Sunday, 20 December 2015

Christmas Lists & Childhood Inspiration

Christmas is juuuust around the corner now, and so you may have seen my Christmas gift guide pop up on my blog earlier this week. Putting the gift guide together made me feel incredibly nostalgic for the late nights scrawling my childhood Christmas lists and (our little family tradition) sticking them halfway out of the letterbox for the robins to collect for Farther Christmas!

My Christmas lists would always be brimming with the coolest 90s toys (yesss Tamagotchis, Polly Pockets, Furbys and Pokémon cards) and huge bundles of books and art materials.


In perfect time for Christmas (and nicely-fitting with my current exhibition on collections), I was gifted some goodies which threw me straight back to my childhood. 

I absolutely loved my Sylvanian families collection when I was little. I used to create the most elaborate stories with them (think intense mysteries and epic dramas!) and give them detailed character back-stories. I would round up a supporting cast of Barbie dolls, soft toys and odd creatures I made from blu-tac to enhance the tales, and there would always be some sort of make-shift set I'd build from cardboard boxes or toy buildings I'd turned the wrong way round. 


I really loved imagination-fuelled playtime when I was little, and I think that's what has continued to inspire me with my stories and illustrations throughout my career. I often see shades of my old stories and characters (as well as influences from the stories my parents would tell) when I'm writing my own comics and picture books these days! 


I think it's always so important to feel you have the freedom and confidence to explore your imagination through storytelling whatever age you are. Luckily enough, as a bit of an early Christmas present a couple of my friends gave me a Pirate-themed storytelling dice game, so I'm all set to delve back in to a few fictional adventures!

Roll on the imagination-inspiring Christmas presents for everyone!

Wednesday, 16 December 2015

The Illustrated Christmas - A Gift Guide!

I'll admit I often struggle to work out what I'd like for Christmas, but this year...oh man, there's been so many gorgeous goodies popping up. I just want them all! 

I wanted to put together a carefully chosen selection of my very favourite illustrated products that would make fantastic presents for the illustrator (or lover of illustration) in your life.

So if anyone's feeling generous, yes please to all of this!

1 - Bonne Maison Socks
2 - Peter Pan Egmont Classics Edition (Cover illustrated by me!)
7 - Beautiful Darkness Graphic Novel
12 - Pentel Brush Pen (my personal tool of choice!)
14 - Faber Castell Jumbo Pencils (another of my favourite illustration tools!)

Monday, 14 December 2015

Light Grey Art Lab - Bower Bird Exhibition


I've been a busy, busy bee over the last few months, and (although a tiny bit late) I'm so excited to finally show you my full illustration for the Light Grey Art Lab 'Bower Bird' exhibition that opened last week in Minnesota. 

I've wanted to get involved in a Light Grey Art Lab project for years now (some of my very favourite illustrators are regulars) but I've always been unlucky in missing the call-outs, until now! I finally saw a live call for applications, darted in there and I was incredibly chuffed to have been chosen to take part in the Bower Bird exhibition.



A total of ninety international artists have taken part in the exhibition which (if you know your birds, the name suggests) focuses on collections, collecting and collectors of all shapes and sizes. In true reflection of the theme, each of the illustrations were formatted to postcard size with one copy being exhibited and an extra one hundred or so being divvied out into special postcard sets of each illustration for the artists taking part. I absolutely can't wait until my set arrives, there's so many amazing illustrators involved!



I had an awful lot of choice when it came to choosing which collection I wanted to focus my illustration on: books, tiny toy animals, vintage scarves, old purses, pens, boardgames, pokémon cards...you name it; but I decided to think a little less directly and I chose to create my illustration based on memories and a small box of mementos I keep. Small relics of my happiest days and most important moments that would probably look like rubbish to anyone else. Something personal, but with a hint of universality.



My memory box is full of odd little things, drawings from friends, childhood toys, gifts from loved-ones, souvenirs from my travels, ticket stubs, notes and secret codes. I love the idea that I can stumble across these personal little treasures (most often when I'm rummaging for lost keys or a hairband) and be transported back to a special time. I like to think that most of us have a box of mementos hidden away somewhere: our own unique collection that sparks our memories and reflects our lives.



The exhibition is running throughout January at the Light Grey Art Lab Gallery, Minneapolis. If you'd like to buy one of the limited edition postcards or a gorgeously luscious giclee print you can here, and you can see the full collection of illustrations here and the gallery launch night flickr page here

Saturday, 5 December 2015

Illustrating Small Business Saturday 2015


Hi everyone! So it's Small Business Saturday 2015 and I'm down in London celebrating it after a huge #SmallBiz100 Christmas fair and celebration in Westminster yesterday.

Today (as I pledged in this article in The Guardian) I'm going to be celebrating the variety and diversity of the small businesses and entrepreneurs in the UK through illustration. We're an incredibly important bunch, and I really think small businesses are worth supporting and recognising, so I've decided to create a series of illustrations inspired by real-life SmallBiz100 companies!






 
In November I wrote a quick post in the SmallBiz100 Alumni group asking for a little summary of everyone's businesses, helping me grab a little inspiration for my illustrations, and the response was overwhelming! 

There are honestly so many exciting, varied and incredible companies springing up across the country (from forensic educators to candle-makers!) and I quickly picked a few that I thought would capture the diversity of all these amazing entrepreneurs. 




I've posted the full collection here, but I'll be putting these out over the course of the day on my Twitter, Instagram, Facebook and Tumblr using the #SmallBizSatUK hashtag! So keep an eye out for those. 

I also really, really, really recommend you take a quick look on the Small Business Saturday website and, well, go out right now and see what your local small businesses are doing for the day! Support them, celebrate them, and take a second to reflect on the fact that if you wanted to start up your own business today, to follow your dream, we'll all be cheering you on!



A huge thank you to the Small Business 100 companies that helped inspire these illustrations - Town Mill CheeseAgile AdministrationGolden Hare Gallery, Serendipity Jewellery, Aspect MakeupFifth Dimension Chocolates, Ma BakerSmart Little Web, Frou Frous Cakes, Bils & Rye GalleryVirtuoso Assistant and Acorn Gallery!

Friday, 4 December 2015

Hello From Westminster!

So, it's all been kept very secret, but last month I was invited to Downing Street as part of the Small Business Saturday celebrations, and today I'm tabling at the Christmas fair in The Treasury Drum next door (we were re-located at the very last moment!). 

I'm one of 28 businesses plucked from the 'SmallBiz100' to host a stall in a cosy Christmas Fair chalet, sell my illustrated goodies, draw live portraits and discuss the importance of small businesses in the UK. I'm hoping I'll also be able to voice some of my opinions, praise and, ahem, concerns over current support for freelancers as well.


2014 Downing Street Christmas Fair. Picture by Suzi Ovens



Small Business Saturday is a grassroots campaign supporting small businesses and promoting the idea of shopping locally and independently (certainly appropriate between the madness of Black Friday and the run up to Christmas). 

The Christmas Fair event is hosted on the eve of Small Business Saturday, and each of the 'SmallBiz100' have been invited to gather together to highlight the importance of (and celebrate!) small businesses across the UK. It's full of media, news and political-types, so keep an eye out for me on social media (try #SmallBizSatUK). I'll also be tweeting pictures and updates throughout the day.



Since I'm in Westminster, I thought this would be a perfect opportunity to unveil an illustration I've been working on, focused on the idea of the power of the public's voice in current affairs. I had a lot of fun illustrating this at the start of this week (and I love what an appropriate audience it has here today). I think it's really important for us to feel like we do have a voice in these times (especially after events like on Wednesday), and it is worth continuing to speak up on the issues that really matter to us, as tough as it may seem to be heard.


So, as tomorrow is Small Business Saturday, I'll be posting illustrations celebrating the vibrancy and diversity of the UK's small businesses! 

I think we're such an important bunch, and I think it's vital that future small businesses and entrepreneurs feel secure, supported, confident and creative enough in starting up their own companies and forging their own paths. I'm proud to be representing us today! For the sake of innovation and, hell, an interesting world to live in, I will always fight to support small businesses, freelancers and those brave enough to break out on their own.

Friday, 27 November 2015

Unique Blogger Of The Year Finalist

I'm so incredibly excited to tell you that I'm a finalist in the Bloggers Lounge Awards! Eee! I've been picked out of hundreds of entrants (internationally!) as one of five blogs up for Unique Blogger Of The Year

Blooming exciting.

I'll be heading down to the awards evening in London in late January, but to be in with a chance of being named Unique Blogger Of The Year I need a hand from you: the winners are based on public vote and I'd so so appreciate your support.

You can vote for me at http://bloggers-lounge.co.uk/bloggers-of-the-year/blogger-of-the-year-2015! I really recommend having a snoop around some of the other blogs up for awards, there are some really amazing ones.




I've spied few news articles floating around about my shortlisting. Last week I was featured in The Lancashire Telegraph with a silly grin and some nice words about me and my work! It's amazing to see so many people pop up to support me - I really, really appreciate it.

So, if you have a spare minute, nip over to http://bloggers-lounge.co.uk/bloggers-of-the-year/blogger-of-the-year-2015 and cast some votes (no signup) or share it with your mum / bestfriend / piano teacher / cat-sitter before voting closes on December 24th this year. I have my fingers super-crossed for January!

Tuesday, 24 November 2015

Jessica Jones

I've been a little bit under the weather since Thought Bubble Comic Festival (and an adventure to Nottingham last week to boot) so naturally, I've basked in the warm embrace of Netflix. Jessica Jones, a new show based on the Marvel comic, has just popped up and I've absolutely stormed through it as, well, it's brilliant. 

I love TV shows with strong-but-realistic female lead characters (yup, I've been meaning to draw a million Buffy characters) and you'll notice a lot of tough ladies in my illustration work as well. I love Krysten Ritter's portrayal of super strong, humanly flawed, witty Jessica (and apparently I love drawing leather jackets) so I had to draw a quick ink sketch of her, bourbon bottle n all.

You can see this illustration on Twitter, Facebook, Instagram and in my Behance portfolio.

Wednesday, 18 November 2015

I Survived My First Convention! Thought Bubble 2015 Round Up



So I survived (and absolutely loved) my very first convention! Last weekend I exhibited at Thought Bubble Sequential Art Festival in Leeds, it was an incredible experience and I have to say it was brilliant to get away from my desk and interact with real-life humans for my work.


Thought Bubble has been going for a few years now, but this was my very first time attending and my very first time tabling - so it was a little overwhelming on the first day. I'd applied for a table earlier in the year to act as a deadline for me to finish some of the comics I'd been working on (I'm a bit awful when it comes to procrastinating over my own work). I find a lot of the time I need a set deadline to make sure I equally prioritize my personal work alongside commissions. 

Well, after a few late, laattee nights preparing and a lot of organising and the invaluable help of Andrew Jolly: I managed to rustle everything up, get a zillion things printed and packed it all up in cardboard boxes to trundle over to Leeds.


My table was in The Royal Armouries hall in, as I soon realised, a fantaaastic location (well lit, great traffic and lots of space) with the lovely Tor Freeman tabling next to me. I didn't really know what to expect from the festival, and I'd been a little worried about over or under preparing, but I managed to pitch it just about perfectly (although I sold out of a few prints!). I had been nervous, with classic "Oh god, what if nothing sells? What if everyone hates my work?!" sort of thoughts running through my head, but after selling a few big bundles of prints within half an hour I relaxed a bit!

It can be pretty daunting having so many people wander up to your table looking at your illustrations, but it was fantastic to meet everyone and get a real sense of live feedback on my work. It's really useful to put yourself out there and be able to take a hard look at what doesn't sell as well as you expected and what surprises you and sells out! 

I was also offering live portraits for the first time. That was really a trial by fire as I'd never live sketched with the drawee watching before - but, again, I think it's all about pushing yourself to take a risk and leap in to new areas. Luckily everyone seemed to absolutely love their sketches, and I had a blast doing it!

I met so many people over the course of the weekend: long-time Twitter friends, publishers and comic creators, classic Draw North West-ers and a few of my very favourite artists! I only meant to give myself about twenty minutes to rush around the other halls before running back to my table, but I ended up taking over an hour as there were just too many chats to have and comics to buy.

My Thought Bubble comic haul ft Matt Taylor, Natalie Andrewson, Fleur Sciorliano and Nicolas Delort!


I also got the chance to pop in to the Joan Cornella exhibition at the Gallery at Munro House, which was brilliant (despite me having to run and dry my clothes in the bathroom after getting drenched in a fast car + puddle situation) and on the Saturday night I went to the mid-con party where Darryl McDaniels from Run DMC popped out and rapped a few hits! 


The whole weekend was a beautiful blur, and I'm so relieved it ended up going really well. Hopefully I'll be able to exhibit at Thought Bubble again next year (I've really got the convention bug now) and I've carefully noted down all the little tips and edits I've learnt along the way. I think it's always worth throwing yourself in to a new experience like this, even if you're a little hesitant, because there's so much to learn about yourself and your work if you go for it.

See you next year Thought Bubble!

Emmeline In The Guardian!





If you've read The Guardian this week, you may have spotted me featured talking about my plans for Small Business Saturday!

This year I've been picked as one of the Small Business 100, a select group of one hundred small business from across the country chosen as representatives for Small Business Saturday on 5th December.  

We're an incredibly diverse bunch: from candle-makers to green-grocers and freelance illustrators like me! My big plan for Small Business Saturday is to create a series of illustrations celebrating the huge variety of small businesses across the country, and post these throughout the day using #SmallBizSatUK - keep an eye out!

I won't deny it's pretty bloomin' exciting to see my little face featured in The Guardian, and I absolutely can't wait to show you the illustrations I've been working on for Small Business Saturday! If you can, I really recommend getting involved on December 5th, it's so great to have the importance and strength of small businesses celebrated.

Friday, 13 November 2015

Thought Bubble Festival & My First Ever Comic Reveal


It's been a hectic one this week: right now I'm putting together all my final little tweaks to a whole host of illustrated goodies for Thought Bubble festival in Leeds this weekend. Yes, I was up until 4am last night and had to get up at 8; yes I'm going a bit loopy from stapling and folding comics; and yesss I'm excited!


This year's Thought Bubble festival will be my very first convention stall! I applied for a table towards the start of the year as a deadline for me to complete some of the comics ideas that I'd been procrastinating over - and finally, they're done.

It's going to be an amazing festival - the line up is incredible! If you happen to swing by, find me at table 4b in The Royal Armouries Hall! It would be amazing if you came and said hello.



I'll be debuting a completely brand new, entirely un-seen comic (well, collection of two comics) 'Small Stories: The Flood & Eggs' aaaand a physical 'Creative Tips For Your Fight Through The Freelance Jungle' booklet with all sorts of advice on starting up or maintaining a creative career (with a bunch of new content and illustrations!). Small Stories will be my first ever official comic! It's been so great to work on and I'm excited to show you all.


I can't wait!

Tuesday, 27 October 2015

Illustrating Autumn Faries with The Big Draw & The RSC

Every so often, I'll stop for a second and be hit with the realisation that I haven't drawn anything in ages. It can be surprising how little physical drawing time can go in to running an illustration business sometimes!

Yesterday was one of those days, and I fancied a little bit of a warm up before delving in to some serious work. You may have seen The Big Draw floating around on social media or the news recently - they're, very basically, a huge campaign to get people drawing. This week they've joined forces with The Royal Shakespeare Company to theme drawings on fairies and A Midsummer Night's Dream. 

I illustrated this little Autumnal fairy quickly, in ink, then sort of fell in love with her and decided to add in full colour in Photoshop. I'll admit that I rarely draw fairies. I'd been told too many times that I had to draw fairies in anything for little girls that it irked me - come on, we all know little girls can like space, treasure-hunting, dinosaurs AND fairies. I'm not one for telling anyone what they should or shouldn't like.

If you've kept up with my Pinterest boards lately, you'll see that I've been pinning a fair few golden beetles, so if you look carefully you'll see a couple of them make a little appearance in this Autumn-inspired dress, along with a few delicate cobwebs. Anyone else want a life-size version of that outfit? I know I do.

You can see this illustration featured on The RSC's facebook page and on my Twitter here!

Monday, 19 October 2015

Exciting Small Business 100 Feature!


Very pleased to announce that today is my Small Business 100 feature date!

Throughout the day you'll see tweets, articles and clips on my freelancing and illustration promoted by Small Business Saturday UK. One hundred diverse (and very talented!) small businesses across the country were chosen to feature in the run up to Small Business Saturday on December 5th. 

You can see all the businesses involved and find out more about the day over on the official website. It's all about getting together to support small businesses and celebrate our drive to do what we love for a living.


I really recommend finding some way to get involved this December.  For last year's Small Business Saturday I hosted a picture book reading and children's art workshop at Ebb & Flo bookshop in Chorley - sometimes you really just have to break away from the desk and connect with other people! It's incredibly rewarding.


You can keep up to date on all the Small Business Saturday social media hum over on Twitter and Facebook. You might well spy little snippets about my work floating around today, so keep an eye out for those, and I'll hopefully be making an appearance with some very interesting people on the Small Biz UK bus tour in Manchester this November! Hurray small businesses!

Thursday, 8 October 2015

An Illustrator in Italy - travel, sketching and snapshots from Lake Garda

When I’m travelling, you’ll almost always find a good portion of my suitcase brimming with sketchbooks and pencils. There’s something so personal about documenting your experiences through a sketch. I find it really builds a memory and captures the atmosphere as you study each detail and transfer it to paper.  Reportage and travel sketching has become an integral part of each trip I take, and looking back over my sketchbooks immerses me in the memory often far more than a quick snapshot can.


Well, after this near disaster at a festival recently (and only taking hand luggage) I opted to leave the ink pot at home and stuck to pencils, brush pens and a watercolour set as I took a week in Italy last month. I’d never visited Italy before (despite dreams of going to Bologna book fair each year). This trip was purely for family-time (and a much-needed break from work!) so we headed to Limone on Lake Garda for lake-swims, mountain climbs and castle adventures.


There aren’t many views I love more than mountains and vast stretches of water. I love the variety of weather, the way the light plays on the peaks and the array of colours as the day cycles. The lakeside beaches were calm enough that I could sit for a few hours to read, paint and brave a swim.


Limone is famous for its gorgeous lemon groves, and it’s one of those places where the tourist shops grab a theme and run with it (doesn’t everywhere?). There were bundles of lemon themed gifts, the best lemonade I’ve ever tasted and the town centre had wafts of sweet citrus as you walked along the cobbled streets. Luckily, I love lemon! I really enjoyed learning about the heritage and history of the town at a few of the restored lemon groves/museums where I also found this little guy below (the cat not the grapefruit, but yes, also the grapefruit). I won’t pretend my travel photos don’t always contain at least two pictures of cats.


We hired a car for the week, so we had the freedom to explore the less-touristy spots and visit other towns on the far stretches of the lake. I picked up these beautiful illustrated postcards in an old bookshop in Riva! It was a bit intimidating navigating the narrow tunnels with ginormous coaches hurtling at you like a stampede, but we made it through with only a few near misses.

Illustration by Ricardo Guasco [left] and Antonio Simeoni (1926) [right]

I’m back at work now, my family returned to their respective opposite ends of the country, and the memories of feeling warm in a t-shirt are gradually being swaddled in coats and knitted scarves (hey, it’s fine, I love Autumn!). One day I’ll put together a book with all my travel sketches, but until then, I’ll just look forward to my next adventure.

Just a note to say many of these photos were taken by the wonderful Andrew Jolly



Monday, 5 October 2015

Do You Believe In Fairies? Vintage 1930s Peter Pan Book Illustration

With Egmont's new edition of Peter Pan popping in to bookshops last month, and my recent post about the behind-the-scenes processes of illustrating the cover, I thought it was about time I shared this nice dollop of inspiration with you. 

When I first told my Mum that I'd been commissioned to illustrated the cover for Peter Pan, she got pretty excited and said "I HAVE A BOOK TO SHOW YOU!". So next time I visited Cornwall, she dug this beauty out:

This edition of Peter Pan and Wendy is from 1931 and illustrated by Gwynedd Hudson. It's falling apart a little bit, it's got that gorgeous old-book smell and the illustrations are beyond beautiful.

I spent most of the afternoon carefully going through each page and taking photos of all the interesting bits of illustration (I can't feature them all here, there are so many!) to make sure they're preserved, to share them with you and to use as a little catalogue of inspiration for when I'm home!



Although my book cover and illustration style followed a completely different path, it was so inspiring to see this take on the Neverland world whilst in the depths of working on the project. I particularly love the really clever use of colour layering when working with a limited colour palette. It took me back to all the figuring out I had to do whilst arranging an illustration for risograph printing!

Each chapter heading is so dynamic and captures the essence of the story. There are loads of tiny spot illustrations dotted around the margins as well, which are really lovely to see as you read through; it immerses you in the atmosphere without being too visually prescriptive. 

I adore old books (and, well, books in general obviously) and collecting inspiration from vintage illustration. It's definitely a great find by my Mum, I'm so glad she rescued it and kept it safe! 

I'll be posting more of my vintage book illustration finds soon, so keep up with it on Illustrated Life or by following on Bloglovin here

Thursday, 1 October 2015

Inktober 2015 - A Daily Ink Illustration Challenge

Today marks the start of Inktober, a daily ink illustration challenge running throughout October each year. I took part last year and it was incredible for pushing my motivation to create and for sparking new ideas (I'm currently working on a series of comics based around The Falconeer above!). 

I'm a huge fan of monthly illustration challenges. It's often so easy to get sucked in to the admin side of business (or life?) and spend hours emailing or organising, whilst neglecting the creative element. Prompting yourself to create each day you do end up discovering a lot about how you work and what you actually enjoy illustrating.

That said, I'm sad to say I can't properly take part this year as I've got some huge things coming up this month where I'm 90% sure I'm barely going to get a second to break out the ink each day. But I'm hoping to dip in every so often with a drawing or two.

So, if you'd like to take part (and I really suggest you give it a go at least once!) take a deep breath and commit to one drawing/painting/scribble in ink each day in October and post it on Twitter, Facebook or wherever you like with the hashtag #Inktober. If you don't want to take it so seriously, no problem, but you might fall in love with it.

The full collection of my Inktober drawings from last year can be found here, and a summary of everything I learnt, enjoyed and struggled with is on my blog here (worth a read if you're going for it!).

Go and have some messy, inky fun.