Wednesday, 22 May 2019

Sketchbook Diary 2019 #4

Sketchbook Diary 2019 #4
Click on the images for a closer look
Hello there!

What a mad few weeks it has been... it has felt like Christmas levels of busy lately, but I'm very grateful! I've been working on a really fun mix of projects and not a lot of them I can share yet... but one big project is near completion and I'll be very excited to share that. It is a mural... and it's big! I'll explain the rest when it is out in the world soon...

So here's my latest installment of my sketchbook diary. I'm sorry I actually completed it a couple of weeks ago and am only just putting it here. Some of the things in this spread (the 18th March to 24th April) feel like ages ago now. I got a three month guest stockist spot in the lovely Sheffield Makers Winter Gardens shop - woo hoo! It has been going really well and it's such a good feeling to have my products in a great city centre spot, where people can easily buy them, while I'm working away in my studio.

But, even more importantly... something pretty major happened on the 25th of March. Some birds were eating a WAFFLE in my garden! It was a truly entertaining watch, as they worked their way through the whole thing. I couldn't work out from my viewpoint whether it was Belgian or potato though... and it will remain a mystery to me forever.

Back to work things, The Mummy Lessons got published! You can read all about it on the last blog post. My samples arrived and they look gorgeous, with lovely shiny spot UV finish on my hand lettering and icons. Lee and I went to see the amazing Phlegm exhibition - a little land of giants, asleep in a warehouse in Sheffield.

The spread finishes with that crazy hot weather we had, so a barbecue and paddling in a stream! I'm looking forward to more fun sun times ahead.

Not a bad few weeks really... 'till next time!

Thanks for reading!

Tuesday, 2 April 2019

My first book cover! The Mummy Lessons by Helen Wallen - Published by Hodder & Stoughton

Hello there! As you might remember from an earlier post, 2018 saw me get my first book cover commission - and I can finally share the artwork now that it is published (by Hodder & Stoughton, an imprint of Hachette). It was released on the 21st March, less than two weeks ago and has already been named a no.1 bestseller in the parenting chart and no.24 in the kindle chart! A massive well done to author Helen Wallen (aka. Just a Normal Mummy) - her writing style is hilarious and real. But y'know... I'd like to think the cover illustration enticed some of those happy shoppers too :)

I thought I'd share some of my progress drawings. I always love to see illustrators share this, as it shows the amount of work that goes into creating that final polished piece you only usually see. It shows that I sometimes draw things over and over again to get them just right. Letting go of wanting to get it right first time was one of my biggest lessons in the early days and made a huge difference to my work.

Sorry the previews are so small - please click on the image to enlarge.

It started with rough mum and baby drawings in my sketchbook...
...then the hand lettering... that I could arrange the characters around the letters

The design team at Hodder & Stoughton already had the idea of the characters interracting around the letters. Whereas I would usually expect to brainstorm some different layout options, I didn't need to here. I could go straight into creating the rough. The publishers then gave me the go ahead to create the final design - so I then illustrated the characters and icons in ink.

Drawing in ink...
...using layout paper over the enlarged roughs
I'm really happy with how successful it has been so far and still buzzing that my first cover is out. I did some spot illustrations for another pregnancy related book earlier this year - which will be published in the summer - and I have another book commission to start soon! So watch this space - I look forward to sharing them!

Click here to view The Mummy Lessons on Amazon (other book stores are available!).

Friday, 22 March 2019

Sketchbook Diary 2019 #3

My sketchbook diary - see below for a closer view!
Pancake Day - one of my most favourite days of the year!

Hello there!

Here's a new instalment of my sketchbook diary. It's been an exciting month! It was my birthday right in the middle of London Book Fair, so in between my days of meetings, we went to see the Lion King at The Lyceum. It was amazing! I continued to spread out the birthday vibes after coming home, with a quiet relaxing weekend and a big roast dinner.

I really enjoyed the book fair. It was great to chat to lots of publishers about my work as well as have my illustrations on display in the gallery. Unfortunately, my visit did confirm that I am doomed to get headaches at conference centre events, but that I can keep them at bay if I constantly snack! I had this nailed by day three - so that is my number one tip for anyone visiting the fair. I went along to some of the talks and panel discussions too. It was a delight to listen to David McKee talk about his career as an illustrator/storyteller and it was lovely to meet Ren Renwick and Lou Bones from the Association of Illustrators, having been a member for a few years now.

Me with my book illustrations in the Illustrator's Gallery at London Book Fair

I've also been drawing some fun patterns in my sketchbook lately, which I will share soon - I'm looking forward to sitting and colouring them all. So as for the rest of the diary, it was some nice food, cosy times with netflix and the sofa, a little trip to Oxford and some rather elegant looking yoga moves (they totally looked this good in person. I swear).

Click to enlarge!

Friday, 1 March 2019

Sketchbook Diary 2019 #2


I'm back with another instalment of my 2019 sketchbook diary.

My sketchbook diary spread for the second half of January... (click to enlarge!)

I've been enjoying the quiet spell after the madness of late last year and taking advantage of the chance to work on some portfolio pieces. I did have my tax return to complete though... and my display board designs for London Book Fair

My work will be on display at the LBF Illustrator's Gallery from the 12th-14th March. I am feeling really giddy because I've just found out that the illustrator of the fair will be David McKee - the artist behind Elmer, Not Now Bernard and MR BENN! Someone told me once that my work reminded them of Mr Benn and I can see the similarities too, especially in the detail of the houses and the black outlines. I'm excited to hear him talk about his career and to go to the other seminars going on while I'm there. I will be sure to report back with my illustrator's take on the book fair. It will also be my birthday while I'm there!

So, besides the book fair prep, I also got my hair played with by a cat, took a trip down memory lane with The Babysitter's Club Movie (I loved those books as a kid!), sent a drink flying out of a lady's hand while I imagined I was Penny from Dirty Dancing, and dreamt about spontaneously breaking out into song with all my friends. It's nice to have a record of these nice things when otherwise, I would have probably looked back and thought I'd been cooped up in my studio working on my portfolio for these couple of weeks.

Crab roe broad beans, tax returns and a missing red panda in Belfast!

Drink spillage, korean barbecue and dog farts (gross I know, sorry).

Sunday, 17 February 2019

Ways to Spread Love - Valentine's Spot Illustrations

Love is for every day, not just Valentine's! So that's why I think it's ok that I'm posting this after the official day of love. Here are some loved up spot illustrations I made for Valentine's last week. I sent some out to clients and also reformatted for Instagram - to wish everyone a happy V day and hopefully just make them smile.

Tuesday, 12 February 2019

Sketchbook Diary 2019 #1

As you might have seen in my last post, I decided to have a go at keeping up my sketchbook diary again this year. As much as I have found last year's drawings useful as miniature full pieces, I did find it hard to stick to, as I was a little ambitious in the way I set them out. I have a tendency to be consistent within my projects - thanks to my commercial design background and not something I particularly feel is a weakness. But as I felt I wanted to give each drawing similar time and space, it became difficult at busier times.

So this year, I've set out to simplify. I'm not spending as long on them, but that should make it more achievable to do every day - which was originally the whole point of doing it. They sometimes serve as quick warm ups when I start my day, but as I'm being less precious about it, they've been much easier to fit in whenever I have a spare five minutes.

So here is my first spread of the year! I've not thought so much about how to lay them out, but drawn them closer together this time. It means I can simply take a photo and post it, rather than have to scan in and adjust multiple files ready to post. This way, I hope I can keep on sharing regularly.

Daily Sketchbook Drawings - Click to enlarge

Besides the benefits of daily drawing practice, I also find that from a personal perspective, it's nice to record a snippet of something about each day, just to look back on. I sometimes take my sketchbook in my bag when I visit my Grandma. She is in her nineties and doesn't chat much anymore, so it has made a nice little talking point to show her my sketchbook and say 'look, this is what I've been up to lately' and it makes her smile.

Seeing this visual representation of all the things I've actually done (or eaten) - in what feels like a flash since Christmas - makes me feel better about how fast time goes. January started off with New Year celebrations in Edinburgh. I then laid low while I got over a nasty cold/migraine spell, caught up with my tax return, tried some new recipes and ate lots of cheese.

My next spread for the rest of January and part of February will be complete soon, so until next time... bye bye for now!