Tuesday, 28 March 2017

Illustration, Freelancing & 'Being A Part Time Moviestar' Interview in Creative Boom Magazine

Things have been a bit of a whirlwind recently, I've been zipping off to Manchester to be filmed for an IPSE promo video, I've been putting the finishing touches on a brand new book AND comic, and I've navigated the dark waters of a complete computer breakdown - all whilst buying my first home, phew! 

One of my very favourite pieces of news is about this really brilliant interview with Creative Boom Magazine. It was great to get a chance to speak about my creative (and very supportive) family on International Women's Day, as well as a few hobbies you might not expect from me. You can read the full interview here: Emmeline Pidgen Illustration on Creative Boom, and I'll let you in on the rest of the news as soon as I'm able to!

Thursday, 2 February 2017

An Engagement Card Coincidence This Valentine's Day!

With Valentine's Day on the horizon, I thought I'd share a little story and a big coincidence!

So, you may have seen my 'A Bicycle Built For Two' card flitting around, in my range as well as part of Ohh Deer's card series, which can be found stocked in the likes of The Tate, The V&A, and Urban Outfitters! 

Last year, I heard the beautiful news that my friend Rory had just announced his engagement to a lovely lady: Leyla! I haven't met Leyla yet unfortunately, as they both live in Australia! But to my surprise, a few months later, I got a message on Twitter from Leyla with a bit of a coincidence..

It's not often that I get messages that tug the heartstrings quite like that! It's such a lovely coincidence, and it's really touching to see my work brightening smiles out in the wild (even if I do accidentally know them!). 

Cycling was an important feature of their wedding, with Leyla arriving at the wedding via bicycle to symbolise the bike rides they both do each morning - so it's no wonder the bicycle card caught her sister's eye! 

I thought with Valentine's Day coming up, it would be the perfect time to share this lovely little story with you! The 'Bicycle Built For Two' cards are available on both Ohh Deer, as well as a matte version in my Etsy store. Shop my other Valentine's Day cards.

A huge thank you to Leyla for sharing the story and these wonderful photos with me! ❤ 

Wednesday, 25 January 2017

Emmeline's January Print Giveaway!

It's been a while since I've hosted a giveaway on my blog, and after just realising I pipped 5000 followers on Tumblr last week, I thought it was high time I give back with a little print giveaway!

The prize

This week I'm giving away this little number from my newest series of prints! 'The Crane' is a hand-signed high quality art print on slightly textured 300gsm acid-free white watercolour paper stock. A5 size (148mm x 210mm). 

How to enter

So this will be the first giveaway I've done since having my Instagram account, so I'm going to give it  cross-platform entry - so pop over to follow the instructions on my posts on Twitter, Instagram, or leave a comment on this blog post to enter. Get your entries in by 11am February 1st (GMT) to be in with a shot!

The competition is open worldwide, and one winner will be randomly selected from all entries on Twitter, Instagram and this blog post (max one entry per person on each platform, so total 3 entries possible per person). Competition closes at 11am on February 1st (GMT). The winner will be contacted via the platform they entered on and announced on this blog on February 1st! If the winner does not respond within one week, a new winner may be picked. Remember you can follow me on Twitter, Instagram, Tumblr, Facebook or via Bloglovin'!

Saturday, 14 January 2017

Cass Art's 'Be Inspired' Challenge

It's no secret that I love to switch things up and work with a variety of media in my illustrations. You'll probably most often see my digital illustration work, as that's usually what I work with for commissioned illustration, but you'll also find me using a lot of ink and watercolour behind the scenes.

Sometimes I think it's really a case of getting away from the computer and completely throwing yourself into the physical aspects of painting. Often when you're running a business, you inevitably end up spending a lot of time staring at screens, and so I like to give myself (and particularly my eyes!) a bit of a break and get a bit messy with some paint. It's relaxing, it's fun, and more than anything I find with traditional painting (and the lack of the ol' Ctrl + Z)  there's a lot more chance for mistakes to lead you to new ideas.

Cass Art invited me to take part in their 'Be Inspired' challenge, where I would be sharing what inspires me and my illustration work. They sent over some new materials for me to have a play with: a gorgeous set of Winsor & Newton watercolours, Cass Art brushes and watercolour paper, and a pot of beautifully blue ecoline liquid watercolour (all of which, as I mentioned earlier, are perfect for a media experimenter like me!).

You'll almost always find a sketchbook in my bag, and to be honest I feel a bit lost without one as I never know when an idea will suddenly spark! I particularly love sketching when I'm travelling to new places, as I find it perfect for capturing memories and atmosphere in a way that photos can't always do. 

I recently popped over to York for the weekend, and continued my series of #EmmelineOnLocation travel sketches by spending some time drawing the people of York from a lovely little Tudor pub right in the heart of the city. I love using drawings like these to feed into my inspiration for characters and stories later in my work. So you'll see in this post that a lot of my experiments with these watercolours are character-based, and so much of my work is given depth by my experiences and adventures in real life (the character below looks suspiciously a lot like Andrew).

So for these illustrations, I've been using this gorgeous Winsor & Newton Professional Water Colour paint set, Ecoline liquid watercolour in shade 578, and Cass Art's sable watercolour brush set and 300gsm non-textured watercolour paper. 

The paints are lovely to use, they're creamy to mix but there's a lot of control with translucently when you're layering on the page. The colours are bright, and there's a really good selection of shades in the set (but with space for extra colours that you can snap in) - it can be a little tricky to remember which shade is which when the covers are off them (as they're much darker in solid state), so I might make a bit of a cheat sheet of colours to stick to the space in the middle. The Ecoline watercolour looks very similar to ink (which I'm used to using), but with the added benefit of a little more flexibility with blending - the colour is incredibly vibrant, and it's definitely something I'll enjoy using for linework or sky washes. The brushes are reliable, with a useful variety of sizes - I particularly appreciated the really thin brushes for detailed linework on character's faces.

I really love using the Cass Art watercolour paper, the textured version has long been a staple of my traditional illustration work as I always found it was the best quality I could find for its price. With watercolour paper, you can sometimes struggle to find sets that are weighty enough to feel professional, or pages that absorb paint well rather than feel like they're coated in some kind of plastic! Both the textured and smooth versions absorb paint beautifully, and feel really high quality at a yummy 300gsm. All I wish is that I had a never-ending supply so I wouldn't feel as bad about hammering through so many pages in a creative whirlwind!

A huge thanks to Cass Art for inviting me to be part of their challenge. It's been a great opportunity to let loose a little and get back to the play side of my career. I often find that in taking a break from the businessy side of work can spark such fresh and brilliant ideas - and in the end that's what moves you! I've loved this project, and the work that I've created within it - so expect a lot more watercolour paintings from me!

Note - As part of the BeInspired project Cass Art provided all their artists with a sample art pack for free, but as with all my features I don't leave anything out! You can always expect an honest review.

Thursday, 22 December 2016

Have An Amazing Christmas!

Okay, it's officially Christmas time for me now! So this is me signing out (from work at least). Have an amazing Christmas everyone! x

Wednesday, 21 December 2016

Unseen Illustrations From 2016

So, by now you're probably used to seeing lots of my personal work, sketches, or newly released published work online. But I realised, as 2016 draws to a close, I rarely showcase a lot of the work I do behind the scenes for more corporate clients - but this year has been full of work for local schools, festivals, and national business events, that I thought it'd be worth sharing a few of my favourite pieces! 

This very blue themed invitation was created for Small Business Saturday's Blue Tie Ball (does the theme make sense now?), who commissioned me after seeing my small business themed illustrations for last year's Small Business Saturday. 

It was a really lovely project, where I had a lot of scope to spend time drawing amazing small businesses and freelancers, and keep everything simple with pure linework. The ball itself in London was amazing, full of glamorous business leaders and a delicious meal - and it was brilliant to see my illustration work used across all the media for the evening.

I love working for local companies and events, so it's been a great year for building connections around Manchester and Lancashire. 

I had a really lovely few commissions for Cheadle Hulme School (at the top of this post), for their brochures and presentations; as well as this poster for the incredible Grub Food Festival's May event and these (slightly silly, but loveable!) pufferfish illustrations for the Museum of Wigan Life's children's trail.

I was also commissioned by Salford City Council to illustrate a poster and social media campaign image for their annual Bridgewater Weekender Festival over Summer. This was such a fun one, just look at all those happy people! 

I loved being challenged with a bit of problem solving in following EST.1761's strict brand colours for the illustration (which were actually not that far off my usual palette!), and it was so interesting to delve into the history of the Bridgwater canal. That's one thing I love about local commissions, they always spring open so many opportunities to learn new things about the area, and meet so many incredible and creative people! Here's to more in 2017.

Tuesday, 20 December 2016

Creative Bloggers Secret Santa

I love getting involved with creative groups and, as I've mentioned (so many) times before, I think it's a great idea for freelancers to connect and support each other, even if it's online! 

I've been taking part in the Creative Bloggers social media chats for a few years now, and this year I signed up for the Creative Bloggers' secret santa! I honestly think this is the first secret santa I've ever done - a symptom of freelancing I suppose! We were asked (as we're a creative group) to include something we've made by hand as well as a few other gifts. Okay, so it wasn't 100% secret, we all wrote little notes to our giftees, but up until the packages arrived we were completely in the dark as to who we'd be receiving gifts from. 

I chose to include two handmade items in my parcel, a cute little sketchbook I put together (with a hand-painted cover) and one of my favourite new prints. I went on a bit of a stationery and artsy binge for the rest of it, which I thought the lovely creative lady I was paired with would appreciate it! 

So I was lucky enough to receive gifts from the amazingly talented ceramicist Harriet Cheal. She sent me some gorgeous hand-crafted jewellery, as well as a candle and absolutely beautiful lacy heart pendant she'd made (which I've put on my Christmas tree!). I feel like I've been spoilt, she's so generous! 

It's been so nice for me to feel part of a creative community with this, and I'll forever be an advocate of social media bringing people together. You can read more about Creative Bloggers here and have a look at Harriet's gorgeous ceramics on her Instagram here!

Thursday, 8 December 2016

Illustrating Small Business Saturday 2016

For Small Business Saturday last year, I wanted to create a series of illustrations representing the amazing diversity of this country's small businesses. I got in touch with the Small Business 100 (which I was lucky enough to be part of last year), and asked for real-world inspiration to give the project a collaborative edge!

I had such brilliant feedback from the project last year (you can spot the illustrations framed in the Small Business Saturday office!), and after only being able to feature a few of the people that wanted to be involved, I decided to run it again in 2016 with a brand new series!

I settled on six themes, inspired by some truly amazing businesses that put themselves forward, and posted these ink illustrations throughout Small Business Saturday

I definitely found that some companies are much trickier to illustrate that others (eg I ran out of time to tackle drawing a military financial advisor that put her name forward! Maybe next year!), but I think that's what makes the UK's small businesses and freelance scene so exciting - there's just so much variety.

I find myself constantly impressed by how many people are out there taking chances and setting up their own businesses. I know I write about it a lot, but I think it's so brave to have the determination to think, "right, I know what I want to do, and I'm going to give it a shot". So here's to all the small businesses and freelancers of the universe! I hope you all had an amazing Small Business Saturday!

You can see the series of illustrations in more detail on my Instagram, Twitter or Facebook pages.

Tuesday, 6 December 2016

Busy B 2017 To-Do Diary Review

I'm a sucker for pretty stationery. Give me floral patterns and the opportunity to try and be organised, and I'm all over it. Busy B have been a firm favourite of mine for the last few years, so I'm really excited to have been sent their new 'To Do Diary' to review! As a bit of a bonus, (and as my only Black Friday purchase!) I also stocked up on these this pretty 2017 calendar and these adorable puppy page markers in their recent sale.

I've had one of Busy B's desktop calendars for about three years running now, they're just the perfect size for me to have on my desk, with enough pockets for me to store all my tickets and important notes for the month. But for 2017 I thought I'd try out their 'To Do Diary', as an on-the-go version.

The diary is genuinely lovely, and for someone like me who writes mountains of to-do lists each day, it's really useful to have set pages for reminders and notes - along with tear-out list pages at the back and little wallets for storing bits and pieces. 

Obviously it's not 2017 yet, so I haven't made a huge dent in adding in my dates for next year (although you'd be surprised how far in advance I have some meetings booked!). So far it's been incredibly useful - if you flick through it can feel a tiny bit confusing with all the different sections, but I think this is something that will definitely clear up when you're using the diary more systematically in date order. 

I love the cover illustration (I think you probably know by now I love a grey and floral combo), and the rest of the diary has a cute and simple design. It's extra brilliant when you combine it with other useful bits like the pup page markers, or other stickers (there's space for these in the back!). It's also great to see holder for your pen, although I'll admit it would be extra nice if a pen came included. 

Overall, a gorgeous little diary which packs that extra punch in delivering some incredibly useful extras. You can see more details of the diary over at Busy B and get 15% off your first order.

Friday, 11 November 2016

Thought Bubble 2016

Last weekend saw the Royal Armouries Museum site in Leeds flood with comics and illustration lovers for this year's Thought Bubble Comics Festival.

I've been looking forward to Thought Bubble all year, especially after my first time tabling there last November. I'll admit that after Thought Bubble commissioned me to illustrate their official festival image back in February, the prospect of seeing my illustration on a huge scale (above!) or plastered on all the leaflets and posters made everything extra exciting.

Thought Bubble is such a gorgeous festival. Everyone is ridiculously lovely and enthusiastic; you really get a sense that we're all there because we absolutely love comics and visual art. It's such an amazing atmosphere, and the mid-con party and pre-con reception were brilliant.

I had a table in the Royal Armouries Hall, nestled amongst so many talented artists and writers. I was selling lots of brand new prints, cards, comics, magnets and my very special 'Guide to creative freelancing' - the table was absolutely crammed this year! I spent far too long trying to tessellate it all.

So, we had a bit of a hiccup on Saturday morning after our car broke down on the way to set up. What's the worst possible time for a car to break down? Well...yep. I had to abandon Andrew, the car, a whole box of books and my banner stand; then grab everything I could possibly haul strongman style, dump it in the back of a taxi, and race to the convention. 

I managed to stay surprisingly calm considering we were rapidly approaching the opening hour, and I'd had to leave so much behind. Huge apologies to those of you who were asking after my book with Aidan Moffat: The Lavender Blue Dress! I really couldn't carry them, but send me an email if you'd like me to sort you out with a copy. Also a big RIP to the car, which was towed back to Lancashire on Saturday and officially cannot be saved (and a huge thank you to Heather and Lee for giving us a lift home!)

I met so many amazing people this weekend, the whole convention was brimming with the kindest and most talented artists, publishers and comic-lovers. It was ridiculously humbling to hear so much love for my work and in particular the festival banner, not least from some of my very favourite illustrators who were also at the festival. 

I managed to get a mini-haul of prints and comics on my one quick dash around the festival. I'm absolutely in love with this angelic print from Hannah Christenson, as well as this super cute black and white drawing from Genevieve FT, beautiful red and black illustration from Enoki, a comic from Cinebook, brooches from Isaac Lenkiewicz and Kristyna Baczynski, and it was such an honour for Babs Tarr (last year's festival image illustrator!) to send me home with this gorgeous lady & cat lamp print! 💛

One of my favourite things about conventions is drawing live portraits and commissions. It was interesting that this year was far more commission-heavy than last year where I illustrated about twenty-five portraits! It was really fun to be approached with blank cover requests as well as being asked to draw my favourite X-men character, Ben Whishaw from James Bond, and Doctor Strange, as well as the live portraits! 

So, we're about a week on from Thought Bubble now, but I'm still reeling from it. The whole weekend was so inspiring and emotional for me, it honestly meant the world to see my illustration promoting such an amazing event; and I'm always one to take the chance to break out of the studio and spend time with people who are as passionate as I am about the creative industries!

Over the next couple of weeks I'll be posting up a behind-the-scenes look at my illustration for the Thought Bubble festival image, including a few of the sketches and alternate versions we had before settling on the final illustration. I'm also starting work on brand new comics ideas! Keep an eye out for them!

Thanks again to everyone who came to say hello! See you again next year x

Thursday, 3 November 2016

What Emmeline Wore In October - The Full Series

So here we are! The full 31 days of outfit illustrations for my 'What Emmeline Wore In October' series (click for full resolution). I'm not going to lie, it's felt quite luxurious to not have to draw my outfit for the past couple of days, but that said, this project has been an absolute blast.

The year's series is an Autumnal edition of my 'What Emmeline Wore In July' project from last Summer: the challenge to create an illustration of my outfit each day for the entire month as an illustrated twist on blogger's 'What I Wore' fashion photographs. 

I started this project as a creative challenge, and I'll admit it has been trying at times (especially on weekends where getting up early to do work isn't exactly lovely!). But all in all, this project has been amazing at spear-heading my motivation in all areas of my creative work, encouraging me to learn new techniques, honing my skills, and giving me a bit of an extra insight into what I actually enjoy illustrating.

A lot of people have commented saying (and I quote), they'd have 'the wardrobe variety of a cartoon character' if they'd have done the project! I have to admit, a lot of the time, my default is black skinny jeans and some kind of jumper. I start work quite early in the morning, so it's a kind of roll out of bed into the first thing I find kind of method (aside from the days where I stay in pjs for a little too long...). But that's another one of the huge benefits of doing this project, it encouraged me to mix things up a little with my wardrobe, and dust off a few of the outfits that are a little more 'statement' for day to day wear and really embrace a bit of variety. Running the project in Autumn also gave me the chance to truly run with my passion for scarves, mustard yellow, and cosy coats. I'm definitely an Autumn girl at heart!

I also want to say a huge thank you to the companies that collaborated with me on the series: Fat Face, People Tree, White Stuff, Joanie, Oasis, Lowie & The London Fashion Agency, Joy The Store, Yumi and Joules. Honestly, they're some of my favourite (and the nicest!) brands ever, and they've been absolutely amazing. It's also meant so much to me to have had such incredible support from you guys! Having a snoop on the analytics this morning, I've seen that the project has had over 100,000 views this month, tens of thousands of likes and shares across social media, as well as features on the likes of Design Week, Uppercase and Amelia's Magazine. It's just floored me! Thank you so much.

If you're an illustrator, I can't recommend daily drawing enough. It can be really hard work, but it's so worth it for what you get out of it. Taking on a 'What I Wore' illustration series adds its own challenges, as obviously it's going to be a self-portrait each day (which are notoriously difficult!) as well as that emphasis on a variety of poses, and with character consistency, which is a hugely important thing in illustrating for books and comics. Shared publicly, or in a secret sketchbook, there's nothing more important than taking the time to practice and discover what it is that you love to draw - because in the end that's what makes your illustration unique, and your creative passion will show through your work. 

If you fancy a look at each of the illustrations in detail, the full series (and a kind of diary for each day and outfit choice) is available on my blog here. You can also see the illustrations using the hashtag #wewio on TwitterTumblrFacebook and Instagram, or over on Bloglovin'.

Now for a well earned break!

Monday, 31 October 2016

What Emmeline Wore In October - Day 31 - The Last In The Series!

I can't believe we're here! Day 31! I did it! An outfit illustration each day for 31 days. It's been an amazing month, and I really hope you've enjoyed following the What Emmeline Wore In October series. 

At the moment the Thought Bubble Festival preparations are in full swing, but as it's Halloween I'm definitely going to put aside a little time to carve a pumpkin and get together with friends to watch some spooky films tonight. We've also got an amazing boardgame called 'Betrayal At House On The Hill', which is all about exploring a haunted house co-operatively, before one or more of the players turns evil in one of 53 different scenarios! I can't recommend it enough (especially for Halloween!).

Today I'm keeping with the orange pumpkin theme and I'm wearing my cute little orange high-heeled boots from Boohoo, along with my black tights from Topshop and what I like to call my "confidence dress". I bought this dress from H&M last year, on a day where I overcame a lot of anxiety and did something I thought I could never do - it was a treat, and it's stayed with me as a dress to wear on days where I need that little extra reminder that "I got this" and that I can be a lot stronger than I think I can be, sometimes. You might also recognise it from the press photos from the Freelancer of the Year awards in June - it definitely helped a lot that day, I was a bit floored by that win! So, today, I'm not dramatically facing any personal goals, but it's just such a gorgeous dress (and actually looks a little bit like my drawings!) that some days I just wear it to feel like I'm wrapped up in art. 

I think I'm going to miss doing these illustrations when tomorrow hits! Keep an eye out for the full final round-up of the project - I'll post it up this week!

If you want to see all 31 illustrations, you can follow the hashtag #wewio on TwitterTumblrFacebook and Instagram, or over on Bloglovin'. Here's to facing challenges, and making it through!