Plenty to tell (again) as it’s been a while since my last update but lots of exciting things have happened since then.
It's already February, 2018 is well underway, and so it's time to do an update as it was a very busy end to 2017.
Rewinding back to last Summer, in July I took part in the Newark Book Festival with Lucy Rowland, the author of 'Pirate Pete and his Smelly Feet' and 'Jake Bakes a Monster Cake' published by Macmillan Children's Books. Lots of little pirates turned up to draw Pete and make pirate hats!
Then in August I was asked to take part in a Pirate Pete book signing at a local indie shop, Bo Peep Boutique in Lincoln. I was also given part of their window to design a display to promote the book complete with palm trees, foliage, birds and of course the main guy himself!
It was publication time for 'Jake Bakes a Monster Cake', the second book that I illustrated written by Lucy and published by Macmillan. This was a great book to work on and we managed to come up with a weird and wonderful bunch of characters for it.
I was also asked to do another book signing and window display which was a lot of fun to do.
Then it was onto a Bright Group International 'Storytime Sunday' event at my agency in London.
To end September off I also had my Lincoln Knights Trail sculpture auctioned off for charity and it made a fantastic £4200.
Carrying on the busy end to the year Spider! was published and it even made BBC Breakfast.
I was kindly asked by my publisher Hachette to take part in the Cheltenham & Henley Literary Festivals alongside the fabulous Alison Steadman to promote our eight legged mini-beast. It was such a laugh being on stage with Alison and we had a great time entertaining the packed out audiences.
After lots of talking and lots of books signing, we both had a well needed Gin!
Everyone has a different story as to how they became an illustrator, some have known since they were very young that they wanted to do it and some have changed careers entirely. My agency approached me to write a blog piece for them about how my career as an Illustrator developed over the 14 years since I started. I was pretty honest about it all and I think I could have been even more candid but what I wrote will hopefully resonate with others.
And so Christmas and New Year came and went and 2018 stretched its' arms and awoke. So what's in store?
For starters I've been working on a lot of new development for a couple of publishers and although I'm not able to currently show anything I'll hopefully be able to share something soon.
I've also formed a partnership with Cottages de Garrigue out in the Dordogne to sell some exclusive prints I designed for them.
I've been visiting this French region since I was very young and it's such a lovely area. So lovely in fact that there could be some big changes on the horizon...more to come in the foreseeable future.
Towards the end of the year 'Mrs Claus Takes the Reins' will be published by Amazon. It’s Christmas Eve morning, and Santa Claus is still in bed! He’s feeling stuffy and sneezy and slow as a yeti. Will Christmas have to be canceled?
Find out later in the year!
In-between that we're off to the Bologna Children's Book Fair again to keep the Swine Bars' coffers topped up. 'Yoga Frog' is published in April by Running Press which comes with it's own posable bendy character. I also have some projects in the pipeline too, so 2018 is sure to be busy!
À la bonne vôtre!
Plenty to tell (again) as it’s been a while since my last update but lots of exciting things have happened since then.
So it's only been.....four months since my last post!! This year has been the busiest on record and I've been involved in all sorts of different things alongside my commissioned picture books from painting sculptures and animating trailers to designing book festival postcards and prints for charity. It's all been happening and I'm looking forward to a break away in France later this Summer.
The year started off with this chap (not me the other guy) :
I was fortunate enough to have my design selected for this years Lincoln Knights Trail to celebrate the 800th anniversary of the Battle of Lincoln and the sealing of the Charter of the Forest. There are many Wild In Art trails that are put on around the country and this was the second time that one of these events has been hosted in my hometown of Lincoln so I was very proud to be involved. It was great to do some physical artwork away from the studio and the screen (he was stored in my garage) and while it was a challenge in areas it was a lot of fun to do and I'm very pleased with the outcome. Here's the sculpture in place at Lincoln College who were the sponsors :
I'll be putting together a separate area on this website for everything Knights Trail related, from the initial design to work in progress shots, so I'll keep this brief for now.
I also designed some prints, an animated trailer and a billboard to go alongside this sculpture. The prints are being sold here in Lincoln at the Visitor Information Centre as well as my Etsy shop (which will go live again very soon) The trailer can be viewed here on my website or over on my Vimeo Channel :
I'll post up images of the billboard when it's up on the building but it was the biggest piece of artwork I've had to do so far measuring 4m x 3m.
If you are in the area be sure to check out the Knights Trail as there are some fantastic designs on show and plenty of good pubs along the way.
JAKE BAKES A MONSTER CAKE
As well as painting this sculpture I also had my commissioned picture book work to do which included Jake Bakes a Monster Cake, my next book publishing with Macmillan in September. It's written by the fabulous Lucy Rowland (Pirate Pete and his Smelly Feet) and features Jake who wants to cook up a storm in the kitchen and bake his best friend Sam a cake. His friends, however, have other ideas! It was a lot of fun to do and the paperback version comes with stinky stickers, similar to Pirate Pete (these smell worse though!)
This will be available later this year in all good bookshops and online from the 7th September.
Then it was onto Spider! written by the fabulous Alison Steadman (Gavin & Stacey, Abigails Party, The Singing Detective) and publishing with Hodder Childrens. The story follows Rafael and his pet cat on a journey discovering about the common house spider and why they really aren't that scary. I've always been a fan of spiders and I think they get some bad press sometimes so it was great to work on a book that details how amazing these eight-legged mini-beasts really are. The book includes lots of facts and figures about spiders along the way so it makes for a fun educational book as well.
It was great to work on this title with the Hodder team so looking forward to many more. This book will be out in all good bookshops and online in October.
AOI WORLD ILLUSTRATION AWARDS
This took me by surprise I have to say as I've always held this award in high regard, so to be shortlisted out of the thousands of images sent in was a proud moment in my career as an Illustrator. The World Illustration Awards is judged by industry professionals and it always showcases an array of different work so to be included amongst the incredible talent that was shortlisted was fantastic. You can read a blog that my agency wrote about it here.
I entered my piece 'We Will Remember' which was a personal image I came up with last year to commemorate the 100 years since the Battle of the Somme and Armistice Day :
I'm looking to take this image further as I feel there's more to say so watch this space!
COTTAGES DE GARRIGUES
I'd been asked to design a logo by two of our friends who are setting up their Gîte business in the South-West of France. Cottages de Garrigues is a fantastic 17th century farmhouse in the Dordogne offering three gîtes for rent with acres of woods and countryside surrounding it. They wanted a simple pen & ink/pencil sketch look to the design, so after looking at many different photos of their building I put something together :
NEWARK BOOK FESTIVAL
More recently I was asked to design an image to be used on a limited edition postcard to be given away during the Newark Book Festival in July. The brief was fairly open but it had to include elements of Newark (the castle, marketplace etc) and a character that can be used each year to coincide with the relevant theme. This year it's 'Adventures and Heroes' so I decided to go down the Sherlock Holmes (Mouse Detective) route with my design. I initially did two designs but felt the first one wasn't answering the brief well enough so started on the second which works much better :
I'll also be doing a 'Pirate Pete' event with my author Lucy Rowland so if you're in the area you can purchase tickets here Newark Book Festival. Come along for some Piratey fun (clothes pegs recommended!)
I've now pretty much caught up with everything that's been happening these past few months. Currently working on my next picture book which is with Amazon, Mrs Claus Takes the Reins. Santa Claus is sick and can't deliver the presents, so there's only one thing for it :
Mrs Claus steps in!! :)
So apologies for the lack of updates in this news section recently. I've been so busy and I've been doing all sorts from picture books to painting sculptures to animating picture book trailers. I'll provide more information very soon but in the meantime, here's a spider for a thing I'm currently working on! :)
Updates coming very soon!
There are moose on the horizon and lots of them! :)
With the publication of 'Too Many Moose' around the corner I thought I'd put a little making of together for this book. So here's how this book written by the fab Lisa M. Bakos came together.
From the outset the book needed to start calmly and then descend into a lot of moosey chaos. I wanted to keep the illustration style bright, colourful and quite minimal in areas as the whole focus was on Martha and her ten moose. So the use of white space in the book was important and how I could keep the pages interesting but not overload them at the same time.
The first step was to come up with the moose character himself :
This is the first moose that Martha orders and so I wanted to keep him fairly plain and as normal looking as possible. As she orders more the various other moose have their own characteristics to separate them from each other. This moose design was successfully signed off so then I moved onto developing the cover for what was then the original title 'Mail Order Moose'
When it came to the spreads themselves I wanted them to look interesting and slightly different to how I've done previous books. I'm always playing around with styles and tweaking how pages are designed so I experimented a bit as you can see with one of the final spreads below when Martha orders a second moose (much to the dislike of the first one)
It was a great project to work on and I'm very pleased with the final outcome so I hope everyone has as much fun with this book as I did making it. Many thanks to the fab Sourcebooks team for all their hard work and for making it their feature book in the recent catalogue :
Don't forget to visit the 'Moose Mart' to choose your own moose, name it and then share it with your friends…because everyone needs at least one more moose! :)
In May Illustrators, authors and children responded to a publication of Nicola Davies's poem The Day The War Came which drew attention to the 3000 unaccompanied Syrian children that the UK government decided not to give a safe place to stay. Nicola called on everyone who was outraged by this to paint, draw or sketch an empty chair and then share it on Twitter.
Here was my contribution :
You can read more about this campaign and see the other chairs that were sent in here
It's been a very busy year already full of moose, pirates and dinosaurs. I've got some very exciting news to share with everyone but I can't quite yet plus there's the upcoming 'Too many Moose' trailer that will be EXCLUSIVELY revealed during publication week (5th July)
In the meantime I was kindly interviewed by Gabriela Gonzalez, an illustrator living and working and Belgium and who is the Regional Illustrator Coordinator for the Society of Children's Book Writers & Illustrators, Belgium.
The link to my interview is here so I hope it offers some good advice to all those looking to dive into illustration :)
Happy New Year!
2016 is off and running and January has already flown by. I'm also very late getting round to updating everything on here so apologies for that. However it's been a very busy start to the new year!
So what's been going on since my last news update way back forever ago in August last year. The Bright Group Christmas party was fun as always being held at the new Bright Emporium which is a fantastic new gallery space that also hosts book readings and other events. Now in my thirteenth year represented by Bright this new premises will open up a whole new dimension to the agency and I'm very proud to be a part of it.
Over the Christmas and New Year period I also moved out of my old studio and into my new one at home. There were many factors that contributed to moving out after being there for seven years but sometimes you need a fresh look and a change. After all….…change is good! It's certainly worked out very well for me as I'm really happy with how the new studio has come together, even turning my hand to carpet fitting in the process. But the end result has produced a very creative, inspiring space to work in. I've filled it with all my books and prints that I've acquired over the years, it's also energised me into picking up my paints and pencils again. Sadly I downed these tools for far too many years and decided to sit in front of a tablet. Digital artwork is fantastic and the majority of my work is produced using lots of different custom-made brushes and textures in Photoshop, however it's been great to pick up a brush again and 'retrain' myself using traditional media. Currently working up some pieces in the style below as they've been well received so I'm very pleased with how it's going!
Work-wise I don't think I've been busier. Around some of the smaller projects I've got on I'm currently writing and drawing up the concepts for the next two 'Brian the Smelly Bear' books with Hinkler in Australia, one involves a love interest for old Brian and the other…..well you'll have to find out but things get a little bit crazy for him let's just say that. Also my work with Macmillan is moving forward at a rate of knots. Revised roughs are being drawn up and the cover has just been approved for 'Pirate Pete and his Smelly Feet' so it can go into the Rights Guide. Sneak peek coming soon!
As well as all this I was asked by Cygnet Ink to come up with an image of our fantastic cathedral here in the city of Lincoln. It's currently for sale in the cathedral shop and will be online here very soon!
I chose to do the iconic West Front which is the main entrance of this incredible building. I wanted to keep to a very simple design and a limited colour palette while giving it a contemporary feel.
So all in all it's a busy time in the new studio. Bologna Children's Book Fair is just around the corner which I'll be visiting again this year, we've managed to get a fantastic place in the middle of the city with a roof terrace so drinks round ours. Looking forward to catching up with friends and publishers out there and generally having a few days away from the studio. I'll be sorting my personal shop on here out at some point as well where you'll be able to buy limited edition prints.
In the meantime, watch this space for more news! :)
So two months have passed since my last update (sorry!) but I have been very busy with various things and time has flown by! So what's been going on since May?
It's been moose, moose, moose for a while and we're now at the artwork stage for Mail Order Moose which is great news. It's been a lot of fun to do and it's really coming together. The cover artwork has been approved and we're just tinkering with the type so it stands out on the shelf and it'll be good to go. There's been a few versions of the front cover and I'll post up some cover developments for this very soon.
It's also been a very busy time for parties and book do's. Had a great time catching up with friends at Benji Davies's Grandad's Island book launch and overdosed on watermelon and chewy teeth! :)
Then there was a golden invitation onto a pirate ship for the fab launch of Fred Blunt's Captain Falsebeard. With an inflatable parrot in one hand and some grog in the other, much fun was had that could only be described as 'ARRRRRRRR!!' Particular mention to my agency Bright Group International for organising such a great shindig and here is Fred himself with some of my fellow landlubbers! :)
I've just signed a very exciting two book deal with a fantastic publisher and I'll be posting this very smelly news soon.
To round everything off I went to the very impressive RIBA (Royal Institute of British Architects) building on Great Portland street for the Macmillan Summer party. Saw some familiar faces and met some new ones, all in all a lovely evening, many thanks to Macmillan and my editor Laura Roberts for the invite.
So onwards into the rest of the Summer. Coming up I've got Yasmeen's book launch for I'm a Girl, meetings, the annual Bright Summer Picnic (always a laugh) and then onto France for a well earned break (plus a bit of work on the side plus sun….and wine……….and cheese!)
Oh…..and more moose! :)
'Never was so much owed by so many to so few'
So this years' Bologna Book Fair has been and gone and by the sounds of it the agent's at Bright had a seriously busy few days showing all the new artwork produced by the fab scribblers being represented. Massive thanks to them for all their hard work and energy that they put into this year's fair. Looking forward to 2016 when I'll be going again and *fingers crossed* my author/illustrated picture book will be on show! :)
I recently had to do some samples for a pitch out in the US on a book called Mail Order Moose. It was great fun drawing this guy and seeing how he'd work. The story contains so many moose/mooses/meese that I'll be able to draw them with my eyes closed by the end of it.
We're busy working on the cover idea at the moment and it's due for a Summer 2016 release so keep your peepers open for these mooses then :)
A fantastic natural phenomenon occurred the other day and I thought I'd doodle a quick illustration to mark it. Solar eclipses happen from time to time and to experience one is an incredible feeling. Twilight at 0930 as you're having your breakfast is very strange and where I live in the UK about 90% of the sun was blocked out.
Roll on 2026 when we see the next one!
Happy World Book Day!
I've been recently working on a nine book series with Simon & Schuster and Sainsbury's and I received the advance copies of the first three books the other week. It's a series of picture books about Abby, Ella, Joey, Bethany, Arun, Dylan and Daisy and what they get up to at school. From digging up dinosaur bones on the beach to looking after the classrooms' ted, it's a fun little series to work on (plus each book comes with stickers, WIN!) :)
So in the blink of an eye 2014 is over and we've welcomed in 2015. I had a great festive period out in France eating and drinking as much as I could to build up my 'winter coat'. I also had my latest picture book 'Superlove' written by Cherise Harper published with Knopf Random House out in the US. A fun story perfect for little girls and if you like moody cats! :)
For now it's right back to work and it's a very busy start to the new year for me. I'm carrying on with the nine book series I have with Simon & Schuster and Sainsbury's, we're now on book four with book one to three published very soon.
I've just started a new book series with Simon & Schuster US about a pair of kids that get up to all sorts of adventures in New York so I'm designing the cover jacket for that at the moment.
'My Hamster is a Genius' written by the fab Dave Lowe is up for the Worcestershire Awesomest Book Award with the winner announced in March, so fingers crossed for Stinky & Jinks!
I've also been sent a nice little project with Ladybird, there's new work to do for the upcoming Bologna Book Fair and also my first author/illustrated book that I'm currently writing.
So it's pretty much all go!!
I've just hit 5000 likes over on my Facebook fan page and just wanted to say a MASSIVE thank you to you all for the continued support and fantastic comments. Really appreciate it and glad you're enjoying what I post up! :)
A new picture book by Charise Harper that I did the scribbles for is coming out this Winter. Perfect for little girls, it even has a magic wand in it!!
Places to purchase Superlove :
Below are some development sketches for this book and shows how the main character of the book came together….
My agency Bright Group International have just finished putting the final touches to a fantastic new literary site. Here's a snapshot of the 'Rising Stars' page which I'm very proud to be a part of alongside some great people and superb scribblers!
I am currently working on my first author/illustrated book using a shiny new style so keep your eyes open for updates! :)
So on Monday I had a fab email from Templar saying that one of the Stinky & Jinks books that I did is up for another award. This time it's 'My Hamster's Got talent' for the 'Worcestershire Awesomest Book Awards' and it couldn't be more awesomest news. Roll on 2015 and stay tuned to see how the little guy gets on!
In Flanders fields the poppies blow
Between the crosses, row on row,
That mark our place: and in the sky
The larks still bravely singing fly
Scarce heard amid the guns below.
We are the dead: Short days ago,
We lived, felt dawn, saw sunset glow,
Loved and were loved: and now we lie
In Flanders fields!
Take up our quarrel with the foe
To you, from failing hands, we throw
The torch: be yours to hold it high
If ye break faith with us who die,
We shall not sleep, though poppies grow
In Flanders fields.
John McCrae, May 1915