Monday 16 February 2015

Yeti - Giclee Printing Review

I've known of Yeti for a while and had always heard really good things about their screen-printing service. So when I saw that they were branching out to offer giclee printing as well, I thought it would be great to write a quick review and see how the quality stands up to other printers I've used in the past.

Giclee printing is a term used to describe high quality Inkjet printing onto fine paper stock. Yeti use a 2 colour Canon ImagePROGRAF 6450 large format digital printer using the LUCIA EX 12-colour pigment print system - meaning the prints are archival quality (so they're light-fast and won't fade!).This makes it a really good option for illustrators and artists creating prints for exhibitions or sale, it's great quality, but still cost effective.

I chose to print one of my 'Illustrated Advent' pieces as it features some colours which can be a little tricky to reproduce vibrantly (or so I've found) - maybe that's a little mean, but I think it's good to put up a bit of a challenge! It's also one of my favourite recent illustrations, so it was a fitting choice.

The prints arrived carefully packaged in cardboard, brown paper and tissue paper - so absolutely no complaints. They even survived a rather forceful shove through the letter box (I think my postman was having a bad day!).

I spoke with Ed from Yeti, and we decided it would be great to try out the print on a variety of paper stock. (I love that this feels like writing a science lesson methodology!). I did find quite a difference between the paper types; and although they all came out beautifully, I definitely had my favourites.  

Here's what I found -

This first paper type (above) is 'Hahnemuhle Photo Rag at 308gsm' - it's lightly textured and has a nice weight to it. I was really surprised with how accurately the colours of the illustration were reproduced, the brights were vibrant and luminescent (in a good way!) and the very pale colours showed up well. This paper stock is a really good all rounder, I'd very happily use it for exhibitions, prints and products.

The second is the slightly more textured 'Hahnemuhle German Etching at 310gsm' (the thickest paper we tried).  It is quite similar to the first paper, although the texture is definitely more pronounced.  I don't think I would choose this level of texture if I was exhibiting a piece, but I think it would work beautifully to give a really bespoke edge to prints for sale, or for trimming into postcards/greetings cards. I think it's got that tactile quality that demands it be felt rather than just looked at!

The 'Origin Matt 230gsm - Coated Paper' had a smooth finish and was the more 'standard type' of the lot, although personally I think it was my favourite. The colours came out so, so beautifully on this (and I'm a picky one with colour), and the finish is understated but vibrant.

The final paper type was the 'Origin Lustre Pro 270gms - Photo Paper'. Now, I'm not really a fan of photo paper as I don't really appreciate the shine on it, especially with illustration. But if you were thinking of using giclee printing for photography work I think this would be a solid choice - the colours and print quality were still crisp (although maybe the colours were a tad less saturated than on the non-glossy papers), and the paper was nice and weighty.

So! Experiment over, and what's my conclusion? I can honestly say it's rare for me to be this impressed by print quality - just, the colours being so accurate to the illustration and the sheer vibrancy (although, yes, a little less so with the photo paper). Illustrators: I completely recommend using Hahnemuhle Photo Rag (380) and Origin Matt (230). 

Yeti have a price list on their website here if you want to find out a bit more, or here's a quick word from Ed about Yeti's background -

"My love of print started when I studied screen printing at Norwich School of Art and Design. I joined a digital printer’s shortly after graduating and in the 6 years I worked there my knowledge of the digital print process became extensive, so I decided to put my skills to better use by starting up my own printing company, using a combination of both traditional and modern methods.

I started Yeti just over a year ago and have seen the company go from strength to strength. I have had the pleasure of working closely with some very talented artists, illustrators and designers, building up a portfolio of print work.  Finally seeing my dream come true is very humbling."

If you want to know more, you can get in touch with Ed at, he'll help you out!

Just to let you know, I wasn't paid to write this (although I received the samples for free), so I've gotcha' back and I'll write my honest opinion for you.  Give me a shout if there's anything else you'd like to see me review and I'll try to make it happen!

Friday 13 February 2015

New Card Range For Ohh Deer

I've been with Ohh Deer since their launch in 2011, but over the last few months I've been working hard with them to put out a brand new range of products! These two are the first of a big batch that should be trickling out over the next year.

I wanted to keep things simple and graphic with these two Save The Date and Congratulations cards; opting for a focus on colour palettes, floral designs and hand drawn typography.

You can browse the rest of my Ohh Deer products or grab yourself a card or two here. I'll keep you up to date with the range as new pieces are released! EXCITING!

Monday 9 February 2015

'Her Idea' Picture Book Review

It's probably a little obvious considering my profession, but I'm a huge fan of picture books. My shelves are stacked full of them and I can barely walk out of a bookshop without a few in tow.  Flying Eye Books (an imprint of Nobrow) publish particularly gorgeous pages of loveliness, so I was more than happy to receive a copy of Rilla Alexander's new picture book 'Her Idea' to have a chat about.

The thing that really grabbed me about Her Idea is the theme - the trials of seeing an idea through to completion - it's something that we all encounter at some point in our lives (professional creative or not), and it certainly hit home for me.  I know that I have sketchbooks full of little drawings and story scribbles that have remained stuck in closed pages for years.  It can be tricky to avoid losing motivation when you first snag a concept; but 'Her Idea' definitely inspires you to grab hold of those little flashes of inspiration and run with them.  

I wanted to find out a little more about Rilla's working process, and she so eloquently described the peaks and troughs of creating (as well as a few other inspirational gems) -

‘Her Idea’ comments on the theme of the struggle to follow through on the first sparks of ideas – is this something you struggle with in your own work? How do you stay motivated?

"I love thinking up ideas – they’re so full of potential and I just can’t wait to be able to give people the finished book/drawing/story/thing. Unfortunately, that initial creative adrenalin can come to a screeching halt once you’ve started work. It might be the moment you put pencil to paper or maybe it doesn’t come until half way through a story when you realise you don’t know how it’s going to end. For me, it is often when I am committing to a final line with ink. Whenever it is – there comes a moment when you you are confronted by the fact that you are not the genius you were hoping you were and that it might be a harder, longer road than you had envisaged.

When you are disappointed by how things are turning out, it can be tempting to simply start another idea and go back to the excitement fuelled energy of beginning. But, of course, that idea looks better – you haven’t discovered its flaws yet!

Instead of thinking about the overwhelming and impossible goal of my finished idea being a masterpiece – I have learnt to concentrate on each step of the process and be satisfied by reaching each milestone. The more small goals, the more satisfaction! I also remind myself that even if I’m not completely satisfied by the finished result, by completing one idea and getting started on the next I will only get better."

When you’re starting work on a book, does the story first spark through visuals or through words? Do you follow a set structure for story creation?

"Ideas for stories normally come to me in words. My idea book is full of notes about things I see around me, memories from dreams, interesting comments I hear on the radio and collections of words I like the sound of. 'The Best Book in the World', for instance, came from seeing a little boy reading a book while sitting on a pile of suitcases on a trolley being pushed by his father through a busy airport. And as I wrote 'Her Idea' I was feeling every bit of the rollercoaster of creation that Sozi (the main character and my alter-ego) was experiencing. 

The process of writing these books was very different – though I am very drawn to meta ideas and writing about my own experiences. No matter what the structure of the story, though, I find writing directly onto spreads (whether you’ve already drawn anything or not) very helpful in solving the story." 

What steps did you take to have Her Idea and The Best Book in the World published?

"Years ago I started a book I never finished because I allowed myself to be overwhelmed by the search for a publisher. Now, I would never start a book if I didn’t want to make the book no matter what. Finishing it is the most important thing – even if you don’t have a publisher you can always print it yourself and have an exhibition. I met Nobrow (who published both books) just by making and sharing my work."  

Her Idea features strong, graphic illustration with a limited colour palette and a lot of movement.  Rilla has such a distinct, arresting style that it's instantly recognisable as her work; it's a story with a bold visual voice. There's a great atmosphere to the book and the pace and flow is spot on - you're with Sozi every step of the way!

Nobrow and Flying Eye Books publish a lot of cutting edge illustration, and this number is no different - there's a simplicity to it, which works well with the crispness of the linework and a strong sense of dynamic shape. There's just so much character in 'Her Idea', you really feel for Sozi and her story.  Physically, the book's got gorgeously thick, textured paper and vibrant printing.  You can really appreciate how well made it is (and it's one of those books that smells amazing too!).  There's definitely been a lot of care put into it at every stage.

I won't deny feeling a little emotional after reading this, it's just such a great reflection of what it's like to be a creative person, or, in fact, a human in general.  Letting ideas slip away because of a dip in motivation or confidence is so universal - and it takes a leap to go and chase them down.  I wanted to ask Rilla how she tackles her own creative burn-out and how she stays positive and motivated whilst working:

"This year marks my twentieth working year and I have been self employed for 15 of them. I think the most important thing is to keep changing. What might be the perfect situation for you right now, may not be next year. I work very flexibly and probably solve most of my ideas walking my dog or having a rest. I always take weekends – they are just not usually the same days as everyone else’s!"

I don't often write picture book reviews, but I just loved how relevant 'Her Idea' is to a lot of the freelance advice articles I've written recently, and it's a great flash of inspiration if you're struggling for motivation on a project.  

There's so many things that come together to make this book as lovely as it is - and you can tell the story has been written from the heart.  As a creative person, I'm definitely going to be grabbing this book from the shelf when I'm feeling particularly Page 19, and I know I would've absolutely loved reading this when I was little! 

Well then...I'd better go and track down some of my old ideas!

Huge thanks to Flying Eye Books, and to Rilla for the answers.  You can find out more or grab yourself a copy on Rilla's page, or the Flying Eye Books website!