My Portfolio is very diverse, from digital and traditional illustration techniques in a wide range of styles to graphic design for print and digital, for large corporations and small local businesses. I have had some amazing opportunities to work for many different clients, doing corporate exhibition stands and email marketing to owl characters that a made into human size mascots! I love the different directions my work takes me and the opportunities I’ve had to expand and challenge my creative process. 

I truly feel so blessed when I look at my career and see the different areas it’s taken me. I’ve done on home painting parties, that I have so much fun doing. I’ve stood infront of whole schools and talked to them about being an illustrator. I’ve forced myself to not have to work only to an artwork brief, and produced artwork for gallery shows and gained some recognition in the local area for my work. I even won an award for a watercolor painting I submitted into a Rockabilly show (which felt kind of awkward seeing as I am British!). I recently was part of an invitational gallery exhibit at a local university and have also attended there and other colleges to talk to students about my work. I’ve illustrated 16 children’s picture book and must have completed thousands of spot illustrations for educational books over the years. As I write this, in my head, I’m thinking, ‘wow, is that really me?’. It’s so easy to get caught up in self-doubt and focus on your failures and completely bypass the successes. Also, the whole English thing about rather swim with sharks than feel like you might be boasting about yourself and …. self-deprecation all the way! ‘HIDE YOUR ACHIEVEMENTS, LEAST SOMEONE THINKS YOU’RE GETTING TOO BIG FOR YOUR BRITCHES!’

When life gets hard, it’s easy to want to choose something less stressful. I think people think I just sit and colour in all day. OK, well, some days that does happen, but, like most jobs, there’s a whole lot more to it than people think. I’ve noticed that some people look at a book I’ve done and ask things like, ‘Did you draw all of it?’. OK, I admit. I didn’t draw the words. It’s like people think you just download the images from the internet. Like clip art. They seem quite shocked when I explain that even clip art is created by a person. It’s not like the big bang and evolution for pencil lines! There is a disconnect for people between a rough pencil sketch on a piece of paper, to a final printed book. Trust me, there’s a whole load of technical stuff – especially when it comes to actually getting the book printed.  So, yes, it can be very stressful – like any other job. Unfortunately, like most creative, empathetic, feeling …. what that test thing for your emotions? You know, the RGB TMJ thing? Anyway, for people like me who mainly function on emotion, creating something and putting yourself into it, to have it then potentially criticized and disliked is a HUGE hurdle to get over. I have thought about quitting a number of times, especially when I make mistakes. Apparently, I want to live in a world where I never make mistakes. But, I suppose that’s not how you learn and grow. Sometimes, I don’t want to learn and grow. Sometimes, I just want to hide under my bed and think about flowers and puppies. Being an adult and having to earn money is hard. But, I do remember, when I was a kid, when asked what I wanted to be when I grew up, I’d always answer ‘An Artist.’ I didn’t really know what that meant and mostly adults just smiled and said ‘Oh, lovely’, and probably thinking to themselves, ‘Good luck with that, Love’. But, I did. I grew up to be an Artist – for work and for pleasure. I get to draw birds pooping on Pirates, and girls wearing huge peacock tails they’ve made, and cats playing poker with rats and I get to create 30ft long barricades for new stores that are opening, and marketing emails that got out to thousands of subscribers, and create animated gifs that look like snowflakes made out of shirts, and flashing Christmas lights around logos, and I see groups of kids being read too and shown pictures of a book, and it’s my illustrations they are looking at, and toys!!!! Many of the characters I’ve done have been made into stuffed toys and finger puppets!!!!! (I need to put those photos on here!)

My job is brilliant. I think I’ve been getting bogged down by a lot of stresses recently and I forget the amazingness of this career. There was a huge challenge, a big potential turning point at the very beginning of my work life that was one of those – am I going to give this up, or an I going to pursue what I really want to do despite a lot of negative feedback? I remember the day well. My Manager at the publishing company I worked at as a graphic designer had allowed me to do some illustrations for an educational book. They weren’t good. I was trying to do I style I wasn’t good at yet. They were really bad, actually, and the owner of the company told me I was not to illustrate anymore. I was devastated. My Manager, who is still a wonderful friend, did not give up on me. I guess he saw potential where no-one else did.  There was a complete Primary pupils book that was coming up and it needed to be completed within about a month. That was some craziness right there! They board needed characters creating and asked outside illustrators to submit work. My Manager, also let me submit my own work. The board chose mine. I can’t tell you how amazing that felt. These weren’t friends who felt sorry for me, they chose my work! It was very cartoony, which was definitely more my style. I completed that book. My first full book, on time and exhausted, but that was a huge life changing career moment for me. It’s a story I tell to kids too. To let them know that if you really want to be something in life, you can. Even if everyone else thinks and tells you that you’ll fail. If ONE person believes in you, that can be all you need to succeed. I will always be grateful to my Manager and my friend. We still work together now and all of the books I’ve done for Red Robin Books Ltd and Story Sacks Ltd, have been with him as the designer.

It’s late now. I’m at my little studio I work from at the back of an art gallery. I have a huge list of work to get done but I needed to write this. I didn’t intend for it to be this epic, but it’s good. It’s honest and it’s given me a bit of a new outlook on my work.

I’m going to eat a cookie and go home.