Floating Worlds: Japanese Woodcuts Exhibition

Brighton Museum, Royal pavilion, collection, Japanese woodcuts

I was so pleased that I managed to catch Brighton Museum’s Floating Worlds: Japanese Woodcuts exhibition before it closed this January. It was such an inspiring and thoughtfully curated collection of woodcut prints.

The scenes in the show depicted the Edo period of 19th century Japan and offered a window into an unbelievably magical world…luminous full moons, bustling night markets, villages frozen in snow, sumptuous patterns and clothing…

The images really capture the imagination and draw you in, as if you could follow the traveller down the printed path and on to the distant mountains on the horizon. Here’s a small selection of some of my favourites, their titles listed at the end of the post. I hope you enjoy them as much as I did!

Brighton Museum, Royal pavilion, collection, Japanese woodcuts

 

Brighton Museum, Royal pavilion, collection, Japanese woodcuts

 

Hiroshige_Station 46_Kameyama - Clear Weather after Snow

 

Brighton Museum, Royal pavilion, collection, Japanese woodcuts

Images shared here without permission. Titles in order of display:
1. Carrying the Mask to the Fair by Moonlight by Utagawa Hiroshige c1823
2. Snow at Tsukahara by Kuniyoshi Ichiyusai 1831
3. Picture of the Lake Hakone by Utagawa Hiroshige 1833-34
4. Station 46 Kameyama, Clear Weather after Snow by Utagawa Hiroshige 1833-34
5. The Hat Shop Seki by Utagawa Hiroshige

New Year, New Business Cards!

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Happy New Year! I hope that you’ve had a lovely, festive break. I’m back home in London now after an extended festive period and feeling quite grateful for January’s slower pace. Despite it usually being quite a grey and chilly month, I do enjoy the blank page it offers, the opportunity for reflection and some gentle planning of the year ahead before things gear up too much!

I’m excited to share my new, dragon themed, business cards with you! I got them printed on Moo’s 100% recycled cotton card (made from old T Shirt offcuts) they have a nice, tactile feel to them and are hopefully a greener option too. I had fun illustrating this fantasy, dragon ruled landscape and look forward to handing them out this year.

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If you have a design, illustration or digital project you’d like to discuss for 2020, please do get in touch, I’d love to hear about it!

 

Project Flashback: The Sickle Buddy App

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I’m trying to get better at posting little flashbacks to some of my favourite, client design projects….the reason being that these projects were so enjoyable, creative and fulfilling, that I would love to attract more like them!

A little while ago I had the pleasure of working with Imperial College London to design ‘Sickle Buddy’, an app created to help children who suffer from Sickle Cell Disease. Through colourful illustrations and fun interactions, young patients can learn more about the disease and discover new ways to look after themselves and manage their symptoms which can be painful and frightening at times.

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I created the app’s UX, UI, Illustration and character design work and had lots of fun doing so! It meant a lot to me to be able to work on a project that could potentially help young sufferers and offer some comfort and relief through play.

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If you’re in need of a freelance digital/games designer for a similar project, I would love to hear about it! Or if you have suggestions for similar apps you have enjoyed or found useful, then do please let me know.

You can download the Sickle Buddy app here on the Google Play Store.

 

Owl Sense by Miriam Darlington

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I’ve just finished reading Owl Sense by Miriam Darlington. Aside from having a gorgeously illustrated cover featuring a magical barn owl and a shower of gold foil sparks…it’s also a rich and soothing read!

I’m sometimes put off by nature books that can be a little dry and factual in their descriptions, but Miriam’s writing is full of life. Each chapter focusses on a different species of owl and her journey to viewing it in the wild. As the adventures unfold, she shares her in depth research into the habitats, biology, history and mysteries of each creature. At the start of each chapter we’re also treated to an illustration of the owl in question, including; Snowy, Barn, Tawny, Pygmy, Eagle Owls and more…

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Miriam explores our fascination with owls throughout history. She delves into folklore and literature where the owl is sometimes revered – but often times feared as a portent of death and doom. She perfectly conjures up images of dense forest and icy plains and weaves in her personal encounters with bird lovers and experts that she encounters on her quest.

But throughout, there is a steady respect for the wildness of the owl that I very much appreciated. Miriam reminds us that these magnificent creatures belong to nature. We shouldn’t make the mistake of cute-ifying them or imagining them as cuddly Potter-style pets. Nor does she shy away from climate change and how our actions as humans are endangering these precious birds. But even with its urgent messages and heavier thoughts, I found Owl Sense to be a calming book for the soul. And I loved learning more about some of my favourite animals!

Owl Sense jacket illustrations are by Talya Baldwin (owl) and Peter Fitzpatrick (tree).

 

Sibling Skill Swaps & Logo Design

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Though my brother and I both live in London, we don’t always get to hang out as much as we’d like – so when we get the chance to collaborate on a creative project and share our different skills to help each other out, it feels really special!

Mikey Parsons is a talented composer studying his final year at Trinity Laban in Greenwich. You may remember that he worked with me a couple of years back to create atmospheric, chilling soundscapes for my Shackleton Illustration project with the Drawn Chorus.

He’s especially skilled at creating music for video games and as is hoping to enter into the industry when he graduates. As such, he had asked me to design him a logo that would help to represent him across social media and beyond as he reaches out to new contacts…

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I begin most logo projects by creating a few pages of loose, quick experiments. I like to keep these playful and experiment with ideas, shapes, letters and textures to see if any interesting patterns or compositions begin to emerge.

Mikey draws lots of musical inspiration from magical games like Final Fantasy, from adventure stories such as Lord of the Rings and the Harry Potter universe. Luckily our sibling interests align, so I was able to have lots of fun playing with dragon motifs and magical emblems.

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For all of my logo and design projects, key moments are built in for the client to review and feedback on the work I’ve completed. This is important to make sure that the project develops in the right direction. Mikey selected a couple of his favourite directions from my experiments and I took these forwards to the next stage.

Owlstation_freelance logo design_2019_2We were both quite taken with a small logo mark I’d drawn, in which each letter of Mikey’s name had a symbolistic feel to it. With the lead letter ‘M’ appearing to dissolve away as if made of magic particles. I took this design into illustrator and started to refine each letter.

Throughout the process, I shared design updates with Mikey. We’d identified quite early on that he would also need a reduced version of the logo that used only his initials. This would be used for social media profile images and read better when viewed at a smaller size. I developed this version in parallel to the larger logo to make sure both felt like they belonged in the same magical family!

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I really enjoy working on logo designs for other creatives. It’s always a fun challenge to take their ideas, inspirations and personality and find a way to turn it into a beautiful logo that helps represent who they are and what they do.

Be sure to check out Mikey’s awesome music and check back for more design project posts from me in the near future!

 

 

 

 

Christmas Owl Post, tips for making sure it arrives in time!

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Despite my good intentions, most years my Christmas shopping always turns into a bit of last minute rush to get those last few presents sorted before the big day. And often my plan to order something unique and special from an Etsy shop is foiled, when I realise I’ve left it far too late for the order to be processed and delivered…

This year however, I’m going to try and get it right! And as I’ve recently had to do a fair bit of research into postal cut off dates for my own Owlstation Store, I thought it might be handy to share a couple of things I’ve learned with you…

Firstly, if your sending cards or ordering presents and want them to arrive in time for Xmas – it’s worth checking your local postal service website for details of their latest recommended postage dates. I’m in the UK and use Royal Mail who have some handy info here. If you’re sending or ordering packages internationally, make sure you find the latest postage dates for the country your sending to or ordering from.

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Secondly, If you’re ordering a gift from an online store, be sure to check their ‘processing time’. That is how long they say it will take them to prepare and package up your order. For example for a handcrafted item, the seller may need 2, 3, 5 or even more days to create or customise your gift. You’ll need to mentally add this time (sometimes the site does it for you!) to the given delivery dates to get a clear idea of how long your gift will take to arrive…and make sure it’s before Christmas!

Thirdly, remember that the festive period is a very busy one for sending and receiving post and it can take much longer to arrive than it does for the rest of the year…

But at the end of the day, it’s only Christmas!

If you miss postal deadlines and end up scrambling around in Flying Tiger on the 24th of December it doesn’t really matter (and I may well see you there!). It can be a stressful, tiring time of year and keeping calm and looking after yourself is more important than a big pile of presents. Good luck and happy hunting!

If you’d like to order a present or card from the Owlstation Store and need help with any Xmas queries, feel free to pop me a message. For the UK I advise ordering before the 10th of December. For International orders, please do get in touch as Xmas delivery recommendations vary from country to country.

 

 

 

 

 

Glasgow Botanic Gardens

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After an exciting but tiring month of client work and opening the Owlstation Etsy Store, it was brilliant to get away for a few days holiday to Glasgow. I’d never been before and loved exploring the city and recharging with plenty of decadent treats (hello gourmet donuts!) I was especially taken with the botanic gardens, so many beautiful exotic plants and exquisite natural patterns and colours.

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