Thursday, 18 December 2008

Christmas bear

As part of my new Folklore range here's a new cute design....
Usually we work on Christmas in the first few months of the year, but I started early this year to get myself in the spirit!
You can see the rest of the range so far here:

Monday, 15 December 2008

Let's Rock!

I had an excellent brief for an illustration in a 50's American advert style. It should be a family guy and kids with a 'jetsons' feel, with a Danelectro guitar (the subject of the article.) Coincidentally I bought a fantastic book at the weekend called "Meet Mr Product"
This proved a fantastic resource for this brief as it contained hundreds of characters many from the 1950's used in vintage advertising. This has been a style well mined by the wonderful Candadian illustrator Gary Taxali, probably my favourite illustrator currently working today.

Monday, 8 December 2008


We went to London recently for a weekend, and took these shots. You can see more here:
Whilst there we went to Dennis Severs house on Folgate street in Spitalfields.
It was a truly amazing experience, ( you can not take photos inside though.)
I cannot compare it to anything else, it was like walking into a living old master painting or opera setting.
It is definitely not a museum or an art exhibition, but like walking back in time.
You enter the house in silence (no mobile phones thank god) and it is like the inhabitants have just left. Lit by candlelight, and fires in the grate, half eaten food is left, reading glasses and glasses of sherry. Your imagination is key here, and the more you let go to your senses, the more magical it is. The house is full of beautiful detail, but it is the feeling you have which is more important than any one thing. One might say - "oh this is the wrong century, in the wrong place" if one were trying to be 'clever', but this is missing the point entirely - it is not about seeing, but about soul and your feelings to it. Rather like Christmas itself.
I didn't want to leave, but wanted to sit for a while in that room with the large Christmas tree chatting to an imagined elderly aunt drinking tea, and eating those little cakes left out. As you go up a floor, you go forward in time until you reach the attic inhabited by Scrooge himself. Another room animates a Hogarth painting that you see on the wall of drunken men, you see a knocked over chair in the painting, and notice its real counterpart in the room.
Going back down, I lingered for a while in the rooms I'd passed through taking in the smells and looking round in awe and wonder one last time. This really was and unforgettable and magical experience and surely counts as a unique work of art, and true art is what I would call it, (though its creator Dennis Sever himself was hostile at any classification)

Friday, 5 December 2008


I usually keep my illustrations clean and simple, but on this picture from a few years ago I decided to try and create something a bit more complicated, almost a 'where's wally' image.
It took me a while to put all the detail in (every weekend for a month!) But it was worth it.

Tuesday, 2 December 2008

Christmas is coming!

This is part of my new Christmas range 'Folklore' - inspired by Fuzzy felt and weird obscure animation from the eastern block that was on TV when I was a kid.

Tuesday, 25 November 2008

Vintage Inspiration

Inspiration in the form of source materials is an invaluable resource for any illustrator.
I had two editorial illustrations to do, and found inspiration in the form of some wonderful Penguin book covers.
You can see quite a few on this Flickr site:
I've long been a fan of vintage books, their design, limited colour use and simplicity.
The first article was about how the original line up of any classic band is usually the best (especially Led Zeppelin.)
This is something that is quite tricky to convert to illustration. I chose a venn diagram and an old 70's text book feel with reference to the idea of being a mathematical formula for the band, and thinking about school books from when I was a kid.
This look was successfully spoofed by the BBC TV show 'Look around you'
For the second piece, (about using a fretless guitar) I went for a similar look, but this time the 50's look of the Jazz record label was the direct influence. I just love the simple use of colour and shape - it's a case of less is more when designing this way.

Monday, 24 November 2008

The Christmas Markets

The run down to festivities has begun, with the arrival of the Christmas markets in Manchester. It really helps you get into the spirit wandering around, looking at the food stalls, taking samples of dutch cheese, drinking gl├╝ehwein and eating german sausages. I love this time of the year.
Here's some more photos:

Wednesday, 19 November 2008

Chille Beans!

We're going to get a cold spell here in a few days time - winter will finally be upon us......

Thursday, 13 November 2008

Keep Smiling!

Being an illustrator is in general a fantastic job, you make your own hours, you can work from home, you have no boss - it's such a buzz completing a piece that really works, and eventually seeing your work in print.
In the main most clients are fantastic and I always try to give them the best job I possibly can, I take a lot of pride in my work no matter what the budget - so they are usually extremely pleased with what I give them - and hopefully they'll return.
However like any job, there are times that are not so fantastic:
- Some clients pay very little money for really a lot of work, (there are some jobs that pay less than minimum wage if you work out all the hours you spend on it.)
- Occasionally a client doesn't brief you properly, doesn't know what they want in the first place, but they know what they don't want!
- Now and then a client won't pay what they owe you for months (imagine saying to a plumber working on your house, thanks for that, I'll probably pay you in 3 months time!)
I expect this will occur more regularly in the current financial climate.
Anyhow this illustrates how I'm feeling at the moment...

Friday, 7 November 2008

My Autumn's Done Come

The nights are drawing in, the days are crisp and chilly, my favourite season Autumn is truly upon us. This shot was taken at a nearby graveyard that is now a small walk through park.
It is my favourite part of Chorlton especially when the sun is shining. The light at this time of the year is beautiful.

Tuesday, 4 November 2008

Hi Cutie!

I've designed some more cards for my 'Hi Cutie' range.
Once a style has been set, on the first few illustrations, it's relatively easy to continue.
I'm used to designing whole ranges of cards, it's pretty satisfying seeing the final product on display in a shop. You have to fight the urge to say, "I did that!"
Currently there are a few of my designs in Paperchase (just one in their Christmas range this year) Marks and Spencer, and probably the main supermarkets, where I have designed stuff for my old employer Carlton cards, and Camden Graphics.

Other blogs I like.

I emailed the Tigerprint blog:
They liked my work enough to feature it on their website - which was an honour.
Tigerprint are an off-shoot of Hallmark and do all the Marks and Spencers cards.
I've long been a fan of the products in M&S, they're always finished to a high quality.
I've always make my way there when looking at the market.

I think the tigerprint blog was inspired by the Print Pattern blog - the blog for surface pattern fans:
It's such a brilliant resource to see what's currently out there in the shops.
Bowie at Print & pattern is bringing a book out next year, I'm lucky enough to be featured, so I'm really looking forward to that.

Wednesday, 29 October 2008

Vegetable rights and Peace!

This phrase comes from the hippy Neil in the 80's classic comedy 'The Young Ones'.
It's part of my new card range 'Hi Cutie'.
I am designing 20 in this series, the first being the mushrooms illustration below.
Details on where you can buy them on line to follow soon...

Thursday, 23 October 2008

Make room for the mushrooms!

It's mushroom season, I know this because a friend of mine brought me a huge bag of wild mushrooms he picked in Scotland. The phrase "make room for the mushrooms" seems to stick in my head - it's from a 1980's advert, promoting the eating of fungi (I think.)

Wednesday, 15 October 2008

The Credit Crunch

I'm sure everybody is sick of the credit crunch already, anyway here's my illustration.
I'm currently making my work simpler and more graphic.
I've recently been inspired by Saul Bass and vintage Penguin book covers.

Thursday, 9 October 2008

Just Choose!

This weeks illustration is all about career paths.
It continues in my retro style and limited colour palette.
The boy reminds me of Charlie Brown. I was a big fan of the comic strip when I was younger, the melancholic feel of the films and the jazz soundtrack.

Thursday, 2 October 2008


Pico is a cute little character I've been working on for the greeting card and children's book market. He has a retro comic feel, which has been a big influence lately. In all my work I try to achieve a none digital look, I want to create that hand made feel that is not too perfect and clinical. Also I use lots of scans of old books and paper stocks, old fonts and found vintage images which helps to complete the illustration.

Thursday, 25 September 2008

Man vs Machine

In between commissions I like to work on personal illustrations.
They tend to influence my commercial work and vice versa.
This retro comic style was inspired by my work for Guitarist - "The Guitar based Gurner."
The subject matter is about the battle between the brain of man and artificial intelligence, informed by a Radio 4 programme about how a computer has been programmed to beat the best poker players in the world.

Wednesday, 17 September 2008

Illustrations published in this months Junior Magazine

I just went round to our local newsagents to pick up the latest edition of Junior magazine to see my work illustrating Sophie Conran's excellent article about educating your child's taste buds. It was a great job, as it mixes my love of food, and the simpler brighter style I've been developing in the main for greeting cards.
Some of these have been published by Tigerprint for Marks & Spencer.
You can see the cards here:

New Illustrations for Guitarist Magazine

I've just completed another illustration for Guitarist magazine, which is now a regular two columns per month. The first I did was a piece about the closure of recording studios, this was influenced by looking through old 78's in my parents record collection.
The latest about the funny faces guitarists pull when playing. I did this in homage to my childhood love of comics, the Beano, the Dandy, Whizzer and Chips and Whoopee!
These pieces reflect my slightly different styles, one comic, simpler and lighter and brighter, the other darker, and more complex.

Back from Seville.

This is the first post of my new blog, I will use it to publish my current news and latest work as an illustrator, I'll also include anything creative that I'm doing. I've just come back from Seville and Andalucia, here's some photos from my trip. You can see more here: