Monday 29 September 2014

The World in your Kitchen Calendar 2015

It's officially Autumn now, or Fall for my Stateside readers, and thoughts are turning to Christmas or more importantly the rush to get suitable gifts for family and friends. Luckily I can help you out with that should you be stuck for the all important stocking filler...

Back in Summer 2013 I was approached by New Internationalist, the world's leading independent publisher of magazines and books on global social justice and sustainable development, and asked to be the feature illustrator for the World in your Kitchen Calendar 2015. The calendar is produced every year and showcases a different recipe from around the world for each month with an illustration about the dish or location to accompany it. One illustrator produces all the imagery for that year's calendar and they wanted me to be that person for 2015, so I said yes and spent most of my weekends last year illustrating exotic places and looking up dishes that I'd never previously heard of. It was a fun experience doing all the research and I'm very happy with the results. Some of my favourite spreads are below:

Further images from the calendar can be seen on my website, but to see all twelve you'll need to buy the calendar! It can be purchased direct from New Internationalist or amazon and is also for sale via Amnesty International in Britain and France.

Thanks for reading, hope you like the images...

Sunday 12 January 2014

A new post to start a new year...


It's been a long time since I've written a blog post, but I've decided to return with a quick update on why I've been so neglectful this past year or so.

Since September 2012 I've been the Head of Visual Design at AllofUs, an "award winning interactive design and user-experience agency specialising in multi-platform product and service creation for the inter-connected age." Consequently I've been putting the skills and thinking I've developed as an illustrator into practice in a different arena, with exciting results. Most of the work we do at AllofUs is top secret, so I can't really say much about it, but one of the projects I have worked on was an interactive installation for Carte Noire at the Stratford Westfield in East London. There's a little video below, but full project details are on the AllofUs website.

So that keeps me pretty busy, but I have found time to take on a couple of illustrations in the past year including one for Penal Reform International, which was a cover image for their Protecting Children’s Rights in Criminal Justice Systems manual...

Some cover images for an American publication, including this one about 'Global Nursing' set in Africa...

A couple of images for the Metro Newspaper and even a Christmas card right at the end of 2013...

Most interestingly though I was approached by New Internationalist 'the world's leading independent publisher of magazines and books on global social justice and sustainable development' to illustrate their 2015 World In Your Kitchen calendar. So throughout 2013 I have been illustrating 12 images based on recipes from far flung countries for the calendar. Unfortunately I can't share any of them until the calendar has been unveiled (hopefully in a few months time) but I am really excited for the moment when I can share them, as it was a mighty challenge to create 12 images of consistent high quality tackling locations I'd often not visited, or in some cases barely heard of, which I'm really proud of.

I'll post again when I have those images to share, but for now do keep an eye on my twitter updates for work related news and if you are interested in seeing more work visit my website and full contact details are there for commissioning purposes.

Happy 2014!

Sunday 18 November 2012

A new image before the year ends

Hello there!

I'm just about to relaunch with a whole new look and a set of new images, but as a sneak preview here's a quick image that I put together to show my experience of the US Presidential election 2012...

For the interested in the UK it was a pretty long night and I crashed out just after 1am. But I kept my phone by my bed and fumbling in the dark at 4:30am twitter told me the news... President Barack Obama was re-elected for four more years and a hashtag was born.

Sunday 29 April 2012

Work update

Hey there, it's Jem, remember me?

If, although I doubt it, you've been waiting desperately for a new post since my last one in December then here I am and I can only apologise for the delay. It's been a hectic 2012 so far, with my illustration work taking a distinct back seat to my role as Art Director at Oil Productions and my battle to finish "Animation", a new Laurence King book that I've been working on for a while but is finally wrapping up. That doesn't mean to say I haven't done any illustration work, I have, but I now have the luxury of picking and choosing nice projects to fit in around my daily commitments. The image below is one such piece, it's the cover for Accounting and Business International magazine and makes a feature of St. Basil's Cathedral:

Here's a piece I did for Attitude magazine:

I've also just completed two illustrations for Ink Publishing about solar energy in Africa and how it is empowering people in rural areas for many reasons. I can't show those images yet, so check back to see how they turned out later in the week.

I think that gives a nice flavour of the sort of thing I've been doing recently and as always I am happy to discuss commissions or prints of existing work.

In my role as Art Director at Oil I've been working on several projects, but one that has been a personal favourite is our new iPad app "Mimi Good and Bibi Bad". It's an interactive storybook for children 6+, based on a new approach called 'rotale' where the story can be seen from any axis of the iPad but depending on the way you hold it you get a different viewpoint. It's here on the itunes store and there are some screengrabs below (all character design by Cuckoo Animation Studio)...

So that's what I've been upto, I'll be updating my website soon to reflect this. In fact I'm looking to overhaul the website so hopefully I'll get some time to work on a new design at the same time as updating the content.

Have a great week..

Friday 23 December 2011

Merry Christmas!

Just a quick return to the neglected blog to say Happy Christmas to everyone..

Monday 18 April 2011

San Francisco project

As you may recall in Spring 2009 I set off to New York City for a stint of promotional meetings and self initiated work and during that time I worked on a project with writer Michelle Bower. Over a few weeks of my trip Michelle greeted the morning in London with words, which I picked up on waking in New York and turned into an image over the day. Highlights of the project can be seen on my website and the original project sits here

It was a great project that opened many doors for both of us and we've oft talked of repeating it. So recently when I went to San Francisco for a long weekend, despite our busy schedules and bigger time difference, we decided to do a mini version with a few changes. Firstly Michelle pre-prepared the statements, so I could take a look at the options and work out feasible illustration routes once I landed. Then I decided (after trying to do the first image late in the evening and before breakfast the next day) that it was too exhausting to squeeze in 3 full illustrations around my exploration of the city, especially when walking up and downhill all day. Instead I worked out the ideas and composition during my days in San Francisco and now I'm making the time to do the artwork. I've completed one and I hope to do another at the weekend, so watch this space. Image 1 below...

"The sun reminds you just how bright our outlook should be."

- Michelle overheard this statement on the bus in Sunny London. I woke up to a grey, drizzly, misty San Francisco and set out to find an angle I could work with.

To give it context the earthquakes and subsequent tsunami in Japan had happened only a week earlier and that was still at the forefront of my mind. On another note anyone who reads this blog often will know I'm really interested in politics, current affairs and global economics, and curiously I'd read an article before setting off to San Francisco about the impact of the disaster on industry and trade, share prices and the future health of Japan as a nation. It had talked about the immediate cost of lost lives in the wake of the tsunami but also discussed the potential losses in future from depleted Government funds, a wrecked economy, an old population and the inevitable pressure on public services. I remembered these concerns (which at the time I had oscillated between finding insensitive or pragmatic) and I found myself thinking about it as I wandered around San Francisco, witnessing first hand the closed stores due to the slow economy and hearing the relentless news of job numbers, share prices and future forecasts on the multiple news channels.

With all this swirling around I happened across the closed Virgin Megastore in the city. Much like its counterpart in Times Square this is a monument to a pre-digital download age and sits there empty, casting a large shadow with its barren windows and locked doors, taunted by the shiny, busy Apple store directly opposite teeming with tourists and locals alike, all in love with the brand. The Megastore is a sad store, abandoned and starting to show it, a gloomy reminder that despite the decent crowds wandering by tills are not ringing as loudly as they once were and the retail industry is posting poor numbers, underlined by the frequent 'sale' signs or worse 'closing down sale'. A reminder that the economy is fragile, unemployment is high and for a lot of people times are hard.

But, as I caught a glimpse of sunshine sliding between the clouds and illuminating the remaining Virgin banners, I realised that in light of the fragility of human life being so horrifically showcased in Japan, I could illustrate that by being alive and surviving in the face of economic hardship and fear "The sun reminds you just how bright our outlook should be":

I doubted myself over whether this illustration was crass, or would be seen as an attempt to simplify two unrelated issues, but hopefully the thought process detailed above illuminates my thinking and once I made the visual connection between the brand image and the Japanese flag I found it difficult to let go of my initial thinking.

I hope this image is received in the right way and I hope people don't think it is an attempt to trivialise or attach commerciality to an horrific natural disaster. It is not either of these things, but these were the things I was exposed to as I tried to solve this brief and the image above is the result.

I'll be posting the remaining images as I complete them, so keep an eye out for them...

Wednesday 16 March 2011

The City of Bohane

Back in October I mentioned that I was illustrating a book cover, but what I couldn't do was say who it was for or what the book was called, or more importantly show the cover.

But having just spotted the book on Amazon it seems I can finally share it...

The book is called 'City of Bohane' by Kevin Barry, an Irish Author who has won several awards for his short stories and this is his first novel for Random House. You can see what the cover looks like on Amazon:

The actual illustration spans the full book and looks like this:

This was such a cool commission, the dream job, the sort of illustration I love to do with barely any changes and positive responses from all involved. So I'm pleased I can finally share it on here!

When I get chance I'll give an overview of the brief but for now I hope you'll enjoy looking at the design.

Sunday 6 March 2011

A return to blogging (hopefully)

Wow it’s been an absolute age since I was last able to post on here. It’s been on my to-do list for the last few months and finally I'm back with plenty of illustrations to show.

Rolling back the months a bit, I got hold of my copy of American Ilustration 29, with a dramatic cover by Sam Weber:

My image 'Pedal to Enlightenment' that I created for The Ride journal back in Winter 2009, was selected for this book and can be seen below:

I was also lucky enough to be able to go out to New York for the launch party of the book back in November, so here are a couple of pictures from the event. It was held in the Angel Orensanz, an old Synagogue in the Lower East Side, and it truly was a magical venue, everyone remarked upon it whilst entering the space and it just added to my love of the city:

On a vaguely illustration related note I stayed at a beautifully designed hotel, The Jane, designed to mimic a turn of the century ship, with cabin like rooms and styling. I first saw this hotel advertised on in their amazing travel guides (I was researching a project at the time) and after mentioning it to a friend who raved about it I was convinced to go there myself and I wasn’t disappointed by the kooky experience including proper bellhops:

(Promo photograph)

As always I had an amazing time in the city, but this isn't a travelblog so back to the illustration and here is a selection of images created in the last few months or so:

Illustration for IET magazine, in the style of Russian revolutionary posters.

Another illustration for IET, this time parodying the cover of 'A Short History of Tractors in Ukrainian' for a magazine featuring an interview with the author. All of the text is handrawn.

An illustration with a completely different feel, one for Learning Disability Practice Magazine about song therapy.

I've also just started doing a regular monthly illustration for a problem solving column in Social Work Now and the first image is below. This is a nice change of pace because the images are quite small and thus need to convey a message quickly and simply in a limited space:

I did another illustration in January for a finance magazine about American banking regulations impacting Asian markets. It was a difficult one to get my head around as they wanted me to show the Statue of Liberty stretching from one panel illustration across 2 double page spreads to a panel illustration. I'm not convinced it doesn't look mightily odd, but I was happy with the spread, unfortunately I don't have a version with the copy in, but the layout looked like this:

I've done lots more pieces, but I just wanted to show a selection here, so there you go. I can't wait to share the book cover I did back in October, but I'm waiting for it to be published first then I'll get it on here.

That's all for now, hopefully I'll be back soon.

Wednesday 29 September 2010


I'm feeling rather under the weather at the moment, the combination of a drop in temperature and my weak tonsils saw me succumb to tonsillitis over the weekend. But being a seasoned veteran of such attacks I've just about seen it off without having to go to the doctors, so fingers crossed it clears up soon.

Before that though I'd completed a couple of illustration commissions including this one on behalf of The Design Mill for the TUC's Congress Guide 2010:

This was a really nice commission and I was pleased with the energy in the outcome. I was asked to show 'people fighting the threatened swarm of [Government spending] cuts' in several situations and this automatically suggested a swarm of bees or flying ants or locusts, something buzzing around threateningly, so I decided to recreate this with scissors.
It's a little more literal than I am normally, but I could see the image so clearly as soon as I got the brief that I decided not to fight against it and instead concentrate on making the image energetic and dynamic.

I originally intended to use real figures, but I couldn't really have the scissors hacking at the figures then. So I went with a paper chain of people, the intent behind this was to show the faceless (to the Government at least) masses of people affected by the proposed cuts. By joining them together I was trying to represent the rallying groups and bodies like the TUC who are fighting against the proposed cuts.

I think this is a pretty straightforward image (note the scissors are blue and yellow to represent the coalition Government), but it's one of my recent favourites, mainly because the colours and all of the elements hang together really nicely.

I've also done an illustration for Learning Disability Practice, but I'm not sure that has been published yet, so I'll pop it online when it is 'live'.

Right back to my Lemsip I think...

Thursday 9 September 2010

Images 34

Hello again,

it seems like everytime I make bold promises to return to blogging weekly I get knocked sideways by work and the intention crumbles into dust. Not something to complain about though!

I'm still working at Oil Studios, where a really nice project that I've illustrated and animated will go live soon, as well as picture researching two books for Laurence King. I've had a couple of illustration commissions too, which I'll showcase now.

I did a nice simple image for Media magazine in Hong Kong about Motoring Websites (and their popularity). This was quite heavily art directed, but the image works and is a little different to the usual photography that the magazine makes use of:

An image at the complete opposite end of the spectrum now, I did an illustration for a Mental Health magazine about men who self harm and that was an interesting topic to work with, the article itself was fascinating. My task with this commission was to show the isolation of the male in the image and I tried to achieve this through a very narrow, cold colour palette and the sense that the other characters in the composition are moving around, whereas he is very still. Again this had quite a lot of direction but the key thing with a commission like this (for me) is to try and create atmosphere and tell the story rather than try and do anything clever with the composition:

I also wanted to show a recent commission that came through my agents, which was in a slightly different style to usual, given that it was inspired by Russian revolutionary posters. Alas my big Mac (my iMac) has recently blown up - something that is too sad to even talk about!! - and I need to get access to the hard drive to get at that file (as I did it after my last back up) so unfortunately I can't post that yet. I do have an illustration for the T.U.C to post too, but I'm not sure that has been published yet so I'll hang fire with that one.

Now to the point of this entry, Images 34, I popped along on Tuesday night to the LCC to collect my copy of the book, cheer the winners as they received their awards and see my Manhattan piece in the exhibition. Here's a picture of the introduction to the awards ceremony:

And here's me looking slightly windswept besides my artwork:

This is the book itself and what follows is my spread within it (the digital version, not a photograph):

It's always cool to get your work into an annual and to get three images into this year's book was a real honour. All of these images can be seen in more detail on the website and if you have a spare hour the exhibition is on until the 14th September and the details are here.

That's all for now..

Sunday 18 July 2010

A new beginning..

of blog posting after an unexpectedly long absence!

I didn't intend to take such a break from the blog but my poor broken arm caused much more disturbance to my daily routine then I could have ever anticipated (even with the experience of having injured the other arm last year!) and I've been running to catch up ever since.

But enough moaning, I'm just about fully fit now and I have plenty to share. I've continued to work at Oil Studios and we've been pitching and formulating and visualising several new projects over the last month or so. Alas all of them are top secret so there is nothing I can show, but the minute I can I'll get it on here.

Mostly I've been picture researching for Guerrilla Advertising 2, again I can't really give away the content of what I've been hunting down but it promises to be a great collection of visuals. If you haven't bought the first Guerrilla Advertising book you can get it here. I'm also just about to start on another animation book with author Andrew Selby, which promises to be fun.

On the illustration front my agents NB have been working hard on my behalf, you may have seen their full page advert in the recent Creative Review and I even had to turn down a commission last week as my schedule just wouldn't stretch to fit it in. Again I'm not yet able to post the illustration I've just completed, but I did do one for Management Today magazine a few weeks ago about managing pregnancy in business, which can be seen below:

You can also see it in context here:

Finally (for now) I've just been notified that the interview I recently gave to Photoshop Creative Magazine can be seen in the current edition of the magazine, which looks like this:

and my interview looks like this:

So please do go out and buy a copy or listen to the podcast of the interview online here.

Time to sign off I think, but I'll return with a bigger round up as soon as I have some new imagery to post. I'm going to Greece for a few days later this week so I'll try to take my sketchbook along and create something that I can turn into a piece of personal work as it's been a long time since I've been able to do any non-commissioned illustrations.


Thursday 27 May 2010

Return of the blog (well, nearly)


I know the blog has been a little quiet of late, I can only apologise for this and blame my recently broken left wrist. Despite not being my drawing hand (thankfully) it has slowed me down quite a lot and most importantly (for this blog) has made typing painful and slow!

So I decided to step away from the keyboard as much as possible until it's fixed. My cast comes off on Tuesday and hopefully I'll be able to get back up to speed from then onwards. I have some new images to post and lots of things to blog about.

For now though I'll leave you with a really nice animation by Rhiannon Evans that I stumbled across recently and I'll be back next week to fully update the blog:

(click image to open video in a new window)
Original Format: Digital
Year of Production: 2009
Running Time: 2 mins 51 secs
Director: Rhiannon Evans
Producer: International Film School Wales
Screenwriter: Rhiannon Evans
Music: Gareth Bonello

Wednesday 21 April 2010

This blog has moved

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Monday 19 April 2010

Website updated

Just a quick note to say I've updated the website with a few new images, if you're a regular visitor to the blog then you'll probably have seen most of the new stuff, but it's always useful to have all my work in one place.

I'm a little concerned about the loading times, I'm going to tweak it to speed it up a little, but I'd appreciate feedback if you found it unbearably slow!

Thursday 15 April 2010

Back to life, back to reality..

not only a Soul II Soul reference but also a fair reflection of how I've spent my time since returning from the U.S.A. Accounts have been sorted, meetings had and various bits of administration dealt with.

Amongst all of that I had some excellent news on the Illustration front, I found out that my Pedal To Enlightenment image for the Ride Journal has been selected for American Illustration 29. Here's the blurb around that:

"From an impressive 8,033 pictures...the jury selected only 388 images by a majority vote or better to appear in the book and represent the best images from 2009. AI29 will be printed in full color and distributed world-wide in hard-cover immediately after The Party, November 11, 2010, again as part of Illustration Week in New York City...
A slide presentation announcing the winning images will be sent to all entrants and to our member list of over 30,000 creative professionals in May."

Obviously I was pleased to be selected as previously I've only been 'chosen' which means you get to be on the website, but not in the book. Alongside the kudos of being selected it also helps on the promotional front as hopefully a lot more people in the US (and the rest of the world) will get to see my work now and fingers crossed it will lead to some commissions. Here's the image again as a reminder:

I think this means another trip to New York is on the cards for November, it sounds like Illustration Week in the city could provide good promotional opportunities.

In other news I've also done some new work for the Indy, this week I was asked to create an army of Tories in suits using the Tory Party rosette as a pseudo shield. It was a straightforward brief as the writer had this visual in his head as he was writing the article so all I had to do was bring it to life. I was really pleased with the result, especially as it was tricky doing that many people in such a short space of time!

The article is here and unusually my illustration is also online alongside it.

I think that's it for now, I'm currently in the process of updating the website in preparation for a massive promotional push, but if you like what you see you don't have to wait for that, instead just commission me now!!

Enjoy your Thursday (and don't forget the televised pre-election debate on ITV).

Wednesday 31 March 2010

Houston we have a problem..

Greetings from the floor of departure gate E10 at George Bush Intercontinental airport, Houston, Texas.

It's 2:07am as I type this and I've been stuck here since 8pm after missing my connecting flight to New York through no fault of my own and after landing from Grand Cayman 5 minutes early. A combination of poor staffing, poor scheduling and a denial of information and then the presentation of incorrect information as fact has seriously dented my belief in America as the home of good service. But onwards and upwards, I have 4 hours to kill until my new flight leaves and nowhere to sleep so it makes sense to spend that time productively!

I'm in transit back to the UK after several weeks of international travel, some of which has been documented on here and on flickr and some not so much, but I'll endeavour to keep the blog work related and save the travel tales for family and friends.

First up is an Indy from a week ago about the Irish Catholic priest scandal and how it was covered up. I think this is the article but having not seen the paper yet I can't be 100% sure, but it seems likely. My idea was all to do with generating atmosphere, creating a sense of hidden instances that occurred behind closed doors and were kept there by the Church's inability to embrace transparency, so in my image the Rosary Beads literally hold the doors closed as the Priest and young boy disappear.

I was happy with this image, especially with the eerie feel I managed to generate. It was a tricky topic to visualise without using the obvious iconography in a stereotypical manner, but I'm pretty confident that you don't get too many illustrators using Rosary Beads to secure door handles!

The Indy image that appeared in Monday's paper dealt with a very different topic and consequently provided me with a new challenge. I felt this image is much more conceptual, despite also being scene-based. With this weekend's brief I was asked to visualise how the 'special relationship' between the UK and USA was no longer so special. The full article is here and my illustration centered on the notion of the 'marriage' between the two countries breaking down.

It was Winston Churchill who first referred to the special relationship in his 1946 Sinews of Peace address and I started with this as the basis of my interpretation. I translated this ethereal notion of a relationship into an object, in this case a wedding band, designed to denote the ties between the two countries and worked with the premise that the band was to be returned to sender now that it had lost its meaning. Much as a divorcee removes their ring to signify a break with the marital state, the hand in the image is seen holding the ring rather then wearing it. The visual suggests that Gordon Brown is returning the ring to the U.S in the same envelope in which it was originally sent to Winston Churchill. The ring also has the motto of the USA inscribed in it. This was designed to say that it is the UK that has recognised it is no longer special to the USA, rather then the other way around, and that by returning the ring the country is embracing a new period of life, as a single country striking out on its own and free to disagree with the choices made by the U.S.

On a less serious note it gave me plenty of excuses to do some fun research into the correct stamps used for airmail in 1946 and have a go at recreating an aged envelope complete with weathered postage. This was great fun and again I was really pleased with the final image:

Besides the Indy I also had an image in the Daily Mail at the weekend, unfortunately the image wasn't credited to me, which is always disappointing, but it was definitely mine:

This image was for the Bel Mooney advice column again and responded to a reader's letter in which the author talked about her fears for her unborn child in a world that she believed was full of dangers (exemplified by the James Bulger case) and her inability to protect the potential 1/10 children who (according to statistics) are abused in her role as a teacher to 40 children. I think that summary sums up what the image was trying to convey, 4 of the 40 children shown are marked out in red, as the women cowers in the centre hiding and simultaneously protecting her child. The full article is here

I also wanted to quickly upload two sketches I did whilst out and about with blogging buddy Bowerbird in Grand Cayman. The first is a sketch at Smiths Cove in Grand Cayman, as we watched an American family contemplating the waves and their ability to jump into them and the second is at the Turtle Farm, looking out onto the fresh water pool. It might not be the sort of thing I normally seek out but there was something extremely relaxing about sitting in companionable silence sketching in the sunshine (or, as in the first image, under some potentially stormy clouds).

My apologies for the poor photography, I've just shot these on the airport floor (I'm sat down here as it's comfier then the chairs!) as I thought it would be nice to show some 'rougher' drawing in contrast to the more polished final illustrations.

Happily writing this blog post has taken over an hour, which has brought me a lot closer to my flight's departure time. It's a weird limbo here at the airport, with the abundance of overhead lighting reflected against a large mirrored window one can almost imagine it is daytime instead of the early hours. I'm not sure this will help prevent jetlag. I would photograph the space, in fact I tried earlier, but it's really rather bland and the lighting strips it of any sense of atmosphere, which as a lone female traveller I'm actually quite happy about. I can't always be thinking about the visual properties of an environment!

I guess I should also take a moment to give a nod to the fabulous fast wifi provided by Boingo, I really don't mind paying for internet provision when it's super efficient, easy and fast. Plus it's helped pass the time... Luckily there are also plenty of these Samsung Mobile Charging Stations about:

I am totally in love with Samsung for these and it has definitely made me think more favourably of a brand I normally associate with my football team's main rivals. Now it's back to listening to Ellie Goulding, who is the current soundtrack to my travels as I sit firmly on the bandwagon. My week in the Cayman Islands was also accompanied by the wonderfully quirky track "Eat That Up, It's Good For you" by Two Door Cinema Club, check it out if you fancy a summery tune infused with Mario Bros. type sound effects.


*delete as appropriate!