Monday, 30 July 2012

Flower Illustrations | Watercolour Illustrations

These illustrations were for a presentation for a potential flower arranging book, which may be going ahead in the near future. I enjoyed getting to grips with detail.

Sunday, 8 July 2012

Festival T-shirt for Cheer Up Clothing

This is a design I've had to keep under wraps for quite a while, so I'm really excited to finally be able to share it. I worked with the super cool clothing company, Cheer Up! Clothing on a festival t-shirt design, and this is the result!

It was a bit of a challenge having to keep the items fairly 'safe' for a t-shirt design (ie. alcohol is clearly the biggest festival essential - I had to resist the urge to paint lots of beer and vodka!) Also, the idea was to keep the items unisex, which I think I achieved - although perhaps not every man needs chaps stick...

You can buy yourself a tee here, which I recommend you do quickly as it's a limited edition item. If you do make a purchase please do send me a picture of you in it (extra points if you wear it to a festival!) You can post it to me through Twitter, or on my Facebook page. I'd really love to see it in action! 

Friday, 6 July 2012

Zizzi's Plate Design Competition

Yes. I went there. I entered an illustration competition. I generally avoid these as I feel like they degrade the industry and give it that tacky X Factor feel. If you want an illustrator for your project, why not just hire one? The industry is competitive enough, without bombarding it with actual competitions.

That being said, I wanted to create some new work, and saw this as an opportunity to do so. Plus, I find the way Zizzi promotes their "fresh talent" to be very well executed, and many of the winners have gone on to carve out successful careers in the industry.

Here's my design. Sadly it didn't make the shortlist, but I'm happy with it and feel it would make a lovely plate so...there.

Thursday, 5 July 2012

Topshop Commission | Watercolour Illustrations

So here it is finally. I was holding out on some better shots of my work in situ, but sadly no more have come through, so I must apologise in advance for the low quality photos!

I was asked to create a head-through-hole portrait of Marie Antoinette and a poodle for international Topshop stores, to be used as a decorative and interactive feature over the Jubilee weekend. It was fun to work with line and a few select colours - and I'm pretty happy with the results.

The boards were on display in Singapore, Jakarta, Japan and Australia. It's exciting to know my work has travelled half way across the world in physical form! But, of course, the most exciting part of this whole commission was to work with such a well-known and prestigious client, such as Topshop.

More please!

Peabody Housing Association | Watercolour Illustrations

I think I like his feet the most.

The Peabody Housing Association asked me to produce an illustration of the founder, George Peabody, to accompany a new series of documentaries involving a cycle tour around London. You can find out more about the association, and see my work being used on the site here

Wednesday, 4 July 2012

My 200th Blog Post

This is my 200th post on this blog and for this reason I wanted to make it significant. I'm going to talk about the simple matter of doing what you love.

Most people have a passion. Something that consistently interests them, and gives them great pleasure. For me it's image making. It always has been. For others it might be writing, or acting, or even playing frisbee. It doesn't matter what it is, but most people have an activity or interest that demands their attention - and I'm slowly learning that that doesn't make them (or me) special. It doesn't make me special that I love to paint, because Jenny down the road loves to play tennis every opportunity she gets, and Bob has the biggest collection of jelly moulds in the south-west. Everyone has a passion, it's in our nature to focus on things that make us happy, and shape our lives with them.

With passion, comes great responsibility, and after graduation I assumed it was my responsibility to make my passion for painting my career, and not stop until I got there. But I never imagined the great struggle I'd go through to get to the stage I am at today, and I wonder if I had thought more about my overall happiness and less about the C word (career) I could have saved myself a lot of stress.

With my 200th blog post under my belt, and with my early twenties nearly (finally) over, I feel it's about time to shake off the pressure I have wrapped around what I love before it destroys it. I now believe that if you have something you love to do, this is great, but if it's not in high demand, chances are pretty slim on making it your career in it's purest form. But it doesn't have to be your career or sole source of income, just because you love it.

I think the key to being happy, and this is nothing new by any means, is to find a balance in life. When I first started out as a graduate illustrator, there was no balance. I was ridiculously broke and constantly stressed about this. I had none of life's small pleasures, because I simply couldn't afford them. I was chasing what I thought I should be chasing - but the reality is that most people don't love their careers, at least not right away. Most people have that Sunday night dread that sits heavy in their stomachs, waiting for another working week. But, most people are happy (massive, massive generalisation I'm sorry- but I'm trying to make a point).

There's a reason we all work. Because it funds our existence. It pays for the roof over our heads, the food in our bellies, the much needed Friday nights out. This, to me, seems like a pretty good trade off. It's the small things in life that all link together to create the feeling of contentment and of happiness, and really, it's ok if your passion doesn't entirely fund this. I see this now. Because having other work that supports your basic human needs (food, shelter, comfort, a summer holiday!!!) will provide the frame of mind you need to do what you love, to the best of your ability.

Don't get me wrong, I am a paid illustrator, and I'm extremely grateful to have worked with some amazing clients this year. But I also have other work that keeps me afloat, and I've noticed that this is something not often talked about in the creative industry - are we, perhaps, ashamed of it?

This blog post is to anyone (me included) who worries and stresses and panics over their passion, and the pressure of making it your career. A drive to do what you love is a good thing, but it's important to look up occasionally, and see that life is beautiful and there to be enjoyed. For a happy few, their passion is also their career, but us day-jobbers can be happy too, we can paint part-time, and we can afford to have our cake in our favourite café and eat it.