Friday, 30 November 2012

conference and cards

Well nearly a week has flown by since the great SCBWI conference in Winchester. It was wonderful to be surrounded by such passionate writers and illustrators. Met up with some of the lovely people I have met via SCBWI and their facebook page, people who have helped, guided and advised me, people who have pushed me to do more and who have given me belief in my capabilities as an illustrator.

I came away inspired not just to illustrate, but wanting to write too, maybe one day I will find the time to do 'my book', but for now there is work to do at the drawing board, a lot of it too.

I collected my greetings cards from the printers for the My Small Worlds range, smart they are too! awaiting the cellophane wrappers so I can get them packed and sold! OK that could take a while as I have quite a few.

Looking to sell as individuals at £2 and packs of 6 (one of each design) at £10 all inc p&p, so let me know if you want any, will aim to get an order page done on the website very soon.

Oh the website! yes it is in the refining stages at the mo, yes I spotted a spelling mistake that is bugging me, but take a look and let me know any comments. Plans for easy navigation are at the drawing board...

and here are the cards....
and a sample jigsaw...

Friday, 9 November 2012

Featured artist

Just over a year ago I discovered this wonderful society called The Society of Children's Book Writers an Illustrators. An international group with local groups or members based throughout the UK. I looked into what they do and the support they offer and thought  I'd sign up, I had a few doubts at the cost as I am running on a tight budget, but took the risk.

Well what an amazing year it has been! I have met some amazing writers and illustrators that are all so passionate about their craft. They have inspired me, guided me and educated me and given me faith i myself and what I do and can achieve.

Every year they have an annual conference, I couldn't go last year sadly, but they run competitions for both the writers and artists. Last year was to design a book plate..for those not in the know it is the piece inside the book cover that says something like 'this book belongs to....' Well one of mine was selected as a winner!
They are being printed and sold at this years conference in Winchester at the end of this month.
These were my designs, the Dragon won it!

Part of the prize is copies of the bookplate and also to be featured artist on the SCBWI page, a great honor....

this is the page, read away and I hope you enjoy.

So all I can say is that the membership cost has been worth EVERY penny, so much that I carried on my membership again this year and will continue to do so, I am also going to the conference this year to meet in person some of the wonderful people I have been in contact with over the last year via the society and their Facebook page and the Ning. Can't wait! going with folio and notebook/ sketch book in hand as I know there will be so much going on and so much to learn.

Saturday, 3 November 2012

moving forward

Moving forward on the tough decision I have made this week, I have been working on the logo for My Small Worlds. Not sure which to go with at the mo, whilst I like the rocket it is lost when the logo is reduced, what do you think?

I have been planning a new way forward with this project, looking at how they will work in book form and also ways to market the concepts. I have had so much support from family, friends and so many fellow creatives that I know I have made the right decision and will make this project work. Having fun along the way with creative ideas and I am really looking forward to developing them.

Now must get on with a commission I have, also based on this theme and one I really hope the customer loves!

Thursday, 25 October 2012

So today is a catch up day, tax return, admin and hopefully getting started on a new commission, 'Music World' for a friends son for a Christmas pressie. Some great things to include and he lives in Brighton and runs a music shop there so there are some wonderful places to include in that world.

Also I am putting together some scans and a short biography piece as I am going to be 'featured artist' on the SCBWI page from November for 3 months, really hoping it may draw in some interest from publishers. However I am really not sure what to write about myself. Should it be basic info or a bit more of an insight into me, what made me want to be an illustrator, the things that influenced me and things that inspire me? Opinions greatly received!

I also still have Mo and Po knocking around my head and want to get on with these illustrations and do a book mock up, but as usual there is not enough time.

Here are some of the character sketches I have been doing for Po....

And so, back to the drawing board, enjoy your day everyone.

Sunday, 7 October 2012

Phewee, the last few days have been just a bit crazy. Had 3 days at work, sorting library books i reckon about 4,000 a day, the book is still well and truly alive! Also been madly busy getting a few more images ready for the big presentation to the client on the 15th. Totally shattered but running on nervous energy, think it may hit me mid week.

Anyway the project is pulling together well, cant show or tell much more than that, but here is a little peek at just one of the little fellas I have been working on....

And so back to work sketching up the next ideas ready to ink tomorrow after sorting yet more library books!

Sunday, 30 September 2012

I have had another productive week, characters developed and final image drawn for a bit of speculative work. Need to get them well presented and sent off.

From that I have been playing around with new style, very loose for me, My work is usually so tight and fiddly, but have enjoyed the challenge and liked the results, it is always good to work outside the comfort zone and sometimes we learn new things about ourselves.

This playing around with new styles for me has lead to this piece. My dear friend Mary has been nicely nagging me to draw her cats for ages and the new style seemed to fit perfectly (or should that be purrfectly?)

Anyway here is the sketch I did of Chester, Mary's beautiful cat (well one of them) and followed by my moggy Monty. The shape and styles still need working on but from the initial results I am really quite pleased.

Well now back to work on the Small Worlds project and some sketch ideas for a commission for a friend, busy, busy!

Thursday, 13 September 2012

Aarrrhhh! this is so frustrating! I am working on two projects at the mo, one of which I really hope to sign a contract on soon, done so much work and know it will be 'big' if and when it happens, but more than that I cannot tell you.

The other is speculative work, developing characters and spreads, having so much fun letting my hair down with this one, trying so hard to loosen up my style a tad, which is so out of my comfort zone, but so far really liking the results, would love to show you all, but I can't.

It's so hard being creative and not being able to share it yet, so for now, sorry they stay under wraps!

Sunday, 9 September 2012

Yesterday I had a great day at a masterclass in London run by SCBWI and Little Tiger Press.
LTP had sent out a brief to SCBWI writers earlier this year to write a picture book. These stories were then sent out to illustrators to develop the characters and illustrate spreads.

My story was Megan Dragon and the Monster written by Jim Northcott.
The story was a big challenge for me as I felt I needed to develop all the characters as they all play a big part in the story. Three boy dragons, Flash, Dash and Rory and little Megan their sister and of course the monster too.

Here are my characters...

The masterclass was good, constructive feedback and an insight into children's book publishing.
I came away totally inspired and decided to crack on with a bit of 'Mo and Po'... here is todays piece...

So much to do and too little time as always! anyway off to do some more work on the Small Worlds now.

Friday, 31 August 2012

I have had a few days away this week at my favorite place sun, beach, boats and so much sky!
I managed to do a few water colour sketches of some shells, but my senses were on other things, smells of the sea, sounds, think this is the place I want to retire to one day, the place I will write the book I have inside me. This is the place where I am at peace with myself and the world and where I feel I could paint forever....just need a lotto win for my house with studio over looking the water. Until then I will have to be happy with weekends away in a caravan 2 minutes walk from the beach....
or maybe one of these to spend my creative days?!

The next part of our discussion about fairy tales can be found on Sally Poyton's blog....have a read and let us know your interpretation of a fairy tale.

Monday, 20 August 2012

Once upon a time, we wondered, what is a fairy tale?

Recently over on the SCWBI (Society of Children’s book Writers and Illustrators) British Isles Facebook page, there was a discussion on what Fairy Tales are. The discussion was interesting and varied displaying one astonishing thing, that what a fairy tale is subjective, and that different people have very different perceptions on what a fairytale is. This has prompted three SCBWI members to think at little more about how we see fairy tale and what they mean to us. 
These are our thoughts....

What is a Fairytale?  by Emma Graham

It should start with ‘Once upon a time’ and end with ‘they lived happily ever after’. This is how my daughter defines a fairy tale. But once we start to discuss this question further she agrees that maybe not tales are laid out in this way.

As children we are all read the stories of The Three Little Pigs, Little Red Riding Hood, Jack and the Beanstalk and such like. Some create our childhood fears and some hold strong under lying morals. These are probably what most people would describe as a fairytale. The stories written by Hans Christian Andersen and the Brothers Grimm would fall under this classification.

Should they contain fairies? If so then is Peter Pan a fairytale? The old-school definition of a fairytale is any story that starts with the ordinary, and then moves into the extraordinary. Peter Pan fits that perfectly, but many consider a fairytale to be a short story. My interpretation of a fairytale they are tales full of magic, mystery, strange creatures that talk, goblins, elves, wizards and maybe the occasional fairy as in Cinderella, but they are not always good, and it doesn’t matter how long the story is.

These traditional stories have been told and retold through generations and often the same themes and basic plots are used over and over. Take for instance Beauty and the Beast, this old tale is the basis of East of the Sun and West of the Moon which is an enchanting Norwegian folk tale, that tells the story of a White Bear and a peasants daughter. The Bear is a handsome Prince by night and a bear by day. The story is full of mystery and beauty, sadness and passion.

The tale has recently been retold in the story of North Child by Edith Pattou. The book is filled with beautiful descriptions of desperation, beauty, sadness, loneliness and hope, beautifully retold in this timeless tale. But at over 500 pages long, does this still class as a fairytale? 

What is a Fairy Tale? by Donna Vann writing as D.V. Hawkes 

I think all the best stories give glimpses of a world unseen by our ordinary practical and tangible one. Sometimes these two worlds collide, so that mystical elements seep into this world, or else people from this world visit the magical world and return changed and able to change this one. 

Think of Mary Poppins, who drops in on a chaotic household and pulls whatever she needs out of her carpetbag. Narnia, where children from Britain at war enter an enchanted kingdom through a wardrobe. The Snow Queen, in which shards from a broken mirror dropped by careless goblins pierce the eye and heart of a boy of this world. Roald Dahl is a master of the fairy tale, as is Eoin Colfer in his Artemis Fowl books.

The way I see it, fairy tales do not have to contain fairies and are not the same as fantasy. For me, the essential ingredient in a ‘fairy tale’ is the presence of this world. I’d agree with the traditional definition that the fairy tale starts in the ordinary world and moves to the extraordinary. So Harry Potter would qualify, but not Lord of the Rings – even though it contains humans, the story takes place entirely within the fantasy kingdom of Middle Earth. I love the juxtaposition of two worlds, which is why pure fantasy doesn’t interest me very much. Everything takes place in the world created by the author, and I can never quite believe in it. 

What is a Fairy Tale? by Sally Poyton

Fairy tales have distinct characteristics which they use to prey on primal fears; they are usually short and use repetition in combination with their unique language. But what are fairy tales? The answer is; they are many things. They are about love, (Hans christen Anderson actually referred to them as Love Tales), they are about family, but most of all they are about survival. Fairy tales teach us that there is only one person who is responsible for our life (if you bet on the prince swinging in and saving you at the last minute you’ll end up dead or wanting to be).  In fairy tales, the protagonist may not be the strongest, the richest, the fairest, the most fortunate or the most moral (Jack wasn’t adverse to theft, and Red Riding Hood has been known to adopt prostitution to save her skin) but they all have one common weapon; their wit. The fairy tale hero/heroin uses their mind to outwit the villain; who is usually stronger, faster or even magical.  It is a strong message; be nimble of wit to survive. It’s no wonder Einstein said ‘if you want your children to be intelligent then read them fairy tales!

Monday, 6 August 2012

I have not been here for a while, sorry, been head down and drawing, can't show you or tell you all many details at the mo as it is all incognito until September, but I will show you then.

I have been developing characters and two full colour spreads for a masterclass with Little Tiger Press at the start of September, more than that you will have to wait and see. It has been an interesting challenge and I have learnt new techniques and ways of working.
Anyway better get back to the next project, but have to choose a fairytale...which one?

Here is the Little Mermaid, an old portfolio piece but one I still love...

Sunday, 1 July 2012

Well another interesting week.
I have now finished all of the Small Worlds for the Ebook. Still negotiating the deal, but the work is complete. My agent and I are even thinking we could push this concept further and we are both working really hard on the concepts, Sarah is a great agent!

Also I had great news that I have won a competition! Late last year SCBWI held a competition to design a book plate for children, they were all judged at the SCBWI conference and mine was selected! They will go to print to be sold and used at this years conference, I will get a few copies and will also be featured artist on the SCBWI website for 3 months! That will possibly be early next year, I will let you all know when, but hopefully it will get some more interest in my work.

Today I have drawn up the rough image for the Jungle leaflet for the children's theatre company, waiting for approval or changes and then hope to get this one done by the end of the week, will post it here once it is done.

Friday, 25 May 2012

Yipperdeedoodarday!!!! Well what a week, totally shattered from learning how to do my new 'day job'. But I have exciting news... my 'Small Worlds' book concept has been approved for the interactive book for the Ipad.
I will get more details next week, but I am so happy, this is going to be a fun project to work on.

Afternoon 'off' to get some bits ready for my agent, so back to work now I have shared my news....

Sunday, 20 May 2012

Well what a week it has been! I finished my 'day job' as a horticultural project supervisor on Thursday, started our new venture (well the training for) on Friday and Saturday, which will help look after the pennies.

However I also have a commission for some illustration/design work, a leaflet for a London children's drama group, working on this one today.

Also looks like the company that are doing the Ipad books are interested, so I have developed a few ideas ready for the next pitch. Fingers crossed for this one, think it would be so much fun to work on.

And I have another publisher interested in my illustrations for a children's Bible!

So all in all it has been an overwhelming week, highs and lows of emotion and a lot of 'what if's'.

So here is to looking forward and a lot of hard work, but also remembering the good times I had with T&M and some of the amazing people I have worked with (I will miss their company very much) and to some of the opportunities T&M have given me, like the Chelsea Flower Show stand design. Being awarded a Silver Gilt medal for my 1st ever display, that I designed, illustrated and constructed will be one of my proudest moments as a designer. Now lets hope for new beginnings.

Best get on....

Sunday, 6 May 2012

And here he is...Zeb under the brolly.
Shown as work in progress from the 1st sketch on my 1st blog to the finished item. Thought I would time myself on this too, just over 4 and a half hours. Not too bad seeing as I have not worked in colour pencil for quite a while.
All the rough spreads of Mo and Po are drawn up and ready to work on. Feels good to see my ideas on paper at last. I've loved working on this, so good to just draw, filled most of my sketch book with studies of Polar Bears and Inuit.

However today is about Zeb. I'm working the final image of him with the umbrella, for my agent....

Saturday, 5 May 2012

Well it's been a rotten week, rain, rain and more rain (much needed I know), but now the garden has gone mad! That and a stinky rotten cold.

Thankfully on the mend now and had a good day sketching the last few rough images for Mo and Po. I think this will look good once worked up and in colour with the dark blue sky and swirls of the Aurora Borealis in soft greens and yellows...

Sunday, 29 April 2012

This is a piece I did recently for a friend who wrote the poem. It started as a personal commission, but Rachel has a friend who recently lost a child and the decision was to reproduce the image and poem as a limited edition print to raise money for the East Anglian Children's Hospice. Katherine Duchess of Cambridge is Patron of this great charity. Rachel is taking orders for prints if anyone is interested.

Saturday, 21 April 2012

Wishing every day could be like this....roughed out about half the spreads for Mo and Po, I knew I wanted to get the pictures from my brain and onto paper, but I didn't imagine the creative ideas would flow this well, I just need more time and a publisher who might be interested. Anyway I'm relaxed and very content.
Today's experiment, nice to work on something that has been knocking around my brain for many months. Quite happy with the first trial, needs some work still, maybe some more over the weekend.

Let me introduce Mo and Po....

Thursday, 19 April 2012

OK well here it 1st blog. Something I have been meaning to do for ages, but had no idea for what to do or what to write.

However I will suss this out and hopefully someone may be interested.

Well it has been a nice week so far. Monday was an exhausting day at the London Book Fair, showing my portfolio to publishers and agents and generally getting good feedback, although some differing ideas on illustration fashions, that I will take into account and work on both my styles.

My agent was very encouraging and has sent me away to work up some ideas and develop some concepts for children's picture books.

Publishers ranged from picture books to children's Bibles (a lot of interest here).

So I have followed up this interest and will send out more samples of work.

Seems Zeb was generally the favourite from my portfolio. An old piece that a few years ago was not so fashionable, but now is a great hit, so I dug the little toy out of the loft and got sketching. (I'll try to post the images if I can work out how!)

Anyway best get back to the drawing board....

If you are interested in viewing my portfolio you can find it at