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.
Work with me
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.
I exhibited at Surtex for the second time this year alongside Jules McKeown, under the booth name The Pattern Social. We debuted our art at the popular show in 2016, and I wrote about it here. We were thrilled to have a lovely reaction to our work, so we immediately signed up again for 2017. The Javits Centre is a fabulous but huge building located on 11th Ave between 34th and 40th Streets, in Manhattan.
There are a mixture of exhibitors. There are design ateliers don’t tend to license artwork, but just sell off art on a flat fee basis. Then there are studios who license and potentially sell off work flat fee. We were in the latter section, but right next to where the atelier aisles began. This worked well as we did have some art available for outright purchase.
In contrast to some of the UK trade shows I have done, Surtex remains busy for the entire duration of the show. We even had people coming up to us to chat as we began to take our work down. I personally left feeling immensely positive about the reaction to our work again. Some definite projects were discussed, and we had some firm artwork sales in the bag.
We met a wide variety of potential clients, but there were certainly a lot of stationery companies walking around. This was probably partly due to the fact the National Stationery Show was taking place at the same time. Everybody was so friendly, and it was nice to have some in-depth conversations with different types of buyers who sat down and spent some time at our booth.
Jules and I allowed ourselves an extra day in the city this time, so we could have a little down time before the show began. This was lucky as it took slightly longer than one day for us to get everything put on to the walls. It was nice to pop back on Saturday morning and take a look with a ‘fresh pair of eyes’ and make some tweaks. After many hours, and a ridiculous amount of velcro and mess later, our booth was ready! I had planned out my space before we went but as we were putting the display up, I changed my mind on a few bits. Jules and I have quite different work, but our colour sense is very similar, making our art sit well together.
Jules’ work is on the left, and mine is on the right.
Surtex Promotional Materials
This year we took promotional double sided postcards that gave a flavour of our work, alongside personal business cards. This worked well, as despite us exhibiting under our collective name, all artwork sales and licenses will be done individually.
Most of the artists showcasing their art in the licensing section get portfolio books printed. They are designed to give potential clients an idea of your work, but don’t include the entire portfolio. We didn’t have books last year, but I much preferred having one, and I chose to just print the art I had available for flat fee sale on larger sheets. It helped me to be really clear with buyers about which art was available for purchase, and that which was part of my licensing portfolio.
My portfolio book showed a mixture of repeat pattern and placement designs. I also showed some product mock ups and examples of previous collaborations. I spent a lot of time putting the pages together (some examples are below), but I was pleased with the result.
Jules and I are both back at home enjoying some of the bank holiday sun now. This coming week will be busy following up all leads and catching up on admin! I’ll be writing another post soon with photos from the trip alongside some recommendations for places to eat and shop!