I have been collaborating with the RNLI since 2013, when I developed art work for their summer 2014 product collection. That was one of my favourite projects to date, and I was thrilled that the range was a big success for them. Some of the range can be seen below. I really like illustrating fish. This contemporary and fresh colour palette made for a light and bright set of products.
I have worked on a few projects for them since, including creating artwork for a family calendar, and a diary. The most recent design is this one (below). The artwork is available in a pack of Christmas cards. They can be bought from RNLI shops and via their catalogue now.
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If you are an art direct or buyer and would like to see more of my work, then head to my design portfolio page, and request a password via the contact form.
I have followed people doing drawing projects on Instagram before. It’s great to see the collection of work that they build up over the course of a month. Flora Waycott’s cat drawings for Inktober were delightful. Some projects are longer, like the 100 day project. When I read about this Instagram challenge launching again on April 4th, I decided to go for it and see what I could achieve.
The first thing was deciding what to draw. People tend to choose a theme and stick to that for the duration of the project. At this point I was in the midst of preparing for Surtex and pondered what could add the most to my portfolio before I went. I wanted to draw something that tied in with my Instagram account since I’d be sharing each daily illustration on there. After a bit of consideration I opted for buildings. I have drawn hundreds of architectural structures over the years and it’s something I really enjoy. It would probably be beneficial for me to choose a theme I am not as familiar with going forwards. There is a limited amount of floral work in my portfolio, so focusing on something like that next time would be good for me.
Even though I am a designer for a living, I have never drawn something every single day for 100 consecutive days. As it happens, I still haven’t. My 100 day project fell by the wayside at day 54. I felt like I was really getting in to a routine ahead of flying to New York for Surtex. I’d often do my drawing late at night before heading to bed. It felt satisfying to do something creative at the end of the day.
Aside from a couple of days whilst in NYC, when I posted photos of buildings instead, I managed to keep on top of the project until after I came home. I often find it hard to focus on designing when there is so much admin to do. This is something I am working on getting better at. after all, my main job is supposed to be creating beautiful patterns.
I posted images daily on Instagram, and made sure I scanned and saved the art on my computer. When I returned back to the UK, I kept up with the drawings for a little longer, but then catching up in the studio seemed to take over. I couldn’t even seem to find 20 minutes in a day to draw. Despite not making it to 100 days I am happy with the illustrations I created.
Some of the buildings were made up, whereas others were drawn from photographs. A lot of these drawings will most likely never be used in a project as such, but that wasn’t really the point of me doing the challenge. The image below shows the majority of the drawings completed during the 54 days. It’s satisfying to see them all together! I used the hashtag #100daysofbuildingsjh which means they can all be viewed together on Instagram.
New art as a result of the 100 day project
The most enjoyable part of the project, was drawing a selection of Parisian architecture. I have focused on Paris as a theme many times before. The intricacy of the stone and ironwork that adorns many of the buildings in the city is stunning. This also means there is lots of detail to be captured within a drawing. I gave myself 20 minute time limits when drawing landmarks such as the Sacre Coeur and Notre Dame. Without this I could have easily spent an hour on each drawing. Working quicker allowed the illustrations to be a little more spontaneous. There are some examples of these below.
After a few days I had enough illustrations to think about putting them in to a design. One thing I was keen to create was a brand new architectural art printed on a banner for Surtex. I decided to work on a ‘map’ of Paris, and then changed it in to a repeat format for the show. I really enjoyed working on this design, often late at night in the studio with no distractions. The result (shown below), is probably my favourite piece of work to date. Going forwards, I aim to work on similar pieces based on other famous cities.
Other new pieces of repeat print work included a winter themed pattern and some New England inspired coastal buildings. I also created some placement prints on a Christmas theme.
Despite not managing to complete the 100 day project, I feel quite satisfied with what I have achieved. I’ll be keeping an eye on Instagram for other challenges, such as Inktober, and aim to take part in one of those later this year.
PG Live seems to come around quicker every year! It’s a two day greeting card trade show held in the Business Design centre, Islington. It was my fourth time exhibiting, and it’s an important even in the trade show calendar. It brings in visitors from over 40 countries, including some top UK buyers. Max Exhibitions Ltd organise the show and they really go all out to ensure exhibitors and buyers alike are very well looked after. As a result of this, everybody has a wonderful two days! Visitors are greeted by women wearing dresses made from greeting cards. These have been donated by various exhibitors, and they have an official opening on the first morning of the show!
Image copyright Max Ehibitions Ltd
Unlike other trade shows, there are people going around with tea and coffee trolleys offering free refreshments which is lovely. What’s even better are the free – yes free lunches! It can cost a small fortune purchasing dinner at other trade shows, and PG Live offer a meal to every exhibitor and visitor to the show. This years menu didn’t disappoint and you even get dessert! The dining room is sponsored and decorated by a different exhibitor each year. Gorgeous card company Lagom are celebrating their 10th anniversary, so they took over the dining hall and decorated it with monochromatic geometrics and large colourful balloons.
I am pleased to have just launched new greeting cards, and you can see some of them below. If you are a wholesale customer you can browse the range here.
The first night of the show sees a lively drinks party take place in the dining room.
Image copyright Max Ehibitions Ltd
I was thrilled to receive a Sunshine Ticket from the multi award winning shop Mantons. This is a wonderful outlet situated in Port Erin on the Isle of Man. Retailers that have been shortlisted for a RETAS award receive tickets to spend with publishers of their choice at the show. Here I am pictured with director Chris Beards. I am thrilled to be supplying Mantons with my colourful cards!
Image copyright Max Ehibitions Ltd
There is an image of my PG Live stand below and then a section of the Deva Designs stand, whom I have worked with since 2014. I love working with repeat patterns so it is a pleasure to produce art for licensed gift wrap and bags. This years offering showcases my signature illustrative style. My wraps are the three bottom left designs. The Christmas patchwork and skiing scene can also be seen on roll wrap, bags and tissue.
The Ladder Club at Pg Live
Whilst PG Live was a great show, a number of exhibitors, organisers and retailers were saddened by the loss of industry legend Lynn Tait. Lynn lost her battle with Myeloma, just days before the show. Lynn owned a thriving outlet in her home of Leigh-on-Sea. She also wrote articles for Progressive Greetings magazine as well as being a photographer. I best knew her for setting up the Ladder Club seminars, which she organised alongside Jakki Brown (editor of Progressive Greetings magazine) each year. The seminar days are intended to help greeting card publishers that are starting out, and give them the support required to grow in this thriving industry. I attended day two in 2014, and since then Lynn became a friend. She was admired by many and was hugely respected in the industry.
Lynn has helped hundreds of publishers over the years through her seminars. More recently, anybody that has attended a seminar has been able to join a private Facebook group. A mixture of new and experienced publishers all support each other and offer advice on all kinds of card related topics. I felt honoured to be asked to join Lynn on the admin side of this in 2016, and Megan (of Megan Claire), came on board recently. Megan and I will now continue to run the Facebook group and Lynn’s legacy will live on.
It’s a tradition to have a ‘Ladder Club’ photograph each year at the show, and the 2017 one can be seen below. There were lots of members exhibiting, some for the first time. The flowers and text are a tribute to Lynn, who is going to be really missed.
Image copyright Max Ehibitions Ltd
Looking ahead to 2018
PG live was the last trade show for me in 2017. I will be at Spring Fair next February, where I’ll be launching 2018 Christmas and loads of new cards!
I got back from my summer holiday just over two weeks ago. It was a mixture of full on sightseeing in Chicago, followed by three of the genuinely most relaxing days of my life. These were spent on Cape Cod, and then three more days in Boston. My friend and I had both been harbouring a desire to visit one of America’s largest cities for some time, and I am so glad we did.
We stayed in a hotel overlooking Millennium park, home to ‘The Bean’ (formally known as Cloud Gate). The park is in the east of the city and is right next to the shores of Lake Michigan. This was an excellent base point as it was right near to the loop train. This made it easy to access any area of the city that we wanted to visit. We did a lot of walking on our first day, which included The 606 – a 2.7 mile trail designed for walkers and cyclists alike. It is elevated from traffic and gives a lovely view out across the neighbourhood. It is similar to the Highline in New York, which I wrote about here.
Chicago From Above
We rounded off the day with a trip up the 108 storey building Willis Tower. The viewing area which is open to the public is on the 103rd floor, but a super quick lift means you get there in no time at all. It is the second tallest building in the USA, and offers incredible views across the city. The landscape is so flat and you can see for miles and miles. We went just before sunset. It was great to see the city lighting up as the sun went down, and ti was the perfect end to the day.
The view from Willis Tower
One area that I would recommend to anybody to visit whilst in Chicago is Andersonville. This district in the north of the city (nearest Metro stop is Berwyn) is an old Swedish settlement. There are plenty of places to shop, eat and drink. We had lunch at Hopleaf, a bar with a Belgian inspired menu and plenty of beers on offer. There was a delightful stationery store and framers called Four Sided where we both bought ourselves some souvenirs.
We spent the next couple of days wandering the Old Town, watching fireworks at Navy Pier (Wednesday’s and Saturday’s in summer) and eating lots of food. The Chicago Jazz Philharmonic Orchestra played in Millennium Park one clear warm evening, which was a lovely unexpected treat.
Jazz in Millennium Park
The highlight of Chicago for me was the architecture boat cruise which is run by the Chicago Architecture Foundation. A docent volunteer leads the tour and our guide was incredibly knowledgable. We opted for a twilight cruise so by the time the hour and a half was up, it was dark and the tall buildings lit up the sky. The particular tour is listed in the top 10 on TripAdvisor in the whole of the USA!
More Places to Dine..
No visit to Chicago is apparently complete without sampling a deep dish pizza. Lou Malnati’s was our pizzeria of choice and it didn’t disappoint. A simple margarita with a pepperoni topping was delicious and I wish we’d had time for more!
Other food highlights included a waffle breakfast at Eleven City Diner on Wabash Avenue and the liquid chocolate drink at Goddess and the Baker which has three locations across the city, including Wabash Ave.
Goddess and the Baker cake and biscuits. My friend bought the birthday one despite her birthday being in March.Apparently it was tasty!
Eleven City Diner.
Thank you Chicago (and my friend), for a wonderful 4 days in ‘the windy city’.
As I wrote in my last blog post, I love collaborating with companies on products that I wouldn’t normally manufacture myself. I was excited to hear from a contact at Comme Des Garcons late last year,with regards to a potential collaboration. Comme Des Garcons is a Japanese fashion label based in Tokyo and Paris. The company was founded by Rei Kawakubo in 1969. The Costume Institute’s Spring 2017 exhibition at the Metropolitan Museum in New York is dedicated to her. It features around 140 examples of her work from the early 1980’s to the most recent collections. The exhibition runs until September 4th 2017.
I created two pieces of artwork under the direction of Junya Watanabe. The finished garments are included in the Homme A/W 2017 collection and are on the theme of ‘happy army’.
The company had seen one of my repeat patterns featuring colourful cars, and wanted me to emulate that look for the designs to be used on their garments.
My initial sketches (some seen below), were done in pencil and ink, and mocked up in to repeat.
I went on to redraw my sketches and colour the artwork in a similar way to my car design. The end result is two statement prints that have been applied to high quality shirts for men.
I really enjoyed creating the art for this brief. Designing repeat patterns is what I love to do most. Working with such an iconic fashion brand is certainly one of my career highlights to date, and I look forward to working on more exciting and varied briefs in the future. If you’re an art director and are interested in finding out more about my designs, then head to my design portfolio page and fill in the contact form.
I worked on a freelance project last year with Bounty – an organisation that supports mums through pregnancy to the birth of their children and then to toddler and pre-school. The brief was to create designs for use on changing bags and accessories. Bounty wanted two gender neutral designs. After exploring various concepts the team opted for a 2 colour print design. The simple and contemporary geometric print has been applied to high quality textile products and can be bought from their website now
I love working on freelance briefs for companies who apply my art to products that I am not manufacturing myself. There are some images of the final products below.