I'm taking part in the Illustrators fair again this year- 18-26 September.
This is an amazing online selling event, with over 100 illustrators involved. You can follow on instagram @illustratorsfair, and also follow the hashtag #illustratorsfair2021 to see and buy work from lots of artists. Or join the Facebook group IllustratorsFair where the artists will be posting their images, with details of how to buy from them (and me!) Look out for the distinctive pencil logo. Many thanks to Michael Czerwinski and Holly T Burrows for organising this, they have done an amazing job.Have a look at my instagram feed for examples of my work I am showcasing in this event @happytomato7
The link for my Thortful cards is this You will see all my current cards.
I can try out card designs here without incurring my own printing costs, so it is an opportunity to find designs you might not find elsewhere. I am experimenting with some hand painted type designs at the moment. Even if you aren't purchasing, I would appreciate it if you could 'like' or 'save' my designs, it would help raise my profile.Thanks!
So I deleted my Facebook page a while back, in a strop (yes I'm like that) but now I need it, and I started a new one, but I have hardly any followers doh! so if you could show it some love, I'd be very grateful!
www.bags-of-books.co.ukSome images of the gift vouchers I designed for Bags of Books, an independent children's bookshop in Lewes, East Sussex. They feature Alan, the shop cat.
The vouchers were designed to be easily printed to order on the shop's A4 printer, on different colours of card.The sketchbook shows initial sketches, trying different angles, then printing out different versions while I played with the type and the hand drawn elements. As the vouchers have dates and numbers written by hand, (there are spaces on the books for this) I wanted to make the amounts hand drawn too, so I had to do one for each amount available.
I am doing a series of one-day-only special offers from my shop on Thursdays, check my instagram @happytomato7 for details - the offer will be different every time, sometimes a bundle, sometimes an exclusive new product, follow me for updates.
Here is Happy Tomato ! my first sticker design, the first of many I hope.
Very pleased with how this turned out, thanks to @stickerapp for doing such a nice job, and so quick.
You can find it for sale here
I just finished preparing my listing for this new print Happy Hens, it is available in my Folksy shop from tomorrow 28 May 2021 and will be available for a special discounted price on that day only, after which it will be the same price as my other digital prints.
This digital print is designed from an original pencil crayon (Luminance, if you would like me to be specific) illustration, and is printed by me in my studio on 190g Bockingford inkjet watercolour paper. The link for the discounted price will be this
I produced the print as part of the IndieRoller group coaching challenge #IndieRollerFriYay- check out Indie Roller run by Leona Thrift-ola, it's a great group for independent makers and artists, very supportive and informative.
I went to art college in the Eighties - it was amazing, I loved it! I felt like I fit in, after being the odd one out at home and at school, and having at least one teacher shake his head at me patronisingly when I said I wanted to go to Art College.
I studied in various colleges, at O Level, A level, foundation, degree, masters. I learned a lot, various skills and processes and sometimes just little nuggets of information, sometimes tiny things that made a big difference.
Some of those skills and processes might seem outdated now - this was pre computer days, can you imagine? But the skills stayed with me. I studied textile design at Trent. I learned how to put a design into repeat (without Photoshop! ) how to wind a warp, and thread a loom (oh my god it takes ages) I learned how not to kill myself using an industrial sewing machine - they were slowed-down ones but still...The little knee pedal for swinging the needle for free embroidery required a bit of dexterity (if you can have dexterity with knees....) And knitting machines...hmmm, just not for me.
Then screen printing - this was before digital printing, before you could reproduce anything as many colours as you want. In those days we spent a long time painting and drawing, using various methods/techniques, (bliss!) Then came developing the artwork into a design and working out a repeat. Then you had to find ways to reproduce the textures of the original paintings onto Kodatrace - like very thick tracing paper. I remember a lot of use of masking fluid, and wax resist - reproducing watercolour effects was unheard of - it's a cinch today, with digital printing.Then you put the Kodatrace on to a screen with light sensitive emulsion on it, and develop it. And then you had to pin fabric, mix dyes, print, unpin fabric, steam it to fix the print.
All these technical skills took a long time to master, and I probably couldn't do some of them now, but some of the things I learned still inform what I do these days. I'm not a textile printer, but I still design textiles or repeat patterns anyway. I make illustrations using the painting and drawing skills I developed over the years in all those different places - Perspective? Thanks Loughborough College of Art, you nailed it! I can still draw something that looks 'right', I know the principles, and I can choose to ignore them if I want.
I thought I'd write down the things that have stayed with me, and ask you to share yours with me.
Of course not everyone goes to art college, and it isn't always a teacher that says something that works for you.
Some of the best comments have been from art directors, or other people looking at my work- some didn't even realise they were teaching me something, they were just observations.
So in no particular order -and I reserve the right to come back and edit/rearrange this:
1. Do not use grey as a mount for coloured artwork- any ex art students remember Crits? (Critiques) terrifying sometimes, especially in the early days...you do some work, pin it to the wall and then the whole class gather round while the tutors discuss it. Anyway one of my very first crits I had carefully mounted my fabric samples on a very delicate grey mount board (I even remember the name of the colour - dove grey) and the first thing the tutor said was Never Use Grey, it drains the colour from everything...and I never have since. And I hate grey now (apart from Payne's Grey watercolour which I love but that is really blue....
2. Do not simply reproduce the design that you see in your mind, be open to seeing what happens in the process
It can be frustrating when the image in my head doesn't appear on the paper, as if by magic - but sometimes, hopefully often, something else happens, that I hadn't expected, or even thought about.
I think this is why I love the unpredictability of using real paint techniques, the paint acts differently every time, you can't control it too much, even a change in the weather has an effect.
3.Don't clean things up too much.
This one actually was an art director, who was looking at my portfolio and said "Oh, you leave the mistakes in...." insert laughing crying emoji here!
Well I hadn't realised that I did, but when I looked at it later, I realised that that actually did give it a bit of an edge - you can go over an artwork too much and clean it up but it becomes a bit lifeless, and the odd bit of 'reality' doesn't do it any harm. I like to use real paint and art materials, so sometimes there might be a bit of a smudge or a pencil line showing through a colour. Sometimes a colour might bleed into another, and I like that.
I've wanted to try Riso printing for ages - and I put it on my list of things I wanted to achieve in 2021. I've seen lots of examples and read up on the theory, techniques etc, and looked at various riso printing companies, but just hadn't got around to doing it - until I saw this kit by @Wild__Press
(part of women-run creative studio Wild and Kind based in Glasgow) -which was perfect for me. The kit contains all the ingredients for riso printing, clear explanations of the printing process, colour charts showing how the colours look when overlapping, and sheets of pre-prepared textures and patterns to use as collage. There is a choice of kits, A4 print or A5 postcard, I chose the A4 print option.
A quick explanation of riso printing - it is an eco-friendly, inexpensive form of printing originating from the 1980s which combines qualities of photocopying and screen printing - the prints are made in single colour layers, and the look of the prints are typified by irregularities such as misalignment, variation in textures, overlapping colours, - basically you get a homespun aesthetic - they don't look perfect, each print can be slightly different -all these things really appeal to me!
The riso printer (which looks like a big photocopier) scans the artwork (or you can input a digital file) and burns a stencil on thermal paper made from banana fibres. This is wrapped around an ink drum, which rotates, and paper is pulled through the machine across the ink drum, and ink is pushed through the stencil onto the paper. This is repeated for the next colour - registration is not always exact, which is one of the beauties of riso printing, each print is a little bit different from the last, and this is what makes it popular with artists.
I can obsess over details sometimes - previously when I thought about doing riso prints I had tried making digital versions of riso prints, making several transparent layers in Photoshop, and I also tried separating an existing full colour artwork into separate black and white layers (there's a great tutorial on that from Shutterstock here) ; - but for me it was all a bit too involved and fussy - I wasn't getting anywhere and I lost heart and gave up.
This time I wanted something more hands on, and immediate -I just opened up the pack and the fact that it was all laid out there, made it so easy to just jump in.
In the pack there were two A6 pieces of paper, (one was tracing paper) and various sheets of black and white textures - you make two drawings or collages, one for each colour that you are going to use. I used the mechanical dot patterned paper-like a Lichtenstein print texture- which I cut into shapes, and I drew chicken characters with a black Luminance pencil - I really like the texture of these, (almost as good as Karisma but I can't find those any more) -- I divided my design between the two pages as one sheet was see through I could see what was going to overlap, and I decided I would have one printed blue and one printed fluorescent pink. As you are only working in black, you have to remember that the stronger the black, the stronger the colour that will be printed - so pale black = pale blue, strong black =strong blue - in the pack were colour swatches demonstrating the depths of colour you get at different percentages, and also a chart to show you what happens when those colours overlap with a different colour.
The best bit for me was: I just got on with it without overthinking- I drew quickly, pasted on some bit of textured dots, put it back in the envelope, added the prepaid label and put it in the postbox - and got the results back in a few days.
I like it when I'm making some artwork and things are taken out of my hands, when I don't have total control over the outcome, and there are unexpected results.
What I liked about this project is that the finished prints (20 x A4 scaled up from the original A6 design) were a bit of a surprise to me -I had an idea what they would look like, but not exactly.They were printed in fluorescent pink*, and blue which I had chosen from the swatches- I also selected multi coloured paper so I could see what the inks would look like on different coloured background, as research for future projects. I was trying to do what i would do if I were in the print studio myself, try lots of options until I saw what worked. I was really happy with the way the prints turned out, they have given me lots of inspiration for my next project and I feel more confident about the process.
My thoughts are that next time, I will order my prints from Wild and Kind's mainline options- they print postcards, greetings cards, art prints up to A3- and I will try larger areas of colour, choose a heavy weight of paper and perhaps three print colours - for more surprises!
*(fluorescent colours are very popular in riso prints, and another reason I wanted to try it - you can't get fluorescent colours with digital printing, which is a mix of magenta, cyan, yellow and black inks.)
Check out Wild and Kind a women run creative studio they are amazing!
I thought it was time I started to blog again, after a break of a couple of years or more- I was disillusioned with my old blog (on Blogger).
I have recently engaged more with Instagram and Facebook but I find the transience of it annoying - a lot of effort goes into posts that disappear from view so quickly (yeah, I know -algorithms*) and sometimes I just want to ramble on a bit...
I may repost some bits from the old blog but mostly will be starting afresh.
*- had to pause to look up the spelling of that, not what I expected- have a look at the etymology of it though, interesting....well now you can see what I'm like, I find that kind of thing fascinating. and it's not a rhythm. Which is a much more satisfying spelling, to me.