Thursday, 13 December 2012

The girl with the binoculars

I woke up this morning with a vision of the top left hand corner of this drawing in my mind. Little huts and trees in a sketchy pinkish-blue. This is an imaginary record sleeve for music that doesn't exist.

It reminds me of that line in Belle and Sebastian's "If She Wants Me":

"I took a book and went into the forest
I climbed the hill
I wanted to look down on you
But all I saw was twenty miles of wilderness
so I went home"

I drew this listening to Boy Omega (whose album Night Visions is my new obsession) and also this video of the late Ray Bradbury giving advice to young writers:

Tuesday, 4 December 2012

"without information you cannot make informed decisions as a public"

Audio of Bradley Manning's speech to the military court in Ft. Meade about his motivations for leaking government documents to Wikileaks:(via

“In no case shall information be classified… in order to: conceal violations of law, inefficiency, or administrative error; prevent embarrassment to a person, organization, or agency… or prevent or delay the release of information that does not require protection in the interest of the national security.”
— Executive Order 13526, Sec. 1.7. Classification Prohibitions and Limitations

The fact that a person acted pursuant to order of his Government or of a superior does not relieve him from responsibility under international law provided a moral choice was in fact possible to him.” - Nuremberg Principle IV

Tuesday, 27 November 2012

You wandered up a cul-de-sac, and now you've come back

I went to a record fair last weekend, and on the way back home I popped into Wolverhampton Art Gallery, where there was a wonderful exhibition of Harry Eccleston's drawings, gouache paintings and etchings (he was the first full-time artist and designer of bank notes for the Bank of England.) I was sort of hoping that the gallery might have some of his prints or postcards in its shop, but alas, the usual lineup of Pre-Raphaelite ladies on the carousel. 

I was really in awe of his work (including a fully labelled drawing of a fire engine he did aged 12 that made me want to just give up right away) - lovely rich velvety blacks and greys, gleaming slices, sprays and spreads of pure white. I wish I'd had the chance to try etching at some point in my art education, I'm always drawn to the look of it. 

Anyway, it fired me up a bit, after weeks of feeling deeply mediocre and uninspired, I sat down and drew all day long, listening to Leonard Cohen, Françoise Hardy and The Wedding Present.

Two Turtledoves...

Tuesday, 13 November 2012

David Icke & Ted Heath

David Icke's fateful meeting with Ted Heath (open in new window for larger view)

Based on a curious quote at the end of this article in The Independent:

"I once had an extraordinary experience with former 

prime minister Ted Heath. Both of his eyes, 

including the whites, turned jet black and I seemed 

to be looking into two black holes."

- David Icke

The Guardian, 2006

Wednesday, 10 October 2012

Merz Beach Collage

I've started to play about with creating films and music lately - (in the most amateur sense possible) - but I'm hoping to find a way of combining this with illustration. 

I'm also (with the help of my very talented friend Line Lorna as well as Wendy Froud's amazing tutorial dvds) learning how to make dolls and puppets from polymer clay.

Wednesday, 26 September 2012

"Ideas are like fish. If you want to catch little fish, you can stay in the shallow water. But if you want to catch the big fish, you’ve got to go deeper." - David Lynch

I've been experimenting with collage, watercolour and creating textures with a printing brayer.

Hebe (my cat) has been very ill lately, and became very thin and bony, so we've been nursing him back to (rather rotund) good health with sardines and mackerel.

Thursday, 28 June 2012

I’m sick of not having the courage to be an absolute nobody

I love the immersive feeling of connecting with an artist and their world - when it happens it is the most special thing. I exist coated in their ideas, my eyes see the world alighting on details I wouldn't have found special before. I agree with Alan Moore that writing is a kind of magic, though I think there are a lot of trick magicians out there and very few real sorcerers.

Salinger's stories have so much wit and warmth - he makes it appear so easy. You never feel like you fully get to know his characters - when Buddy Glass tries to describe his dead brother, you get more of an impression of how much his brother meant to him than what his brother was really like. The back-story always feels bigger than the story. Salinger only lets us glimpse parts of it.

Saturday, 23 June 2012

Does every generation experience this ache for change?

It might be the biggest ink drawing I've done. I had to photograph it with my phone because my scanner is back in East Anglia and I'm in the (Wild) West Midlands. The next step is going to be to apply watercolours in a loose, very pale wash. Must be careful.

Wednesday, 6 June 2012

Wednesday, 23 May 2012


I have a tiny A6 sketchbook. It tends to just be full of writing, but sometimes sketches creep in.

Monday, 30 April 2012

Wednesday, 25 April 2012

Sidle Zine Blog

The Sidle Zine blog is now online - you can find it here:

It was great to receive illustrations every few days as the deadline approached, and I was impressed with the standard of work - all of the illustrators who took part covered a wide range of issues, which they clearly cared about, and there was a lot of variety too.

Hopefully it has shown that illustrators are capable of creating work which is engaged with the world around them, and I hope to get more illustrators involved in the next issue.

Tuesday, 3 April 2012

New Empress: The Violence in Silence

We've just got the new issue of New Empress in the post - now A4 sized, printed in b&w, with a glossy cover for the Silent Film Special. My illustration for Helen Cox's article "Slap That Baby Make Him Freak: The Violence in Silence" (about violence directed towards babies in silent-era films) was of a train about to hit a pram. I wasn't sent the article to work from (the brief was just to have a pram in a precarious situation) but oddly enough one of the first examples of infant-directed violence mentioned in the article involves a pram hit by an oncoming train. 

(Please note that no babies were harmed in the creation of this illustration.)

I also made a colour version too:

Friday, 30 March 2012

I've been experimenting with more of a children's book style, albeit a rather bleak children's book involving a trapped mountain bongo...

It will be on display and available to buy from Mustard Café in Norwich from Monday

Sunday, 25 March 2012

"I have always preferred the reflection of life to life itself." - Truffaut

(I know its sort of terrible that I'm using watercolours on printer paper, sorry if anyone feels offended by this...but when it comes to experimenting and playing, I don't feel so precious if I use cheap materials. Drawing tools should always be good quality though - gilot mapping pens are delicious, but leaky biros and blunt pencils are going to make you feel like you can't draw)

Sleepy cat

A sleepy cat linoprint/painting I made for Mother's Day. Our cat Hebe loves cardboard and will often attempt to curl up to sleep in the tiniest spaces possible, including easter egg boxes.

Sunday, 18 March 2012

To sit in the corner of a tram, your coat wrapped around you

Book cover design for ETA Hoffman's The Life and Opinions of the Tomcat Murr, a book whose premise is based on a printers error.

(I've been playing with linoprint lately)

Tuesday, 13 March 2012

Illustration for Issue 5 of New Empress Magazine, available soon from the BFI shop


Lately I've become obsessed with the work of Polish poster artist Tomasz Boguslawski - 
I love his economical use of objects, as well as the lighting, and the arrangement of the typography. He is able to raise these simple items (paper, scissors, dolls, mechanical parts...) to a level of beauty and imbue them with fresh purposes.

Wednesday, 29 February 2012

1. to move sideways. 2. to advance in an unobtrusive, furtive or coy way.

I'm looking for contributors to the first issue of Sidle zine.

Within illustration there is a fine tradition of social commentary, satire and reflection, and I'd like to bring together illustrators working in this way.

This is partly in response to a recent article in Creative Review "where is the content? where is the comment?" which takes the view that illustration has become an insular, self-indulgent craft, lacking engagement with political issues. 

The brief:

Create an illustration dealing with a contemporary issue which you feel strongly about.


A4 dimensions, 300dpi

landscape or portrait (bearing in mind it will fold in centre to form an A5 booklet)

Colour or black and white (original colour pages will be uploaded to a blog while a paper copy will use black and white photocopies of these images, so bear in mind that your image/text will need to work well tonally)

Aside from that, it is completely open, and you can use whatever media/techniques you like.

I'd like to involve as many talented illustrators as possible - the more the merrier!

The final collected works will be displayed on a Sidle Zine blog with links to each contributor's web-site or blog, and a final printed edition of Sidle will be sent to Salford Zine Library

E-mail your contributions (or any questions or suggestions you might have) to:

The deadline is: April 3rd 2012

After a few requests for more time, I have decided to extend the deadline

The new deadline is April 17th 2012

Monday, 27 February 2012


another illustration for The Life and Opinions of the Tomcat Murr

From the cover sleeve: "Tomcat Murr is a loveable, self-taught animal who has written his own autobiography. But a printer's error causes his story to be accidentally mixed and spliced with a book about the composer Johannes Kreisler. As the two versions break off and alternate at dramatic moments, two wildly different characters emerge from the confusion - Murr, the confident scholar, lover, carouser and brawler, and the moody, hypochondriac genius Kreisler. In his exuberant and bizarre novel, Hoffmann brilliantly evokes the fantastic, the ridiculous and the sublime within the humdrum bustle of daily life, making "The Life and Opinions of the Tomcat Murr" (1820–22) one of the funniest and strangest novels of the nineteenth century."

Sunday, 26 February 2012

"Whatever you cannot understand, you cannot possess" - Goethe

An illustration for New Empress Magazine for a review of The Best Exotic Marigold Hotel 
(pictured: Tom Wilkinson and Dame Maggie Smith)
Only given a day to create this but it was a nice opportunity to use colour.