Thursday, 29 December 2011

A little 2011 Round-up...

Well, it's been a great year! I expect like me you're all settling down after a little bit of festive over-indulgence and thinking about 2011 and your goals for 2012. If you were following me all the way back in January you would have seen my round-up of 2010, which was actually a really good exercise to get some perspective on my work over the course of the year and to see what I had accomplished etc - so much so that I thought I'd do it all over again this year! I highly recommend it if you have a spare moment or two; summing up the year, whether in a list or a little collage like the one above, really helps to focus yourself for the new one.

Looking at my little collage calendar of illustrations from this year, I can definitely see that my style has tightened up a bit in comparison to the more experimental work I was doing during uni in 2010, but I think there's still a way for me to go in developing it and becoming more unique in my work. I definitely need to focus on drawing next year and really get into planning my time to get the most out of it. Looking back on last year's round-up post it's great to see that I've accomplished a lot of what I was hoping to - graduating, moving, exhibiting at New Designers, becoming a member of the AOI, actually starting up my business etc. Some lovely things have happened that I had only secretly hoped for (like being quite busy with commissions, and the Etsy shop starting to kick off), and also some flabbergastingly(!) great surprises (like being shortlisted for the Adobe Design Acheivement Awards, and seeing my work published on a few occasions).

I'm not sure what to hope for from 2012 (apart from becoming wildly successful overnight of course), but it would be great to see more improvement in my work, even more tightening and development of my personal style, and to stuff my portfolio with new things. Of course I hope for some lovely new commissions, and possibly start out on the hunt for an agent. I think I generally need to push myself a lot more and be as positive and proactive as I can be, and not be put off by negative things. One of the main things I have learnt this year about freelance life is that the phrases 'you win some, you lose some' or 'one door closes, another door opens' etc couldn't be more true, and it's very helpful to hold on to the sentiment! At times I've been miserable and disheartened with various rejections in the illustration world, but something tends to pop up just around the corner to make me feel proud and motivated again. So if you're a struggling freelancer, don't be disheartened! Pick yourself up and have another go.
So.... I think that sums up my [rather vague] work goals! In terms of personal plans, as some of you will know, I will of course be tying the big fat proverbial knot next year, so it looks like a busy 2012 all round!

It's been a tiring but fantastic year, made even better by all you who bother to read and comment on my blog, and chat to me on my Facebook page and Twitter (if you haven't said hi yet, please do!). Also a big thank you to all the clients I have worked with this year - it's been a pleasure, and I hope to see you again in the new year!

All the best for 2012 

Wednesday, 28 December 2011

Digital Artist Magazine - Illustrating for Children

A really fun commission I worked on recently was another tutorial and illustration for Digital Artist magazine about creating illustrations for children. If you want to read the full thing you'll have to pop out to the shops and have a look (issue 28!), but here's a peek at the illustration! If you look closely, I'm also on the front cover (no, the lithe glowing lady in the middle unfortunately isn't me, but my illustration is down in the left hand corner!)

While I'm here, there's also another illustration that I haven't showed you yet! It was a submission for the last issue of Ballad Of magazine that I did months ago and couldn't share until the entries were judged. Unfortunately it was rejected, but there's something about her legs and apron that I'm fond of so, tempting as it may be, I won't let it go unblogged! What do you reckon?

Thursday, 1 December 2011

Shop News: Last Posting Dates for Christmas

As it's now December (where has the time gone!?) I thought I would just do a little post to let you know about ordering in time for Christmas from my etsy shop. I've had a peek at the official Royal Mail last posting dates, and if you're thinking of making an order of cards or presents, then to help ensure that you receive your items in time for Christmas, please try to order before the following dates:

- UK: Friday 16th December
- South & Central America, Caribbean, Africa, Middle East, Asia, Far East (including Japan), Australia and New Zealand: Saturday 3rd December
- Eastern Europe, USA and Canada: Wednesday 7th December
- Western Europe: Saturday 10th December

This is particularly important for customers outside of the UK, Europe and the US as orders should be completed this weekend! You are of course welcome to order after these dates, but it is not certain that your order will arrive in time for Christmas. If you'd like to browse the cards and little gifts I have available, you can do so here.
I'm trying to make some of my own decorations this year! If they work out well I'll share some photos with you in the next couple of weeks. If you've ever tried it before, please do share any ideas or photos with me, I'd love to see them!

While I remember - I'm currently in the process of setting up a new online shop that will hopefully become my main online store in the New Year, running alongside my Etsy shop to start with. I love the sense of community on Etsy and loads of other things about it, but the fees involved are a bit of a pain so hopefully this new venture will allow me to keep reasonable prices and have a lot more product options available for you. Keep your eyes peeled here for news about the shop opening, or if you'd prefer to keep up to date via my new monthly email newsletter (Second edition going out tomorrow!) then you can sign up for that here!

Friday, 25 November 2011

The Drawing Circus

 Image from

It's been quite a while since I did any proper life drawing sessions, so when I saw that Draw were holding a circus-themed life drawing event at the Sallis Benney Theatre in Brighton in October, I booked up a ticket straight away.

I haven't really posted much like this before, so I hope it'll be of interest. I think my drawings got better throughout the day (we were there for about 6 hours or so - rather intense!) as the poses at the beginning were very short, and gradually worked up to much longer ones. I'm not great at capturing poses very quickly, especially as I'm not a very expressive drawer... I like to use a mechanical pencil and be precise (probably to my detriment - I hear you're supposed to draw with your arm not your wrist!)

It was really tiring but a fun day... there was live music being played that was written for the event (which really helped, as I find listening to music while drawing helps me to concentrate) and some lovely models - who I apologise to if I've not got a good likeness of here or have been unflattering!

If you're interested in taking part, I believe another Drawing Circus event is being held in the New Year, so keep your eyes on the Draw website

So here's some drawings from the day... I'll put a little jump break here in the post as obviously there's some nude drawings which might not be safe for work! Just click the 'Read more...' below to see my sketchbook pages :)

Monday, 7 November 2011

My Home Studio

It's been a month or two now since I shared some pictures of our new home and the renovations, and I've finally found a spare moment to share the pictures of my studio with you! I love having a good nose into other illustrator and artist's studios, so I hope this will be interesting. If you have any blog posts etc featuring your studio spaces, please do share them with me in the comments section below, I'd love to see!

When we first moved in the room was purple and white, with some scratchy beige carpet, lumpy artex ceiling and a fitted wardrobe in one corner. We ripped the fitted wardrobe out to discover a patch of even older carpet and a couple of decades worth of different paint colours. My fiance smoothed over the ceilings, and we painted everything magnolia as a nice base.

We painted it a rather fetching shade of 'Perfectly Taupe' which was less perfectly taupe, and more 'slightly purple', but I liked it anyway. It's a nice neutral shade to be a base for all the lovely illustrations and artwork that I have been collecting to brighten it up. Everything was incredibly dusty and slightly stressful by this point, and I spent the majority of my days lying on the floor doing edging or nearly falling off a wobbly stepladder. We ripped all the carpet up, put down some laminate flooring (easy to wheel around on in my chair, and to clean up any paint/glue spillages!). Everything starting to come together and look exciting by this point!

A couple of days of intensive Ikea assembly later and the studio was all finished! There's a long desk unit that runs the length of the room, one end for computer stuff, the other for crafts and 'general putting things together and making things'. On the opposite wall there's an angled drawing table with a fancy integrated lightbox (i.e. a bit of glass in the middle that I sit a lamp under). I use one of my grandmothers old chest of drawers under the desk as a plan chest, and there's various filing cabinets and drawers to house all the collected bits and pieces.

And some of my favourite bits and bobs from around the room :)

Is there anything else you'd like to see? :)

Oh and before I forget! I'm in Digital Artist magazine again this month (issue 26!), very briefly in an article about studios - there's a few little pictures of my studio renovations and a couple of quotes from me regarding working from home!

Thursday, 3 November 2011

Society6 Products & New Illustration Newsletter

Just a quick one to let you know that Society6 are running their free worldwide shipping promotion again (very useful to save on international shipping costs!) until Sunday. 
Don't be put off by the dollar pricing - you can order easily from the UK and other countries. I've just made an order, and $22 currently equates to £14.24

I've just uploaded a few new products to my shop including the new rooster tshirt and phone case above :) There's also a load of other iphone skins/cases, laptop skins, hoodies, tshirts and canvas prints that aren't available through my Etsy shop at this time, so it's a great opportunity to grab some unique presents or treats for yourself while the shipping charges aren't applied.

And in case you didn't know, I also have a new email newsletter which I'm about to send out. It's only monthly, so you won't get constant spammy emails from me, just occasional news, new product features and some great exclusive offers and discount codes. If you'd like to sign up, you can do so by clicking here!

Wednesday, 26 October 2011

2012 Calendars and Planners

So first comes an annoyingly early Christmas post, and now a New Year post already!? Yes, yes indeed.
One of my favourite things about Christmas/New Year is getting a lovely new planner, journal or calendar for the year. It has the appeal of a blank new sketchbook or notebook and I love to go through all the pages writing in important dates, marvelling at how incredibly old people now are etc (I'm nice like that...). Anyway, I always find it quite difficult to find a decent 'home' planner (not a little portable one) that's the right size, with enough room to write all my dates, deadlines and various 'to-do's in . This year I've been really satisfied with the annual 'Illustration Now' diary... plenty of room, nice big A5-ish illustration between every week, but I still wanted to hunt to see if there was anything better.

And I think that I have found it! In Little Otsu's 6th Annual Weekly Planner illustrated by Lizzy Stewart. It's smaller than the Illustration Now planner, but feels like there's the same amount of room to write my daily lists. There's also a handy to-do list strip and a notes box for each week, along with areas at the front to write in books to read, back-up phone numbers etc. And to top it all off, every single week has a little Lizzy Stewart illustration - perfect!

I've got a feeling that the planners have sold out on Lizzy's Etsy Shop, but you can still grab one over at Little Otsu.

On my quest for illustrated organisation I also came across these lovely items:

2012 Calendar by Anke Weckmann @ Etsy

2012 Agenda by boygirlparty @ Etsy

2012 Mountain Calendar Poster by Pam Lostracco @ Etsy

2012 Illustrated Owl Calendar by Gingiber @ Etsy

You can see these and some other organisational delights over on my 'Making Plans' Etsy Treasury list :) Hope you find something there to tickle your fancy!

Monday, 24 October 2011

Christmas time!

Yes, it's that time again! Well... not really, as it's not even the end of October yet. But for any of you early birds, and those of us who have to make a living out of selling cards and things, it is now officially the season to be [relatively] jolly!

For the past couple of months I've been working with a greetings card publisher, creating lots and lots of Christmas illustrations, so despite the unseasonably sunny weather we've been having over here, my life has been filled with geese, robins, snow and tinsel. Due to this, when it came the time to sit down and think about my own personal Christmas card designs for this year I thought I better go with something a bit different to separate the two. This, combined with my current obsession with lovely wrinkly Shar Pei puppies, could mean only one thing... a load of cards with cute puppies on. I'm slightly regretting my decision here as it occurred to me that there's a divide between cat/dog/hamster lovers that will probably mean a reduced amount of sales, but I'm hoping the amusing cuteness will make up for your love of different animals.

Without further ado, here are the card designs...

If you head on over to my Etsy shop you can now buy them singly, or in packs of four cards or eight cards. If you'd like to enquire about buying them from me directly, perhaps in larger quantities or wholesale, just drop me an email.

And as if that wasn't exciting enough, my bird magnets have also flown back into the shop this afternoon! Remember the discount code in the below post is still valid for the next week or so, so get stocking up on early Christmas goodies with a discount! :)

Perched on my Kellee Rich fridge bunting!

Wednesday, 12 October 2011

Origami Crane Magnets

Just a quick one to say that the origami crane magnets are now back in my Etsy shop again! I'm sorry for the delay in getting them back up there; when I ran out of my last batch I wasn't really happy with the cost of the production and how long they were taking me to make, so I've spent quite a while testing out loads of new methods and I think I've finally come up with something I'm happy with! I think the finish on the new magnets is nicer as well - I liked the thickness of the old plastic ones, but these ones look a bit brighter and clearer (have a look below - the top row are the old ones, the bottom row the new design!) The flying bird magnets will be back in the shop as soon as possible too!

As a little introductory offer, if you use the code NEWCRANES at checkout, you'll get 10% off your whole order until the end of October :)