AOH and Illustrator Fair with House of Illustration

Hi all! Yeah I have been reaaaaallly bad with updating my blog – I am so sorry! The last few months work at Ditchling Museum of Art + Craft has been manic with our big summer exhibition, I’ve been completing a new Make it in Design course (Module 3, which has been fantastic but overwhelming!), and I have participated in the famous Brighton Artists Open House, which was an excellent experience. For those who aren’t familiar with it, basically every weekend in May artists open their houses to the public so people can visit artists’ houses, see how they work and, hopefully, buy stuff direct from the maker! It’s a really fantastic event that’s gathered so much momentum, it’s really popular now in Brighton and attracts a lot of locals and daytrippers. For the artists, it is also a valuable opportunity to gain exposure and instant feedback about your work from a huge range of people (although it feels a bit nerve-wracking to begin with!) I exhibited my work with the lovely Izzie Roffe-Silvester, a silversmith and jeweller, her artist mother Charlotte and talented Claire Cullen of Kitsch Religion. It was great to be involved with such a creative group of women.

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In more recent news, I found myself a fella who has been taking up a lot of my time and headspace (squeeeeeee!!) AND preparing for this Illustrator’s Fair with one of my favourite galleries in London, the House of Illustration.

I started volunteering with House of Illustration when I first arrived in London in 2014 and I’ve always loved it – they always have really interesting and diverse range of exhibitions, as well as a supportive network of creative volunteers, often jobbing illustrators or art studetns themselves, who love getting involved. I’ve gotten involved in their Christmas fair before and I thought this would be a brilliant way to keep up momentum from the Artist’s Open House in May.

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I loved being able to see other illustrators I knew through volunteering or through other fairs exhibiting their creations, finding creative ways to sell their art on a range of products, from cards to pins, tea towels to mini zines, candles to temporary tattoos. I also experimented with some new postcards featuring original watercolours and patterned pocket mirrors, which I think went well.

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Definitely planning to do some more craft fairs soon, I’ll keep you posted!! And hey if you think of any interesting new things I can make for the next one, please let me know!! I love suggestions xxx

Indigo Botanicals

Wow, I can’t believe it’s been about two months since I’ve written anything! The past few months have been pretty crazy actually and have simply flown by – most days I have no idea what week it is, whether I’m working tomorrow or sometimes where I am. But, through all that, I have actually managed to do a bit of creating in between the crazy!

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At the museum I work in, there has been a live Natural Dyeing project where people from all over the world have sent in skeins of yarn dyed using all kinds of plants, bark, roots, seeds, etc. Some of the results are truly spectacular and I have really enjoyed watching it grow. Have a look at their Instagram to see what incredible colours have been created!

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This exhibition really inspired me to try working with just Indigo as a starting point. I love blue and white – I wear a hella lot of navy and dark blues, so indigo had a natural pull for me. This also seemed like a really good way for me to experiment with using more wet, tangible mediums in my pattern design, as often I take my sketches straight to the computer for final artwork and colouring. I am really enjoying the process of using watercolour and inks to create motifs, and though it’s certainly far from perfect, I feel like this collection is definitely helping me expand my style and give me more confidence in using different media to design!

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Hope you enjoy the results so far!

Zoë xoxo

Paintly Patterns

Whew I’m glad February is over – although it went quickly this month felt like a slog. Getting sick with a horrible flu, super gloomy weather, work feeling like a grind…but I am determined that March is going to be full of bright and better things! Having spring flowers popping up all over the place is definitely helping my mood as well 🙂

So what have I been doing? Well I learnt to knit! So far I’ve completed one slightly wonky scarf and I’m halfway through creating some slightly wonkier fingerless gloves! Let the craft revolution commence!!

More importantly though, I’ve been thinking about how I can incorporate some more illustrative style into my pattern work. I really like drawing by hand, and although that’s how all of my patterns start, I feel like a lot of that unique, hand drawn style is lost once I put it into Illustrator. Not that there’s anything wrong with the patterns I’ve created, I still like them, but it would be nice to have a more painterly feel to my creations. So I challenged myself to create a complete pattern purely from hand-inked and/or watercoloured drawings alone.

I started with this pen drawing of bunches of hydrangeas using my navy Muji pen…

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I didn’t really have a clear direction of what I was going to do, I was kind of just trying things and seeing what happened. I decided to wash over the drawing with water and see if the pen would bleed a bit, adding some tone. TOTALLY WORKED!

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The lines stayed really clearly defined, but the water allowed just enough pigment to flow over the drawing and I was able to create some really nice highlights and shadows. WIN! Totally going and buying some more Muji pens next time I get the chance!

I then scanned my hydrangea doodles into Photoshop and started to play. Usually patterns are way easier to create in Illustrator as each motif is simpler to manipulate and move around inside a pattern block. However, I wanted to use my original line work and use some transperancy in order to build up my pattern, so Photoshop was my best option. For added texture and colour I also scanned in a watercolour wash of hydreagea-inspired colour which I could layer underneath some of the line-drawings.

And so…Voila!

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The finished pattern! I’m pretty pleased – it’s possibly not my most refined piece ever, but for a first experiment in Photoshop-created, hand-drawn-only, pattern creation, it’s not at all bad 😀

I’d love to hear your thoughts!

An exciting new collaboration

I have a few exciting announcements to make since I last posted… Firstly I will be having a stall in at the Brighton Etsy Christmas Fair! The competition is really stiff so I’m pretty honoured to be selected! It’ll be happening at the Brighton Dome on the 3rd December, so I hope to see some of you there!

More excitingly I have started a new collaboration with the talented people at ArtsCase! They are an iPhone accessories company that work with a range of fantastic artists and designers to create really unique and good quality products. I am thrilled to say that I will be joining their team of creatives! They’ve even written up a nice little bio introducting me, here. Even better, as a special welcome present, they’re giving 30% off all cases featuring my artwork, take a look here! I can’t wait till I get one myself, it’s really satisfying seeing stuff I’ve drawn on a real thing and not just in my sketchbook! (That and also because I keep dropping my currently caseless iPhone 5 and it’s reaaaaally starting to show!)

And now for my third exciting piece of news: I’m moving house! I have been living with relatives for a while now, who have kindly been letting me inhabit their spare rooms, but finally can now say I am able to move into my own space. At the moment my room is becoming piled ever higher with boxes of books (not an understatement – the majority of my boxes are purely books…) and I am scouring the internet for cheap wardrobes and furniture.

So let the new adventures begin! Thank you to everyone for all your support so far, onward to the future! 😀

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Pattern Summer School continued

Hi all!

So the Make it in Design summer school has finished, wow that went quickly! I can’t believe it’s already the end of August and colder weather is just around the corner… Though it’s been so beautifully hot here in Brighton that I’m still able to kid myself that winter is far away!

I wanted to share what I had created for the final creative briefs, these were certainly more challenging than the first round!

For the beginner brief, the theme was Honest Marks. After trialling a whole load of different styles, everything I did seemed too forced and over-complicated. I decided that really simple was best and just went for some hand-painted ink strokes, the results of which I think are really striking!

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For Intermediate, the brief was Souk, which I think is a really fascinating topic! There’s so much you can do with that, so I would really like to give it another go. I kind of ended up with a pattern medley design, but I think I will be experimenting with this theme on my own as well just to see what I come up with.

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And finally, Advanced’s brief was Summer Botanicals, which of course being a floral queen is right up my alley! Sadly with a sudden mass of work I didn’t have time to create something new for this brief, but found a pattern I created not long ago which fit in to the theme (thought I know I’ll be revisiting this brief in my own time too so I can create something new!)

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Beautiful bright bouquets that are reminiscent of spring in the countryside.

So that’s it! Let me know what you think in the comments below, and for all those who also participated in the Make it in Design summer school, a huge well done for completing this epic design challenge!

Artist crush: Jessica Hische

It’s a long time since I did my first artist crush post about Erik Marinovich, but I really enjoy sharing my artistic inspirations/icons and talking about how awesome they are!!

If you love hand lettered anything haven’t heard of Jessica Hische, then this blog post is for you because she has amazing typography skills! Her work has been published on pretty much everything, from book covers to art prints to product labels. She did a beautiful typography collection of hardback classics for Penguin Books and is responsible for the MailChimp logo too. Take a look at some of her work below…

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And she has a fantastic class on Skillshare about designing stand-out drop cap lettering, inspired by the Penguin Books project, where she talks about her process and design journey, in all her nerdy glory!

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Amen sister!  Her website is pretty awesome (if you click on the heart on the top right corner you can change the setting to different modes, including teenage girl – complete with flashing stars and unicorns! Check it out here!)

Do you have a favourite designer that you want to share? Tell us all about them in the comments below!

Quote of the day

I’m always looking for new quotes to practice my hand-lettering on, or to give me a bit of a boost when I’m feeling unmotivated and blocked creatively. I found this one by Brené Brown particularly inspiring today, it basically encapsulates everything I feel about putting my artwork out into the world, so I made it into a poster. I hope you find it helpful too!

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Are there any quotes that particularly inspire you? Let me know! 🙂

How buying some ink taught me to invest in myself.

IMG_4809For ages I’ve been doodling Victorian-style script in the margins of sketchbooks, trying to teach myself how to write in copperplate. But I only really thought about actually trying to learn calligraphy properly when I arrived in London and found myself with nothing to do and nowhere to be. I’d applied for a few jobs and unpacked my suitcase (kinda), and so with no demands on my time I was filling my hours with aimless wanderings about the city. I found myself entering any shop that caught my eye – book stores, clothes stores, those shops that sell beautifully designed but utterly useless knick knacks – and there on the shelf of an art shop I found a cheap pen, some nibs and a bottle of ink. Art shops are very dangerous places for me, I get inordinately excited by those magical lands of pretty coloured pastes and sticks, and I tend to buy way more stuff than I actually need or would ever have time to use. But now time wasn’t an issue. For the first time in years I had no job or uni work or any kind of commitment to eat away at my time – I would never have a better opportunity to learn something new. I walked out of that art shop with a basic calligraphy set, and I was determined not to let it go to waste.

Naturally I totally sucked to begin with! I think there was more ink on my hands than on the paper, but the internet is a wonderful thing and soon enough I was sorting out my down strokes from my up strokes, my italic nibs from my copperplate nibs, and I even started attempting some very shaky flourishes. (Btw, if anyone knows the secret to drawing amazingly smooth curls they should share this secret with me because seriously, mine look like they were drawn by a highly-caffeinated monkey.)

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I still feel as though my style is very similar to a lot of other hand-letters I’ve researched, with a bit of my own handwriting in there too. It really is a skill that just gets better and better with practice – my room is now littered with half-dry, inky quotes and various experiments with different papers and inks. I still draw script in the corners of my sketchbook – actually they’ve started to fill whole pages – but now they look like they might actually turn into a work of art in its own right rather than just another ill-conceived scribble.

But actually my foray into calligraphy symbolises a more important achievement. It’s so easy for life to get in the way of what we actually want to be doing with our time. Trust me, I am very, very guilty of letting this happen. Even if I was working over 50 hours per week I still found myself slotting in coffee dates with friends, often taking on extra hours at work because my supervisors knew I hardly ever said no, and on my days off I spent most of my time buying food, doing laundry and cleaning the house, leaving me with absolutely zero time to actually pursue any of my creative goals. No wonder I burnt out. Sure, work and the food shopping and that acquaintance’s birthday party are all important things, but really, if there’s something that really interests you, something that you really want to do or get involved in, make it your mission to find a way to do it. No, don’t just do it – find a way to make it a part of your life. If your brain is anything like mine, it is very often not your friend. In fact it finds reasons for you to prioritise everything else over something that interests you, particularly if that something is creative. A sample list of excuses I know I’ve often used:

  • “Oh no, I don’t have the stuff, I can’t possibly try that”
  • “My paint is in a box, which is in a cupboard, which is all the way over there….I think I’ll eat some nutella instead’
  • “I’m just so tired from work, I think I’ll just watch Parks and Rec for three hours”
  • “I only have an hour before I have to go out, that’s not nearly enough time to do anything.”

Sound familiar? Ignore your brain. When it comes to personal decisions, our brains are pretty dumb, and tends to create obstacles where none even exist. Once you actually commit to making something happen, you’ll find those mountainous obstacles that your silly brain put in your path are actually more like molehills, and not so scary after all. In fact they are the opposite of scary, they are rewarding: the rewards are never ending.

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