Saturday, 27 February 2016

The Middlesex Adventurers | Middlesex University Sketchbooks from Edinburgh

Middlesex university was one of those that surprised me last year. It wasn't that I expected to see a load of rubbish, I just didn't expect to see SO much great work adorning the walls. You can see my round-up here (sorry it's a little shoddy layout wise). I was thrilled to see the amount of effort they'd put in both presentation wise and online to ensure that they were promoting themselves in the best possible way. 

I've obviously been keeping a close eye on their Twitter feeds ever since (hello to this David Bowie post) and I was delighted to discover this isn't just a one-off around student exhibition time. It's always heartwarming to see tutors who care about their students, equipping them with the best possible skills to move forward in their careers and providing them with wonderful experiences to look back upon - I think the Middlesex lecturers have got this one covered. The students recently went on a drawing trip to Edinburgh and since the adventure all of their sketchbook work has been uploaded to the Middlesex Illustration blog. Quite frankly, from what I've seen there, I'm really bloody excited to see what these students have up their sleeve in terms of final projects and I'm pretty sure some of them aren't even in third year yet. I've chosen a few of my favourites which you can see have become a series of quirky sketches with some brilliant uses of colour and a lot of variety - I'm certainly going to be keeping my eyes peeled for a bit more from Nicole Cowan. To be honest I could have put all of their imagery in but then you would have no reason to go and check out their own blog post, there's some beautiful work form their tutors too so make sure you give it a good look.

If you can't wait until "student season" for an exhibition than actually you're in luck as until March 12th the students have one titled 'Beginnings and Endings' in the Poetry Cafe. Covent Garden. The collection of illustrations is inspired by literature’s greatest opening and closing lines with writing by the likes of Sylvia Plath, Thomas Pynchon, Ray Bradbury and J.G all playing a part in the process. Again there's another little post on the blog with a preview but I'd say to go and be surprised instead. Take a book for good measure. Now, time to go and book those Edinburgh tickets...

Follow the Middlesex Illustration kids on Twitter and be sure to keep and eye out for further exhibition dates later on this year!

Saturday, 20 February 2016

The High Five | February

1 // Pressed & Folded print by Malissa Brown // Pressed & Folded (coming soon!)
2 // Squares Print // Hannah Lois Sangwin
3 // Ceramic pot by EL-AICH designs // Cool Machine & Etsy
4 // Jangala Cushion //
5 // Memphis Bound #2 Wallpaper designed by Sanne Sofia // FEATHR

What a fun February it's been so far! This month I've been feeling heavily inspired by patterns (when am I ever not?) and therefore The High Five is pretty much based on those items that will possibly be moving in with me sometime soon, albeit maybe not all at once.

As I was putting this list together I was thrown off track by a new Instagram follower and weirdly enough her associated account caught me off guard with some patterned products fit for all the geometric fanatics in the world. Hence numero uno being this delightful print from my new discovery Pressed & Folded. I've also been loving watching Hannah Lois Sangwin's Instagram account where she shows her work in progress and lots of lovely sketchbook imagery (if you didn't know I also did an interview with her a while back). Her prints are super limited so get on it now. Number three comes from EL-AICH designs, another Instagram discovery, because I appear to be really good at that! These pretty patterned pots will add a touch of colour to your shelves and are available in a variety of patterns - I just adore this sunshiny yellow to add to the tropical feel. Talking of tropical, I was lucky enough to be invited to the blogger event where I fell in love with these Jangala cushions and the rest of the outdoor collection. As if by magic, I actually won a set by taking some snaps on the evening and I can't wait for them to get to me. More on the actual event soon but expect bold and bright colour ways with strong patterns to match. Bold and bright you say, well actually FEATHR have  got this look down too. I included FEATHR in my LDF round-up and have been keeping an eye on them ever since. They use some pretty great designers and I love to hear the story behind each and every wallpaper. This memphis pattern by Sanne Sofia was drawn up in Amsterdam and gosh it's on trend!

A massive high five to all the featured products - until next time.


Tuesday, 16 February 2016

The Pattern Architect | Oscar Francis

Next up on my designer profile list is the super Oscar Francis and their wonderful range of clean, bold prints and textiles.  It seems as though I am on a city print spree so I'm sorry if this is getting old now (hint: it can never get old). Established by Sarah Evans in 2013, Oscar Francis is a London based studio with a penchant for modernist buildings and architectural patterns. Sarah is actually a qualified architect and has been in the industry for the last fifteen years so who better to provide us with patterned versions of some of London and New York's most striking buildings?

After seeing the brand around at various design events and some of my favourite London concept stores, I was intrigued to find out a little more about the process. Low and behold Oscar Francis have thought of the likes of me and included a 'sketch book' page which completely satisfy my slightly geeky illustrative needs. The images show how life started for the final prints and I'm completely amazed to hear that there are more hand-drawing stages in between.  Sarah describes herself as having a "fascination with the city and housing types that define our urban environment" - these initial sketches pinpoint that obsession perfectly and quite frankly I think they are just as beautiful as the finished patterns.
I'm  a sucker for the graphic nature of these cushions with their post modernist pattern repeats and the dreamy pops of blue. The above cushion showcases Sulkin House in Bethnal Green, E2 which was designed by British architect Denys Lasdun who is actually famous for designing the Royal National Theatre on the South Bank, whaddya know! Although it's hard to choose a favourite print I've got to say the Span Art print has stolen my heart with its lime green hues and multi-coloured doors.  That one might be saying hello to my wall very soon. If buildings and their surroundings appeal, be sure to check out the Oscar Francis Instagram feed where sketches meet photos and prints. It's a whirlwind of symmetry and geometry - just the way I like it!

Thursday, 11 February 2016

The Instagram Addict | Skevism

Going under the tag line "It's hip to be square" London based illustrator James Skevington is the perfect example of commercial being cool. Having caught a sneak peak at The first ever Pound Shop last year, Skevington's prints had me hooked and I'm starting to wonder whether or not it's mind control coming through from the geometric forms.

A graphic designer turned illustrator who plays with patterns, block colour and geometric shape and most notably a Blue Peter badge winner, Skevington transfers his patterns onto anything he can get his hands on (shop is shop here). He's currently travelling expect to see his sketchbooks in magical places as well as a wonderfully vibrant feed. 

Saturday, 6 February 2016

The Metropolis Perfectionists | An Interview with The City Works

At the back end of last year I had a little browse around the lovely Renegade Craft Fair, of course immediately going into illustration magpie mode. And why wouldn't I when the first stall I came across featured wonderful London cityscapes by The City Works? I'll forever be a city girl, wherever that be in the world, so these beautifully detailed yet minimalist prints had me from the get go; it was refreshing to see a literal take on the city with more thought process than most. After an awkward introduction of myself to one of the founders, Rowan Ottesen, I made a mental note to get back in touch and talk to him about the duo's current projects and future ventures and thankfully I didn't forget.


The City Works are now based in the magical Vienna (lucky buggers!) but they currently have a huge presence in London - you can see their murals on Carnaby Street and a host of other places. The other half, Sylvia Moritz, focuses on the design process and after what seems like a massive year for the design duo, they are now having a little breathing space in their new home working on new ideas and commissions. I'm a big advocate of the artisan life so I adore the idea of them travelling around and researching each place to draw - kind of an illustrated version of much loved Boat magazine. Collaborations like this are extremely fascinating to me - it feels like a gutsy move to make and what could be better than working with your partner in crime on something you both love? Find out more from my chat with Rowan below:

First of all there is obviously two of you working on The City Works, who does what?
That’s right, The City Works is currently a design duo comprising of myself and Sylvia. We tend to share most of the responsibilities, but broadly speaking, as the ‘Creative Director’, Sylvia dedicates most of her time to drawing, designing and curating collections, while I mainly take care of new business and the administration side of things. When working on a big new design project we both roll up our sleeves to take on the art-working. 


How did you get together in the first place?
Sylvia & I met while studying Graphic Design at Camberwell College of Arts. After graduating we worked in a few different London design studios, but we were never very good at being told what to do, so we decided to be our own boss and took the leap to form The City Works. 

Interesting - your designs might just be some of most intricate I have ever seen, how long does it take you to complete a piece?

Thank you! They’re certainly the most detailed we’ve seen as well. Our intricate cityscapes can take many months from start to finish. We first undertake a vast amount of research for each location, this is followed by multiple sketches and finalised with many days (and sometimes nights) of art-working. Our London Cityscape Poster is our most detailed design so far, and is the best part of six months work on and off. 


You've adorned Carnaby Street store We Built This City with your wonderful cityscapes. How does it feel to be in such a prime location and is there anywhere else can we see your work in London?
The storefront and interior for We Built this City is one of our favourite projects so far without a doubt. It is a special feeling to see our style on such a large scale in the very centre of London. The Carnaby Street organisers are very enthusiastic about supporting We Built this City because of all the top London artists inside, and to have permission to illustrate such a space with a lot of creative licence is a rarity and an opportunity we took with both hands. 

There are a few more ‘cityworks’ dotted around London, including a trio of murals for the University of the Arts London. These can be seen at different student halls across London. There is a Finsbury Park mural at a building called Sketch House, an Elephant & Castle mural at the Highline Building and a Shoreditch mural called ‘East London Skyline’, in Will Wyatt Court. We have been commissioned to work on more murals like this, in new cities, with our next planned to go to print in the Summer of 2016. 

Wow, that's incredible! The City Works is quite obviously going to be taking over the world! At the moment though your city collections comprise of London, Vienna and a very sweet Christmas inspired Bethlehem, where is next and how do you decide on which city to illustrate?
Everybody knows that the world is full of great cities, and we have already amassed a long list of places we want to see and work with. Choosing the right place takes a little deliberation, because we want to strike a balance between popular tourist destinations, while also shedding light on lesser known places. Our next release will be ‘Scenic Scotland’, a collection of Scottish city designs. It’s going to be an opportunity for us to incorporate a little more nature into our designs, as well as the beautiful historical buildings that Scotland is so renowned for.


A massive thank you to Rowan and Sylvia for providing me with their answers and beautiful imagery. What do you think? Where would you like to see illustrated by The City Works? Follow them on Twitter and Instagram for more updates on their city life.
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