Archive for May, 2017

Sam Scales: Boat Builder – exhibition

Monday, May 22nd, 2017

Until 31 July 2017

TheGallery’s Off-Site Arts Programme, Westbeach, Pier Approach, Bournemouth


Freelancer Illustrator, printmaker and photographer, Sam Scales graduated from Arts University Bournemouth with a BA (Hons) Illustration in 2016.

In his practice Sam works closely with local craft and tradesman, taking inspiration from visiting workshops and studios he documents these tradesmen’s craft. He tells the story of each individual and explores their journey and the passion that drives their work.

In this project Sam has worked in collaboration with Martine Loubser to focus on the theme of “The Tradesman”. His work explores the history behind the craft, documenting the tools used and conveying the story of the individual while also exploring the relationship between the illustrator and the tradesman.

The Essential Guide to Business for Artists & Designers – book review

Friday, May 19th, 2017

Second Edition

Written by Alison Branagan

Published by: Bloomsbury Academic ISBN: 978-1-4742-5055-9

Reviewed by Andy Robert Davies


There are several good publications on the market that offer guidance in the production of a professional illustration portfolio. This book offers something different; it focuses on the craft of turning artwork into money and therefore a viable career. Fees, invoicing and tax are not, usually, the topics that creative individuals relish, but it is not only talent that is needed to maintain a career, it is a mix of artistic ability and a good knowledge of running a business that will often lead to success.

Branagan unravels the complexities of subjects such as taxation using several examples, which should hopefully help to give confidence to those who are yet to experience the joys of a self-assessment tax return. The text is written in a friendly and supportive manner that recent graduates will be accustomed to. Information is delivered in digestible sections, which allows this book to be used as a reference manual as well as an introduction to the potential ways of developing one’s business.


The list of resources and further reading at the end of each chapter is extensive and the author has considered almost every eventuality within the day-to-day running of businesses of various sizes. Some readers (with a leaning towards Illustration) may prefer to see some more case studies of Illustrators, but it is worth remembering that this book is not exclusively for Illustrators, it aims to help Artists, Designers, Illustrators and those practising in many other different crafts. Given the multifaceted nature of contemporary Illustration practice, where the individual can be originator, maker and distributor, a broad knowledge of different business practices is essential.


Both newly graduated and seasoned freelancer will benefit from reading this book. There are many examples of ‘common sense’ advice, such as how to interact with potential clients, but it is these little details that might be overlooked, and being politely reminded of the importance of one’s conduct, may make the difference between a commission and unemployment. As professional practice is now a key aspect of all good Illustration degree programmes, this book will continue to feature on many reading lists and when used alongside, The Illustrator’s Guide to Law and Business Practice, published by the AOI (mentioned in this book), the reader will be extremely well informed on how to succeed as an Illustrator.

You may also be interested in these book reviews:

Becoming a Successful Illustrator

Illustration: Meeting the Brief

Illustrator of the Year 2017 V&A Illustration Awards

Wednesday, May 17th, 2017

A. Richard Allen is announced as winner of the Moira Gemmill Illustrator of the Year prize at the 2017 V&A Illustration Awards

V&A Illustration Awards 2017 display

17th May – 20th August 2017, NAL Library Landing, Room 85

Admission Free

A. Richard Allen has been announced as the winner of the Moira Gemmill Illustrator of the Year prize, and winner of the Best Editorial Illustration, for Trump Wave, a satirical homage to Katsushika Hokusai’s Great Wave off Kanagawa, in a ceremony hosted by V&A Director Tristram Hunt at the V&A Museum. Based in Bournemouth, Allen studied at Central Saint Martin’s College and practices as an illustrator and painter with clients including The Sunday Telegraph, The Guardian and The New Yorker. The judging panel praised his use of Hokusai in a contemporary context “to invoke echoes of the past to reinforce the reality that history matters”.


Winners of the 4 categories of the 2017 V&A Illustration Awards:

1. Best Editorial Illustration and overall winner: A. Richard Allen for ‘Trump Wave’, in The Sunday Telegraph Money

2. Best Illustrated Book: JARVIS for Alan’s Big Scary Teeth (London: Walker Books, 2016)

3. Best Book Cover Design: Aino-Maija Metsola Virginia Woolf Series (London: Vintage Classics, 2016)

4. 2017 Student Illustrator of the Year: Beatriz Lostalé Seijo ‘The Odyssey’ (Anglia Ruskin University – Cambridge School of Art, MA Book Illustration)

Student Runner-Up: Tom Spooner ‘Towards an Infinite Place’ (Royal College of Art, Visual Communications)

The prize money for each of the four awards categories is £3,000, and the Moira Gemmill Illustrator of the Year Prize is worth an additional £5,000. The student runner-up prize is worth £2000. All the winning artworks will be displayed on the landing outside the National Art Library from 17th May – 20th August 2017.

Speaking after the ceremony, V&A Director Tristram Hunt said: “The V&A’s Illustration Awards is rooted in the V&A’s founding purpose, to celebrate and promote the highest standards of creativity. This prize shines a light on our illustration industry and supports the emerging talent of tomorrow through the Student Illustrator of the year prize. The extraordinary response to our competition is testament to the buoyancy of the creative talent we have here in the UK, so I’m delighted that the V&A will display all the winning artworks in the Museum for everyone to enjoy.”

This year’s shortlist was drawn from over 800 submissions. The competition has been running since 1972. Previous winners of the Illustration Awards include Sir Quentin Blake, Ralph Steadman, Posy Simmonds, Sara Fanelli, and Yasmeen Ismail.

Supported by the Enid Linder Foundation and the Moira Gemmill Memorial Fund

AOI Discusses panel talk at Hartlepool Festival of Illustration

Tuesday, May 16th, 2017

11.15-12-15pm 3 June

Hartlepool Art Gallery, Church St, Hartlepool TS24 7EQ

Free (ticketed) event

AOI are delighted to be taking part in the second Hartlepool Festival of Illustration this June in the seaside town of Hartlepool, home to Cleveland College of Art and Design.


Sandra Dieckmann illustrator and artist, whose new picture book Leaf is published by Flying Eye Books 1 June

Ben Tallon illustrator, presenter of Arrest All Mimics podcast and author of Champagne and Wax Crayons

Derek Brazell AOI Projects manager/Varoom publisher, co-author of Becoming A Successful Illustrator – moderator


Ben Tallon

Derek Brazell with Illustrators Ben Tallon and Sandra Dieckmann discusses the challenges around getting work from the right clients and your all important self promotion.

Drawing on real examples Derek will share the AOI experience of how to overcome these challenges in fun and exciting ways that push your career as well as sharing practical tips on social media, the commissioners journey and how to get work internationally before opening up a Q&A session.

Sandra Dieckmann

Sandra Dieckmann

Sandra Dieckmann is an artist, illustrator as well as a self proclaimed womanimal. She also potters as part of the Clay Collective in London, UK. Sandra enjoys observing the world, creating creatures and anything else that involves creative play. Her work mainly revolves around her love for nature and wildlife, drifting, dreams and all the things that touch her personally.

Ben Tallon is an illustrator, hand painted lettering specialist, author of Champagne And Wax Crayons and host of Arrest All Mimics, the original thinking and creative innovation podcast. He has developed a unique, organic, energetic brand of image making with many clients including Channel 4, The Guardian, World Wrestling Entertainment, Penguin Books, The Premier League and Unicef.

Jill & Lion – book review

Monday, May 15th, 2017

by Lesley Barnes

Tate Publishing ISBN 9781849764377

Review by Peter Allen


Jill and Lion is the sequel to the very popular tale of Jill and Dragon, the first children’s book by the Glasgow-based designer Lesley Barnes. It’s a large, square book that continues Tate’s tradition of publishing picture books in the digital era by concentrating on good design and quality printing, paying careful attention to the physical aspects of their books. Following the print or digital debate of recent times that predicted the imminent death of the printed book it would appear to be the best approach to adopt, for the opposite has come true. Effective design, good content and a strong physical identity – paper, binding, printing – have been combined to optimum effect to create a buoyant, specialised market for quality magazines and books.

In this case, the large format of Jill and Lion enables the illustrations to be appreciated fully for the rich detail contained in the drawing and colouring. A smaller format would have caused the transparent overlays and fine line-work to blur and blend and look muddy.


Jill and Lion includes some well thought out ideas, such as the centre gatefold spread that opens out into a metre-long frieze of a wacky train chase. And then there is the storyline that involves Jill becoming part of the story she is reading. Together with Dog, the pair help Lion to escape from the confines of his story where he is the unhappy star of a circus and to make a new start in a story of his own creation. This involves a lot of complicated twists and turns that start with us seeing Jill with her favourite story book from which tears are running.

We then find her inside the self same book with the Lion (and Dog), being chased out of it only to plunge once again into a new book to begin a second story far away from life in the circus in the first book. It sounds like a nightmare of a brief to follow, but unperturbed, and using an array of visual tricks and devices, Barnes succeeds with much skill and visual dexterity in interpreting the many serious turns in the plot into images. The pages that combine photo collage; the book seen from outside looking in, and drawing; the story busting out from its pages, have a coherence that speaks loads about the breadth of her vision and capacity to work with a wide range of different media.


Barnes’ graphic treatment of the different spaces that the story occupies and the characters that inhabit them is richly decorative. In its forms and colours she reflects something of the quality found in printed books during times of economic depression such as the French Père Castor books from before the Second World War, or Puffin books from the 1940’s and 50’s printed in an England under rationing. The cost of printing was calculated on the number of print runs, a run for each colour, so savings could be made by restricting the colour palette used to create the illustrations. Barnes’ work captures the spirit of that age and appropriates its formal constraints, and whilst remaining very much the master of her art, she inserts herself into a tradition without falling into pastiche, the individuality of her voice is clearly visible across the wide range of her work, of which illustration forms a recent part.


Her illustrations speak plainly of her interests as a designer, involving textile design and animation, all strongly influenced by mid-century design. She uses bold, geometric shapes and flat colours, like spot colours, to create patterns and subsequent forms that are both decorative and descriptive. The effect is like a display of Brocks fireworks, rockets, sparklers, Catherine-wheels, roman fountains, that sparkle, dazzle and explode.

Given the strength of Barnes’ designs it seems unnecessary to me to have used old, yellowing page edges to define the part of the story that takes place inside Jill’s favourite storybook. I find the combination of favourite and old as being somehow over-sentimental and contradictory in suggesting that good story books belong to a once golden age of children’s illustration. Whereas Barnes’ illustrations very much belong to the present, and express a wholly contemporary pleasure for shapes and patterns and colour equaling that found in vintage books. Maybe in the sequel to Jill and Lion, Jill will be there again on the opening page reading her favourite picture book, a future classic that hasn’t as yet been published but which, quite possibly, Lesley Barnes has already in mind..?!


I asked Lesley a number of questions prior to writing this review.

How did Jill And Lion come about?

My first book ‘Jill and Dragon’ was published by Tate in 2015, and introduced the characters of Jill and Dog. Both myself and Tate thought that Jill and Dog weren’t quite finished with their adventures (Jill has a very large book…) Dog also wanted to get more into the action, so we thought we should let him have an escapade.

This book is described on the cover as being the sequel of sorts to Jill and Dragon. How much did the success of the first story define the content and form of this second book?

‘Jill and Dragon’ introduced the idea of ‘the book within a book’  (Jill jumps into her favourite book to rescue the Dragon in one of the stories) and that was something I wanted to develop with ‘Jill and Lion’. I was obsessed with reading when I was little and the idea of diving into a book and rollercoasting through the pages is something I can really understand! I wanted the experience of leaping inside Jill’s book to be much more visceral this time – the pages forming tunnels and landscapes that the characters have to navigate. I also wanted to get across the idea that you can take an active role in your own story, rather than always being told what to do – reading isn’t a passive experience! Dog also has a voice in this book – it was nice to develop his character as he was rather a silent and reluctant participant in ‘Jill and Dragon’.


How much influence did Tate publishing have on your choice of story and the way it’s presented visually?

The Tate are great to work with, as unlike most other publishers, they are not so commercially focused and want to support the vision of artists and illustrators and enable them to have their ideas brought to life. My editors did help me out a lot with both ‘Jill and Dragon’ and ‘Jill and Lion’ though. It’s invaluable to have another pair of experienced eyes on the book!

Is there a period, artist, art form in particular that is important to the way you see and make things?

‘The eye has to travel’ (Diana Vreeland – legendary editor of American Vogue) I take inspiration from so many different sources and people. I think the answer to this question also relates to the answer below as I try to stay away from labels.

What do you think of the terms: retro, vintage, traditional? Do you consider them appropriate or relevant to your work and the way we look at, understand and appreciate it?

I don’t mind my work being referred to by any of those terms, but I think it’s good not to get too caught up with labels. I try to make things look the way that feels right – I’m pretty slow and draw and redraw things until it just ‘works’. I think it’s important not get too tied down to any one style or fashion – it would take all the enjoyment out of illustration for me if I was always asked to do the same things. I’ve been working on ideas for a very stylised pop-up book which involves a bit of fashion illustration, design history and paper engineering – and that has made me really excited about my own work again.


I’ve known about your work since your museum of childhood poster won a World Illustration Award. What influences the way you construct your images, generally and in relation to Jill and Lion? see below

Your use of colour and geometrical shapes are very important elements of your images’ designs, did you explore other ways of relating to them in your artistic practise before developing their use in your narrative works?

It’s very interesting as I find shapes much easier to work with and interpret than lines. I definitely build pictures up using strong shapes first, before I add any details or patterns. When I look at something I see it as a series of shapes – I think it’s just how I understand the world. I didn’t study illustration or art so I’m sure the self-taught way I work would look very strange to most people!

How easy/difficult do you find it to write the stories you illustrate?

I’m definitely not a writer, but I do like to tell stories whether it be with pictures, words or both. Working on a picture book when you are both the writer and illustrator is a very unique experience, as the book is a ‘dance’ between the words and the pictures.

Do you have plans already for a next book project?

Yes! I have a couple of projects on the go. Both are very different to the Jill series though. I’m very excited to be working with ‘Design for Today’ on a concept publication all about Kings and Queens. I’m also working on another idea that involves quite a bit of jiggery pokery and clever engineering…


Ideally, what project would you like to work on next?

I’d love to do more with textiles – I designed some lampshades and cushions last year which was really fun. I was thinking of creating an exhibition in a space filled with custom lampstands and lampshade designs that you could interact with – I think that would be a bit of a dream project.

How do you view book publishing at the moment, commercial and independent, does it support and/or encourage enough original or unusual projects to see the light of day?

I think it does. Children’s publishing has really exploded recently and I think publishers are also being much more experimental and accepting of different styles and stories. I think it’s really important to have supportive independent publishers (from magazines like OKIDO who gave me my first break and have always supported my work, to small publishers like Design for Today) I’m very lucky as I have the opportunity to work with both independent and more established publishing houses.

You may also be interested in these book reviews:

The Big Adventure of a Little Line


The AOI at New Designers

Friday, May 12th, 2017

The AOI will be returning to New Designers Part 2 this summer, taking place from 5–8 July.

New Designers is the UK’s leading exhibition for emerging design and takes place at the Business Design Centre in Islington, London. The show features the work of 3,000 emerging design graduates from almost 200 of the UK’s best creative design courses, including AOI member universitiessuch as Birmingham City University, Falmouth University, Norwich University of the Arts, UCA Farnham and the University of Portsmouth.


One illustrator to look out for this year is AOI member Ollie St Clair Terry, who has been working with Cambridge-based Calverley’s Brewery on a series of limited edition woodblock and lino prints. Ollie exhibited as a graduate during New Designers 2016 and he has since sold and licensed his artwork to various clients including Oasis Clothing and The Fitzwilliam Museum in Cambridge. He will be returning to the show this year as part of the New Designer’s One Year On selection; a curated showcase of the most exciting design talents in their first year of business.

Make sure to visit New Designers this year to see the best emerging illustration talent, as well attend the AOI talk on Friday 7 July; the AOI Membership Manager Lou Bones will be discussing how you can best move your career as an illustrator forward.

Artists & Illustrators magazine June 2017

Friday, May 12th, 2017


Great to see the coverage of illustration in Artists & Illustrators magazine June issue. The AOI’s Portfolio Consultant, Fig Taylor, was interviewed about ‘getting noticed’ and how illustrators are adapting to the times.

Artist_Illustrators_June17_Fig_spreadOur competition and exhibition with the London Transport Museum was also featured, with interviews with LTM’s Wendy Neville and Mike Walton about the Prize for Illustration: Sounds of the City, due to open on 19 may 2017.


Quentin Blake: The Life of Birds

Thursday, May 11th, 2017

The first exhibition uncovering Quentin Blake’s personal drawings of birds

Until 1 October 2017

House of Illustration, 2 Granary Square, King’s Cross, London, N1C 4BH


This exhibition, curated by Quentin Blake himself, is the first ever to examine a theme that has intrigued him throughout his career – birds.

“I have always liked drawing birds. I can’t quite explain why but it may be because like us, they are on two legs and have expressive gestures. It’s a way of commenting on the people we see around us without actually drawing individuals.”

It will show a series of original drawings from his personal archive of birds in everyday situations, revealing a kindly but penetrating commentary on the human condition. The subtleties of the birds’ interactions show Blake’s mastery of conveying emotion through expression and gesture, a hallmark of his illustrations.

Beneficial Shock! – magazine review

Thursday, May 11th, 2017

Editor Gabriel Solomons

Published by Beneficial Shock! Ltd. ISSN: 9780500252178

Reviewed by Karl Andy Foster


“Imagine you’ve locked the writer in one room and me in another and given us both the same assignment. The writer will give you an article, I’ll give you a picture; you marry the two.” Brad Holland

Issue One of this unconventional cinematic adventure was born out of a campaigning strategy “to see more creative editorial expression” and a love of film/cinema. They have printed two statements of intent:

Firstly, “We aim to retain independence in order to support creative collaboration and provide professional opportunities for young and emerging creative talent.”

Secondly, “We aim to challenge the traditional role of the visual creative from a content servicer to that of an author researcher and content ‘driver’ – adding value and responsibility as a visual communicator.”


I have a critical appreciation of film so this magazine works well for me and held my interest. The theme for this issue is centred on FOOD and movies. Phil Wrigglesworth’s wraparound cover illustration is an epic scene containing visual references mined from the entire contents of the magazine. We see Willy Wonka dining at a long table with a cannibal, Mr Creosote and the monster from Pan’s Labyrinth. Beneficial Shock! is emblazoned across the front cover, Alfred Hitchcock would be proud.


The contents page has its structure divided into Appertizers on the left and Mains on the right. The main articles reflect extremes in movie narratives and the exuberance of self-expression whether that is through cannibalism, Norman Bates’ first outing, Wonka’s World or food fights. The illustrative approaches on show are thankfully broad. Ranging from graphic to painterly, from vector to photographic, from cartoon to reportage proving once again that drawing isn’t dead, yet. There is a clear commitment to communicating content and context.

Notable for me are the articles ‘Who’s For Dinner’ by Neil Mitchell & Gwion Christmas, ‘This Could Get Messy’ by Georgina Guthrie & Arthur Chiverton, ‘Hyper Caffeinated’ by Mehruss Jon Ahi & Aremen Karaoghlanian and David McMillan’s ‘Extra-Ordinary’ a comic strip I really want to see more of.


At 64 pages it is substantial enough to be credible and not so large that you give up on reading the whole thing, with stock weight and uncoated paper giving it the feel of an alternative press publication. The magazine was published thanks to a successful Kickstarter campaign and contributions can be sent via email for consideration by the editorial team.


This magazine will be enjoyed by the cool and the concerned, and is a mixture of the film literacy as depicted in Edward Ross’ Filmish graphic novel and the hipster dude world of The Believer. It doesn’t have many interviews or reviews of the literary weight of The Believer, but I think this might change over time. The next issue explores the darkest recesses of the mind. There is a need for this publication to shock us for quite some time to come.

WIA 2016 touring exhibition at Aberystwyth Arts Centre

Wednesday, May 10th, 2017


The World Illustration Awards return
to Aberystwyth Arts Centre
Aberystwyth Arts Centre, Gallery 2
29 May – 9 July 2017
Aberystwyth Arts Centre, Gallery 2
29 May – 9 July 2017
Monday – Saturday  8am- 11pm
Sunday  12pm – 8pm

This unique exhibition, now in its 40th year, presents over 50 of the very best artworks across the diverse field of illustration. Selected from submissions to this year’s World Illustration Awards, the breadth of work is celebrated across 8 categories, including advertising, children’s books, editorial and public art. The shortlisted and winning pieces comprise posters, book illustrations, animations and GIFs to sculptural pieces and textiles.
Entries were received from 66 countries and while a number of the entries exhibited are from the UK and America, there is also a strong representation from South Korea, Australia, Israel, China, Japan and illustrators across Europe.

More info on their website.