My Valentines Range

I’m still getting into the swing of working out what an illustrator’s year looks like. Although I am celebrating my first birthday, it’s not as if I knew much about the annual cycle when I first started out. I have made valentines cards before which I sold back in Blackpool but this year is the first time I have planned and scheduled a proper valentines release online.




My first design was based on a card I created all those years ago in Blackpool. My technical skills have come a long way since then but I still think that the joke is gold. I only ever buy valentines cards that make me laugh or smile, and what I enjoy about this design is seeing people giggle and point it out when they see it on my stall.


Love is in the air (maybe)


I am a fan of Valentine’s Day but I know some people aren’t. Even in years when I haven’t had someone to celebrate it with, I always enjoyed that people made more of an effort to say nice things to each other and show that they care. Its a nice thing to celebrate because love is, well, lovely! I wanted to create a small range of pieces that celebrated valentines but also might appeal to people who want to celebrate their friends with galentines shoutouts too. Love has lots of forms, not just romantic ones.


This is where my ‘You Look Nice Design’ comes in. In badge and card form it’s perfect for couples to send a compliment to each other but also for friends to share some love too.

Ll’Amour Valentines Card

Love Is a human right


My cards work for everyone so I don’t include genders or messages as part of them. They are all blank inside so if you want to write a poem or just a couple of words, to whoever it is for and from whoever it is that is you the freedom there is yours.


Let me know what you think of my designs in the comments 🙂




Cuttlelola Electric Dotspen Review

When I unwrapped a Cuttelola Electric Dotspen on Christmas Day I didn’t have a clue what it was. I haven’t noticed them advertised, mentioned by any other illustrators on Instagram or seen them in arts stores. My other half who had gifted me the pen had heard about it from a positive review he has seen on reddit.


On first inspection the weight of the pen feels slightly off-putting. We all have our own preferences when it comes to illustrating in the tools we use and it seems that how they feel in our hands is important somehow. The pen is battery operated and charged through a cable plugged into the base. It takes ink cartridges and although I just have black I understand there are a lot of colours available to purchase.

Giving it a whirl

The pen operates on two speeds so it seemed sensible to try the slowest speed first. Always the renegade I tried it directly onto a piece I was working on rather than a test piece of paper. The first test was to keep the jolting, vibrating nib within the lines, which was happily easy enough to pick up. Although the weight and movement of the nib mean that you control this one very differently to a usual pen, it’s simple to pick up and adjust to. The faster speed results in denser, darker dot distribution.


After a few attempts I got comfortable enough working with the pen to create some good effects. It’s a lot quicker to use than manual stippling and saves you valuable time and wrist ache. It means you can create detailed and professional looking stippling effects with much mess effort than an ordinary pen. It’s simple to use and enjoyable to get in the rhythm of stippling with as you need a consistent speed and pressure if you want to deliver a consistent tone.

When you want to create contrasting stippling effects it is easy to do. You can change the speed of the pen and the speed of your use. I also find that I still do some dot work manually as it again contrasts to the effects produced by the Dotspen (I.e. I can create dots that are close don’t touch whereas this is not possible with the Dotspen).


The cons are just minor inconveniences as opposed to problems with the pen, which I am really happy with. The charge does not last long so you will find you regularly have to plug the one in. If you have a convince to power source and are happy to draw whilst it is plugged in then this isn’t a problem at all. This doesn’t work for me though so I find myself structuring my drawing process differently, drawing all the dots with the Dotspen in one go and then doing the line work as it charges. It charges fully in about half an hour so it’s easy to work your process around it.

Due to the sporadic placement if the dots created by the Dotspen it is also not possible to create dots that are close to each other but not touching as mentioned before. Again though, this isn’t a dealbreaker as these I can just do manually for contrast as I have already said. It just means that you have more shades and textures to play with.

The final con is the noise that the pen makes. If you are a serial doodler and like to draw in public or idling away with a sketchbook in front of the telly with your nearest and dearest then this pen is not going to make you popular. It’s not super loud but it is noticeable, like a teeny tiny helicopter surveying your drawing.


A big ole yes! The benefits clearly out way the minor negatives of the pen. It’s a great tool for saving time and energy whilst producing high quality work. I’m very happy Santa sent one down my chimney and I hope that you guys get the chance to lay your hands on one too.

Exploring Sculpture

One thing that I have learnt on my ceramics journey is that planning ceramic pieces doesn’t really seem to be for me. I know that sometimes this is necessary, but when I can I like to just, well, wing it. I’m not sure whether what I create comes from half formed ideas in the back of my head or whatever randomly seems to pop in when I sit down with a piece of clay. Either way, I enjoy just making it up as I go along. This is as true as for sculpture making as it is for pieces to illustrate.

Like a Bat Out of Hell

Recently I took this approach and created this double headed bat vase. This one definitely was a squishy concept floating around my brain before hand. However, it’s only when I sat down that the form and the style took shape.

The piece is made from two pinch pots joined together. The details are added on through slip and scoring. It is important to try and ensure that all elements of your piece are strong and sturdy. Enough to withstand handling at their most vulnerable stages throughout the multiple firing processes. They must also be joined to the main piece with care. These steps prevent chips and cracks to the piece either whilst it’s in the kiln or whilst it’s being handled in between. On this piece the ears are the weakest point, but I am hopeful that they will survive. Sometimes you just need to take risks, and it helps to be able to recognise what risks you are taking in order to make this decision.

I am pleased with where this piece is so far. It’s playful and reminds me a bit of an Aardman model. I am as yet undecided as how to colour the piece, although I do have some ideas. As always though, I know inspiration will hit me when I sit down with the piece and I’ll be excited to see the results.



Creativity On Demand

Creativity on demand is the crux of being an illustrator. It’s an odd shift to draw and create for something other than just enjoyment. Other than just a whim or desire that is followed only when it arises. You start to find yourself drawing for something much less romantic; necessity. Even when you have a clear concept in mind and the piece inspires you, working to time frames can conjour the feeling of necessity strongly. As such it means that you need to approach your process differently.


If only there was an On/Off switch for creativity


I would class my emotions as quite a strong influencer on my work. I draw about things that I am passionate about, things that interest me and my work is a representation of my beliefs and opinions. Illustrating means working with someone else on their beliefs and their opinions and creating work from that. It’s not just the process that differs but your mind set that changes too.


Quality takes time


I think that the best friend to aid this new process is kind timescales. The reality is that creativity on demand just doesn’t work. It’s not like we aren’t busy enough with a million non-creative jobs to do as well though, right? Those spreadsheets don’t update themselves, orders don’t pack themselves and products don’t photograph themselves either. Sometimes your mind isn’t in drawing mode, and that’s ok. Give yourself timeframes that accept this and be open with your client about those too. Nail them down before you accept a job so that everyone’s expectations are realistic.


Teamwork makes the dream work


As for working with the beliefs and opinions of someone else, being clear about what they are is the absolute necessity here. Clear recorded conversations, asking questions and recording everything. Not just asking as well but actually listening. You are being approached because that person enjoys your style and creativity, so put your ideas out there. If they are a fan of your work they will listen. If they have their own ideas, just make sure that you are both comfortable with what gets agreed. There’s creativity in everyone and clients can have some really great ideas sometimes. Listen authentically and you never know what you might learn!