News


Best Portfolio Award at SCBWI UK Conference 2019

04 Nov 2019

 

Happy people dancing by Elly Jahnz

 

I'm delighted to announce that I was awarded the prize for the Best Portfolio at the 2019 SCBWI conference in Winchester last weekend. 

 

This was my first time attending the conference and I was blown away by not only how lovely everybody was but also the sheer passion on show for all things kid lit. The prize, open to all attending illustrators was judged by Strawberrie Donnelly from Bloomsbury, Jude Evans from Little Tiger Press, Arabella Stein from Bright and Bethany Sparks from Plum Pudding. 

 

I'm hoping to do a better write-up of my time at the conference over the next week or so, but in the meantime I'm still buzzing from the great feedback I got about my work. Very inspired now. Woop! 

Announcement: Book Signing

04 Oct 2019

 

Book signing with Elly Jahnz and Anna Wilson

Super pleased to announce that Anna and myself will be at the Edge of the World Bookshop in Penzance on Saturday 5th October (that's tomorrow, folks) to sign copies of our latest book, 2020 Nature Month by Month. Come down and say hello! 

 

I'll also be drawing on some suitably autumnal almanac-y illustrations on the windows (I have permission, I'm not that badly house trained...) See you there!

Illustration Workshops Done!

26 Apr 2019

 

I recently ran six days’ worth of illustration workshops at the London Transport Museum over the Easter Holidays as part of their family activity programme. I found it a really rewarding experience and now I’m back home and the proverbial dust has settled I’ve written a little piece summing it up.

 

The workshops came off the back of my inclusion in the London Stories exhibition held at the London Transport Museum as part of the Poster Prize for Illustration. While this was my first time doing any illustration-based teaching, I’m not a stranger to making a fool of myself in front of a load of children. I’ve been running a weekly martial arts class for kids for the last seven years so I felt that had given me plenty of practice at being a teacher. Martial arts and drawing….not that different right?

 

The workshop was split up into two parts – one was a talk about my life as an illustrator and what I do and the other was a ‘make and take’ activity session which was the practical part.

 

Activity time first! Because I’d focused so much on individual people and their personal stories in my original exhibit, I thought it would be fun to continue the theme with the kids. I decided to get them working with their family groups to come up with some fun and creative characters that you might find riding on the bus. I created a game (kind of like consequences) whereby they could take it in turns with their family to write down an attribute for this character, taking care not to show anyone else. At the end, they’d open their sheet to read off a completely random and hopefully hilarious character description which they would then illustrate.

 

I’d also painted a giant bus which was hanging on a sheet in the workspace. Kids could cut out their characters and stick them to the bus to form an interactive and ever-changing artwork.

 

My giant bus for illustration workshops

 

I was absolutely blown away with some of the creativity that the kids showed. Real nice, out-there characters, dinosaurs, space monsters, princesses and Lionel Messi all took a spin on the bus. It was brilliant interacting with everyone and listening to the kids’ descriptions.  

 

Some of the characters created by kids for the illustration workshops

 

Some of the characters created by kids for the illustration workshops

 

We had unicorns, policement, cooks, giraffes and all sorts riding on the bus. I was impressed at how long some of the kids spent working on their characters. It was really good to see the parents getting involved as well and seeing families encourage each other to the next level of silliness.

 

Some of the characters created by kids for the illustration workshops

 

Some of the characters created by kids for the illustration workshops

 

This guy here was my absolute favourite. Drawn by a brother and sister, they went one step further and each drew a different part of the character and combined it together. 

 

Giving my little talk twice a day was an interesting experience also. There was a wide mix of ages, from 2 all the way up to 12 and sometimes it’s hard to hold the attention of the room when some little tyke is doing their best Godzilla impression and trying to rip up and eat the matting that everyone is sitting on. But we got there. I think my presentation / quick distraction skills got significantly better by the end of the week. Because of the ages of the kids involved, I did the talk more as a structured discussion about what people like drawing, career aspirations and how to improve at illustration (huge shout-out to the little kid who said my book 2019: Nature Month by Month was his favourite book. I had just been passing it around the room and he was currently holding it. He had also just been chewing it but I really appreciated the sentiment). Again, I was impressed at the focus some of these young people displayed – a pleasing amount of them want to go on to be illustrators. However, I don’t want to be the person to tell one young boy that his dream of being a dinosaur tamer may come to naught (although, scientists are talking about bringing back the Mammoth, so who knows…).

 

We had a Q&A at the end of each session where we covered topics as varied as how one deals with horrible clients, what things are the funnest to draw and why you can’t be a dinosaur when you grow up….my answer of not being able to get costumes big enough is easily disproved by a quick search I now realise, so maybe someone can help me out on that one….

 

 I really enjoyed my little stint in the city – a massive change of pace from freelancing in a sleepy coastal town. Outside of working, it was great to spend a bit of time catching up with friends, seeing family and eating all the food that you just can’t get in Cornwall (here’s looking at you Vietnamese, Japanese, Xinjiang, Mexican & Peruvian…).

 

So in conclusion, hard work, but very rewarding. Would 100% do it again.

 

Some of the characters created by kids for the illustration workshops

 

Some of the characters created by kids for the illustration workshops

 

Some of the characters created by kids for the illustration workshops

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