Illustration

Commission Control

Good afternoon folks,

So it’s June, and I don’t know about anywhere else but Manchester is dealing with torrential downpours and gale-force winds. Delightful. Really puts you on the mood for summer, right? Thankfully, my work is based inside and with adequate shelter..

As I showed you all last week, I’ve been working on a one-page illustration for a submission to a cool project coming out later in the year. I was hoping to have it finished now but I’ve had some minor setbacks in finishing it up (those setbacks include being too tired to know what looks good anymore, and not being able to track down any on-offer Kettle Chips). But alas, of the progress I’ve made so far, here’s a sneaky preview:

In other news, I had the pleasure of working on a couple of commissions for a regular client, as gifts for his family. It’s a pretty interesting process to take someone else’s idea and turn it into a physical object, so I thought it might be cool to share it with you all.

On the left is the sketch I was sent via email, with what the client wanted for one of the pieces. In the middle is my initial pencil sketch at full size on layout paper, and on the far right is the final, painted illustration. Check it out:

The majority of my work is turning my own thoughts into comics and illustrations, so it’s really a pleasure to work on another person’s ideas. It’s especially satisfying working from something like a biro sketch! This was one of two pieces I worked on this weekend, with more plotted for later in the summer. If you’re interested in having you’re own ideas commissioned you can contact me via email, or put in a custom order request on Etsy.

Finally, if you’re keeping up with the up-and-coming creators on the small press comics scene, you’ll know that the Broken Frontier Small Press Yearbook 2017 cover has been announced!

Ellice Weaver’s cover for the Broken Frontier Small Press Yearbook 2017, out next month.

So colourful! Being released at Small Press Day next month, the Small Press Yearbook 2017 has work from Emily Rose Lambert, Rebecca Bagley, Kim Clements and many more.. including yours truly. And it’s going to be a good ‘un!

Aaand, that wraps it up for now. Until next time.. let’s all stay dry and if you’re UK-based, don’t forget to vote!

 

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Summer Scorcher

Good afternoon ladies and gentlemen.

So, another week has passed and I’m getting used to my new working schedule – huzzah! I’m even somehow managing to keep productive despite slowly melting in this unexpected English heat. The good news is that as I’m writing this the humidity has actually dropped down to 38% from our usual balmy 80-90%, though I’m sure it won’t last for long.. But this beautiful sunshine today perfect for working on the bright summery colours for my entry to kuš! comics, so I’ll enjoy it whilst I can.

As you may recall from last week I was just finishing up inking the final few pages before working on the colours for my BFF themed submission. Usually I come up with my colour scheme before I even start drawing up the roughs, but this time I threw caution to the wind and figure out the colours as I was going along, and picked the final swatches far later on. Here’s a little taster of the colour palette and progress on how I get the spreads figured out:

All the pages are inked!

Yep, my practice colours look like a child going nuts, but as it only acts as a guide I’m usually safe in the knowledge that no one sees this stage. But y’know, you guys won’t tell anyone.. Right? The next step for me is to put these very rough colours into painterly practice on some photocopies, just to make sure it all flows as I want it to. From there, as long as that all looks good I’ll carry on to the final pages and work my way through those. Long-winded, huh? But it works! Keep an eye out next week for some painting progress..

In a more sneaky kind of news, work has continued on the design of the covers and inner pages for Sneaky Business vol. 2! For the most part I want it to keep the original vibe of Sneaky Business vol. 1, but bigger and better. I’ve also been tagged in a handful of sneaky progress shots for SB from the likes of Alex HahnKLY R and more, and if you want to keep up with it all be sure to follow me on Instagram or Twitter for all the updates as they happen. I already have 4 comics finished and submitted by some awesome small press creators including the infamous Danny Noble, so in case you haven’t quite guessed from this past paragraph: Sneaky Business vol. 2 is going to be seriously good. There is still two and a half weeks to submit your 1-2 page sneaky comics, so come and join in the fun! All the details are available here.

Talking of seriously good stuff, Dirty Rotten Comics #8 launched last Friday, with 60+ pages of comic goodness from over 20 artists and writers including yours truly. My short comic SørgedagYou can get your copy of Issue 8 online, or at Gosh! Comics and Orbital Comics in London.

Finally, thanks to all those who came to visit the NN Table Top Sale this past Saturday at NN Contemporary here in Northampton. I think we were all relieved to find the event moved inside given the gales and rain (it’s August in England, and far too much of a common occurrence). I was sharing a table with the very talented Naomi Rose Johnson, and although it was a pretty quiet afternoon it was still pretty fun! As far as tabling and appearances, that’s it now until 1st October at Bristol Comic & Zine Fair, so time to focus on getting these comics done and Sneaky Business edited and sent off to print! You’ll all be glad to know I have plenty to keep me busy, so keep an eye out next week for further progress on my colourful kuš! comics entry and more. Until next time, peace out.

 

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Graduates Galore

Good afternoon ladies and gents!

So, it’s the middle of the week again and I think I’ve just about recovered from a busy week back and forth to London last week. Between D&AD New Blood Festival and Small Press Day it was a pretty active week, though I have made up for it so far this week by realising yesterday evening that the only time I’d left my desk in three days was to eat, wash, sleep, and walk to the post box. Oh, the life of a freelancer.

First up, D&AD! The New Blood Festival acts as a showcase to the best talents coming out of design courses from Universities across the UK, and I went down to Shoreditch for the open evening on Tuesday 5th and the entirety of Thursday 7th to represent my portfolio and work on display. I wasn’t really sure what to expect from a design festival, but it was very busy and full of keen graduates; having been used to manning tables of my own work and stock at comics festivals over the past year or so it was very surreal to only have one small area for my work. Although I didn’t manage to get any pictures, here are some from fellow graduate and graphic designer Megan Hughes:

In other news, it was the first ever Small Press Day on Saturday! As I mentioned last week, Small Press Day is an “An idea born on twitter led to a series of nationwide events in a matter of weeks. The reaction and the support of our aim (to spotlight the possibilities of small press publishing via store-based events and signings, in the first instance, and to bring its practitioners to the far wider audience they deserve) has been absolutely phenomenal. Join us on 9th July for the inaugural Small Press Day at one of the stores listed on the map below and meet the next generation of superstar comic creators, zine makers, and DIY micro publishers.” (From SmallPressDay.co.uk). Broken Frontier have rounded up the day in their expansive article from yesterday and can probably say it all far better than I can, so check that out for the full details. I didn’t get a chance to do much of the circuit, though I was lucky enough to be a part of the Broken Frontier ‘Six to Watch’ signing table with Editor-in-Chief of Broken Frontier Andy Oliver, and comic artists Emma Raby and Jey Levang at Orbital Comics.

Albeit a short spell behind the table, it was a lot of fun and I can’t wait for Small Press Day next year. Long live comics! Thanks SO much to all the lovely staff at Orbital Comics for being awesome and having us join in the signing fun! As a part of the promotion leading up to the event I also wrote a small recommendation piece for Broken Frontier, amongst other creators, championing other small press work. You can read what we all said here.

In a very welcome relief from a particularly low-spell, I was also alerted by my comics buddy Sam that Njálla had been featured in Warren Ellis’ newsletter Orbital Operations! Warren Ellis. Warren Ellis! How amazing is that?!

warrenellis

You can sign up to his newsletter here, or visit his website here. I’m still happy-dancing around to this news, although I should probably keep that to myself.

In other news, in the efforts to continue expanding my illustration portfolio and trying out new things I’ve been working on a new and exciting week-long project. As some of you avid readers may remember, last summer I spent two weeks backpacking across the main cities of Scandinavia with my better half Chris. A whole load of the research from this trip was fed into Njálla, which took around nine months from start to finish including the Kickstarter and launch. However, it wasn’t all just Noadi’s and lavvu’s, there is a whole wealth of experiences and travels locked up in my head that I’ve been wanting to play with. And, given that my three strongest passions in life are, 1) Drawing, 2) Travelling, and 3) Kettle Chips, I figured that I needed to start combining the first two in some form other than comics. So, let there be maps!

To begin with I’ve picked the three main cities we spent the most time in; Copenhagen, Oslo and Stockholm. From here I’ve designed maps encompassing the main attractions, and I’m just seeing how I can turn these into awesome pieces that could possibly be used as prints, for articles, or more! Above are some of the inks previews, but I’m *almost* finished.. So, keep an eye out next week for the grand reveal. If I never mention it again, it’s because it all went horribly wrong.

Finally, after an enquiry email into Sneaky Business submissions and artists rights I have updated the submissions page! Don’t forget you still have over two months to submit 1-2 page comics to the second volume of Sneaky Business, and I am so excited to see what lands in my inbox between now and then. As I said above, LONG LIVE COMICS! Any-who, that’s about it for now and the kettle is calling me (sadly not the chip variety). Have a good rest of the week, everyone!

x

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Bright Futures

As a submission to the Creative Conscience Awards 2016, I created a 24-second animation for the Unilever Bright Future campaign. Although my entry was unsuccessful, this project has been my first longer length animation project and I’ve learnt a lot that can be applied into future projects.

The full length animation can be seen here

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The Half-Way Mark

Good afternoon radiant readers.

So, is it Wednesday again already? It’s been another busy week here at HQ, juggling painting and scanning comics pages, finishing up and painting the frames for animation, and important, final degree things like portfolios and such. In the whirlwind that has been the last 2 and a half years, it’s now only four weeks until my final assessment and somehow everything in falling into place. It’s a busy time, but thanks to my militaryesque organisational skills and copious amounts of camomile tea I’m raging through like a woman on a mission.

As I mentioned last week, I’m currently working away each week painting pages, scanning them in, tweaking and slotting into place ready for printing. At an efficient rate of 10 pages a week, I’m comfortably on track at the half-way mark for the campaign, which has now been funded beyond double my original project goal! Heartfelt thanks to all my wonderful backers, and those new backers who know it’s fully funded, but are still pledging away regardless (Royal Mail are going to absolutely love me come May/June time). If you are a backer, you’ll know that you get exclusive updates and work-in-progress images before anyone else.. If you’re not a backer yet, you can either head over to Kickstarter and pledge now, or keep an eye out on this here blog for all the news a few days later. Here’s what you may have missed:

It’s so exciting to see Njálla come together in its final form, plus spending any spare time I have on the free colouring book for backers I’m getting more and more eager for the launch. Ahhh!

In other news, after all the excitement of the Kickstarter had subdued slightly I have been back to finishing up my animation for the Creative Conscience Awards submission, which I’m doing alongside Njálla as part of my final illustration portfolio for University. Although I was on track for completing this animation for the original deadline of the 7th April, it was a bit of a relief when they extended it to the end of this month so I had more time to spend on it and tweak it. Now, as any dedicated readers will be aware, I haven’t said a huge amount regarding this animation as Njálla has ultimately been the bigger, longer project, and the bearer of my soul for the past 6-7 months. However, this animation has been a huge undertaking for me, not only as it’s been juggled alongside other projects, but also because my experience in animation is pretty small.. Before I’ve only ever created short looping gifs, whereas this is a full 4-frames a second, 20 second animation.

Above is a short preview of the finished animation in part, as all the work is finished and scanned but I just have some finishing touches to work on digitally before submitting. Mainly, it’s a bit jumpier than I’d like it to be, so it needs smoothing out with some sneaky-tweaks. It’s all a learning curve! A steep, jagged, tiring learning curve.

In other very exciting news, after the announcement last week for the launch party of Broken Frontier’s Anthology and Small Press Yearbook, pre-orders for the Yearbook are now open! I am so excited for the release of this incredibly special collection, and as one of the featured comics creators from the Six UK Small Press Creators to Watch in 2015 I’m even more excited for Afloat to see the light of day! Working on that 10-page comic last summer was so much fun, and I really enjoyed stretching my story-writing muscles by tackling a 10-page slice of life tale.

If you’re not in or around London for the launch party at the end of this month (see more details in the Facebook event here), then you can pre-order your copy of the Small Press Yearbook, featuring Afloat, from the online store here. Editor-in-Chief of Broken Frontier, Andy Oliver, has had a strong ethos for this book from the start:

“To fully embrace the philosophy of this venture 40% of the Broken Frontier Small Yearbook‘s print run will be distributed as comp copies. This includes Yearbooks sent to comics publishers, commentators, activists and industry figures in order to introduce them to the work of Hathaway, Milton, Noble, Raby, Urbino and Vian.

The remaining number will be priced at as accessible a price point as feasible to ensure as many readers as possible discover the comics of the original Broken Frontier ‘Six to Watch’. To make that a reality this 100-page book will retail for just £6.00 for 83 colour and black & white story pages!”

– Andy Oliver, Broken Frontier – Broken Frontier Small Press Yearbook 2016 – Pre-Orders Now Open!

You can read the full article about the Yearbook here, with the details of the additional, supporting contributors here, and the pre-order release post here. In the run up to the aforementioned launch party at Gosh! Comics, Broken Frontier will be running exit interviews for us Six to Watch too, with the first article for Jess Milton coming out earlier this week – definitely worth a read. With copies of the Yearbook available from the end of April and Njálla released in early-June, I hope you’re all ready for some new reading material!

I think that’s about it for now! The kettle is calling my name (worrying, I know) and I have plenty to keep me busy for the rest of the day. Rest assured I will be back next week with (hopefully) a finished animation and more previews from Njálla! Until next time.. Have a good week everyone!

x

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Hope Centre

In November 2015 I was commissioned to create a half-page editorial illustration for the Northampton Hope Centre‘s Christmas fundraising campaign.

The Northampton Hope Centre works to relieve poverty and tackle the causes of homelessness in Northampton by giving people a hand up. For more information on the Hope Centre and the work they do, please visit their website here.

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The Elusive Title

Good evening happy campers,

It’s that time of the week again! And this time, I can’t think of a title – though as it’s coming up to my fourth year anniversary of blogging so I feel I’ve earned a pass for today. So, nerr.

I’ve had a nice busy week of organising twenty things at once, though I did take some time on Friday on my travels to Manchester to check out an exhibition and a degree show. First off was the Manchester Museum’s Making Monuments on Rapa Nui – The Statues from Easter Island, which is on until September. Learning about other cultures is really interesting, and it gives me plenty of ideas for future stuff.

Rapa Nui Monuments – A quick sketch-a-roo.

Secondly was the Manchester Met degree show, with Illustration with Animation, Graphic Design and Creative Practise on the same level. I was pretty blown away by the standard of work there, it was a really impressive display! It’s definitely got me thinking even more about my third year, and what challenges (and how much grey hair) my degree show will bring. Here were some of my highlights from Man Met!

So there’s enough of a terrifying kick into third year for now, though spending part of the summer brainstorming ideas of fundraising with my fellow students may well be in order. Along with the long list of other things I have to do before September. Bring it on! (She says, wincing..)

In other news, this past week I came across an event through Richy K. Chandler and Keara Stewart; Art Aid Nepal and their call for submissions for an anthology, around the theme of ‘home’. They are seeking contributions from artists until Thursday (25th), with proceeds going to support education and art therapy for children affected by Nepal’s earthquake. The brief is pretty open, with content being accepted in the form of a single page illustration, painting or comic/sequential art. Now, as I’ve been doing quite a bit of comic related work at the moment I decided to do a one-hit wonder for this, and mapped up my ideas on my weekend train journey’s and then sketched out and completed the piece yesterday morning. Even better, I managed to finish the piece before my 6-hour shift at the paid job, which made me nicely ahead of my week’s drawing-work schedule. Hurray! Here’s the piece below;

'HOME' - Art Aid Nepal Anthology Submission

It was a really nice piece to work on, with a brief touch of mixed processes honing the point, well, home. All submissions for this project are reviewed before selection, so fingers crossed I may get some good news in the coming weeks. Though, either way it was nice to work on something a bit more editorial, and I hope I did the theme justice.

Finally, I’ve been working on another short-deadline piece for the past week in the form of a two-page comic submission for Dirty Rotten Comics. Their summer anthology deadline is in a week, so I’ve had a busy day today inking away my creation, with the hopes that it’ll be complete by tomorrow if not Thursday by the latest. I’ll have to keep a top secret cap on that one until it’s complete though.. Because secret stuff is WAY more fun. Aside from that I’ll hopefully be able to let you all in on a few more secrets in the coming weeks.. For now, be rest assured that I’m hard at work and eating plenty of biscuits. Until next week!

x

 

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Spring is in the air! Oh no, wait, that’s rain.

Good evening one and all!

So, my prayers have seemingly been answered and a milder air has positioned itself over the UK, or at least – Northampton. Unfortunately that just brings a lot of rain, but at least I’m not being deafened by the sound of my chattering teeth! This past week has been another busy one, and even included a trip to Siberia! Kinda..

First things first, on Saturday I paid a visit to my favourite Manchester-based comic shop – Travelling Man! The ever-so-kind Haroon has taken on stock of The Red Road in his fine establishment, meaning that all of you Mancunians can pop on in, collect your numbered edition of The Red Road and also part with some more of your hard-earned money to visually stimulate your brain with the wonder that is visual narratives, in all its shapes and forms. Look! See!

The Red Road - on the shelves at Travelling Man Manchester!
The Red Road – on the shelves at Travelling Man Manchester!

Now that’s two places in the UK that stock The Red Road, and, as always, you can pick up a copy online via Etsy too. Whilst on the topic of The Red Road, yesterday marked the occasion of it being exactly one month since launch! In the past month I’ve packed up and sent out orders to many, successfully obtained my first review and managed to get stores to stock it in London at Gosh! Comics, and in Manchester at Travelling Man. As it stands, I have 42 copies left in my happy hands ready to distribute to any awaiting readers! In just under two weeks I’ll be hoping to sell some comics, postcards and other goodies to fellow students at a student market at the University Students Union, so keep your fingers and toes crossed everyone!

In other news, I’ve been making progress on a sci-fi themed narrative that is being shown via selected images and 3D objects, ready for a University exhibition on the 19th March! The exhibition is based on the theme of ‘Machines’, and us Illustration bunch plus some elective graphic design students are hosting our own exhibition on campus with our varying interpretations of the word machines. Naturally, I wanted to do a comic, but given the time constraints and exhibition end-goal, I’ve constructed a story around this theme, and a few key images will be displayed at the exhibition which may then lead onto a short story comic if I decide to take it further! For now, I’ll leave you with this sneak peek.. Can you tell what it is yet?

My biggest fan..
My biggest fan..

Ah yes, I mentioned Siberia at the beginning of this blog, didn’t I? On Saturday, aside from the Travelling Man fun, myself and my other half took a trip to the Manchester Museum to see their special exhibition on Siberia! After diving into Colin Thubron’s In Siberia a few months back I’ve found myself fascinated with this obscure place that’s one and a half times bigger than Europe (WOAH, right?!). Although I realise this is far from illustration-related, the exhibition is really interesting and definitely worth a look – it’s on until Sunday 1st March. I did spend a happy few moments trying to draw taxidermy lemmings at the exhibition too, so maybe keep an eye out for some lemmings creeping into my work at some point.. Alive ones, that is. The one saddening fact is that the Manchester Museum gift shop really lacked, so if anyone knows of any excellent books on the folklore and mythology of Siberia then let me know!

Finally, the creation of a zine amongst two of my fellow illustrator classmates (one of whom you can check out her Tumblr here) is coming along nicely! I mentioned previously that a university project led me to interview Hannah Berry, which will be super exiting to have her answers back in the coming weeks, but tonight I also sent off some questions to Northampton based comics creator and illustrator Melinda Gebbie, husband of the infamous Alan Moore! Fingers crossed these two interviews will be able to fit into our zine/journal nicely, with lots of other ideas up our sleeves. Fun times! Anyway, I think that’s it for now! And as my last piece of advice for this chilly Monday evening.. Don’t listen to what writers for The Guardian have to say, as they clearly don’t know where to look for excellent work. Thankfully, you can always rely on the comics creators picked on in such articles to have an excellent sense of humour. Over and out! x

Scott McCloud, our hero.

 

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