Monday, July 13, 2015

Chalk Lettering and Nelson Mandela

Yesterday I felt like creating a chalk illustration and I still had an unfinished sketch of this inspirational Nelson Mandela quote floating around. Since it's about education I thought it's a great fit.
And I love chalk lettering, we use it a lot since it's toddler friendly...
Although the process of creating this finished piece was a bit different (and less messy).

Saturday, July 11, 2015

New work - Kids, Family and Red Riding Hood

Homework help, posting letters, first day at school, a school play, and Little Red Riding Hood - I illustrated these cute little stories for adi mps USA a while ago but never got around showcasing them. 

Thursday, July 09, 2015

Intuitive Parenting - work process

Today I was updating my online portfolios and came across an old illustration of mine which I need to share:
The family bed! This was a sketch for the German parenting magazine leben+erziehen, on a feature about intuitive parenting. I made a few sketches and a different one was chosen, I think the one where the mum listens to her instincts and lets her contended children play just a little bit longer (with hand puppets as below) rather than disrupting although it is already bedtime. 
When I worked on this I didn't know about family beds and natural parenting etc., so I was even more surprised when I saw this - I got the message back then I think!

Sharing the studio with kids - Part 1: Babies

This should be easy, right? Looking back now, it is in some ways but still far from what I've ever imagined it to be. 

So, I had my baby and I started working after 4-5 months when I was actually able to tell day from night again. I delved right into a huge commission which was the children's atlas by Carlton press. I was a bit nervous about it, but it went very well!

Here's how I did it:
J was happy to spend her days in a sling (a Manduca baby carrier), which made things easy. In there, she could feed on demand and doze off whilst I went for a quick walk around the neighbourhood before settling down for a few hours of uninterrupted work.
My studio had already been moved to my home during my first pregnancy, due to constant nausea which wasn't very nice on a 30 minute drive through London traffic.
For us, this worked and saved time and I like to have quick spontaneous sessions of creative work in between house stuff and baby things.
Staying flexible with working hours and getting used to the fact that there simply isn't any time left to reflect endlessly on unnecessary things anymore also helps. 
On the plus side I've gotten better at time management and efficiency whilst at the desk because quiet time is so precious and runs out quickly.

10 things I've learned and found useful:

1. Have a little sketchpad and pen on you at all times because you won't have time to go and sit down and find these things when an idea strikes you.

2. Also get sketch apps for phone and iPad! And notepad apps! (Like Inkpad Notepad)

3. Try to stay productive or at least in touch with the outside world via social and professional networks like fb, LinkedIn.

4. Have your phone on you at all times so in case you get trapped under a sleeping baby on a sunny summer's day you can at least write blog posts and things like that (maybe in airplane mode if you're worried like me) 

5. Get a soft style baby wrap where baby sits up higher and won't wake up when you sit down to work. Learn how to back carry so baby won't be in the way of the keyboard when she's getting bigger!

6. Still visit inspiring places like nature, museums, other countries etc.
Baby groups are an exciting new world full of baby yoga, post natal sling dance, baby swimming, baby massage, baby music, baby book club, messy play, soft play, sensory play and baby signing. We enjoyed those, but balance is important, too. 

7. Baby monitors are not an evil surveillance tool but are actually really helpful. After all, I got most work done when J was sleeping at night.

8. Don't fall into the trap of buying every kind of 'putting down baby' equipment. It's such a misconception that babies would happily sit or lie on a baby gym, baby bean bag recliner or swing next to you for a reasonable amount of time so you can get work done.  
Although I have heard of babies who apparently did just that, but that's the exception.
In my experience, sticking with baby wearing would have saved time and money as we always came back to that.

9. Be brief with unnecessary things.

10. Relax. And enjoy. Don't take on every single project. Because babyhood passes quicker than you can make sense of in your sleep deprived mind anyway, and after that comes toddlerhood!

Did I forget something? Sharing The Studio with Kid/s - Part 2: Toddlers will follow soon!

Monday, July 06, 2015

Holiday Pics and Lettering

Hello, today I'm sharing a new project I'm working on!
I've combined photographs of our recent family trip to South Africa (Josie has roots there!) with some new lettering! I love how summery they've turned out although over there it was already autumn...! 
See more of these images on my website here and keep checking back as I'm updating the project over there, too.

Friday, July 03, 2015

How I became an illustrator

I get asked this a's the long version of the answer :)

When I was studying arts in Germany, I tried everything from painting, printing, photography, typography, graphic design, animation and some filming, it was that kind of school were you were left free to explore all mediums and encouraged to find your own voice through creative play rather than by doing exams.
I stuck with illustration and animation and found out I had the most fun when I could tell stories and apply my art to something. 
For example, I created a set of playing cards around a travel theme, and wrote several stories, fairy tale adaptations and started making lift the flap books in my own quirky, not necessarily child-friendly style. I got into animation a bit more and even got government funding to develop one of my stories for animation. 

When I moved to England and continued studying here, I found out that it's all a lot more structured: written work and seminars and presentations, all these things were alien to me. So, not so much creative exploration but presenting and discussing what one had done. 
But what I actually, almost by accident (or actually a spontaneous suggestion), did end up doing is something I still look back on these days! 

I had to write a dissertation (which is about the most boring thing to do if you rather want to spend your time creating) so I wrote a whole book about 'Kids' Art' which is about the influence children's art had in art history throughout the decades and it touches on child development and psychology, art therapy, and I even went on analysing my own childhood drawings. 
I also worked with local pre schools and kindergartens and shared my findings about children's creativity in my dissertation, it actually was fun and I discovered amazing things! 

As part of the practical part of this BA course I created a few books with illustrated stories of mine, but still was a bit unaware that this could lead to an actual profession.... Illustrating!?

So after all that I continued studying for the MA and decided to write a children's book series, because creating something for children seemed the closest thing to my heart. 
I invented two characters, a boy called Louis and his dog Bobo, and wrote and illustrated three books about their adventures (the third book was a bereavement book - Bobo sadly dies!)

All within a year, I completed the MA and found an agent ( and a publisher for one of these books! This was Louis + Bobo - We Are Moving, published by Chrysalis. A type based on my children's style handwriting was created for this, too.
More commissions from publishers, advertising agencies and magazines came in and I learned all that I know about illustration on the job whilst I was doing it! 

A fantastic job that I'm so happy doing evolved from those early beginnings...
And although it wasn't a random choice, I never made the big conscious decision to become an illustrator... Just this idea that I wanted to create things for children and see my art applied in the real world.

So far, I've illustrated many kids' books, including an atlas and a bible, puzzles and more recently I got into pattern design and map illustration, which I both love.

How did you get into what you do, and how did you decide, was it a journey? 
I'd love to hear about it!

Thursday, July 02, 2015

Spoonflower Design Challenge

Hello! This time I took part in Spoonflower's Weekly Design Challenge, and the subject was Llamas! I love llamas and everything they come with, so here's my pattern design.
Voting is now open and you can choose your favourite of those 200+ here!

Whilst you're there, check out my wallpaper and fabric designs I have for sale at Spoonflower here.

Wednesday, July 01, 2015

Free July Desktop Calendar

The July heatwave has finally reached us and I'm happy to announce that I just created a new desktop calendar that I'd like to share with you! It's free to download, click here!

For you to download to use as a desktop wallpaper calendar.
Please note that this work is licensed under a Creative Commons Attribution-Noncommercial-No Derivative Works 3.0 Unported License.

Friday, June 26, 2015

Celebrate Breastfeeding

Here's a new illustration to celebrate national breastfeeding week! 
A great opportunity to raise awareness and normalise breastfeeding.
I wish I had known about the many sources of support that are available before I started my own breastfeeding journey. We've had such a rocky start - I almost gave up but at 26 months we are still going and I'm glad to have this 'secret weapon'.

Sunday, June 21, 2015

Don't Grow Up...

I just finished this new handlettered illustration and it's available on tote bags, canvas prints and pillow covers at Society6 and in my Etsy shop as a print!

Thursday, June 11, 2015

Sands Remembrance Event 2015

One of my dearest charities, SANDS, has got this amazing remembrance garden in the National Memorial Arboretum in Staffordshire. It's dedicated to the memory of all babies who have died. It is a tranquil place where families can remember their own baby in peace.
My first visit to this special place with a stone sculpted baby in the centre was just three months after our loss, so quite a raw and painful experience. 
This has been kindly blogged about here by Barefoot Books.
The second time was just before J turned one! Going there with a subsequent, living child helps a lot but also adds a new dimension to the grief - the comprehension of what was lost.
We're happy and grateful that this beautiful place exists as it really helps remembering and acknowledging the loss of a baby.

Each year, there's a Remembrance and Sands Garden Day, and this year - Saturday 13th June - will also see a balloon release. As we can't be there in person, we sponsored one with our message for Maya from afar which will also be added to the symbolic release on Saturday.

Wednesday, March 18, 2015

New work - map illustration Wellesley magazine

New map illustration for Wellesley magazine, following the migration route into the Arctic of the red Knot birds.
Have a look at the interesting article here.

Following the migration of the red knot, a threatened sandpiper, into far-northern Canada, an environmental writer faces the extremes of the Arctic and the visible effects of climate change.

New work - Quiz Page Leben+Erziehen magazine

New work for the German Parenting magazine Leben+Erziehen, a quiz page with birds, an owl and squirrel, for kids.

Wednesday, February 04, 2015

February Desktop Wallpaper Calendar

On the 4th day of this month I finally had some spare time to come up with my desktop wallpaper calendar! 
No arctic foxes here but the setting was inspired by my local beach, which has a chalk cliff at one end.
I hope I can do these more regularly again, since I'm now surrounded by inspiring nature!

For you to download to use as a desktop wallpaper calendar.
Please note that this work is licensed under a Creative Commons Attribution-Noncommercial-No Derivative Works 3.0 Unported License.

Monday, February 02, 2015

Free Shipping @ Society6

Get free worldwide shipping on my products in my Society6 store via this special link!
New in: My Only Sunshine pillow cases, mugs, t-shirts, baby wear and more.
Promotion expires February 8, 2015 at Midnight Pacific Time. *Free Shipping offer excludes Framed Art Prints, Stretched Canvases, Wall Clocks and Rugs

Monday, December 15, 2014

Irem from Turkey

Irem from Turkey and her granpda take her little brother to buy some sweets on the spice market...but he has gone missing! He turns up later in the story again, he got distracted by a pastry shop.
See more here.

Sunday, December 14, 2014

Layla from India

Today it's Layla from India. She's fast asleep whilst her neighbour Suraj is trying out the new pencils she gave him...he's only 7 but he's worked all evening with his mum selling puffed rice outside the cinema hall. This story is part of my One Day book by Bloomsbury.

Friday, December 12, 2014

Hanif from Indonesia

It's Hanif from Indonesia here, he woke up early and wants to play cards with his sister because it's too wet to play outside. Steamy air is coming in through the window from the puddles outside.
Hanif's little story is part of One Day by Bloomsbury.

Thursday, December 11, 2014

Holidaze Day 4 at Society6 - Tote bags

Mani from DR Congo

Today it's Mani from DR Congo! He, his mum and baby brother left their village and are now staying at his uncle's house. Mani misses his ducks and neighbours and selling sweets at the market.
Read more here: One Day - Around the World in 24 hours, by Bloomsbury

Wednesday, December 10, 2014

Klara from Russia

Today it's Klara from Russia, one of my favourite parts of my Bloomsbury Book One Day.
Klara lives in a quiet village in Siberia. She just got off the Siberian Express with her father, they are visiting her aunt in Perm City. 

Tuesday, December 09, 2014

Book Review - Slow Down Sidney

Our next review is of Slow Down Sidney, illustrated by one of Josie's favourite children's book illustrators: David Sim! He also did her favourite book so far, Bear Boar, and this one has the same retro style in primary colours and quick messy lines. 
It's part of a book series for toddlers by Campbell Books. 
The very messy and busy and carefree boy (a fox) Sidney gets overexcited and over active at his daily activities and this gets him into some trouble. Everytime something goes wrong, breaks or crashes the text goes Slow Down, Sidney, which I'm sure is great for older toddlers to shout out at him on each spread when they discover Sidney's accidents behind each flap. I love the one with the toothpaste squirted all over him and Josie loves seeing all the different brightly coloured animals racing on the scooters, which she calls Autos!

It ends very triumphal for Sidney at the school race, of course he wins it and there's no need to shout slow down Sidney, because sometimes, being fast is a good thing!
We are currently reading Time For Bed Tilly and there's Don't Do That Dexter and Be Quiet Bertha to check out as well.

Society6 Holidaze Day 2

Day 2 of the Society6 Holidaze Sale! Today is a great one as it's $10 off framed & canvas prints! 
Start shopping here!

Bedtime in New Zealand

Bedtime in New Zealand...This one got changed into Australia and the girl looks slightly different in the actual One Day book. This one is one of my favourites though so I wanted to share it today as part of my daily advent calendar posts...this girl's parents run a Bed and Breakfast at the beach and some guests turned up late in the night and woke her up!

Monday, December 08, 2014

Society6 Holidaze - Day 1

7 Days of Holidaze Deals are starting now in my Society6 store...I have lots of map artwork of US states on there of which you can purchase art prints, mugs, wall clocks, rugs, pillow cases, apparel and much more!

Today is day 1: Get $5 off all apparel, and free worldwide shipping, right here!