Queen Bee

Queen Bee
Royalty, dominant and vital, she's unique in her hive, her perfume bewitching admirers who swarm around her, she's the Queen. (Bee)

Continuing my folklore series of prints, here's Queen Bee. The spirit of the hive she reigns with her pheromones which control the drones and worker bees to feed, care and mate. Until, that is her purpose is fulfilled and she is replaced by a younger more reproductive female.

This one has a bit of a message behind it – I am very interested in conservation issues and so like a few of my illustrations has another point of inspiration. Bees are essential to the survival of our planet and faced with so many challenges it is more important than ever that they are encouraged and protected. The Varroa destructor parasitic mite is destroying colonies across the globe. That along with the threats faced by bees from the increasingly unpredictable weather systems and habitat loss causing an alarming rate of Colony Collapse Disorder. Many native and wild bee species are more specialist when it comes to which plants they can feed from and so are really feeling the effect of habitat loss, with many species in decline or even disappearing all together.

Here are some close ups

Queen Bee bees

Queen Bee close up

Queen bee hair

Politico Sellal cover

POLITICO Sellal Cover
Here's my illustrated portrait for the cover of POLITICO. It depicts Pierre Sellal, France's veteran ambassador to the European Union. The piece is a dedicated appraisal of Sellal – a top diplomat that France has relied on to keep everything operating smoothly within the EU. He is the man in the know and has for many years been the go to guy for french politicians who needed help with a European issue. He is however approaching retirement and the question is when he does stand down, what kind of ambassador will France put in his place? It would be hard to replace a like for like diplomat, or would a more modern representative than Sellal be better for a European Union that finds itself trying it's best to hold together, whilst so many would tear it apart.

I suggested that we depict Sellal in a very strong light wrapped in the Tricolor and what better way to show reverence to the great protector of France than in a statuesque pose set within a stained glass window? Inspired by many visits to Carcassonne in the past I felt that would be a great way to pay homage to the career of a man dedicated to his protection of France.

The use of stained glass also gave me the opportunity to seamlessly put in the french references that tie it all together.

POLITICO sellal rooster

POLITICO Sellal face close up

POLITICO sellal all-seeing eyes

POLITICO sellal lion head

POLITICO sellal oak branch

Autumn’s Song

Autumn's Song print
Leaves turn and start to fall, the light gets warm and low, as cold winds start to blow, nature prepares for the finalé of another year, Autumn is here.

This is the first in my folklore series of prints, inspired by spirits, superstitions and myths – stories of wisps in the forest and the queen of the bees. This one tells the tale of Autumn's Song, changing the season and moving the year to it's end, with a chill in the air the wild world prepares to face the harsh winter that approaches.

It was really nice to hear BBC 6Music's Mary Anne Hobbs mention it on her show one weekend – she called it a gorgeous, absolutely exquisite illustration! Thanks Mary Anne.

This will be available as a limited run giclée print when I finish setting up my web store. Check back soon or follow me on twitter/instagram to be updated as to when it's available. In the mean time here are some detail shots...

Autumn's Song close up

Autumn's Song wren detail

Autumn's Song stag detail

Rogue One – A long time ago in a galaxy far, far away…

Star Wars Rogue One poster
I love Star Wars!!! I really do, so I'm always thinking about what I could do for a Star Wars image, but I never get around to actually developing any of my ideas into final pieces. But after seeing the trailer for the latest outing – Rogue One, I was really captured by the parting shot, it was so iconic I just had to do my own interpretation of it.

So here's my Rogue One TIE pilot Erso stained glass window. Jyn Erso,is she a rebel defector a la Finn or is the TIE pilot uniform part of a rebel ruse to infiltrate Vader's Death Star?

The stained glass styled border is a nod to my love of art nouveau. It is made up of loads of symbolism from this era of the Star Wars story – storm troopers, droids, Darth Vader himself, as well as my favourite ships and lots of other Imperial and rebel icons.

It was so much fun to do this and I'm really happy with the final result. I think I might have to do some more of my favourite characters and break out some of my old ideas when I get a moment!

Rogue One top

Rogue one detail

Rogue one detail

Rogue one detail

High Rise – the vertical alternative

High Rise book cover
When the film adaptation of J. G. Ballard's High-Rise came out I was really keen to do an alternate book cover. It can be challenging to decide on a visual style and look for something that has been adapted onto screen because there are obvious influences that will be different from the original book – but in this case I wanted it to reflect both and to be as much a High Rise movie poster as a book cover.

Having studied architecture at university I have a bit of a soft spot for the brutalist architecture of the 50s and 60s. With this in mind I made this image more of a blueprint or architect's visualisation than a photographic reproduction. It's still very detailed – the high rise itself is stark and imposing but with a much looser graphic flow to the city which almost fades into a cubist pattern.

I wanted the title to accentuate the perspective adding to the feeling of height and power.

High Rise detail

high rise poster close up

Politico editorial cover

POLITICO cover editorial
Here’s my illustration for the cover of POLITICO. The article was an editorial questioning the way Hungarian politicians in Brussels are viewed by their compatriots in the European Commission, and the effect of their outspoken Prime Minister Viktor Orbán’s hardline views on the EU’s open border policies.

I wanted to put across the feeling of discord and isolation as not everything in the Union is in unison. There is an unease amongst the representatives in the European Parliament. Is it getting harder to ignore the different ways in which each country wants the Union to work and whether certain countries are being ostracised for what the politicians back home are saying and doing?

It will be interesting to see how the article is received in Budapest and Brussels and if this editorial has a prophetic narrative for the future of the European Union.

POLITICO full

POLITICO Viktor Orban detail

The Confectioners Tale

The Confectioners Tale
Here's another book cover illustration I've been working on in my series of re-imagined novel covers, The Confectioners Tale by Laura Madeleine.

I really liked the idea I had when I saw this book, it was a chance to create some really beautiful food imagery – I think this was probably partly influenced by BBC's Bake Off Creme de la Creme!

I thought about how to create a really fresh and tantalising cover that would really bring out the sweet tooth in everyone who saw it. It had to reflect the quality and craftsmanship that the artisan patisserie in the book would have created, but also nod to the story – there are a few clues on there.

Set in Paris across two time periods – the early and late 1900's, it is a tale of forbidden love and the betrayal. A mysterious clue draws Petra to uncover the secrets of her Grandfather's forbidden love, with a thrilling story divided between two very different decades.

I illustrated the title typography to fit the cover as I feel this so important. As well as doing a lot of research, mainly eating cakes and watching a lot of baking, cookery, and general foodie shows on The Food Network! This did allow me to work out how each patisserie was constructed and how the finish should look. The colour scheme, is as fresh and enticing as possible - pistachio, lime, apple, vanilla, raspberry, chocolate, cherry, rose and of course lilac macarons.

Apple Dômes, vanilla slices, rose macarons, pistachio gateau, lime tart, lilac macarons, all this talk of cake is making me hungry so I'm going to have to leave it at that!

Lime Tarte close up

Lilac Macaron close up

Vanilla slice close up

Apple Dome close up

Rose Macaron close up

Gateau close up

White Chocolate Tower close up

Button close up

The Other Typist

The Other Typist cover
I’ve recently been working on reworking a bunch of book covers to see what could have been if they were completely illustrated.

My first one up here is for Suzanne Rindell’s The Other Typist, a dangerous tale of 1920’s prohibition New York and it’s inhabitants. What starts out as a seemingly glamorous Gatsby-esque adventure unravels as the lies of the characters fall apart to reveal darkly twisting truths.

I wanted to represent as much of the feel of the story as I could without giving anything away, which is why I took the start point of the book, the 1920s typewriter, and pulled it apart with a suggestion of everything not being quite as it had at first seemed – to get behind the scenes and expose the working of it all as it were.

I had a lot of fun working out how the different types of typewriters of this period worked and how I could show enough without filling an A3 page with exploded, levers, push-rods, springs, screws and countless other components! So there I did use a bit of creative license to keep parts together to get the balance right.

As I’m sure you know I love hands so whilst I almost felt I shouldn’t go down that route it felt so right for this cover, elegant and seductive, really suggesting the entanglement and topsy-turvy nature of the story and it’s two main roles.

There’s also been talk that The Other Typist is going to be made as feature film with Kiera Knightly in one of the starring roles, so that would be interesting to see what the film posters look like when it comes out.

The Other Typist close up

The Other Typist parts detail

The Other Typist hand detail

Valentines day lovebugs

Lovebug
I don't go in for massive showy gifts for Valentines day, it used to be a handmade card and some flowers, but nowadays I generally don't even get time to make anything!
But I had a little idea pop into my head this year and so I went with it and created a Lovebug in a entomology style, I loved it so much that I just had to do a second – the well-known Horny Lovebug!
I came up with some latin names to accompany them - Scarabaeidae Amare and Dynastini Eupatorus Lubido and tried to encapsulate the appropriate feel for how each beetle's attributes would create it's appearance.
Here's the Horny Lovebug and some more detail shots of both:

Horny Lovebug
Lovebug detail
Horny Lovebug detail
Lovebug close up
Horny Lovebug close up

BBC Wildlife Magazine

Wildlife Magazine opener
As you know, I love to draw animals! So I was really happy when BBC's Wildlife Magazine got in touch at the end of last year and asked me to do some illustrations to accompany a feature on conservation.

The essay was about how it's not always best to cordon of huge tracts of land and call them reserves or parks, as often this has seen an increase in poaching and deforestation, due to the lack of funding for the protection needed. Also what of the indigenous people that are forced off of their own land – some statistics show that often these very people are the best at protecting the land that they hold dear.

Obviously it is a really hard topic to discuss and there is no hard and fast answer for all instances, and I didn't want to take anything away from the park rangers who do an amazing job to protect wildlife. For the first illustration, a full plate I decided to do an amazon habitat with a Kayapo tribesman acting as guardian of his piece of jungle, surrounded by relevant wildlife – at the bottom an arapaima which has faced real problems from over fishing, a threat that is still being dealt with through education of the local inhabitants. Next is the quintessential icon of the amazon, the jaguar, and at the top a real success story, the Red Siskin, after a new colony was found after being feared to be on the brink of extinction.

For the second illustration I wanted to show the rangers of the African National Parks, who put their lives on the line every day in defence of wildlife. Although they are doing all they can, they cannot be everywhere at once, and often this can mean that whilst one thing is being protected, others are not, which is why it's so hard to get a definitive solution. I wanted to show this with poachers fires behind the rangers back.

Finally I wanted a bit of lightness so I drew a cute asian elephant, based on some pictures I took in Borneo, although I had to edit it a bit so that it wasn't a pygmy elephant! It featured in the January 2016 issue of Wildlife Magazine.

Here are all the illustrations and some detail shots:

Arapaima close up
Red Siskin detail
Kayapo detail
Gorilla protection
Ranger close up
Asian Elephant portrait
Asian elephant detail