Thursday, 11 April 2013

My "Go-To" Books For Fresh Inspiration.

I am lucky to work in a very inspiring environment, a college art department. My colleagues are all practising artists, constantly making new work and using techniques I may have never tried before. My students are a dynamic and vibrant bunch of young people, most of which are eager to learn and develop their work in exciting ways and try new things. They are risk takers.

Most of the time this really keeps my juices flowing. My inspiration is always topped up because of the materials we have, the workshops we work in and the equipment we use. However, sometimes, such as now, I do have a slump and this stops me feeling motivated and inspired. Consequently my mood doesn't improve, because i'm not creating.

At those dire times I turn to blogs, Pinterest and most importantly my huge collection of art books to help. So i've picked my three "go to" books that boost my mood and inspire me to get back to my desk to show you. The titles are links to the books on

I'm going to show you some of my favourite pages from within the books. 
Tad Carpenter

Andrio Abero

Skinny La Minx

These images are all from "Naive". This books contains such a variety of techniques which appeal to me both visually and in a creative way. I want to make work in the same way. The processes used include silkscreen printing, classical typography, hand lettering, woodcutting and folk art. Even though I did a Fine Art degree I have tended to move more and more in the design direction over the years. 
There are lots of band posters featured in this book as well as original art.

Vera Neumann was an artist and designer, most famed for her beautiful bold and colourful scarves. She was an innovator and a wonderfully successful female entrepreneur who believed art should be accessible to everyone. This book contains full colour images of her gorgeous scarves as well as pictures from her factories, sketches and a great picture of Marilyn Monroe wearing nothing but a sheer Vera scarf. Oh I say!

Prints Charming

Jurianne Matter

Hillary Bird

Graphic Nothing

These images come from the wonderful book Print and Pattern 2. I know it's the second book but I had this one before only recently getting the original and have used this edition loads for inspiration so I had to pick it first. It's really easy to use because all the artists are in alphabetical order and the images are in beautiful crisp colour. The design of the book is also a joy, with the same font design and colour schemes running throughout. Don't you just love that attention to detail?

Well hopefully they have given you some ideas for books to buy next, hopefully they'll do their usual tricks and help me come up with some new work. 

Can you recommend any good books for me to check out?

Wednesday, 3 April 2013

My Favourite Art Materials For Sketching

I use a variety of different materials to produce sketches, patterns and also my products. Anything I make as a product to sell will start off in my sketchbook or on scraps of paper. I print out stacks of images to inspire me mainly for colours and patterns or subjects.

Today I thought I'd write a post about the materials I use to make work in my sketchbook. I hope the photos are ok, there is no natural light in my studio.

First off is my sketchbook, which is just an A4 one from Paperchase I got in the sale. I usually like to use either the WHSmith A5 ringbound ones or Seawhite of Brighton A4 as I really like the quality of paper but this Paperchase one is nice too. I'd buy another one for sure.
Secondly is my pencil case. I bought this 10 years ago at the London Transport Museum shop when they just started making products out of the same Moquette they use for the seats on the Tube trains. It cost me £11 which is a lot of money for a pencil case but its lasting the years so worth it I think!
Next up is my pens of choice! I didn't include my pencil as that's a bit boring an standard but I prefer to use 2B pencils, proper ones not mechanical pencils. I like to use Sharpies for thick and thin black outlines, though the nibs on the standard ones dull quite quickly. I also like to use Posca pens on top of ink or permanent marker because of their opacity. On the stripes of purple ink in the picture above I have used a Posca over the top.

I like to use graphic markers for colour in patterns or to fill in areas of colour on illustrations. I also use these twin Kurecolor markers to draw on shrink plastic to make my teacup and wool badges and earrings. However some colours smudge if you try and varnish over them which is really annoying.
I recently got a whole pack of these ZIG Wink of Stella pens which are glitter. They aren't like any other pens i've used that have glitter in them, they're just like felt tips. I also got a clear glitter one so you can make any line glittery. I love these and need to use them much more.
Lastly, I love stickers and geometric shapes, as you've probably noticed by now. I particularly like to use stickers to add to my patterns and sometimes cut them up and create more work out of strips of pattern. These day glo pink and green stickers are from Staples and Rymans and the other glittery ones (oh yes!) are from The Range. I think they're meant for card making and scrap booking but I use them for patterns. Below are some examples showing all these materials used together.

So there we have it! Next i'll do a post about the materials I use to make different products. 

Thanks for reading!