A Day in the Life

What makes up an average working day for me? Inspired by a blog by The Bright Agency I created my own ‘A Day in the Life of an Illustrator’, answering the following questions- ‘What defines a nice brief?’ ‘Who keeps you company?’ ‘How do you break up your day’? ‘What inspires you?’. (With a few lockdown adjustments being made for now, obvs.)

(On the table) A nice brief – My ideal brief from a client would have clear guidelines on what, why and when they want something done. Ideally it will make my heart beat, and is something that the client is excited about too!

(By my side) Good company – My workmate is a faithful little puppet friend who’s stuck with me for many years. [Find him in my previous blogs here and here. Coincidentally, my first blog on him was exactly 6 years ago today!]

(Clock) Time – It sure does fly, but I try and stick to a regular 9-5 hour working day through the week. Sometimes I teach a dance class, so on those days I work around that.

(Through the window) Outdoors – I try and get outside for a break every day. I love the chance to see what nature’s up to, and a bit of human interaction is always nice! My favourite places for a quick walk- the local park, shops or library. When I have a little more time I love a wander through the city, an afternoon at a museum, or a drive out to the hills.

(Around the studio) Inspiration – Music is a big part of my day, and I usually have an assortment of pictures, objects and books around to keep me inspired.


This week I’ve been writing lots, trying to come up with stories and creating character illustrations. Takes a lot of thinking!

[Image- one of my ideas this week]

Hands in pockets

It being the 13th today, I listened to this while working: Blur, 13.  I wasn’t the hugest fan back in the day, but I did really like this album. And it stands the test of time. “Come on, come on, come on, get through it… love’s the greatest thing that we have…” (lyrics from the first track on the album, Tender).

This week I’ve been working on my black and white skills. Here’s the latest, a sequence I imagined. (I was riffing on drawing people with hands in their pockets.)

Learning from the Masters

As an exercise this week I set myself the challenge of copying illustrations from some exceptional illustrators, to see what I could learn. It’s a really interesting thing to do – in copying you kind of ‘feel’ the way it’s drawn and understand better what the artist is trying to do with their materials. I’ve tried this in the past with Tove Jansson.

This is my attempt at copying an EH Shepard illustration from ‘The Wind in the Willows’ by Kenneth Grahame. 

I really enjoyed it, it was almost like doing a meditation, and I learnt so much in the 40 minutes it took. Here are some of the things I learnt: Every single mark is considered. He draws with a very light hand (I’m realising more and more how heavy handed I tend to naturally draw). The pen skips and dances and is always moving, never in the same direction for long. It really feels as if he is drawing from life. Shepard is a genius.

This is my attempt at Tony Ross, copied from ‘Hurry Secret Seven, Hurry’, by Enid Blyton. Here’s what I learnt from him: Shoes don’t matter too much (I often agonise over how convincing my drawings of shoes are). He uses a really varied line, very thick at times, really energetic and free. He often uses paint to describe things, rather than line. Frames feel really good (when I added the frame it seemed to bring the whole thing to life). Ross is fabulous.

A couple of firsts and falls

Today I tried working a digital illustration onto a photo, the first time I’ve done that. Starting from a photo taken on a walk to a local waterfall, and I’m pretty happy with the result. (It’s actually a little video, but I haven’t quite got my head around how to animate those parts together yet.)

Another first, I also fell off a bike for the first time today too! I’ve only been learning a few weeks, and went for a little practice at the reccy ground, still muddy from the recent weather. But don’t worry, it really wasn’t as dramatic as I’ve drawn it!