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

Shopping 'till you're Dropping

O Mai Gawd, you can now cover every surface you have with my illustrations because I have a small shop!

More things might appear in it soon so if you want to see anything in particular, tell me about it. Pricing is very reasonable and there is free shipping till the weekend so get on it and buy your birthday presents and what have you from some illustration people.


New Things

So as I might have mentioned, I've been working out a way of doing things that suits me and I enjoy. This is some new work I have produced that maybe has refined my 'illustrative style' a bit.

It is coloured digitally, however I can't really beat my traditional drawing skills, so the line work is all based off of pencil drawings with some ink washes. I've also done some inky backgrounds and added textures. In a way I think it more closely resembles printmaking than any previous work I have made, and I guess that is something I was aiming to achieve. I hope I can refine and develop this style throughout the semester as I continue working. At the moment I'm working on some travel posters which will probably have a similar sort of effect when they are finished.

Here are my illustrations for the Folio Society Competition, where the book to illustrate was Brave New World by Aldous Huxley. I'm assuming they have chosen the winners by now so here is my entry. The book was challenging to read (some complex themes) and even more challenging to illustrate. 

"The bulging flanks of row on receding row and tier above tier of bottles glinted with innumerable rubies, and among the rubies moved the dim red spectres of men and women with purple eyes and all the symptoms of lupus."

"...inevitably he found himself thinking of the embraces in  Three Weeks in a Helicopter . 'Ooh! ooh! the stereoscopic blonde and ahh! the more than real blackamoor. Horror, horror, horror... he tried to disengage himself but Lenina tightened her embrace."

"Uphill and down, across the deserts of salt or sand, through forests, into the violet depth of canyons , over crag and peak and table topped mesa, the fence marched on and on, irresistibly the straight line, the geometrical symbol of trumphant human purpose."

Proposed Binding Design