Friday, October 05, 2012


During the summer I was asked to pitch for a commercial that was targeting a post-modern, cake-baking/business-making woman. The girl who wears the clothes and lives elements of a repressed, 50s housewife life as a way to express her femininity in these trouser-wearing times. The Cath Kidston girl.

This girl is not me. I may lindy hop several times a week to 40s swing songs, dress a little 'vintage' and swear I was born in the wrong era, but CK is too fussy for my lifestyle. I'm more muddy boots and farmhouse tea loafs than beautifully iced cupcakes. I think I express this in my female characters. They like to look good but can you climb a tree with a clutch purse or cycle in heels? Lord no. (There is nothing wrong with being a CK girl at all, just different strokes for different folks. Also, I love the dresses and cardigans in there.)

But I wanted to win the job. I trawled through my old work looking for more feminine drawings but all I found were femme fatals and oddballs. So I spent an evening girlifying my portfolio. It was an interesting exercise and I thought I'd share the transformations as I dipped my toe into a butter-iced world.

First up, Moon Sun turned Girl in a Musical Who Might Be In Love For The First Time.

Next, a face from a page of London Commuters I drew about three years ago jumped out at me. This is a little darker, more like one of my characters, feels more like a comic panel. I hardly work in colour so I glad it came out ok. I think this is my favourite. 

After that I realised I had to lighten the tone.  Based on a wholly different character (who would never be caught dead looking so girly), this girl looks like a swing dancer at a Sunday Tea dance. I want her bike.

It did the trick, I got the job!

The simple joys of climbing trees

Hullo. It's been a while. How are you? Please tell me what you've been up to.

So I'm an avid tree climber after that first weekend at Igfest 2010 I will never forget. I played a game called UpTrees, part of Henrik Dahles 2010 project to climb a tree everyday for a year. It forced me to cross an adult fear of foolishness and remember just how bloody great it is to be up a tree.

My talented friend Jo Keeling commissioned me to illustrate for her beautiful new magazine Pretty Nostalgic this summer and would you adam and eve it, it was for a piece on climbing trees. (I think she knew, deep down, that I was the right person for the job)

My idea was simple; I wanted it to be a first person POV up in the boughs. A happy few hours were spent in Brandon Hill park climbing trees, drawing and photographing. See the red chair up in the tree? It was about 30 feet up, with no low branches to get up there! Things I observed whilst in a tree: a lantern, a surprised squirrel, a blue tit. Nobody below noticed me. Even though I was only a few feet above their heads. I felt a bit creepy.

The rough design I sent to Jo for approval.

And the final design.

Go and climb a tree!