the classic novel To Kill A Mockingbird, so I can enter it in a Penguin Books competition. Here's what I did, starting from the beginning.
This was one of my first designs, heavily inspired by Marimekko designer Aino-Maija Metsola's covers for a collection of Virginia Woolf books. I really rely on doing things abstractly, instead of depicting a scene or subject in a book, i think im trying to get the feeling of it across (however artsy-fartsy that sounds), because attempting to show a scene or characters in a book always seems to bring up more difficulties than necessary and also youre then encroaching on the readers imagination. I like a little bit the bottom half of this design but really it just wasn't happening.
We than had a visiting lecture from the most fabulous Jonny Hannah who showed us two favourite book covers, both by Alvin Lustig, pointing out that one design was made up of sequenced sections while the other design floated on a blank surface.
So I started working on it again using the idea of a series of sections or a collection of images, first sketching them out then work as I normally do but I still wasn't coming up with anything I would be happy with. Just when I was completely stuck I started looking at an album cover by Alfreda Benge for Robert Wyatt's Comicopera album. It used very abstract collages made roughly with torn edges and textures.
So I made a cover using rougher collage in sections with simple symbols and a very handmade quality. I wanted it to be a bit child like and playful as well as raw and scary. I found by taking photos of the design rather than scaning it in meant I could use the shadows that the collage pieces create to make the cover slightly 3d and dramatic. I still have some tidying up to do before the final deadline for the competition but you get the general idea here.
There is nothing better than looking at books, I go in to Waterstones everyday, I like the smell. I spend much of my time in the library at university and at home I have big piles of books everywhere. The only thing is I cant read, That's why I look at them. My dyslexia means that while I can read I find it very difficult to read large amounts of words such as a novel, so I stick to books with lots of pictures and small chunks of information. I love books about geography, maps, music, interesting people, different cultures and that art thing too.
Some of my fave books that I have lying about (in no particular order and please excuse they awful photos)
The Calvin and Hobbes books (they're all equally fantastic) are hilarious and sweet and although its based around a child and his stuffed tiger, its really about trying to exist in a confusing and stressful adult world. Calvin's imagination is at its most vividly childlike, which allows writer and artist Bill Waterson to go on wild flights of fancy through time and space, often adapting the cartoons aesthetic style to Calvins various alter-egos (see Spaceman Spiffs comic book madness or the film noir of Detective Tracer Bullet.)
I think "Artless" is a book about illustrators at their most arty and un-illustrative, which means its full of colourful messiness as well as some beautifully crafted visual communication. It features some of my favourites such as Marcus Oakley, Laura Carlin, Misaki Kawaii and Marion Deuchars but I also discovered a lot of new favourites with it like Tiziana Jill Beck, Maria Luque and Virginie Morgand. I always return to this one whenever im stuck or need some ideas.
The most traditionally book-like of these, it definitely contains the most words which makes it all the more impressive that I've read it, like, FIVE times or something. Its about the Post-Punk music of the early 1980s, which was one of the most interesting times for music, with bands like Public Image Limited, Throbbing Gristle and The Raincoats removing punks purist attitudes but keeping the D.I.Y attitude. What I love is the that the writer Simon Reynolds romanticizes the artists music and lives, such as portraying The Fall as a group of northern shaman.
I picked this up in Sweden (although I think its originally Norwegian) and although I don't understand a word of it, Gry Moursunds illustrations are a total inspiration. They are so scrappy and messy in the most charming and magical way, I think it is an undiscovered gem. It is just super fun and makes me so exciting to be doing illustration.
This is the story of a Native American teenager who deals with his tragic life and surroundings on the poor reservation. He decides to go to the white school outside the rez which makes him a pariah in both, if this wasn't enough, his family and friends go through a series of hardships and tragedies, all while he deals with the hormones and awkwardness of being a teenager. All the time he copes with everything with humour and brutal honesty, which make the book instantly readable, especially to teenagers (it was the only book I could read as a teen.) It means a lot to me as I read every time difficulties came up in my own teenage life, which was ,like, aaaalll the time dude.
I love maps and geography and especially maps that are coloured in ways that tell you interesting information, so I spend a lot of time pouring over this. I like to see old maps as well to see where countries where that don't exist anymore or have changed in some way, but this is a fairly new one (although not enough to feature South Sudan). Im not normally a consumer of The Times but it was the best I could find for my money, and features lots of old maps as well.
Last but obviously not least, Is this book Marimekko goodness. I don't actually own this, but repeatedly renew it from the university library, as I need to look at it at least once a day to maintain my sanity. Not only does it have some Marimekko history and patterns but also has sections on each artist, which shows their work processes and lifestyles, and if there is any lifestyle that I want in on, its that of a Marimekko designer.
I was recently commissioned to illustrate a "spot the odd one out" activity for a farm themed Dot Magazine, which as always, was awesome working with the Anorak guys. I was purposely illustrating the farm animals in a child like way, but after drawing lots of sheep that looked like dogs walking behind clouds, I realized I needed to do actually know what sheep looked like. So I sat there and looked at pictures of sheep and goats on google images, wondering if other illustrators have to do this. I realised that animals have a few small features that distinguish them from other animals, for example, donkeys look like horses until you give them a muzzley nose and big ears, with sheep too its all about their ears.
I filled an entire sketchbook with these animals, trying to get them to look right, but it was fun especially the geese. Looking back on the final piece, I think I needed to add something more for it to really be a good illustration, I'm trying to develop the way I work so it works as a whole better.
Thank you to Dot and Anorak for commissions which make me feel good.
I had an amazing trip to the big smoke with my university, the aim of the trip was to see more of the illustration "industry" (which makes me think of a big factory full of machines that make scarves and coffee.) A visit to the Nobrow Press studios was planned so we headed off into Hackney.
We made total mess everywhere looking at all their books and then we timidly gave them some of our zines. As we where shown around we could spy the Nobrow team beavering away in total concentration, I tried to see what was on their computer screens...fantastic pictures of course! It was important to see where these guys worked, which part of town, what their studio looked like, how they acted.
A regular haunt for us now is The House Of Illustration to which we always gravitate (and get our free coffees at the Waitrose next door), but this time was special because there was an exhibition of ceramics by the illustrator Laura Carlin on. When I first started studying illustration on my foundation course, she was the first illustrator who I found (or my tutor recommended to me) that made think me think "illustration isn't just on par with all over art forms...its BETTER!" Her illustrations quietly and confidently break all the rules, but I a way that you don't always notice because its done so well. It was easy forget that you where looking at ceramics, because the ideas and narratives where so strong.
After snooping about Liberty of London, looking at patterns and top design, we paid a visit to the Folio Agency, above a Chinese restaurant down an alley in Holborn. There top illustration agent and motor mouth Alex gave advice on everything from copyright law to where to live, (my ability to not be able talk properly trip me up when I asked "Is it good to live in a pacific (specific) place" and he answered "yeah would love to live in the Pacific!").
I got the nerve to show him my portfolio and got some great advice, I really to do things that have a purpose to other people, rather than just pictures for the sake of being a picture.
What I look back on most fondly though is spending time my illustration buddies, Im going to really miss university. Here are some of them clogging up London streets.
I love the photocopier! Ive been using it as an instant screenprint machine to generate ideas for a book cover project. I paint or collage shapes and words in black on paper and then select a colour for each one on the photocopier, I then put the sheet back in the draw so that the next image I photocopy (in a different colour again) is print on top of the last one, like the overlays you get in screen printing. Its great if you don't have time to screen print or have lots of different ideas you want just try out but not commit to.
These are some that I did for a contempory take on Jane Austen's Mansfield park, there are barely audible strawberries in the background of each picture (at least they're meant to be strawberries).
Here are some more abstract ones I made, perhaps for the back cover...
I tagged along to the ceramic workshop just to see, but really enjoyed it. its really satisfying to do. I intended to make my collage pieces 3-D.
But in 3-D my collage pieces turn into a little landscape with mountains, hills and rainbows. as you can see I was inspired by my lunch that day...
I thought I would continue with the idea of making a landscape of a blobby marshmallow style that suits my limited abilities with clay.
More updates on this coming, I also painted some tiles, glazed it all and now waiting for it to come out of the kiln.
Ive been in the textile doing screenprinting recently,I love the accidents and mistakes and textures as well as the colours and over-printing. Ive been making many important mistakes.