This is a recent illustration commissioned by CO Gas Safety for an article in The House Magazine about the importance of testing for Carbon Monoxide, also known as the silent killer.
My aim was to illustrate the way symptoms of CO poisoning, similar to symptoms of a virus including Covid-19, are often misdiagnosed. A common theme in the stories of victims and survivors included in the article is the lack of understanding and concern they experienced.
For more information, go to the CO Gas Safety website:
My recent three-day residency at the new St Albans Museum was part of the ‘And So She Did’ programme and looked at three women with some connection to St Albans – Constance Lytton, Sarah Churchill and Boudicca.
The brief was to work with visiting families and adults to produce large-scale pop-up constructions featuring the three women. I aimed to give the feel of a picture frame combined with stage set and to create a narrative for each of the women using elements from their lives along with the use of text. Preparation was key but also important was an understanding that the participants would ultimately determine the direction and look of the final pieces. Week two of the project had further workshops with textile artist Flea Cooke creating banners about Margaret Wix, Syeda Momotaz Rahim and Muriel Green.
If you like beards and pop-up books and have young children, then this is the workshop for you.
Make your own beard-themed pop-up creation in my next hands-on, half-term workshop at the Florence Nightingale Museum. For my return visit to this lovely venue located within St Thomas‘ Hospital, I’m taking my inspiration from ‘The Age of the Beard’ exhibition currently on show there to deliver three 1-hour family sessions encompassing 3D paper skills, design and illustration.
Learn how to make pop-ups with moving parts and how to assemble a finished book.
The workshops are suitable for 5+ with parents and carers. Adults will be encouraged to take part but don’t worry, no experience necessary and results are guaranteed. Materials will be provided, you just bring the creativity!
The workshops are free but normal entry fee to the museum applies. Booking is recommended.
As part of CO Awareness week last November, I was one of six illustrators asked to re-interpret drawings of the invisible CO monster by a group of young children. We were given the freedom to eloborate but without radically departing from the basic design – it had to be recognisable as the image it was based on.
Apart from five year old Theo’s drawing, the only other information I was given by the client (Propellernet) was that apparently ‘the monster’s right ear makes him go invisible, and his left ear makes him visible again’.
Interpreting the drawing required a little bit of guesswork – some parts were obvious and some, not so much. I think Theo started the body in the usual way – I could see 3 white snowman-type circles – before adding more ghostly, gassy, swirly ‘invisible’ shapes. There’s two feet at the very bottom which I made more flowing. I quite liked the idea of incorporating all Theo’s markings into the design as well. I wasn’t sure what the blue lines near the bottom were, maybe they were there to give the idea of the gas as a flame.
I could clearly see a mouth which could be turned into a definite feature but I wasn’t quite sure what the red lines on either side were – fumes? I added them anyway as extra arm / tentacle things. The hair/gas at the top seemed fairly clear to me but I wasn’t sure if the black thing sticking on the right-hand side was an arm. Is it an arm?
There’s a video of all the children on Youtube – part of the campaign against the invisible killer. Some facts about our awareness of Carbon Monoxide and it’s dangers can be found on the stats. sheet above. Do your research and get informed – it could save your life.
For those who couldn’t make it to my recent workshop at Imagine Festival of the Arts in Sutton, here’s a video tutorial for the pop-up time machine. It comes in two parts: how to draw the time machine and how to make the pop-up.
The theme of the festival was HG Wells – he lived in Sutton at one stage – and I based the time machine on the one in the 1960 film. I did take a few liberties: the time machine in the film doesn’t actually move location but instead the surroundings change as the date changes. I designed the pop-up to make the time machine look like it’s moving through time and space to give a more dramatic effect.
The basic abstract design is nice in itself and can be used to create all sorts of designs.
Happy Hallloween! Here’s a video of Spooky Ride, my first ever pop-up book, published by Tango Books way back in 2001. Spooky ride was the start of a long and fruitful relationship with Tango Books that still continues. The paper engineer for the project was the very patient Matt Johnstone whom I bombarded with questions at the time. It wasn’t until pop-up book 2 that I took on that role myself, picking it up as I went along.
I’d seen a funfair ghost train in Finsbury Park and wondered how that could translate into 3D book. The final book has one continuous train track running through holes in the pages, out the back of the book, round to the front and back in again – so you can read it over and over and over and over… My brief was to base the illustration style a little on ‘Funnybones’, keep the colours pure and make it scary! – well, sort of, it’s a children’s book.
Given my work on two children’s theatre productions presented by Half Moon over the last 3 years it seems fitting that the current venue for my touring exhibition is also a theatre. Park Theatre in Finsbury park has kindly agreed to host the show for the month of December to coincide with their production of Rapunzel.
The other connection for me is that the pop-up books seem quite theatrical in their own way. Just like stage sets, all is not what it seems, the illusion can be broken by deconstructing the constructions or going behind the scenes.
The work on show are examples of flat illustrations from the books or those pop-up spreads that can be easily merged.
The artwork is produced using a combination of traditional and digital media. Most start as pen and ink outline drawings which are then scanned and further developed in photoshop where the colour is also added. Because of this, the final artwork exists in digital form only.
What you see in the exhibition are signed and numbered archival prints, produced at the London Print Studio on 290gsm A2 Ilford Gallerie Pearl paper in editions of 25 using Epson Ultrachrome pigment inks.
The exhibition runs until 10 January 2016 and can be found in the theatre’s stalls and mezzanine corridors. All the prints are for sale.
What I like about Illustration Friday is that it gives me the chance to revisit some of my past work. This week’s word is ‘Treasure’. The picture shows, what else, artwork from pop-up picture book no.2, Pirate Treasure Hunt, published by Tango Books.