Archive for October, 2014

Creative Fashion Illustration – Book Review

Friday, October 31st, 2014

By Stuart McKenzie

Published by Bloomsbury ISBN 978-0-85785-829-0

Review by Maia Fjord

cover 550

Creative Fashion Illustration is a book that aims to present readers with a selection of easy-to-follow exercises designed to develop essential fashion illustration skills, as well as handy tips and inside knowledge from someone with experience in the industry. The book was written by Stuart McKenzie and is filled with his own illustrations, which demonstrate the exercises throughout. Aimed at a broad audience, the book is suitable for almost anyone who’s interested in fashion illustration, from a complete beginner to an experienced illustrator looking for new ideas.

asses2 -550

From the start the book points out that there is no right or wrong way to create a fashion illustration, only a set of creative techniques to experiment with, which I found immediately encouraging. It goes on to explain that the techniques it describes aren’t meant to be considered a set of rigid instructions, but instead are designed to let you experiment and develop your personal strengths as an illustrator. This seems a very positive approach, and a good way to go about teaching drawing techniques to someone.

collage 550

After the introduction the book is broken down into chapters which cover all the key points of fashion illustration, such as silhouette and proportion. It starts with simple concepts with each chapter building on the one before, and slowly works its way into more complicated exercises. Each chapter begins by introducing the concept it will cover, such as Line or Light and Shade (and later more difficult subjects such as Fabric, Texture and Movement), and then goes on to provide a series of drawing exercises related to the theme. There are multiple example illustrations provided alongside each exercise, which really helps to explain the concepts and techniques. The fact that McKenzie occasionally suggests what could be improved in his own illustrations seems particularly encouraging, as it makes sure the reader understands that these drawings aren’t being presented as perfect, and shows that there is always room for improvement even if you’re a successful illustrator. Each chapter ends by encouraging you to assess your work and to review what you’ve learned.

assess 550

Overall, Creative Fashion Illustration seems a fairly essential book for anyone interested in creating fashion illustrations, as the exercises it provides are useful for everyone. However, it seems particularly helpful for beginners, as a more experienced illustrator may already be aware of some of the techniques and exercises it presents. It’s very accessible and easy to follow, and encourages readers to think creatively and develop their practice by offering helpful tips and providing an abundance of illustrations which help to explain the concepts and exercises throughout. The friendly tone of the text is very encouraging and makes the reader feel comfortable experimenting with each exercise, and makes reading Creative Fashion Illustration a very positive, confidence-building experience.

fashion illu 1 - 550

Some Drawings by Tom Jennings Exhibition

Friday, October 31st, 2014

tom jennings

Small White Elephant, 28 Choumert Road, London SE15 4SE

Until Friday 21 November. Opening Times Monday and Wednesday-Friday 8.30am until 6.30pm. Saturdays and Sundays 10am until 5.30pm

Tom Jennings, whose illustration on the above flyer was shortlisted for the AOI Awards this year, has just launched an exhibition showcasing a selection of his drawings and illustrations at Small White Elephant, a cafe and art gallery in Peckham. His work has previously been featured in Images 35: Best of British illustration.

Brothers of the Stripe Voodoo Exhibition

Thursday, October 30th, 2014


Lik + Neon, 106 Sclater Street, London, E1 6HR

Thursday 6 November – Sunday 16 November, Opening Night Thursday 6 November 6pm until 9pm

Opening Times Monday 12pm until 7pm, Tuesday – Saturday 11am until 7pm, Sunday 11am until 6.30pm

To continue the theme of Halloween, Brothers of the Stripe will be presenting an exhibition filled with graphic darkness. Brothers of the Stripe are a collective made up of illustrators and graphic designers from the UK, and on the 6th November all 13 members will create a body of work based round the theme of Voodoo. Expect screaming skull prints, tribal zines and toys to put pins in.

Seen and Not Heard – book review

Tuesday, October 28th, 2014

By Katie May Green

Published by Walker Books ISBN-13: 978-1406346510

Review by Flora Cox


Inspired by a visit to a museum and a old portrait of four children, Seen and Not Heard is the first picture book from Katie May Green, an MA graduate from the Cambridge School of Art.

The hardback opens with an intriguing image of a doorway to Shiverhawk Hall and sets the scene for the story. The narrative is based on the ongoing children’s belief that inanimate objects come to life at night, somewhat Toy Story-esque. Lily Pinksweet, Percy Pinksweet, Billy Fitzbillian III, Prudence, Peter and Pearl Plumsey and Lila and Vila De Villechild are the children of Shiverhawk Hall, ‘seen and not heard’.


Their portraits are hung on the nursery wall and once ‘the moon is high, when there’s no one to see them’ they creep out of their frames and act as any children would in a large house. All of the youngsters seem to cause havoc apart from two; Lila and Vila De Villechild. Their nature gives off a sense of unease and angst as they are quietly placed in each scene, somewhat lifeless and ghoulish. However, towards the end Lila reveals a smile and this anxious disposition disappears completely.


Carefully illustrated, the book’s colour palette creates an atmosphere which you would only experience in a large, uninhabited, cobweb clad, period house. The layout of the spreads are simplistic and aids the reader to follow the tale with ease. The light pencil sketched areas focus the reader’s attention to the appropriate point. This and the rhythmical text create a delightful read throughout.

All in all, a comforting read before bedtime where children can imagine their bedroom coming to life.

You may also be interested in these book reviews

The Glass Mountain: Tales from Poland

Artist Talk by Satoshi Kitamura

Friday, October 24th, 2014

In Conversation with Nicolette Jones

Satoshi Kitamura

The Japan Foundation, Russell Square House, 10-12 Russell Square, London WC1B 5EH

Friday 14 November from 6.30pm

Satoshi Kitamura is an award-winning children’s author and illustrator whose work includes over 20 of his own books and many collaborations. Using a glass dip pen that produces his uneven line, Kitamura is skilled in finding the balance between words and pictures, and creating visual depictions of abstract concepts such as music and art.

In conjunction with The Children’s Bookshow, a national tour of writers and illustrators of children’s literature in which Kitamura has been selected to appear, this special talk event will highlight his innovative, varied, and long career. Having recently returned to live in Japan after spending many years nurturing his career in the U.K., Kitamura will discuss the development of his style, whether or not working in a different environment has had any impact upon his work, all while exploring the appreciation of children’s literature in the markets of both the U.K. and Japan. Nicolette Jones is a writer, critic and broadcaster specialising in literary and arts journalism. She has been the Children’s Books Editor of The Sunday Times for more than two decades.

This event is free to attend but booking is essential. To reserve a place, please email your name and the title of the event you would like to attend to [email protected]

Geoff Grandfield Talk at the AOI Awards Exhibition

Friday, October 24th, 2014

Geoff talk photo

This afternoon illustrator Geoff Grandfield gave a talk about his practice to a gathered audience at the exhibition gallery in Somerset House. Geoff won the AOI Illustration Professional Award for working with The Folio Society to illustrate The Alexander Trilogy, a set of historical novels written by Mary Renault which dramatize the short life of the military leader Alexander the Great.

Geoff talk 2

Geoff discussed the development behind The Alexander Trilogy in front of his exhibited work as he encouraged the audience to study his sketchbooks, as well as several blown-up photocopies of the thumbnails he used to work out the composition of the illustrations. Geoff stated that he seeks to find “balance or imbalance” within his illustrations, and upon examining the angles and the placement of light and dark within the bold compositions this focus becomes apparent.

When explaining his process, he mentioned that for him “it’s very much about trying to internalize imagery” and that some of his big considerations when choosing what part of a book to illustrate and how to do so were places, characters, action, description and pacing. He said that he wanted his illustrations to have a “silent atmospheric narrative” that wasn’t duplicating the text but instead “bringing another layer into the experience of reading a novel”.

You can read more about Geoff’s practice in Varoom 27: The Hermenauts issue, available to purchase here.

Geoff’s work will be on show at Somerset House until 2 November.

Cultivation & Creativity Exhibition

Friday, October 24th, 2014

RHS watercolour 2

Sophie Knight RWS, Sea of Cow of Parsley, watercolour

Bankside Gallery, 48 Hopton Street, London, SE1 9JH

Wednesday 5 – Sunday 16 November, Private View Thursday 6 November 6pm until 8pm. Opening Times 11am until 6pm

Bankside Gallery presents an exhibition which showcases works featuring the four Royal Horticultural Society gardens as seen by Royal Watercolour Society Artists. The RWS was founded in 1804, and like the RHS celebrates its 210th anniversary in 2014. The exhibition will show a diverse range of responses from the figurative to the abstract, and works will reflect the changing seasons and the life of the gardens. Every artist in this exhibition has a strong personal voice. They all work in many different water based media, and the range of methods and materials used differ greatly.

Angela Barrett Exhibition – Anne Frank and Other Work

Friday, October 24th, 2014

Anne Frank Angela Barrett

Illustrationcupboard Gallery, 22 Bury Street, St. James’s, London, SW1Y 6AL

Wednesday 29 October – Saturday 15 November 2014. Opening Times Monday – Friday 9:30am until 6pm, Saturdays 11am until 5pm

Illustrationcupboard Gallery presents an exhibition of newly-released original artwork by Angela Barrett.

Anne Frank: This touching re-telling introduces to the younger reader a personal account of Anne Frank’s life, up to and including the years she lived under Nazi occupation in Holland during WWII. Angela Barrett has illustrated this account with delicacy and elegance, and all the original artwork will be exhibited and for sale. Alongside this other artwork by Angela will be shown, including The Night before Christmas, Joan of Arc, The Night Fairy, The Snow Goose and her recent edition of Anna Karenina with The Folio Society.

Illustrators – The Expatriates Issue 1989 – archive

Thursday, October 23rd, 2014

Illustrators cover 550

John Shelley – Mother’s Day department store promotion

We continue to look through the archive of the AOI membership publications, discovering Illustrators magazine from 1989  The Expatriates Issue, featuring articles by illustrators working in Japan and Canada discussing the influence of culture and industry differences on illustrators and their practice.

page 25 550

Richard Parent – ‘The Americas’ for Vice Versa Magazine

The Canadian editorial illustrator Richard Parent discusses the differences between working in Canada and the UK in ‘Cross Cultures’.

pages 26 and 27 550

Left page: Top – Norman Cousineau for Regardie’s, Bottom – John Stewart ‘So to Speak’ book jacket. Right page: John Stewart ‘The Caretakers’ book jacket for Penguin Canada.

“It wouldn’t be stretching it too far to point to Parent as pivotal. Founder member of AllQ [Association des illustrateurs et illustratices du Québec], designer and production manager of The Book, bilingually articulate. But that’s Montréal, and his work has a high UK profile. Some believe there are few artists here (count them on the fingers of one hand) whose imagination matches his for passion, commitment and the rare quality of ‘dis-ease’; by which is meant his pictures make you uncomfortable, and a good thing too. Why did he come to the UK, and why did he go back to Canada? Is his style more appropriate to England, is it typically Canadian, or was he out on a limb there?”

pages 30 and 31 550

Far left: The AllQ book ‘Répertoire’. Center: Richard Parent, proposal for a book jacket, Whitechapel and Scarlet.

V&A Illustration Awards

Wednesday, October 22nd, 2014

The closing date: 9th December 2014

Entries are now being accepted for the 2015 V&A Illustration Awards competition.  These can be submitted here

2014 Winner - Joys of Creativity by AOI Member Helen Musslewhite

2014 Winner - Joys of Creativity by AOI Member Helen Musslewhite

If you entered the competition last year you should have a user name and password.  There is a facility to create a new password if you cannot remember your existing one.  If you cannot remember your existing user name just create a completely new account.

The closing date for entries is 9th December 2014 and online entries only will be accepted.  You may submit as many publications as you wish  – there is no entry cost. A shortlist will be drawn up by V&A judges in February 2015 with final decisions on winners taking place in April 2015 based on the actual printed versions of the publications. Final winners will be announced on 18th May 2015.

Individual books can now be entered for both the Best Book Cover and Best Illustrated Book categories if they fit the criteria.

There are three categories for published illustration: Book Cover, Book Illustration and Editorial (newspapers and magazines).

The winner in each of these receives £2,000 and a trophy. The judges also select an overall winner who receives an additional £2,000. Winners may also be commissioned to produce publicity artwork for the Museum.

There is one student category.

The student illustrator of the year receives £2,000 and a trophy. The student runner up receives £1,000.