My latest Projects

That time I drew cheese for Prince Charles

21 Feb 2020


Section of an illustrated cheese plate for Best Artisan Cheese


It’s not every day you complete an illustration project that has to be personally approved by His Royal Highness the Prince of Wales, but that’s exactly what happened when the Specialist Cheesemakers Association got in touch with me. The Association were launching a new award for the Best Artisan Cheesemaker and wanted an illustration to form an integral part of the trophy which was to be a commemorative plate and did I want to be involved? To be honest, they had me at ‘cheese’.


The SCA already had one illustrated plate trophy in circulation for another award, however this one was over 25 years old and no-one could remember who had illustrated it. They needed an illustration that was a move-on from the (still lovely) colloquial style of the original plate yet still had a feel of tradition about it. The only specifications were that it put the cheese itself front and centre, that it includes The Prince of Wales’s crest and that it could complement the existing plate while evolving the look.


Now what does artisan cheese have to do with royalty you may wonder? HRH Prince Charles is the patron of the Association and heavily backed the creation of this award. Due to his interest in the project, HRH had requested that he personally review and approve the artwork for the trophy. It’s not an exaggeration to say that he is the most august a personage ever to approve my illustrations, and unless his mother gets involved in a future project I highly suspect that it will stay this way. More on this later.


I started the project as always by a period of research. This made me very hungry as I basically just looked at pictures of cheese. I also ate some cheese which I’m convincing myself was necessary to the process. (This maybe had more to do with the fact that the chairwoman of the association, Catherine Mead, runs Lynher Dairies which is only a short drive from me. They make the fantastic nettle-wrapped Cornish Yarg and Kern, which in 2017 was voted best cheese in the world! So, I had to eat my way through some due diligence on the client…).


Kern - the award winning cheese from Lynher Dairies

The award winning cheese Kern, from Lynher Dairies. Photo copyright Lynher Dairies. Source.


Because the focus is on artisan cheeses, I also wanted to focus on the different types of grasses and plants found in good natural pasture. Whatever the animals that make the cheese eat dramatically affects the quality so it made sense to me to focus both on the output (the cheese) and the input (the grasses). I looked into a range of different grasses and flowers found in a good pasture and incorporated them into my design. This in itself was satisfying as it gave me names for many of the grasses I’d seen while growing up in the country yet didn’t have a proper name for.


Next stage was producing rough artwork. I created several different roughs for the client to choose from, each with a slightly different feel. The client had specified the hierarchy of text to go on the plate but was pretty open about the fonts used. I decided to stick with one option throughout my roughs for consistency and have something fairly traditional and solid to anchor it all.


Rough Artwork for the Royal Cheese Plate

Discarded Roughs for the Artisan Cheese Plate


Once a design was approved then I started on the final artwork. For this I worked exclusively on Procreate on the iPad Pro. I’d done one other commission on the iPad at that point but I felt it necessary to move away from my normal vector process to really give a hand drawn, rustic feel to the work. Quite simply, only something artisan would befit a prize for artisan cheese.


Approved Rough for the Artisan Cheese Plate

The approved rough for the Artisan Cheese Plate


Once the artwork was finished and approved by the Association, it needed to go off for Royal Approval. As might be obvious, one cannot simply email the future heir to the throne of the British Isles with a jpg and expect him to reply within 24 hours. The artwork had to go to his Private Secretary who would then pass it on. However, for artwork approval I didn’t want to assume that whatever was printed out at Clarence House (HRH’s official residence) would reproduce the colours and tones faithfully, so I printed the roughs myself and posted them off with a letter. Luckily there is lots of information out there as to the correct etiquette of writing to the staff of royalty – I had to do my research!


As it turned out, it was good that I posted the illustration as HRH was visiting with his family in Balmoral, the Queen’s estate in Scotland at the time, so my letter was forwarded up there for his consideration. Slightly more convoluted than the regular approvals procedure but in due course the artwork was approved. It’s no secret that the UK has been going through some turbulent times these past few years and in spite of all the constitutional chaos it has been reassuring to think that at one point the phrase “approve Elly Jahnz’s artwork” was written on a royal to-do list.


Elly Jahnz with a reply letter from the Prince ('s secretary).Me very excitedly holding a royal letter...


Once it was all approved then I made the artwork fully print ready and got sent it to the client. They had organised for a pottery to produce the commemorative plate so all the was left for me to do at this point was wait.


I’m really pleased with the finished product – the pottery did a lovely job of translating my illustrations on to the plate. The first winner of the award is the Hampshire Cheese Co. I’ve not tried the winning cheese (yet) but it looks delicious. I know in the future I’ll be following this award closely and not just as an excuse to eat artisan cheese.


Final artwork for the Artisan Cheese Award Plate by Elly Jahnz


Best Artisan Cheese Plate Artwork closeup


Best Artisan Cheese Plate Artwork by Elly Jahnz

So, there you have it – certainly not the largest scale project I’ve ever worked on but one of the most prestigious and honestly, anything that contributes to the progression of fantastic cheese is totally worthy in my book.


You can see more of the artwork on my portfolio



Repeat pattern design for organic skincare company

04 Jul 2019


Last year, I was asked by the great people at Design Room Cornwall to provide a repeat pattern for some packaging for organic skincare company Trevano. Sometimes the wheels of packaging turn slowly, so I've only just set eyes on the finished boxes. I'm excited to share it with you. 


The print was to form part of some updated packaging which Design Room were working on. The brief was to highlight the range of plants that Trevano use when making their organic skincare. A lot of the plants have really interesting shapes and look beautiful, so naturally I had to incorporate loads of hand drawn plants into the pattern. I really like drawing plants, especially when I can do so from observation. I was lucky enough to have a lot of the herbs they use growing in my garden so was more than happy to spend some time outside drawing from observation.


I'm really pleased with the result and think the girls at Design Room have done a fab job translating it into packaging. It's a bit more low-key than some of my other work but I quite like being able to work across a wide range of styles. It makes for a much more interesting job. What do you think? Let me know!


Pattern design for Trevano Skincare by Elly Jahnz


Repeat Pattern created for Trevano Skincare by Elly Jahnz


Historical botanical illustration and old-fashioned prints played a huge inspiration when I was designing the print. I wanted the customer to feel they were holding a handful of fragrant herbs when they held this print. 


Jasmine Illustration by Elly Jahnz for Trevano


Heady Jasmine


Lavender illustration by Elly Jahnz for Trevano Skincare


Calming Lavender



Aromatic Rosemary


Sage illustration for Trevano by Elly Jahnz


Cleansing Sage


Thyme illustration for Trevano by Elly Jahnz


Delicate Thyme

Loyalty Card Design for Seasalt Cornwall

28 Jun 2019



Those of you who know my working history will know that I spent the first seven years of my career working as a graphic designer & illustrator for fashion brand Seasalt Cornwall. Last month they got in touch and asked if I could help them out by designing a customer loyalty card for use in their 60+ shops. 


Shop Loyalty Card designed for Seasalt Cornwall


It's always nice working with old clients again, especially ones that you have such a history with. The visual style of the brand had evolved considerably since I left. One of my last jobs for them (carried out in my notice period) was to redesign the logo and all packaging however there's only so much of that you can do in a few months... It was really pleasing to come back to the work I started but didn't have time to finish and to see how the team had evolved, improved and grown the brand's visual language. It sounds a bit naff, but it was almost like visiting an old friend and seeing how they'd changed in the intervening years. Even better was working again with their senior creative designer, Matt Johnson who is probably the best illustrator I know and an infinite source of wisdom. (No exaggeration to say that after 7 years of working together he had taught me about 95% of what I know about being a professional illustrator...) Props to you Matty!


Shop Loyalty Card designed for Seasalt Cornwall


Seasalt has always had a reputation for using a great deal of illustration and the rich visual style the brand has makes working within it an absolute dream as everyone is so on board with illustrating everything. I had fun creating some gentle watercolour textures and drawing some pen and ink simple Cornish sailing boats to go on the card. In addition I created artwork for the in-store POS, designed an email and social media graphics.


Shop Loyalty Card designed for Seasalt Cornwall


The last few months has seen me do an increasing amount of illustration work (woop), so it was quite nice to dip my feet back into the waters of design for this project, albeit still very illustrative design. 


Web graphics designed for Seasalt Cornwall


The stamps which go on the card are little anchors, so I thought it would be fun to play with the idea of putting anchors on the boats. You can see how they would look in the image above, which is from some social media graphics I put together.

So if you're a Seasalt fan and have one of these cards, send me a picture of it all filled up with stamps. I'd love to see it!


nb - please excuse the ropey quality of the photos. I nipped into my local shop to take a few snaps the other day. Hard to conduct a photoshoot while crouched on the floor of a busy shop.... Also - some of the barcode info has been edited out in these shots, as it isn't my loyalty card.


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