Monday, 3 November 2014

Illustration royalty

On Saturday I did something that not many people get to do in their lifetime; I got to see one of my idols, an icon of illustration. I was fortunate enough to attend ‘In Conversation with Oliver Jeffers and Quentin Blake’ at the Southbank Centre in London. I have admired and followed the work of Oliver Jeffers for a number of years now, but Sir Quentin Blake has been a hero of mine since I first picked up a Roald Dahl book.

As a girl who spent her childhood reading Dahl stories repeatedly, I was totally star-struck when Blake walked on the stage. Throughout the discussion he spoke modestly about his work; his influences, the development of his signature ‘scratchy’ style, and his working relationship with Dahl that swiftly became a friendship.

This 81 year old man held the undivided attention of an intimate audience consisting of successful illustrators, families with young children, and aspiring artists like myself. The room was filled with a sense of awe and utter admiration, even Jeffers looked as though he had to pinch himself!

The completely unexpected highlight of the afternoon however was when Blake walked into the foyer after the discussion to join Jon Burgerman on his collaborative mural he had started with Jeffers earlier that day. So not only did I get to hear him speak passionately about illustration, I also had the rare opportunity to see him doing what he is world-famous for. He then waved and was led backstage, leaving the small crowd stunned - myself included!

It’s an afternoon that will stay with me for the rest of my life, and it was an absolute privilege to be there. When I was a child he bought the stories I loved to life, and now as an adult his dedication and talent inspires me to pursue what I love doing. Just incredible.

Monday, 13 October 2014

Little lilies

It's one of the smallest designs I've done so far, and it's another personal favourite! This papercut was a gift to celebrate a 10th wedding anniversary. The element I'm particularly fond of are the lilies; they turned out far better than I anticipated so they're something I'm considering featuring in more future designs.

Sunday, 5 October 2014

Yes, that is the name of the bar!

My largest papercut to date, this is an A3 (approximately) sized piece I did for my Aunt's bar/restaurant in Spain; 'Badgers'. It was my most challenging one so far to design, in terms of assembling the different elements that needed to be included, but I really enjoyed the process!

Thursday, 2 October 2014

Whitley Bay Beach

Myself and my two best friends spent a weekend in Newcastle during the summer, and before we journeyed home we stopped off at Whitley Bay for a spontaneous afternoon at the beach. Milkshakes were consumed, hangovers were conquered, and duck feet were (crudely) drawn. All in all, it was a pretty great day!

Thursday, 25 September 2014

'Welcome to the world'

I was asked to do a commission to celebrate the birth of a baby boy during the summer, which was my first 'newborn' papercut. This was something I had considered doing in the future so I was really happy when approached with this brief!

I included all of the important information of the special day as well as incorporating the Isle of Man's flag within the design as a tribute to his birth place. I used a slightly different style to my other cuts, and it was a challenge to fit all of the details into an aesthetically pleasing design but I hope I achieved that successfully!

Wednesday, 17 September 2014

Strawberry Fields Festival

Towards the end of July I had a message from a friend telling me about a call-out for local artists she had spotted regarding a music festival, held only 20 minutes away from where I live. I enquired and I'm so glad I did!

Strawberry Fields Festival is a relatively young, independent music event which has previously provided performances by the likes of Catfish and the Bottlemen, Labrinth, and Example. As well as showcasing an eclectic mix of well established artists SFF also offers a platform for emerging local talent, displaying a mix of genres from folk to reggae! As well as this, the festival also offers a wide range of non-musical activities including live art by local graffiti artists, a shisha lounge, and Strawberry Fields traders selling a wide range of bohemian clothing, crafts and jewellery - which was right up my street!

The call-out, however, was requesting for local artists to submit some of their work to be displayed in the artists' dressing rooms backstage; again providing an opportunity for local talent, as well as brightening up the dressing rooms! I created 4 papercuts for the event - 2 were exploring techniques I hadn't tried yet, and 2 were of the 'Strawberry Fields Festival' text - and I got some great feedback! In exchange for my artwork submission I was given a couple of weekend passes for the festival so my brother and I camped overnight in the VIP area, and despite the rubbish weather we had a great time! The festival is certainly one to look out for in the future as its reputation continues to soar!

It was a great chance for me to showcase some of my work with a wider circle of creatives including some well established, and very talented people, and I'd like to thank Emma Higgins for the opportunity - the tickets were an added bonus!

Incidentally, I am now selling one of the pieces I submitted! It's the first piece I've sold as an 'open bid' as all of my other work have been commissioned pieces, so I'm excited (and a little nervous) to see how it does! For anyone interested, here is the link, the auction is open over the next 4 days and ends on Sunday (21st) evening.

Wednesday, 10 September 2014

Happy 50th!

A month or so ago I completed a papercut to celebrate my Aunt's 50th as a gift from her mum and stepdad (my Great Aunt and Uncle), however since it was only her birthday last week I haven't been able to share it until now. Personally, I think it's one of my favourites to date!

The freedom I was given on this brief allowed me to try a couple of ideas and techniques I've wanted to experiment with for a while now, one of which is papercutting insect wings. I hope to do some large-scale papercut studies of butterfly, dragonfly, and bumblebee wings in the near future, and the small butterfly in this cut has further inspired me to do so!

This cut was also my first attempt at a 'floating cut' and I must admit, I'm converted! Using a sheet of acetate to sandwich the papercut against the glass via static creates the impression of a cut suspended in midair within the frame, and it looks great! This is a technique I've applied to a lot of my papercuts since this one.

Tuesday, 22 July 2014

Homemade coffee cake

My brother and I spent yesterday afternoon baking this beaut, needless to say it won't last much longer!

Monday, 21 July 2014

100th Ashby Show

In my local area there is an annual agriculture and farming event called the 'Ashby Show' and this year celebrated its centenary year. For the past two years its been held at Cattows Farm which is nestled in the heart of the Midlands, a mere 15 minute drive from where I live, so I was keen to go this year as I haven't had the opportunity to go for a number of years now. It's the largest event of its kind in the UK attracting upwards of 16,00 visitors during the one day it is held. Throughout the day there were various events to entertain people of all ages: livestock classes, vintage tractor and machinery displays, dog shows, and this year saw a motorbike stunt group performing a spectacular display in the main ring!

As well as the outdoor events there were several large shopping marquees packed full of local trade stands selling homemade produce, country clothing, and handmade gifts. The one that attracted my attention however, was the Craft Marquee. Local artists, photographers, and jewellers gather to display and sell their work and next year I'm hoping to get involved - so watch this space! But for now, here are a couple of my favourite photos I took during the day...

Friday, 11 July 2014

Today's WIP

Been spending my afternoon working on the next commission on my list; a papercut for a family member's birthday. It's still early days but I'm liking it so far!

Wednesday, 9 July 2014

The London Illustration Fair

Over the weekend The London Illustration Fair held their 'Summer Festival: Tropicana' at the Hoxton Arches, and since I was free on Saturday I made a last minute decision to visit (with my mum accompanying me) and I'm so glad we made the effort to go! The atmosphere was fantastic; the artist-led event was full of like-minded people of all ages, not to mention some incredibly talented creatives from selected illustration agencies, collectives, and print studios such as Handsome Frank, Brothers of the Stripe, and East London Printmakers.

The venue was alive with creativity! We were totally immersed in a vast array of gorgeous contemporary artwork and prints displayed at the exhibitor stands, but in addition there were 1-2-1 portfolio reviews, live mural painting, and screen printing. The energy was infectious and really inspiring!

The Summer Festival also saw the addition of a new print shop located at the back of the venue. I spent a lot of time (and could have easily spent an awful lot of money) thumbing through signed prints, greetings cards, and printed t-shirts available, as well as admiring the framed prints displayed on the walls. It's just unfortunate that I couldn't afford all the pieces of artwork I had my eye on! But I was lucky enough to come away with a greetings card and signed A3 print from the wonderful Sandra Dieckmann, an illustrator I've admired for a while now.

The LIF are holding another event in December, which I'm already looking forward to attending, and I recommend anyone with an interest in illustration to check it out. It's a unique opportunity to chat with artists and discover new talent from the contemporary illustration scene, and it has further fuelled my passion to pursue a career in this fast-paced, thrilling industry!

Wednesday, 2 July 2014

Love in NYC

I've been a busy bee over the past month - I've had a few more papercuts to complete, I've got a new job, and managed to get away to Zante for a week too! So it's been all go! But I wanted to share a papercut I'm particularly proud of which I finished shortly before my holiday a fortnight ago.

This is, without a doubt, the most challenging papercut I've done! So far all my designs have been nature-orientated. Using organic shapes means I can be more flexible with my designs as the natural shapes can be easily manipulated to piece together a good composition. The brief for this cut, however, was that the artwork had to be New-York-themed as it was a gift to celebrate the engagement of the client's daughter (an old school friend of mine) which took place in Central Park. To create a successful paper cut design using manmade, rigid structures was admittedly a challenge, but one I'm pleased to have undertaken. It's helped me break out of my comfort zone and expand my portfolio, and the client was extremely pleased - as were her daughter and fiancĂ©!

Thursday, 17 April 2014

Rabbits and mice and bugs, oh my!

So this is my first blog update in about 3 months! My family and I were sadly given some devastating news at the end of January regarding a close friend of ours whom we have known for a number of years; a genuinely wonderful lady who I considered to be the central figure in my extended family. The world truly is a far darker place without her. She naturally possessed all the positive attributes most people strive to have, and the fact that she has been taken so prematurely is unfathomable. She is so missed. So it goes without saying that my art has taken a backseat over the past couple of months, but recently I have decided to get back into the swing of things.

Following the papercut I created for my work colleague at Christmas, I've had quite a few people express their interest in commission pieces! This is a cut I did for a friend of mine, which she wanted to pass down through the family. I thought the foliage in my previous papercut worked really well to frame the typography but I didn't want this one to be too similar and resemble a 'repeat', so I wanted to try something a bit different. Working with the surname 'Warren' my mum suggested incorporating a rabbit into the design, which inspired the woodland theme.

This one was a real challenge to design (ensuring it came out as one whole stencil) but I was really happy with how it turned out, and more importantly my friend was thrilled with the design! I'm fairly certain there will be more animal-inspired papercuts from me in the future!

Papercut sketching, 6th April

I treated myself!