Wednesday, 19 December 2012

Monster Plushie Designs.

I thought I'd share a few little designs I've been working on this week. I was asked to create a possible design for a monster plushie and since drawing monsters is like, my favourite thing ever, I jumped at the chance! Actually really enjoyed designing these little cuties! 

A few initial designs, experimenting with different colours and facial expressions;

I was then asked to make the monster a little smaller and a little cuter, and these were my ideas;

I'm actually a liiiiittle bit in love with the monster on the right and, as my designs aren't actually gonna be used, it's a shame I'm no good at sewing or I'd make it into a cute little plushie myself!

I'll leave you with a photo of me happily working away on the above designs - had to relocate to the bedroom, as my studio is currently super cold - proudly wearing my favourite illustrator clothes; pyjamas and my super awesome unicorn sweater! 

Sunday, 16 December 2012

Incredible Illustrators | Mark Hearld.

Up until now, my blog has primarily been focussed on the illustration work that I have created, but as I am currently only working part-time as an illustrator, this means that the creation of new illustrations isn't as regular as I'd like. Boo. I really want to be able to update my blog more often, and hopefully capture the interest of a few new readers! I've decided I am going to start writing some inspiration-based posts; I'll be sharing the work of a selection of my favourite illustrators, along with some of my favourite picture books, plus anything else that has been inspiring me. My blog will remain illustration-based, but in addition to displaying my own work, I hope that branching out and posting about illustrations that I admire will provide inspiration and hopefully allow you to discover the incredible work of other illustrators, some of whom you may not have been previously aware of.

A few nights ago, I decided to splash out and treat myself to couple of beautifully illustrated children's picture books. I've had my eye on a few for some time, and so of course I got a little carried away, and ending up buying quite a few!

The first to arrive was A First Book of Nature which is written by Nicola Davies and illustrated by Mark Hearld. I actually only discovered Mark Hearld's work very recently, but he's quickly become a new favourite. I happened to come across a beautiful squirrel card in a local shop and, as I completely adore squirrels, I did a little research on the artist, whose name I'd found on the back of the card. It turns out that Mark completed an MA in Natural History Illustration, so it is really no surprise that his work is very focused on the natural world - animals and birds and plants. Mark mainly creates prints, paintings and brightly-coloured collages, but I was delighted to discover that he had also illustrated a children's picture book and, with a beautiful red squirrel adorning the front cover, I knew I had to have it.

Quite honestly, A First Book of Nature is one of the most beautifully illustrated children's books I have ever come across (and trust me, I have looked at a lot of picture books). The book is much thicker than I imagined too, so it is literally crammed full of gorgeous illustrations. I'd love to share them all with you, especially as the book includes so many of my favourite woodland creatures, but I've tried not to go too crazy with the photos and only limit it to my very favourites;

The book explores the natural world throughout the four seasons, and the illustrations which accompany text about the winter months, or nocturnal animals, are definitely some of my favourites. I love how the white aspects of the images - the stars, or snow, or cobwebs - seem to glow against the darker background. The spiderlings page is one of the best in the entire book - the design of the page as a whole is so beautiful, with the spider silk so delicate and fragile-looking.

As an illustrator who creates collage and mixed media work myself, I tend to be naturally drawn to illustrators who create work using similar methods. Mark creates his work using a vast range of different materials - if you take a closer look at the images in the book (have a peek at the photos below), this range is clearly evident. You can clearly see the use of collage; the different cut out papers incorporate a range of colours, patterns  and textures. Print making is also featured strongly, which is consistent with the linocut prints Mark also creates. The illustrations also include hand-drawn aspects, created from materials which appear to include paint, chalk, crayon, ink and coloured pencil. Not only the range of materials used, but the methods used to apply them add additional texture to the illustrations - in some images, paint has been applied with a sponge; in others, it has been splattered in a seemingly haphazard manner. This creates such detail in each image that I could happily lose hours of my life just looking at them.

Such bold and confident mark-making techniques, along with the combination of such a wide range of materials, creates illustrations with such an incredible visual impact - images which really bring the animals and creatures they depict to life. There are other examples of Mark's work which I like, especially a certain squirrel linograph print - but the collection of illustrations contained within the pages of A First Book of Nature are by far my very favourites. 

There are certain picture books which you open, and instantly feel excited at the idea of having your own children one day, so that you can share it with them. I can imagine these illustrations being viewed in wonder through child-sized eyes - such a beautiful way to teach little ones about animals and the natural world. Definitely a book to be treasured - I'll be adding my copy to my shelf of picture books, along with a little selection of the ones I saved from my own childhood.

Little Monster's Gallery!

I have just received the very first entry for my Little Monster's Colouring Competition (and a very cute entry it is too)! As promised, I'm going to post all entries on my blog for everyone to admire, so this post will be added to as more artwork is received.

Little Monster's Colouring Gallery:

by Thomas, age 2 (with a little bit of help from his mummy).
by Clara, age 8.
Joint entry by Alex, age 5 and Alice, age 2.

by Ridley, age (almost) 2.

by Joshua, age 8.
by Daniel, age 6.
by Joelle, age 5.

by Bailey, age 4.
by Charlotte, age 9.
by Tia, age 6.
by Millie, age 4.
I would really love as many children as possible to get involved, so please spread the word, and if you don't have children yourself, consider asking any younger brothers, sisters or cousins if they'd like to enter. The winner will receive a signed copy of my illustrated children's picture book I'm A Little Bit Scared Of... For more details, and to find out how your little ones can enter my colouring competition, please see here.

Thursday, 13 December 2012

Little Monster's Colouring Competition!

I recently designed a Christmas-themed monster colouring sheet, so I thought it would be a fun idea to organise a colouring competition for children! I was initially planning on giving away a copy of my picture book in my giveaway (see here if you would like to enter!), but I realised that actually I'd much rather ensure it was going to a new home where a child would be able to enjoy it - after all, that is who it was created for! I'd really love as many children as possible to get involved, so if you don't have children of your own, please share this with friends, family or any other little ones you know.

The competition is very easy to enter. Simply download the colouring sheet below, print out a copy, and let your little one to attack with his or her crayons. Once your child has finished, take as clear a photo as possible of their artwork, and either email or tweet it to me, along with the child's name and age. I'm going to set a guideline age limit of 9 years old, as I think that by that age, the book will probably be getting a little too young for children to enjoy. However, I'm not going to strictly enforce this age limit, so if you have a child who is a little older and still wants to get involved, then their entries are very welcome too! I will post all photos of the children's artwork on my blog, so everyone can admire their work.

The winning entry will receive a signed copy of my illustrated children's picture book I'm A Little Bit Scared Of...  The judging of the entries will not be based on colouring ability, so please don't worry if your son or daughter is one of the younger children to enter - the prize won't be awarded based on the entrant's ability to colour within the lines. I'm much more interested in the children having fun whilst being creative, so please allow your children to be creative and express themselves and use whatever colours they like. Your child can also use any material they like to colour the image - they're not limited to using crayons if they'd prefer to use coloured pencils, felt tips etc.

As this is a busy time of year for everyone, I'm going to keep the competition running for a few weeks to give you, and your little ones, enough time to do their colouring - maybe a little activity to keep them occupied on a rainy day during the Christmas holidays! To be in with a chance of winning, entries must be received by New Year's Eve, and I will announce the winner on the first day of 2013!

I am really excited to see all the entries, so please spread the word and get involved! 

Good luck to all your little monsters!

*I am also currently running an awesome giveaway for big grown-up people too - find out how to win lots of illustrated goodies here.

Wednesday, 12 December 2012

Super awesome giveaway!

I've secretly been planning a giveaway for a while now, but I wanted to wait until I reached 1000 followers on Twitter before I told you all about it. I've been getting pretty impatient, but earlier today, I noticed that I had finallyyyy reached the 1000 follower mark! Yay! As a massive thank you to all of you for your support over the past few years, I have collected together a little bundle of illustrated goodies for one of you to win! 

Here's a little peek at the goodies you could win;

The prize includes; A cotton tote bag printed with my owl illustration, a signed Dressing Up print, a signed mini Super Squirrel print, a pretty and pink Happily Ever After card, an illustrated pocket mirror, a set of three super cute postcards, a handmade little monster brooch and a signed original cupcake collaged illustration, which I created as part of the May Draw A Day Challenge earlier this year. Pretty awesome, huh?

The giveaway is veryyy simple to enter - just follow the steps below;

a Rafflecopter giveaway

As most of us are pretty busy at the moment, writing last minute Christmas cards and worrying about whether we've bought enough potatoes for the big day, I'm going to keep this giveaway open for a few weeks to give you all a chance to enter. The giveaway will close as the clock strikes twelve on New Year's Eve, with the lucky winner being announced on the first day of 2013 - hopefully setting someone's new year off to a happy start!

Good luck to all of yoooou! ♥ 

Tuesday, 11 December 2012

Santa's little helper...

A little Christmas treat for you all! Keep the little ones entertained over the Christmas holidays - or get yourself in the festive mood - with this cute Christmas-themed colouring-in sheet. Please feel free to download and print copies for your little monsters, or yourself, to attack with their crayons - remember; you're never too old for a little bit of colouring-in!

You're probably already aware that I eagerly snap up any opportunity to draw monsters, so the chance to draw a monster in an elf costume seemed too fun to miss! As always, I would love to see your artwork, so if you, or your little ones, do have a go at colouring in the cheeky little elf below, please send me a photo of your finished pictures, and I'll post them all on my blog for everyone to admire!

I hope you all have a fun, creative and monster-filled Christmas! Ho ho ho.

*Remember to check out the freebies page for more monster-themed colouring fun!

Sunday, 2 December 2012

Shillingstone Christmas Bazaar.

I have had a little ambition to take part in a craft fair for quite a while, and this desire has only been enhanced by reading about, and seeing photographs of, other illustrators' and designers' experiences. My friend Amy took some of my Christmas cards along with her to sell beside her incredible book art at the Fairytale Fair in Brighton last weekend, and I was so super jealous that I couldn't be there myself. Unfortunately, all the really amazing events tend to happen in places like Brighton or London, and where I live - nestled away in the depths of Dorset - there never seems to be much happening.

After looking around for a while, making enquires and hitting countless dead ends, I applied for a stall at a Christmas bazaar in Shillingstone - a little village just outside my hometown of Blandford Forum. In retrospect, this probably wasn't an ideal place to try to sell my work, as its visitors were predominately old ladies who were much more interested in snapping up homemade cakes and jam! Despite this, it was a positive experience - although I only sold a few items (which was a little disappointing), I received so many lovely comments about my work and my talent, which was very encouraging to hear, especially as I've been feeling so demoralised recently. Quite a few people took one of my business cards too. I discovered that selling my work from a stall is so much more rewarding than selling work online, because it means you can interact with your customers, hear their comments, and see their reactions when they look at your work, whereas when you sell online you never receive a great deal of feedback. It was also pretty cool to see all my work displayed on my stall - I've never laid it all out in one place before, and I've actually created a lot more than I realised!

I was especially pleased that there was also a fair amount of interest in my children's book, but I found people were put off by the price - I find this so frustrating, because I would love to able to sell my book for a more reasonable price, but it costs such a ridiculous amount to print one copy, it means the price of the book ends up more than I would like. It makes me sad, because I would love more people to be able to buy, and enjoy, it. I had a copy of the book open at the front of my table - it was opened at various different pages throughout the course of the day - and I noticed that it seemed to catch the eye of a considerable number of young children. It was just on their eye level, and it seemed to capture their attention as they walked past - although when they stopped to look, they were generally dragged away by their parents who were making a beeline for the mince pie queue. A couple of children even picked it up, though it was usually snatched out of their hands quickly by a parent, along with a stern reminder not to touch. It made me smile though. It was lovely to see children being captivated by my illustrations - it's all I've ever wanted to achieve. 

All in all, a positive experience - and while I was there, I even caught a glimpse of Father Christmas himself! If anyone knows of any craft fairs or events in the future which are situated in, or around, Dorset, that may be a suitable occasion to sell my work, then please let me know! Otherwise I'll be keeping my eyes open - I would definitely like the chance to sell my work this way again. :]

Wednesday, 28 November 2012

Hello new business cards!

I first designed myself some business cards back in my final year of Uni, and although at the time I was very happy with them, I decided recently it was definitely time for a new design. For a start, my old business cards don't display my logo, which means that they aren't consistent with my website, or the banner on my blog, or the cute little stickers I use when packaging items from my shop. Also, I think my style has developed considerably since leaving Uni, and I wanted my business cards to reflect my current work, rather than work I created years ago.

These are some of the designs I contemplated using;

But (with a little bit of help from some of you guys on Twitter..!), I finally decided that this was my favourite design;

Annnnd look what arrived in the post this morning! BOOM. 

They have arrived justtt in time to take along to my very first craft fair this weekend! I will be selling Christmas cards, and lots of other illustrated goodies - perfect as Christmas presents, or just a little treat for yourself. If you live in, or around, Dorset then please come and have a peek - I'll even let you have a business card! The Christmas bizarre is taking place on Saturday 1st December in the Portman Hall in Shillingstone (near Blandford Forum), and is open 11am - 2.30pm. I've even heard a rumour than a certain red-suited white-bearded man will be making an appearance in the afternoon, so it's perfect for your little ones too!  I'd love to see you there. 

Thursday, 22 November 2012

Lovely cushions.

I'm excited to announce that my illustrations are now available to buy as cushions in my Society6 shop! 

The cushions are available in a range of different sizes and designs, so why not have a peek! There is currently free worldwide shipping til Monday, so now is the perfect time to snap up some Christmas presents (or just a nice opportunity to treat yourself!).

Note; I have only made certain prints available as cushion designs - these are the ones I think work best. However, if there's a different illustration you'd like to buy as a cushion, then please let me know and I'll happily make it available for you. :]

Which is your favourite design?