Thursday, 16 June 2016

Crafty Fox/Shut Shop/Bon Voyage !

Wow! It's been a crazy few weeks. I've been busy assessing my students' work, going to various meetings in London and working hard on creating illustrated branding and characters for a small business in Sheffield, which I'll obviously share when it's all completed. At the beginning of June, I was lucky enough to be selected to have a stall at the first CraftyFoxMarket outside of London. In 2013, I was invited to London to flog my creations and had such an awesome day, eating yummy veggie Caribbean food in Brixton and meeting lots of inspirational makers. The Leeds event was just as good. Set in the Black Swan on Call Lane, right in the centre of town, with fab makers/designers and fun workshops. I sold screen-printed pillows and cushions, prints, knitted cacti and notebooks. 

Here's a little snippet of my stall. I almost sold out of everything! I have limited amounts of stock left now, but have closed my etsy shop until July as I go on holiday in two days time! (so excited!)
Kayti Feather, the wonderful host and marketing manager for the Leeds market and creative director of Caboodle magazine purchased two of my triangle cacti/succulent cushions:
Then, a few days later I was tagged in a lovely photo of all of the goodies she'd purchased from the market - I wanted to share this lovely photograph with you: 

Every thing here (apart from that fab cactus chair which is from Oliver Bonas) is from the market! There is work from Maggie Magoo designsUpsydaisy Craft and StitchUp! 
After the market, I did a little stock count as I shut my shop, and have limited creations left. Which is good, as I have room for my new creations - mostly inspired by Stafford-shire Pottery, more under-the-sea things and my commute for work, I know I'm being vague ;) but I'll share more when I return on to British Soil in July. See you soon! 



Monday, 30 May 2016

Never Have I Everest Zine Fair // Floss Zine // Beaver Zine

I love making zines and enjoy collecting zines from makers, illustrators, tattoo artists, printmakers etc! They are a lovely insight into how people work, more considered and refined than a sketchbook, but still almost an intimate glimpse into some-ones working practice. They are also a great format to experiment with new ideas, characters, narratives without committing to a huge project. At the start if this year, I gave myself a challenge to make a zine a month and so far, it's going well - but I haven't publicly shared them yet. I wanted to get them together at the end of the year and hopefully have an exhibition of them, in a zine library in the North of England when they are finished, presented as a little collection. It's challenging to make them with other commitments, but really fun too. I am going to, in this post, share one of them with you, which I am going to put up for sale in my etsy shop...

I kick started this bank holiday weekend at Rough Trade in Nottingham on Saturday helping out some of the NTU graphic design 1st years put on a zine fair to raise money for Child Reach International. It was called 'Never Have I Everest' and was a great day! I ran a zine making workshop, where I taught people how to use a single sheet of paper to make four different types of zines, and we collaged and drew the content. I also had a little stall and sold two zines - my Beaver zine which I made in 2012 and still have some kicking around my studio, and one of my zine-a-month 2016 zines, called 'Floss'. Below are a few pictures from the day, and some work I sold. Knitted cacti, screen-printed and hand-made cacti and succulent cushions, badger cushions and long whale pillows (which I almost sold out of! I'll be selling the remaining ones this coming Saturday (4/6) in Leeds at the first northern Crafty Fox Market on Call Lane - so pop down if you like them!) 

Pictured bottom left is an amazing Rob Ryan zine I brought at the fair to add to my collection! It's a gorgeous large screen-printed beauty. I was super happy to get my hands on it. The students raised £266 for Child Reach International and it was a great day of meeting fellow zinesters, eating cake and hanging out at Rough Trade - which is always a day well spent. 

So, as I said - the zines I sold were Floss and my Beaver zine, which I thought I'd share with you in this post. The Beaver zine was a zine I made in 2012 as a little research book on my MA about beavers. I was building a character for a picture book and on my MA I made a lot of small books and zines to visualise a variety of my research. It's a humorous account of beavers, and even though I produced it a while ago now, I still enjoy looking at it !

Floss zine is my new zine and it is a collection of illustrations about the everyday - my everyday. Both beaver and Floss are pretty lo-fi, photocopied books and are cheap to produce. Some of the zines I have been making for this challenge are not so lo-fi, they are screen-printed or digitally printed to a high quality. The aim was to explore a variety of outcomes as well as pushing myself to make something, for myself every month. Pictured below is Floss. It goes through my everyday, what I wear, use, the many cups of tea I drink daily, the commute, work, gym and home-time. 

Tuesday, 24 May 2016

Staffordshire Pottery Plushes / Pillows

I'm still in love with Staffordshire Pottery thanks to the MATS course that I'm currently taking! I have submitted my outcome to that part of the course already, which you can read about here. In my spare time, I have been developing and drawing and making new creations based on the doodles and sketches I had in my sketchbook. Above, I made some pillows, or plushes ! I thought I'd share a few today, and the process behind printing them. 
 The first thing I did was enlarge some of my favorite characters from my sketchbook. I painted them on to tracing paper with drawing ink because I wanted them to have a painterly feel to them.
Then I exposed these on to a silk screen. 
I mixed a bright blue ink with binder ff so that I could cure it on to the fabric, and screenprinted them on to durable cotton. Here they are freshly printed on the printing bed and on the drying rack: 

Next, I decided to make a few plushes (they are sitting proudly in my sitting room and I can't bear to part with them!) I cut around the characters, backed it with a soft material on the back, like baby cord or a fleecy material so that they are soft to hold and cuddle. 

 I'd love to know what you think!

Thursday, 5 May 2016

Looking back on editorial/being true to yourself

I thought I would share some editorial illustrations I did for Pretty Nostalgic magazine (above) and some of my favorite editorial illustrations from Gurgle magazine below, where I worked illustrating their features and articles for over a year. I really enjoy editorial illustration, I like the quick turn-arounds, short deadlines and bringing words to life through imagery. Looking back on these, I feel that I've developed lots since I created them and have become so much less interested in a 'style' or honing a style, which I feel when I look at these illustrations, I was attempting to do. Now, I try to create illustrations letting the media that I am working with take over, and try and draw as naturally as when I write in my diary, or send a letter. But it is an ongoing process and I may look back on the work I am producing now and have a new reflection. I feel that there is a massive pressure sometimes, when you share work on the internet or take work to show clients, that it must be soso consistent - but I am easing up on myself more that drawing and making is (or can be) a life long process and with the advent of time comes change and growth - and even different feelings, emotions which can change the aesthetic. As long as you are true to yourself in the moment that you are in and true to the materials that you use, I think that, as a practitioner, that's all you can be and just enjoy the journey of developing and the process of making. 

But, it's fun to look back and celebrate achievements, I still get excited when I go into a huge shop like M&S or WHSmith and see my work printed and for sale. I can't imagine ever not being excited about that. Advice I would give to anyone who wants to get their work in magazines is just to ASK! Send out some work to magazines and publications that you admire, covering topics you enjoy and where you can envision your work. Follow it up, be polite and sooner or later you'll be given a chance.

Wrap it Up.

 I've had lots of fun recently making wrapping paper from some of my favorite patterns and shooting new content for my new website (which I'm working on as we speak!) I'm going to take my time over it, probably will launch it after the summer term, go slow and make it exactly how I'd like it to be! If that means re-shooting, re-styling so be it. I think that the wrapping paper looks great! I'd love to make more of the Halloween wrapping paper - but commercially would it work? Do people send each other pressies at Halloween? I just simply love Halloween imagery! I have been looking at all of the books that artists and designers have been making for Surtex which is a 3-day trade show "where artists, art agents, licensing agencies and licensors connect with manufacturers and retailers to create the next best-selling products in every category imaginable." Eeek! Sounds so good, doesn't it? One day, one day maybe! :) In the artists books they include examples of their patterns and designs, with the motifs separated with ideas of how the patterns could be applied to various surfaces, which gave me a great idea. 

This year I challenged myself to make a zine a month. In January I made a zine about how to make your own knitted cacti, from the creations that my Nana and I made, it's available in my etsy shop. In February I made a zine called 'Floss' about my everyday. In March I made a zine about Staffordshire Pottery which I have fallen in love with via MATS. (Thanks Lilla and Co!) So in April, I decided to start a series of zines called 'Repeat Repeat' which (sort of) document a range of patterns past and present. They were floating around on my desktop, some had been made into postcards and used for the web, but I really wanted to make my own mini series documenting them, which I could send out to art directors and companies who I think would enjoy them and might like to work with me. You can get a copy of Repeat Repeat from my etsy shop if you like, I hope to keep adding to the mini zine 'series' and see where it takes me, maybe one day to a trade show like Surtex! 

Sunday, 1 May 2016

Uppercase / Cats / Make Art That Sells.

In my last blog post, I spoke about cats of the past which I had created and how I was going to create new ones for the latest Make Art That Sells assignment. Well since then, Make Art That Sells launched a competition with Uppercase magazine (which, alongside Chickpea, Frankie and Flow is my fave magazine of the moment)! The competition was to create a page for their Surface Pattern Design Guide. The brief was loose, the content of the cover could be up to you although you were constricted with size and the copy/Uppercase logo. So with cats on the brain and coming out of the hands, I decided to work with what I was having fun making and incorporate some of the cats I was doodling in my sketchbook to make a repeat pattern for the competition. As promised, here is a glimpse into my process: 

I spent a whole day doodling and drawing different cats in different medias, above are a few pages from my sketchbook. I tried not to think too much, just getting loose and having fun, then I started to refine my favorites and painted them using gouache paint, scanned them into photoshop and edited final touches to them:

I started to play around with the pattern the colours, what other motifs would be added to the repeat to give it an exciting rhythm and pace. I spent a while moving things around on photoshop, printing it out, using my lightbox to move things around with my hands, scanning back into the computer etc, etc, documenting it in my sketchbook: 


Ta-da! Here is the final outcome, repeated over the cover. I submitted it to the competition and I am so so pleased to say that it was selected in the top eight and live reviewed by the amazing Lilla Rogers and Janine Vangool (editor of Uppercase), which was such a treat! Lilla said that she chose it because of the individual repeat and the eccentricity of the design (!) I'm so happy to have been picked and reviewed over at MATS. It's really boosted my confidence and I've been a making machine ever since! I'll share what I've been up to once I've finished making them all :) I'd love to know what you think! Any comments would be fab, and I hope that sharing my process on this project has been useful. 

Sunday, 10 April 2016


For the latest Make Art That Sells assignment, I have to draw lots of cats - how I normally draw them, then in a variety of different styles and media to create a book cover for a children's picture book. So, I looked back over some older work, where I have drawn sewn, printed and even carved cats to make a variety of creations. Lots of people comment on the amount of cats in my work, saying 'ooh you must love cats' , which is interesting, because I don't have a particular affiliation with cats I don't own one but I do like to make friends with street cats when I'm out and about and I like their attitude, and am envious of the way they spend their days on adventures... but anyway! I decided to put together this mini-mood board of cats I have already created in the 'usual' way I draw to build up on and work from here. During the last MATS assignment, I also drew and painted a few cats and tried to move out of the usual style I comfortably work in. I'll post my sketchbook as I go along over the next few days.


I've recently screen-printed a batch of these fishy/whaley guys and made them into long pillows. They are in my etsy shop right now! 

Wednesday, 30 March 2016

MATS: Round 2, Staffordshire.

For the Make Art That Sells Round 2, the assignment was to look at Staffordshire Pottery, like these guys above, which I found in an Antique shop one Saturday. Staffordshire Pottery is lots of hand painted lions, zebras, sheep, people, cats and dogs, with funny but endearing expressions and lots of lovely motifs on them. My Nana tells me that they 'aren't fashionable anymore' when I told her I now want to collect all the funny dogs I possibly can. They are quirky and fun and something that I never considered drawing before, but that's the point of Make Art That Sells - it forces you to look at new subject matters beyond your normal gaze. I thought I'd share some early sketchbook studies with you - some are rough, most are just playing around. I started to use a brush pen more and added colour with crayons. I also got some new gouache for Christmas, 
so experimented and played with them too.

I LOVED drawing Staffordshire Pottery so much! The aim of the assignment was to have designs for plates based on the characters and motifs. Here is my final submission for it:

What I liked the most, though was the characters that I drew in my sketchbook... and I wanted to use them in another way for my shop and myself. Thinking about this, after work one day some work colleagues and I went Riso-Printing at Dizzy Ink in Nottingham. We were making a risograph printed zine in a few hours and thinking about a theme so that we could all design a section and then bind it together as a long concertina book. One of my colleagues had brought in photographs from her childhood, old houses and shops she'd visited in Staffordshire where she was from, 
sooo, I happily started drawing some of my characters to form a Staffordshire zine! 
Here are the layers being drawn up: 

 ..and the final print (my part of the book) is pictured below. I loved Risograph! 
But that is another blogpost, for another day!

Cats and funny-faced dogs on the mind, I decided to re-draw my favorite characters and add in a few more to make a repeat pattern which I intend to screen-print this week on to fabric and make some cushions and maybe even some plush Staffordshire characters to test the water in my shop. 

I'll post and share the material once it's printed! But above is a sneaky peak - I wanted the characters to look funny and weird and not really match! I think some of them 
will look really good as plush toys - I'll let you know how it goes.