Learning the Ropes

It’s been a while since I updated my blog and I’ve just finished adding a couple of new pieces to my website so it’s time that I share a little progress on where I am with my freelance career, what I’ve learned so far, and what areas I’m hoping to grow next.

My last post from August was about finding my artistic voice and reading back on it I think I’ve made some discoveries about what that means. I think I’m honing my style and skillset in a way that does actually look fairly cohesive. So how do you find your artistic voice? I took some time to think about where I’d been, where I was and where I wanted to be. I listed what my favourite projects in the past had been, what aspects of my jobs I enjoyed most, and what resources I had to pull from. I then took a look at my current website and portfolio and wrote what I liked about it, what I didn’t like, where I wanted to improve etc. Then I took some time (quite a while) to think about where I wanted to be. I tried to imagine what my ideal dream projects would look like, I thought long and hard about what my values are, what kind of messages I want to be sharing and what kind of work I enjoy most. Not what kind of work I could force myself into - but what was it that I enjoyed doing most.

I came to the conclusion that I would wanted to focus on illustration. In all the things I dabble there is a common thread between all of them which was me trying to squeeze illustration into every single project. I realised that this doesn’t mean that I can’t do packaging or branding projects, but it means that I should choose to only take on those projects if I’m inspired by them and can do something fun and illustrative.

I also pin pointed that my strengths are as a nature illustrator and that I should bolster that to my advantage because I love drawing things from nature! Birds, animals, plants and landscapes make up the majority of my portfolio and whereas I would at one point have considered this a weakness - I certainly don’t think so anymore. The fact that people love nature is irrefutable as is demonstrated by the countless books written about it, tv programmes dedicated to it and art inspired by it so there is definitely a demand for quality illustration work about nature. After landing on my solid base as a nature illustrator and I curated my portfolio to best highlight that kind of work.

Once doing so I started to see what my style could possible look like. Much of my work was print making and I had drawn a couple things in a certain style that coordinates with my linocuts. I decided that from now on I would pursue those techniques, master them and develop them into my personal style.

Now the question remained of where I want to grow as an illustrator. I feel comfortable being a ‘nature illustrator’ but I also have to work with making this niche commercially viable and find work for myself. I’ve always enjoyed books and reading is a huge part of my life so it felt natural to concentrate my efforts on illustration for publishing. I realised that I needed to make some work that was geared towards book illustration and that is where my current efforts (outside of ongoing projects) are focused.

One of the ways I’ve been doing this is through a little passion project called Boffin Bookplates. I’ll write more about it in my next post but you can check it out by visiting boffinbookplates.com

Maybe it’s just the arrival of spring and a few drops of sunshine but I’m feeling pretty positive about this year. I think this blog is a good way of organising thoughts and tracking my progress so I’ll be writing in it every now and then. Have lots of things I’ve been working on and thinking about so I’m looking forward to sharing them!

In the meantime, here’s a drawing I did of a dapper fox which I really like.


Artistic Voice

Something that has been on my mind a lot recently is the idea of an artistic voice. One of the things I was not expecting when going freelance was how much of a struggle it would be to figure out what kind of things I want to be doing. I am definitely not lacking in ideas of what I could be doing, or should be doing, the question is more of what is my unique perspective? What do I have to say that is valuable? What do I want to be known for?

I am still at loggerheads with this and it has been hindering my progress for some time now. I have never felt that I had a clear, distinct style to my work. At art college everything I made looked like it was created by a different person. There is no loyalty to any particular content, colour, medium or size. There are certain themes that run throughout but looking back at my work from 5 years ago, I don’t feel any desire to continue creating work in that vein. I don’t actually like any of the work I made 5 years ago, in fact most of the time when I create a piece of work, I look back on it an hour later and hate everything about it. I think this stems in part from two things, one is that I don’t feel there is an individual voice in my work and therefore I find it difficult to take ownership of it. Two, I think a lot of the work I have made before doesn’t really have much to say. A lot of the things don’t have much of a story to them or meaning to me, and I made a lot of work which feels kitsch to me. 

Following art college I worked freelance for a year whilst having a part time job but I don't think I really tried. I got a fair amount of projects off of the back of my degree show, but I never really put too much effort into self-promotion or trying to keep that momentum goin. I think I felt insecure about illustration being a 'real' job that 'real' people could have, and unfortunately my parent's opinion did not help this. Of course it's not true, illustrating full-time is a perfectly legitimate career, but I have this sort of awful thing about myself where I think that if I'm not suffering in some way that I'm not doing enough and don't deserve to be earning a living. Upon leaving the academic institution I think I was also left with a gaping hole which would normally be filled by external approval from some kind of authority. I didn't know what to do if there was nobody watching me and giving me praise or feedback, and actually I don't think I was very good at taking feedback without it feeling like it was personal. I did a few projects in this year but I never really put my heart and soul into it and I still felt like the work I was creating was reacting to each brief in a different way, rather than holding true to some sort of steady course.

I felt like maybe I wasn't suited to this freelance malarkey and I was an opportunity to develop a stable career with a salary and pension scheme and all those other delightful things. Thus, it wasn't long before the real world spit me back into the academia and I found myself doing a Masters in Advertising and Design. Although I learned a huge amount about business from this course, I can't say that it helped me with my dilemma about artistic voice and perhaps I felt more confused than ever. 

Following this I made the decision to find a job as a graphic designer. By this point I had built up the graphic design part of my portfolio a bit and so I was able to find that coveted, salaried desk-job. Yay. (sarcasm intended) 

There I was guided to follow many many many many different styles. In fact the way most creative agencies respond to briefs isn’t very creative. Most designers are instructed to approach a brief by first finding visual inspiration. They will pull from the same set of sources (primarily from the internet) and in my experience, once you have found a few solid reference images which gel together, you are then asked to create a new piece that follows this ‘inspiration’ like a recipe. It’s very prescriptive and actually does not leave any room for a playful approach that would lead to something more unique. After all, time is money, and it is much more efficient to remix a proven concept than to experiment with new things that aren’t necessarily going to work. Thus in my 3 years of working in an agency - I found myself copying a multitude of different illustrative styles, and never exploring my own artistic voice. Perhaps if I felt more restricted by what I could do then I would feel like my style was more consistent, but at this point I’m not sure what it is that really speaks to me. I feel like I've become the Jack of All Trades but Master of None. Some people say that this versatility is a blessing but I'm tired of it. I want to be a master damnit!

There are a few things that I definitely know I like and that I find consistent within my work so I suppose it isn’t necessarily about finding a style but about choosing what feels like mine and finding fidelity to that style. The only way I think I can achieve this is by consistently creating personal work and trying to shoehorn every creative brief into my vision rather than the standard back-seat approach where I take someone else's lead. I am still in the process of figuring out what exactly my voice is but I know its not going to happen overnight. I’m also not sure what the best way to do it is, but I do know that it is very important to me and that persistence should pay off.

Are there any other artists with similar issues? Do you have any advice or exercises that can help? Would love to hear about it.

Part II - Your inner compass

I've moved enough times in my life, and spoken with enough people who have done the same to notice that every time you move to a new place, you tend to follow a certain pattern. A lot of people have talked about the 'one-year rule', meaning that it takes an entire year of living somewhere before you can really feel at home. I started writing this post in an attempt to quickly re-cap on the past few years, but it soon became apparent that I had a lot more to talk about than I realised. I began to analyse the challenges I faced when moving abroad and noted the lessons that I've learned along the way. This is a highly personal post, but I hope that through sharing these truths I might help someone with similar challenges gain new insights.

In the weeks leading up to my move I was filled with a nervous energy that was equal parts excitement and fear. I felt like I had butterflies in my stomach constantly and lost quite a bit of weight during this time. In a way it felt like it wasn't really happening and that at any moment something would fall through, but I carried on reducing my material possessions until it all fit into a few boxes and suitcases. It felt good to let go of my things and make a fresh start, but it was bittersweet. I tried not to focus too much on the feeling of heartbreak, instead staying mentally strong to meet the challenge ahead.

I had a very romanticised view of what my life in Colorado would be like. I felt confident and eager to prove myself at work and was excited to be returning to big skies, wide open spaces, and sunny weather. I was anxious about meeting expectations but I also pictured impressing people with my hard work and dedication. On my first day at my new job, I awoke in the midst of a mountain blizzard. Snow flurried heavily from the skies but I felt joyous. England hadn't had any snow that winter, only endless torrential rain, and I missed watching the power of a mountain snowstorm coat everything in a blanket of white. Amidst the joy, however, was also the kind of nervous clumsy energy you have when you are running on very little sleep but have a big day ahead of you. I'd been too excited to sleep properly the night before and woke at five in the morning as I was still jet-lagged. As I walked to work through the thickly falling snow, my mind was racing with questions - but still I felt optimistic.

The first few weeks or months living somewhere new are a sort of honeymoon period. You're in survival mode and you're preoccupied with sorting out various 'life-admin' like opening bank accounts, finding accommodation, getting a telephone number and bus pass. You buy new things to set you up in your new place, you meet a few nice new people and it feels good to have a fresh start, a blank canvas on which you can explore yourself anew. All the changes seemingly affirm that you have made the right decision. "Wow the weather is so good here! Wow the nature is so beautiful! Wow people are so nice!' At this point even your neighbour's out-of tune Ukulele practice can seem friendly and charming. It is good to feel optimistic, but it can also be a mask for what else might be taking place in your mind. You probably do have some feelings of disappointment and doubt but you avoid facing them. After all you didn’t come all this way for nothing so you keep busy and don't allow yourself time to stop and think. You're exhausted and mostly just running on adrenaline.

A couple weeks later you'll have settled down into a routine and found familiar habits. Everything is going well, right? Well, not exactly. Having a routine means you're no longer in survival mode and you will let your guard down a little. Now that you have time to think, everything is a little less glamorous than before. Your neighbour's ukulele practice is now driving you up the wall. One day, when you've finished work feeling exhausted, you might come home to your empty apartment, a sink full of dirty dishes, nothing to eat in the fridge and zero motivation to go anywhere or do anything. Or you might come home to find a bunch of people you don't really know are having a party in your living room. You feel exhausted after all the running around trying to adapt to your new environment and you just want some peace and quiet, so you hermit yourself away. Even if you’ve met lots of nice people you can't just magic solid, long-lasting friendships and relationships into being all at once. You might even find it difficult to make friends because most people already have their own thing going and you are superfluous to everyone’s plans. You'll start to miss those people from home that really know you. Interestingly, it takes a long time for us to stop referring to the place we came from as 'home'. By this point your adrenaline has run out and this life isn't new and exciting anymore, it's overwhelming and exhausting. If you're like me, this part devolves into crying into a carton of ice-cream whilst watching a TV show that you used to watch with your other half back home, or listening to sad music so that you can feel sadder. I like to wallow in sadness and get all my big feels out in one go so I can move on with my life. 

This sort of complicated existence can go on for some time, all the while wearing away at your willpower to succeed. A few months in, the edge of manic excitement I felt from the first few weeks was replaced by constant feelings of doubt. I started to question whether I made the right decision. For a while I began to feel paranoid, especially when it came to my work environment. At this point, the cracks were beginning to show in my job situation. I had wanted to work at this company so badly - the work on their website was stunning and the types of projects I got to work on were interesting and challenging. However, before I moved my mother had sent me some reviews she found online about the company culture which made me feel nervous. People had written about toxic energy, long hours and a challenging boss. I tried not to worry too much and to keep an open mind. As with anything written online, you need to take it with a grain of salt. Sometimes all it takes is one person to get a bee in their bonnet and unleash a hell storm from behind their protective virtual shield.

Being open-minded is one of my greatest qualities and I love that about myself, but I'm also acutely aware that it makes me much more vulnerable. In the past I haven't been so observant and my naivety has led to difficult situations. Sometimes I accept things as they are without challenging them, thinking that maybe I have something to learn. When you're in a positive environment with people you trust, this is a great attribute and you can establish meaningful relationships. Unfortunately there are some people who see openness as a weakness and will exploit anyone who is willing to give them the time of day. As much as I like to think that I am better than falling for manipulation tactics - I am just like every other kind hearted person.

For me there was a particularly low point after moving to Colorado. The boss was giving me a hard time and being very persuasive about staying late and putting in extra hours. I felt an atmosphere of fear prevailed over patience and encouragement, and I worried about losing my job.  I had two big projects due early the next week which I knew the boss was looking for me to prove myself on. I won't go into all the reasons why the whole situation sucked because it would be long and exhausting and boring to read... but the point is, I found myself working non-stop through an entire weekend, only taking a break to go home, walk the dog I was dog-sitting and sleep a few hours. I took only one hour to have lunch with my oldest friend who was in town, even though I hadn't seen him in years. I sacrificed a lot of time and energy. The boss periodically came into the office to offer unhelpful advice and change the direction of what I was working on, causing me to overthink everything and make more work for myself.

Sunday night came and I knew I would have to stay there all night to finish everything. After walking the dog that evening and microwaving a burrito, I sat myself in front of the computer and worked solidly until four in the morning till I was at a point where I could no longer bring myself to do anymore. I walked home from the office in the dark, through the frigid air feeling absolutely shattered. There had been a recent snowstorm and the ground was blanketed in snow but I felt none of the excitement or winter-wonderland feeling that I had felt on my first day. The temperature was below freezing, the snow was frozen hard and coated with a slippery ice, and the sky was black with only a tiny sliver of moon. By the time I got home, I had 2 hours to sleep before I had to be awake again, walk the dog and go to work. I dreaded it and asked myself if it was really worth it. I had sacrificed so much of my time and happiness, and I was terrified that I would lose my job and I would have moved my entire life for nothing.

I didn't get fired, and over time I learned to cope with the situation, but it took a long time to find balance and regain trust in my own thoughts. It was not the last time I sat in the office till the small hours of the morning or had to start over on a project the night before it was due. Working there was a constant struggle for me. Not having people around you that you can trust is isolating but eventually I did make friends with some of my coworkers and found I could speak to them about how I felt in the workplace. A lot of people felt the same way which was a relief to me and some people went to extra efforts to help me out. One of my coworkers even taught me how to drive. My boyfriend also stayed for 3 months during the summer and while he was there I felt much happier having a support system around. At work I felt like I was beginning to prove myself and that the long hours were worth it, but then the time came for my boyfriend to go back to England, I felt like we hadn't had enough time together. I had wanted to go on adventures together but because I was constantly busy we never did. Hardly anyone I worked with ever went anywhere (except for my boss). Not long after my boyfriend left I took my entire blessed 10 days of vacation to go visit North-Eastern Australia with my family. Getting away from work melted some of my stress and lifted my spirits, but when I came back, everything came crashing down harder than before.

Coinciding with my return was the fact that I had just moved out of my family friend's place and into my own apartment - sparsely furnished with a couple of things I'd picked up at a garage sale. The fact that I was now completely on my own, going back to the dreaded work environment put me in a bad place. I felt like I was being pushed to work harder and harder and that I couldn't stop because my job was at stake. I felt burnt out and miserable. I didn't have many friends to hang out with and had no regular activities. I missed my boyfriend, my friends and my family. I felt like I'd made a mistake and wasted my time coming to Colorado. I was depressed but felt too embarrassed about how I felt so I didn't talk to anyone about it. It felt too painful to try and talk to the people who were close at heart but distant in person when all I wanted was a big, safe hug. At one point I decided that I needed to take control of the situation and I started to use Talk-Space, an app that allows you to contact a licensed personal therapist online at anytime. I had never had any kind of therapy before aside from a counselor at University, but I found it helpful to talk about things with someone who didn't know me personally. It also felt less embarrassing to type what I felt - even now I am much more comfortable writing how I feel than talking about it in person. 

Through talking with my therapist I learned something crucial about myself and people in general. Everyone has an inner compass tuned into a set of values to which we attribute different levels of importance. Some people value relationships most, some people prioritise career, some people crave adventure. At different times in our lives, we might prioritise different things. Whether consciously or unconsciously, we are constantly balancing these different desires to make important decisions and create our ideal lifestyle. This is challenging and often times our compass can be swayed by outside influences or we can feel the pull of two opposing desires leading to difficulties in decision making. Sometimes choosing one thing means sacrificing another. Often times without realising it, we want everything all at once and we try to change external factors around us to fit our ideal, but this only amounts to pain and frustration. You can't have your cake and eat it too, somewhere along the way you have to compromise or make a sacrifice.

My compass was confused by all the conflicting ideas and swung wildly all over the place - leaving me feeling aimlessness and depressed about what it was all for. I felt like giving up because the initial plan that we had was coming apart. When I got the job in Colorado, my boyfriend and I had both planned on moving there together. We wanted to have an adventure and leave England for a while to experience something else. What we didn't expect was how hard it would be for my boyfriend to find a job that would sponsor his visa. We also didn't know that my work situation would be so challenging. We didn't know how expensive Boulder was to live in. When there are a lot of unknowns, it's easy to overlook things and romanticise a situation.

In my ideal world, I wanted to be with my boyfriend as soon as possible, but I also didn't want to give up on our Colorado dream. I wanted to be satisfied in my career but I didn't want to give up on my job after only a few months. I wanted to have more time to visit my friends and family, but 10 days holiday maximum is the norm for most jobs in the United States. I wanted to invest my time and money into making my life in Colorado more comfortable, but I didn't want to acquire a car and furniture that would make it more difficult to leave if I chose to. Should I stay or should I go? More than anything I wanted to see some kind of future that was stead-fast and I could work towards. I felt exhausted by the constant indecision, stuck in a purgatory of my own creation.

My therapist asked me if I had to choose between relationships, career, adventure, what would I choose. Without a second's thought I knew that if it came down to it, I would sacrifice everything for my relationships with the people I care about. So why was it so difficult for me to make a decision? I was complicating things by adding layers on top of options rather than stripping everything down to the basics and listening to my intuition. She suggested that I 'try on' what each decision would be like by imagining how it would feel. I imagined what both scenarios felt like and it wasn't difficult to realise that what my heart truly desired was to move back to England. I'd had this idea in my head that it looked really bad if you left a job before a full year so I was telling myself that I couldn't make a decision until I'd been there for a year. I also had the 'one-year' rule in my head, and thought to myself that I can't make a decision about living in Colorado til the one year has passed. Either way, I knew that I would never be able to forgive myself if I sacrificed my relationship with my boyfriend for anything, never mind a job that was actually making me miserable. Colorado wasn't a mistake or failure, it was a nice scenic detour where I learned a lot. One of the positives about the job was the fact that the people there were great and they were very skilled. I realised that I could change my focus to learning as much as I could while being there and in the meantime I would begin looking for job opportunities in England. I also made it a point to focus on developing friendships, activities and routines outside of work After all, now the pressure was off and it didn't matter so much if I got fired for not working enough.

As soon as I made that decision, at least 90% of my worries, stress and negative thoughts melted away. I started going home on time more often, I went to the gym regularly and started meeting up with friends after work. When I first moved to Colorado I used Meet Ups, a website where groups of people with similar interests arrange activities to do together. It's a great way to find new hobbies or people with common interests. I would recommend it for anyone who has moved to a new place, wants to explore new friendships or try new activities. I went on a few meet-ups when I first moved to Colorado and made a couple of friends through climbing, but after getting so caught up in work I lost touch. I decided I had nothing to lose and started hanging out with them again, and got introduced to lots of other climbing friends. I regularly went out for lunch with coworkers that I had befriended and went to a trivia night every week with coworkers who had actually intimidated me when I first started working there. It helped to have an outlet to vent about my boss every once in a while and I regained my confidence and found balance in life again. By the time I did get offered a position back in England, just over a year after starting there, I actually felt sad to leave.

So I guess the one-year rule still holds true, even though I had decided to leave long before the year was up. Looking back, I felt like I could probably have stayed in Colorado and felt fairly happy. I think my compass would still be pulling me in a different direction, but there was enough going for me that if my boyfriend had suddenly found a job there and wanted to stay in Colorado I would have been happy with it. Oddly enough I felt that the more boundaries I established in my work/life balance, the more respect my boss had for me. The less I feared, the better I seemed to perform. As difficult as the experience may have been for me, I wouldn't have changed it. It serves as a constant reminder for me to trust my gut. 

If you read this and you think 'I've felt that way too!' or maybe you had a completely different experience, I would love to talk with you about it. What challenges did you face and what did you learn when overcoming them? What did you learn about yourself? 







A New Direction - Part I

As of very recently, I made the very big and somewhat scary decision to leave my full-time graphic design job and become a freelance illustrator and designer. It has been a month now since I left my last job, but since my last post quite a lot has changed in my life, so I will spend a few posts bringing everyone up to speed. It's mostly for myself, as I haven't really given myself the opportunity to process everything, but for the very few who might read this blog (hi mom!), it may be somewhat interesting.

I had my first foray into the world of freelance illustration after graduating from illustration at Edinburgh College of Art. I worked on a number of competitions and commissions, (most of which I got off the back of my degree show). It was a really good experience but I had to keep a part-time job at an outdoor-goods retailer to keep me afloat. Looking back at the work I was doing then, while some of it was okay - a lot of it was really bad and I can't believe I ever thought it was good. I'm really glad I've had the opportunity to learn and improve since then.

I felt like I hadn't fully reached my potential or learned everything I needed to learn in order to be 'successful' so I made the decision that year to do a Master's degree. I chose to study the MA Advertising & Design course at Leeds University - a unique program running half in the business school and half in the design school. I learned a lot of things there about business and marketing and advertising. The door opened to me for so many new roles, and while I wasn't sure of what exactly I wanted to do, I was sure of things I didn't want to do.

My final project was mostly illustration led with the main portion of it devoted to creating branding and packaging for shampoo and I quite enjoyed working on packaging design so I decided to seek out a position at an agency that did packaging. After a few weeks of looking for jobs and feeling a bit distraught at not having any leads, I landed a lucky internship at an agency. Unfortunately, the location was nearly 2 hours of commuting away but the creative director was a great and kind person so I was able to leave a bit earlier. It was sort of a trial period to see if I would maybe fit in there as a full-time designer. I loved working there and I probably would have stayed for a while and moved closer, but at the time I was feeling restless and wanted more. After 6 years in the UK, I felt like I'd had my fill of rain, especially after a particularly wet winter. I felt like up until this moment I had been following the trajectory that had already been laid out for me from the moment of graduating from high school. I wanted to take decisions into my own hands and have a bit of an adventure.

I had been following the work of an agency in Colorado (the state where I grew up) and when I saw they were advertising for a designer, I stayed up until 2 am writing an application. I didn't really expect anything to come of it except maybe another internship as the position advertised was for a Senior Creative Designer and I was maybe a junior-level designer at best. However, I spoke enthusiastically about my willingness to learn and my thirst for adventure, and I think the director of the company liked that about me and decided to take a chance. I completed a test project for him to see my illustration skills and after passing that I was offered a job. It was an exciting time, I had wanted to return to Colorado for a while as it had been a decade since I had left and hadn't visited since. I had fond memories of the mountains and the desert and the sunshine. When you are on the foothills overlooking the plains to the east, the sky looks so big and expansive that you can feel its presence.

I sold and gave away my belongings, packed up my belongings into two suitcases and booked a one-way ticket. The hardest part was saying goodbye to my boyfriend Albert, who planned to come join me in a few months, and my friends who I had become attached to. I was very lucky that some family friends had offered me to let them stay with them until I got on my feet. On a cold winter's evening in January, I landed in Denver airport ready to begin my life in Colorado.

- End of Part I -




Queen's Hall Patterns

I'm so behind on blog posts I'm not even going to apologise. It's too late to apologise, remember that old classic? I'm just going to post all of the work I've done since the summer of 2013 in a few separate posts and make a feeble resolve to post more frequently in the new year.

I was commissioned by the Queen's Hall in Edinburgh to do four sets of illustrations over the course of the year for their brochure's, banners and posters. I came up with 3 patterns based on different genres of music and then combined them and threw in some bagpipes to create the final festival brochure. I have captioned them accordingly for your benefit.

Oh so classical

Yolky Folky

Retro Vomit
Festive Festival Festivities

Catch Up Post #1: EUSA

Greetings followers,

It has been a really long time since I last posted anything in here. I'm afraid it has been a hectic time for me as I've attempted to get on my feet with running my illustration/design as a business while simultaneously working in an outdoor equipment and clothing shop. It has been a steep learning curve but I've learned a lot and am really happy with my situation! I feel really blessed to be able to make a living (or part of one anyway) off of something I am so passionate about. Anyway, I would like to make a few posts about the work I've been doing over the past couple of months to start with, because there is a lot of it.

Over the summer I did an internship with EUSA (Edinburgh University Student's Association) and did a number of projects with them ranging from campaign posters to beermats! It was a lot of fun working there, and it was really cool of them to offer the opportunity to a graduate. It was paid as well which I am told of is relatively unheard of for the majority of "internships", but that's a can of worms I won't go into. I was really fortunate with my experience, the people there were great, my boss Dave and I got along really well and i had loads of support from him while still being trusted with enough responsibility for me to feel like I was making valuable contributions. I've even continued to work with EUSA on a few freelance projects after my contract has ended so I am very pleased that it worked out so well. During my three months there I completed over 15 different projects, some of which involved creating more than one piece of artwork, and all of which required a couple of different deliverables.

Here are some of the posters I did for various events/campaigns/adverts in the student's union. It's not the exhaustive list of my work but its a fair representation of the sort of things I was doing!

Alongside these sort of things, I did some logos and identities as well as helped out on a few other things that were led by other people from the marketing department.

The coolest project I was responsible for was to create beermats for all six of Teviot Row House's student union owned bars including The Lounge, The Loft Bar, The New Amphion, The Underground, The Library Bar and The Sports Bar. I came up with distinct and individual patterns for each bar based on the function and aesthetics of each location which go printed on one side of a set of collectible beer mats. The reverse side held the bar logo and a bit of information about it. Here's what the finished beermats looked like. You can see the patterns on their own in the new section of my website.

That sums up the first chapter of the past however many months nicely, so I'll leave it there for now. In the next few posts I will be writing about my work with Edinburgh's Queen's Hall, Couthie (a Scottish giftware company), two big murals for Zizzi's restaurant, a nature book cover and a few other projects so watch this space!

A Serial Killer

Over the past few weeks I have become a serial killer of time. It is not something I enjoy greatly, admittedly, at least not to begin with, however I have learned to appreciate the finer elements of such a banal and sluggish existence. Watching time waste away before your eyes when you can think of 10 million other things you'd rather be doing - all of which are more fun or useful to your life experience - is a very dire prospect. Now forgive me for launching into something almost philosophical here, but what is time? What seperates the time well spent from the time poorly spent. I am currently writing this blog post on my phone from the viewing terrace of a rather empty airport, and would like to think this is an example of time well spent. Why? Well I'll get into that.

While trying to come up with a solution to my sheer boredom, I came to the vague conclusion that I didn't actually have to 'kill time', I could try to make use of it. When I am going about my daily life sometimes it feels like there are so many things I would like to do but just never get around to because life doesn't really have a pause button. And yet here I was
complaining that I had too much time to waste. What was to stop me from having fun by myself in this new and exciting place of joy and wonder? If you could call the viewing terrace of an airport such a place.

Children are rarely ever bored as they have the mental capacity to find something entertaining to amuse themselves with wherever they go. With young children this mostly involves making loud noises and destroying things. Obviously spending a greater period of time in a given place with not much in or around it will have the effect of a prison and eventually you will run out of things to do, but this is rarely the case.

I have chosen to spend my time more wisely by pursuing my creative ventures and have been doing a lot more writing and doodling to generate ideas. It takes a certain skill to be able to come out with interesting ideas from a place like an airport or train station after 5 hours there, but being in one place for a long time gives you a whole different perspective. Rather than being part of a fleeting moment, you become part of the furniture of a place.

I have done a number of doodles and written some things which I will post soon, but for now I must go. Bon voyage!

ul. Majewskiego 32

I don't normally share my creative writing here, but my good friend Nathaniel has suggested that I should and in fact, it is a nice way to formally document life as it happens. This is just some prose that I wanted to write in light of recent events.

Communist structures stand in even rows, queasy shades of grey streaked by grime. Poland's history is complex and tragic; the scars from its past will take a long time to heal. Having only spent a very short time in the country of my birth, I feel spared but at the same time, guilty that I know so little about what these streets and walls have seen.

I press the buzzer in the alcove of the entryway and enter the apartment number. Its cheerful melodic beeping ringtone is familiar, but seems out of place in such a grim setting. In the pitted and pot-holed car park, a rusty car stands half buried in the mud. It has been like that for years, I look out for it every time to see how much deeper it has sunken into the mud. The door opens and I leave the bite of winter's cold.

I breathe in while stepping into the rickety elevator. There's plenty of room for my lone body, but I feel like I want to occupy as small a space as possible. I press the button for level 4 - most of the numerals have given up their ghost - and it lights up with a retiring glow. The walls bear the abuse of decades, a shattered mirror clings half-heartedly to the inner wall and in its corner, the twinned scrawl of illegible graffiti stops abruptly at a jagged edge. I briefly consider the displaced existence of its message, the intended meaning is now fragmented and most likely forgotten.

I arrive on the fourth floor and I am greeted by a flood of warm light from an open door, spilling into the dim and dusty stairwell. A small lady beams at me from the entry way. I smile and embrace her, kissing her on each cheek. Three kisses as is customary. She holds my face close to hers in order to see me properly, her vision has become very poor. This is my grandmother. I feel very big in the presence of her shrunken frame, even more so being the giant that I am. I can't remember when it was that I went from being the young girl on summer holiday clinging to her apron, to being the tall bean pole whose head all but skims the top of doorways.

I go to sit on the living room sofa bed, the cushions are sunken and I feel dragged into its depths as if it intends to swallow me. My grandma goes off to the kitchen to make us tea, but she continues to talk to me from there. While we speak, my eyes wander around the room. Despite spending so much time away from it, I have a very good memory and it always seems like nothing has changed. The retro orange walls, the threadbare carpet, the lace curtains. I could swear that even the lampshade is skewed awkwardly at exactly the same angle it was one year ago. I notice one of the paintings on the wall is crooked, so I step onto a chair to fix it. It has probably gone unnoticed for months, but I straighten all the same. Everything else is in its place exactly how I remember, the vase on the table, the place mats with children's cartoons, the black velvet wall tapestry my cousins brought from Australia. It is strange coming back here, just once every year. You'd think that you would notice change, and Warsaw has probably changed greatly from the first memories I have of it, but in my Poland, mostly everything seems to stay frozen in-between my visits. Everything apart from the people.

My grandmother has the television on, the Bold and the Beautiful, episode #5866. I have watched at least one episode of the soap every summer I've visited from before I can remember. I am half surprised that it is still being shown, but as I say, Poland changes slowly. It is even dubbed the same way it has always been, the same monotone male voice speaking over the voices of the beautiful, larger than life American actors and actresses. You must put the original voice in the background together with the translation for the characters to work, but it is still just as unnatural to hear every line spoken in the same grave drone, with no intonation.

The image on the screen is grainy and has ghosts, but with my grandmas poor eyesight I know she doesn't really watch it any more. She tells me she likes to hear human voices in the house, and I don't blame her. It must be so lonely living by yourself, and she seems so fragile. I can't really imagine what it must have been like to look after an alcoholic, all the while struggling with her own failing health. Now, things can't be much better. I was blind to these things when I was younger, but now I half understand all those moments I could not fathom in my youth. As I've grown older, my family has too, and now I'm filled with a regret for not being able to understand things sooner, and a tinge of guilt for missed opportunities.

Today my grandmother has left this world, but my memories and my families memories of her will continue. I will remember how we hid things around the tiny apartment and played hot and cold to find them. My memories will be of the long and pleasant walks through the woods of Dziekanow with Traper, the dog., picking wild mushrooms and blueberries. There will be the setting of a summer sun over fields of golden wheat, criss crossed with paths of sand and clay. We will gather humble bouquets of wild flowers from the fallow fields as the dog chases rabbits through the haze of sun, and smoke, and memories.


The fisherman speak of fish in the sea,
I think the river's where I'd rather be
Never a pause but for winters hold
When boughs are tired and reeds grow old

Whether your river does rush or meander
The water takes your heart in hand
Currents of fate have little remorse
Do big fish in small ponds know of their loss?
An eddy is as bad as a line or net
If I'd never have left, we would never have met.

All of our illustrators are busy right now, please hold.

Here is some music to keep you entertained while you wait.

I have recently had a number of really annoying experiences which involve phoning call centres and navigating an endless maze of numerical menus. It seems that when listening to the options 'If you would like to proceed to the enquiries menu press 1. If you would like to be entered into a competition to win 1 million pounds (subject to terms and conditions you should not apply if you are pregnant, breast feeding, suffer from heart or liver disease or were born on a day ending in the letter y) please press 2 etc. I tend to lose focus and forget to listen to the options and find out which number to press so I can speak to a human in real time.

After listening to each menu 3 or 4 times, eventually my ears are greeted with a joyous ringing tone and my spirits are lifted only to be dropped and smashed into a thousand pieces by an automated voice telling me cooly to, 'please hold' because all of their agents are busy.

For some reason, people seem to think that the best way to appease the situation is to play a constant stream of frustratingly 'mellow' music. Their 'concern' for your patience, is akin to being smothered with a heaping pile of blankets when you are already overheating. What's more to add is that they always choose to drown your ears with a tune that has no definitive start, finish or climax and just loops in an endless cycle of lazy jazz that literally has the power to slow down time. From time to time, the 'melody' sounds like it is reaching a conclusion and you come out of your dozy elevator music induced trance, full of hope and expectation only to be told once more, 'All of our agents are busy right now, please hold.'

Yes I'm sorry, I realise that a lot of my posts start with 'I haven't written in a while because I've been very busy.' This is true, I have been busy, but also when I do get the occasional free time frankly I'd rather spend it at the pub or down at the climbing wall or better yet, as far away as possible from here and real life.

The reason I'm writing this now is not because I have finished all my work and done all of the above but because I have definitely not finished all my work and am procrastinating. Not to worry, I will soon finish my internship with EUSA and hopefully a few of my freelance projects which means that I will no longer be working 7 days a week and I will have all the time in the world to not tell you about all the exciting things I am not doing!

On the 13th, I will be going to see my family in Switzerland and while I am there I will attempt to do something creative or experimental every day and will write about it here. At the moment, I have been doing plenty of things but I can't show you everything just yet...

 There are some things I am able to show you however, and so I will do that now while you listen to the endless loop of terrible music.

A little while ago now I finished some merchandise illustrations for Couthie, a Scottish giftware company who was taken by my detailed pen and ink drawings at the degree show. They wanted 3 illustrations to print on some of their products, a stag, a thistle and some kind of Scottish bird. I suggested drawing a capercaillie as the bird. Also known as the wood grouse, the Scottish population had at one point gone completely extinct but they have been reintorduced from Sweden. These birds are still threatened however and so its good that they get a chance in the spotlight.

Red Stag


So there you are, that's that.

I've also been doing some work on the figurines which inspired my anthology of the 'Great' Outdoors. You remember the little bleps? Well as I might have said before, my illustration, 'Obligatory Viewpoint' was shortlisted in the AOI Illustration awards and so the image, alongside the 2 others I created in the series so far will be in a travelling exhibition starting with Somerset House in London from October 2nd to 27th. You will also be able to see the exhibition at Swansea Metropolitan University, Blackpool and Fylde College, Nuneaton Museum and Art Gallery and Guilford House Gallery later in the year.

Obligatory Viewpoint, Don't Feed the Bears, Everest Circus

Alongside these illustrations I will also be displaying the figurines which were part of the inspiration for the idea. In an effort to make these stand out I have been working on making a display environment for them from paper. Here are some photos of a mock up!

That's all I have time to say and show for now but if you would like to see more of my work in the future, please press 1. If you think I should give up my career and start a job as a magician's assistant, please press 2. If you would like to know what the meaning of life is, hang up, go find out and phone me back when you have the answer.

Thank you for your patience.

The Update to Put All Other Updates to Shame

It has been a while hasn't it!

It isn't because I fell down a deep dark hole and got lost in the bowels of the earth only to become adopted by a family of giant moles. Nor is it because I ran away to India and moved into an opium den where I've spent the last two months pondering life, the universe and the 'eternal nothingness'. 

But you can put your worst fears aside, I have NOT ceased to be a minion for illustration and design services. I have been so busy beavering away at this that I have hardly had time to do really important things like paint my toenails to look like fruit, sort my sock drawer and count the number of hairs on my hairbrush this week. 

Alas... the time for those necessities of my life shall come. Let me tell you about the adventures I have been having and why you might be wondering 'Where the diggity dog darn have you been?'

So after having a short break after the May 10th deadline of my final year submission, I've been thrown into a whirlwind which has seen no point in stopping. This is probably a good thing in my profession because as many people know if is highly competetive and not everyone has the good fortune of finding work! Luckily for me and my close friends we have actually had far too much going on to worry about these things. It bodes to be a promising future.

So starting with where I left off, the illustration degree show had a very successful kick-off. Both the business viewing and private viewing were packed pretty full and I spoke to lots of people at both. During the following week I also had many compliments on my work and really good positive feedback which was a nice way to end my final year of the degree. Another good thing that came out of it was that I was able to make a start on my illustration as a career by selling some prints and cards and getting interest for a few commissions.

After the degree show ended, I got accepted for a summer internship doing design and illustration work for Edinburgh University's student association (EUSA). I have been creating a lot of exciting work with them so when I get the chance to show some of the projects I have been doing. As a full time job it is keeping me very busy, but it is nice to be making a bit of money and gaining a lot of valuable experience.

Alongside this I have been taking part in a couple of other things. To start with I entered a competition to design a whisky label for Bunnahabhain who have partnered up with the charity, Fishermans Mission to create limited edition bottles of their famous 12 year blend. Although my entry ended up being a race to get it done and I am not entirely certain it can be called 'finished', I figured I would post it up here anyway so that you have a picture to look at rather than just words, words and more words which I don't think anyone is actually going to bother reading. Here is my entry:

There were a couple of restrictions on this brief, such as the fact that it had to include nautical themes, a figurative representation of the legendary helmsman and the appropriate text. Rather than create something quite conceptually different I decided to try and incorporate all the design elements in an aesthetically pleasing way. I was quite inspired by the character of the helmsman and I love drawing beardy old men so he is still the main focus as in the original Bunnahabhain label. Where my label has room for improvements: text (this was done very last minute, literally) and colour - although I like the colours I went with I probably could have tried some different things with more time. I also found out that my laptops screen makes colours a lot more muted than on other computers, which is really annoying as now I realise that everything I've been positing on the internet appears in colours that are practically fluorescent in their luminosity. Just in case you are experiencing this right now, this label should not appear as ultramarine blue and turmeric yellow but rather a gold-ochre yellow and navy. If you have any suggestions for what I should do about this colour calibration issue please tell me as I'm desperate to know.

I have also graduated! Yes I got to wear a cape and a fluffy hood and got patted on the head with Edinburgh University's special sorting hat made from John Knox's trousers. Here Danielle and I are standing looking graduated.

Image Credit: Anine Boesenberg

Some other things I participated in during recent weeks was a pop-up shop in dunfermeline called Show-Off organised by Paula Grubb, a pop-up gallery organised by Creative Meadows which was a lovely event with a great turnout. It ended up being a bit of a disaster for me because my work had an issue with gravity and apparently preferred to be displayed face down on the floor rather than the wall. I also have a picture up in an exhibition in Six Foot Gallery in Glasgow which is featuring the 'Best of Degree Show' work from around Scotland. 

Some up coming things that are happening for me, Danielle and I are launching our new collective of nature artists called Totem Collective with our first appearance at Craft Scotland's Summer Show! This will be taking place in White Stuff on George Street in August, and Danielle and I will be selling some great nature themed paper crafts alongside excellent goods from other craft-makers so come on down and have a look!

This is all I shall write for now, I promise that my next post will have more pictures in it, but for now I will satisfy your hunger for imagery with a small doodle.



Everest was in the media lots a few weeks ago. There was all this hullabaloo about a heated fist fight featuring Ueli Steck, and then a nutter in a wingsuit performed a high-altitude base jump. Yes... in this modern day and age, just getting to the top of Everest doesn't really mean anything.

Since Edmund Hillary and Tenzing Norgay made the first ascent 60 years ago, more than 3500 people have successfully reached the top (and made it down again). This might not seem like a very large amount, but the number of yearly ascents grows every year, and considering the fact that the seasons and conditions allow such a small window of opportunity for success, there is no escaping the fact that Everest is now overcrowded. Probably a very tiny percentage of those who successfully reach the top are professional mountaineers. The majority are guided on this 'glorified walk' for sums of money reaching past $100,000 and some clients are even short-roped and pulled to the top with minimal effort on their part. Base-camp is filled with litter that past climbers have left behind to avoid carrying it out on their backs, and the concentrated number of people in the area has led to uncontained sewage and general disturbance to the environment.

Personal opinions aside, the fact remains that standing on the top of Everest doesn't carry the same level of glory as it did 60 years ago. If I divulge my opinions I'd add that with people being able to pay their way to the summit, its become more like an extortionate tourist attraction than a heroic feat. Perhaps one day it will be just like all the great European cathedrals, where you pay to get inside and you also need to buy an extra ticket to go up to the cupola. In my opinion, nature should be free, and if you don't have enough experience to get to the top, then you shouldn't be up there in the first place. Not only because it shouldn't be an achievement you can pay for, but because Everest is a dangerous place. Yes, 3500 different people have stood on the summit but there have been over 230 reported deaths, and exposure to the extreme conditions has severely injured or impaired countless others.

I love mountains but I do not have the intention of climbing Mount Everest. I neither possess the skill nor will to, and my interest in outdoor pursuits lie elsewhere than in paying to belong to the elite club of Everest. I'd rather challenge myself in other ways, and Everest shouldn't be a paved toll road, it should be a challenge; a winding, overgrown path of twists and turns where getting to the end unscathed is actually something to be proud of.

As part of my outdoor anthology, I did an illustration for an article written by Ernest F. Imhoff titled '
Mount Everest No Place For Trophy-Collecting'. The article isn't very recent but the same issues are still true if not even more apparent.. Here is the final illustration!

Degree Show!

Here is a photo I took just before we were all kicked out of the studio (they are very strict about the 4pm deadline). It's a bit dark so I will try and get a better one before the actual show, but you can kind of see what it looks like. I hope the pictures on the right that look a bit squint aren't actually, I measured them all with a spirit level but things can get bumped and moved as the walls they are on are just giant pieces of relatively thick cardboard.

Overall I'm pretty pleased with it though, I'm really looking forward to presenting this at my viva on Monday, as well as during my pitch for the Deutsche Bank Award which I have been shortlisted for!


It certainly has been a very very busy few weeks. Nothing like a deadline is there? Today I finally managed to get a whole 9 hours of sleep, but in the final 3 days before the deadline I slept a total of 6 hours. I think the adrenaline of getting everything ready was keeping me awake... and very very busy.

Now everything is all set up and so I can finally catch up and tell you about all the things that I've been doing and seeing and smelling and all that exciting stuff.

First I will start with Walden, the last project that I completed for the degree show. Of course I did those travel posters as well, but it only made up a portion of what I submitted in the end, as I really wanted to show some printmaking as well. In retrospect I wish I'd done those posters as linocuts because I find printmaking so much more enjoyable. They would have been much simpler of course, but to be perfectly honest, the one I like the best is the Cairngorms poster and that is probably the simplest in terms of colours and things. It would probably have taken me a lot longer though, so I would have needed to drop all the other things I was working on since January and work on those exclusively. Never mind, it is something to consider for the future! If only my brain functioned in a way that I could look retrospectively on things I'm doing NOW, then I could achieve the perfection of what I want to do.

So about the print making... I did a series of prints to illustrate quotes from Walden: Life in the Woods, a book by Henry David Thoreau, an inspiring individual 'an American author, poet, philosopher, abolitionist, naturalist, tax resister, development critic, surveyor, historian, and leading transcendentalist' (Wikipedia). From 1845 to 1846 Thoreau lived in a cabin that he built himself near the shores of Walden Pond, in Massachusetts. As a resident, he lived off the land, fishing, planting his own crops, living as frugally as possible and and generally removing himself as far from conventional society as he could. He was not completely remote, as the village was not far, but he chose to live on the border of civilisation, taking what he thought was best from each world. He was still an avid reader, visited with village members and integrated occasionally, however he did not approve of the expansion of trade and commerce and admonished every aspect of life that he did not deem necessary or did not agree with. In the summer of 1846 Thoreau ran into the local tax collector who asked him to pay 6 years of neglected taxes, but Thoreau refused leading him to be sent to prison. His refusal was based on his opposition to the Mexican-American War and slavery. After a night in jail, he was released as a relative had paid off his taxes against his will, but the experience set a lasting impression on him.

"Most of the luxuries and many of the so-called comforts of life are not only not indispensable, but positive hindrances to the elevation of mankind."
— Thoreau

 During his time in the woods Thoreau made many observations both on nature, and on society. He was a well learned man and writes about the evenings he spent reading as rain poured outside. He is known as a leading transcendentalist, a philosophy which protests certain aspects of society that corrupt the individual. The core belief of transcendentalism is that there is goodness in people and in nature, but that this purity is disrupted by society. Only when people are truly self-reliant and independent can they be the best they can be, and that is where a true community is formed.

So that is a bit of background information about Thoreau, now here are some images of my prints! These also feature in a little bound book with the images appearing next to the quotes.



The time has now come for me to finally reveal this secretive project that has been in the works for a long time now. I started working on these way back in the fall of last year, although at that stage it was all research. You may remember my pen and ink drawings?  That was preparation for this!

A golden eagle surveys the great wilderness of the north-west and a ptarmigan camouflages itself in the snows of the Cairngorms.


The noble red stag on the backdrop of the three sisters and a pine marten against the backdrop of the Trossachs, one of the few remaining areas of the Caledonian pine forest.

These posters have gone through many many revisions and changes, and it has proven to be a challenge. These will feature in my degree show as A2 posters, and as they are being mounted now by A&M imaging I am very excited to see them. I only had a brief look at the giclee prints and that is the only time I have seen them bigger than A4 size so I'm hoping everything will turn out grand.

I plan on doing more of these, so far it has been 4 months of the year and I have completed 4, so I am going to go for 1 a month. For now you may view these however, hope you enjoy!

Spain: Gaudi, Picasso & Climbing


I just got back from a week in Spain where I was taking a break from working so I could return and be refreshed and powered up for the final push till the degree show!

Now I am back, but I saw many exciting things in Spain that I wanted to share with you. My trip was primarily with the purpose of climbing, because the limestone crags in Siurana are some of the best in the world, but we were flying in to Barcelona and I wanted to see some things there.

The first on my list of things was the Sagrada Familia, Gaudi's grand Basilica of immense proportions which has architecture of a Gothic style, but with a twist that it is based entirely off of patterns in nature. You can see why I wanted to go and see this now, it is not just any church. Most cathedrals don't interest me much, but something with unique, beautiful architecture and stone work does. Here are some photos looking at the most interesting parts.

S.F. was designed with three façades:, named Nativity, Passion and Glory (yet to be completed). In the above photos you can see the Passion and Nativity facades. You can see how the contrast, indeed they are on opposing faces of the basilica, one is stark and geometric, the other is elaborate and organic.


Being inside the central nave, one is immediately aware of the sense of scale. The supporting columns tower into the space above, and their form and shape give you the impression of being a very small insect in a field of flowers, or perhaps some small creature in a woodland made of absolute behemoths of trees. 


In fact, Gaudi did base the design of these columns from trees. It was very interesting to see his sketches, studies and observations which are presented in a museum on the grounds. His observations of the intricate patterns in nature are so fascinating, he was without a doubt an architectural genius. I can also really relate to his work because my illustrations are also all based on this idea of patterns in nature. Would my work every take on a giant three dimensional architectural format, it would probably look something like this.

Another thing that I found really cool about the Sagrada Familia, was how dynamic it is. As the light changes throughout the day, so does the look of the interior. Light shines through the stained glass windows, making beautiful splashes of colour on the pillars and reflecting off of glass orbs which are fixed to the four central supporting columns above the altar. As the basilica won't be finished until 2026, 100 years after Gaudi's fatal collision a tram (quite a mundane way to go for someone so inspiring), I can look forward to seeing in the future, should I not also be hit by a tram or something between then and now.

That was the most exciting part of my stay in Barcelona, and we only stayed there for two days so I didn't get to see very much. We went to Park Guell in the afternoon, and then wandered around the old town and went to the beach in the evening. Before leaving the following morning, I made a quick trip to the Picasso Museum which was also of interest to me.

The museum is curated in a way that follows Picasso's life, and so it contours the stylistic progression of his work, as he moved from painting traditional landscapes, to his blue period, rose period, african inspired art, cubism, classisim and surrealism. It was interesting to see this progression of work, and how he was influenced by being surrounded by different things. I found it interesting to see his studies for his rendition of the famous, 'Las Meninas' and the other thing I really liked which I hadn't seen before was his ceramic work. Here is a picture of a ceramic owl:

The rest of the time I was in Spain I was mostly climbing and enjoying the sun, here is a picture of me climbing a route called Lame Chucha Baby.

That is all for now, thanks fo' readin'.

The 'Great' Outdoors

Dear friends, I am terribly sorry to have neglected you all and not written a single post about my illustrations, however I have been REALLY REALLY busy. Dissertation and degree show stress has taken over my life so I've been quiet. This weekend I am spending some time tying up loose ends and doing things I've neglected to do for the past few weeks like.. cleaning and taking out the recycling and looking after my plant family, but now I have got the time to take care of it all.

Its a good thing too as I'm going to Spain tomorrow for a short break to do some rock climbing. I hope that there will be sun as I'm sick and tired of all these seasonal mix-up shenanigans

I can also update you on some bits of the work I've been doing. Aside from working on the epic dissertation which is now done and dusted, I did some paintings about the 'great' outdoors, which is an embodying theme for my final show. You may recall the 'bleps' I did in a post last December. I did some experimental work which stems from the idea of those little figurines in the form of two gouache paintings. there may be more to come, however at this point in time I'm focusing a bit more on some other work.
Obligatory Viewpoint
Don't Feed the Bears
I also did a screen print of a spotted eagle owl. Owls are really beautiful birds and I mostly did this as an exercise, however the ideas are still the relationship between nature and pattern, and a juxtaposition of quite geometric shapes and more organic forms.

Spotted Eagle Owl

In a way this made me come full circle back to the work I was doing in second year and I think although I've experimented quite a bit stylistically, I've sort of found my way back now. 

I had a really good chat with Ben Cox from Central Illustration Agency about my work and he definitely agreed about print making being my strong point. He also liked the digital work I was doing so I think for my portfolio I will focus on those. He liked my gouache paintings but thought they were quite focused to a children's market, which is a good point and I might want to rethink the execution of those as they weren't really intended for children. I think I might try to include elements of print within the image to tie it together more strongly with my other work.

Lastly I spent a short amount of time doing another illustration to put on the cover of a business funding proposal. I ended up liking the idea and illustration quite a bit so I might continue this as a series. The illustration is a new take on a scene that has been depicted countless times, the death of Ophelia in Shakespeare's Hamlet. I've always love the Pre-Raphaelite painting of Ophelia by Sir John Everett Millais, however other paintings of the same scene are often time very similar and always depict a woman in the river surrounded by flowers, and in my opinion they quite often look a bit kitsch. 

Ophelia - Sir John Everett Millais
In my version I wanted to tell the story of Ophelia without actually showing her in her entirety. Gertrude's speech depicting Ophelia's death is so poetic and visually beautiful that I don't think its necessary to focus on the whole scene, so I only wanted to show fragments. I would like to develop this into a triptych but for now I shall show you the first of the series.

Ophelia 1

That is all I will show for now. I shall leave you with some interesting thoughts that I've been discussing with Danielle after listening to a radio programme about whether having a baby is at all sustainable. Disposable nappies are clogging up the environment and so it poses the question whether it is a necessity, or whether it is just convenient. As a baby I was wrapped in cloth nappies because they didn't have disposable ones in Poland. These were still perfectly hygienic as they could be sterilised in boiling water so why is the notion so far out there for most parents today? Also, is toilet paper a necessity? Think about it... in some countries there are other ways of staying hygienic. Not exactly the most poetic topic to end a post with but it can spark an interesting debate.

Travel Poster Inspiration

Here is a selection of cool travel posters I found while looking for some inspiration for my Scottish Travel Posters. You will notice that many of them are Polish. I also saw some of these back in December when I went to the poster museum in Poland, something about us poles must make us good at poster design... :)







The Legislative Belly

I came across this brilliant lithograph by Honore Daumier and wanted to share. I love all the characters, their grumpy demeanors and the little interactions happening between them. Honore Daumier was a French printmaker, charicaturist, painter and sculptor from the early 1800's.

'The Legislative Belly' - Lithograph 1834, Honore Daumier