Monday 31 December 2018

Dealing with New Year burnout

Leading up to the holiday period can be an intense time for the most of us, but for small businesses and, from my perspective, illustrators, the few bank holidays of rest aren't always enough to 'reset' ourselves. We spend the last few months of the year working overtime to get things ready for Christmas and then a few days later we are prepping for the New Year, bringing out new work, promotions, marketing and everything else to make 2019 the best year yet for our business. So here are a few tips to avoid burnout as we enter the New Year:

1. REST. This will seem insanely obvious but it can be one of the hardest things to do. In running your own business you are constantly on the look out for new ways to improve it, but by taking just a day or two to stop and completely switch off can actually be the most beneficial thing for your business.

2. Make an appreciation list. We've all seen the top 9 instagram posts floating around, showing the most liked posts of 2018, which is great but try to find the time to sit and reflect on your proudest moments or biggest achievements from 2018 instead of letting your success be defined by 'likes'. You might be surprised to find that these were some of the quietest or most private moments of your year; maybe you negotiated your rate like a pro, found a new client, or maybe you finally felt content in what you were doing. 

3. Exercise. Getting active is not only great for your health but its a great way to decrease stress levels and elevate your mood. Its also a great way to help with sleep if you struggle getting your 8 hours in, and even if your not a fan of running or the gym, a brisk walk outside with the family and dog can do just as good to help clear your mind. 

4. Sleep. Leading on nicely from the last point, sleep is super important for our mental and physical health. It can seem like you need to take a running jump into the New Year, cramming all of your resolutions into the first week of January, but it's really important to leave enough time for sleep. It's ok not to work 48+ hour weeks and just have an early night and don't feel guilty about those few extra hours you spend under the duvet in the morning, you'll find yourself being much more productive for it.  

5. It's ok to say no. Knowing when work isn't going to benefit you is perhaps my number one tip (yes I realise I have placed it at number 5). It can be really hard to turn down work, especially for those just starting out in their careers; it may seem like you are throwing away money and that you might not get the opportunity of work again, but knowing when certain projects/clients won't help to further your business can really help both to limit stress and make sure that your business succeeds. As illustrators, clients will seek us out if we fulfill certain criteria they have, this is normally: 1. if our style suits their brief; 2. our fee is within their budget and 3. we can complete the work within their deadline. But clients should also fulfill certain criteria that we have such as: 1. the brief suits our style  - there is no point in creating work that you will not include in your portfolio or you will not gain valuable experience from; 2. their budget is big enough for the work required - don't underprice yourself, its not only detrimental to your career it damages the industry as a whole; 3. their deadline allows you enough time to complete the work to a standard you will be happy with - its very rare, at least when working with editorial clients, to have long deadlines but don't try to do the impossible, clients generally have a little wiggle room too so if you think you'll need an extra day or two ask the client before you agree to the work. 

Hopefully these tips will help you get the best start to 2019. Happy New Year!

Friday 25 May 2018


Recently I worked with Casquette, a cycling magazine aimed at women. It was a pretty quick turn around but I'm super happy with the illustration. I knew my colour palette from the start which is unusual for me as that's normally something I experiment with once I have my idea. The article discussed riders superstitions and rituals, like never bringing a podium cap with you to the race or placing the number 13 upside down. One rider Yvonne McGregor, explained how she used to always have her porridge in the same bowl but now she exclaims "give-me-my porridge-and-my bike-and-I'll-ride-it-with-avengeance" which I chose to illustrate. Here's the final. As always, its a blessing to work with clients whose product you love and that are super friendly and great at what they do.

And here are the roughs.

Saturday 5 May 2018

Financial Times

Last week I was asked to create an illustration for the Financial Times Weekend book review section (I know, you're thinking 'oh my god' an update about work that didn't happen six months ago! I'm trying guys). The book was Curtis Sittenfield's 'You think it, I'll say it' which is a collection of short stories, so a little difficult to illustrate. I loved creating the roughs for this, its not often that I illustrate character interaction like this. I wanted to create a lot of tension between the two, so I played with a lot of scale and also objects, such as the rear view mirror and democratic elephant air freshener to slice through the two, disrupting the kiss and setting up an opposition. I read these kind of stories and columns all the time and think it's really good practice for any illustrator to read news papers as you're always forming these images in your head even when you're not illustrating them. Such a great commission with a pretty fast turn around but I found the ideas came pretty easily and am really happy with how it turned out. Here's the final.

And here are the roughs.

Tuesday 27 February 2018

Beings Magazine

I finally got my hands on a (well actually two) copies of the very first issue of Beings Magazine and it has not disappointed! Honestly really blown away by the whole magazine and my illustrations look great, the colours are spot on and the attention to detail throughout makes it such a rich, sleek, exciting publication, I'm sure it will be one of the most coveted items for anyone who loves travel. You can head over to their website here to grab your copy now. Here's the final image in context and some of the roughs too.



Friday 22 September 2017

Super secret (but not for too long) project update

So I'm working (yes I know again) on a super secret project, although this one won't be secret for too long. You'll actually only have to wait until mid October to find out a bit more, but it will be worth it.

I do feel like a little bit of a broken record on this blog, but I am super excited for this project! That's just the perks of doing something that you love, that you genuinely get really excited everyday (well not everyday) about working.

Anyway what I can tell you about this project is that it is very in keeping with me and my loves/likes; lots of traveling, lots of experiences, lots of adventure and my illustrations have just seemed to click and fall into place so perfectly. I had the roughs ready early and sent them over to the client yesterday afternoon ahead of schedule, which is pretty much a cardinal sin in the terms of freelance, but I was just so excited that I didn't want to wait until next week for feedback. Then I got one of the greatest pieces of feedback that made me even more excited and grateful to be part of this. So yeah, still not really a lot of information but an update and I'm trying to be consistent here guys.

Sunday 10 September 2017

iPad Pro, Apple Pencil and Illustration

I decided to do a little write up about the iPad Pro and Apple pencil because its really changed my process of working. Before I start I want to stress that this isn't really a review of the iPad itself but more of my reasons for getting the iPad and Apple pencil and how its integrated with my illustration practice. So anybody looking for a reliable review on the pencil calibration or how it matches up to the Wacom or similar, Google is your friend :)

So for quite a while I felt as if I needed to make more of a switch to digital work, there's a number of reasons for this:
  1. The industry as a whole is progressively becoming more digital and I want to remain current
  2. It's cleaner. Working in collage is great but boy can it be really annoying when you're trying to get a flat colour and then you smear it with glue marks
  3. Mistakes, there's no backspace in real life guys
  4. Resolution, integrating digital elements means I can work on a much greater scale and ensure that my files are at the highest resolution. If anyone has ever scanned in a magazine print, then you'll see that even if its scanned to the highest quality, if the pixels aren't there then the image just becomes stripey and pixelated.
  5. Ease of use. Collage is so tricky to work with in different environments, going outside in the sunshine seems like a great idea to make work but then along comes a gust of wind and the idea suddenly become terrible. I also find it really hard to figure out colour palettes by sifting through piles and piles of papers. Some quick tests on the iPad are so much easier. And it means I can pick up my ipad and go where ever, whenever without having to plan or pack up all my stuff. I love working downstairs with my boyfriend and I can do this with my ipad without having to lumber all of my papers and collage and laptop and everything else (or have to clean up after myself!).

My work has always involved digital techniques; I clean up smears and paper joins, add various layers of more collage, draw elements using my wacom, but the iPad has taken it to a different level and made it that much easier. This doesn't mean that I'm dropping collage either, the main medium of my work is still collage, I'm just adding more digital elements and using the iPad to experiment. 

I'd previously tried to work with an older iPad model and a generic compatible stylus but the results weren't great. The new Apple pencil is a dream to work with. Its so accurate and is pressure sensitive so its super easy to achieve natural looking lines and paint strokes. The dual sensors in the tip of the pencil and the surface of the iPad pick up not only on the pressure but also the angle at which you're holding the pencil so you can shade with the side of a pencil or create different thicknesses with the marker pen. The grip feels great and I like that its weighted, it feels solid but glides really easily and smoothly. I was worried about the friction, or lack of, between the pencil tip and iPad surface as this was something I really disliked when using a generic stylus but I was presently surprised. The matte tip of the pencil helps to give more of a resistance against the tablet surface. It's still not quite the sensation of a pencil over the grain of paper but I know there are a lot of matte screen protectors available at a relatively small price. 

So far its made a great impact on my my work and my process of creating work so keep your eyes peeled for an influx of new work!

Tuesday 29 August 2017

Rouleur issue 17.6

Latest set of illustrations for Rouleur, looking at the growing use of social media among road cyclists and the effects that it has had on the sport. I think I must have said it quite a lot before, but I really love working with these guys. The briefs are super fun and interesting and the images just come really easily.

Below are the final pieces. I'll also include a few of the roughs at the end. Before I've been a bit reluctant to share any rough work just because there may be the chance to recycle the idea or composition with another brief, but these are pretty specific so should be safe. My process of work took a bit of a dramatic shift from my usual approach and the iPad Pro and Apple Pencil were the only materials I used to create the roughs. As I mentioned before, I'm going to do a little write up on the iPad and my practice, but the benefit of using them meant that I was able to focus solely on the ideas and just pick up and create, rather than having to split my time between ideation and sifting through papers, for textures, colours, scanning, working up the roughs slightly etc.