This blog started off as a log of the eBook pilot that I began in Tower Hamlets schools. It’s expanded and I’m now using this as a general blog.
Written on March 17, 2022 by JT.
Well, I feel that I need to write a quick post because otherwise anyone visiting the site will think it’s been abandoned…
We bit the bullet last year and forked out for a loft conversion. I wasn’t lucky enough to get the loft space (the offspring bagsied that), but it does mean that once everything’s done and dusted, the smallest room (no, not the bog) becomes an office/ library/ art studio! Until then the drawing tablet and art materials remain in storage…
Written on November 13, 2021 by JT.
Phew. Well my self-penned picture book is still requiring more revision and The Squeeping Catterwhip is still awaiting publication, and now’s my traditional December deadline for the creative writing poster.
No – this isn’t a bookmark, but the first section of the poster which I’ve divided into six columns. The theme is city related this year, so my influences are everything from Dore’s London to Neverwhere.
Written on September 13, 2021 by JT.
I expected to see more discussions on the SCBWI social media pages in regards to why the illustration category of Undiscovered Voices was dropped. In fact, I at least expected some discussions, but there’s been nothing. Why? Well, I know better than to start the conversation myself. There’s a set of unwritten rules in the publishing sphere, largely because it is a very small world and a close-knit community. Unfortunately this means that it can seem a little like a clique, especially if you don’t feel that your face fits. I’ve always felt quite cynical about the publishing world – for an business that expects you (rightly) to accept critiquing and criticism at every step, it often appears to have a very difficult time in accepting criticism itself.
I do feel a little guilty that I may be at least partly responsible for the Undiscovered Voices Illustration category being dropped. However I do feel that the criticisms raised by myself and some other winners of UV2018 was justified. We knew something was amiss when we saw the guest list for the winner’s party. This was THE main event, where the year’s winners would get to meet industry representatives – agents, editors, art directors, publishers – and (hopefully) make connections that would lead to some publishing success. This was what it was all about – we’d heard all the stories of UV winners being snapped up and getting book deals. Looking back now, it was all so one-sided. We were never told about the ones who didn’t make it after winning. I can now see how dishonest it was. Like a confidence trick, or a sales pitch. There were certainly plenty of guests who’d be wanting to meet the writers (literary agents, editors etc), but there was almost nothing for the artists – no art directors, and most damningly, no dedicated illustration agents.
Why was this? In the weeks leading up to the event, I did hope that it was just a case that they still had yet to get confirmed RSVPs. But I think that people looking for artists just weren’t interested in this competition, after all, I’d seen SCBWI events that had illustration agents as (paid) panelists, so clearly the contacts were there. Illustration is just a different business dynamic.
The evening for the illustrators was quite a disappointment. A number had travelled to London at great expense (I’d fortunately been able to come straight from work – a 15 minute tube ride). We were set up in a side room with tables for portfolios and we waited while the winning authors’ bash was in full swing in the main hall (we’d been promised that publishers and agents would come to look at our work and that we should be there to talk them through our folios). Instead it was just immensely awkward. Virtually no one seemed to know or care that we were here. Few of us wanted to stray too far in case we missed someone important, and when I ventured into the hall (a stack of box-fresh business cards covering for me in the side-room) it was almost impossible to strike up any conversations. No one helped introduce the illustrators – there were knots of conversations between industry friends and the authors, but it was one of the most intimidating and unfriendly parties I’ve ever had the misfortune to attend. I wasn’t the only one to think this – this was our event and we were basically being ignored. Because we didn’t really matter.
Eventually, I spoke to representatives from two agencies (one of whom admitted that they weren’t particularly good as they didn’t really promote their artists, the other I knew wasn’t interested in my work), I spoke to one of the competition judges (who was lovely), and met up with an author whom I’d worked with as a librarian. I chatted with him regarding an art director who I’d seen was on the guest list whom I wanted help tracking down, and he very kindly went off to find them as he knew who they were. They returned to tell me that the art director had left after having a couple of drinks and a chat with some editors they knew. They apparently hadn’t been bothered to even look in at the portfolios of any of the artists who were one of the reasons that they were even there in the first place. It was literally free booze and a quick natter.
I went home cold and miserable. I’d been able to network with no one and I knew that UV2018 would soon be yesterday’s news. A few weeks later I visited a number of publishers’ showcase evenings (librarian business again) and spoke to the staff there about the competition. One editor simply said “Well, I suppose you’ll be needing an agent” and that was it. Another member of the publishing team (who by that time had snapped up one of the writing winners) looked interested that I knew their new pet author, but had no interest in talking further about my work and changed the subject. The one illustrator from that year whom I know has got good work post-UV, I found was snapped up only after her (Cambridge MA) college show at Bologna – I don’t think they’ve even mentioned Undiscovered Voices since. It was then that more puzzle pieces clicked – why we were told at the pre-event portfolio review that we should consider signing up for a masters in illustration – that they were politely saying that there are very different routes to getting recognised as an illustrator, and a select few recruiting grounds for agencies unless you’re extremely lucky or wealthy enough to pay tuition fees on top of dropping to a 3-day week. Another illustration winner got agented, but it doesn’t seem to have lasted, and they’ve returned to another field. A waste of talent – their work was fantastic.
I wrote a polite email to the UV organisers stating what I felt were the shortcomings of the event in regards to illustrators, and I’m fairly sure that at least two others did the same. I rounded off the email by stating that perhaps the formula of the competition was not suited to the needs of illustrators. Within a couple of months I’d heard that the category had been dropped and that SCBWI would be doing different events to support illustrators, though nothing approaching the flagship status of UV has yet appeared in the last 3 years. They kindly offered to further promote the work of the illustrators – doing an interview each week which they promoted on social media. Interestingly, mine never got posted. perhaps it was an oversight, but I honestly don’t think that it was. I’d overstepped the mark. I’d been negative.
I’m not being bitter, by the way, just honest and disappointed. The winners event was introduced by Francis Hardinge who stated how all of us winners were taking our first steps to being published. The SCBWI community is almost ludicrously positive, almost terrified to accept the truth. Unpublished creatives are now called ‘pre-published’, and there is never any talk about how unwelcoming some parts of the industry are. I only hear this side of the story when I’m wearing my librarian’s hat, sharing a cup of tea with a writer whom I’m looking after during school visits. The impression I now have of the industry is that it’s like an abusive relationship that the abused partner insists is all fine because they just want to be loved. And I know this, that the publishing industry can be as nasty, bitchy, two-faced and dishonest and elitist as any business. Just because it deals in pug-unicorn hybrids doesn’t mean that it’s all rainbows and sunbeams.
And yet for some reason I’m compelled to keep drawing.
Written on September 5, 2021 by JT.
The worst thing about subbing to agents ISN’T the rejection letters. It’s looking at the talent already on the books and thinking “my work is nowhere as good as that”.
I suppose it’s a case of differentiating between “that work’s better” and “that work’s different”. That’s why I tend only to sub to agents with a range of art styles on their books.
Written on September 4, 2021 by JT.
Inn From the Cold is set in the far north during winter, so aside from the snow, moon and lamplight was originally very dark. The first proof was almost unreadable as a consequence to this, and so with the help of auroras and other effects, I set out revamping the art to show the brightest dark place imaginable. KDP proofs are so cheap to order that it’s very cost effective to get them to check that the colour balance is correct.
Inn From the Cold is me doing a traditional tale – it’s an anti-capitalist/ anti-greed fable.
Written on August 23, 2021 by JT.
Incredible! The proof copy of The Squeeping Catterwhip has landed, and now it’s just a case of adjusting the colour and brightness of a few pages that are just too dark when read away from direct sunlight! Still, I’m very happy with the look of the print copy overall, and it’s good to see than my Huion Kamvas Pro has a true-to-ink display.
Written on May 25, 2021 by JT.
As work on The Squeeping Catterwhip comes to a close (and I’m looking forward to actually posting the completed art here!), I’ve been bitten by the book-illustrating bug once more and returned to two manuscripts that I’ve written myself or co-written. Namely ‘Inn from the cold’ and ‘You’re a Pest, Betsy Thumbslurp!’, while carrying on with my Nevermoor and game pixel-art while on the train too and from work. The other projects will be given half the week each.
‘Inn from the cold’ is now in its fourth or fifth incarnation, but hopefully also its final form. It’ll consist of around 11 full colour spreads plus cover, and I’m already onto the fourth after some pretty intensive drawing over the weekend and it’s looking pretty good.
The mighty Thumbslurp, meanwhile, will now be black and white interior illustrations with an expanded story. I was never totally happy with my colour art (though some of it I am still proud of), and besides, a b/w book is far cheaper to produce and will probably be a KDP published affair. We’ll probably also shop it around to publishers again – I’m actually quite proud of the three new chapters I’ve written for it, though I’m yet to receive proper feedback. And I prefer the new art style.
Written on May 11, 2021 by JT.
Yeah, so I hadn’t expected this to be dead easy, but I hadn’t realised just how many new assets I’d need to draw from scratch for my pixel Nevermoor!
Here’s a wip of the Hotel Deucalion. And yes, I’m making life harder because of curved architecture – ellipses in isometric perspective are a devil to get right, but they look so good…
Anyway, the eagle-eyed will recognise elements of the Flatiron building here, though I had to re-scale a lot of architecture, as none of my previous London and NY buildings had featured cutaways which this required. This has also meant that I’ll almost certainly need to upscale the canvas size to London Calling proportions if I’m to do justice to Proudfoot House and the Ghastly Market, not to mention other bits and pieces and locations – if this was on a regular-sized canvas, the Deucalion is getting on to the size of my take on Hogwarts castle.
I’m having to take some liberties – not least that I can’t do the whole 13 stories of the hotel.
Of course, I’ve also made my life more difficult by deciding to not re-use existing character assets – at least without significant redrawing. I really want to improve on the artwork for my pixel cast of characters, and Nevermoor has some seriously unconventional-looking inhabitants. From a design point of view, I’m sticking with the existing proportions (I’m not going all bobble-head), but I’m tweaking things like the eyes and also getting rid of scrappy poses. There are some characters from previous work that I really like – especially the more custom designs – but some of the character work is just cringe worthy. It’s been fun adapting a lot of my Nevermoor drawings into pixel form, though.
Written on May 11, 2021 by JT.
Okay, so this won’t be the first game I’ve started making (or even the 5th). I’ve been playing around with GameMaker studio for years, and did actually complete a game called ‘Squash those Zombie Penguins’ but it’s unreleased pending ironing out some bugs, and I’ve also got quite a respectable engine for a ‘Repton’ clone (those boulder routines were a pain). I put the Repton game on hold, simply because programming AND graphics were becoming a bit too much.
The other day, though I came across a program on Steam called Pixelgame Maker, and as it was on sale I thought ‘why not’. It certainly seems versatile enough to create a solid platform game, and it’s certainly more flexible that RPG Maker (though the interface isn’t good on a laptop screen, that’s for sure). But for around £20, I felt like it might be fun to see what I could do.
As I mentioned above, for someone doing creative stuff around a full time job (and also with a book illustration gig on the go in the evening), coding plus graphics is a major time sink, especially when you’re learning about how to create algorithms at the same time. Whilst getting a simple game engine up and running wasn’t too bad, it was all of the other stuff such as menus, save routines, score tables, etc – and then there was actually designing puzzles for a Repton-style game, which is a monolithic task in itself. Having a piece of software that would reduce this workload is a real boon for a solo desgner.
Anyway, I’ve posted a gif of my main character above – it needs some tweaking but I’m pretty happy so far. I’ve never created a proper platform game before because – again – just the extra coding required for AI, physics, etc was a major hurdle. I’m taking 3 games from my Atari ST years as inspiration. Turrican 2 (for its fantastic level design), Onslaught (for being a mass-battle, one man army game in an era when platform games made the player feel as vulnerable as a new-born kitten), and Prince of Persia (which I’ll possible include for its platforming elements, as I’ll be making a distinction between the cat running and walking).
Written on March 17, 2021 by JT.
I can’t wait to be able to properly post the competed work from “The Squeeping Catterwhip” – a poem that I’m currently illustrating. The finishing touches are being added, as well as trying to decide on a colour scheme for the text.
In the meantime, as well as an out-of-nowhere desire to enter the 2000AD art comp with my Deadlock drawing, I’ve started work on a new pixel art composition – this time for Nevermoor.
I’ve started working on the characters and making lists of scenes that I need to include. It’ll centre on the Deucalion, with other locations being Proudfoot House, the Ghastly Market, the Nevermoor Bazaar and (possibly) Crow Manor. I’m hoping that I can lift most of the architecture from my London, NY and Hogwarts posters, though I’ve already had to do a lot of brand new curving architecture for the Deucalion as it always struck me as having Art Nouveau features – at least for the main entrance.
I also decided to remove the sketches section from the site and move them all to the blog, plus I’ve put my pixel art back on the menu. This contravenes advice I had years ago from SCBWI reviews where I was told to stick to one style – apparently agents and art directors get flustered if you do too many different things – but I’ve stopped worrying about this.
Next time I make any kind of stab at breaking into the industry I’ll most likely be using the Catterwhip paintings, as they’re of one style and a substantial number.
Written on March 8, 2021 by JT.
Another creative writing competition! When I planned this one last August, I honestly hadn’t anticipated our glorious government being quite so incompetent as to take us back to square one in January in terms of school closures. Okay, I know they’re an absolute shower of useless, chumocracy gobshites, but this…
I’m honestly expecting another lockdown this autumn after all of the morons get back from their holidays abroad with their souvenir variants.
Anyhow, I am not alone was intended to be a reflection of the lockdown, not a log of it. Fortunately, last year’s ‘This Hidden Island’ didn’t produce many lockdown stories, and so 2021 wont be retreading familiar ground.
This was a tough illustration to plan – especially as I only had about a week to work on it as voting on the theme went right up to the wire. I eventually built it around the letters of the title – this is a such an abstract theme with hundreds of interpretations, that previous literal illustrations wouldn’t cut it. I think I was influenced also by how I’d approached ‘Out of Place’. In the end I created a playground for all my little characters who’d be exemplifying one aspect of the theme. There are also some topical references that I hope people get – such as the protests and toppling of statues.
Written on February 23, 2021 by JT.
Not being able to visit friends and relatives, I’ve instead been revisiting some of my art from last year and quickly changing it’s status to ‘pending review’.
Most of it was drawn whilst I was getting used to using Krita on my refurbished HP which doubled as a drawing pad, and looking back now, a lot of it was pretty below par – especially as I’ve been working on a larger Huion tablet for a while now on a (commissioned!) project. This new project has also taught me the benefit of NOT rushing out work to satisfy Instagram algorithms.
Written on November 19, 2019 by JT.
Hasn’t Thanos worked his way into the public consciousness recently? His callous wiping out of a seemingly random 50% seems to have resonated with us in these uncertain times – and also in an age where ‘decluttering’ is a popular lifestyle choice. Whilst I haven’t engaged in a full Thanos of my belongings (I’m too much of a hoarder to do that), I have decimated them in the traditional sense – or at least decimated my artwork.
My stash of sketchbooks and drawings has been growing like a tumour for over 20 years now, and on clearing out a cupboard, I ruthlessly stripped out a stack of artwork. And had a little bonfire.
Boy, quality drawing paper doesn’t half give off a lot of heat.
Seeing as inspiration and imagination is commonly visualised as flames – even down to the tarot suit of the wands – I feel this is an appropriate fate. Sort of sending all of the creativity back to where it came from.
I feel a lot better for all of this – rather like the grumpy old codger in ‘Up’ after he ditches the load he’s been carrying around on his back for so long. I’ve barely made a dent in some of the old c**p I’ve got stashed away, but it’s baby steps at first. Next year I’ll make a start on the piles of sketchbooks in the loft from my student days (if you thing I churn out self-indulgent drivel NOW…)
I told someone at work that I’d done this and they were shocked, and there’s the usual “What about when you’re a famous artist, you may want these sketches…” blah blah blah.
Trust me, I burned some terrible work. And after 20 years of trying I think we can safely say that I’ll NEVER be a famous or successful artist.
Anyway – decluttering.
Perhaps it’s not so bad after all…
Written on October 20, 2019 by JT.
A big part of my work with the Tower Hamlets Schools Library Services is recommending and evaluating books. My colleague started a teachers’ reading group a year or so ago, and although it was a popular idea, teachers’ workloads meant that it was one of those things that was given the status of ‘I’d really like to attend more often but I’ve too much else on.”
So we started a book blog instead and took the risk of keeping the comments turned on – so a new job for me is removing Russian spam.
Rather than repost my blog posts wholesale, I’ll keep a link to them here.
Written on April 16, 2019 by JT.
…well, I hope it does. I was inspired to (finally) get around to finishing off the revised manuscript for You’re a pest Betsy Thubslurp by a tweet from an agent stating that publishers in Bologna were on the look out for illustrated funny fiction for younger readers. The main changes were the addition of 3 new short stories. I know publishers hate short stories these days, but they’re expansions of the original story, extending the arc of Coco coming to terms with her new sister. I also added an extra chapter to the original story, expanding on just why Coco hates Hippopotamus so much.
The 3 extra stories are all based on real life events by the way – and the characters of Whee Whee Boy, Football Mad and Big Sweary are 100% real, believe it or not, although on reflection, the conservative British children’s publishing world will probably reject this book outright, just for the inclusion of a character called ‘Big Sweary’. So you’ll probably never get to read about them, anyway 🙁
Written on March 12, 2019 by JT.
Cheering me up on a grey, rainy day, ‘Wildings’ author, Nilanjana Roy emailed me asking if it would be okay if she could share my sketch for her book. Of course I said ‘yes’ – it’s just a shame that the scan quality doesn’t really do it justice. The original is an A3 drawing – mostly cross-hatched, but the cats look a bit messy rather than blurred. I’m pleased with the tiger, though (I don’t think I’d ever drawn one before).
I’d always planned to do more drawings from this book, but what stopped me was that I felt I just didn’t have the familiarity with the setting to do justice to the book. The location – Nizamuddin – is at the heart of the book, and I’ve no first hand experience of India. However Nilanjana sent me lots of links to photographic sources, and as I loved the book so much, I think I’ll complete a few more illustrations for it.
Written on March 12, 2019 by JT.
Has it really been a year since the UV 2018 launch? This interview was actually completed last July but it’s only just been published as there were so many UV winners to have slots in Words and Pictures and I’m at the end of the alphabet. I probably should have made a couple of revisions, especially as I’ve gone back to digital painting (on the other hand, I’ll probably go back to pen and ink in a few weeks – I think I’ve got the artistic equivalent of ADHD).
I was genuinely touched by the request to have my illustration used as a tattoo – and it’s probably my biggest success so far. And as it is, I didn’t need to make any revisions regarding the Howls Moving Castle House of Illustration competition. That event did make me go back and take another look at where I’m going artistically – I’m in no position to try my luck with Bologna or LBF – but hopefully I’ll be ready for a new round of agency submissions in a few months time.
Written on March 12, 2019 by JT.
The day job has recently involved an awful lot of work making sure that the annual creative writing competition goes off without too many hitches. I’ve been working with the lovely people at Authors Aloud UK who have taken on the juggling of author visits to coach children on their writing skills. I’ve also had the opportunity to sit in on a few – run by Chitra Soundar, Savita Kalhan and Ifeoma Onyefulu. The theme – The Clothes I am – raised a few eyebrows at first, but once people got to read the prompts and ideas for starting stories, it clicked. I’m expecting plenty of alternative fairytales and stories about identity.
The link to the competition page is www.towerhamlets-sls.org.uk/cwc19
Written on December 29, 2018 by JT.
That was rather a self-indulgent last post, but I guess I’d been having a duff few months. I’ve been indulging more in mince pies and chocolates over the last week and am feeling much the better for it. I got most of the House of illustration ‘Howl’s Moving Castle’ competition finished before the holidays which meant that I’ve been able to focus on board games with the family and the PS4. I’ve also been given a copy of Wundersmith : The Calling of Morrigan Crow which will be in competition with The Wildings as my chief source of inspiration over the next few months. The Wildings author, Nilanjana Roy, by the way, emailed me the other month after being shown my sketch from the first book, telling me how much she liked my work. She provided me with some great source material to help me with other drawings, which was really helpful, especially for a British artist who has never visited India.
On the subject of being despondent about artistic success being ever-elusive, I saw a post recently by a fellow SCBWI writer/ artist who was asking at what point does one say, “You know, enough is enough.” The number of responses encouraging them to not give up was quite fantastic – it just goes to show how important it is to be part of a supportive community. But it is a serious question – how far should the artist go in chasing the dream of going professional? It’s a tricky balancing act. It’s a highly competitive world, even for the most talented. Shortly after my UV win, I had the opportunity to discuss this very topic with Chris Riddell – it was a sobering conversation indeed. But if you’re reading this I’m sure you’ve experienced everything I could refer to – the stories of great artists who struggle find work, the mediocre artists and writers that get multi-book deals, the celebrities who nab the lion’s share, never really getting a straight answer either in reviews or from your critique group because at the end of the day, the truth is that (in the publishing world) there is no ‘good’ work or ‘bad’ work, only art and writing that sells. Because it’s a business. As a librarian, I get an interesting perspective of this ebb and flow of the world of children’s books – the perspective of watching how trends come and go over years and decades. I see trends that make me go “WTF?”, and many colleagues agree, but hey, people buy the Daily Mail so there’s no accounting for taste.
For the artist and writer, really the only thing to do is carry on simply because you enjoy it, and this was the gist of the replies in the SCBWI discussion. I’d go further and say to focus on the positives. It’s hard NOT to get hung up on the fact that (what we DEFINE as) success (e.g recognition) is ever elusive, but for the sake of sanity I’m going to remember 2018 for other successes. Winning Undiscovered Voices (even if it hasn’t opened any doors, it did give me a kick up the arse and a sense of direction), having someone ask me if they could use on of my drawings as a tattoo, getting a lovely email from Nilanjana Roy praising my interpretation of a scene from her book, getting a few hundred Instagram followers, and producing some of my best artwork so far. That’s not so shabby.
Happy New Year
Written on November 15, 2018 by JT.
Sometimes time catches you out – 2018 has been like that. It seems like an age ago that I was getting my portfolio printed for the Undiscovered Voices launch and setting up my Instagram account. Since then, highlights of the year haven’t been illustration-based – the London Book Fair was a bit ‘meh’, and I’ve had even more rejections from agents. On the other hand, I’ve had a couple of lovely holidays, I’ve learned how to climb despite the arthritis, and I’m looking forward to the finale of the Tower Hamlets Book Award that I’ve been running as part of my job.
I’ve enjoyed the artwork projects I’ve been working on. I haven’t posted much recently because I’m currently drawing entries for the Folio Society competition – Howl’s Moving Castle, and I won’t post any of those illustrations until the winners are announced next year (and only then if they look reasonably impressive). It’s Inktober, however, that made me start seriously thinking about how I go about drawing.
October coincided with me working on the Howl’s… illustrations and (being quite a serious competition) I’ve dedicated quite a lot of my free time to this project. Even without a time-hungry drawing task I’ve never managed to complete Inktober, and yet my Instagram feed seems clogged up with people producing quite detailed and ambitious pieces every day. There’s currently an equivalent for writers in November, which (if I’ve calculated correctly), requires approximately 5 hours per day of writing in order to meet the target wordcount.
Hold on! Am I jealous of all this time they seem to have to be all creative? Yes. I suppose I am. A bit. Or are they all working themselves to death? Up at 6. An hour of drawing. Then off to work. Draw in their luch break. Home by 6, and 5 more hours of drawing before bed? That’s not particularly healthy. On my last portfolio review, I got involved in a conversation in which I was asked how many days a week I get to work on my illustrations. My answer was “maybe an hour or so a day, sometimes a bit more on weekends.” And this answer seemed to shock some of the others there, who informed me that they only had to work one or two days a week in a paying job.
I need to find a rich patron – though I’m certainly not young and pretty enough to go the traditional route…
Written on July 16, 2018 by JT.
I keep on writing ‘Wildlings’ instead of ‘Wildings’ – this is a scene from Nilanjana Roy’s book, not George Martin’s. I’ve never quite gotten the art style right for this story – I may go back and give it another shot, but I quite like this sketch. I wanted something ‘classic’ looking and so the pen and cross-hatch is a good match.
Written on July 6, 2018 by JT.
I recently attended another portfolio review at the House of Illustration arranced by the SCBWI – in attendance were representatives from the Plum Pudding agency, Hachette childrens and Walker. Feedback from the publishers was ‘so you’re looking for an agent’ – fair enough, that’s the path illustrators have to take, and at least this time I wasn’t sent away to reinvent myself!
Very interesting and helpful was the feedback that I should up the number of illustrations from each book – I’ve been jumping around too much and so my resolution is to draw 4 or 5 pieces per book at least, and work in some cover designs, too.
Another interesting piece of advice was to look at editorial illustrations – so perhaps I’ll find some topical subjects to illustrate. In the meantime, though, I’ve nearly completed a series of Treasure Island drawings and four more Arthurian pieces to complement the two I already have. My first cover design will be for The Hobbit, though I don’t think I’ll be working on any more interior illustrations beyond the two colour pencil drawings that I’ll get scanned and posted over the next few weeks.
After this, it’ll be back to mailing out to agencies…
Written on April 12, 2018 by JT.
I’d never visited the LBF before, so it was an interesting experience taking part this year and having some of my art on display at the Illustrator’s Gallery. It’s the final day of the show today and it’s a shame I can’t make it back as I’d be interested to see if any of my cards were taken 🙂
It’s certainly not a major event in an illustrator’s diary (unless they’ve definitely got the opportunity to negotiate rights or have been invited to speak), but there were some interesting seminars on. I’ll be honest, though, and say that the arranged networking event was a damp squib (though the free drinks were most welcome).
Written on March 4, 2018 by JT.
Any excuse to draw kittens. These are sample drawings for a project that I hope my style isn’t too scary for!
Written on February 23, 2018 by JT.
J K Rowling will most certainly go down in history, but when she does, I’m positive that it wont just be down to the success of Harry Potter. Ms Rowling has become a byword for the light at the end of the long dark tunnel of ‘being an author’. All those years of poverty spent scribbling away in a cafe, cups of coffee becoming mugs of butterbeer have, arguably, inspired more would-be authors than the goings on within Hogwarts. For she embodies that glorious success at the end of so much struggle – royalty cheques replacing rejection letters.
Accepting that I won’t achieve Rowlinghood in my career took the best part of 17 years of rejections. Now, some people will probably think that I’m being a little smug right now, especially considering that I’ve managed to make my way into the ranks of the Undiscovered Voices finalists – after all isn’t it easier to talk about failure from the perspective of someone who’s achieved some measure of success? Or perhaps this is my own insecurities speaking? What can’t be denied is that one illustration does not make an illustrator, and frankly, UV18 may be as good as it gets – I’ve certainly progressed no further beyond the positive feedback stage.
I guess the moral of this is that there are no guarantees.
Now, this post was written in response to a discussion on the SCWBI Facebook group in regards to how writers and illustrators deal with the ups and downs of their lives as artists. It’s been timely for me because this month marks the 20 year anniversary of the end of my first term at university (and I won’t specifically mention the college or course here for reasons that will become clear later), and around 17 years since I first started trying to make my break into the creative world.
17 years is a long time (unless you’ve just become a parent, when it seems to rocket past faster than a UV winner who’s spied the table with the free drinks and canapés), and I’ll admit that there have been long stretches of that time where I did give up with the subs to publishers, or just wasted my time chasing down creative roles which I was unsuited to. Recently I’ve started wondering exactly what it is that keeps artists plugging away through these wilderness years (as Francis Hardinge said at the Undiscovered Voices party – this really is abnormal behaviour)?
Is it arrogance? Possibly – there’s an egotistical little bugger inside me that won’t admit defeat. There’s also part of me that would kick myself if I felt that I’d let myself down. I’d also feel guilty if I felt that I ‘d let other people down who’d expressed how much faith they had that I’d be able to make a success of things (thank you, Mum and Dad – sorry I’m not a millionaire artist who can provide for you in your retirement!).
What has kept me sane, though, is that I acknowledged very early on just how impossibly difficult it is to find ‘success’ and that I should never get hung up on it being the be all and end all of everything. It was two rather unpleasant stories this helped me achieve this perspective, and that perspective is fairly simple.
Don’t take the dream of ‘making it’ too seriously.
My first story is set during either my first or second year at uni (I forget which). I was visiting my parents and was glancing through the local paper one morning. A story caught my eye about a graduate from an old art college that I’d attended for my foundation year. A promising student – not someone I’d known, or one whose name I can now remember – she’d graduated from a fine art course a year previously and had spent a year trying (and failing) to get work as a picture book artist.
Her family and friends told the paper that a year of rejections and making ends meet in a dead-end job was the reason that she took her own life.
I’ve no idea if she had underlying issues with depression, or had contemplated suicide before, but this was an eye opener for me as to just how important chasing the dream of being published is to people (myself included), and how it comes to deeply define their sense of their own worth and value. I’ve no idea as to whether she had a support network, or what kind of ‘dream’ she’d been sold while studying – a university degree is a far cry from the real world and most students only discover this after they graduate and it’s too late.
Two years after my own graduation I’d done some stage design, some storyboarding work that was cut short because the writer was blatantly racist (he asked me to stop drawing black people in 1970s New York). I cooked pub lunches alongside a qualified architect and later on spent early mornings making sandwiches for Greggs (interestingly, Greggs was the only place I worked where none of my co-workers were admitting to be writing a book or trying to become an artist). I eventually embarked on a quest to find a job that would allow me a measure of creativity (so that at least I wouldn’t have that nagging feeling that I was wasting talent), and that I was actually doing work that was of real benefit to people. I gave teaching a try, and was pretty crap at the whole classroom discipline thing, but I eventually found my way into librarianship, which I love despite the shadow of cutbacks that makes every April an exercise in anxiety attacks.
This leads into my second story worthy of the subplot in a YA novel and it concerns an old lecturer of mine. Now I’m really bad at guessing people’s ages, and when you’re 20, anyone over 35 is an old fart, and so now at 40 myself, I’m at the very least approaching the age of the person in question, if not already there. It’s only in the last 10 years – when the reality of my continually receiving rejection letters really started to bite – that I’ve started to understand him. He was (he admitted himself in a roundabout way) a failed artist – not for want of trying, nor of talent, though his work – like all fine artists – was not to everyone’s taste. I don’t believe that he’d gotten used to the idea that ‘success’ had eluded him.
He had a good job – I may have been mediocre at classroom and behaviour management as a secondary school teacher, but I’d loved 6th form teaching and had been pretty good at it. It didn’t help that he spent his days surrounded by smug undergraduates so self-assured in their own destinies, and we really could be abominable, self-righteous little shits. I’m not sure whether it was this, that he didn’t enjoy the path his career had taken – that he had never gotten over his failure as a painter, and spent his days surrounded by the next generation of artists who were basically a bunch of wankers – or a combination of too many factors. Whatever the reason, he’d taken to drinking far too much. By my final year I’d been given a replacement tutor for my dissertation. The last time I saw him at the college he was clearly either drunk or suffering from the previous day’s overindulgence. A few years later at a reunion I heard that he’d died – too young – from complications arising from his habit.
Over my next years of study, I became aware of how there really was nothing in place to prepare students for dealing with the lows of the arts industries – the sheer random nature of it all and the intense competition. It’s ironically appropriate that these days so many breakthroughs are via competitions – effectively lotteries, possibly unless you’re a graduate of an elite institution and have already impressed the correct people. I promised myself then that I’d never take myself and my ambition so seriously that failing to succeed in that ambition would drive me down such a dark path. I’d certainly never take any success or achievements for granted, and I’d never consider that I had some innate ‘right’ to success.
And that drive to success seems to be a road without end – as I’m writing this, the storm around the Carnegie and Greenaway awards is clearly not going to blow away any time soon. And while I’m not going to wade into the wider discussion about diversity in this post, what shocked me a little was how the discussion by a number of published authors turned away from the issue of diversity in the awards, to a general series of complaints about how they were coming to terms with never being shortlisted for the award. Clearly it’s no longer enough just to be published – for some, it’s all just another rat race. Or an endless quest for adoration and recognition.
Written on January 25, 2018 by JT.
Wow – I must be doing something right, because I got a repeat customer! I also got a lesson in canvas printing thrown into the deal. I was asked to supply a canvas of my London Calling pixel art in 2016. The request was for the largest size possible and so I found a company that could handle this. At this point, I was rather green and had no idea about things like trade deals, and so I cut my losses and – because the printing was so expensive and I had no idea whether he’d be happy with the end result – I decided to make no profit at all on it and just have the client cover the costs.
Fast forward to now, and at least I’ve made a small profit on the sale of the first New Your canvas – unfortunately not as much as I’d hoped because I was stuck using the original printers. I’d since found an rganisation that provides a good trade discount, however they don’t povide the option for the same dimensions as the first print, and they really needed to match.
On the other hand, I can’t deny that they look far nice as canvases than as posters, and so I’ll definitely add the canvas option to my Etsy store.
Written on January 19, 2018 by JT.
Well, firstly a big thank you to Working Partners Ltd and especially to Chris Snowden. And many, many thanks to everyone at SCBWI and especially to Sara, Sara, Patrick, Loretta and Anne-Marie (who’s helped me get my portfolio into shape!) [I’ll have to edit this post as I add in names of people whom I’ve forgotten in my excitement].
The portfolio review in preparation for the launch event was certainly an eye-opener, especially in regards to seeing the incredible work of my fellow finalists – it’s certainly humbling and rather intimidating to be in such heavy company.
What was good was to have some objective analysis of my work – and it was nice to know that there is the option to focus on my black and white work. So many of my other reviews and attempts to get agented have been about my colour work, and I’d lost sight of how I’d become sidetracked into thinking that colour picture book artwork is the be all and end all of children’s illustration.
Of course, now the real work has begun! I’m putting new drawing projects on hold as I’ve until the 22nd February to retouch the pieces that I’m having printed for a new A4 folio. It’s dawned on me that this is the first portfolio in years that hasn’t featured artwork that’s predominantly digital, so I’ve over a dozen ink drawings that I need to ensure are as crisp as possible after being scanned. I’m also having to catch up with things that I hadn’t considered, like business cards and also other social media platforms (I’m now discovering the ‘joys’ of Instagram inadequacy – that existential angst and expectation related to numbers of ‘likes’. Not helped by the fact that apparently most publishers and art directors scout talent via Instagram these days. Guess I’ll be doing more sketching).
Written on December 5, 2017 by JT.
Now, firstly, the important stuff. Is ‘longlist’ even a real word? Every spellchecker I use says ‘no’ (but they also say spellchecker’ isn’t a word either). It’s certainly annoying when planning the Tower Hamlets Book Award and every letter I write about the longlist or shortlist is apparently littered with spelling mistakes.
Anyway, I’m feeling rather intimidated by being chosen for the SCBWI Undiscovered Voices longlist, but with a buzzing of intense excitement.
For a start, 2 months ago I declared that after about 17 years, I was fed up with constant rejection letters and was packing in further attempts to get properly published.
I’ll be rethinking this decision. Even if I don’t make it past the longlist (long list?), I’m sure this shows that there’s the possibility that someone likes my work?
Written on December 1, 2017 by JT.
Well, it’s getting close to the close of 2017 and it’s been a rather interesting year. Aside from getting lots of extra duties and a big dollop of job insecurity at the library (thank you Theresa May), I finally got around to starting my Etsy store and register for self-assessment. Not that I particularly needed to, because my earnings are basically non-existent, but I didn’t want to fall foul of regulations, so there you go. Just means a bit more paperwork this time next year. I think the future of selling my prints will have to be canvas, though. I’m just not getting the orders through for posters, and they’re pretty expensive.
I’ve also updated this website a little – I’m not allowed to say why just yet, though… 😉 It was long overdue, though. I didn’t remove as much work as I’d anticipated – I’d weeded a lot of the sketchy stuff already. I did consider removing more of the …don’t let the Dragons bite work, but sentimentality got the better of me. I like the look that the silhouette work gives to the front page – the Patronus picture will be the next Etsy print (once I actually find time to get it print-ready), and I’m fairly happy with the new direction that my work is taking. I was supposed to have finished a new Pixel Art poster – a Game of Thrones piece – but after my other posters failed to really sell and received little or no interest from agencies I decided that it would be more productive to return to my drawings and develop my style a little more.
My other work is of course the sequel to Betsy Thumbslurp. I’ve got several pages of b/w art for this book which I was taking in a more commercial direction, but now that Janet has traded the series in for her YA ambitions, I’ve also got more writing to do! This leaves my picturebook ideas in limbo – including …dragons (which was way over the pb wordcount anyway). On the other hand, Inn from the cold is currently with the wonderful Tiny Owl…
Written on December 1, 2016 by JT.
I’m not sure where the geometric idea came from – probably just the requirement to differentiate the lists as much as possible from the 2016 set. The backgrounds were originally darker – the covers had a neon bloom around the edges – but we went light, again to make a contrast with the previous year. The colour scheme was originally influenced by the interface of the game Nier : Automata of all things, the pastel colours were added later. The turnaround time on these was tight, which meant that the compositional changes between the primary and secondary sets was a simple horizontal flip. As you can see, the library was also having to cut budgets, and so the poster count was dropped to 4 for each set. Fortunately the design meant that I could cram in 10 covers rather than 8!
Written on December 1, 2016 by JT.
Written on August 1, 2016 by JT.
I’ve been running in ever decreasing circles since a portfolio review earlier this year which could be summed up as “we like the work, but no one will want to publish it”. Obviously some rethinking was in order. In the end, I’ve been encouraged to go back, take a look at my work, and play around with ideas and techniques. I’ve decided that my work could use some polish, so I’ve decided to work on my colouring techniques, and will probably start working into the black and white art to create a new portfolio of drawn work to go with my pixel art. I coloured this Harry Potter sketch over a few hours. I’m fairly happy – next is to look at backgrounds and continue to add polish.
Written on May 23, 2016 by JT.
Well, I took part in a portfolio intensive critique earlier this year via my SCBWI membership, and it was an eye-opener for sure that knocked me sideways for a few days. I’ve now put aside (sadly) Don’t let the Dragons Bite after being told that the style of illustration probably wouldn’t be picked up by publishers, and neither would my B/W line art in its current form. Despite all of the positive feedback, at the end of the day my work is at the mercy of the publisher’s style sheet that dictates what sells and what doesn’t.
On the other hand, I received a fair amount of positive feedback for my pixel art (which I’d only put back in the portfolio at the last minute). So I’ve returned to this to shop around in order to chase some measure of commercial success…
Written on May 23, 2016 by JT.
I was very kindly sent these pictures of my London Calling pixel city canvas print. I was – to be quite honest – waiting with baited breath for feedback on this piece, mainly because I’ve never actually seen pixel art printed on canvas before, and I had no idea whether there would be any blurring or distortion involved that would spoil the crispness of the definition of the pixels. However, as you can see, the final product was well worth it!
Written on December 1, 2015 by JT.
Written on June 19, 2015 by JT.
Run by the SCBWI, this is a competition to showcase the work of unpublished and unagented authors and illustrators. I found out about it from Sarwat Chadda, a previous winner and now full-time writer whom I’ve worked with as a librarian. I really can’t stress enough how important these sort of showcase competitions are, just to help get your work noticed in a ridiculously crowded market.
The writing category is totally free reign, asking authors to sub an extract of a completed manuscript, though the illustrator category is more fixed, requesting a single piece of art based on one of the titles (invented for the competition) given. I was thrown a little at the launch when I was told that one entry is all you get (and since the entry is via society membership, no pen name entries). I really think that two entries should be allowed, at the very least so that the judges can assess consistancy in the work. On the other hand, the titles are good – spins on classic tales, as if with Once Upon A Time… I haven’t had my fill of alternative fairy tales this year – and my black and white pen work has never been stronger than it is at the moment. It’s also interesting that colour artwork is out – the industry is showing what the business is, e.g. colour art = too expensive outside of the picturebook world.
Though I doubt I can get anything completed to enter into the author category, I’ve just completed my entry for the illustrator category, choosing the title “Hansel and Gretel and the Great Witch Rescue” after taking into account the advice at the launch event, ‘play to your strengths’ – in this case witches, fast paced movement and quirky humour.
I had considered the title Alice of Wonderland Road – Remarkable Tales of a Runaway but decided that Tenniel’s illustrations would be just to memorable to let me get my style in – when a title has so many associations with classic artwork, your own interpretation will always be measured against it.
Best of luck…
Written on March 19, 2015 by JT.
However the class was also working on a project based on The Iron Man book, and so they asked me to draw an Iron Cat jumping from Big Ben. I dropped this off the them the following day and they seemed happy – and Janet Noble now wants to write a Steampunk story for me to illustrate.
Written on March 19, 2015 by JT.
Well, the Mighty Thumbslurp has been printed at last! To celebrate this momentous event, Janet and myself have just completed our first afternoon of workshops at John Scurr Primary School, Tower Hamlets.
I had rather a lot of fun drawing the improvised adventures of Amadeus Lovebunch who lives in a space station, picks his nose, sings and is terrorised by (alternatively) a flesh-eating goldfish and a magical kitten with a weak bladder.
I was also given the enviable task of drawing an Iron Cat leaping from Big Ben onto the houses of parliament which I’ve added to my sketches page before handing the drawing over to the school for their display (for the school project based on The Iron Man by Ted Hughes)
Written on December 16, 2014 by JT.
Phew – this was a bit of a mammoth task. It’s always nice when a bit of hard work pays off, and more so when you actually learn something from it – in this case some new brush tool techniques.
This is of course another creative writing competition poster for the Tower Hamlets Schools Library Services, and after the last ones being entirely computer generated, I wanted to go back to some drawing and freehanad colouring.
I knew I wanted to go with the group portraits from the start, being influenced by sources such as the Metabarons graphic novel cover and the portrait pages of the Kingdom Come graphic novel. It seemed the best way to condense as many disparate characters into a single artwork.
I didn’t have a huge amount of time to plan the poster, but I did my best to get a fairly rounded selection of characters from as many backgrounds as possible – the competition emphasises reading up on multi-cultural myths and legends. I went for old favourites that weren’t too obscure and would be recognised by the pupils entering the competition and mixed in some less familiar faces.
Each character was drawn separately at A3 size and then scanned and composited before being coloured. The reversible design came about simply because I had a long list of characters and they just didn’t fit well on a landscape composition, but I think that the pupils will like the distinction between the ‘heroes’ and ‘villains’ and (I hope) explore the representations in their writing.
List of characters:
- Beowulf (Anglo-Saxon)
- Arthur (British/ Welsh)
- An Ifrit (Arabic/ Middle-Eastern)
- The Morrigan (Irish)
- Red Riding Hood (Europe)
- The Swan Princess (Europe)
- A Tomte (Scandinavia)
- Snow White (Europe)
- Baron Samedi (Haiti/ Caribbean)
- Anansi (Africa/ Caribbean)
- Elves (Various)
- Faerie (Various)
- A Wolf (Various)
- Lilith (Hebrew)
- A Golem (Hebrew)
- Namahage (Japan)
- Sasabonsam (Africa)
- An Asura (India)
- A Troll (Various)
- A Gorgon (Greek)
- Mictlantecuhtli (Aztec)
- Baba Yaga (Russia)
Written on October 1, 2014 by JT.
Written on September 16, 2014 by JT.
In honour of the imminent (well, fairly imminent) publication of the printed edition of You’re a Pest, Betsy Thumbslurp! here’s a sample of artwork from the upcoming sequel.
The print edition will feature an exclusive sample chapter of the follow-up story with lots more of Coco’s eternal struggle with her nemesis, Betsy.
You’re a Pest, Betsy Thumbslurp! can now also be bought for eLibraries via the Wheelers platform.
Written on July 1, 2014 by JT.
Well, I’m rather chuffed that someone actually wanted to interview me!
TaleTrove looks to be on it’s way to becoming a great little online resource and I wish them the best success in their work.
Written on May 19, 2014 by JT.
You know what it’s like when you get to spring. The garden needs weeding, the lawn’s a patchy mess, the fence needs straightening, and the Something-nasty-and-slimy-with-tentacles REALLY needs to be removed from the pond.
Not that the last knight had much success, but our Alice looks to be up to the task.
Written on May 11, 2014 by JT.
At last, You’re a Pest, Betsy Tumbslurp! has been (self) published, and Coco has been unleashed onto the world. Written by Janet Noble, it’s been over a year in the making, not helped by many many revisions of Coco’s hair and the layout of the final book.
Now that we’ve finally got here we can start chasing reviews and then spend a couple of days revisiting the print edition. As happy as I am with the eBook, I still prefer the artwork composition in the .pdf.
In the meantime I’ll list a few things I’ve learnt on this rather difficult (but rewarding) journey.
- For a book of this format, black and white art would have sufficed! As lovely as the coloured work is, it’s probably only for a prestige edition and would have saved weeks of work.
- Editing takes bloody ages
- As does applying different fonts to dialogue. Thank goodness we abandoned coloured sound effects.
- Curly hair is a pain to draw
- eBooks never look as good as a printed edition
Written on April 21, 2014 by JT.
Written on April 21, 2014 by JT.
So my manager decides that we need a different design to the last few years, which have been rather clean and tidy, so I decided to return to the grunge ethic of the 2011 posters, but this time with doodle art rather than PhotoShop.
The doodles were my way of representing all the wierdness and wonderfulness that books are crammed full of. Also, in keeping the art black and white, it was my intention that the covers would stand out.
Yeah, right! I’d drafted the posters using last years’ booklist covers which were lovely and bright – the deadlines meant that the books would be chosen late in the design process. The trouble is, the trend of 2013/14 cover design for teens seems to favour a mulch of grim blues, pales washed out blues, and a smattering of grimy reds and oranges. Oh well, I think the kids’ll still like them.
Written on March 28, 2014 by JT.
I wanted at least one opening line that could be worked into sci-fi. This is a bit of a John Wyndham apocalyptic sci-fi, but I think it’s quite atmospheric. This was the final poster I worked on from the six original lines (we cut two of them), and was probably the toughest to design. I settled on the organic, twisted buildings to make things a bit more disturbing.
Written on March 28, 2014 by JT.
I’m not sure whether any entrants have interpreted the ‘apple’ as an iPhone. I like this design but it’s certainly the most leading in terms of genre, but then again so was the opening line. This was one of two lines we used that was donated by author Josh Lacey who judged the 2013 competition. The “and a…” was originally a shotgun, but we decided to leave it up to the kid’s imaginations.
Written on March 28, 2014 by JT.
Written on March 28, 2014 by JT.
This shamelessly riffed on Hitchcock film posters and was one of the earliest designs for this series of posters, it was also the most abstract and was the reason that I only used Adobe Illustrator for the project. Seeing that the posters shouldn’t lead the pupils too far in certain direstions, I wanted the ‘hole’ to be metapholical as much as a pot hole on the M25…
Written on March 28, 2014 by JT.
Written on March 28, 2014 by JT.
Written on March 28, 2014 by JT.
Written on March 28, 2014 by JT.
Written on March 28, 2014 by JT.
Written on March 27, 2014 by JT.
Written on March 27, 2014 by JT.
Written on March 27, 2014 by JT.
Written on February 8, 2014 by JT.
Written on September 2, 2013 by JT.
Just putting the finishing touches on the artwork for “You’re a Pest, Betsy Thumbslurp” and I’ve managed to find another dozen things that needed drawing. But at least we’re on the assembling-in-InDesign phase now. Next it’s working out how to market the eBook and deciding on whether to go for a printed edition.
This is Betsy’s mealtime. Coco would rather be having a story read to her than ducking fliying food. I love drawing things going ‘splat’, and you’ll see that Coco has a habit of choosing outfits with logos that sum up her mood.
Written on June 21, 2013 by JT.
This is one of the draft illustrations for Janet Noble’s new series of books that I like to think of as comparable to Charlie and Lola before Charlie learned to put up with his little sister.
The book is the first in a series of funny stories based around Coco and her family – Mum and Dad who are far too busy with new arrival Betsy to remember their eldest daughter’s birthday, and Grandma, who’d just rather sleep through the ruckus.
Written on May 21, 2013 by JT.
I’ve collected here a selection of the booklist poster sets that I’ve produced since 2010 for schools.
The 2010 design was in honour of the eBook project that we’d launched at the library. The posters and booklet were based on tablet computer screens. They were originally all purple/ grey in colour but we introduced the other shades to differentiate them and the colour scheme persisted.
I worked the 2013 posters up from a design submitted by a pupil from one of our schools, created as part of an art department project. I kept as close as possible to the design, but the school art department hadn’t taught the pupils about bleed, or the need to measure the correct dimensions of book covers!
Written on December 5, 2012 by JT.
I’d returned to PhotoShop for this poster because I knew I could use it to work up a highly detailed piece fairly quickly. I hadn’t intended it, but some entrants to the competition actually wrote a story for the comic frames in the poster. One or two also commented that it was ‘a bit too scary’ which I’ll take as a complement.
Written on November 8, 2012 by JT.
I spent a pleasant evening working into this sketch again after having abandoned it for about 10 years. I’d got fed up with so many rejection letters that this was one of the last portfolio pieces for quite a while. I think I must have just completed Zone of The Enders 2.
I dug it out again to fill some space on the Wonder poster and I really like what a combination of the Cutout and Poster Edges Photoshop filters did to the pencil work. The rest is brush work with my Intuos and photo montage.
Moral of the story? Don’t throw out your sketchbooks.
Written on October 15, 2012 by JT.
Now it’s getting there. We changed the themeÃ‚Â from “Promise”Ã‚Â to “Wonder” – it fitted the artwork better, and feedback from schools is that this is a better title, so I’m happy. More work is needed throughout, and I need to either expand on the polaroid images or replace them with something…
I was asked to put in more ‘multicultural’ imagery, which did inspire me to put in forms extracted from contemporary African sculpture, but considering that I’m trying to make this as non-culturally specific as possible, adding something, say, overtly Bengali would lookÃ‚Â a bitÃ‚Â obvious and jarring.
Something for me to think about…
Written on October 4, 2011 by JT.
This poster was like an aftershock from the 2011 List campaign. There’s also plenty of subliminal detail that’s a direct follow up to Crossing the Line.
I’m looking forward to not having to worry about how to compose a half dozen book covers into a poster until next year’s list (as long as the library is still here).
Written on October 4, 2011 by JT.
It’s enough of a challenge to create a poster around a single book cover. Taking on the work of over half a dozen artists and turning these wildly different designs into a coherent theme can be a nightmare – especially when you’ve got to do something different to last year’s campaign AND make each of the sequence look distinct enough that people actually notice that they’re a series of posters.
This year’s was based on a fairly simple symbolic theme. We’d stopped changing the title each year (sticking to THe List) to create a brand of sorts, and that gave me the freedom of creating a visual theme around a title with no connotations of its own.
Written on August 24, 2011 by JT.
The anti-Coalition cutback subtext runs throughout this poster – unsurprising given that many of my colleagues were made redundant during the planning phase. It speaks volumes that I’ve been asked on a number of occasions whether the David Cameron soundbiteÃ‚Â “All you have built, we will burn down.” is real. It’s not, by the way, but it I’m sure he’d have said it if he’d had the balls.
The poster was printed in A1 and A2 and helped inspire some great work. The published eBook can be downloaded from www.towerhamlets-sls.org.uk
Written on August 13, 2011 by JT.
The Winter Tower is still may favourite page from …don’t let the dragons bite. It was my second try at this scene – I’ll post the previous work another time. I particularly like the dragon of forever winter, something to let you know that this is more than just a crumbling old tower. This is a combination of watercolour paints and pencils and PhotoShop.
Written on April 8, 2010 by JT.
Written on April 8, 2010 by JT.
Written on April 8, 2010 by JT.