Art and the Unspeakable Demon of Money (not Monet)

art, childrens book illustration, Illustration, painting, Uncategorized
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The Unspeakable Demon of Money

 

If you ever needed a crude sketch of a demon happy to be holding money, you got it….

I secured my first commission last week which was just brilliant. In excitement, I worked day and night on the piece and it was an absolute joy and privilege. It also brought with it the excruciating (well, for me) discussions of money and value.

Perhaps it is because I am English and that the awkwardness of money is part of my identity, or perhaps it is because it is so hard for me to believe in myself.

When I was approached by the individual and had to come up with a price, I suddenly seemed to develop some incredible, fast-acting virus. My pulse quickened, my palms were clammy, I lost the power of speech… What was I worth? Shouldn’t I just be thankful people were asking me to do something for them and give them my valuable time for free? Yeah, because civil engineers are constantly popping up a free building here and there… Those charitable surgeons are just waiting to for someone to have a myocardial infarction so they can negotiate a good price on the cut.

So I asked my Husband. He seems to be the wisest person I know. He also makes music, so he ‘gets’ how difficult it is valuing your time and creativity. He is tattooed (not in that ridiculous hipster way, but more of your old fashioned salty sea dog way). He said to me ‘When I go for a tattoo, they charge £50 an hour. Value what you do. If you don’t, no-one will’. What he said really resonated with me. There are some awesome tattoo artists out there, by the way, so no sleight on them at all. But why are people so unwilling to pay for art they love? I know that at the moment, it’s hard to put food on the table so I’m not talking about art being seen as a ‘necessity’. It remains a luxury for a lot of people and I completely get that. I am talking more about it’s value in relation to ‘other’ luxuries. People will pay obscene amounts for shoes and handbags, even tattoos, but art? Hmmm…

The commission also raised another interesting point. I asked the lady how she felt approaching me about prices and we talked about how awkward that conversation is and she said something that made me smile and totally hit the nail on the head. She said ‘Well, it’s ‘Art’ isn’t it?’ We both laughed. I get it! I have totally felt this way too. I would be so reluctant to approach someone myself as you don’t know what the ballpark is, you’re afraid of looking a fool, of not ‘getting it’. So from now on I am going to ask and if I can’t afford it, I am going to say so.

To anyone thinking of requesting an artist undertake a commission, please just ASK!

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Out of your comfort zone

art, childrens book illustration, Illustration, painting, Uncategorized

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I have started work on a few new pieces using very different materials for me. Canvas and arylics. A few years ago I handpainted shoes for some folks. I needed to use something that would work on canvas so I bought some acrylic paint. I was really unsure at first, because I never really enjoyed ‘painting’ at school. Isn’t it weird how your school experience shapes so much of your future self? I found the paints again recently and thought I’d have a go at a few little paintings to mess about with techniques and see what I liked and what I didn’t like. I used a fantastic site called pexel.com where you can use stock photos, free from copyright restrictions as a tool of reference. A lot of traditionalists don’t like working from photos and to be honest, I very rarely work from ‘life’, but for me, working from a photo allows me to build techniques and experience. I think my style, whether pen, ink, watercolour, acrylic is just a step beyond the ‘real’ so I’m not too fussed if the tones / tints aren’t classical. For me, art, in whatever form should be about enjoyment and expression, not rigid rules laid down in stone. Stone = cave art = ultimate human communication. If you like to draw, if you like to paint, or even if you have never tried but have always wanted to, do it. It doesn’t matter if someone tells you what you do is bad, or that they don’t like it. It has nothing to do with them. It’s about letting your ‘inside’ out for a bit.

Sketches on a train

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I’m going to start posting my doodles. I follow the incredible Chris Riddell and love seeing him share his little, everyday sketches so am taking my inspiration from the master.

Yesterday, I was on the train coming back up to the grim North from London (it’s not really grim, it’s great, I am a Yorkshire advocate) and to pass the time I was having a good old doodle in my Moleskine. Here are my doodles…

It’s Etsy time!

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Hammer time? No. ETSY time! Yay! It’s been a while coming but I am now selling on Etsy. Joy beyond joy, I found an incredible printer in Knight Graphics at Sowerby Bridge who is now setting up my illustrations so that I can start selling them. I will be building up my store as and when I am able, so please bear with me! They are incredible quality giclee prints on lovely archival paper. Each one will be signed and well-packaged so if you fancy a little bit of original art for your home or a gift, please get in touch either via my Etsy shop or through Facebook.

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Connectivity

art, childrens book illustration, Illustration, Uncategorized

Smartphone

Here’s another little go on Illustrator.

It’s not rocket science. Just a little sketch when I was thinking about how we’re losing some of our knowledge to our devices.  I don’t pretend to have any grandiose ideas about this. I use it just as much as anyone else. I just think we seem to think in ‘meme’s’ these days. A nice little quote from Gandhi here, a pocket version of the Kierkegaard there. Everything is so easy, we’re handed knowledge on a plate. We’re all so clever but few of us seem to think anymore…..

Here’s a little corker from Epictetus:

 

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He’s right isn’t he, old Epictetus. What a bloody legend! I bet he’s Greek. Those Greeks were ruddy clever……

But don’t forget, Epictetus ate babies or did he???  Nobody knows, but we do enjoy a nice little Google search that makes us look well-read. Or not, as the case may be.

 

Happy meme finding….

 

 

Eee…. where’s the harm in that?

art, childrens book illustration, Uncategorized

In my head it goes something like this:

Traditional illustration policeman: ‘Excuse me Miss, can we look in your bag please?’

Me: ‘I’m sorry?!’

Traditional illustration policeman: ‘We have reason to suspect you may be carrying contraband’

Me: ‘Ha! Me? No…… What makes you think that’

Traditional illustration policeman: ‘Well, it’s the shifty way you’re walking to be honest. Something’s not right. You look as if you may be trying to do non-traditional illustration’

Me: ‘I can’t believe this. I have rights you know!’

Traditional illustration policeman: (Smiling sagely to his colleague) ‘Yeah love, riiiiggghhhht. Anyway, if you just let me have a look in the bag’

Me: (Reluctantly handing over my bag) ‘Uuuggghhhh…..’

Traditional illustration policeman: (Pulling out a copy of Adobe Illustrator) ‘Just what I thought’.

Me: (Protests) ‘ What? NO! Ha ha! It’s not mine….I don’t know how it got there! Someone else packed my bag!’ BALLS!’

Traditional illustration policeman: ‘Thought we’d have a go at a little computer illustration did we? Yeah, the law doesn’t apply to you does it, love? You’re Daddy’s special little girl, aren’t you?’

Me: ‘No! You’ve got it wrong! I love watercolours. I love the feel of the paper! You can’t beat a good blend and wash! Honestly officer! I just wanted to have a little go, just to see what’s it’s like!’

Traditional illustration policeman: ‘Yes, well that’s how it starts isn’t it? A couple of vectors here and there. A couple of Live Paint effects and you’re moving on to the harder stuff. You’re going on to layers, importing your ‘real’ art and before you know it that’s it! You’re not an illustrator anymore, you’re a Graphic Designer.’

Me: ‘I’m sorry! (Hangs head and whispers) I need help….’

 

Before Christmas, I started to use Adobe Illustrator to see what it’s like and I felt a bit ‘soiled’ and ‘dirty’ but all that has gone. It is incredible. Obviously very different but I am loving experimenting.  So you may see a few little computer illustrations thrown in as I learn to use to behemoth….. This one made me giggle:

Poop poop

 

 

I ❤️ Fairytales

art, childrens book illustration, Uncategorized

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Once upon a time there was a girl with straggly brown hair and green eyes that looked tired most of the time. She lived in the deepest, darkest part of the Shire and liked to spend her days dawdling, drawing pictures and writing stories. When she was about 8 years old she found a broken and bruised book in her parent’s book case called ‘Grimm’s Fairy Tales’. She opened it up and inside there were stories about Giants and Crones, beautiful milk maids and dwarves and ladies of the lake. There were a lot of words but in between were amazing pictures that intrigued and repulsed in equal measures.

I remember being that little girl. Seeing those Arthur Rackham plates in the book and reading these wonderfully creepy stories were my first real interactions with Fairy Tales and they started a life long obsession with the weird and wonderful.

If only life were a fairytale….. where we could try to avoid being cooked alive in house made of sweets or being eaten whole by a ravenous old wolf….if only….