Thursday, 28 April 2011

Tigerprint | Hand-Drawn Competition.

I have been aware of Tigerprint ever since they wrote this lovely little feature about my work a few years ago. I saw the hand-drawn typography competition on their website a few weeks ago, and the brief really inspired me - I love any opportunity to create hand-drawn typography, so I knew I had to enter. These are my entries for the competition - they are all greetings card designs;

I have been meaning to design cards to sell in my shop for a while now, so I am also planning to look into getting some of these printed. It would be ace if you let me know which ones you'd like to be able to buy. :]

Sunday, 24 April 2011

Pure Evil Gallery| MadABC show.

Thank you super lots to all of you who voted for my monster alphabet in the Don't Panic Street Alphabet competition a few weeks ago. I later found out that my design had been picked in the top five entries, and would be displayed in the Pure Evil Gallery as part of MadC's 'MadABC' show. I was invited to attend the private view last week, but unfortunately, living in the depths of Dorset, it is difficult to get to London at short notice. So instead, the boy and I took a lovely trip to London yesterday to go and have a peek.

For someone who is very interested in hand-rendered typography, I found the whole exhibition very inspiring. The graffiti-style of the work on show is not the kind of work I usually look at, but the mixed-media images created were vibrant and colourful, and opened my eyes as to how letters can be used to created imagery.

These are a selection of my favourite images;

The show is open until May 1st, so if you're in London I definitely recommend a visit. I'll leave you with this little inspirational post-it note message that I spied stuck next to a desk in the gallery. It made me smile.

Illustration Rally; Easter.

A little Easter illo for Illustration Rally's Easter Rally.

Happy Easter everyone!

Saturday, 16 April 2011

Plushie monster!

I have harboured an ambition for a while now to recreate some of my monsters as plush toys - I always thought it'd be pretty ace to bring them to life in a way. It's a plan I've kind of put to the back of my mind, mainly because I'm not exactly the best when it comes to sewing. To put it into perspective, I was the kid at school who, in textiles lessons, constantly jammed the sewing machines, broke countless needles and was usually relegated to completing my projects wonkily sewing everything by hand. However, yesterday morning I woke up and decided that I was going to make a plush toy, and as with most of my impulsive project decisions, I knew I wouldn't be going to bed until it was finished.

And so, without further ado, I would like to introduce you to the result of a very late night and half a dozen needle holes in my fingers - my very first attempt at plushie-making! My little monster is nameless at the moment, so any suggestions would be ace.

Please excuse the messy sewing, I really need to practice! Also, if I decide to make more of these, I should probably invest in some proper sewing stuff - my sewing kit came from a cracker! Although the final outcome isn't exactly how I imagined it - he turned out much taller and thinner than I'd planned - I really enjoyed making my mini monster. It was a challenge, and I loved creating all the little details such as the tiny claws and the button eyes. It's just an amazing feeling turning an illustration into something tangible, something I can actually hold in my hand.

I have also been having fun this afternoon photographing him;

Thursday, 14 April 2011

Super squirrel.

Today, I decided that my four most favourite animals are tortoises, squirrels, zebras and snow leopards, although not neccassarily in that order. I also drew a squirrel.

What do you think about this background? I can't decide whether I like it or not, but I think it makes Mr Squirrel look like some kind of superhero.

A lovely little discount...

My Etsy shop has recently been featured on both Soupa Creative Network and the lovely OoohYum blog, so now seems like the perfect time to update you a little. In addition to the prints, postcards, picture book and pocket mirrors that have been available for a while, I have recently added tea towels featuring my Recipe for Gingerbread design.

Each tea towel is made from 100% cotton, measures 48cm x 78cm, and is machine washable - perfect for drying your dishes or just hanging around looking pretty. It also doubles up as a handy recipe if you have a sudden overwhelming desire to bake gingerbread men! The tea towels are available to buy here.

I am really interested to hear any comments or ideas on other products you'd like to be able to buy from my shop. Tote bags, badges, stickers - any ideas you have, I'd love to hear them! Also, remember that if you'd like to buy a print of any image of my work that you cannot find in my shop, then let me know and I'll see what i can do. :]

Now for the fun part; from today until Sunday night, there is 10% OFF on ALL the items in my shop! Just enter this discount code APRILSHOWERS at the checkout. Now pop on over, and grab yourself a bargain. :]

Wednesday, 13 April 2011

Illustration, illustrators and individual 'styles'.

Does a professional illustrator need a 'style'? This is a question that was posed by Illustration Mundo a few weeks back, and, after considering it for a while, it's finally pushed me into writing a post that I've been meaning to write for a long time.

At uni, having your own 'style' was a really big deal. It was something that first years believed they'd never possess, and the third years who'd actually achieved this were fervently admired and slightly envied. It was something that some students just seemed to develop naturally, while others spent half their time trying to force one to develop. I remember in third year during a conversation with some friends, I commented on how I didn't have a noticeable style to my work - this was an issue that constantly played on my mind at the time. I felt that although each piece of work I created worked well as an illustration in itself, each individual image was inconsistent in style, and wasn't recognisable as being created by the same illustrator. However, my friends immediately interrupted saying that wasn't true at all. They said my use of hand-drawn typography, and also just my style of drawing, was consistent throughout my work, making it obvious that I created it.

Although this probably wasn't true at the time, or if it was I couldn't see it, I have come to realise that the children's illustration work I create is generally recognisable as my work. During the development of my children's book I'm a little bit scared of... I focussed a lot on character design, and the outcome was the development of a mixed media approach which combines collage with hand-drawn elements. Looking back over the children's book illustration I created during second and third year, I find it interesting to look at how my style developed.

At the time, I thought the more realistic, purely collaged characters I developed as part of the first book I created in third year, I Hate My Freckles, would be 'my style' - I was happy with how it looked visually, and truly believed I would continue to create illustrations in a similar way forever. Evidently I changed my mind; and this was not only due to the fact that I'd cut out so many eyes from the models in hairdressing magazines that I was starting to feel a little guilty. I still use cut-out eyes in my illustrations, but much more sparingly, and mainly when I want a character to look sinister or scary or just silly. Despite the bright, tactile appearance of the collaged characters, the intricate detail in each one made them incredibly difficult to recreate, and since character consistancy is vital in a children's book, I knew I needed to create a versatile method of working with a flexibility that allowed the creation of identical characters in varied positions and situations, and I also knew I need to find a way of working that was slightly (and in retrospect, it's actually probably exactly the same) less time-consuming. The very first character in the images above is part of a book I created in second year - I find it interesting to see how the style of my characters now are actually much more similar to that, then the characters I was producing at the beginning of third year. Anyway, in respect of my children's book illustrations, the style I developed a few years ago and the style I use now are very similar - definitely similar enough, in my opinion, for people to recognise them all as having been produced by the same illustrator.

Recently however, I have been dabbling in a bit of fashion illustration. It's very early days, and if you look at all the seperate fashion illos I've created over the past month, they're all very different - to me, there is no definitely consistent style. This in itself doesn't bother me as I am still experimenting in the area, but what has occurred to me is that the initial quesion would probably be better phrased as; Does a professional illustrator need a 'style' or 'styles'? Basically, even if I DO develop a recognisable fashion illustration style, it is never ever going to be anything like my children's book illustration style, as each area of illustration is so different, and each has its own set of expectations. Upon seeing an example of each, even placed next to each other, I'm pretty sure no-one would think that both pieces had been created by the same illustrator. Judge for yourself;

Most illustrators seem to have just one consistent style. Take a look at the work of illustrators such as Sara Fanelli, Lauren Child and Oliver Jeffers, and and you'll see what I mean; the minute you see a piece of their work, you KNOW it's theirs. You can tell who created the piece immediately purely because their work has such a strong, recognisable style. THEIR style. You might argue that they are all established illustrators with years of experience under their belt, and that such a strong style will develop with time and practice, but then look at the work of some of the amazing younger illustrators - some of whom haven't even graduated yet - that I've become aware of, mainly through Twitter. Abby Wright's work springs immediately to mind, along with Kate Slater and the lovely Kyoko Nishimura, all of whom are examples of illustrators whose work displays a very strong, consistent and highly recognisable style. Obviously, I'm not suggesting that you develop a style and then that's it, done; but looking at the earlier work of some illustrators, you can see how their style has evolved and how their earlier work has influenced the development of the work they create today. These three images of Sara Fanelli's work are a perfect example. Yes, her later imagery has a stronger and more polished appearance, but even though the illustrations were produced at almost five year intervals, they are all still clearly recognisable as Fanelli's work.
I guess really, in synopsis form for those of you who have just skipped to the end, I'm just interested to hear people's opinions on this. Do you consider an individual, recognisable 'style' to be important in becoming a successful and well-recognised illustrator? Do you think a single illustrator can have a number of different 'styles'? Is it possible for an illustrator to have just one 'style' which covers all areas of illustration, even those at different ends of the spectrum?

I also often wonder whether my work does display a recognisable style, and whether it's just me who can't see it - I'd definitely be interested to hear your opinions on that too. :]

Tuesday, 12 April 2011

Amelia's Magazine | Essie Jain.

Check out my illustration of singer/songwriter Essie Jain in Helen Martin's interview in Amelia's Magazine.

The illustration and interview are also included in Helen's blog.

As you've probably noticed from my last few posts, I seem to have been lured into creating a number of portraits recently; first Gabby Young, then an illo of my cutie boyfriend, and finally this illustration of Essie Jain. Since I have always claimed that I 'can't draw people', this is a bit of a shock, even to myself. I am definitely learning from it though; I think this is noticeable if you look at the illustrations in order of creation, for example in this image I paid much more attention to the light and shadow on the face.

If I'm honest, I don't think it's an area of illustration I'll regularly be frequenting - I think I prefer the creativity of creating my own characters - but it's nice to explore as a change every now and again. The experience has also taught me that blonde hair is my nemesis (in drawing terms only, otherwise I'd be in trouble!). Despite what my boyfriend claims - mainly to annoy me - 'blonde' is not yellow, and it's definitely not a single shade of brown. It's difficult to recreate, and in my opinion, it's definitely a colour that should be made into coloured pencil form.

Saturday, 9 April 2011

I Saw You...

A little illo of my boyfriend which is featured here in the lovely Fritha Strickland's blog, as part of her 'I Saw You' project.

I saw you, and the sun was shining in your eyes.

Tuesday, 5 April 2011

Don't Panic | Monster Alphabet.

This is my design for the Don't Panic Street Alphabet competition. I've always loved hand-drawn typography, so when I read the brief for this competition, I just had to enter. I played around with mixing character design and typography together, in order to try and produce an alphabet which also works as an image in itself.

So now I have a teeny tiny favour to ask you guys. Could you please please take a few seconds and go and VOTE FOR MY DESIGN. I need to be in the top twenty voted entries to be in with a chance of winning, and voting closes on the 8th of April. It would be super ace of you could all vote, and ask anyone else you know to vote too! I would be super happy if you could, and so would all 26 of my new little monster friends. :]

Sunday, 3 April 2011

Mini mirrors and Mother's Day memories.

First of all, I just wanted to give you all a little peek at the latest edition to my Etsy shop - super cute pocket mirrors! Yayyy!

Each mirror measures approx 58mm across, which makes it the perfect size to pop into even the tiniest of handbags! There are three different designs to choose from, and each mirror will be delivered to you inside a pretty organza drawstring bag, to protect the mirrored side from scratches. Have a peek at the mirrors here, and while you're there, feel free to have a browse at the picture books, prints and postcards which are also available. :]

Okay, so as everyone in the UK knows, today is Mother's Day. Hopefully you've all had a lovely sunny day and spoilt your mum rotten. I wish I could have spent the day with my mum; I wish I could go back to when I was tiny - a handmade card, hand-picked daffodils and breakfast in bed. Instead, my day has been full of monsters and scissors and glue. I'm not sure how many of you know this, because it's something I find almost impossible to talk about, but my mummy died a few years ago when I was 19. I was planning to draw a picture of her for the lovely Fritha Strickland's I Saw You project, but since I can hardly bare to look at photographs of her, it proved to be an illustration I'm just not yet ready to create. Instead, I decided to share this painting I did of my mama back when I was about 12 - it was an entry in a Mother's Day competition, and it won first prize.

Finally, I just wanted to give a little mention to the lovely Julia Young, who featured me in her Doodler's Corner yesterday - check out the full interview here. Also, the lovely Fritha mentioned my work in a fashion illustration post on her blog, and check out this little feature about my work on the Not In website

Happy Mother's Day mummy. I love you.