Tuesday, 23 September 2014

Illustrations for United Arrows Japan | Watercolour Illustrations



I was so pleased when United Arrows got in touch with me again to ask me if I would like to produce some more illustrations for their new catalogue. Of course, I said yes (YES PLEASE!) and above are the fruits of my labour.

I was asked to paint 11 Johnston of Elgin scarves plus the iconic printed label, plus a "handbag grid" (new terminology for me) and a rather mysterious monkey keyring dressed in costume. Lastly I painted a pair of shiny boots, which reminded me very much of a since lost ink painting I produced on my art foundation course.

You can find previous work for United Arrows here.

Monday, 15 September 2014

Post Holiday Resolutions! Number One



It's the customary activity in a new year, to start making resolutions. However, I've always found this a little forced. It's cold outside, and it's hard to feel rejuvenated, plus all that Christmas feasting is clouding my vision. I recently decided that perhaps it's more logical to reflect on life resolutions after some distance from said life.
I've just come back from a two week holiday and it's given me some time to contemplate on the way I was working back home and on the changes I'd like to make - and to my personal life as well. I thought it would be helpful to share them here, one day at a time, for one month. Below is just the start.

1. Take better care of the body you work with. 

I recently learnt the hard way that working long hours without taking the proper precautions to protect yourself from injury leads to a very broken body indeed.

Late last year I was sitting on a hard, plastic chair with no back support and painting for long periods of time - typically 10 to 12 hours a day. I was working on my first proper book project, tasked with producing 80 full colour illustrations & a cover design. I was so focused on the challenge that I didn't think for one second of the implications it would have on my body. Add to this a lack of sleep and an unhealthy diet of cheesy snacks and caffeine, no regular breaks, and minimal exercise - and this heady concoction resulted in a painful lower back injury, which is still with me today. 
 
If I could go back in time I would do things differently but sometimes lessons really do have to be learnt the hard way, and on a hard surface. Now I know my body must work in order for me to work.

The future of Holly Exley illustration? Regular breaks. Fresh air. Dog walking. Leafy greens. I've also invested in a good chair - it's ugly & bulky & belongs in a corporate office but I'm learning to put my vanity to one side. Feeling like an old lady at 26 is alarming to say the least and it frustrates me that I can't work in the same way I used to. 

However, I am resolved to remember I am not an illustration machine. No career, no matter how dreamy, is worth risking one's health for.

Do you have any tips for working long hours at a desk? How do you look after your body? Any ergonomic advice? Do YOU own an exotic stand-up desk?