Thursday, March 27, 2014

Macy’s Workshop.

Macy's approached me to illustrate its advertisements for the Spring 2014 session of The Workshop at Macy's, a program that encourages and helps guide women and minority entrepreneurs in the retail and fashion industry.

Michele Stormer, senior creative manager at Macy’s, explains: "We had partnered with Sarah a few years earlier on a 4th of July fireworks poster and we've always loved her sense of typography – how it feels timeless yet current and trend-appropriate – and knew she could execute the direction for the campaign effortlessly. Her style easily appeals to a younger audience and we figured she was so spot-on for this campaign that she could execute it in her sleep ... I don't know if she would agree however!”

Well, I didn’t exactly do it in my sleep, but this certainly felt like I was on familiar territory having produced similar campaigns for Target and Boston University.

The team studied Carol Seitz's photographs of the entrepreneurs and discussed goals for the completed images. "The end result was to have Sarah's art marry the photography – not overpower it, and not be secondary to it either,” Michele says of the brief. "The illustrations, in partner with the photography, would be the element that captures your attention then draws you in to further investigate the ad and learn more.”

My job was to create lively, narrative pieces that captured the energy of both the Macy's Workshop team and the selected vendors – their products, craft, and determination - without using too many words, the hand-drawn illustrations (ink on paper) had to tell each person’s story.

Michele made this lovely comment about the job once it was finished. "Sarah's work was the final piece that made everything come together. It's a little odd when you see people at work hang some of the ads up at their desks as decoration – and these were not people I know or work with! Often that's the greatest sense of achievement because people usually try their hardest not to surround themselves with work-related memorabilia. The Multicultural Department at Macy's, which is responsible for The Workshop at Macy's, was extremely pleased with the outcome, to say the least, and thrilled to have a campaign that feels fresh and youthful.”

I can’t add much to that! Thanks Michele and team for a lovely job. I hope to do it again some day!

Extracts courtesy of Bernstein & Andriulli’s interview on their news page:

The Invisible Woman.

The film of this name made its way to our local independent cinema in recent weeks, and it was a timely reminder of a piece I did last year on its very subject.

Ellen Ternan was the long-term mistress of Charles Dickens, who throughout her entire relationship with him was kept under wraps and prevented from publicly being acknowledged as part of his life. While Dickens was at the peak of his career, writing, speaking, giving readings and being fêted by the literary world, Ellen was secretly his ‘magic circle of one’, hidden from view, living in homes he paid for, under false names, sometimes travelling with him until they were both involved in a hideous train crash that almost killed both of them. They met when she was 18, slightly older than Dickens’ own daughter, and he 45.

And of course - he had a wife. The Dickenses separated after 22 years when his affair was discovered by the deceived but patient Catherine, but not before Ternan had borne him a son (for which no evidence exists) who died in infancy. All correspondence between he and Ellen was destroyed, but on his death he left her a trust fund sufficient to live on for the rest of her life and £1000.

The saddest part of the story is that she is believed to have been the inspiration for many of Dickens’ most famous characters, including Little Nell, and she was given money and rewarded with privilege, but only in return for her silence. Obviously, the ‘woman’ part of me wants to punch the pair of them and take the wife out for a few stiff drinks and a soothing chat. The ’novel reader’ in me, however, thinks it’s all very romantic and melancholy.

Which is why I was able to do these illustrations for a serial of the book about her, abridged for Women’s Weekly magazine last year, without drawing The Mistress as a cheating canny bint. Instead, I made her pretty and delicate. The power of illustration!

And no, the real Ellen Ternan looked NOTHING like the blonde poppet in the film.
That’s period drama for you though, innit?

Wednesday, March 19, 2014


Remember the disappointment of smashing open that chocolate egg on Easter morning only to find it was a hollow sham of a confection, mocking you with its vacant stare?

Well here is the remedy: an egg so full of mass, it has its own gravitational pull.
Hand-made to our specification in a little factory in the Midlands, the thickness of the chocolate is vulgar, and the filling is ridiculous.

We made these first in 2012 as a response to the lingering disappointment as children. Don't get me wrong - our parents were generous with the egg action, but the air inside them was always a terrible let-down. They're back for 2014.

These eggs are NOT 'nut-safe' or nut free, but they are entirely suitable for greedy vegans as they are dairy free. They’re also completely fine for coeliacs as they’re gluten-free. How fabulous!

We make three different egg styles:

Solid Chocolate
- a chocolate shell filled with chocolate. Obviously. A disgusting 331g net weight. The chocolate, by the way, is none of your milky-tasting barely-there-on-the-cocoa stuff - this is a unique recipe, good and dark without the negative connotations sometimes attached (not by us we hasten to add) to the word 'dark'.

5% Praline
- a chocolate shell filled with the finest hazelnut praline blended with 5% liquid chocolate. The most obese of our eggs, it weighs a whopping 334g. Sweet - you couldn't eat too much at once!

10% Praline
- the same chocolate shell filled with the same hazelnut praline, but blended with 10% liquid chocolate - a guilty 320g, and a slightly more grown-up taste, though perfectly good for tiny palates as well.
If you know anything about chocolatiering, you’ll know that the cheaper the praline, the higher the chocolate content. Praline is very sweet by itself, and ours is as close to pure as you can get without your teeth falling out. We experimented with different levels of choc + praline, till we found the right balance. You won't be able to walk along biting into those - we suggest apron or bib, spoon and patience.

They can be bought from while stocks last!

Monday, March 17, 2014

Ride On Time

I have just made this black box of sharpness for my fountain pen collection out of a Turkish Delight box bought for me by Melanie Tomlinson - contents eaten - some black ink and a jar full of about ten years’ worth of used and broken nibs. I keep them in a Kilner jar with my used scalpel blades and have never been sure why!

I thought my friend Mel might approve since this speaks to the scavenger gene in both of us, collecting spare and discarded materials throughout our early careers to ‘make stuff’. And I’m proud of the glue gun burn I incurred in making it, skin gruesomely missing where I pulled the napalm-glue off too late (it sets hard, taking the skin with it).

Inside is a very old piece of blotting paper owned since I was small, given to me by my Dad and still in use till recently. The pens include two Shaeffers, my Mont Blanc, Parkers, a Paper Mate and my wooden one which was a 21st birthday present.

Kids win prizes!

Remember the little art directors and their visions of the future?
Well, they’ve helped us, CIA and the agency who partnered with us to win an award.

AMVBBDO finessed CIA’s concept and packaged the whole thing. At the Creative Circle Awards a few days ago they won Gold for the best illustration campaign!

Well done them, and well done artists, and well done Little Humans, who collectively helped created over fifty wonderful works of art.

Friday, March 14, 2014


To celebrate being signed on to create the next three poster campaigns for the Royal Horticultural Society, and because this illustration - my first for the RHS, and one of my favourite creations ever - received almost 9000 reposts on Tumblr, I’ve put it in the shop to buy as an A3 print with 10% off for Mole blog readers.

Go here if you'd like one:
and add the code TUMBLEDFLOWERJOY
Enjoy the bulby love!

Wednesday, March 12, 2014

LA Times' Festival of Books

One of my first jobs this year was to create these A2 ink-filled illustrations for the LA Times’ Festival of Books, and its sister festival After Dark.

The job of the images was to help the organisers promote the sunny April event with a set of word-driven illustrations. They’re on the site, on posters, in national newspapers and on t-shirts and all manner of other souvenir and promotional things.

They’d seen the image I’d done for Family Circle on my B&A folio page, and loved the organic colour, the pen-to-paper authenticity, if you like, of a piece done ‘in one take’. There’s a certain energy in pieces which are done quickly like that, with as little faffing about* as possible (*British term), which retains the spontaneity of whatever rough you did to start off with.

I asked for a list of terms to compile (stressing that you can never have too many) and I went right ahead and pencilled out the roughs at a large size. The first piece, 'Hail the Written Word,' was approved pretty much right away, with a fine tune here and there where the open book meets the heading.

The "Inspire Your Fire” piece took a bit longer as the headline needed three versions before it was signed off as ‘right' – and the burst of words actually went though four incarnations. Spontaneity can be very difficult to manufacture, and sometimes, it’s better to just stop torturing the piece you started with and start afresh.

Studio assistant, Graham helped with the Festival After Dark microphone. It was good to have a team of two on this to get everything in on time (it was a fierce deadline), and we swapped tips on digital ink (his tips) and using Illustrator (my tips).

I really enjoyed using ALL THE COLOURS IN THE INK BOX (nearly) and slaving over a hot sheet of A2. We hadn’t started time lapsing at this point, but if we had, it would have been a great one to capture! Yep, the back of my head, for eight hours...

Monday, March 10, 2014

'I Love London'

This was a double page spread and cover for Business Life magazine, produced by August Media. I always thought I wasn't very good at buildings even though I actually really enjoy drawing them! All done in ink and nibs, then the colour changed afterwards, since the art director wasn’t completely sure what colour we’d need till right at the end. I do have inks in all these colours though!

Below you can see the sketches and progress of the piece.


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