HANNAH FOLEY: WRITER AND ILLUSTRATOR

I am completely aware of the fact that, as a mature second-year student, I should probably not be writing about children-book illustrator Hannah Foley. But whether it is because of my regressive attitudes – which involve brunching every Sunday watching the Totally Spies or spending an entire afternoon blowing up balloons for my birthday – or because of her incontestable ability to make everything really, really cute, I was altogether captivated by her work. And by everything, I mean EVERYTHING. Even Solly the Spider made my heart melt a little bit. I mean, the poor thing wants to find a spot to build his web, but it never seems to go as well as he hoped!

Hannah Foley is originally from Devon but she now lives with her husband and her daughter in a sheep farm on the Scottish borders. She focuses mostly on writing and illustrating children’s books, both fictional and educational, but she has also participated in the 2013 Degree Show for the Edinburgh College of Art and is currently designing a children’s website and online magazine called Firefly. The influence of the natural world surrounding her is very strong in her work and she is also inspired by her own everyday life, especially by her daughter, nicknamed Little Owl, who is omnipresent in her projects. For example, she came up with the idea for Baby’s First Book of Trees after watching her little girl in her crib under the shade of a tree, and wondering how the sky must have looked like from her perspective.

Browsing her blog , this proximity between her work and her life is evident as she describes everyday “owling about” with Little Owl and Big Dreamer, her husband. Every post is accompanied by an illustration that never fails to remind me of an old school Disney movie. An orangutan on a roof, a baby bear struggling to cool his porridge down, penguins coming out of a fridge; Foley gives life a whole new world of adorable stories and charming creatures  to catch the imagination of children and boost their creativity. Definitely worked for me too.

Tom J Newell

Having lived in Camden Town my whole life, moving to Sheffield to study was a strange experience. It can be hard balancing a life in two cities, one wishes that there were something you could bring with you to both places. Imagine my delight when I discovered the striking similarity between the dark yet fascinating cartoons I was used to seeing on the side of the Unicorn Pub down the road from me in Camden and the equally beautiful and twisted work on the walls and in the burger menus within The Harley, Sheffield.

The man responsible for these home comforts (and the beautiful artwork) is artist and illustrator Tom J Newell. Raised in Chesterfield, Tom J Newell has worked on all kinds of projects. Aside his fabulous wall murals he also produces paintings, comics, posters and all things in between. Born and raised in Chesterfield, he has now moved to Sheffield a five year stint in London, working closer to home in a city that is bursting with creativity.

Tom’s inspiration seems to spring from all over the place, which perhaps is what makes his work so unique. Taking influences from the Beano and Dandy as a child, he began drawing comic book characters, and was further influenced by video games and graffiti as he grew older.

Moonlighting as a DJ, its not just the visual that keeps his creative juices flowing. He also takes a lot of inspiration from music and literature. “Music and musicians inspire my artwork just as much as visual sources” he says, “I approach the construction of a new image by manipulating existing imagery”.

It’s not hard to see that Tom is a forced to be reckoned with, his illustrations alone have had something of a viral effect already. His artwork is splattered across the menus of the Twisted Burger Company, Kraken Rum and all over the walls of bars, tattoo studios and galleries.

What’s more, despite significant grounds for arrogance, Tom J Newell strikes me first and foremost as a a wholeheartedly Decent Guy. Won’t take my word for it? Ask Sheffield Children’s Hospital, where he ran workshops in 2010 “That was another great excuse to get out of the studio,” he told me “and seeing the approach that kids have towards drawing is always inspiring.”

Still working in his studio developing old doodles that he did in school and having his work put up all over sheffield and beyond, Mr. Newell is a fireball of compassion, talent and ultimately an unrestrained creativity. His imaginative, sometimes slightly unhinging illustrations are impossible to forget.

Curious? Visit TomJNewell.com.

Ailene Gray

I found Ailene Gray on the internet. She appears to be an undergraduate student, just like me. But unlike me, she can draw some very pretty pictures.

There is a site online which I’d never heard of called the ‘just us’ collective. It showcases student illustrators and artists and gives them the chance to appear in exhibitions and publications in the coming year. Hundreds of people submit their work and you can vote online for your favourites. The top fifty get accepted into the collective. This voting page is where I discovered Ailene Gray.

On the site, the artists are given the opportunity to describe themselves alongside examples of their work. Ailene’s says:

Escaped from Bedford to somewhere with more sea and less Bedford to study Illustration. If ink was a person, me and ink would be in love. The first inspiration I can remember was seeing the concept art for ‘The Ocarina of Time’ instruction manual when I was 6. I’m a mother to two rats, I’m obsessive and my insides are made out of bread.

I liked her description.

As well as the evident quirkiness of character which this artist displays both in her work and her words, I think Ailene’s illustrations are marvellous. The three pieces shown offer a fantastic range – one shows intense intricacy where another appears haphazard and amusing. In spite of this, they all exude a style that shows true artistry – you can tell they all came from the same artist. Her whole page exudes personality – her succinct use of language only supports the fantastic artwork she submits to be judged.

If you too like the pictures on this article, please vote for Ailene Gray at http://www.justusdesigncollective.com/lumpygraybles

 

Time to Get Better Clothing with Margate’s Alex Foster

This week I was charmed by Margate’s very own Alex Foster and his eclectic and humorous graphic illustrations. Working with print, designing editorial wonders or making the bride smile with adorable wedding invites, Foster’s got it covered alright. Wait, did I forget to say the boy does zines too? Fresh out of Middlesex university, this young spud of a graduate has not only focused his attention on his studies but worked with a variety of clients too with projects from widely distributed magazines to an upcoming children’s book.

Not only that but the wizard has thrown his talent and know-how into his illustration cauldron, boiled it down and poured what was left over some pretty, awesome t-shirts and merchandise too, giving birth to his latest project, Get Better Clothing.

After two sell-out collections under his belt, summer 2013 brings a collection with inspiration drawn from Foster’s childhood toys and nature, bringing fun and naivety to the brand. Designs include playful cowboys and indians battling it out on mountains whilst tattooed bears show off their ink all available from the beginning of August. Foster makes sure Get Better Clothing is as eco-friendly as it can be too, using water-based inks, organic bamboo based t-shirts, paper packaging and recycling where ever possible.

So now, not only can you appreciate the boy’s immense talent as is but you can kit your wardrobe out with it as well – from a fashion girl’s point of view that’s a win win. I also like to think of him as a bit of a social media hussy treating his beloved clothing child to it’s very own blog, Facebook, Tumblr and Twitter.

Go on, eye up Foster’s illustrations at his official website over here, you know you want to. Or if you really, truly want to go the extra mile and have a face-to-face perve on it then head on down to Margate’s Harbour Arm Gallery where Foster will be showcasing illustrations relating to his seaside hometown in exhibition ‘Coming Home‘. Of course, if you hadn’t guessed it, the exhibition is run by the man himself showcasing talent from some of London’s top illustration and sculpture students and graduates following the theme of hometowns from sunny seasides to cool California, wherever that artist calls home. It will be running from 24th-30th July. 

Also exhibiting in ‘Coming Home’ are: Chris Alton, Chloë Greenfield, Mark Holihan, Eileen Kai Hing Kwan, Amy Stevens, Liz Tweedale, Maddy Vian and Dawn Williams.

 

 

ALEX FOSTER OFFICIAL WEBSITE

GET BETTER CLOTHING OFFICIAL WEBSITE

Sarah Kilkenny Design

It’s often the case that creative types draw a lot from their childhood, after all we are each one of us products of our upbringing. It was natural then for Sarah Kilkenny to make the move from embroidering with her grandmother in Manchester to studying fashion design full time at the Edinburgh College of Art. Following a slew of fashion opportunities in sixth form, including the Fashion Awareness Directive and the Vauxhall Fashion Scout programme, the latter of which granted Sarah the research award, the young designer gathered enough confidence and experience to continue her passion into higher education. She is now entering her fourth and final year of study.

Often cited as the fashion capital of the North, Manchester plays host to a number of creatives, many of whom have been featured as part of the ‘Born in Britain’ project. Between the experience her home town has leant her, and those which she has learnt in Edinburgh, Sarah’s style is one that is comfortable and cool. Growing up around many artistic influences has allowed her to broaden her own repertoire and she cites illustration and writing as areas of interest to be explored, as well as photography, film, and design and the impact and relationship they share with fashion design. As well as this, the designer talks about the merging of fashion and academia as a growing trend, alluding to Anja Aronowsky Cronberg and her work at Vestoj, and with such a multifaceted nature to her work, Sarah imbues creation with meaning, drive, and interest.

Currently, her work is largely fashion design with a focus on surfaces. Studying at the ECA has lead to an endless number of awesome opportunities, including the chance to work with high-end designers Duchamp and Michael Kors, both of whom selected Sarah as a finalist in their design competitions. The accolades don’t stop there, either, she also made it to the finals of the British Alpaca Society Student Knitwear Designer of the Year Competition and the Mackintosh Competition, narrowly missing out on the top spots. The latter two competitions were of great importance to Sarah because of their positions as forerunners in a long line of British heritage brands, which, alongside Gola, support and sustain the tradition and economy of Great Britain. That’s why, when a young Scottish brand announced her as winner of their design competition, she was so enthusiastic to see her designs realised. That’s all under wraps for now, but watch this space.

Inspiration comes from many areas, but Sarah stresses that they are mainly visual ones. Feelings and characters play into her ‘imaginary muse’, but the main theme is a focus on perception through vision. Work with other creatives is also impactive, and she describes working on a collaborative sketchbook project that involved sharing visual illustration ideas and building upon them as a group of artists.

This summer, Sarah has embarked on an internship with another heritage brand, Pringle of Scotland. Living and working in London, Sarah tells me that she will be ‘assisting with all areas within the design team, knitwear and wovens but predominantly knitwear as this is where I have been specialising this year. Also research, colour palettes, fittings and working with the lookbook shoot’. The formal part of her training begins here, but she is no stranger to the hard-faced world of the fashion industry, and has previously worked with clients such as Chanel on their 2013 Metier D’Arts show in Edinburgh.

Sarah admits that the future is anyone’s guess. She’d like to do an MA in Womenswear, but with such an extensive and impressive CV already, the sky really is the limit for this impressive young designer.

Top Photo: Coat, Sarah Kilkenny; Hat, Emma Lawrie; Top, Catrina Murphy; Trousers, Birgit Saviauk. Model: Marju Kaps.

Sarah may be contacted at: sarahkilkenny91@gmail.com

sarah-kilkenny.tumblr.com

Poppy Cole

Poppy Cole is a young illustrator with a beautiful style that will have you falling in love with her work at first sight. Her fabulous use of collage creates a whimsical character and depth to all of her work. Fresh out of Norwich University of Arts, Poppy is  one talent you’ll soon be seeing much more of. Here’s what she had to say:

Could you tell me a little bit about you and your work?

I’ve been studying illustration in Norwich for the last three years and I’ve been drawing ever since I can remember. My work is collaged using paper and other materials that I obsessively collect and gather from wherever I happen to find it. Collaging is at the back of my mind constantly – I can’t walk past a leaflet without wondering whether it might make good collage material. I tend to sketch an image out first and then collage on top of the drawing – the sketching is just as enjoyable for me and means I can collage on top of observational/location drawings. It’s intricate and delicate work (and I get through a lot of glue) but there’s nothing quite like finding the perfect textured paper for an image.
My illustrations are often influenced by my surroundings. I love drawing on location and Norwich has been a beautiful city to study art in, so much of my recent work has focused on capturing that beauty and encouraging others to see it too.

What inspires you as an illustrator?

Other illustrators! There are so many amazing artists working at the moment that it is impossible not to be inspired by them. Some of my favourites are Andrew Bannecker, Helen Hallows, Jon Klassen and Tom Gauld but the list really is endless.

I am also inspired by my environment, as I mentioned above, and I find that simply going for a walk in a direction I haven’t been before or visiting a town I’ve never seen can inspire me in unlikely ways. Illustrators unfortunately have to spend a lot of their time at the same desk in the same room and this can be really stifling so I find it really helps to take breaks and try working in different places.

Golas campaign is called born in Britain. What do you think about the British art and design scene today?

I think actually it’s really great and we’re very lucky. We have such a fantastic array of galleries in Britain and with exhibitions like Images 36 that showcase amazing British illustration in beautiful venues like Somerset House, the art and design scene is really flourishing.

Some amazing illustrators have come out of Britain in recent years (Rob Ryan, Gemma Correll, Tom Gauld) and there are a lot of fantastic art schools in Britain producing new and exciting talent every single year. It’s really helping the art scene to develop into something we can be really proud of. And I think it is apparent that we are proud of it too, with the amount of creative-based businesses that are popping up in London, Norwich and other areas of the country. People are finding new ways to work creatively now – in the current economic climate, artists and designers are creating new and innovative jobs for themselves.

Do you have any advice for young illustrators who are just starting out and are trying to develop their own style?

It’s actually a really difficult thing to do and it was something I struggled with for a long time. I think it’s important whether you are at art school or not to take some time to experiment with absolutely everything and whether you love it, hate it, can’t do it or think it’s a waste of time, at least you can say you’ve tried it.
Ultimately, for me, it came down to realising what felt like the most natural way of working. I’ve never found illustration an easy thing to do – except when I collage. It felt natural and it made successful work and those were the two main things for me.

My advice would be to be patient, to get feedback as often as you can and to look at other artists and techniques for inspiration.

Finally, where might you be in a few years time?

In a few years time I hope to be hunched over my desk, still gluing tiny pieces of paper to slightly larger pieces of paper. I hope I will always be an illustrator.

To see more of Poppy and her beautiful illustrations then head over to her website, or why not tweet her? I’m sure you’ll love her work as much as  I do.

Website: www.poppycole.co.uk

Twitter: @poppyccole

Frances Szweda

“Clicking play on a screen does the job but there’s nothing like the anticipation of owning, opening and listening to music…” Who can argue with that? Milton Keynes’ Frances Szweda has conveyed her advocacy for the ‘survival of vinyl’ by creating this series of creative sleeves. Focusing on the Mercury Prize 2012 Nominess as a case study for the project, the London College of Communication Illustration student highlights the shift towards digital purchasing of audio, that relentlessly steers away from the traditional forms of tangible music packaging that arguably helped define the musics intentions in a visual format.

The beauty of album art can be lost in the blurry rush of increased download speeds and the general digitised lust for more music in ever-expanding quantities. Szweda strikes a more serious tone in an otherwise fruitful and humorous portfolio by challenging the vinyl format. Misconceived as archaic or lacking contemporary, her project, entitled ‘A Case For Vinyl’ aimed to utilize the Mercury prize’s popularity as an anchor to convey the “lost appeal of owning a physical object.”

In-keeping with the uplifting attitudes of institutions such as Rough Trade Records, Frances’ work reaffirms our shared attitudes towards keeping the colourful world of music spinning, and highlighting the desire for vinyl to continue with spinning with it.

 

 

 

Sabrina Collares

Sabrina Collares is a contemporary illustrator originally from Brazil, based in London. Despite being a self-taught illustrator, there is no denying the talent and artistic vigour of Sabrina. Having participated previously at a workshop Central Saint Martins, as well as other illustration activities, she is very pro-active, and engaged in her subject area.

The work is proof of this. Despite using a limited number of tools (mainly pencil, pens and markers) Sabrina manages to create incredibly striking pieces of art.  In ‘O Gigante Novatel’ (Main Image), Sabrina uses incredible attention to detail to visualise her imaginations. A fantastic floral smorgasbord grows from a natural figure, perhaps symbolising desires for a more greener world. Despite stylistic undertones of 1960s psychedelia, a cutting black & white beam adds that contemporary edge, somehow bringing it into 2013.

I was lucky enough to ask Collares a few questions regarding her inspiration. She will be the first to admit her methodology is unorthodox, having been self taught as mentioned earlier. Sabrina informed me that a lot of her work stems from her dream world, allowing her creations to be ‘instinctive’ pieces of work that don’t develop from sketches, they just simply materialize.

“When I sit down to draw I am not even sure what is going to come up, after finished I look up the symbolism behind the colors, thematic, geometric shapes, whatever is on it. My drawing is done very meticulously and it can be quite a stressful and slow process”.

Having been exhibited by Saatchi and Emerge Gallery, Sabrina is boldly venturing up the creative ladder. For more of Sabrina’s work, visit here.

Joanna Lisowiec

The crunchy lines and bold colours of her work are the antithesis of softly spoken, elven Joanna Lisowiec. But in conversation with the Edinburgh-based illustrator, one gets a sense of her dynamic and definite attitude towards the arts. We both agree not to touch the subject of concept-based art, choosing instead to speak at length about where the art world should be heading (not necessary synonymous with its current direction) and its purpose. Clearly an intellectual, Joanna’s work has profound and extensive meaning beyond the aesthetic.

Born to Polish parents, the artist was brought up between the USA and Switzerland, before moving to Edinburgh to complete a degree at the ECA. She takes great inspiration from the natural world, and tells me that mountains are of especial significance, which, considering her childhood spent in the Colorado Rockies and European Alps, it’s no leap of the imagination to understand why. This translates nicely into her art: natural forms meet boundless emotional shape, playing out in visual harmony to communicate a story.

As an illustrator, Joanna has naturally put emphasis on the relationship between art and literature: hers is a didactic art, imbued with true sentiment. The collision of word and image has always been of intense fascination for me, for the echoes and mimicries that leap between the mediums are extensive and of significant importance to art history.

In terms of the practicalities of working in the contemporary industry, Joanna has a fairly clear idea of where she is heading. In 2011, Joanna beat competition to design the book cover for ‘Viking Gold’ by V. Campbell. She intends for this to be her main stream of revenue in the future, given that designing book covers is something she has an earnest passion and natural flair for. Aside from this, an artist-in-residency position could be on the horizon, but for now, the chance to focus on and hone her craft won’t be passed up.

Eleanor Stewart

Books are generally used for mental activity- reading, learning, gathering inspirations and ideas, but Eleanor Stewart also transforms books into models and creates exquisite animations. She exploits the full potential of the written piece, visualizations of music and abstract ideas are made of the same book paper. She converts books into a three dimensional world- experience that can be achieved just in our imagination, but now becomes real.

Eleanor Stewart is an animator, model maker and an illustrator. She graduated from Glasgow School of Art in 2009 and received the Bram Stoker Medal for most imaginative work and a D&AD Best New Blood Award.

I would like to introduce her created animated film for the Classical music work ‘Hoedown’ from the Rodeo Suite by Aaron Copland. Hoedown from Rodeo is her interpretation of the music into paper animation. She beautifully captures the mood and atmosphere in paper cut outs, characters are lively and vibrant, creating an impression of music sheets coming alive.

Her recent project is a film called ‘Raindrops’ for Microsoft in partnership with Hyundai. It is an animation about Hyundai recycling rain water at its factories. To find out more information check out her website www.eleanorstewart.co.uk

 

Twoducksdisco

Twoducksdisco is the working name of Manchester-based graphic designer Cameron Steward. Specialising in illustration and screen-printing, Steward produces his sometimes sweet, often amusing, occasionally spooky and always innovative designs as album covers, gig posters, tees and prints.

Browsing through his online portfolio, it seems that Steward has pretty much been the go-to guy for gig posters in the Leeds and Manchester area for a good few years, with Gallows, Tunng, Bowerbirds, Roddy Wooble, Warpaint and Get Cape, Wear Cape, Fly all having had their shows promoted via a Twoducksdisco design. His influence stretches beyond the Yorkshire boarders too; Frightened Rabbit and Shoes and Socks Off have both asked him to craft tour posters for them, he was the one of the chosen designers to produce work for this year’s debut of the No Direction Home Festival and his assortment of album artwork includes designs for Ellen and the Escapades, Tubelord and 2000 Trees Festival.  If that wasn’t enough, he’s also created t shirt prints for the likes of Tellison, Lanterns on the Lake and Copy Haho. Heady heights indeed.

Twoducksdisco designs all have an element within them that is characteristic. However, they are also incredibly different in their range; whilst twisted skulls may adorn and strange creatures feature in one design, a snow-topped mountain and a sleeping moon will crop up in the next. Check out more awesome designs via the Twoducksdisco Facebook page or find out more information on his blog.

– Georgie