I’m working on loads patterns at the moment and Liberty print is the ultimate source of inspiration.
The eclectic collection from Liberty of London is so well loved and it’s not difficult to see why. Each design is a joyous celebration of colour, form and the beauty of illustration – it’s absolutely what I’m working towards with my work.
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?”
I’ve had this little wooden box for years. It was plain and unloved for ages. I kept pencils in it and every time I retrieved them I thought “I should really do something with this” and then I’d leave it.
Then a couple of weeks ago I was asked if I wanted to do some projects with Uni-ball the makers of Posca pens. Before I started on the projects I thought it best to re-familiarise myself with them and have a little practice. The pens work on a range of surfaces, so after I used them on a set of notebooks I thought I’d give them a try by drawing on that plain old wooden box.
First I painted the box to give it an even white background. Then I used my wood anemone sketch as a basis for my hand-drawn box design. I wanted to make it look quite retro so influenced by sixties and seventies floral patterns I gave the flowers a bright blue colour.
What I like about these pens is that you can layer them without them bleeding and apply lighter shades over darker ones which means I could add depth to the flowers with lovely yellow centres and white pollen.You can set the design by simply spraying some varnish over it.
You can set the design on the box by
On Monday I shared some sketchy five minute drawings of some wood anemones, here’s my colour version using watercolour and ink. I’ve also worked up a pretty pattern repeat using the flower and foliage as a motif.
These are really lovely delicate flowers, I love their light, paper-like petals and delicate minty coloured leaves. I’m lucky enough to live near woods and every spring it is full with a delightful carpet of green and white. It’s a wonderful gift every year and gives us a tremendous amount of pleasure.
Is there someone in your life that would benefit from practicing a little mindfulness? This box of tricks could be the perfect gift for them.
The concept of ‘mindfulness’ is everywhere now and has been for a while. For anyone who’s feeling a bit cynical about the term, I can understand, but I think it’s worth exploring.
Being mindful works for me. After years and years of throwing myself into my work and very little else, stepping back and becoming more aware of being in the present moment and enjoying the here and now has transformed who I am and how I am. It’s also freed me up to be more creative and be better to myself and the people around me.
As someone who loves to work and thrives on being busy I really had to learn to be mindful. I mean really learn. At the start I needed it to be ‘project mindfulness’ (I know). So I made myself a mindfulness kit: candles to light in the evening or while I was having a bath to change the mood and unwind; a (personalised) notebook to write thoughts and observations in (and for doodles and sketches); soothing, properly nice hot beverages that I would enjoy sitting down to drink but wouldn’t be full of caffeine (I love tea pigs chamomile tea); colour therapy pages so I could absorb myself into making something pretty that wasn’t my work.
In those early days I really appreciated this ‘mindfulness kit’ but, regardless of whether you subscribe to the concept or not, it also makes a great gift in itself. I put together a personalised gift box for new mums, friends who are working hard with an all-consuming project or a busy period at work and mates who simply need someone to tell them “I’m rooting for you.” I’ll sometimes swap the tea for hot chocolate for sweet-toothed friends and change the message on the notebook for something a little more rude for certain mates of mine who share my love of curse words (have I not told you that yet?). I’ve also been known to slip in a favourite book to read, which may not totally embody the mindfulness thing but is nice to have nonetheless. The box itself is just a shoe box covered in my scandi leaf paper. I’ve designed the colour therapy/colouring in sheets myself which you can download next week so watch this space. You can find out how to pimp up your candle votives here…