Wednesday, March 25, 2015


We all do it, and we can stop berating ourselves for it, because according to this article in Stylist magazine, it’s actually good for us and helps us - bizarrely - crack on with our stuff, albeit not in the way we might have originally expected. I am so familiar with the desk-polishing, shelf-tidying, pen-organising school of easing into a job!

Art directed by Natasha Tomalin, this was one of those jobs where I caught myself laughing at the silliness of drawing for hours with every blue pen I’ve got, very fast, to a mad deadline. There are times when I can’t believe I’m being paid for what I’m doing - as a friend (now my agent) once put it, ‘we do colouring in for a living, how brilliant is that?’

She’s right, it’s brilliant, and this scribble bonanza - more controlled and careful than it actually looks - turned out well. I was glad, since the only other illustrated covers Stylist have ever done included two by Quentin Blake and David ‘Shriggles’ Shrigley. So, no pressure there then. It actually took several back-and-forths to get exactly the right feel, but I think it turned out proper doodletastic.


We’ve made our solid easter eggs twice before (you may even have eaten one) but our versions for 2015 are fabulously evolved beasts!
The eggs are a labour of love that, quite frankly, we make because we can, and because we should, and because the world has been crying out for a solid - like, actual SOLID Easter egg - since Easter Eggs were invented. Easter usually comes right in the middle of an annual busy period, so there is always a late night or two as packaging is designed and photographs are taken…samples eaten...eggs collected…but somehow we do it, for the love of sinking one’s teeth into a bed of praline or gnawing on three inches of chocolate into the night.

Hand-made for us this year by Leicester chocolatier Pete at Cocoa Amore, whose shop sits right in the middle of the current Richard III activity in Leicester, Solid Egg 2015 has a girthy 70% cocoa shell filled with either solid chocolate or incredible soft praline. Now coming as one solid egg (rather than two halves), we’ve made these in Solid Chocolate, Praline, Salted Chocolate or Ginger (the latter types in limited supply). Every egg comes wrapped in a chocolate-brown signed screen print of cocoa-loving artwork by me, printed in Factory Road, just a few doors down. Which is fully washable and can be used for any purpose after the egg is long gone!

This year we’ve made 20 available as a super special edition snuggled in a hand-woven nest by international willow artist Tom Hare. If you’ve been to any of the RHS gardens, or specifically Kew Gardens, or latterly to Bishopsgate, the Bellagio in Las Vegas or to might have seen his work. He too was in the middle of a super-busy period when we commissioned these nests from him, so we’re grateful to have them - each one will be different from the last.

As usual the eggs are 100% vegan, gluten and dairy-free, with the emphasis on flavour and quality. Oh, and size. And…weight - over 500g per egg.

Watch one being cut, and listen for the chocolate crack! Good tempering!

And you can buy one here:

Check the photographs for proof of the existence of this magnificent celebration of bunnies, greed and re-birth!

This is the Solid Egg with praline filling.

Stuart prepping the artwork.

Egg, print and nest. Cocoa Amore, Inkymole and Tom Hare.

Only 100 made, all hand signed.

It's so dense, it virtually has it's own gravitational pull.

Stacked up and ready for signing.

The Family Project.

The Family Project is a joint venture between the Guardian Newspaper and publishers Faber + Faber, inviting the owners of the book to explore their own family’s unique quirks, traits, habits, memories and history by talking and remembering, and recording them in this fat, two-colour journal.

Written by author and journalist John-Paul Flintoff and wife Harriet Green, page after page offers opportunities for observation, laughter and note-making; there are graphs and boxes to draw in, questions to consider and things to draw - or, if drawing’s not your thing, attach clippings, memories and precious things, all in the name of creating a snapshot journal record of your own family, as it stands in time right now.

I illustrated all 200+ pages of this lovely book (over 50 A3 sheets of illustrations) in nib pen and ink, and enjoyed doing them - it was great to relax back into the wobbly, unrefined style I worked in for years and years earlier, but haven’t had the chance to flex much lately. The goat was a challenge (I can’t draw animals or men) and the pathetic-sounding note I wrote on it was meant only for the art director’s eyeballs, intended for deletion on printing. I drew on personal experience for the deathly below-freezing caravan too, since the memory of one which tried to claim all our lives a few years ago has stayed with me!

You can buy it here:

Friday, March 20, 2015

It’s A Man’s, Man’s, Man’s World.

I was interviewed recently by Visualmente, the creative section of a newspaper in Buenos Aires, Argentina.
Unless you speak Spanish you won’t get much out of the screen grab of the article below, so here is the interview in full. Though I think there have been one or two little elaborations for the sake of translation, as the article was read out to me by Hugo Weinberg, my French CIA agent, it sounds like it was printed pretty much word for word!

I think you can probably work out which of the questions is the one which raised my eyebrows and piqued my interest…
I like answering interview questions if they’re considered and the interviewer has done their homework, which I think this guy definitely had.

1. How would you define your style? It is an illustrator or specialist lettering?
Both, But when I tell people what I do, I’m ‘an illustrator’.

2. The world of typographic illustration is revealed as a man's world. How is it for you to work in that world?
Is it? A man’s world? It absolutely isn’t! I must admit, I laughed a bit at this question. I’m surprised you don’t know Marion Deuchars, Marian Bantjes, Paula Scher, Ruth Rowland…there are many more.
I compete with other illustrators, not other men or women - I can’t speak for others but I’ve personally found illustration to be a largely genderless industry. Happily!

3. You have worked on many magazine covers. How was work for Playboy? Can you explain the title "The College Issue”?
Playboy are not traditionally known for their use of illustration - inside maybe, for some of the articles - but there hadn’t been an illustrated cover for 25 years when they called me to make this one. It was a risk for the relatively new Art Director, and he took a chance on it - I did feel the responsibility of it, this famous and VERY long-standing magazine - and I do also know that Hugh Hefner had to approve the cover in person, as he does all issues.

So I know that Hugh himself approved my work!

We did not know until the last moment which of the 9 photographs was going to be chosen for the cover, so I had to create artwork that would work with any of those photographs. That was tricky. Those photographs included some close-ups and tight crops, so the art had to flexible. I managed to do it and the turn-round was very quick - a few days only.

The brief was simply to imagine I was a female college freshman doodling notes around the subjects of the magazine’s features, but not to make it too ‘pretty’ - the girl was pretty enough! It had to have movement and life without putting off its male buyers - I think it worked - and I have never been asked for so many samples of my work by friends, ha ha!

4. You have also worked in advertising. What differences are there for you to work for a client and a magazine?
Advertising has big budgets, so there is a lot of pressure. By the time you have been commissioned, a lot of processes have taken place - meetings, sketches, planning, media-buying, budgeting - to arrive at that point. Therefore you can’t mess it up.

It also has longer deadlines than Editorial work, which is very, very quick - often as fast as a day or afternoon. And a much lower budget, meaning that an Art Director can take a chance on an illustrator or style knowing that illustration won’t be in the public domain for long.

I find I can experiment a little with Editorial, and be a little bit more conceptual, whereas in advertising, my work is usually very heavily directed.

5. How do you usually work? Makes sketches before working?
I always draw in pencil first, then ink it in. All my work is created with ink (which can be nibs, fountain pens, brushes, biros, felt-tips, gel pens or Japanese calligraphy pens and others) on paper. It is of course then scanned to be sent all over the world!

6. We would like you to tell us the choices of different typefaces drawn from the cover of "Sight & Sound”?
Aha; those aren’t typefaces; they’re all drawn by hand on paper around the figures or characters shown on the cover, specially for each issue! Some were made with a pen, some with brushes, depending on the atmosphere we needed to create. I would make perhaps three or four times the quantity of type that was needed, then would experiment with different combinations. I really enjoyed working for Sight and Sound, which is the magazine of the BFI - the British Film Institute.

You can see the online version of the newspaper here:
And their Facebook page:


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