Reflecting out loud


Today I’m busy preparing my presentation for the Vocational Practice module which is part of my MA course and takes place next week yikes! Like most people I am not a fan of public speaking.  The illustration above is supposed to resemble the start of my illustration journey! We have to discuss our art practice with the rest of our group and it’s been really interesting reflecting on the last few months. Some things I have noticed about the way I work are:

  1. I’ve found that whether I’m doing a painting, collage or an illustration I always approach my work in layers. I always put down the solid colour first then build on top of it.
  2. Colour is a big factor within my work, probably the most important. I’m drawn to colour because bright colours make me so happy. When I’m creating new work I decide on a colour palette first, always.  At present I can’t get away from primary colours!
  3. I probably work in a bit of a strange way for an illustrator, I don’t necessarily plan a piece out on paper first, i kind of have a vague idea of how it might turn out and thats the exciting part.  Sometimes it works out and other times it doesn’t.  Sometimes I can go a whole infuriating day trying to create a certain character like a turtle and it just doesn’t work out.
  4. I tend to work in collage first and foremost.  So do lots of mark making and painting on big bits of paper and keep them all in a big box so I have colourful library to delve into any time. Then I often use these to plan out a rough illustration digitally after scanning them in.  I will overlay a drawing done in illustrator and cut out the shape, so I end up with a patterned shape as the basis for a character. Then I work these up until they are finished. The finished image is always a digital image.

The Dead Bird

I picked up a copy of ‘The Dead Bird’ today, a children’s picture book illustrated by one of my fave children’s book illustrators Christian Robinson.  I love Robinson’s simple, mixed media illustrations they are always so joyful to look at. The story originally written by Margaret Wise Brown in 1938 was reissued in 2016 with new illustrations by Robinson. The book tells the story of a group of children who find a dead bird and hold a a burial ceremony for it.  There are very few children’s books which handle the subject of death and this book does so gently and with sensitivity.


As usual Robinson’s simple, hand-painted illustrations bring the characters to life and add so much to the story. The main scenes are set in a lushly painted green urban park. The book is a must-read for adults and children alike.



Ahoy there! I’ve been busy creating some new characters for the next book I’m doing which is based in a small fishing village.  I got the idea when I visited Staithes in North Yorkshire.  It’s a really quaint, quirky fishing town with higgledy-piggledy cottages and winding streets, Staithes has the air of a place lost in time. The story is based around a group of rocks, the main character is a rock called Seamus who lies all the time! I’m still in the process of writing the story, but have been having a go at creating some characters who might frequent a fishing town.  The guys below were started as rough drawings in Illustrator and then I took them into Photoshop to finish them off.




I’ve entered the annual Ohh Dear greeting card competition who are looking for new designers to create cards which fit with their brand.  Ohh Dear stock cards in Paperchase, Urban Outfitters and John Lewis so to win would be unbelievable, however they normally get thousands of entries so it’s a bit of a pipe dream! I’ve been working on some characters for the illustration I am doing of the School of Art, so I decided to use a few of those within my designs. Here are my entries! Fingers crossed!

Go nuts


Sneak peek

I’ve been busy working away on the portfolio 1 module since October as part of my MA. Trying to juggle two new jobs, moving to Wales and fitting in time to produce art work has been hugely challenging.  I’m doing the MA part time over two years as I wanted more time to develop my work and I am SO glad I decided to do it over two years instead of one.  Watching all the full time students stressing about getting their work done in time for their first exhibition in May made me breathe a sigh of relief! Although funnily enough I have surprised myself with how quickly I have managed to produce the images for a children’s book.  I worked on a story based on ‘Swimmy’ by Leo Lionni, a story about a fish whose family is eaten by a giant tuna!  I got so into producing the images that I’ve finished the book already and I’ve finally managed to make all the amends.  The book has gone off to the printers today and I’m so excited to see what it looks like when it returns.  Here is a sneak peek at a few of the images inside – the images are all done with paint, collage and finished digitally in Photoshop.

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Abner…oh Abner

What better way to start the day than a post on my hero Abner Graboff. Abner was a prolific illustrator of children’s books in the 1950s and 60s.


I don’t know what it is about the illustrators of this period, but I am so drawn to the simplicity and jauntiness of the illustrations.


The way Abner used colour and simple shapes is so inspiring and his layouts are so quirky and unique. There isn’t much to be found about him online and his books are hard to come across. However there is an excellent blog post by The Ward-O-Matic which features an interview with his son Jon Graboff.


I’m hoping some of his magic will rub off on my own work! We shall see…

Made a GIF!


I’ve been meaning to have a go at making an animated GIF for a while now. For those of you who are wondering what the heck I’m talking about, basically it’s file containing a string of images which makes it appear as though the image is moving.

Although they may look like they are quite difficult create, they are actually really simple! If you have access to Photoshop and a few spare minutes you can most definitely create one yourself.  There is an excellent post on blog hubspot which explains exactly how to do it!

Ana Seixas

Through the inspirational world of Instagram today I discovered the work of Ana Seixas. Ana is a Portuguese graphic designer and illustrator based in Barcelona. Ana’s playful style combines textures and patterns with a vibrant colour palette. She describes her work as ‘always optimistic and a little naive’.


I simply love her use of clean graphics and the way she simplifies her characters using geometric shapes. What inspires me most about her work is how she uses a limited colour palette to great effect.  Her colour and compositional skills are always so strong.

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Here is a picture of her desk.  Even her workspace is nice to look at!


Print and Pattern Nature

I have finally got my hands on a copy of the Print and Pattern Nature book, which is the newest book in a series of four fantastic offerings from Lawrence King Publishing.


The books are created by Marie Perkins who runs the ever inspiring Print and Pattern Blog – a must read if you are into surface pattern design.  Each book focuses on an area of design such as children’s print design, geometric design and the latest is all based around nature.  Marie introduces a range of artists and illustrators in each book and they are a visual feast for the eyes!


The books, as well as being absolutely beautiful to look at are full of really informative stuff including where you can find more about the artists work, their processes and who inspires them.


This book showcases work which looks a lot more hand drawn in comparison to the more digital graphic work from the last couple of books, but is still a riot of colour – some of my favourite work had to be by Herbert Green (below)!


I would definitely recommend this one, particularly if you are interested in floral print and pattern, it is absolutely full of inspiration!

Surfs up!

I’ve been busy working on a surf piece today.  I had the idea in the early hours of the morning when I often wake up with sudden brain waves and then forget them!  This time I made a quick note so I remembered to have a go this morning.


I’m not too sure if it works. I’m not a huge fan of the faces so think I’ll need to work on those a bit and perhaps change the background colour.  I like the square bodies of the surfers, something I’ll definitely try again!