Wednesday, 29 February 2012

Max Dalton and Nate Williams

A quick reply from Max Dalton after looking through my work on my website.

Hi Rebecca,
I think you're on the right path. They're really no recipes in illustration. I only can quote Paul Rand "Don't try to be original, just try to be good". So, keep drawing more and more and when your sick and tired, keep drawing a little more. That's what I try to do everyday. Ideas and creativity will come alone, don't worry. And keep it simple!
If you're concerned about the illustration bussiness, here a good advice of Nate Williams.
All best

After reading through the advice of Nate Williams which Max suggested to look at there were a few tips which are pretty helpful,


After working as an art director for Microsoft’s Xbox .. I can’t say how important it is to have a positive attitude. Of course talent is crucial .. but talent isn’t the only thing that gets you work. People are people and it’s always nicer to work with someone that is positive and solution oriented. I used to hire tons of external agencies to create web sites and other online promotional material. All the agencies were extremely talented but those that could talk about their work in an exciting way, were easy to work with and accepted feedback well were the ones I hired over and over again.

I’m not saying do anything the client wants with a smile on your face. You were hired because you are an expert in your field .. articulate the decisions you made and get them excited about your ideas .. but it’s also important to stay positive and flexible.


You can save yourself a lot of extra work by asking a few questions up front.

First, get the basic information:

  • Technical Specs – size, bleed, resolution, etc
  • Important Dates – (Rough Date, Final Date)

If this is the first time working with this person ask them:

  • Why did you choose me for this project? (I like your concepts, I like your painterly style, your work is cute and works well for teenage girl magazines, your style is rough and dark and works well for this editorial piece on drug abuse, etc)
  • Which pieces of work do you particularly like and why?(I like the man on the boat cause it’s funny, I like all the texture in the piece you did for Converse, etc)
  • How did you discover my work?

This will give you a better idea of what the client likes about your work, why they chose you for this particular project and what they expect.

Next, get more information about the job, if it’s a long editorial .. ask them:

  • What part of the story do they really want emphasize?
  • Is there anything they want to stay away from?
  • Do they have any ideas?(This doesn’t necessarily mean to use the idea .. but it will give you a general idea of the path they want to take or what part they think is important/interesting)

Some great and helpful tips from Nate Williams about the illustration business and how to go about it!

Sunday, 26 February 2012

Max Dalton

So after talking to Nicola Slater about my portfolio, she mentioned an Illustrator called Max Dalton, saying he seems to work in a similar way to I, and she said how she loves how he has very little detail on his characters faces, just simple 'U' like shapes for the eyes, So i decided to take a look at his work and I think it is brill, from first glance his characters made me smile, very simple, simple shapes, simple colour, simple lined detail and having a route through the work on his website, certain things made me like this illustrator even more, firstly, seeing an illustration his produced based on Kill Bill, (which was strang as a few days before I had watched this film!) it took me a while to realise what the image was, but when I finally did, It made me smile.

He also did two images based on a film called The Big Lebowski, which I am a big fan of. I think these pieces were movie posters he had created, and they work so well, alot of pattern in one and lots of character in the other, they are brilliantly done and the use of colour works really well.
Also there was a poster for Pulp Fiction, people would say this is a classic film and it is one to watch and I recently watched it (after meaning to for a while now) and I really enjoyed it, and I love seeing work based on things I like, it draws me in more, and all these pieces drew me in to Dalton's work even more.

I'm going to try and get in touch with Max and see if he can take a look at my work (via my website as he lives in America) and see if he can give me any advice and constructive criticism.

Wednesday, 22 February 2012

Book Binding

Yesterday (21st feb) Lucy Wilson came and taught us how to bind books, at first I thought this is going to be a pain and that I would not be interested, but I actually thought it was really interesting and fun and easier than I thought it would be, so I would hopefully be able to make some more books in the future, hopefully containing my own work, would look pretty cool and much more personal than a bought sketchbook (which is what I usually keep all of my work in!)

To attatch the pages together we did the cool stitching technique, looks complicated but it's pretty easy once you get the hang of it, (after the first few pages) I'm a messy bugger so I don't think mine came out perfectly and it felt really loose before I put some glue on it, but after a couple of practices I think I could easily put together a perfect cute little book. Was a good and very helpful workshop! Which i'm glad I attended and i'm glad I had the opportunity to learn this fun and useful technique!

Portfolio Visit with Nicola Slater

So yesterday (21st feb) I went to see Nicola Slater with my portfolio, I emailed her to arrange a quick get together at the college, she emailed me back pretty quickly and said she looked at my work online and she loved it which made me feel confident about showing her my portfolio!

So flicking through my portfolio, she gave me a few pointers and told me what she prefered and what she thought my strongest pieces were.
Firstly she loved my little bear logo, thinking it was very cute and childlike, she is a children's illustrator so I thought she might like it!
She thought my Twinkle character was very strong and unique, but like everyone has mentioned, I need to work with my type, either just putting it plainly onto my images, or making it work with my images more, blending them together. Also she said my work looked stronger without the outlines, which I have stoped doing now anyway as I feel more comfortable without them.
She liked my colourful candy skulls and the patterns within them, very eye catching and fun.
She thought my 8x8 work from second year was very strong, but gave me a pointer on my bandit machine image to make it better, she said the type on the buttons needed to fit in better and they don't look like they belong with the image, so that is something I will hopefully work on in time. I told her that I struggle a little with typography and I love the typography used in her work and she said to just look at fonts already on the computer/photoshop and work with them, either just finding one that fits in well or try and copy it in my own style, which sounds like a good idea!
Like the other illustrators that have looked through my portfolio, she loves my james and the giant peach shark, she like that she could tell that it was not completely digital, so I have started to make shapes my hand again instead of making them completely digital, as it makes them stand out at little more as sometimes when everything is digital it becomes a little flat.
She also loved my gun, (everyone seems to!) she said she could pretty much tell what the article was about just from looking at it! so yay.
With my scorpion piece, she liked that I took some kind of insect/animal that doesn't really have a noticable face and something scary and turn it into something cute and friendly.
And she could tell that my portrait image off bradd pitt was him! I was a little worried about this peice, I really do love it but I wasn't sure if people could tell who it was without me telling them first, but she said it deffinatly looks like him, she liked the useage of shapes (the dots for hair) and she gave me and illustrator to look at aswell, which will help me with my portraits and human characters.

Overall it was a great visit, she gave some really good pointers about going to interviews, saying never to say anything bad about your work and people don't want to hear it, they want to see confidence and believe that you can do jobs they give you and just to keep doing what you love. She was so lovely to talk to and made me feel very comfortable, I will hopefully be keeping intouch with her and can hopefully show her some of my newer works in the future.

Thanks Nicola!

Friday, 10 February 2012

TWD Accountants

So yesterday (9th Feb) Chris and Sarah from TWD Accountants from across the road, came in to talk to us about starting our own business, and about become self employed, self employed can offer us more freedom and flexibility.
All the information given was very confusing! but they said we could pop in and see them any time and they gave us a discount card for if me need an accountant in the future, which was very nice of them!
They gave us some tips on starting a business, starting with making a business plan, including things such as market research, which is tings such as, target markets, the compeition, what is different about your company etc. Finance plans, what you hope the business will achieve, it's advantages, how things will run? this team and other working members. As business plan for when possibly going to banks for loans etc, must include a paragraph about each section.
You would need to work out how much money you would need to start things up, for things such as hiring staff, equipment and studio/building etc
To finance your business you can get bank loans, get people to invest in your business and you should always look for professional help! You could also contact your local job center as they can also help.
They also said they we should always keep recipts etc, just incase! even if they're online recipts and bank statements.
After taking also this imformation in and also information about TAX income etc, it was pretty scary! I didn't understand alot of it, but have time to get the hang of it. Starting a business up seems like something tricky, I don't think I could handle it on my own, It would be great to possibly do a split partnership with someone who I work well with and trust, that could be a great investment, but for now I think i'm heading for the self employed, free lancer! But you never know what might happen in the future!

Working with Art Directors/Agencies

Ian did a presentation on agencies and working with art directs etc, which I thought was very helpful (thanks Ian!)
It is always good to collaborate with other designers/agencies/clients and gallery owners and to deffinatly be doing self initiated projects, it is good to be adaptable and versile, work in new media and carry on experimenting! exchange your skills and carry on elarning things off your work partners/other illustrators. Keep supporting each other.
John Ferry said " Check list, Concept, Colour, Craftmenship, Contemporary style, Consistancy, Commitment and Confidence!
It is good to be consistant, some clients from looking at your work and know exactly what they want from you, so it is sometimes good to be fairly predictable. Always show commitment, any time you do work, get it online! on your blog website, keep people informed with what you are doing! This shows that you care about your work and want people to see it and having confidence about your won work makes clients trust you a little more, they will know that you will get the job done!
There are lots of skills to have to become a good free lance illustrator other than image making, things such as good manners, time management, networking skills etc, etc.
When working with art directors, we should always ask cetain questions about the commission, just incase they don't mention it to you, always ask for sixe of the image, colours, print run, fee and most importantly the deadline! You have to make sure you are able to do this piece of work by the deadline you are set and if not, be honest and tell them! They may give you some extra time. Also find out when roughs need to be sent off for approval.
Don't assume that they are more expierenced than you! (but don't be arragant)
And ask if they have any ideas that you could work with or if there is any way they imagine it to look.
Always work like a team player, try not to p**s anyone off! be flexable but don't be a pushover, as you don't want people to satrt walking all voer you and giving you impossible tasks.
Add notes to roughs, just incase things are not clear and always accept changes to your work, and always keep them informed of any problems, if it is problems with the work or time mangement.
Anything you do is yours! simple as, but always watch out for some agencies/companies that want your work for themselves, always read the contract as you can always say no, and tell them you don't agree with certain things.
Try to avoid signing all your copyright over as this can do yourself out of alot of money!
There is no copyright on style, but if you see your work somewhere you shouldn't see it, sort it out! Though if there has been 5 significant changes to a piece of work you feel is yours then there isn't alot you can do about it unfortunatly!
Working for free?
My opinion of this is that working for free is possibly a good idea at first, it could help build your portfolio and show that you are commited to what you are doing. But I probably would not do free work for the same people more than once as they might think you are abit of a pushover and will do antyhing asked. It is always a good diea to do free things while you are still studying.
You always base your free on the lenth of time the work will take, the print run, exposure, profile of the client, how much you want to do it and the going rate!
Always use a proper invoice! and always keep yourself a copy. Don't be affraid to call the accounts office just incase you haven't been paid ontime!
The pro's of being represented by an agent: They promote you, they do the leg work, they find you as much work as they can, represent you in toher countires, usually secure a higher fee for you, nervous lazy clients tent to use them, they invoice the clients for you (they do the tricky stuff!), they can act as a filter between you and the client.
I think I would like to be represented by an agent, as I'm scared of all the tricky business, invoices etc, but I suppose I would get used to it! But there are some cons, the biggest one being that they take 20%-33% of your money! (boo!)
It is best advised to only have one agent in the UK but you can have one somewhere else in the world!
But it is always best to try get some work published yourself before trying to get an agent.
I am so far happy with my promotional skills, my portfolio is getting better and better as time goes on, I am building my website which is looking pretty good so far ( I will be buying the URL soon. I am going to soon send off for some new business cards as I have a new number and a more professional email address and some new images to put on them, and I will be taking these to london to leave around! :)

Tuesday, 7 February 2012


this animation is similar to something I would like to do with my work, lots of shape and easy movements, i think i would possibly like to do most things digitally as my work, works better this way.


Pes animation are very unusual and interesting, I always get sucked in when watching a clip done by them, the usefulness of objects is amazing and they make it work so well, get imaginative ideas and sound effects

Vincent by Tim Burton

As you all now already know, I am a huge fan of Tim Burton's art work and films, including his animations, this is a short animation he did with Rick Heinrichs. Along with his other animations, The Nightmare Before Christmas and The Corpse Bride, Burton makes models of his characters and photographs them to create movements, some of the models are tiny robots which is a very interesting way of doing an animation, making 3d models aod cut outs for his backgrounds. This is a short story about a boy with an exciting imagination, who flips back a forth from reality to a fantasy where he is Vincent Price. Though my work is nothing like Tim Burton's and my animation (if I succed) Will hopefully be a colour one unlike this dark mysterious one, Vincent has always been an inspiration to me.


This is a short video directed and produced by my friend Theo Kirkpatrick, it is a piece he did for his FMP for a media course he did at The Manchester College, It is about an interest in gaming is taken too far, it is a mix of real life film and animation, interestingly done and put together and is also very fun and cleverly done.

I love the simple shapes and characters and they way they move, very simple and not too fast or confusing and I also like some of the fading effects used (when the wizard fades and dissapears) very interesting

Monday, 6 February 2012

Manchester Museum Event, 28th Jan

So, got to the museum for about 9:45 thinking, "i'm not going to enjoy today!" but once it got going, I had a great time! Me and Rosie, both the scorpion girls, were sat together and at first, no children wanted to come to us! One child just looked at us and cried! eeek. But children came and went, some getting a little bored of colouring and cutting out, so we helped out alot, and so did the parents! I think through the day there was one child who sat and did the whole thing all by her self. Some teachers and parents even asked if they could take a sheet home to do there or photocopy for other children, which was good :)
I also had made little scorpion stickers and rosie made badges, the kids went crazy for them! They had all gone by the end of the day. I think I had 40 activity sheets and there were too left by the end, lots and lots of rainbow colour scorpions were made!

It was a very fun day over all, wouldn't mind doing something like that again :) success!

How The Very Hungry Caterpillar is our favourite and most widely read children’s book:

Found this interesting Article on children's book, thanks to Chloe Jones.

How The Very Hungry Caterpillar is our favourite and most widely read children’s book: Cinderella, Postman Pat, Fireman Sam and Spot the Dog also make the top 10!

By Daily Mail Reporter

He’s been munching through fruit, cake and sausages for more than 40 years…but children still haven’t lost their appetite for The Very Hungry Caterpillar.

Eric Carle’s 1969 tale about a caterpillar that becomes a butterfly is the most read children’s book in Britain, a study revealed yesterday.

Researchers estimate it is read an average of nine times a year by the nation’s 5.5million primary school children.

Nation's favourite: The Very Hungry Caterpillar, first released in 1969, is still British primary school children's most popular book, with nine reads each year

Nation's favourite: The Very Hungry Caterpillar, first released in 1969, is still British primary school children's most popular book, with nine reads each year

The second most popular book is the Cinderella fairytale, read around 8.7 times a year, according to the poll of 2,000 parents.

The report, commissioned by the Early Learning Centre, also found parents actively encourage their children to read books they enjoyed as youngsters, prompting the comeback of a string of classics.

Popular: Books about Postman Pat, and his trusty cat Jess, came in at fifth in the poll with 7.49 reads each year

Popular: Books about Postman Pat, and his trusty cat Jess, came in at fifth in the poll with 7.49 reads each year

Yesterday Nicki Tracey, Head of Brand Communications for the Early Learning Centre said: 'A huge amount of parents are familiar with the story of The Very Hungry Caterpillar and it’s a book that has obviously been passed down through the generations.

'It’s great to see so many books on this list that parents have obviously enjoyed themselves as children and as a result encouraged their own children to read and love as well.

'It’s especially good to see that so many parents and children enjoy reading these stories that they re-read the same books over and over.

'Reading boosts children’s development, teaches them new words and helps them discover and learn about the world.'

The third most read books were Roger Hargreaves’ Mr Men series followed by the Peppa Pig books based on the Channel 5 TV show and John Cunliffe’s Postman Pat adventures.

Parents and children read about Postman Pat’s adventures an average of 7.5 times a year while The Gruffalo, Julia Donaldson’s animated modern fantasy about a fictitious monster who lurks in the woods, is likely to be read at least seven times a year.


(The figures are based number of times each book is read a year per household)

1. The Very Hungry Caterpillar - Eric Carle 8.85

2. Cinderella - Various 8.71

3. Mr Men - Roger Hargreaves 8.41

4. Peppa Pig - Various 7.72

5. Postman Pat - John Cunliffe 7.49

6. The Gruffalo - Julia Donaldson 7.48

7. Fireman Sam - Various 7.43

8. Spot the Dog - Eric Hill 7.39

9. Biff, Chip and Kipper - Roderick and Cynthia Rider Hunt 7.31

10. Horrid Henry - Francesca Simon 7.25

Roald Dahl’s 1964 Charlie and the Chocolate Factory, Dr Seuss’s 1957 book The Cat in the Hat and the 1980s Spot the Dog series also made the top 20.

The study also found most parents said their children picked up a book and either read to themselves or got their parents to read it every day.

And ninety per cent claim their children read or were read to at least three times a week.

Parents also agreed that sons and daughters had very different tastes when it came to their reading habits but both preferred adventure stories.

One in five parents admitted to bribing their children to read by offering them pocket money.

Technology has also had an impact on how children read with more than a quarter of parents saying their child had read a story on an e-reader.

The poll also found 12 per cent of parents said their offspring liked reading books based on films or TV shows.

I thought this article was quite interesting as I have decided to create a book cover for Cinderella as part of my FMP and to find out that it is one of the most read children's books has given me another push to work even hard to produce a new cover for the story with out repeating what has already been done, creating new ideas and something different in style. Wanting to keep the cover child friendly, i also want to make it quite dark as most of the covers I have seen for Cinderella are all happy and magical, but the story also has dark and saddening plots and events. I do want to keep the illustrations quite literal as it is a children's book and going metaphorical or too illiterate might make it too confusing.

It is also nice to see that Biff, Chip and Kipper, one of the series of books I used to read as a child, still in the top ten most read books! It was one of the well known series of books when I was a kid and it's good to see that children are still reading them, considering children's tv shows have completely changed, I did not think many of the books I read as a kid would still be well known, Postman pat has always been a favourite of children, but the tv show has completely changed, it is just not the same anymore.

The Mr. Men series as still as good as ever, simple shaped characters that are so lovable!

Saturday, 4 February 2012

Maggie Li

Textures, Textures, Textures!!! I like that the shapes of some of these are not perfect, result of screen printing i'm guessing! Really need to start screen printing! I think it will work really well with some of my work and i will get results similar to these works.

Frann Preston-Gannon

Frann Preston-Gannon's skeleton work gave me an idea for part of my Rapunzel book cover, as I wanted to illustrate all the men that have tried to save her from the tower, and I want to illustrate this by adding skeletons to my imagery and Frann Preston-Gannon's work inspired this idea. These are the skeletons that I have created so far, but I am thinking of screen printing these, as I think that if the ink runs a little bit it may give a nice feel to them and then they will not look so 'perfect' as skeletons are usually rotting and not perfect shapes. So screen printing might give a nice textured feel to them.
I also like the backgrounds on the top two skeleton images (coffin ones) having different shades and strips of one colour instead of one colour in the background, gives more depth and patterened feel to the imagery and makes the lighter colours stand out more.

Alice Lickens

Alice Lickens is a freelance illustrator & designer based in London also working as one fifth of Zombie Collective.
Lovely use of textures and shape, as i've mentioned in earlier posts this is what I work well with so I like to look at illustrators/artists that do this well, that will inspire me and my work and help me spark new ideas and possibly new ways of working and development.

I like the use of pattern and shape in the "atoms" pieces, they are unusual but it is nice to see some sciency illustrations!

The Art of Tim Burton: Creative Review

For Christmas, my lovely boyfriend bought me this book. The Art of Tim Burton, it's a book full of his illustrations and interveiws and notes of his friends/family and fans. So inspiring! I was expecting it to be pretty small, but it's huge! I was so surprised. If you are a fan of Tim Burton I would deffinatly recommened buying this book, it is a little pricey, £50, there are also other editions with post cards and signed thing, but they cost much more than this!

So many crazy characters and bright colours! He has the strangest imagination, but this is what attracts me to him!
There are lots of fold out pages, and lots of sketches from his first thoughts on characters for some of the films he directed/written.

I am inlove with his work and his crazy mind, I especially love his stories from "the Melancholy Death of Oyster Boy and other stories" that I even have a couple of his designs tattooed!

The Melancholy death of oyster boy and other stories is another book I would reccommened, it's just a book full of short story/poems about wierd and random situations, for example, a couple who gave birth to a robot baby and the only explanation is that she slept with a kitch applience, I told you they were wierd! they also come with little illustrations on the side, very funny, very random and imaginative again, if you like strange things I'm sure you'll love both these books.


A random shopping trip to ASDA, found these cute little biscuits! with cute little illustrations on the packaging.

Nicola Slater

Unfortunatly, I wasn't able to attend the talk by Nicola Slater, but as she is a professional childrens book illustrator I had a little nosey at some of her work.
I really like her work, the use of shape and texture is inspiring as I am becoming very comfortable using these, her child like animal characters are so much fun and child friendly, such simple shapes make very detailed characters.

I also love her typography, she seems to have many different styles of typography, and they all seem to somehow fit in perfectly with her imagery, even though they are done in a different style. I always try to make my typorgraphy in the same style as my imagery, but I can never get it right, maybe I should try something completely different and fit it in some how, in a similar way to Nicola,

She is a very interesting illustrator, her work inspires me and makes me feel good about my own work.
As I am quite interested in childrens book illustration, I may email Nicola and see if she would take a look at some of my work and give me some advice.

Her use of colour is also interesting, nothing to bright and alot of pastle colours seem to be used which work quite nicely and are not too bold and taking over the imagery.
I also like her use of shading and shadows, which is something I don't usually think about when illustrating, but when drawing I also add lots of shading, maybe this is something more I could add to my illustrations to give them a little more depth and make them more interesting.


For my FMP, I have decided to take part in the Penguin 2012 competition, doing a book cover for Puffin's Grimm's Fairy tales! But obviously this isn't enough for a 16 week project, So I have decided to do 2 more book covers for a couple of the well known grimm's fairy tales, the ones I have chosen to illustrate are Rapunzel and Cinderella.

Along with the book covers, I am hoping to make some book marks using similar imagery which I will create.

As Rapunzel and Cinderella are both princess storys which attract little girls, I was hoping to also make things such as birthday cards and wrapping paper, creating characters and patterns.

I don't want to be too literal with my imagery, but again I don't want to go completely metaphorical or off top as the books are ment for younge children so they need to illustrate what the stories represent.

The main Grimm's book cover will be more of a challenge as I will need to encorporate differeont elements from a few stories as there are many different ones, but I think I will mostly work with the more well known ones, such as Tom Thumb, Hansel and Gretel, Red Riding Hood, Sleeping Beauty, Rumplstiltskin, etc.

I want my 3 book covers to have similar imagery, showing that they are part of a set of covers, so you can tell they were done by the same illustrator, being me of course.