Monday, March 30, 2020

Towers in Seville - continuing my personal project

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I am progressing with my personal project, albeit slowly! This is the first completed layout, the original rough, plus each of the individual drawings .

La Giralda
A decorative building at the end of one of the streets

One of the Towers at Plaza de Espana

Torre del Oro

Monday, March 9, 2020

A winter break in Versailles

I love visiting France so when Versailles was suggested for a short winter break, it seemed a good idea. Of course, the chateau and gardens are on everyone’s ‘to do’ list when visiting Paris but I was interested to find out what the rest of the town is like.  

We travelled on a Monday morning by Eurostar from St. Pancras to Paris Gare du Nord, then took the metro to Gare Austerlitz where we caught a RER train to Versailles Chateau Rive Gauche.

The hotel I’d booked - L’hotel Angleterre - was at the budget end of places to stay and although the room was small it was clean, the staff were very welcoming and it was a great location being only a short five minute walk to the gates of the palace.

After settling in, we went for a walk around the palace gardens (The chateau is closed on a Monday) and had something to eat in La Flottille, by the Grand Canal.

I’d bought two-day passports (25euros per person in winter) to the Chateau online prior to travelling and we arrived early on the Tuesday and Wednesday where a small but not off-putting queue had already formed.

As well as going inside the chateau and seeing the exhibition being held there, we also did lots and lots of walking in the grounds and looking at trees. Wondering how everything had been constructed at that time in history. Pondering about the logistics, and cost, of all the construction.

Opposite the entrance of the palace grounds there is a museum housing the historic coaches (free entry) and further into the town, the king’s veggie patch, the ‘Potager du roi’ (6 euros per person). Of course, it wasn’t the best time to visit the vegetable garden as it was almost completely bare of produce with just a few hardy greens growing. Still, it was interesting to see the skeletons of the fruit trees lined up neatly in rows ready for their work later in the year.

The town is split into two halves by the palace and there are two self-guided walking trails you can follow to discover more about the history of the rest of the area. We picked up a map from the Tourist Office and searched out the history boards which have English as one of the featured languages. It was nice to explore the quiet parts of the town.

Returning home on the Friday, we took some time to walk around the Marais area of Paris, following a map in a guidebook I’d taken with me. Then a whistle-stop tour of the famous sights – the Eiffel Tower, the Louvre and Notre Dame, currently shielded by hoardings as the fire repairs get underway, before heading back to Gare du Nord for the Eurostar home.

It was a really nice trip, quite relaxing and not too expensive. Lots of inspiration from the palace grounds and all things French. Wrought iron, decoration, fabrics and over the top grandeur.

Monday, March 2, 2020

My illustration process - Making a promotional mailer

One of the perennial problems of being an illustrator is how to let art directors, designers and publishers know about you and your work. I have my own website and a portfolio page on the AOI website to showcase previous projects and use Instagram and Twitter to highlight sketches and work in progress. Still, trying to get seen by commissioners is always a challenge. I have sent out postcards in the past but thought it was time to up my game.

I’d seen other illustrators like Owen Mathers and Willa Gebbie make their own promotional brochures to send out and I thought it might be good to try something new myself. I decided to work with a designer to produce a promotional piece as I thought they could offer a fresh insight.

I chose to work with Julia Woollams from the design agency 31% Wool. Julia is one of the founders of ‘Croydonist’ and I always love seeing her work. We had a meeting to discuss what type of mailer I could send and she went away to create some concepts. I really liked one of the ideas she came up with which was for a small notebook, with my illustrations throughout but leaving enough room for the recipient to write notes in too.

I made a selection of some of my drawings and Julia produced a layout for the notebook, which after a couple of revisions, was ready to go to the printers. Julia also suggested sending it in an interesting envelope so I researched a few different samples and decided on my favourite. Here are some of the spreads:

I sent about half of the notebooks out just before Christmas to existing and former clients. They seemed to well received and I had some lovely thank you emails. With the rest, I am researching a few new possible commissioners each week and posting a notebook to them.

Be good to know if you have any experience of sending out mailers or any advice about contacting creative commissioners. Or if you are a commissioner, let me know and I'll put a notebook in the post!