Now obviously this blog is mainly for me to showcase the work that I have recently completed, but this work doesn’t just come from nowhere, it’s a skill that has been nurtured and developed over the years. I recently went digging through my external hard drives and located my old website. The fancy CSS doesn’t work any more and the layout is tiny on a screen that’s no longer 800×600 but the artwork that it holds is a brilliant treasure trove for how I personally have been developing as an illustrator over the years.
I’ve been drawing since I was in nappies, something which my mother is very pleased to be able to tell people. It was something that I just couldn’t get enough of and I could be kept very nice and quiet with a magic slate. The artwork I’m showing here starts when I was around 10 years old though, as that’s when I personally started keeping what I’d drawn (I believe I still have pretty much every image that’s in this post in its physical format as well as digital).
With hind sight gel pens were probably not the best thing to be using for my drawings, they were expensive, hard to work with and came in a range of very strange colours. But I took pretty much every page from the Ephemeral Fantasia game guide and drew them with only the passion an 11 year old can.
Anime was a huge influence on my teenage years as I’m sure it was for many other people of the same age as me. My love of all things Sailor Moon and Cardcaptors drove my family mad, they would often have to sit through repeat after repeat and I had dozens of printouts of the artwork painstakingly gathered in a ring binder so that I was sure to have plenty of images to work from. I have even been guilty of recording episodes from the television so that I could pause them at specific bits and draw what I saw on the screen. My love of drawing anime did get me picked on a little, while people were impressed by my commitment they couldn’t understand it.
As an illustrator one of my least favourite questions is “Can you teach me to draw?” I’ve had it since I was in high school and my answer still is, and will always be, NO. I don’t believe that anybody can be TAUGHT to draw, and so loathe all of the ‘how to draw anything’ books that can be found on the market. The skills needed to create a piece of work such as screen printing, dip ink pens and water colours can be taught, sure, but as for the actual artwork that you create with these techniques, that’s something that you need to learn for yourself.
For myself it was copying that helped me to learn how to draw, I copied hundreds and hundreds of images from animes, books and photographs, using them as a guide point to better my abilities.
Some of the artwork that I created during my period of copying existing pieces was hugely time consuming. Being a high school student I had a very limited palette of materials to work with, usually fine liners, fountain pens and Crayola pencils. I once completed an A3 drawing which contained a whole lot of black using just a fountain pen. Looking back at it around 6 years later I’m amazed that I had the time and the perseverance to complete it!
I was always a good girl at school. I got top grades and got on with all but one of my teachers (and the one I didn’t get on with disliked everyone who just got on with their work) and because of this my teachers pretty much let me get away with murder. I spent at least half of my lessons doodling (and listening at the same time!) but never really got in trouble for it, in fact half of them would actually often come to look at what it was I was creating and would offer help and advice. I think I must have had some of the most colourful school exercise books they’d ever seen!
Near the end of my time at high school Tokyopop announced their Rising Stars of Manga competition. My curiosity piqued I decided that I would create an entry. Yume: Quest for the Fried Egg Laying Chicken was a story which originated from me falling for a friends joke about chickens laying fried eggs (it’s a long story). All of the characters featured within its pages were actually real people from within my life, and this was easily the longest piece of work that I had completed, with all my own designs. The storyline was dire, and looking back there was no way that I was ever going to win but it’s still a piece of work that I’m very proud of. I’d love to get back to creating a web comic now, but just haven’t had the motivation and don’t have a storyline to work with (if anyone has a story that they want illustrating however be sure to get in contact!)
As I moved into college at the age of 16 I started to create my own characters. Aori and Victor (featured above) were two dreadfully mismatched characters, one being a bubbly scatterbrained mad scientist and the other a cold hearted killing machine. They were such great fun to create, working on a personality, a history and a life for these characters that I formed with my own hands through pencil, pen and ink. I still love them to bits now and need to work on an updated version of them. (I have a funny feeling that by the end of this blog post I am going to have a huge list of things that I would like to draw and update!)
Not all of my artwork was anime related through my years at high school however. I spent painstaking amounts of hours working on real life images, my hands coated in pencil. My art teacher adored me, but she hated anything that wasn’t traditional art, so the work that I was producing elsewhere in the school was ironically kept under lock and key as soon as I entered the domain it actually belonged to. Instead I worked with chalks and charcoals, pencils, paints, cut paper, all sorts of materials I just wouldn’t have used through my own choice. My high school art teacher was also the person who taught me to sew (which probably explains why the stuff that I make isn’t hugely durable!) and the strangest thing that I sewed during my time there was a kimono made of laminated sheets of flowers and leaves. It was actually wearable and I really wish I still had it around to photograph.
I became fascinated with the chibi when I was in high school. The ability to take a completely serious character and turn them into something much softer and more comical just by changing their proportions was a huge plus point for me, and also allowed me to concentrate more on the bits that I moved the most- drawing faces and hair. The chibis proportions are something that I keep coming back to even now in my work.
One of the most interesting projects that I’ve undertaken was drawing on a pair of converse. They were perhaps one of the geekiest things I’ve ever made and it’s a shame that because of the shape of the shoe I couldn’t iron them to make the designs waterproof. The shoes feature a range of characters from various video games and animes that I was interested in at the time. I still have them around and a spare blank pair, so if I ever get hold of more fabric pens and paints I will create a new and more up to date design.
College was a great time for me. Suddenly work didn’t have to be traditional beautifully crafted drawings for it to be considered worth doing and I could move more in directions that I wanted to. The above images were created to go along with a selection of Edward Lear’s nonsense rhymes using a variety of media and drawing techniques that I had never even considered before.
This short comic was created using the lyrics from the song ‘My Bloody Valentine’ by Good Charlotte. As someone who had spent so many years creating very anime-esque artwork my lecturer convinced me to try something a little bit darker and less cutesy. It was an amazingly successful piece and I’m so glad that he convinced me to do something that was different and a little more of a challenge.
My final project at college was a fully illustrated book based on the Chinese retelling of Cinderella (a nice story called Yeh Shen). For this I worked with perhaps one of my most unusual material combinations yet. The above images were based on posed photographs that I took of my friends, which were then drawn onto tracing paper for the linework, photocopied onto acetate and the colour work was then created on top of the original drawings before the two were stuck together and scanned to be cleaned up. It was a clunky procedure that caused me to ruin my own printer (yeah, don’t put acetate through an inkjet printer, just a laser one) but I still adore the end results now and it was definitely my most successful venture into paints.
Even in college I had an interest in fashion illustration, borrowing books on the subject from the library and searching it out online. It wasn’t until I started producing illustrations for Amelia’s Magazine earlier this year however that I started to consider it as being an actual viable job prospect for myself. Back in college it was just an amazing illustration style that I would love to be able to replicate.
Phew! I hope you’re still with me or that you’ve at least had a good time looking through this timeline of my work through around 8 years. I feel that I’ve improved a huge amount since the 11 year old who decided that gel pens were a good way to colour an image in, and the 14 year old who spent all her days replicating existing anime styles. I know that I have still not stopped growing and developing however (do we ever stop learning and furthering ourselves as creatives?) so maybe in another 5 years time I’ll be looking back at the work that I am producing now with as huge a sense of nostalgia as I am getting from looking back from at the work I have already created. I will continue to keep the images that I produce, whether they’re 2 minute doodles or 2 day masterpieces, as they’re always worth at least a good giggle afterwards.
I recently won a twitter competition for Wrap magazine, and excitedly waited for my prize to arrive. When it did I pretty much squeaked with delight, Wrap magazine is a real joy to look at, properly divine eye candy and I couldn’t get enough of it.
My copy of wrap came specially numbered and with this great personal message inside of it. It made me smile quite a lot. I’m leaving the message pinned to the front of the magazine as it makes it special. 🙂
Wrap magazine has some gorgeously unique text arrangements. I can only imagine how long it took to arrange text into the shape of a bear and various other delicate creatures.
There’s also a great illustrated story of a day in the life of an illustrator which is certainly worth a read.
Wrap magazine is dual purpose, as well as being a gorgeous high class illustration magazine that you can take pleasure and time in digesting with your eyes, once you’re done with it you can then use it to wrap presents in as one side of each of the A2 pages is covered in a full page illustration, which are all stunningly beautiful. I don’t know if I could ever bring myself to use Wrap for wrapping paper though, I don’t think any of my friends would appreciate it enough! But I may consider using some of the illustrations to make book covers. They’re certainly stunning enough to be preserved.
The illustrations within Wrap really are great, and the sheer scale of them makes it even more majestic to take in. Here are some of my favourites. At the very back of the magazine there’s a page of pull out postcards that show each of the illustrations within at a smaller scale, so you have two chances to send them out for other people to enjoy, or I suppose if you do use the magazine as wrapping paper you can keep the postcards as reminders of the gorgeous artwork that was within.
I’ve had a rather different weekend than usual this week. Usually I’d spend my weekend catching up on some illustration and visiting Mat’s parents for the day, this week I was catching copious amounts of trains and unwrapping body parts from mile after mile of bubble wrap.
What was I up to I hear you ask? Well I’ve spent this weekend halfway across the country helping InkyGoodness out with their latest exhibition, which is all about Totem Love.
I had a bit of a nightmare when I first arrived in Birmingham. I’ve not actually been there since I had an interview for one of the universities to do a degree in Visual Communication over three years before and at this point I was getting taxi’s everywhere and didn’t really need to think about where I was and where I was going. This time I wrote myself a list of directions so that hopefully I’d know exactly where I was going only to fall at the first hurdle- I couldn’t find any street signs! I ended up pulling my iPhone out to help with the directions only to end up walking up and down the same road about 10 times getting more and more frustrated. In the end I worked out I was literally walking over the road that I needed to be on and managed to get on with my journey a lot quicker and easier.
Birmingham has a lot of interesting graffiti. The photograph above was taken along Digbeth and the giant stickers featured were all along the road and across from it as well outside an abandoned building. It was a form of graffiti I’d just never seen before and against the wood they looked fantastically different.
When I finally reached the Custard Factory the first thing that I was greeted with was this fantastic car park. Now I’m not usually a huge fan of graffiti but I couldn’t help but stop and stare at these beauties, they really brightened up a space that would have otherwise been quite mundane.
As it was a Sunday none of the shops in the Custard Factory were open, so I resigned myself to sit down and do a bit of reading while sat on the edge of a little man made pond. The two pictures above were what I could see from where I was sitting, quite a bright, colourful and interesting display that’s for sure! In the end it started raining quite hard so I thought it was probably best to head inside and have a little nosey as to what was around.
The Custard Factory is certainly an interesting building and I wish that there was something similar in or around Lincoln as I would love to be able to work with such a large amount of creatives around me. There was so much glass around! All of the shops and gallery spaces have full glass fronts so you can really get a feeling for what’s happening inside of them and there was businesses that ranged from a theatre to a professional photographer.
In the outside courtyard these beauties were perched on the walls looking quite magnificent and a little scary. They just seemed to have been placed quite randomly and I think that added to the charm quite a lot, it’s almost as though one of the studios hosted there had decided that they wanted to decorate the space a little and leave their mark.
The outside of the building boasted this curved banner celebrating the huge variety of creatives that have made the Custard Factory their home. It was quite inspiring to thing that such a wide scope of people work here.
These lovely tshirts caught my eye on the wonder round. Unfortunately as they weren’t open I could only get a sneaky (and rather dark) photo of the inside, but all the illustrations on the wall are awesome and I’d definitely like to visit Get a Grip when they’re open!
I thought this was a really cute idea. The local cafe had a washing line outside where people had pinned what eating and hanging out there meant to them. There was a really nice and human mix of responses and I think my favourite was that it was full of ‘web design types’, gave me quite a laugh. Using a washing line gave it a really cute and innocent feel.
This enigmatic looking structure was actually the walkways for the upper floors. If you look closely you can see the netting that covered the sides of them. It reminded me a lot of a piece of modern sculpture paired with children’s Wacky Warehouse parties. Never seen a walkway designed anything like it before that’s for sure!
These guys were just hanging in a little inside courtyard and they created quite a creepy image, especially as they were swaying every so slightly in the breeze. They made me feel rather uneasy.
The interior design of the Custard Factory almost seemed to be a miss mash of styles, with these gorgeous lanterns hanging just across from a very minimalistic white corridor.
This strange little room seemed quite popular over the two days that I was working in the Custard Factory and I could quite often hear people tinkling a little tune on the keys of the piano, it seemed to bring out the best of everyone who sat in front of it. The room was really relaxed and strangely had been left unlocked on the Sunday even though all of the shops around it were closed. It had an almost Alice in Wonderland feel to it, with giant indoor hedges creating alcoves for people to sit and relax and more hedges outside creating a ‘hedged in’ feeling. (I know, I know, terrible!) I did have a look through the books on the case thinking that there would be a lot of art books to look through, but they seemed more to be the books that nobody wanted and included a book on Photoshop 4 and Paint Shop Pro 7. I had quite a giggle at that as I’ve never seen a version of Photoshop lower than 7 and a friend of mine used to use PSP7 when we were in year 8 to create blog layouts- almost 10 years ago now!
This print is absolutely gorgeous and I would really like to own a copy, but unfortunately I don’t know who created it or how much it costs at the moment. Knowing my luck it will be far too expensive for me to afford!
So now we come to why I was actually in Birmingham and the Custard Factory to begin with, I’d put my name down to help InkyGoodness with the setting up of their latest exhibition, the Character Totem Homecoming. I won’t be posting a load of pictures of what was within the show as I didn’t feel that I would be able to show them properly with my iPhone camera and so decided to wait until next week when I will be going back with Mat to keep an eye on the show for two days. I had a really fun filled if tiring two days though where I got to unwrap a lot of body parts (that’s one for the CV!) as well as helping to put up artwork and match the totems to their various bits of body.
I’m gonna leave you guys with this cute little fellow. He’s just one of the dozens of totem designs that will be on display for the next few weeks and are definitely worth a look at. If you’re in the Birmingham area you should definitely pop in and have a look around, and if you’re around on the 28th or 29th you’ll get to see my smiling face as well. 🙂
Obviously for much of the past month or two I, like many other students across the country, have been very wrapped up in my degree show work. I have been trying to get around the rest of Lincoln’s degree show’s however even though I can’t afford to go too far afield to the ones hosted at other universities and yesterday I decided to make the hike up the hill to see the Illustration degree.
Now I have a huge soft spot for the illustration bunch having been one of them for the first semester of university before deciding that my skills would be better suited down in Graphic Design. I didn’t miss climbing up that godforsaken hill however!
First off here’s some work by the extremely talented manga artist Jade Sarson. Jade’s created some great comics including the ongoing Cafe Suada which I will be featuring in a later blog post.
These pieces by Danni Thompson are really striking with their strong use of colour.
Mitch Allenden is a fantastic illustrator and probably the only guy I’d let design a tattoo for me at the moment. His work is fantastically detailed and just a little eerie.
Joshua Jones has a fantastic ability to paint, and his book cover made me giggle just a little bit too.
Beautiful childrens book style illustration by Gareth Burgess.
This pattern by Sarah Austin would make a great wallpaper that I’m sure many of us would gladly use. Greatly eyecatching and quite different from anything else I’d seen at the show.
These characters by Sally Townsend are so sweet and almost geometric in their appearances.
Gorgeous texture and detail in this piece by Rick Frateriggo.
A very bold style here from Angelica Howe. Myself and Mat could see her work being animated beautifully.
Some work for the YCN Glayva brief here from Emma Cadaverous.
Now I’m very fussy when it comes to greetings cards (I hate receiving most of them because they’re so ugly and look like they’be been designed for a 10 year old from the ’80’s) but these cards by Aimee Mappley are so delicate looking and cute. And who can resist that adorable bird?
As well as 2D work the illustration show featured a lot of 3D illustrations as well, including this Princess and the Pea piece by Natalie Lambert. The fabrics used to create the multiple layers of the bed gorgeous and this piece was great fun to photograph.
Speaking of fun, me and Mat certainly had a good giggle at Rebecca Tovey‘s board with her prop moustaches and glasses. A designers dream!
These charming creatures were all knitted by the very talented Sarah Powell, a fellow joint honours student who decided to take her skills the opposite way to mine. Looks like it worked out great for her!
I was lucky enough to see these pieces by Cat Hughston before I went up to see the degree show, but they were so amazing to see in real life, the amount of detail in such a small piece of craft! Each box that these illustrations were contained within was only around the height and width of an a4 piece of paper!
Steph Yeung is another ex joint honours student that I had the honour of working with during my first year and I still have a card that she gave me featuring her miniscule delicate illustrations. Her work was so beautifully and uniquely arranged for her show as well!
These absolutely breathtaking models are by Poppy Iddon. They’re definitely a piece that you need to see in real life to truly appreciate, although they reproduce really well in photographs as well. A very Coraline feel to the whole piece.
So there you go, a whistle-stop tour to 2011’s Illustration Degree show at the University of Lincoln. I can’t stress any more that if you can you should get yourself to Lincoln, up Steep Hill and see it in real life, it’s just too good to miss out on and it’s around for the next two days.
Obviously I couldn’t feature every member of the class here (sorting out the photographs and web links for the ones I did was time consuming enough!) but you can see some work from everybody in this year’s class here.
I stumbled upon this little gem completely by accident while looking at the artwork that one of the illustrators I follow on deviantART had done for it. Cost me over £20 with postage, which hit my purse a little hard, but looks so worth it. I keep checking the update page for it to see if they’re shipping the books out yet, but as of yet theres nothing, so I could be looking at May-June time before I receive my copy. It will be a lovely treat when it arrives though, and I get to feel good because I’ve helped donate to charity, and got a highly limited edition artbook out of it.
If anyone is interested the website is here- COLORS Charity Artbook. They’ve closed orders for now, but they should be back soon enough.
As mentioned in the previous post, one of the first things that I will do with any PC or mac is to customise the desktop. I’m not sure why, but it makes me feel better about working knowing that I have an inspirational piece of work hiding behind my windows of work that I can take a peek at with Expose should I want to.
I like to keep my desktop free of clutter if possible, and prefer to dump current project files into folders instead of all over. Some of the desktops I’ve seen in uni lately have made me cringe, how can you work on anything if you have a mess of hundreds of icons
Again, rather late as I photographed this around Christmas, but this 3d typography in New Look really interested me.