About Peony Gent

Originally from the countryside of Cambridgeshire, I’m currently studying Illustration at Edinburgh College of Art. Whilst I'm still developing my own personal style I keep a keen interest in the methods and approaches of other artists, whether they’re working in film, design, fine art or any other field. Having worked on various student newspapers and journals for the past three years I am extremely excited about this opportunity, and hope to offer some really interesting new talent. I also enjoy tea, cats, and watching unhealthy amounts of reruns of Takeshi's Castle in my pyjamas.

Sophie J Cunningham

Sophie J Cunningham is living proof of an age old vital fact about illustration: working traditionally will simply never go out of style.

In this increasingly digitalised age, not being super top notch on your photoshopping skills or not being able to afford the most recent C200 Adobe suite (which’ll only set you back a couple thousand hundred pounds of course) can make you feel a bit lost in the times; however illustrators like Sophie are here to show how you can throw your Wacom tablet into the wind and make absolutely stunning work with just a brush and some paints.

Having just graduated from the Edinburgh College of Art and still maintaining that she doesn’t “quite know if I have a career yet“, Sophie’s style is entirely hand painted- a delicate way of working that requires a lot of patience, but also produces rather beautiful results. The tone and texture of her pieces have a lot more depth and soul thanks to this I believe, and her hand-drawn lettering is very original yet as neat and crisp as any computer type face.

When asked this question [on why she works so traditionally] I usually joke that I don’t work digitally because I don’t know how to use the Adobe suite (I don’t have a clue!), but really it’s just because I love what I do. I’ve always painted. It does take a long time and I often end up with a claw for a hand after a hard days work, but the satisfaction  I get from the work, as well as people’s reactions to my paintings makes it worth it for me. It feels nice to be doing something that’s a little different. At the moment, I just want to keep doing what I enjoy, but I’d never rule out working digitally in the future.

In content her work definitely has the kind of look that would be perfect for things such as children’s books and decorations: it’s vibrant, adorable, and slightly stylised. However she also has produced some more elegant pattern designs (such as the vinyl cover for Elton John’s Bennie and the Jets album that you can see in the top insert picture to the left hand side).

She also professes that she “devoured encyclopedias as a child” leaving her with a great love for “anything to do with natural history“. This interest can really be seen in a lot of her works – her final University year was devoted to researching polar exploration, and it’s really lovely to see old subjects or events such as the adventures of Ernest Shackleton or William Hardy (who discovered circulation of the blood) be rediscovered and imagined by her. As she says herself: “I really enjoy taking historic imagery and making it accessible and relevant today”.

And as for the future she is currently balancing a part time job with painting to keep herself afloat, but if anybody is around in Edinburgh from mid-August this year she has her first solo exhibition in Eteaket on Frederick Street for the duration of the Fringe, which I’d highly recommend checking out. She would also love to design her own range of illustrated merchandise- “Maybe even a shop to sell it in (a girl can dream!)”

 

To see more of Sophie’s work look below:

 

Website

Twitter

Fionn Jordan

I’ve tried again and again to think of something better to start this article, but to be honest I can’t think of anything better than this: Fionn Jordan is simply kickass.

I mean, I have something of a bordering obsession on browsing artists and checking out illustrators, and I must say it’s not that often that I just stop and can’t say anything but “that’s just so cool“. And as much as I’d like to think of an eloquent intellectual reasoning for how much I like Fionn’s work, instead it simply all boils down to the fact it is just all very very cool.

(Also before I go any further here’s a short disclaimer: it’s an Irish spelling, and so it’s Fionn as pronounced ‘Finn’)

Spidery ink lines and intricate patterns does immediately remind you of one of his self-professed heroes; Victorian illustrator Arthur Rackham. However think more Arthur Rackham meets Tank Girl meets old Kung Fu movies: all joining to create a headily original and exciting style.

His range of work is also pretty impressive, and seems to have managed to skip nicely past the age-old illustrator trap of ‘finding one thing you can do well and never experimenting with anything else’. Instead even just scrolling through a few pages of his website alone there are examples of skateboard decks he’s designed, zines he’s worked for, noodle advertisements, a huge variety of different character designs, and on top of that a 40 page original comic he somehow found the time to make.

The short graphic novel Vinyara, is a tale of “a talented yet purposeless individual and her trials as she attempts to find herself” (or for a less formal introduction “just a lass killing people with a sword”), and the previews look astoundingly professional for someone who by his own admission”never intended to become a comics artist“. Rather what joins all of these diverse and varied interests and pieces is that, in his own words, “it’s just narrative illustration that I love … it doesn’t have to be comics, I’m writing a children’s storybook at the mo, with watercolours, and I like that too. As long as there’s a story involved, even if it’s just a picture of a goblin carrying a chunk of meat…where did he get that meat from? Probably that three legged cow in the background”.

And having only just graduated from the University of Cumbria I’m sure there’s a lot more work to come- in the near future alone at least Fionn is (amongst other things) working on a watercolour children’s book, producing a medieval board game, travelling around Japan and China and making a couple of zines. So, you know, I guess you could say he’s not lacking in too much creative energy or anything.

But I’ll leave you with links to his website, twitter, Tumblrand also some short questions he kindly answered for me (see below). And I really recommend giving it a read, because well, he does just seem like a cool guy.

 

What or who would you say are your biggest influences?

John Bauer and Arthur Rackham. I absolute love that golden age of illustration folk lore stuff, it’s what I grew up seeing. There’s a book called The Little Grey Men – it’s brilliant – and I don’t know who did the illustrations for the version with the orange cover, but they’re in my mind till I die. Edmund Dulac, too. That’s the watercolour side of things.

The other side of things is that fineliner stuff I do, most of it’s black and white, like my comic Vinyara. Sergio Toppi, he’s my biggest influence for that. His Arabian Nights illustrations are the best, you should check them out actually. I think some manga stuff influences me more than I think…Cowboy Bebop and Samurai Champloo, Studio Ghibli of course, and Mushishi. And Hong Kong cinema, particularly Shaw Brothers movies.


Your penwork and draftmanship skills are really impressive, and it clearly takes a lot of time to create such detailed pieces- do you ever get bored or frustrated of working in such an intricate way?

I don’t get bored as drawing gives me a chance to think. I do too much. I think everyone does, just constantly doing things that your brain focuses on, even if it’s scrolling through facebook. Drawing’s good for me in that way, gives my mind a chance to do what it wants not what I make it.

Ahah, I’m not sure frustrated is the right word, I just feel a sense of unstoppable hopelessness when something is turning out crap! And I get cramp in my little finger, that is frustrating, actually.

 

What would you say if the proudest moment of your career or the piece of yours you like the most?

Well…I was picked to go to this big exhibition called New Blood and I graduated too. They’re important, but they don’t actually mean that much to me. There are two moments which really stick in my mind – they aren’t dramatic at all, but they meant something. So you know when you just get something, or it really feels right, like a picture or a song? There’s a musician called Historian Himself, he’s not very famous, so I’m really fortunate I found him. His music isn’t perfect but there’s something about it which gets me in the gut, you know what I mean? Anyway, at my final show, there was a woman and her daughter looking at my work, and I was milling around trying to do that socialite thing (which I hate). Eventually she grabbed me and told me how much she liked it, so I talked to her for a bit, and I could tell that she did really like my work. It’s not perfect either, I more than anyone think that, but I think she had that same feeling as I do about HH’s music. It felt really good. 

The second thing is Historian Himself saw some of my comic pages and messaged me saying he liked them, that felt good too, like that little cycle had been completed.

What does the immediate future hold for you and your career?

Some or all of the following: A children’s storybook with watercolours, some more comics, the production and creation of a Hnefatafl-esque game called King Of The Hill, screen printed skateboards, probably a few months in Japan before I go to China and a series of documentaries where I play a caricatured version of myself and ride my unicycle. Oh, and a zine with some illustration buddies (Matt Boak, Robert Marshal, Ben Walton, Jonny Clapham). That’s gonna be really good, probably really bizarre, too.

And lastly, do you tend to listen to any specific music or podcasts whilst working at all?

Oh yeah, depends what I’m drawing. I usually work in silence on watercolour and ink pieces, not sure why. If anything, then Hedningarna or The Iron Horse (Scottish one not the American one).

I’ll stick on a Shaw Brothers movie if I’m doing Vinyara stuff, One Armed Swordsman, Clan Of The White Lotus, they’re wicked! That or oriental trip hop stuff Wy-i or Mujo. Also Takewon TakeL. Stereowon.

 

James Lancett

Originally from Wales illustrator and animator James Lancett graduated from Kingston University in  2011, and has since launched an increasingly impressive career in the arts world, with a warm and textured style that can’t fail you make you feel all fuzzy inside just looking at it.

Lancett’s showreel (see the video on the left hand side) shows some of his most recent animations, my personal favourites being Overcast, a rather sweet story about a cartoon character’s inability to get along in the real world due to an ever-present raincloud over his head, and The Diver, about a swimmers flights of fancy.

All of Lancett’s animations have a simple warmth and tone to them that carries across to all of his illustration work as well, which keeps on Lancett’s consistent style.

 

LINKS

Website

Vimeo

Tumblr/Blog

Twitter

Lancett is also currently represented by agency JellyLondon, and you can see his profile on their website here.

Robert Marshall

 

Illustrator and graphic designer Robert Marshall has a style that’s slick, professional, and purposeful: you could easily assume he’s been working the industry for years, whereas he’s actually only just graduated this year (that’s with a degree from the University of Cumbria if you’re interested). 

His book cover design for Chandler’s The Big Sleep was actually the first thing that really caught my eye when looking at his website: the photo collaged flower design is really striking, and shows a really strong grasp of aesthetics and composition that carries on through everything else that he produces. Filters and noise layers also add a kind of personal touch that stops his work from having that overly clinical ‘photoshop’ effect that many graphic designers can fall victim to- Robert instead takes that clean editorial vibe and mashes it with his own strong independent aesthetic.

And whilst his posters and book covers are gorgeous his personal and zine illustrations are simply wonderfully vibrant and bold: slightly retro aliens and geometric monsters (whist only a ‘bit of fun’ in his own words) are some of my favourite things that I’ve seen all week.

So really, I recommend checking his website out as much as I can really- for between the silly monsters and clean-cut design work I’m sure there’s something you’ll enjoy.

 

 Robert was also lovely enough to give some answers to a quick few questions here below:

What would you say is the biggest inspiration for you in your illustration work?

I love strong shapes and colours so I would say collage is a big inspiration to me and that is how I see my way of working. The illustrator who has inspired me the most though is Matthew Lyons. His colours and textures and compositions are amazing plus I love the sense of drama he gets into his work.

Is there a particular piece of work or moment in your career so far you’re proudest of?

My facourite pieces are probably the Bagatelle cover and Porn Monsters. Proudest moment is getting my work in Digital Arts in the showcase section.

What are your future plans now you’ve recently graduated? 

My future plans are to make some collective zines with other illustrator friends and also to try and get an agent. 

Your work has a very definite style and tone to it, have you always worked in this way or has your style been a recent development?

I haven’t always worked like this it has been a very recent development. When I first started my course I was really hung up on getting a ‘style’ but my tutor told me to take my time and not to think about it. Instead work in whatever way or technique interested you at the time and what felt right for the work then your style would evolve and develop itself. After three years I can see now that what he said was true and my current style came very naturally from playing about.

And finally, are there any particular musicians or perhaps radio shows/podcasts you like to listen to whilst working?

I listen to a range of music whilst working but the main ones are Andre Williams (he is brilliant you should definitely check him out), MF DOOM, Boiler Room sets and Mark Mcguire.

 

LINKS:

Website 

Emily May

Emily May’s illustrations are simply lovely and adorable in every way, with a sweet style that suits any kind of commercial brief. Having done work for ASOS, Urban Outfitters, Cath Kidston among many others whilst even helping redesign an entire PDSA shop in Leeds, she’s got an impressively full portfolio for someone who only graduated in 2010 (that’s from Leeds Met with first in Graphic Design).

My favourite pieces of her work have got to be her cat and dog print designs (the dog one you can see on the left here), which are intricate and cute in equal amounts. Her style is mainly based on her detailed line penwork, but she also uses a fair bit of digital colour to add variety and tone, which works very well.

She was also lovely enough to answer some quick questions for me, so here’s a little interview for you:

What part of your career or portfolio so far are you most proud of?
Supporting myself as a Freelance Illustrator for nearly 2 and a half years has been a massive achievement for me. Its a terrifying prospect for any young creative to come out of University and try to make it on their own in the real world. I’m proud of myself for having the guts and determination to stick it through and get to where I am now. In regards to my portfolio, though its pretty awesome seeing my illustrations printed in magazines or on peoples sweatshirts, I think I get more of an overwhelming sense of gratitude when I sell a print in my shop; knowing that a person wants to hang my drawing in their home is the loveliest feeling.


Do you have a dream commission, or do you simply enjoy the act of creating in general?
I don’t know if I have a dream commission really, I just love any work that comes my way where I can put my own creative twist on things. For anybody that has seen my work, its probably quite clear that I’m somewhat obsessed with animals and working for the PDSA was probably the most rewarding project I’ve ever done; so getting commissioned by the RSPCA or WWF would be beyond amazing. I could easily spend all hours of the day drawing kittens, so to avoid this I prefer working to a brief, that way I keep myself challenged.


All your animal drawings, but the cats in particular, have such a great sense of character- but are you a cat or a dog person?
I have 100% belief that my dogs love me more than anybody ever will in the whole entire world, and I also believe that the only reason my cat is rubbing up against my ankles right now is because he wants to be fed. But at the end of the day, I couldn’t live without either and I find them equally as hilarious with buckets of personality – and that’s what makes for a great drawing.


What  does the immediate future hold for you and your work?
I’ve got a few things on my plate right now. I’m currently working on an illustration for Cath Kidston and I’m very excited for when that goes to print, and I’m also working on an animation project which is scary new territory for me but something I’m really enjoying. 


And lastly: what or who is the biggest influence on your life and work?
If I had to choose one person it would be my granddad. I remember from a very young age sitting on his lap whilst he looked at my drawings and showed me how to improve them, I believe I have inherited his perfectionist ways. He worked at Gaumont British Animation as an animator and created the more than beautiful series ‘Animaland’. He is such a skilled illustrator and painter and he’ll forever be my biggest inspiration.

 

LINKS

Website

Etsy Shop

Blog

Twitter

Luiz Stockler

Animation is a difficult game, and one that takes a great deal of time and talent to do even a little of. But when done well, a nicely executed animation can be more arresting and memorable than any simple illustration or art piece. And Luiz Stockler certainly manages to capture the enviable trio of success in his work: style, skill, and (when needed) emotion.

Vovô is my personal favourite example of his work, and it won a variety of awards after it’s first screening in 2011. It’s a heartfelt and very touching short film recounting Luiz’s memories of his Brazilian grandfather – vovô meaning granddad in Portuguese. The style is simple and sketchy, but has a beautiful tone that makes it a powerful piece of animation. However being his graduate film for the University of Wales that he made over two years ago now, Luiz has since moved on to some other really interesting projects, including a looped animation display for RCA’s 2013 Work In Progress show.

Presently Luiz has just (as of two hours previous to me writing this very article) finished Montenegro, his MA graduation film for the Royal College of Art- a film about a young man going through severe depression and anxiety because he’s slowly losing his hair (it also features a brief cameo from Zinedinne Zedan). I have yet to see the final film, but am sure it will live up to the high standard set by his previous work.

You should also take a look at his illustration and sketchbook work, they have a real sketchiness and sense of wit to them that’s lovely to see. Also all of the work mentioned above can be found via the links at the bottom of the page, so go take a looksie.

 

What’s the most recent update on your latest film Montenegro?

Ummm…I’ve literally finished it about an hour ago…YES!

What would you say is the biggest inspiration for you and your work?

I’m pretty inspired by the small things I notice in the everyday world around me. Situations and the humour or poignancy in them. Also, i get ideas from things I read or hear, poetic phrases or combinations of words resonate with me quite a lot, my illustrations have a strong relationship with words. Most of my work generally starts off as being a series of anecdotes that I have written down in my book, sort of like sketches, and at some point I get them all together and write something with it

Your illustrations are also really accomplished pieces with a great sense of style- was choosing between animation and illustration, or even fine art perhaps, ever a significant choice for you?

Actually no. ‘Art’ or ‘Fine Art’ always sounded so serious to me – As a kid, the idea of people scratching their chins before deciding to pay ridiculous amounts for a pile of bricks seemed insane. I just liked making comics and drawing obscene things in my books. Then I discovered Hiroshige and Lowry when I was about 15, that totally changed my perspective on what was ‘Art’. The little people in Hiroshige’s paintings reminded me of Herge’s drawings in the Tintin books. There was playfulness and humour (just like the pile of bricks…) and these were drawings from a few hundred years ago. I remember thinking how amazing they were. But yeah…fine art never crossed my mind really…I love art so much and I get a lot of inspiration from painters, sculptors etc..but it still sounds too serious now. Animation/illustration, a lot of the time, makes me think of childhood and fun…which is awesome

What does the immediate future hold for your career?

I’m graduating at the end of the month from the Royal College of Art so I guess I’ll be freelancing (unemployed) until further notice…but hopefully Montenegro will get into some festivals and I can travel and with it and see audiences enjoy it…or not

And finally, do you have any favourite musicians or bands you like to listen to whilst working?

Lately I have been rinsing the new Daft Punk album – Random Access Memories, its really great. I also listen to a lot of Devendra Barnhart. When I really need to concentrate and focus, I prefer to listen to podcasts rather than music – Radiolab has kept me entertained the past few weeks, you can learn a lot whilst animating

LINKS

Website

Vimeo

Tumblr/Blog

Twitter

Laura Callaghan

Laura Callaghan’s work is just oh so very Vogue in every sense: the definition of elegance and beauty.

Strong women with intense stares and impeccable dress sense is a reoccurring theme in the London based artist’s work, no doubt at least partly due to her weekly fashion illustrations for The Sunday Telegraph and various works for those such as American Apparel. The illustrations she does are always full of detail and beautiful patterns, making them lovely prints and pieces of artwork in their own right.

Normally working in watercolour (switching between black and white for a stately effect and full colour for a vibrant one) Callaghan also regularly releases new screen prints and tote bag designs, which never fail to have eye catching designs on them that’d make anyone envious.

She also looks to be gradually doing more narrative pieces, which promise to be very interesting: there’s an achingly romantic melancholic vibe to her style that would translate very well to comics or graphic novels. The bold yet slightly jaded girls that populate her prints remind me of the protagonists of Daniel Clowes’ Ghost World; fully modern and totally self-aware.

 

LINKS:

Her website

Tumblr

Twitter

Shop

 

David Galletly

Trying to think of a way to ‘sum up’ David Galletly and his work in a pithy little intro sentence, ideally with some kind of witty remark or pun involved somehow, is almost impossible – and believe me, I tried.

For as much as you could try his portfolio is just far too varied, with his style and approach altering to fit whatever brief he was working to at the time. 

As he says himself he doesn’t “necessarily have a favourite way of working” rather preferring to “bounce around as much as I can”. But there definitely are two main styles there: an intricate line-based patterned approach, and a more quick and fun cartoony one. And in an illustration world where it’s very easy for designers to become obsessed with this notion of a utterly-set-this-is-my-style-and-I’m-stuck-with-it-for-the-next-forty-years, in a really lovely refreshing way Galletely doesn’t seem to mind his more relaxed experimental approach. Rather he focuses more on just “consciously trying to make things that I don’t immediately hate”, which in my opinion gives his work a great sense of enjoyment and vibrancy to it. Plus it’s a good maxim for life in general I feel.

And if these various talents weren’t enough Galletly has forayed into the world of film and animation as well; alongside his illustrations for Scotland-based beer brand Innis & Gunn he produced a flip book and hand drawn animation of the evolution of an oak tree. Using stop motion animation he has also made a ridiculously fun and adorable music video for Kid Carnival’s You Only Went Out To Get Drunk Last Night- you can watchg it here on the left hand side.

LINKS FOR YOUR ENJOYMENT:

Twitter

Website

Facebook

 

He was also kind enough to answer some questions for me, so here’s a charming wee interview:

What or who would you say are you biggest inspirations?

Looking at work by other illustrators often makes me jealous so I’m often better motivated by people in totally different fields. For years, people like Adam and Joe, Michel Gondry and Vic Reeves have been filling my head with ideas.

More directly, I guess, comics have always been pretty important to me. I remember pouring over Calvin and Hobbes collections in the local library when I was young – Bill Watterson’s attitude to his work and refusal to sell out in any way whatsoever taught me that, y’know, funny pictures are valuable things and you don’t necessarily need to be a tortured artist to be credible. The Moomins, Peanuts, Krazy Kat and Little Nemo are all fantastic.

Recently I’ve been psyched to hear that Chris Onstad’s amazing Achewood is set to return and I’ve also rediscovered my love of Disney through theme-park focused blogs like longforgottenhauntedmansion.blogspot.com. Marc Davis’s work as an Imagineer in particular has been a joy to pour over. He’s unmatched when it comes to telling a story in half a second flat 

 

As a Scottish and Scotland-based designer, have you ever felt at a disadvantage (or even like you’ve benefited) for not living in London like many designers?

I think I’d get eaten alive in London. It’s not for me. My workload divides up fairly evenly between Scotland, the rest of Britain and overseas and almost every project across the board comes through email. It’s very rare that I’ll talk on the phone with a client, let alone meet them in person. As a fairly mumbly, shy fellow, this suits me pretty well. Without the internet, I wouldn’t have a job.

Saying that, Glasgow is a really great place to live and work. I’m from Stirling originally so the city still feels big to me and there’s always loads of stuff going on. Through places like Recoat in the West End, I’ve met people and worked on things that would have never come my way if I was locked in my studio all day.  

Being a one-man-band means it doesn’t take much more than a computer, some paper and a desk to doeverything I need to on any given day. When facing the reality of going 100% freelance after years of part-timing, I’d settle my nerves by adding up my  modest outgoings and telling myself stuff like ‘right, if I can find 20 people in the whole world to pay me 1/20th of this number, I can survive’. It’s going ok! I’d have lasted a month in London.

Rather than complicate things (the death of print! etc), I really feel like technology will allow more artists, designers and illustrators the opportunity to support themselves through their work. Do some sums! Make a plan!

 

What has been your proudest moment of your career so far? 

Without wanting to sound like a stuck record, supporting myself through my artwork for my first full year felt like a massive achievement. It’s a position I’d hoped to reach for a long time and, after a few false starts, I finally got there. I’ve no idea how long this ‘career’ will continue but, for now at least, it’s exactly where I want to be.

 

What does the immediate future hold for you and your work?

I’m working on a few really exciting things – some secret animation stuff which is kinda new territory for me, a lot of illustrations for the awesome Edinburgh-based beer company Innis and Gunn and some odds and ends for my long-time favourites, Fence Records. I hope to work on more large-scale projects with Team Recoat as soon as we find the right project and my website is feeling a little neglected so it’ll be getting a wee overhaul too.

A new set of problems have also been presenting themselves recently and I’m trying to fight through them as best I can. These are the fairly unromantic, shouldn’t-really-complain-about, things that nobody really prepares you for: Time management!  Lack of drawing practice! Writers (drawers?) block! Working out how the hell to get on the property ladder as a freelancer! Weight gain!

 

 

 

Wolf and Moon

Geometric / bold / striking: those are the three things that immediately hit you when you see any piece from Hannah Davis’ handcrafted Wolf & Moon jewellery collection.

Graduating from Goldsmith’s with a degree in Fine Art only in 2011 Hannah soon moved to Brighton, and from there the label has already moved into being a really popular brand with independent jewellery shops across the country.

Talking to an assistant in Hannah Zakari in Edinburgh (one of the 7 British branchs that sell Wolf and Moon in store), she said that despite their current stock only being shipped in around a week previously almost all of it had gone already; and I must say whenever I have popped in (mostly just to gaze at beautiful jewellery my sad student bank account can’t afford) the Wolf & Moon section is constantly getting filled up with new items as the old fly off the shelves.

And that’s another rather lovely thing about Davis’ work: despite all being of certain Bauhaus-esque style each piece has it’s own unique appearance and charm. Very slightly variations of wood, Perspex and brass give each necklace or pair of earrings a feel of a ‘one off’ piece, but the continuous theme of strong shapes and simple patterns also mean you could combine different pieces without any sense of clashing.

From the range of broches, earrings, necklaces and pendants I must say the newest Garden collection is my favourite: it’s very Art Deco in style and with more complex statement pieces than the other Original and Inti collections.

And if you want to find some of her jewellery to see for yourself it should hopefully not be too hard to: the 7 shops which stock it are scattered from Glasgow to Oxford, and you only have to take a glance at her twitter feed to see that stalls selling her work are consistantly set up at an impressive amount of Vintage and art fairs across the country.

Another site I feel you should check out is Davis’ own fine art work; she’s done some absolutely gorgeous photography and some really lovely installation work, all with a strong theme of nature and mystery.

 

LINKAGE

Wolf & Moon

Hannah Davis’ fine art site

Facebook

Tumblr

Twitter

 

 

Bear’s Den

Beards. Banjos. Bear’s Den have it all.

(However before any Glaswegians among you say a word, that’s Bear’s Den as in the animal habitat thing,  not Bearsden as in the town off of Glasgow thing- and don’t let Google correct you different)

Seeing them first this February after a friend kept relentlessly recommending them,  the first thing that strikes you when you listen to them, is just how have you not heard of them before? The acoustic three-man band (Andrew Davie, Kev Jones, and Joey Haynes), are more than on the rise however, and it only seems like only a matter of time before they become a much more well known name. Last year they supported both Mumford & Sons and Of Monsters and Men on their US tours, and are part of the same West London record label Communion that has helped boost the careers of those such as Daughter and Laura Marling.

When describing them I suppose the easy way out is just to directly compare them to the likes of Mumford & Sons, since they are fitted into the same ‘modern folk’ category. But really they’re a bit more mellow than them, and more soulful. But that’s not to say their sound is mournful at all- the prominent use of a banjo and solid drumming keep the pace upbeat and dynamic; their songs can be ridiculously catchy.

But it’s the storytelling and sincerity of their music that makes them vital listening; in particular their best known single Pompeii, and A Year Ago Today from their newest EP Agape is beautiful listening, full of emotion and lovely harmonies.

You can follow them on facebook, twitter, and check out their music on the Communion page.

Alessi’s Ark

 Doesn’t everyone know that one person who’s so talented and lovely that it’s almost annoying? Well, who would be annoying if they weren’t also so disgusting nice and likeable. And I’m afraid to say I’ve now found that person in music form: singer/songwriter Alessi Laurent-Marke, who performs under the name Alessi’s Ark. 

After leaving school at 16 to pursue her music Alessi is now only 22, but already a seasoned veteran of the UK music scene. Not only has she worked on albums with the likes of Bright Eyes’ Mike Mogis, but she’s also toured multiple times with the likes of Laura Marling and recently contributed vocals to Young Colossus; Maccabees frontman Orlando Weeks’ new venture.

I actually found her work through a friend recommending me Tinsmithing, the first track on her recent album The Still Life. It’s a song which sets the tone for much of her work: beautifully clear vocals with a folky edge and a snappy beat.

And her singing style is the type that can make you stop and pay attention even after only hearing one song- it’s a little bit ethereal, a little bit elfin. In that aspect she’s rather similar to Joanna Newsom; she’s clearly not afraid to experiment with her vocals and track layering, giving many of her songs an almost dreamlike quality.

A lovely compliment to her music is her interest in art as well: she has her own etsy shop selling various stitched and hand drawn pieces she’s made, and her website actually features all her own illustrations, which are just as sweet and charming as her music.

And if you didn’t think she was quite sweet enough already, she even has her own blog, Brain Bulletin, where Alessi simply shares any songs, films, or artists that she comes across and really likes. It’s a lovely insight into her own life and tastes, and she does share some musical gems there.

 

Website

Youtube

Facebook

Etsy shop

Stephanie Webb

With a background in textile design but a flair for illustration and everything in between, Stephanie Webb (perhaps more easily found as her website name ‘Stephanie-Says’) epitomises the true ideal of a ‘designer’: everything she produces is touched with a clear personal style, no matter the medium.

Her work has a very ‘tea and cake’ kind of vibe; but the more geometric designs and more edgy patternwork definitely carry her portfolio on past simply that. Also she does do some really cool drawings of bears wearing jumpers, and if you say you don’t like drawings of bears wearing jumpers then I’m afraid I just don’t believe you.

Originally from Coventry, Stephanie graduated from Edinburgh College of Art in 2009 with a BA in textiles, and she remains there working as a freelance designer and a window dresser for Anthropologie. If you happen to be a native there yourself then you can more often than not find her work being sold at places such at the Red Door Gallery on Victoria Street.

She was also generous enough to answer a couple of quickfire questions from me, which you can read for your delight below…

Your work ranges beautifully from papercuts to very illustrative pieces to textile prints- is there a particular form you enjoy working on the most?

I think I’ll always have a love of print and pattern for textiles, it’s what I studied at college so the screen printing process is something I’ll always go back to. The papercuts were initially a technique I used to create repeat patterns in ways other than drawing and painting, but these have since evolved to become individual commissions which I do really enjoy doing. They’re always so personal to the client and each one is different.

What piece of work, or event in your career so far, are you most proud of?

I’m proud of my wallpaper designs for Anthropologie, still! 

What does the immediate future hold for you and your work?

I’m hoping to expand on my collections of stationery and prints this year, and I continue to sell on Etsy and in craft markets where possible! I collaborated with a fashion designer, Antonia Lloyd, last year and provided her with a print for her Menswear collection. Going forward I’d love to be involved with more projects like this, it’s great to see your work in context and used often in a completely different way to what you’d expected! 

And lastly (apologies, a groaner of a question): what or who is the biggest influence on your life and work?

I’m quite lucky in that for the most part, the freelance work I do is self initiated, at first it is anyway. So I guess I get my inspiration from whatever’s around me.  Living in Edinburgh is pretty inspirational, it’s such a beautiful city. I wouldn’t say there’s one particular influence on my life and work, but I suppose music plays a big part. Ask me that question 10 years ago and I would have said Radiohead. No hesitation.

 

So make sure to go check out her work! She’s got both a lovely website, a blog, and an above mentioned etsy shop

 

You can also follow her on twitter, facebook and tumblr, so you pretty much don’t have an excuse not to check her out really.