Saturday, July 16, 2016


I have been more upset than I've let on about the news of Helen Bailey, the children's author, who has been found dead after three months of being missing. I have been thinking about her a lot since a colleague alerted me to her disappearance, wondering where she is.

I didn't know Helen, we never met, but I created her logo and her early Electra Brown book covers, published by Hodder, in 2007. She had a lovely smiling face and her books are delightful. She had received a catastrophic blow in life, but had channelled her grief into creativity via her blog Planet Grief, and gave hope and comfort to countless similarly-bereaved humans.

I just wanted to acknowledge her today. I read some terrible news stories this week; the obvious ones, but also some slightly more under-the-radar stories of women being killed by partners and family members around the world. It sickens me that this still happens, and for a moment I had to shut off the news altogether, as I was boiling with rage that breathtakingly medieval belief systems still exist which allow women to be terminated for daring to live less traditional lives, lives which challenge or are simply different from the traditional paths they were expected to follow. We don't yet know why Helen was killed, we may never, but her death was reported as one of three stories in one day of women killed by men they loved.

Helen's partner has been arrested for her murder. Time will tell if this is the truth, but I am shocked and sad that this should happen, and I am thinking today of women and girls everywhere who have lost their lives at the hands of people they loved and trusted.

Monday, July 04, 2016

Fireworks at Macy's

Happy 4th July!

I was reminded today of my own Macy's poster for their annual pyrotechnic extravaganza, which was created in 2009 and inspired by the 1958 poster. It was also the 400th anniversary of 'Henry Hudson's Discovery'.

The art director Gregory and I worked really hard on this, and having just dug deep into the job file I've found all the pencil sketches and development. I still like them, and you can see the excitement in my work, I think!

It was a fantastic job to do.

You can see it in the collection of other historic posters here. My favourite is 1977!

Wednesday, June 15, 2016


As my friend Kellie said to me yesterday, "We know it's Summer because the rain's warm".

This is what happens when you leave inky artwork upstairs in a rainstorm with the roof lights open. I couldn't have created this effect if I'd tried - well, in fact I have been trying, ever since, and I can't seem to recreate what nature did in 5 minutes!

But I will get there.

Thursday, June 09, 2016

So tell us a bit about how you work

I made a quick 'snapshot' of some of my behind the scenes photos, as I'm regularly asked how I make my work.
The answer:
Brain > Paper > Pencil > Pens > Ink...and anywhere else it needs to go from there!

Tuesday, May 31, 2016

Where It Went: Original Artwork en route

About to be united with the author of the book it was made for: original artwork for Midnight Without A Moon, out next year.

I love it when artwork makes its way to its rightful home. My archive has over twenty years' worth of material, so it's lovely when some of it travels away for a better life elsewhere!

They new owners get to see the nuts and bolts of how a piece is made.

More at

Thursday, May 05, 2016


#3000chairs for The Guardian.

See Twitter for the full story on this charming endeavour born from a terrible story. 3000 unaccompanied refugee children were turned away from the UK by our government. Nicola Davies wrote her poem 'The Day The War Came' in response, and has invited artists and illustrators to draw an empty chair and share it on Twitter. I didn't know which chair to choose so here are all three.
The poem's below.

The Day The War Came

The day war came there were flowers on the windowsill
and my father sang my baby brother back to sleep.
My mother made my breakfast, kissed my nose
and walked with me to school

That morning I learned about volcanos,
I sang a song about how tadpoles turn at last to frogs
I made a picture of myself with wings.

Then, just after lunch,
while I watched a cloud shaped like a dolphin,
war came.
At first, just like a spattering of hail
a voice of thunder…
then all smoke and fire and noise, that I didn’t understand.

It came across the playground.
It came into my teacher’s face.
It brought the roof down.
and turned my town to rubble.

I can’t say the words that tell you
about the blackened hole that had been my home.

All I can say is this:

war took everything

war took everyone

I was ragged, bloody, all alone.

I ran. Rode on the back of trucks, in buses;
walked over fields and roads and mountains,
in the cold and mud and rain;
on a boat that leaked and almost sank
and up a beach where babies lay face down in the sand.

I ran until I couldn’t run
until I reached a row of huts
and found a corner with a dirty blanket
and a door that rattled in the wind

But war had followed me.
It was underneath my skin,
behind my eyes,
and in my dreams.
It had taken possession of my heart.

I walked and walked to try and drive war out of myself,
to try and find a place it hadn’t reached.
But war was in the way that doors shut when I came down the street
It was in the way the people didn’t smile, and turned away.

I came to a school.
I looked in through the window.
They were learning all about volcanos
And drawing birds and singing.

I went inside. My footsteps echoed in the hall
I pushed the door and faces turned towards me
but the teacher didn’t smile.
She said, there is no room for you,
you see, there is no chair for you to sit on,
you have to go away.

And then I understood that war had got here too.

I turned around and went back to the hut, the corner and the blanket
and crawled inside.
It seemed that war had taken all the world and all the people in it.

The door banged.
I thought it was the wind.
But a child’s voice spoke
“I brought you this,” she said “so you can come to school.”
It was a chair.
A chair for me to sit on and learn about volcanoes, frogs and singing
And drive the war out of my heart.

She smiled and said
“My friends have brought theirs too, so all the children here can come to school”

Out of every hut a child came and we walked together,
on a road all lined with chairs.
Pushing back the war with every step.

By Nicola Davies


Related Posts with Thumbnails