Beer Advocate Magazine....the beginnings of the TDAC effect?

Way back in February I received an email '....I stumbled across your autumn vegetable illustrations online, and they are exactly what I was looking for so I wanted to get in touch...' It was from Beer Advocate magazine and they wanted me to illustrate an editorial about brewing with vegetables. It was a perfect opportunity & I jumped at the chance.

First of all I was so so excited to hear they had found my work via They Draw and Cook. By late autumn of last year it was dawning on me with TDAC huge following on Facebook (over 200,000 likes) and other social media platforms their reach was wide and varied. As long as I kept producing considered illustration, used the best of my abilities, and kept exploring, then TDAC would be a great vehicle for showing my artwork. And it looks like its beginning to pay off...slow and steady as it is with these things.

So here we and vegetables. The concept for the leading spread was beer bottles growing like vegetables. And spot illustrations of the vegetables mentioned in the article.

Beer advocate 1
beer advocate 2 veg
beer advocate 4

Finally I want to end on another positive - I am in the middle of another exciting project where the art director found my illustrations on Pinterest, once again via a They Draw and Cook recipe artwork from last year. A Pinterest inspired blog post coming up soon.



'The Theory of Everything', Cambridge and working pretty darned quickly...

The opening scenes of 'The Theory of Everything' sees a young Stephan Hawking and his friend on their bikes race through the streets of 1960's Cambridge, along 'The Backs' with Kings College in the background and through the back gate of Trinity College ( I think). I enjoyed the film immensely on many levels. The re-occuring motifs of concentric circles and spirals reflect Professor Hawking's fascination with black holes and abstract ( for me) thoughts about Time.

I had not drawn any of Cambridge's iconic buildings for many many years but felt rather moved to do so after watching 'The History of Everything.' My father worked near Market Square & we would often go for the afternoon in the warmer months. I was also fortunate enough to attend a year's Foundation Course in Art in Cambridge over 20 years ago. One morning a week ( in all weather's I might add) we were sent out to the Botanic Gardens, Fitzwilliam Museum or people watching Parkers Piece or any number of places in Cambridge to hone our drawing skills. So I have many fond memories of this wonderful place.

I had been meaning to create a map of this university town for years. And even when I decided to go for it I realised I had to hasten my renderings due to other work deadlines. So instead of transferring elements onto different layers I decide to work much simpler and leave out several stages, working more closely from my sketches - I'll use Kings College as an example...

Initial sketch of King's drawn in brush pen & live traced in Ai

Initial sketch of King's drawn in brush pen & live traced in Ai

The bottom 'layer' or outline as such has been taken away leaving the 'inner' sections of the sketch. Now exported to PS

The bottom 'layer' or outline as such has been taken away leaving the 'inner' sections of the sketch. Now exported to PS

Working in different (& fewer) layers with clipping masks I was able to add colour & texture

Working in different (& fewer) layers with clipping masks I was able to add colour & texture

I felt it still retained the spirit of the sketch ( yes... my Kings College is wonky) and I was able to render the other highlights of my map in this manner and save a huge about of time. It also made me less precious of every detail (aka less anal) I'm pretty proud of my map as it highlights my favourite places and I make a pilgrimage of sorts every year.

Good Food Show - part 2....Olive Branch

Near the end of the day eventually found Olive Branch Foods tucked away in the corner of the main hall. They had been left off the plan and index so it was better late than never when I bumped into their booth. I had worked with them earlier in the year on a series of illustrations for their tapenade packaging. And I was lucky enough to be asked again this time to illustrate sweet biscuits, imported from Greece flavoured with orange, almonds and cinnamon. 

I had a huge smile on my face as I saw the jars lined up at their booth and a steady stream of people milling about tasting their products. When I tweeted about my day I realised they had used the biscuits as their cover photo on Twitter which was a lovely end to a rather fun packed jolly day. 

Why do I draw so much food?

I ADORE food, looking at it, smelling it, tasting it, cooking it. Pretty much ticks all the boxes for me - food is one of my favourite things EVER. There's such a variety of shapes colours and textures that I could never get bored.

Here's the thing - I had many food images in the  1990's ( yes last century!! ) Back in the day when I had to schlep a physical A3 black portfolio around London visiting art editors and senior designers I DID have illustrations of langoustines and pasta, even griddled vegetables with halloumi. I used pen and ink and washes with a bit of wax resist to add texture. Despite being well received I never actually received any editorial commissions - thats the only market I knew back then.

I see right now, in this moment, as a second chance. I'm hoping to use what I've learnt about the different markets in MATS to carve out a niche. Lilla's words are forever ringing in my ear...'find your joy... gotta do what you love (was that Steve Jobs though?) The knowledge of having my work 'out there' makes me feel vulnerable on many levels and I am coming to terms with it. I'm so utterly captivated by the work I'm producing that I am able to find joy in sharing my art which is a good start.

Sneak peak of next Foodie project

We get a local vegetable box delivery every week. Its seasonal so we don't always know what to expect. Sometimes theres a real glut and I'm at a loss what to do with the over abundance of a particular veg. This gave me an idea for a recipe thats a little time consuming bit totally worth it as the kids devour the end result within seconds ...which is a win/win situation since they don't realise they've actually eaten vegetables.

I will reveal all in the coming weeks. The sketches were drawn on the kitchen floor with the kids doing there own versions of carrots and beetroot with my brush pens. And a quick play around in PS just now.

Yangon Map - They Draw & Travel

I had been aching to illustrate a map of Yangon in Myanmar for years. Although when I lived there it was called Rangoon in Burma. It was very much a 'jewel in the crown' of British colonial rule in Asia, and boosted one of the best facilities of any modern city before WW2. I wanted to capture some of the daily life as well as the highlights of this beautiful city.

Submitted to They Draw and Travel

Submitted to They Draw and Travel

Sadly its Yangon's has declined due to years of neglect and utter misrule from the military backed government. I very much hope for for a return to its former glory days in the near future.

Cocktails - They Draw & Cook

This was an idea I had with one of my MATS mates Harriet Mellor. I create a series of illustrations relating to the country of origin of each cocktail. It was noted in my 'ideas book' along with dozens and dozens of ideas ( some really good some are just odd) I still have a slight nervousness of putting my work out there but then thought back to They Draw and Cook. They have a huge following and are very supportive of illustrators as Nate and Salli are in the industry themselves.


I had recently bought some new PS brushes and was very keep to try them out. I'm getting the hang of using masks and my layers are a lot neater. This was so much fun for me - I did enjoy Pimms rather a lot.

Olive Branch - Chunky olive tapenade packaging

I work with Bright Green Brands now and again who specialise in packaging design, mainly of food products. They had been approached by a small start up company who imported olive based products from small farms in Greece. I had just started using texture in my art and they were very keen to see this new style on the olive jars.

It was a case of illustrating each item separately - olives, rosemary, peppers, feta cheese etc and the designer would put them together in the layout that best suited the product. I have to say it was a very long drawn out process and a steep learning curve.

However I am very pleased with the results and can't wait to actually get my hands on some of these yummy products. Also it will sit very nicely in my portfolio in my quest to gain food & drink editorial illustration commissions in the near future. The photographs of the jars really do them justice too.