Monday, 31 December 2012

Thrill Murray

Thrill Murray: A Colouring-In Book (Front Cover: Nicholas Stevenson)

Back in May, I blogged about an illustration of Bill Murray that I did for Belly Kids. I mentioned that it was for a collaborative colouring book, and well, that colouring book was released in the autumn and I finally got my hands on a copy. 

The book comprises of 24 awesome illustrations by 24 different illustrators, one in full colour, opposite a second for you to colour yourself. The quality of the book itself is really good for an indie publication and worth every penny. I've been totally selfish with these photographs, in that I've only photographed the cover and my own work, but there are loads of great illustrations. If like me, you're a fan of Bill Murray, get yourself a copy directly from the Belly Kids shop or alternatively on Amazon (who will probably take a percentage, so just get it straight from Belly Kids!).

Sunday, 30 December 2012

Linocut Christmas Cards

Festive greetings to you all, I hope the Christmas period kept you warm, stuffed and happy. Seeing as New Year is nearly upon us, I'm feeling some urgency to update my blog and share what I've been doing lately. Maybe one of my resolutions (which I never make) should be to keep on top of these things. It's just so easy to bung some pictures on my website or tumblr or Facebook, with nought but a lazy caption. I suppose I never really know if anyone is actually following this blog, so say hello if you are. I'm doing this all for you!

This year I set upon designing my very first Christmas cards. In 2010 I did some drawings for Caroline Gardner, and I've done homemade birthday cards before, but never really anything as a product of my own to sell. I had so much fun with these and it felt amazing to be printmaking again. The last time I printed with lino was over half a decade ago, before I knew I even liked printmaking. The above design came simply from my love of knitwear, and for those of you who haven't been bored to death by his little face on Instagram, the design below is of my cat, Otto.

The response to the Christmas cards was phenomenal, and I would like to say thank you to everyone who bought a pack or two, or even just said "Hey! These are nice!" 

Wednesday, 7 November 2012


So, about that holiday blog I was intending to write..

.. Have a fish while you wait. I've been busy.

Tuesday, 16 October 2012


It took me approximately nine months, upon returning from our Tallinn trip, to create the illustrations I'd always intended to do. The above took me approximately one month after getting back from Austria, so we're getting somewhere on the procrastination front, eh?

This one is a view of Residenzplatz; a square in Salzburg's old town. I hope to do a blog about our trip to Austria before this year is up, including photographs and a bit of narrative. Real blogger stuff, like. We really did get some lovely pictures and I'd like the chance to share them somewhere other than Facebook for my mum to have a nose at!

If you like this illustration, it's available from my Etsy shop along with all the Tallinn prints, for as little as ten measly great british pounds.

Until next time, then.

Tuesday, 25 September 2012

Best Seat

I'm a bit behind the times over here, too prone to using my lazy tumblr alternative. I really would like to be a *real* blogger with regular updates, but I fear I would be horribly boring, or become lax. In an ideal world I would be able to write about my life and other passions, as well as my illustration and creative endeavours, and have lots of followers that I can interact with. Unfortunately, my day job is dull and time-consuming and you wouldn't want to hear about it, and I'm a procrastinator. I am going to try, though.

Anyway, this post was not intended as a doubtful diary entry; I wanted to show you another Tallinn illustration. This one I've called 'Best Seat'. It depicts the buildings surrounding Tallinn's open-air theatre in old town, with St. Olav's steeple overlooking in the background.

Monday, 23 July 2012

Etsy and Facebook

Just stopping by to let you folks know that I've just today launched my new shop, which is now on Etsy. Previously I was using Big Cartel, which served me well enough considering I hadn't, until recently, really had a go at 'spreading the word'. I decided to set up an Etsy shop simply because it's more interactive and is suited better to the ideas I have for my shop in the future.

I also made a Facebook page for my illustration, so if you're on Facebook, head on over and LIKE !

Wednesday, 11 July 2012

Town Hall Square

Another illustration from my Tallinn trip photo album. This one is of some of the delicious buildings in Town Hall Square. The colours are more or less accurate to life. They make me hungry for ice-cream!

I'm going to find the time to do a whole series of these, digitally, and then hopefully as screen prints. My shop needs a major re-vamp!

Wednesday, 4 July 2012

Colour Wheels

Yesterday I felt inspired to do an illustration that has been on my mind since last autumn after our trip to Tallinn. It's such a beautiful place and I got so many wonderful pictures, but one of my favourites was of a few bikes chained up not far from our hotel. I knew exactly how I wanted this illustration to look even back in October. I envisioned it to eventually be a screen print, which I'm definitely going to produce at some point.

In other news, but also connected, I've finally started to use the Behance account that I set up. I know I definitely have too many online accounts for various blogs etc. and maybe I'll narrow it down one day, but for now they each serve a purpose for me, even if I find it difficult to juggle them all. If you have a Behance account, then do add/follow me because I've got no friends. Also, remember to 'appreciate' this illustration, if you even do!


Tuesday, 22 May 2012

Mina Tindle

I did another illustration at the weekend for Amelia's Magazine, and now that the article has been published, I can share it with you. It's for an interview with Mina Tindle, whose music you should definitely check out because it's lovely!

Firstly, I'm stoked that I managed to complete two illustrations in one weekend, the first (Bill Murray) taking absolutely hours! Secondly, I'm really, really pleased with this Mina Tindle one. After thinking about what I least liked about my most recent work, I realised that I'm really only happy when my digitally finished work holds on to that hand-drawn aesthetic. For this illustration, instead of doing my usual thing of trying to 'clean up' my line work, I did nothing to my scanned drawing other than increasing the contrast slightly. You can see that all my sketchy pencil bits are still very much there; this makes me happy.

Doing two separate pieces of work in such a short space of time, I noticed more than usual a sort of established process that I work to. I enjoyed it incredibly, because as sporadic and experimental as my processes can be, deep down I love feeling organised.

Saturday, 19 May 2012

Drink and Draw 4

Drink and Draw #4 was on the 10th of May. The bottom drawing, I discarded within the first 15 minutes of me starting to draw. The D&D folk scanned and uploaded it to the Facebook group anyway, so I thought I'd include it here.

The theme was "What's Lurking Under Your Bed?"


Another Belly Kids illustration for you now, for a collaborative Bill Murray colouring book (awesome, huh?). The brief was pretty loose: pick a Bill Murray movie and do an illustration based on it. Deliverables were one coloured illustration, and one of just the linework in black and white.

I really got into this drawing, probably because I loved the brief so much. I spent literally all day yesterday working on it, and I don't think I've ever spent so long on photoshop in one stint in my life! I'm happy with the results, but I could play around and tweak it forever. I still feel like I'm discovering this side to my illustration practice; the side where the envisioned outcome isn't a screen print. Ideally I would like to master a way of colouring that retains the sketchy quality of my original drawings, but for the purposes of this brief, I think the clean lines (especially in the black and white version) are perfect for a colouring book.

I'm terrible for trying new styles and techniques rather than following a consistent method. Maybe one day you'll look at my portfolio and everything will look the same.

But probably not.

Monday, 16 April 2012

Last Meal

Last week I did an illustration for Belly Kids and Mint Magazine to accompany an interview with Jack Lenton from Human Hair. This one's a bit unusual for me, in that I actually put in the effort to include shadows and highlights. I'm really pleased with how it turned out. I like working on slightly darker, sinister illustrations.

Drink & Draw

Every month in Coventry, Drink and Draw night happens at Browns Independent Bar in the city centre. It is a free social drawing event organised by Blind Mice Design and Pretty Funky, where you turn up with your friends (or on your own!), grab yourself a drink and some drawing materials, and get drinking and drawing. It really is a lot of fun, and it's a great chance to network. I just thought I would pop up here and plug it, and share with you some drawings that I've done on the nights. If you're local, like the facebook page for updates, and come along to the next one!

#1: Robots

#2: First Love

#3: Heroes and Villains

Monday, 26 March 2012

Indecent Exposure

For my test exposure, I used an old piece of work with heavy line work. In photoshop, I added time markers, which will make sense when you see them in action.

Ideally I would have my image printed on acetate, but this can run quite expensive. A cost-effective way of doing it, and the method I have always used, is to print the artwork onto basic printer paper and oil it up to make the white transparent. I have used baby oil (because it smells nice!), but cooking oil works just as well. When the paper is fully coated, blot away all the excess oil using some scrap paper. Newspaper is fine, but be careful that the ink doesn't transfer.

Now, for exposing the image, my equipment was layered as follows:
1. A black foam base
2. My coated screen
3. My artwork, right-side-down
4. A sheet of glass

The black base is to stop the light from scattering, and the glass is to keep the artwork still, and close to the mesh. The board you can see in the image is what I used to cover each section of the artwork at 10 minute intervals, to gauge what exposure time is best. After 40 minutes, the screen was thoroughly rinsed down with a hose, to reveal the burnt-on artwork.

Turns out, for a 400watt security light, 10 minutes is quite enough!

Coating Your Screen

It took a while, but finally I am ready to start running some tests with the old screen printing set-up! I'll try not to drag this post out too much, but essentially it is about how to coat your screen with photo emulsion, ready for burning your images onto it.

Pictured above is a basic spray bottle that I picked up from a DIY store, and a bottle of degreaser. I diluted the degreaser 10 parts water to 1 part degreaser, as suggested on the bottle. I gave my screen a good dousing in the garden using the spray bottle and working the solution in with a brand new dustpan brush. Then I rinsed it well with a hose and left it to dry. (In the end I got the hairdryer out to finish it off. It's at times like this I appreciate the benefits of the drying cabinet at Uni!)

The point of degreaser is simply to make sure that you get rid of any dirt or oil that may be on your mesh, so no impurities will interfere with the photo emulsion and cause it to separate when applied.

Whilst my screen was drying, I activated my photo emulsion. It's really simple to do. You just shake up the little bottle of sensitizer with some water and mix it thoroughly into the emulsion, which changed from blue to green.

It is important that once you have activated the emulsion, you keep it out of the light as best you can. That isn't to say you need to use it in a darkroom, just ensure you replace the lid after use and ideally close blinds/turn off any lights when you are using it.

To coat your screen, you are going to need a coating trough slightly smaller than the width of your mesh. You can tape up the edges afterwards.

Fill the coating trough with emulsion. Don't be too stingy, as you can scrape what isn't used back into the emulsion pot afterwards.

Then, leaning your screen securely against a wall and starting from the bottom, put your trough to the mesh and tip it just enough for the emulsion to start spilling over the edge. In one smooth motion, drag the trough to the top of the screen, coating the mesh. It will take practice to get this right, but you can scrape away any drips with some scrap card.

If you layer the emulsion on too thickly, I can promise you it will be useless and you'll have to start all over again. If you think you've put a bit too much on, simply go up the screen again with the trough, skimming off and catching any excess.

Put your screen in a dark place to dry and scrape the leftover emulsion back into its pot. You've just successfully prepared your screen for exposing.

Monday, 12 March 2012

Something a little different

I have been working on this canvas for an age, now. Well, there has been more procrastinating going on rather than actual work, but it's finally finished.

It was commissioned by my stepsister: she wanted an original portrait of her three children, and this is what I came up with. I don't really do this kind of work usually, and I haven't done any portraiture since college (4/5 years ago), so it was a bit of a test. I guess it was successful, because I have had 2 requests for similar work from family and friends since I posted a picture on the internet an hour ago!

Friday, 9 March 2012

The Finger

A little piece for Amelia's Magazine. Click here to read Amelia's interview with the lead singer of greek indie rock band, The Finger.


My Tono Bungay print is featured in this show throughout March, alongside some eclectic work by a variety of practitioners. The private view was last night, there was a nice little turn-out. Everybody's work is very different, but somehow it just works. My favourite pieces were Jack Foster's prints and the weird and wonderful sculpture work of Dan Earey.

Well worth a gander if you have some free time and are in the Midlands area.

Monday, 27 February 2012


This promises to be the longest, picture-heavy blog post of my life (edit: not as long as I thought!). Well, depending on how much I can possibly say about drilling and screwing, which is what I have done over the few days to get my workspace near completion. The above picture shows my desk, which is basically the aforementioned tabletop paired with some simple trestle legs that I picked up from IKEA.

Next, I drilled some pilot holes and screwed my hinge clamps into the tabletop, ensuring they were far enough apart to hold the screen steady, and also far back enough to accommodate a larger frame in the future. The screens I have at the moment are 24" x 20", 3 with 140T mesh and 1 with 120T. I would have photographed them, but you'll see them later on when I start printing anyway. Plus, no biggy, they're just 4 seemingly identical frames!

My final task of today was to suspend a make-shift exposure light over my desk. The lamp is a basic security light(400W) picked up from a supermarket, and the bracket was extended by screwing a piece of wood into the top. The top of the bracket is about 34" from the desk surface, so cross your fingers with me and pray it will be the right distance away from the screen for exposing. (I have done a bit of research, so I am hopeful!)

.. And that's about it for today. I already have my first project lined up, but before I can begin I need to do a test run with the exposure light, and organise a few little bits that should be arriving in the post this week. Until then - au revoir! - and if you have any questions, pop them in the comment field.

Friday, 24 February 2012

Initiate Launch Sequence

Recently I decided to get back into printmaking, and took the plunge by investing in a small amount of screen-printing equipment. I have been preparing a space in the back room of my generous uncle's house; today my freshly painted shelves were dry, and my table cut to size. I'm off to IKEA in a few hours to pick up some cheap trestle legs for the old boy, and a bracket for suspending my exposing light.

I thought it would be nice to document this set-up (and my preliminary test runs when I'm ready for them), and share my experience with anyone out there who's thinking of doing the same thing. Or, for that matter, anyone who is even mildly interested.

Pictured above:

  • Stencil Strip, Degreaser, and Ghost Remover
  • A cat mug with some stationary in it
  • 2 squeegees: 1 x 8" and 1 x 15"
  • Photo Emulsion and Sensitizer
  • An assortment of Daler Rowney System 3 acrylic paints
  • Daler Rowney System 3 screen printing medium
  • 2 x spray bottles
  • Mixing sticks
  • Screen tape
  • Ply wood 'tabletop': 1220mm x 1090mm x 18mm

Although I have experience with screen printing, I have never attempted it on anything other than a proper screen printing bed, with access to a giant exposure machine, drying unit and jet-wash.

Watch this space.

Tuesday, 31 January 2012

Caroline Gardner

Something I forgot to report back about!

At the end of 2010 I did some drawings in collaboration with Caroline Gardner, for Christmas 2011 card designs. Above are the results.

Feeding Time

So, the friend I designed the previous poster for has recently set up a live music promotions company in the city of Bath, called BĂȘte Noire Promotions.

The above piece is an illustration for their promotional material, that I've named 'Feeding Time'. Pencil and digital.