Thursday, 30 November 2017

Creative Life - My Top 5 Creative Books

As a creative human I am constantly seeking new creative books, podcasts, exhibitions, blogs and events. In my home studio I have shelves full of books which I'm constantly going back and re-reading, or flicking through in times where I need visual inspiration or reference.

Personally I'm looking for motivational, visually inspiring, informative books that are fun to read as well as being beautiful to look at. When I'm in bookshops my rule is if I don't want to put it down and can't stop thinking about it, then it has to come home with me. I can't think of a book that I regret buying.

In this post I wanted to share my Top 5 creative books, all of which I'm totally in love with. Here goes...

Champagne & Wax Crayons
Ben Tallon

A personal & down-to-earth look into the realities of living a creative life by Author & Freelancer Ben Tallon. Themes of this book include Creative Education, Freelance Struggles & Creative Agents to name just a few. Not to mention it has an awesome cover (Illustrated by Ben himself) as well as cool little illustrations inside to accompany the text.

This is a must-read for anyone thinking about starting a career in the Creative Industries.

Buy it here!

Creative Pep talk
Andy J. Miller

Creative Pep Talk by Andy J. Miller is a beautiful collection of uplifting illustrated quotes from 50 different artists. Its stunning front to back and if you're interested in lettering it's also a great source of visual inspiration. Reading this book is like getting a hug and a pat on the back to tell you that you're going to be ok, just keep going.

Its perfect for a quick pick-me-up or read the whole thing if you're in need of some serious Pep in your step.

Buy it here!

Make Your Own Luck
Kate Moross

Make Your Own Luck by Kate Moross is an exciting & inspirational look into the life and D.I.Y attitude of Kate's creative career as a Designer & Illustrator. Its jam-packed full of examples of projects she's worked on and details how the project came about and what the outcome is like.

Reading about the diversity of exciting projects she's worked on literally makes you feel like the sky's the limit for your own creative career.

Creative Confidence
Tom Kelley & David Kelley

The Authors of Creative Confidence Tom & David Kelley have heaps of industry experience and often refer to real life examples to explain their ideas. One of the recurring themes of this book is that creativity is for everyone, you just have to have the confidence to unleash it.

It tackles topics such as facing your fears, coming up with innovative ideas, overcoming creative problems, all of which suggest that Creative Confidence is the key, and give you practical advice on how to gain more.

Buy it here!

Your Inner Critic Is A Big Jerk
Danielle Krysa

Your Inner Critic Is A Big Jerk is a funny and insightful guide to creative truths and the struggles of living a creative life. I love the way that this book is set out, making it simple to read, be it in one sitting or dipping in and out when you need a boost of inspiration.

Because it's been written in such a friendly and personal way it feels a lot like you are talking to a friend about your creative struggles. It also has brilliant, funny & very relatable illustrations by Artist Martha Rich in full colour throughout.

Buy it here!


Thursday, 23 November 2017

Creative Life - My Top 10 Visually Stunning Films

This list was meant to be a 'Top 5', however after some research, I couldn't possibly narrow it down, so there you go, its a top 10 instead! This is a list of my personal favourite 'stunning' films based on their cinematography, rather than based on the plot, acting, score etc. Basically it's films that are unique and brilliant to look at so much so that you could watch them with no sound and they would still be amazing. I would love to know what your personal favourites would be so please leave a comment down below!

I have decided to put them in alphabetical order as I just cant bear to make a decision on which is the most stunning!

2001: A Space Odyssey (1968)
Directed by Stanley Kubrick
Cinematography by Geoffrey Unsworth

2001: A Space Odyssey is an epic, mysterious & visually striking science fiction film with a cult following. In 1968 it was pioneering in its use of special effects, which it gained a well-deserved Acadamy Award for. It's difficult to describe exactly what makes this film so visually beautiful, only when you watch this film will you really be able to get a grasp on the hypnotic effect it has.

Amelie (2001)
Directed by Jean-Pierre Jeunet
Cinematography by Bruno Delbonnel

Amelie is one of my all-time favourite films and one of the reasons for that is because it's so stunning! The rich, jewel-tone colours, and the unconventional camera angles make this film so brilliantly unique & intriguing. It seems to me that this visual style reflects perfectly the quirky & unique characters, plot and score.

The Grand Budapest Hotel (2014)
Directed by Wes Anderson
Cinematography by Robert D. Yeoman

Like Amelie, The Grand Budapest Hotel uses a brilliant and individual colour palette all of its own. Wes Anderson is king of satisfyingly symmetrical compositions, his distinctive style stands out a mile from the crowd, and to watch one of his films is a lot like being inside of one of those weird and wonderful deep sleep dreams that sticks with you all day. 

Into The Wild (2007)
Directed by Sean Penn
Cinematography by Eric Gautier

Into The Wild is one of those films that makes you gain perspective on how small you are on this vast earth. The stunning wide shots of the vast wilderness contrast strongly with the harsh, overwhelming & stifling scenes in the city. I love the way that this film portrays nature as epic & powerful, yet beautiful & soothing all at once.

Moulin Rouge! (2001)
Directed by Baz Luhrmann
Cinematography by Donald McAlpine

The musical film Moulin Rouge! is an extravagant visual spectacle that will have your heart racing. The costumes & settings used in this film are unbelievably intricate and distinctive, adding to the theatrical aesthetic. If you are a fan of over-the-top colour, lavish patterns & dramatic lighting, then this is the one for you. 

O Brother Where Art Thou? (2000)
Directed by Joel Coen & Ethan Coen
Cinematography by Roger Deakins

Almost the polar opposite to the previous film, O Brother Where Art Thou has a simple, yet refined aesthetic. Set in rural Mississippi in 1937, the film uses an interesting sepia colour palette that really makes you feel like you are there with the characters. The cinematographer Roger Deakins stated "(Ethan and Joel) wanted it to look like an old hand-tinted picture, with the intensity of colours dictated by the scene and natural skin tones that were all shades of the rainbow".

Scott Pilgrim vs. the World (2010)
Directed by Edgar Wright
Cinematography by Bill Pope

The best way I can describe the visual aesthetic of Scott Pilgrim Vs The World is surprising and damn cool. It was based on the comic book Scott Pilgrim by Bryan Lee O'Malley, and the influence of comic books and video games is clearly evident and brings a distinctive identity to the film. It also features some amazing animated elements as well as epic visually stunning fight scenes.

The Secret Life Of Walter Mitty (2013)
Directed by Ben Stiller
Cinematography by Stuart Dryburgh

I only recently discovered this film and was so surprised at how stunning it was! The striking use of typography in the title sequence had me hooked from the beginning, and the scenes set in Iceland were truly breathtaking, making it feel like you were discovering these places with the main character (Walter).

The Shining (1980)
Directed by Stanley Kubrick
Cinematography by John Alcott

The unique visual aesthetic of The Shining just adds to the uncomfortable feeling you get as you watch the horror of the story of the Torrance family unfold. Similar to The Grand Budapest Hotel, it often uses symmetry, however it uses it to very different effect. When mixed with harsh & unusual camera angles, as well as the often dreary colour palette, the symmetry can become as nauseating as the story & the terrifying character Jack himself. I'm making this film sound like an awful experience but the reality is that it makes you feel so awful that its kind of incredible. This is a must-see.

There Will Be Blood (2007)
Directed by Paul Thomas Anderson
Cinematography by Robert Elswit

Another tricky one to describe (but I'll give it a good try), There Will Be Blood has a dark, gritty feel that echoes the main character, the brutally ruthless oilman Daniel Plainview. The film features an interesting use of colour, making the whole film feel like its been affected by the dirt and oil from the oil mines. 

Images from &

Thursday, 16 November 2017

Freebie - Christmas 2017 - Printable Advent Cards

Alternative advent calendars are EVERYWHERE this year. From gin to nail varnish the days of little chocolates behind paper doors is becoming a thing of the past. My personal favourite are the ones which people do for themselves. Since I was little my mum has filled a santa shaped 'pocket' advent calendar with little treats personal to me and my sister, so the homemade ones always feel so nostalgic to me! I've been seeing a lot of people doing little treats in boxes or bags, so I thought I'd design some little numbers for you to download, print, cut out and use for you to get creative with and make your own advent calendar!

For best results (and so you can re-use them next year) print them on white card!

Click here to download the advents cards for free!


Sunday, 5 November 2017

Creative Life - I Can't Draw - The saying that makes me cringe.

We've all heard this. From a friend, from a family member, from yourself? This is one of those sayings that makes me cringe every. single. time. 

For me, this phrase usually pops into conversation after the person hears that I'm an illustrator. 'Oh wow, that's pretty cool, I can't draw!'. This is sometimes followed by me handing them a pen and seeing what they do. After creating a fabulous drawing of a stick man or a cat or a house, they hand it to me and say, 'told you so!' What they often don't think about is that they have just mistakenly lied. The moment that a pen or pencil touches down, a new & unique drawing is created. 

I bloody love seeing a non-drawer draw. Yes, it may result in a wobbly naive drawing of something they used to draw over and over as a kid, but who cares?! Beauty is in the eye of the beholder after all! What I think they actually mean is 'I don't draw'. Two VERY different things.

The sad truth is that it seems most people have had their creative confidence knocked. Whether it's a pushy teacher, nervous parent, or jealous friend, quite often its simply a small comment that makes you think, 'yeah, you're right, it is crap'. Leading to you giving up on drawing entirely *cries for all the missed opportunities for amazing art*.

However I fully believe that its never a bad time to start/continue/experiment with drawing. You are never too old, or too busy, or too un-creative to draw. One thing which I wish they taught you at school is this- THERE IS NO RIGHT OR WRONG WAY TO DRAW. You just have to put pen to paper and voila! Call me Picasso. 

Personally I couldn't give a damn if you can't draw an accurate representation of a nicely presented bowl of fruit or a perfectly proportioned person. That's not really the point. The point is to draw what YOU want to draw. To create whatever YOU want to create. To reflect your personality on paper. To me, these will always be the most interesting drawings, no matter how technically imperfect they are.

Next time you think about saying 'I can't draw', think again, then pick up a pen and see what happens.

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