Tuesday, 31 December 2013

Contacting Illustrator: Vicky Fallon

So this is my last post of 2013, how exciting! After contacting illustrator Vicky Fallon before Christmas, I was pleasantly surprised to receive an email response from her today! Therefore, I would like to share with you all my questions and her answers which I think are very inspiring, just what I need to motivate me to push myself towards being an illustrator in the New Year!

Here are a few links to Fallon's beautiful personal work:

Lemonade Illustration Agency Portfolio

Personal Website: VickyInk

Facebook Page: VickyFallonIllustration

After coming across her work on the Lemonade Agency website, I desired to know more about the illustrator:

"Hey Vicky,
My name is Carla Taylor, a second year illustration student studying at the University of Huddersfield. I am eager to become part of the illustration industry, therefore I would like to ask how did you become so successful and where did you start out to be an illustrator?
I found you on the Lemonade agency website and I must say your illustrations are absolutely beautiful. How do you find working for an agency and do you rely on this for commissioned work? Also, I had a peek at your personal website and saw that you sell products with your own unique designs on them. How did you go about doing this? I would be interested in starting out designing for products similar to this, I would really value your advice.
Thanks for taking the time to respond to my questions.
Carla Taylor."

I was very happy to hear back and she gave a thorough and intricate response:

"Hi Carla!

Thanks for your email and hope you had a lovely Christmas. 

Thanks for your lovely compliments! I would say I do rely on Lemonade for the majority of my work and also Hire an Illustrator. HAI takes an upfront payment of £185 for the year or £3.99 per week but I've made my money back and much more, so I recommend it. 

I think the best tip I can give you is just to get your work out there as much as you possibly can. A website and blog is great - there is a real sense of community among bloggers and a lot of work is shared around with credit so it can be such an amazing networking tool for you. But in terms of getting your work seen by the right people - try to submit it wherever and whenever you can. Look at different websites that feature upcoming artists/illustrators, online magazines, competitions, real-life magazines and you can of course send your folio to art directors of different design agencies as they're the ones who commission illustrators outside of their agency for jobs. Just something small, no need to send them everything. Just a quick email - or note - to say that you just wanted to share your work and would love to be featured/work for them anytime. Choose maybe 5 of your best illustrations and attach/print them.

That's what I did when I was starting out, and to be honest alot of the time you never hear back, but occasionally you do and that's the main thing. It's also a great way to receive advice/feedback on your work from people in the industry that do the hiring.

There’s lots of websites out there that will print your designs onto products, my faves are moo.com and awesome merchandise, put them out there where you can - craft fairs, Etsy, Folky and on your own website. 

I'd say keep doing what you do, the more the do the better you get! Patience is a massive part of being an illustrator but stick at it!

Hope that helps and good luck with your studies :) i’ll keep an eye out for your stuff in the coming years! 

Happy new year! 

I must admit, after reading Fallon's response, it has made me a lot more confident for the New Year. It just proves that even successful illustrators are willing to help those like me who are yet to get their foot in the creative door of illustration. 

Through talking to practicing illustrators, it has given me a realistic insight in how to get my work known and recognised to eventually become a successful illustrator myself. I hope this has motivated you to try email an illustrator yourself. So, send a quick email, don't be shy! The worst they can do is not respond, the best they can do is give you REAL advice!

Thanks for reading,


Friday, 13 December 2013

'Hide and Seek' Exhibition

Statement along side exhibition:

'My inspirations for this project were derived from the film ‘Drowning by Numbers’. I decided to use the themes in the film as a direction for my work including: numbers, death and games. One particular game featured within the film inspired me to create my own pack of playing cards: ‘Dawn Card-Castles’.

The illustrations for each card are based on a variety of symbolisms and research into the suits. To reflect the film, my illustrations all contain the suits and numbers in subtle ways, sometimes more obscure than others. I feel this helps my illustrations become more fun and the viewer will sometimes have to find the symbols to figure out which card they relate to. This creates a light-hearted notion for some themes that may not be seen in this way otherwise.'

The title 'Hide and Seek' came from the playful idea of games and the concept of hidden numbers and imagery which I have included in my playing card designs. This idea was taken from the film 'Drowning by Numbers' as the numbers 1-100 are integrated sequentially within the scenes; sometimes the numbers are more visible than others, and from personal experience when I watched the film initially I did not find all 100 numbers. This idea has been developed into my own designs where sometimes the numbers and suits are more obscure than others.

Presentation of Exhibition

Four images just less than A3, over-mounted onto black A3 mount board to give a visual look of frames.

This aesthetic decision was made as I felt that the white background of the images would cause them to fade into the white wall. The black frame enables the imagery to stand out and also gives them a professional finish.

The inclusion of these images was to give the viewer an insight into all 40 of my playing card designs as I was unsure if the finished pack of cards would arrive on time for assessment. This was successful as it illustrates how all my designs would look when put into their desired context; you can see them on a closer scale on a previous blog post 'Final Playing Card Designs'


To compliment the mounted images, I picked out 5 of my favourite designs, all on watercolour paper including 3 originals. I really wanted the viewer to see the designs as finished artworks on the textured paper so they could see where I started out. The frames give the pieces a professional look for the exhibition space, and their rectangle forms take a similar shape to the playing cards which are the intended contexts.

I was extremely relieved when my pack of cards finally arrived! Therefore, this allowed me to incorporate the cards into the exhibition space and give my designs a visual context as a finished product. 

Simply hanging the cards sequentially on string with pegs add a final touch to my exhibition space. The viewer is able to see each stage I underwent to produce my final playing card designs. 

The back of the card was a collage I created earlier in my project which I made with a mixture of newspaper cutouts, ink and acrylic, layered and edited further in Photoshop. I think the abstract composition compliments my designs effectively and the darker background contrasts with the lighter face of the cards; this is reminiscent of real playing card backs which always have some form of pattern on the back which continues through each card.

Final 'Hide and Seek' Exhibition

Overall, I am very happy with the presentation of my work in this exhibition set-up. The entire look is professional and finished, including all of my designs in a contextualised form. The layout is simple and straight to the point, with no extra props which distract from the artwork itself. This is all that is needed, with an added statement, to explain the intention and aims of my entire project.

A very successful outcome.

Wednesday, 11 December 2013

Final Playing Cards Designs

After much experimenting with different mixed medias and techniques, here are the final playing card designs which I decided to include. I have only designed for the numbers within a pack of playing cards as this was the main focus on my project and therefore did not feel the need to design for any of the royal cards. 


My main inspirations were derived from the research I did throughout the project. This included finding out the symbolic meanings behind the numbers 1-10 and the four playing cards suits. Initially, I found this quite difficult as there were so many varied interpretations, so I decided that I would use this as initial research and and other symbolism would come from my own imagination. Many of my designs were thought out through the experimentation of media, i.e. watercolour, which allowed me to create unique and simple designs incorporating the numbers and suit symbols.

All in all, I am happy with the outcome of my designs and believe they fit together stylistically between each suit and also as a pack of cards.

Thursday, 5 December 2013

Alan Driscoll's Fascinating Deck of Cards

For my final body of work I have decided to produce unique designs based on my project and the themes in 'Drowning by Numbers' to create a pack of playing cards. Having figured out about half of the designs, I came to a mental block and found myself struggling to think of the rest of the designs. Therefore, I spoke to my tutor Ian Massey who gave me a link to a fantastic set of playing cards where 56 contemporary artists/ designers collaborated to make individual card designs. Included, there was a description of the cards:

Fifty-six contemporary British artists have been especially commissioned to contribute to this unique interpretation of a pack of playing cards. Each cards represents the original work of a different artist, together with additional designs for the reverse and for the box. The cards have been printed on Superluxe board and have been produced in the traditional Old English size.
Although some of the artists are better knon than others, all have examples of their work in public collections in Britain or aborad. A list of the contributors involved and details of where their work can be seen in presented below. Numbers alongside each collection relate to the numbered alphabetical list of artists' names that follows.
From the abstract to the surrealist to the representative, this deck represents a fairly wide variety of modern art forms, media and technique. In the works depicted in this deck you'll find portraiture, pure color studies, primitive work almost cartoonish in its aesthetic, even photography, retouched and pure, and more. Most every modern school can be found here. And there is no lack of visual puns. Each of the artists represented here took their own particular inspiration from the card they were given in a strange and unique direction. No two paintings are more than superficially alike, and they are worth studying together as much as they are worth studying separately. In their similarities you can find the soul of playing cards, and in their differences you can find the soul of the artists.The box design is by Tim Whitmore, the back design is by Kenneth Martin, and the joker is by either Anthony Green or Anthony Donaldson (it's not clear from the documentation).

Here are some examples of the cards:


Some of the artists involved in this project are:

Artists include:
Patrick HERON
Sandra BLOW

Having seen the variations in the designs, it has given me more confidence in my own designs. Initially I was worried about my designs being too simple, but having seen the success in the simplicity of these creations I feel that sometimes simple can work better than complex artwork. From looking at this pack of playing cards, I feel that I can provide a wider variety of work in my own designs without worrying if they all link together stylistically and visually. 

Monday, 2 December 2013

Contacting Illustrator Carly Davies

Nearing the end of my first term of University as a second year Illustration student, I am eager to find out more about placement opportunities for my sandwich year. Therefore, after browsing through the net, I came across the wonderfully talented Illustrator Carly Davies who's work can be viewed on her own website at Carly Davies Illustration. Take a peek :)

After seeing her post about her Hallmark placement, I was intrigued and desired to know more so I emailed her: 

Hey Carly,
I am a second year Illustration student at the University of Huddersfield, and was just browsing through the net hoping to find some inspiration for my placement year in Industry. I found your blog post from 2011 saying you had just finished a placement at Hallmark.
I was wondering if you could give me some tips on how you went about getting a placement, whether you know of any opportunities, and how you kick started your career as an illustrator?

Thanks so much for your time, I hope to hear from you soon :)

Regards, Carla Taylor

I was pleased to here back from her :) This is her reply:

"Sorry, I only just remembered that I have to reply to this!

I gained my placement by exhibiting relevant and commercial illustration at New Designers exhibition. I was first approached by Hallmark and offered a commission, then on the back of that being successful, I was offered a two week placement.

Aside from gaining a placement this way, the best way to approach them, would either be to work up a strong creative CV with some relevant illustrations to show off your style, or to keep entering the Tigerprint competition (tigerprint and Hallmark studios are in the same building/owned by the same company.) The more you enter, the more your work will be directed towards the styles that they look for. Then if you don't achieve any attention from that, send Hallmark another email showing all your entries and write a really nice cover letter that shows how passionate and enthusiastic you are about greetings cards.

My career all kick started from New Designers > to the commission > to the placement, then after the placement I sent around my creative CV and I would say the placement almost definitely got me my job. (I was employed in November...only a few months after graduation.)

Hope that is helpful,


After receiving this response from such a talented illustrator, it made me realise that with a lot of effort, enthusiasm and passion I will get to where I want to be. It has also made me more confident talking to practicing illustrators to gain advice and knowledge on how to gain access to such a difficult and competitive industry.

I hope this helped you too! :) 

Thursday, 28 November 2013

Inspiration Project Brief

Last week I was set a short project brief based on inspirations. After expressing what inspires me on a personal level on my previous blog post 'My Personal Inspirations' and sharing my thoughts with the rest of my peers at University, we were set a challenge in randomised pairs to create an illustration based on the other persons own inspirations.

I was paired up with Katie Mcternan who's personal work can be found on her blog at: http://katiemcternanillustration.tumblr.com/

Katie's Inspirations:

Nature- Andy Goldsworthy, man made vs nature (destruction of nature)- Julian Schnabel, patterns - Yellena James and Beatriz Milhazes, texture, butterflies - colour and pattern - Damien Hirst, Fiona Rae, visiting galleries, collect objects and images of things I like to make mood/inspiration boards, taking photos of things I see and like, time- decay- watching things age, experimentation with materials, life drawing, drawing.

Interestingly, I found many similarities with my own personal inspirations. Therefore, I naturally focused on these things and decided that to create my illustrative interpretation I would use the themes of nature and decaying over time. I also looked at the artists which were given and actually really loved the work of Yellena James who uses plenty of colour and pattern in her illustrations in a subtle and delicate way.

After researching and thinking about potential ideas for my illustration, I came up with an initial sketch:

The idea behind this was to illustrate how trees lose their leaves throughout the seasons. I visualised this as a form of decay and thought it linked quite well with Katie's inspirations. Furthermore, the bird signifies the beauty of nature and I thought that a bird would be a perfect icon for representation to reflect this. 

I then went on to develop this further with watercolour as my choice of media to reflect on the subtle beauty of nature.

Original watercolour illustration

Digitalised version of original illustration. Applied manipulation of brightness/ contrast, hue and saturation.

Final version of digital illustration

I believe that the final illustration I created was successful in the sense it portrays a sense of time and decay in a simple manner. The dark space gives the composition a sense of space, but also reflects the negativity of the theme of decay. The birds are almost 'dancing' in the air which gives a sense of juxtaposition and calm when the surroundings and themselves appear to be deteriorating.

Once digitalised, I feel it has enhanced my original illustration and made it stronger. It is not giving too much away and allows the viewer to interpret the illustration in their own way.

Cropping the image right makes the birds iconic without needing the rest of the image to understand the theme of decay within nature.

Reflection on Project

Overall I have found this project has given me a sense of relief from the main 'The Black Mirror' project. Forcing me to work at a fast pace has actually been a huge benefit to my approach to creating illustration, allowing me to illustrate my ideas visually without over-thinking or questioning them. As a matter of fact I believe through the creation of this illustration I can move forward with my main project and produce more visuals for my final outcomes.

Katie's Illustration based on my own Inspirations

As I was paired up with Katie for this brief, she also created an illustration based on my own personal inspirations (which can be seen on a previous post 'My Personal Inspirations').

After seeing Katie's illustration it immediately struck me how similar our compositions appeared to be, and how we both picked out the nature elements of our inspirations. We both also used watercolour as our choice of media which was interesting and demonstrated how similar our inspirations actually are. I think Katie has done a great job of depicting my personal inspirations, and how she chose to illustrate my childhood within quite a maturely painted and subtle background.

Monday, 25 November 2013

Gallery Visits in Leeds

Leeds Art Gallery

When I visited Leeds Art gallery, one of the main exhibitions which was showing was 'Art and Life' 1920-1931,  a book which explores the artistic relationship between Ben Nicholson and Winifred Nicholson, as well as their friendship and collaborations with Christopher Wood, Alfred Wallis and William Staite Murray.

When looking around the gallery, the paintings seemed quite abstract and often featured nature as a dominant subject. I felt like a lot of the techniques by the artists Ben and Winifred Nicholson were quite childish when viewed beside one another. Personally, I didn't see a lot of technical skill involved in their paintings which made them difficult to view in a positive way.

Christopher Wood's Cumberland Landscape
The work of Christopher Wood was more intriguing with his 'Cumberland Lanscape' and use of bold colour. It is evident that he has used quick mark making techniques to gain a sense of movement within his painting. The overall painting has a child-like quality to it, though as a viewer we know that it is much more technically advanced. 

Cornwall: Feock and St. Ives

Ben Nicholson- "a sleeping beauty is countryside of southern foliage, sheltered creeks and wide expanse of water"

Nicholson met Alfred Wallis at St.Ives, therefore a lot of his work is inspired by this part of the country. This wonderful quote expresses his love for the countryside and the way this vision is put into his paintings.

Christopher Wood's Pill Creek
Another painting which caught my eye was Christopher Wood's Pill Creek 1928. 

Wood used oil and pencil on canvas for this painting, emphasising his use of mark making techniques. It appeared that when viewed up close, Wood had scratched back into the oil paint over several layers. This painting appears more detailed than some of his other works, though there is a greater sense of ability t capture the notions of the countryside.

Christopher Wood's Zebra and Parachute

It does seem that out of all the artists in the exhibition, Wood was the only one who truly captured my attention. The final artwork I found captivating was his 'Zebra and Parachute' painting. It is surreal in the sense that the zebra appears to be out of context and in the background there seems to be one stuck on a parachute. The main element of this painting which initial caught my eye was the bold shapes and simplicity of the composition. This piece made me smile due to its quirkiness and total absurdity; it was nice to look at a piece of art in this way.

Leeds Art Fund 1912-2012

Joesph Mallord William Turner 1775-1851

Head of Cuckoo, Watercolour/ Graphite 1815

Further into the gallery, I found this tiny study of a cuckoo's head created by Turner. It was refreshing to see some pure talent and detail in his artwork even though the scale was small. The detail is quite amazing, especially considering it was made in watercolour which is a difficult media to use.

Munro House

After seeing more traditional artwork at Leeds Art Gallery, Julia Bickerstaff's contemporary pop-up exhibition was appealing to the eye. She displayed a mixture of photographs, paintings and installation-type sculptures. 

Stepping Up

Light Reading

In honesty, I was less impressed by Bickerstaff's neon light sculptures than her photography and paintings. There didn't seem to be any meaning behind the pieces and when I was trying to understand them I couldn't find any helpful information. Visually her pieces are aesthetically appealing but overall I found that this was all it could offer.

Graffiti in Leeds City Centre

After viewing artists work in various gallery spaces, it was great to stumble across some fantastic graffiti art in Leeds city centre. I also found some interesting placements of numbers which relate directly to my project. 

My Personal Inspirations

One of my main personal inspirations which has been consistent throughout my artistic journey has been nature and the outdoors. Thinking about my childhood, it seems that this interest began through my several camping trips I was taken on with my family. I also remember as a young child playing outdoors with other children, where one of my favourite artistic memories was creating coloured chalk drawings on the pavements (ending with my dad having to bring out the power-washer). This element of nature has stayed in my interests and work right until this present moment.

Other inspirations from the past have been books. In my teenage years I went through a phase of reading many books based on the supernatural, mainly vampires. This still interests me though not as much directly into my artwork. Political issues have also been an inspiration, for example animal cruelty and human rights. This has also carried onto now, most recently I have dealt with the issues of feminism. Moreover, I seem to have an increasing interest in superstitions.

More general inspirations at this present time include: everyday life, nature, people, happy accidents and depending on the brief given at any time, it may change.

Sunday, 17 November 2013

Mid-Project Brief Thoughts

As you are aware, I have been attempting to conquer a new project brief 'The Black Mirror'. This led to basing my project around the symbolism of numbers and playing cards, which has given me a desire to create my own pack of cards.

I will admit, this has taken me in several, unconnected and often frustrating directions. Many of my ideas seem to fall flat and lead to no-where. Regardless, these have given me many platforms for the basis of ideas which could inevitably lead to successful outcomes. For now, I am trying to get as many of these ideas out of my head and onto paper (or Photoshop), which is sometimes difficult. As an illustrator, it is extremely important to me that my work is original, unique and appealing to the eye.

Therefore, I must apologise in advance if my work appears somewhat disconnected, as I am struggling to decide on which idea to take forward and develop into finished pieces of work.

My personal aims: to get past the 'artist's block stage and create successful visuals through experimenting and trial and error! More work will appear soon for sure!

Thanks for reading :)

Wednesday, 13 November 2013

Further Experimentation

Dead Bird:

Created with acrylic paint, originally in black and white tones. Relations to the film 'Drowing by Numbers' first scene where dead bird hangs from a post. Significant to the themes of tragedy and death and provides more serious and mature attitude towards the topic.


Also painted in acrylic. Totally from imagination, I aimed to focus on the tonal aspects of the trees. The simple image gives an eerie vibe when inverted in Photoshop, signifying the theme of tragedy and death.

Ace of Spades:

This acrylic painting aimed to capture the composition of a dead bird in the form of a classic Ace of Spades. This was an initial idea to go towards my playing cards, though I think these images are too rough an unfinished. Red in the right image symbolises blood and death

Dice Prints- Ace and Two of Clubs

These two images were edited in Photoshop from the original image seen in a previous post 'Dice Printing'. The first image reminds me of a butterfly perhaps, giving a more light-hearted feel to the symbolism of numbers. The second image appears more abstract and more is left open for interpretation by the viewer. As two of the clovers are included in this image, I would use this as a representation of the Two of Clubs.

Overall, these experiments are all unique and successful in their own ways. At this point I am not sure which style to develop further for my pack of cards, though I will create more imagery in both styles to see which work best.