Friday, 18 January 2013

Communication Arts | Typography Annual 3.

Having entered the AOI Images competition in the past, and never had any success, I have become a little wary of entering competitions which have an expensive entry fee. Last autumn, I debated whether to enter Communication Arts' Typography Competition - I think my hand-created typography tends to be pretty distinctive, so I thought it might catch the judges' eyes, but I didn't want to waste money. In the end I decided to take the chance, and ended up entering right at the last minute. I entered my collaged Monster Alphabet typography into the unpublished category. 

In October, I was pretty surprised to receive an email telling me that my entry had been picked as one of 154 projects out of 1934 entries to appear in Communication Arts' Typography Annual 2013! Eeee! I only ordered my copy of the annual a few days ago, and was actually super surprised that it arrived so fast! Inside, amongst a whole range of inspirational typographic work, I found my Monster Alphabet!

Communication Arts' third Typography Annual features work from 21 different countries, and there's some really beautiful work included. I think it's possible to view the winning projects on Communication Arts' website, or you can buy yourself a copy of the annual here (it's super thick, so definitely worth it, plus it has that lovely freshly-printed-magazine smell. Yum). It's a must-have for anyone interested in typography or hand-lettering - my favourites include projects in the typeface design category, and also some of the calligraphy. In particular, I love this screen-print which was created by Office;

I was also pretty excited to find out that in addition to having my work printed in the Typography Annual, I will also receive an Award of Excellence - an actual trophy! Aces.

Sunday, 6 January 2013

Incredible Illustrators | Brian Wildsmith.

As I mentioned in the first of my Incredible Illustrator posts, I recently treated myself a pretty big stash of beautifully illustrated picture books - they were originally on my Christmas list, but after the boy and I decided we were only going to spend a limited amount on each other this year, I wanted them so bad I ended up buying them for myself! The majority of the books I bought were written and illustrated by Brian Wildsmith. Many of these are out of print now, as they were all printed in the 70s and 80s, long ago before I was even born (!!) but I was lucky enough to find copies of most of the titles I wished to purchase, and luckily all the second-hand ones I bought are still in lovely condition.

I was initially drawn to Brian Wildsmith's work after coming across some of his squirrel illustrations a few months ago. My total love of squirrels is no secret, so you can imagine how excited I was to discover that Wildsmith had created a picture book entitled Squirrels - a whole book dedicated to my favourite animal, and completely packed with Wildsmith's beautiful squirrel illustrations - I had to have a copy!

I have to admit that since it has arrived, I haven't taken a great deal of notice of the text in the book - although it did amaze me to discover that squirrels can swim! - I've been far too busy looking at all the pictures! I could happily spend hours looking at the illustrations - they're beautiful, and many of them - the snowy little fella above in particular - I would happily frame and hang on my wall.

These are some of my favourite illustrations from the book Squirrels (I've tried not to get too carried away, honest!)

                                                                                                       Cutest ever!

I love how some of the animals are illustrated in great detail, with defined brushstrokes for specific hairs in a squirrel's tail or whiskers, whereas others - such as the squirrels in the illustration below - appear a little more abstract and less defined - almost softer in appearance. This variation in style seems to continue throughout the books. 

As you can see in the above images, the techniques Wildsmith uses to create his illustrations is vast - paint layered upon paint, splattered paint, crayon layered over paint, collaged paper. These techniques create the most incredible bold and intense backgrounds for his illustrations, vivid and colourful. This is particularly evident in the images below, where the range of materials and techniques employed are clear to see;

Although the squirrels are definitely my favourites, I also want to share with you some of my favourite illustrations from a few of Wildsmith's other picture books - these are entitled Brian Wildsmith's Animal Gallery, The Owl and the Woodpecker and Professor Noah's Spaceship. All the animals are in gorgeous detail, and their facial expressions seem to give them little personalities of their own. Each illustration is so complex, and with individual brushstrokes and different mark-making evident in the images, they draw you in and make you want to look closer.

Woodland creatures are my favourites at the moment - in addition to squirrels, I also adore hedgehogs, foxes and owls - and the illustrations featured below are perfect! I love the tiny details in the images, such as the interaction between the different species of animals, and also all the little added details on certain pages - teeny tiny frogs and insects and creatures crawling around the bases of trees. So cute, and it displays the amount of thought obviously put into the composition of each page.

Although this post naturally focuses mainly on the illustrations in Brian Wildsmith's picture books, the stories that these images accompany are sweet, although slightly retro in style. I am especially fond of the fact that the stories often see every type of animals - different sizes and shapes and colours - all working together, and living in harmony amongst each other. Although this may not be true to life, it's lovely to see - a raccoon causally chatting with a mouse, or frogs and butterflies frolicking together happily - such situations are sure to spark a child's imagination. The intense colour and vividness of the illustrations are sure to appeal to children, and the gorgeous animal illustrations are perfect for introducing children to different animals of the world. At the rate that I am currently adding to my beautiful-picture-books-for-my-future-children collection, we're soon going to have to buy yet another bookcase!

Thursday, 3 January 2013

Little Monster's Colouring Competition | Winner!

Wow, so I realise I'm a few days late in announcing the winner of my Little Monster's Colouring Competition, but I really didn't expect to find it quite so difficult to choose a winner! I genuinely loved every single entry I received (have a peek at all the entries in my Little Monster Colouring Gallery - I promise you won't be disappointed!). Each entry was so creative, and it was so lovely to see how each child coloured the same colouring sheet so differently. I loved seeing the different colours and materials each child had chosen to use - each was so individual.  I have been mulling over my decision for the past few days, but I have finally come to a conclusion!

So, I am very happy to say that the winning entry is....

This colourful artwork is by Joelle, aged 5. I love the huge range of colours she has used in her entry, and also the fact that she added her own little drawings to the picture too - so cute! A super big well done to Joelle, and I really hope you enjoy the copy of my picture book that I'll be popping in the post to you later today!

This colouring competition is one of the best things I have ever done, as it allowed me to see children interacting with my illustrated colouring sheet; putting their own stamp on it and expressing themselves creatively -  every time I received a new entry, it made me super happy smiley! I'd like to say a massive thank you to every child who took part - I love each and every one of your entries, and I really hope you will continue to colour and doodle and draw and enjoy being creative. I'd also like to thank the parents who printed out the colouring sheet and sent me photos of your little ones' artwork!

Although this competition has now ended, the Monster Elf colouring sheet, along with a range of other monster-themed colouring sheets, is still available from the freebies section of my blog - please feel free to download copies and colour them in. I'd love to see your artwork when you've finished, so please send me photos if you can!

Tuesday, 1 January 2013

2012 | A round up of the year.

Happy New Year! It seems like only months ago that I was writing my round-up post for 2011 - this year seems to have zoomed past! I've been meaning to write this post for the last few days, so apologies that I didn't manage to do so before the arrival of 2013. So today, at the very beginning of a new year, it seems like the perfect opportunity to reflect on the past year, look back at the creative goals that I made at the end of last year, and see whether I have achieved what I had hoped to this year.

During 2012, I have;
  • after much deliberation, I opened my NOTHS shop in January, and have made just over 130 sales during 2012.
  • seen my Etsy shop celebrate its first birthday in February, and have made another 30 sales during the year. I also added a range of new products to my shop over the course of the year - above all, my illustrated tote bags seem to have proved popular!
  • reached over 150 sales in my Society6 shop.
  • secured myself a part-time job in a bookshop, which I adore (and although it's not a creative job as I had hoped for, it does mean I can look through beautifully illustrated picture books whenever I please, and this makes me happy!)
  • had my first illustration properly published in Lionheart Magazine - a real-life magazine that people can buy!
  • completed proper paid commissions (which I guess, based on last year's round-up post, means I can now actually call myself an illustrator!)
  • taken part in the May Draw A Day challenge, which pushed me to keep myself motivated to create a small illustration every single day for a month, and to post images on my blog which were not perfectly finished to my usual high standards - this was a massive challenge for me.
  • had my work for sale in two online shops (Crafty Little Herberts and The Green Door Bookshop), plus my book for sale in a real brick-and-mortar shop in my hometown.
  • taken part in my first craft fair which, although not quite as successful as I had hoped, has made me determined to take part in more.
  • re-designed my business cards so they include my current logo, and are more in keeping with the design of my website.
  • taken a copy of my picture book to my local library - it will soon be available for children to borrow.
Also, although not a creative achievement, my boyfriend and I bought our first house together in the autumn of 2012 - definitely the biggest step in my life so far. We even went sofa shopping on boxing day, which I think means we are actual proper grown-ups. We are currently still working on our new house, but will hopefully be moving in during the spring - I will keep you updated on my new studio, with lots of photos once we've moved in!

Looking back at my list of creative goals for 2012, a handful remain uncompleted - yet at the same time, I have achieved many things that I didn't plan to. I have certainly learnt a few valuable lessons this year - a recent one being that I must stop being so trusting of people. I will certainly not be making the same mistake of completing work for someone who then refuses to pay me for it. In terms of making a list of goals for 2013, I don't think I'll be quite as specific as last year. Similar to making a list of new years' resolutions, it just opens you up for failure, and I really don't need to provide myself with more opportunities to feel that way. Unfortunately, my mood and stupid eating-disordered-head still influence my life on a daily basis, and prevent me from creating work as often as I wish I could, but that's the way things are at the moment, and I don't want to start another year beating myself up about it.

During 2013, I would most like to work on projects which will mean my illustrations will be interacted with by children. From the very start of my aspirations to become an illustrator, it was always children I wanted to illustrate for and, despite creating illustrations for a whole range of different audiences over the past few years, it is still the work I create for children which makes me happiest. My recent children's colouring competition is definitely the big highlight of my year - it is one of the best things I have ever done, as it allowed me to see children interacting with my illustrated colouring sheet; putting their own stamp on it and expressing themselves creatively. I loved every single entry I received; seeing the colours and materials each child had chosen to use, and the messages I recieved from their parents saying their little ones had enjoyed themselves whilst creating their artwork were incredible. Children's books and colouring pages and encouraging children to be creative are definitely the direction I'd like to go.

Also, as I expressed in a recent post, I hope to update this blog more regularly; not only with my own illustrations, but with the work of others' who inspire me - I hope this will make you all want to keep reading! I'd love to hear any feedback about anything you'd like to see or read about on my blog - any ideas would be very welcome! :]

Finally, a massive thank you to all of you who have supported me during 2012; every single one of you who reads and comments on my blog, those of you who have liked my facebook page or followed me on Twitter, and all of you who have bought items from any of my shops. All of you, I hope you have a very happy 2013.  ♥