Behind the Scenes

What I would have exhibited at the London Book Fair

09 Mar 2020


This year I decided be proactive and really jump in to the self promotion side of my business. As I really enjoy illustrating the annual children's nature almanac for Nosy Crow and the National Trust, I thought I'd pop along to the London Book Fair. To get the most bang for my buck I decided to book some space in the illustrators gallery. Unfortunatly, I was thwarted by the coronavirus and the book fair was cancelled a few days before I was due to attend. So, in the spirit of well, petulance and a desire to make the best of a bad situation I'm going to post what I would have exhibited here on my blog. 


Click on the images to enlarge them.


What I would have exhibited at the London Book Fair, pt 1

My first panel is images taken from both of my books for Nosy Crow, including the cover art, some chapter opening double page spreads, some quarter page illustrations and some spots. I included a selection of both character pieces and the accurate natural history illustrations peppered throughout the book.


What I would have exhibited at the London Book Fair part 2


My second panel is a selection of other illustrations including some of my kids t-shirt designs for Joules Clothing, my shortlisted entry for the Poster Prize for Illustration, my artwork for Ronnie Scott's Jazz Club's 60th anniversary party, an editorial for the Cornwall Green Party, a teatowel for Seasalt and some development pieces. 


Now, it was to be my first time advertising here. If any publishing types are reading this and feeling kind please let me know if I'm on the right track with this. What kind of artworks do you want to see at book fairs? Afterall, I have a whole year now to generate new portfolio pieces....


I had a book signing!

16 Oct 2019


Last week, myself and Anna Wilson descended on the Edge of the World bookshop in Penzance to sign copies of our latest book - 2020: Nature Month by Month. In addition to scribbling in books, I was also given free reign to scribble on the windows. It was my first time drawing on windows but I loved it. 


Elly Jahnz and Anna Wilson signing copies of 2020 Nature Month by Month


This is myself (left) and Anna (right) standing infront of the window. 


It was really interesting hanging out in the window for most of the afternoon. Lots of people came to have a look and it was especially nice to see kids engaging with what I was doing. I wonder how many went home afterwards and scribbled on the walls? 


Part of the shop window by Elly Jahnz


The Edge of the World Bookshop is such a good independent bookshop. It carries a great selection of books and the staff are fantastically helpful and so passionate about literature. They also make a cracking cup of tea.  


Look at this little guy


Also - as an aside, I saw a lot of dogs wearing multicolour outfits walking through town with their owners. Obviously it's a local fashion trend. 

Process: Ronnie Scott's Jazz Club Anniversary Poster

16 Jul 2019


Back at the start of June I was approached by Ronnie Scott's Jazz Club and asked to illustrate and design a poster for their upcoming 60th Anniversary celebrations. They were holding a street party and they wanted a poster that was lively, full of energy and reflective of the club's location in wild, diverse Soho. 


This was, in many ways a perfect commission. I have a thing for old band posters, I love the vibrancy of live music, I love drawing people having a good ol' time and it was Ronnie freakin' Scott's Jazz Club! (After the work is done, I'm still super excited by working with them).


I thought I'd share a little bit of the behind the scenes process, my rough workings and some snaps of the poster out in the wild. 


The project began, like all good projects do with a discussion over the brief. They sent me a written brief, detailing what they would like and after a little bit of email ping-pong where I asked a few more questions, I went away to work on the rough sketches. 


With any commission I tend to like to offer about three ideas for consideration. These serve as a good jumping off point for the brief and ensure that me and the client / art director are on the same wavelength. Sometimes one of these initial roughs fits the bill, other times there's a little more back and forth to get it right. I'm always happy to work with the art director to realise their vision of the work. 


Option 1

Ronnie Scott's Rough Artwork by Elly Jahnz

Because it was a 60th anniversary, and because it was a jazz club I thought something a bit mid-century and retro would be fitting. I like playing around with grid patterns too.


Option 2


Ronnie Scott's Rough Artwork by Elly Jahnz

I still wanted to have a little mid-century nod with the people on this one - slightly angular funky people. I love drawing large crowds of people having a good time. A stylised 'street' running down the middle draws your eye through the poster and provides some balance. 


Option 3


Ronnie Scott's rough artwork by Elly Jahnz


I couldn't get away from the grids, could I? Maybe this is more a variation on a theme, but I really liked it. I'm a fan of the trumpets blowing the letters out for the title. 


I was really pleased when option 2 was picked - it was my favourite one and I don't need an excuse to draw people. There were a few tweaks - they would have liked more instruments. They also provided me with the finalised set list at this point, so I was able to come back with a more final drawing showing the design. I also adapted it to fit the lightbox dimensions outside the club as this would be the largest use of the poster. 


Final Rough


Final Rough for Ronnie Scott's Jazz Club by Elly Jahnz

Aside from a few tweaks to the hierarchy of the copy this was signed off and I was free to crack on with the final. There was a reasonably sharp turnaround for this as I had several days to get the final done but not short enough that I felt like I was cutting corners. It was really nice to get stuck in to this.


I'm always trying new ways of working with the aim of improving my productivity. I produced the roughs on procreate on my ipad pro, which I've not really done before. It was so much quicker working that way and allowed me to make amends with no fuss. No coaxing my ageing scanner to play ball either, which is a bonus (it hates windows 10 and has thrown a wobbly ever since I updated my OS). 


From my ipad roughs I moved to Adobe Illustrator to create the final. A key requirement of this brief was the ability to use the illustration in multiple formats - this meant anything from lightboxes, A5 brochures and giant street banners. Making the illustrations using vectors was the best way of achieving that. I had recently got hold of some fantastic vector textures which I was excited to use, to ensure that the final artwork didn't look too slick.   


The Final Illustration


Ronnie Scott's poster by Elly Jahnz


Outside the club


Lightbox artwork for Ronnie Scott's poster by Elly Jahnz


In Time Out


Ronnie Scott's Advert in Time Out by Elly Jahnz


I'm really happy with how it has turned out. Thank you to Emma and everyone else at Ronnie Scott's who got behind me on this brief. 


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