Thursday, 14 February 2013

Earlier this week, I discovered illustrator Stephanie O'Hearne's lovely blog. I was having a little read through her posts, and amongst them I came across an awesome little post all about creating your own handwritten font! I have always wanted to design my own font, but quite honestly, I had absolutely no idea how. When I saw a link to a free online tool that makes it possible to design your own unique font using your handwriting, I was desperate to have a little try!

Yesterday afternoon was the perfect opportunity to try it out, and the process turned out to be incredibly straightforward. All you have to do is pop over to this website, print out a copy of the template, and fill in all the letters with a medium-thick black pen. Once finished, you scan the completed template, upload it, wait a few minutes and BOOM your very own font all ready to download! The best part is that, because it's based on your handwriting, it's guaranteed to be totally original. Yay!

[Yes, I even really did create little heart and star symbols as part of my font, I'm cool like that. Ha.]

I recommend experimenting with the thickness of pen you use to fill in the template, as it affects the boldness of the resulting font. My first font was originally written out using a medium-thick black marker pen; for the second, I used a fine-line black rollerball pen. I prefer the second font that I created, as the first is a little too heavy, although it may be useful if I require a bolder font one day.

I often struggle to incorporate text into an illustration, not in terms of composition, but because I usually find it difficult an appropriate font. The fonts I try never seem to suit the illustrations they are accompanying. I think this was a big part of the reason I originally began creating my own typography by hand; it was a way to create a style of text that I felt fit with the style of the imagery, as both were hand-created using a similar process. I tend to prefer the appearance of a more hand-created font, as it gives an illustration a sense of fluidity if image and text are of a similar style. Hand-created lettering has become my favourite way of adding text to an image, but there are occasions when cut-out or hand-drawn fonts are really suitable. I think this is a tool that I would definitely consider using if I required a proper printed font; it would be especially appropriate adding text to a children's picture book, as it has a fairly formal appearance, whilst still retaining a playful, handwritten appearance. 

Wednesday, 13 February 2013

Illustration Friday | Storm.

I'm a little bit scared of thunder when it's loud and crashy.
I haven't submitted an illustration for Illustration Friday for a super long time, but after popping over to the website earlier today, I noticed that this week's topic is storm. Admittedly, I created the full-version of this image quite a while ago - it's a section of one of the double-page spreads in my illustrated children's picture book I'm A Little Bit Scared Of... - but it just seemed to fit the them perfectly. 

Peeking through the window, watching a storm crash and rage outside whilst you're all safe and snuggled inside is definitely the best way to spend a storm; it's easy to run and hide if it gets a little bit too loud and crashy...

Tigerprint | Valentine's Banner.

A few days ago, I noticed that Tigerprint were inviting creatives to design a love-inspired banner, which would then be featured on their website over the Valentine's period. The only requirement was that the words We Are Tigerprint had to be included in the design. I decided to play with some of the Valentine's themed images I'd previously created, and composed this pretty, pink banner; a collage and mixed-media design, featuring two elegant flamingoes, and lots of cute love-hearts! Aww.

You can see my banner, plus a handful of other lovely designs, being shown in rotation on Tigerprint's homepage, or have a little look here to view all the submissions at once; there are some really pretty designs included, so I'd definitely recommend having a peek!

Tuesday, 12 February 2013

#SBS Winner!

If you have a Twitter account, you may be aware of Theo Paphitis' Small Business Sunday. Basically, each Sunday evening, small businesses are invited to send a tweet to Theo, including the hashtag #SBS, with a little description of their business. The following evening, Theo then retweets six of these businesses, and they are the weeks' winners. Due to the amount of followers that Theo has, it can provide a massive increase in followers, and therefore help promote your business. 

I've been participating in this for a number of months, watching other small businesses win each week, and never really expecting anything to come of it. Last night, I noticed I suddenly had loads of new followers. It took me a few moments to realise that my tweet had been retweeted by Theo, and that Madi Illustration was one of this weeks' #SBS winners! Eeeeee! Super exciting!

I think I was a little bit in shock for a while; it was really hard to believe that I'd been chosen, and it took quite a while to sink in! It's pretty incredible to think that my little illustration business was chosen out of all those tweets, and I feel very proud to receive this recognition. I gained about 100 followers overnight, and the amount of congratulatory tweets, and welcomes from previous #SBS winners, has been totally crazy; I spent most of last night and this morning reading through, and replying to, all the lovely messages!  

My profile has also been added to Theo's SBS website; you can have a little peek here

Saturday, 9 February 2013

Valentine's cards 2013 ♥

If you follow me on Twitter, or have had a peek at my shop lately, you may have noticed that I now have a new little collection of illustrated cards for sale! I've spent the past few weeks working away designing them, squealing with delight when they arrived, and then photographing them alongside pretty pink roses and loveheart sweets with super cute messages. Caught in a swirl of hearts and petals, I only just realised I haven't shared any of my new designs on my blog, and with Valentine's day only a few days away, it seems like the ideal time to give you a little peek! Even better is that there's still time to order one, and avoid a last-minute panic in Tesco, fighting over the last card left on the shelf

These are the three new designs;

P.s I Love You Typewriter Illustrated Card.
Flamingo Love Illustrated Valentine's Card.
You're My Favourite Illustrated Card.
You may recognise my Flamingo Love design - it is an illustration I created a few years ago, but given the imagery, it seemed perfect to adapt into a Valentine's card. The design is also currently available to purchase as a signed print, or as a pretty illustrated pocket mirror - both of which would make lovely Valentine's gifts, if you're looking to earn yourself some extra brownie points this year! The You're My Favourite design is actually one I've been meaning to create for a while, so I'm pleased that I finally got round to it. The composition of this card proved to be a bit of a nightmare though, with two different layouts for the text, and almost equally split preferences between everyone I asked! It was a difficult, and last-minute, decision to decide which version to have printed - I was even a little nervous opening the parcel from the printers - but I'm very happy with the final result!

Of course, my other existing cards are still available too, and my Happily Ever After card is proving to be incredibly popular as a Valentine's card - romance clearly isn't dead! It's the perfect way to let that special someone know that they are the prince or princess at the end of your fairytale. Aww. 

Happily Every After Illustrated Valentine's Card.
If You Were A Crayon... Illustrated Card.
The collection of cards available are pretty broad, ranging from super romantic and meaningful designs, to ones which take a more cute, quirky and playful approach; so whether you're selecting a card for the love of your life or your secret crush, you're sure to find one suitable! I'm sure your partner deserves to be treated to a pretty illustrated card, plus you can help support independent designers in the process. Yay! :]

So, where can you buy one? All five cards can be purchased in both my Etsy shop and my NOTHS shop, and are all now available to purchase with a 'send direct to recipient' option. This means that if you'd prefer, I can post your card of choice straight to your Valentine, complete with a handwritten message of your choice! It's the perfect option if you're buying a card last-minute, live overseas, or would like your identity as an admirer to remain a secret...

Friday, 8 February 2013

Madi | 50 Facts About Me.

I was inspired, initially by the lovely Anna-Jane Searle, and then by the handful of illustrators and designers who followed suit, to write this post - a list of 50 facts that you may not know about me. I love reading lifestyle-type blogs, and really admire bloggers who manage to find a balance between posting about their work, and also more personal life-style stuff. I generally tend to hold back from writing much about myself, assuming that no-one is going to be interested in reading about anything other than the illustrations I create. However, I thought I'd give you all a chance to find out a little more about the girl behind the illustrations;

1. I don't have a middle name. I'm secretly jealous of anyone who does.
2. My Grandmother could touch her nose with her tounge. I have inherited this ability.
3. I'm the only person I know, apart from my brother, who hasn't been christened.
4. I have always wanted to own a tortoise. I plan to buy one, and name him Sparky.
5. I'm 5' 7", and really wish I was shorter.
6. I am not confident enough to leave the house without wearing make-up.
7. I have an irrational fear of answering the telephone, and an even worse fear of calling people. There are only a select few people that I feel comfortable talking to on the phone.
8. I used to collect keyrings, and have two whole shoe-boxes full. 
9. My boyfriend and I have been together since just before my 18th birthday. His name is Daniel. It will be our 8 year anniversary in July.
10. I plan to visit Australia, New Zealand, Ireland and Canada as soon as I possibly can.
11. I wish I was able to speak as eloquently as I am able to write. 
12. My first memory is falling in a river when I was four. My father didn't jump in the river to save me. I saved myself.
13. I have worn odd socks every day since the age of fourteen. Even the thought of wearing matching socks makes me feel uncomfortable.
14. I still suck my thumb when I'm at home. Interestingly, I didn't suck my thumb as a baby. I started when I was six.
15. My hair is naturally blonde. Everyone assumes it's dyed and I am constantly asked, even by hairdressers, where I get it coloured.
16. Throughout school, I was always the only kid in my class to have never had a filling. I still haven't had one, although it doesn't feel like quite so much of an achievement since the dentist stopped giving me stickers.
17. It makes me angry when people refuse to learn how to spell my name correctly. 
18. My full name is Madeleine. I have given up all hope of people learning to spell that correctly!
19. If I had been born a boy, I would have been named Garth. This fact alone is enough to make me glad I was born a girl.
20. I can recite the film My Girl word for word.
21. I use Father Ted quotes and references on a daily basis in conversations. It's not until people look at me blankly that I remember that not everyone knows the scripts of every episode by heart.
22. Although I have lived in Dorset since the age of four, my extended family all still live in the North of England. As a young child, I had a strong northern accent, but I lost it after years of living in the south. Despite this, I still pronounce a lot of words in a way that people down here tell me is wrong.
23. I became an auntie at the age of one-and-a-half.
24. When I was younger, I was desperate to break my wrist - I really wanted a cast so my friends could draw on it. Despite this, I have never broken a bone in my body. I have also since lost the desire to break my wrist.
25. My favourite numbers are seven and eleven. I dislike even numbers.
26. I have big issues with incorrect grammar - the misuse of apostrophes in particular. I would happily walk around with a red marker pen in my pocket to correct all incorrect grammar and misspelt words I see in public (but my boyfriend says I'm not allowed to).
27. I judge people who don't know which version of there/their/they're or you're/your to use when writing. Sorry. 
28. I think capital letters are ugly, and would be happier if they didn't exist. Due to my hatred of incorrect grammar, I force myself to use them when necessary, yet I think sentences look prettier when written entirely in lower-case.
29. I have a scar on my forehead from where my brother, aged one, threw a house-shaped plastic money box at my head, and cut it open.
30. I unintentionally stick my tongue out the corner of my mouth when I'm really concentrating.
31. I despise the colour yellow. I realise it's not rational to actually hate a colour, but I genuinely cannot stand it.
32. I went through a goth stage when I was a teenager. Luckily, there seems to be no photographic evidence of this period of my life. A goth with blonde hair was never going to work out well...
33. When people find out I own my own house at such a young age, they always tell me I'm lucky. If they knew the reason why I own a house, they'd realise I'm not as lucky as they think.
34. I am a vegetarian. 
35. I am very scared of dogs, especially big bitey teeth dogs, and small yappy bouncy types. 
36. I was formally diagnosed with Anorexia about five years ago, but have struggled with disordered eating since the age of  fifteen. My eating disorder dominates my life every single day, yet I am often wary to mention it for fear of being judged.
37.  My favourite three comedians are Eddie Izzard, Richard Ayoade and Noel Fielding. I am going to watch Eddie Izzard perform live for the second time in May.
38. I have double-jointed thumbs. I can make my left one click/pop in a weird way which freaks people out.
39. I find it much easier to cross my little finger and ring finger, than the usual index finger and middle finger.
40. I used to be addicted to Pepsi Max, and would drink between two to four litres a day. 
41. I don't know which way is left and which way is right without resorting to using my hands.
42. Contrary to popular opinion, not all illustrators like tea. I, for one, do not.
43. I am a perfectionist by nature. This means I am incredibly self-critical about my illustration work, and constantly doubt my ability. I am unable to look at a single piece of my work without focussing on the flaws.
44. There is a star in the sky named after me.
45. I am fairly certain that my life would be a whole lot easier if the whole world became nocturnal. Either that, or I should have been born as a fox. My best illustrations are always created in the middle of the night.
46. If I'm at home, you can pretty much guarantee that I will be wearing my pyjamas. This is not dependent on the time of day, so can be slightly awkward if the doorbell rings mid-afternoon.
47. I have never smoked a cigarette in my life. 
48. I have learnt to knit three times in my life. I have also forgotten how to knit three times in my life.
49. I am incredibly socially awkward, and painfully shy with people I don't know, but once I know someone better, it's actually impossible to shut me up. I have been this way since I was a child.
50. My favourite punctuation mark is the semi-colon.

Ta-dah! I'd love to find out a random fact about you, or perhaps we have something in common? Let me know! It will make me smile if you leave a comment. :] Also, if you'd like to read more personal-type posts on my blog - or if you're entirely against the idea - please tell me. I'm interested to know the types of posts you all like to read best. :]

Sunday, 3 February 2013

Incredible Illustrators | Anna Walker

One of the best parts about working in a book shop is that I have the chance to sort out, and display, the picture books. Obviously that means I need to have a peek through them all - my method of arranging involves displaying the books which have awesome illustrations, in addition to a selection of classic picture books I remember from my childhood, and any others I'm not so keen on are put back in the picture book pile. This has caused me to discover a number of children's illustrators whom I wasn't previously aware of. On my very first day at work last autumn, I fell in love with a couple of children's picture books - both of which were illustrated by Anna Walker. A little bit of research when I got home taught me that Anna is an australian illustrator, with a BA in Graphic Design, who has illustrated many books for children. Despite the fact that the books were very reasonably priced, I somehow managed to talk myself out of buying them week after week - I don't really need them etc - but then they were added to our January sale and, at only £1 each, it really would have been silly not to buy them!

 The books I bought are entitled Yummy Ice-Cream and Let's Play House; both are from a series of books which feature three main characters - a panda, a sheep and an owl.

I was immediately drawn to these books due to the collaged aspects on the front cover - textures always seem to capture my eye, as they stand out against flat backgrounds. I had a quick peek inside the books, and totally fell in love with illustrations - a juxtaposition between the simplistic - and incredibly cute! - style of the characters and the collaged aspects, made up of a range of different fabrics. My work tends to be very intricately collaged, to the point where if you glance at a print of the original illustration, the textures and colours of the different papers used to create it are not always noticeable. In contrast, the illustrations in these book incorporate bold cut-out shapes of patterned fabric, and they stand out strongly against the subdued neutral colours of the ink characters and pale pastel-coloured backgrounds. Have a peek at some of the beautiful images for yourself;


I love how beautifully the textures of the fabrics are captured - the delicate weave of certain materials, and the individual frayed threads along the edges of the collaged shapes, are clearly visible - to the point that you want to reach out and brush away a stray thread, or feel the texture of the fabric beneath your fingertips. It gives the illustrations a certain depth and tactility that wouldn't exist in the otherwise flat, inked images.


The storylines of the books are simple, yet they both follow a narrative which sees the three characters playing together, sharing and having fun. Personally, I think the text inside the books would fit better with the style of the illustrations if it ... more hand-drawn style - perhaps similar to the style of text used on the first page of each book - but that might just be me and my love of hand-created lettering!

I'd actually quite like to buy myself a couple of the other books in the series, although I think I'm going to have to give one of these two books to my best friends' little girl. Pandas are her current favourite, so she will adore these books - I saw her yesterday, and she fell in love with my Topshop panda-face socks, so this seems like too much of an opportunity to miss! She can just about say panda-bear, and it's the cutest thing ever.