2023 has been a really interesting and very busy creative year for me, so I thought it would be nice to write a little overview here, with a lot of gratitude for all the opportunities and projects I was able to work on.
S P R I N G
I created a couple of new illustrations which became prints – my ‘Murmuration‘ piece (photo below shows a print in its new home in Norfolk – thank you to Ellie H!) and some cheerful Spring Flowers in a Spanish Vase inspired by some Andalucian ceramics I love.
I started working on a big CD + vinyl design project for Irish band Réalta (more on this later!)
I worked on and completed the design for new album “True North” for the wonderful musician Calum Stewart.
It was a real honour to get to design this for him as I have done for a couple of his previous albums too.
“True North” went on to win the prestigious PDSK critics award (German Record Critics’ Award) in the folk category, later in the year! Congrats Calum!!!
(Photos by Archie MacFarlane)
S U M M E R
I had the very exciting news that I was being commissioned by a UK research charity to produce a large illustration and worksheet for the EU Horizon 2020 project EU ARENAS.
Working with data and information/ideas from People’s Voice Media community workshops across various European cities, I produced a large scale detailed visualisation of a Utopian City of the Future. This was produced to comply with the colourscheme provided by the client, which happened to be very bright and colourful!
This was truly an epic illustration which I completed within the month of June and it involved a lot of very, very long days of drawing. Nobody really knows this yet but my computer actually imploded in the middle of the project and I was somehow able to smoothly replace it without stopping work even for a couple of hours, which felt like a minor miracle and a really good omen…!
I loved this job and felt really proud when it was being sent off to the EU Commission and launched at a workshop. Thank you very much to Hayley for all your ideas and guidance throughout the project.
Next, I was delighted to create the artwork and design for the new Melrose Quartet album “Make The World Anew“, which is a digipak and booklet. Most clients are moving toward all-cardboard/paper (no plastic) packaging these days which is really nice to see, and this album is a great example. The brief was essentially “optimistic, scarecrow, blue and yellow!!” and I was inspired by the song lyrics (as well as a recent trip to Cornwall in miraculous deserted early summer glory) to create this illustration and the packaging design featuring night turning into day, and bright skies with a dancing scarecrow looking out to sea. (Swifts make an appearance in this artwork and throughout the booklet – if you look at most of my recent work you’ll spot them, or at least birds of some kind). This project had a short turn-around but it felt easy and positive as I had a strong, simplistic vision for it immediately and I’m so pleased with the result – and the final printed product which came out perfectly, lovely and bright, thanks to the always brilliant quality of Birnam CD.
A U T U M N
I was really pleased to help out with some other small CD design projects including EP “The Journey Home” by Brendán Quinn – thank you Brendán!
I completed the big project for Irish band Réalta which we had started earlier in the year.
This was for their new album “Thing Of The Earth“, released both as CD and as a vinyl record (pictured).
The cover artwork is a stained glass window by Kerrie Hanna and the ink portraits are by Susan Hughes.
I devised the overall design, layout, colourscheme, textures, typesetting as well as editing and bringing together the art elements for a cohesive design. It was a lovely challenge to find a ‘look’ that would unite the stained glass artwork and the ink portraits, which brought very different aesthetic elements together. A huge thanks to Deirdre Galway for her thoughts, feedback, humour and innovative ways of finding wi-fi while sailing the high seas; it is always a pleasure to work together!!
You may also spot a sweetpea floral illustration I was comissioned to draw separately, which we added to the CD and vinyl designs as a meaningful and loving tribute for a family member who had passed.
Late Autumn brought a surprise in the form of my first full book design – for my old (as in longtime!!) friend the world-renowned flautist and composer Brian Finnegan.
“Timewaver” is an extensive collection of many (70+) of Brian’s original musical compositions spanning 35 years, complete with many stories and photos, and my job was to collect and form everything into a (rather chic) book, with many thanks to Ernesto Calderón Dondero for the sheet music transcriptions and Ellie West for the cover montage. Oh and huge thanks to Brian who as usual managed to co-ordinate his side of things while somehow being in multiple countries seemingly all at once, simultaneously on stage and yet writing and editing the text. In all seriousness, it was an honour to be trusted with such a big, meaningful project and a great challenge. This was certainly a team effort, across multiple time zones too.
(photos from Brian Finnegan, Damien Grenier, and Matt and Owen Rowland, all used here with permission)
I created a new Autumnal illustration “River Cam in Autumn” inspired by my beautiful home town of Cambridge and the cycling culture (and the lovely River Cam).
Giclée Fine Art prints are available!
I also created this new illustration “Take Flight“, on the theme of reading, inspiration and empathy.
Prints will be available of this piece too in the new year.
W I N T E R
I have been working on some artwork for a new and very beautiful instrumental album which will be finished next year, and thus I can’t show it yet – but I’m so excited to eventually be able to share it as it’s one of my favourite illustration projects EVER to date, for a very talented musician and composer.
I literally cannot wait (but I will!!!)
More on that in 2024!!
Finally, I spontaneously decided to take part in Jehane’s 12 Days of Christmas which is an art challenge run by the amazing illustration agent, artist and designer Jehane Boden Spiers. For the challenge, artists around the world had to create and post online (on instagram) one new illustration every two days of December, based on 12 prompts which were given at the start of the challenge. This really was a brilliant way to round off the year as although I was already starting to feel ready for a rest, I wasn’t quite ready to stop drawing!!! I did flounder slightly, energy-wise, about 1/3 of the way through but pushed on, and I’m really pleased with the work I created. Sometimes you just have to take a leap and commit to something without overthinking! It was also lovely because a small community formed on instagram around the challenge, and it was exciting and inspiring to see everyone’s work being posted every day. I’ve never taken part in anything like this before but this year my work ended just around the right time to allow me to do it. Really fun!
I’ve already sold a couple of prints from this series – very grateful for the enthusiasm and encouragement 🙂
I am now working on setting up an etsy shop where I will have art prints available to purchase.
I will also probably set up a shop page on my website, where you’ll be able to contact me to order.
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Massive thanks to everyone I have worked with this year and to everyone who has commissioned work, bought prints, and been generally encouraging and enthusiastic about my work!!
Happy Holidays to all and a Happy, Peaceful and Healthful New Year when it comes.