Sunday, 4 October 2015

Editorial Illustration - What I have learnt.

Now that my PGDIPE is well and truly over and I have more time on my hands (Sunday essay writing day has been replaced with a long stretched out day for running, drawing and reading, which is a complete novelty at the moment! Although, scarily, I did spend an hour this morning researching PhD courses in London and Scotland... Jenna STOP!) I would like to get back into producing illustration for Editorial, and have been looking back over the work I produced from 2013 - 2014, before the PGDIPE became more demanding. I produced editorial illustrations regularly for Gurgle magazine (great name!) which is a magazine for mums and dads with babies and young children. I also produced work for the gorgeous Pretty Nostalgic magazine - printed on the most delicious stock. The first time I illustrated for editorial, it was so exciting going into WHSmiths and thumbing through to find it. I practically had to stop myself nudging the bloke on my left, deeply immersed in his fishing tackle magazine and say, grinning like a cheshire:  "I did that". It's a great feeling. Producing illustrations for editorial, with their tight deadlines and layout constraints push you to be able to capture the copy in an image, which is a great challenge and I hope to do more of in the near future. 

When I graduated from my postgraduate degree, I went to see Fig Taylor from the AOI who gave me some great tips to approaching art directors to get editorial illustration. I would recommend anyone going for a Portfolio Review at the AOI as they are open and honest about your work and can really help push forward in your own individual direction. Obviously, the portfolio review is tailored specifically to you and your work, but I thought I'd share a few tips which enabled me to get editorial work in the past:

Go to a shop that sells a variety of magazines, don't limit yourself to the art and design magazines, or the huge newspapers. Think about those magazines that are on Have I Got News For You - the hedgehog weeklies, the beetroot growers annual - you know (I have no idea if those two publications exist!) but the really niche hobbyist magazines and journals. Academic journals and educational publications are great too to start out on. So find a big shop, and start to look through the magazines that you've never even noticed before, you'll start to realise the depth and breath of them. Notice the spot illustrations and the full page spreads, again, you'll begin to see these everywhere now! When you've found a publication where you can envision your work complimenting an article, find the art directors name in the magazine and make a note of it, with their address. Then, address a letter to them, I sent off lots of postcards and a big A3 promo with a polite letter, introducing myself and my work, and saying that I would love the opportunity to illustrate in their magazine, along with contact details. The first time I did it, I was really surprised that some magazines got in touch within a week, and I started working on spot illustrations straight away. Others, I followed up with an email saying hello, and showing some more work. Even if nothing happens straight away, I would still send off up to date promos and postcards of new work you are making, remember you are constantly developing as a designer, so keep sending snippets of work off to places that you'd like to work for - I think postcards are great as I imagine they are passed around a studio, placed on walls, but I think the key is to keep sending new ones off, make people remember your work and name. I plan to do this this month as I've been making lots of new work post-PGDIPE, I'll let you know how it goes. I guess the biggest lesson is, don't give up, be nice to people and keep pushing your craft, it will be right for someone out there and when you start to look beyond the magazines that you read and know, you'll see the scope out their for so many places where your work can be published. 

Another top tip is, if you say, love 'Vegan Weekly' (again, I may or may not have made that up) and are desperate to work for them, for example, you could spend a few days making some beautiful illustrated recipe post-cards specifically for them - show them what you are capable of, make them see that you can fit in. After my MA, I was designing a children's story book, so my illustrations at the time fit into mother and baby magazines, fictional articles and cute card designs, which I was commissioned to do a lot of straight away. So if you want to draw for a food magazine - draw some food, a fitness magazine - think about how your postcards and promos can be tailored to this publication and audience. Create the work now that you want to create in the future. 

I would love to hear your experiences and comments about illustrating for editorial, or if this helps at all! Feel free to leave a comment :) 

Pictured: Some of the illustrations I have produced for editorial, 2013 - 2014. 

Wednesday, 30 September 2015

Hello October

It's almost October, and even though I have been yearning for summer to not end, I am starting to get excited as the seasons change and everything becomes crispy and orange. I still love listening to AFI and getting dressed up for Halloween, so make sure I spend some time making spooky crafts and decorations. This year, I have opened the Halloween section of my etsy shop and have added detachable collars, spooky skelly hands notebooks, happy halloween cards and temporary tattoos! All pictured here: 

Saturday, 29 August 2015

Fabric Printing/New Creations

I have been playing with a new toy recently - a heat transfer press, which allows me to transfer marks, shapes and illustrations on to different fabrics with immediate results. Carrying on with the cacti theme of late (I am working on other things too!) I have been experimenting with layers, building up subtle textures. I think it's a really interesting tool that can be used alongside more blocky screen-prints. It's super fun to just play and build up marks without having a long prep process that screen-printing can have. When I screen-print, I want every print to be perfect because of the time invested in making the artwork, prepping the screen and work-space. I know that imperfections and 'mistakes' take you on an unpredictable creative journey where magic happens, but I still get a bit uptight when screen-printing. I want every piece of fabric to be utilised, and the print to come out as it in my head. With heat transfer, you can simply play and not be so precious. Well, that's how I feel!

I think that heat presses are a great investment anyway if you are planning on printing fabric, because you can do away with spending hours and hours ironing your freshly printed fabric to make sure that the print is cured. You can pop them under the heat press and your brand new pattern is fixed in one min or less! Which, brings me on to me latest creations, which should end my cacti creations (for now!) Using binder ff and disperse dye, I recently printed lots of meters of fabric using the separates of the mono-prints which I printed a couple of weeks' ago.

I was really happy with how they came out. I photocopied the coloured monoprints so that they were black and white and I could expose them onto the screen but still keep some of that delicious texture which I really liked from the originals. The final print was slightly textured which I think looks good, I just hope that people don't misinterpret it as a miss-print ! I'm a sucker for texture in printing techniques, and I like playing with exposing my screens to create textures. 

With the fabric, I decided to make a few different shaped cushions to go into my etsy shop.  I made long, rectangle, square and triangle cushions:

I also printed some fabric with a smaller print on, which I have made into detachable, reversible collars, available here. They have beaded embellishments on the tips:

 My etsy shop is filling out quite nicely now. I will stop banging on about life post-pgdipe, but it is good to go a making bender! I return to my lecturing job in one months' time so I have a glorious month now to build up my portfolio again. I'm currently working on a few illustration jobs right now, so will blog about these as soon as I can ! 

Saturday, 15 August 2015

Prickly Pals

Oooh it's been a while since I've posted but I've been busy delivering workshops to the Leeds Young Creatives at the Leeds College of Art Summer Art School. It ends next week so I will blog about inspirations I've taken from it when the inks all put away! In the meantime, I have been working on my cacti and succulent collection - and I don't mean my real life ones but my crafty ones. A year ago, I collaborated with my Nana, Syliva, who is an incredibly talented maker - her expertise lie with knitting. Even in her 70's she is approached by companies to make creations for their brands and even adverts! It's amazing - she doesn't have a computer or promotes herself, she just makes great things and word gets around. Anyway, she invented a knitted cactus pattern and whipped up these fellows for my birthday last year: 

Since then I have been making lots of different types! They are so fun to make because you can play around with each cacti meaning that each cactus creation is completely unique. Some have hats, some have un-spikey (thread) spikes, some are tall, round, fat, thin, weird... like normal cacti are! 

Here are a few of the different types I've made recently:

If you like you can follow my Pintrest board, 'Knit n Stitch' where you can keep up-to-date with the other knitting and stitching creations, pretty sure they will be revolving around cacti for a little while longer.

 I only ever make the one cactus once, so everyone whose purchased one so far will have a one-off. 

I am going to write up a downloadable PDF with the pattern on soon, so you can have a go at making your own creations from my Nana's pattern - I just need to research the VAT/Tax changes which happened this year in the UK for makers to sell digital PDFs to make sure that when I upload it it's all above board. 

Over the last few weeks I have been transforming these designs into 2D! I went on an inspirational trip (and expensive as I had to buy LOADS of plants) to Cactus Land in Lincolnshire. Not too far from where I grew up, actually, even though I was unaware of it at that time. If you like cacti and succulents: GO! It's amazing. I spent some time photographing all the beauties and then drew them ready to be mono-printed. I originally did it to use as examples to show students during the Summer School at Leeds College of Art to mono-print using cut-out shapes. I've always been a sucker for delicious texture and mono-printing allows gorgeous textures to come through - which, of course being mono-prints are one-offs too. Here are some process pictures:

Here are some photographs of the final print! It's printed on 250 gsm heavyweight un-coated white paper so that the textures of the mono-prints really pop out! You can see it listed in my etsy and folksy shop alongside the remaining knitted cacti I have available:

I'm sure you've noticed the cacti printed pattern cloth to the left of the print - more on that coming soon!

Friday, 17 July 2015

Open Studios & New Makings.

Over the last week or so, I have been getting back into making as much as I can, to get the momentum back up since I handed in all my PGDipE files. It's still a while away until I get the results, so I'm hesitant to de-clutter my desktop and office room in my house of all of the notes, assignments, observations etc ETC! Until it is completely finished. It is a bit weird, still being in limbo, but I have been back in my studio all the time, and printing almost everyday. The days where I am not printing, I have been designing and drawing new ideas and creations. It feels so good to be getting back into it all with full gusto! Here is what I've been up to recently: 


I whipped up some new appliqué cat cushions for my etsy shop. I had had a few emails about re-stocking them and so I put these cuties back in. Then, still on the cat-vibe, I spent a Saturday screen-printing a new hand-drawn cat pattern on to bright green, teal and cream cottons to make some new additions to my shops and in time for Open Studios at my studio space (but more about that in a bit). Here's some photographs of the process:

I wanted to keep a hand-drawn feel to the pattern, so when I exposed my screen I drew with black crayon and pencil on to paper then used the photocopier to copy the original drawing on to thinner paper, leaving the scribbly/texture in the cats coats. I really like adding as much texture as I can in my work and like experimenting with what I can expose on the exposure unit. Here is the fabric once cured (heat pressed to ensure that the print will last as long as possible!) 

I was really happy with the colour choice of the fabric - they look really fresh. I decided to make the cushions with a contrast opening on the back - I chose black medium weight cotton with white spots on - in two sizes, small and large and a black mid-weight cotton with white 'waves' on for a bit of differentiation. It reminded me of a photogram of bias binding:

Here they are! All sewn up and inside my etsy shop - which you can visit here. 

I must seem like I luuurrrve cats - 
I'm fond, but not in love! I just like to draw characters and cats do make cute characters! 


You may have heard of a great organisation that offers brill spaces for artists and makers - it's called East St. Arts. It's based in Leeds but has spaces all over the country. I've had a studio space with them since November last year. Although I've been really busy with completing the postgrad, I've found it so great to be working from a studio that isn't my spare room at home. I felt like I had outgrown my space, and was beginning to feel distracted working from home. ("ooh, I'll just re-arrange my succulents in the bathroom and deep clean the shower - THEN I'll start work" and other similar house thoughts were starting to un-focus my time at home - haha). The time had come to remove myself physically from my home and have a space where I could go to work, make a (creative) mess and keep my thoughts there. I love my little studio and am much more productive there. Maybe, I'll do a post about my studio space sometime? Anyway on the 11th - 12th July, East St. Arts (ESA) opened their doors to the public who came to look around, have a chat and buy some work. 

Here are some photographs of a little corner of my space which I hung some work up. I felt like I was showing the same work as I had done for a while now; knitted cacti, illustrated books and prints, since the commitment needed to the PGDipE has made it difficult to produce new work - and I felt a bit unconfident when the doors opened and people entered, but there were so many lovely people to meet and be inspired by, it soon passed and it was a great opportunity to show my work to new people and bond with the other studio holders. Everything pictured above is on sale in my etsy shop! So do have a peek if you fancy anything!