Cover illustration: Black Headed Gull

Black headed gull illustration (c) Ella Johnston

I recently illustrated the cover for an upcoming book Freedom Poems, published by Poetry Wivenhoe.

The drawing had to illustrate a sense of freedom while also illustrating the location of Poetry Wivenhoe. The black headed gull is very common in Wivenhoe so I chose a flying black headed gull as the motif.

Freedom Poems Cover Illustration (c) Ella Johnston

The illustration was created in watercolour and then overlaid with uni-pin pen.

The book will be released on September 28th.

Monday Moodboard: Penguin book design

Penguin Book Design Penguin book design has been an obsession of mine since I was a teenager when I spent an awful lot of time in libraries. Probably too much time if I’m being honest.

In those days I was continually on the hunt for new words, stories and worlds, I used to get lots of books out on spec. I read a lot of duds but I also came across a lot of good stuff too that has stayed with me.

The cover design played a very big part in my decision making process. From the classic orange cover fiction and stylish mid-century illustration to the glorious repeat patterns, it is all the stuff of wonder and as much of an inspiration as the words inside. As a consequence of this I read a lot of books published by Penguin; a great deal of classics and quite a few poetry collections. I’ve now bought a lot of the books that I borrowed and devoured during my teenage years (the ones I enjoyed at least).

As Creative Director of an indie publisher, I design all the books for Dunlin Press. So my youthful interest has become increasingly important now I’m a grown-up. When approaching the layout for each Dunlin Press book I always ask myself, “What would the Penguin designers do?”

 

 

Monday Moodboard: Midcentury Modern

MCMMoodboard

I’ve many go-tos for inspiration and although you may not think it, mid-century modern design and illustration is one of my favourite sources. That’s why it’s made this week’s Monday Moodboard.

Although my drawing style is heavily influenced by classical botanical illustration, I actually came to it via the route of mid-century modern. How? Well, when you look inside the original mid-century homes, as well as all those gorgeous geo designs,  amazing furniture, playful use of line and fearless colour combinations, there would always be a classic print or two hung on the wall, so I thought “if it’s good enough for them…”

Anyway this is one of my most loved periods for design and illustration I suppose it came from the fact that Dr B and I lived in mid-century apartments for the first 14 years together so we both became interested in this style in terms of design and architecture. For pure nostalgia value here are some pics of our old flat.

mid-century modern flat ellasplace.co.uk mid-century modern flat ellasplace.co.uk mid-century modern flat ellasplace.co.uk

There is so much to find in mid-century modern design, which is why it is such a rich source of inspiration.  I mean just look at the examples on the moodboard. It’s not all about Lucienne Day Calyx fabric (although I blatantly love that design and would have it in every room in the house if I was allowed) or Ercol furniture (although again I adore it and have a lovely 1960s original Ercol dining table and chairs in the kitchen). Design from this period can be ornate and playful and also simple, concise and elegant.

Why this week? I’m currently working on a poetry book for Dunlin Press, an indie publishing house run by me and Dr B. I wanted something that keyed into classic book cover design with a bit of an edge so I’ve been trawling the internet and my design books and the mid-century vibe seems to be the route to explore. I’m not saying our book will look anything like the above but whether you are designing a book cover, thinking about a fabric pattern or imagining a room scheme, in fact whatever creative endeavour you’re undertaking it’s good to have a starting point to kick start your work.