Friday, 16 November 2012


Ah... blowing my own trumpet (and simultaneously gobbledegooking through a megaphone... Talking nonsense loudly is sooooo not like me!). But anyway, my Blossoming illustration is currently appearing in the Picture This... exhibition at Riverside Gallery in Richmond. It runs in tandem with the Richmond Literature festival and you can see it there, alongside other far more fabulous illustrators' work, until 20 January 2013.

Wednesday, 31 October 2012

a wolf, a sheep and a wild thing

 The wolf and the sheep are part of a larger illustration for Juno, which I'll post when the new issue comes out... however... some nonsense chat with J as I was drawing it may have sparked the beginnings of a story... You may see these two again!

The wild thing is my gourd-based tribute to Maurice Sendak (or a psychotic bear, entirely depending on your viewing angle) and an incredibly rushed addition to our Halloween festivities this evening.

Monday, 10 September 2012


Apologies that my first post in ages is a rant, but it is at least vaguely design related. If you want an insight into what the great and the good actually think of benefit claimants then you need look no further than the internal staff benefits document produced by advertising agency Iris. 

Cunningly titled 'Iris on Benefits' (see what they did there?), it features such lovely stereotypes as a pregnant woman smoking, childcare down the pub and what are presumably teenage shoplifters. While my first temptation was to laugh (it's supposed to be a parody of that awful 'Shameless' programme, which isn't funny either), that Iris has won several lucrative government contracts (including campaigns for benefit changes and, good grief, the Olympics) tells us all we really need to know about how the 'upper classholes' - to borrow from the new series of The Thick of It' - view the most vulnerable members of society. So on reflection it's not just nasty, it's downright shameful.

Monday, 30 July 2012

butterflies on the side

An unusually 'technology-based' illustration for the autumn issue of Juno; both in subject and medium. To soften it, added hand-drawn butterflies, plus some extra on the side - pulled out of the original illustration in Photoshop so they can 'flit' around the text of the article.

Meanwhile, the design job (a music society leaflet) has reached the final text tweaks stage before hitting the printers, which means come August the real hard work begins. It's been a while since I've done any earnest self-promotion work so, for starters, there's a revamped website, art cards and an exhibition in the pipeline. It should tie in nicely with the publication of the book of children's plays - the first printer's proof of the book has arrived at the publishers and has had some lovely comments already over on their Facebook page.

Sunday, 1 July 2012


two Js and a mouse

The final illustration for the book of plays. J appears in it no less than three times! And it includes the mouse I brought back from Budapest, the knitted rabbit I made, Brian the bear and, sticking out of the bottom of the quilt, a new knitted rabbit challenge (I will make him!).

Meanwhile, another design job in this weekend - out of the blue and most welcome.

Sunday, 24 June 2012

a big bowl of word soup

Gosh, I'm finding it hard to write this blog after such an intermittent year - I'm not sure any more if it's a blog on work or life or musings, or just a incoherent collection of words (which in turn made me think of the fabulous paper bowl I was given at Christmas and gave me an excuse to include a picture!). Be thankful I have spared you the post of hugely angry state of the nation political rantings and ravings, including how the way the life I turned upside down a year ago has been turned upside down again meaning, incidentally, you're about to start seeing a whole lot more of me here again. Instead, as I do actually have something vaguely resembling illustration news to impart, I shall stay just this side of sane and stick to updates.

The book of children's plays (from 2010!) is almost nearing completion. I received the pdf of the layout design from the publisher last week and although it was strange to see all the illustrations again, happily there are still quite a few I'm pleased with. In putting the layout together the publisher realised they were one play short in the original illustration brief, so my return to freelance illustration has started even faster than I'd hoped - I have the additional play to illustrate this week as publication day is looming.

Talking (tenuously) of looms, I have my printed copy of the weaving illustration which appears in the summer issue of Juno, alongside the measles image (the image above is a section of it). It turns out the Cotswolds holiday cottage I'm heading to next month is not far from the home of the Juno editor - we're meeting for coffee and it'll make a lovely change to have a non-virtual conversation with someone I've only ever communicated with via email in the past.

Tuesday, 8 May 2012

the night Max wore his wolf suit...

and tamed them with the magic trick of staring into all their yellow eyes without blinking once
I can't let it pass without comment, Maurice Sendak is dead. Just in this last week we've been re-reading Where The Wild Things Are, only this time J is reading the words himself instead of having me read them to him. We picked our favourite wild things (again) - mine is the one who looks like a cow and has human feet (!), J's is above.

Our favourite, favourite though, is tiny Nutshell Library book, Pierre, captioned below with the lines that make J laugh out loud every time.

They pulled the lion by the hair.
They hit him with the folding chair.
 I could try and eulogise but I'm sure others will do it better, instead I'll give you this fabulous quote from The Art of Maurice Sendak:

"Young children don't amble or saunter, they goose-step. Only Sendak noticed that. They seem to have no knees, the Sendak kids, or more probably they refuse to bend them - it's hard enough work just staying upright, maintaining your centre of gravity. And their creator was a child in the age of the European dictators; he's endowed his creations with a lesson learned, namely the use-value of clomping, making an outsized noise..."

Thursday, 3 May 2012


Finally... some work. A work in progress right enough, but still.

It's the beginnings of one of the illustrations for the next issue of Juno. A sneaky preview only, as I won't be posting the finished artwork until after the magazine has been published.

Monday, 23 April 2012

through a lens

I have something to post for once, so I’m going to ignore the fact I’ve not visited here for a while and blunder on regardless...

You’ve probably seen the small, square, grungy-looking retro camera images that are everywhere just now, and if you’ve been a previous follower of my blog you’ll know I’ve definitely not been immune to the trend. Ahem. Much as I love it, I’m not deluded enough to think my, err, Hipstamatic iPhone app makes me a photographer. But....... (you knew there was a but coming right?) these grimy washed out images have their uses (apart from making everything nostalgic of course) and in this case they were prefect for capturing the faded elegance of beautiful Budapest. Photographs can never convey the full sensory reality of a location, but the skewed colour and ever-so-slightly-disconcerting light leaks, combined with their timeless quality, tell the story of Budapest far more powerfully than an ordinary photograph could (I took two ‘normal’ photographs while I was there, but neither came close to conveying my experience. I deleted, so I guess you’ll have to trust me on this one).

If I had time I could witter on for ages about the city, but I don’t, so suffice to say its turbulent past got me reading... and, while I was obviously on the lookout for my preconceived notions of eastern European illustration, there was a flourishing (and v modern) design culture there that also got me inspired... Actually, it all feels so goddamn energetic that it can’t help but rub off a bit. Expect more posts (and yes, perhaps even some actual work!) from here on...

Monday, 13 February 2012

off the shelf

The latest addition to my bookshelf: Eric, from Shaun Tan's Tales from Outer Surburbia. Just gorgeous.

Monday, 6 February 2012

rabbit rabbit rabbit rabbit...

My procrastination knows no bounds and my knitted rabbits are breeding like, er, rabbits. Three done, another fancy merino one on the way (mine, obviously) AND a flump in production. Having just gone mental on ebay for kapok, wooden buttons and loads more wool, I don't see it fizzling out anytime soon either. Fortuitiously, this somewhat pointless activity has just been validated with the news that J's school is taking part in a 'knitathon'*. Now that I've youtubed my way to casting on, off and purling, I'm perfectly placed to take part... (Oh and if you're up for knitting your own bunny, this all started with a Christmas pressie I bought from here).

Completely unrelated, this could well be the funniest thing I've read for ages.

*If you're a knitter with time on your hands feel free to get in touch, it's for a very good cause.

Sunday, 5 February 2012

spring sing

A sneaky peak for you - sections from the latest illustrations for Juno's spring issue. I didn't really notice until  I saw them side by side here that they are actually both quite spring-like. Jeez, I must be feeling subconsciously optimistic!

I've also had an update on the book of children's plays I illustrated way back in 2010. After some scheduling issues at the publisher, it's back on track and I should have some finished copies in my grubby little mitts sometime in late spring. Especially exciting as I'd almost completely forgotten about it!

Sunday, 22 January 2012

procrastinating (again)

I say 'again', because I'm sure I've done a post about this before (probably when I should have been doing something else).

The creative process chart I stumbled on pretty much sums up how I work. Sure you can substitute binge eating (smoking. Definitely the choice of the true procrastinator.) and discouraged napping (absolutely not feasible with a boisterous six year old in the house) but the pie slice ratio will remain the same. The killer combo of a blank sheet of paper and a looming deadline invariably results in me immediately getting the urge to do something else. Anything else. Having two illustrations to produce this week resulted in the knitted rabbit you see below - who'd have thought I could be so industrious while not being industrious?

(Oh and the illustrations did make the deadline, accompanied by my usual mad panic, last minute drama).

Saturday, 7 January 2012

appy new year

Finally, I get the point of an app... how cool is the hipstamatic? I get to make everything look nostalgic (and vaguely 70s, if also slightly creepy). Prepare for mucho more pics, vintage style...

Shot with my Hipstamatic for iPhone
Lens: John S
Flash: Standard
Film: Ina's 1969