Wednesday, 2 February 2011

The story of my first illustration - for Amelia's Magazine

Something thrilling happened to me recently ....

A couple of weeks ago I took the plunge and, for the first time, answered a callout for illustrations - for an article in Amelia's Magazine. The illustrations were to accompany an interview by Matt Bramford with Kim Sklinar of 'Preloved Reloved'. To raise awareness of the effects of cheap fashion, and to raise money for the Macmillan cancer care charity (for very personal reasons),  Kim has set herself the interesting challenge of  not buying any new clothes for a whole year. 

The 6 illustrators chose from 6 different themes - I was really pleased 'making and mending your own clothes' was still available, as that is something I used to do a lot of ... well, designing and making clothes (to sell on a market stall, then in a shop, in York) .... and I have a love & nostalgia for those days of fabrics, threads, patterns, sewing machines...

From the start I had a clear image in my mind - a 50s retro style image of a woman (sitting face on)  at a sewing machine - a duck egg blue/green sewing machine to be precise! It was to have a stencil effect, although would actually be painted - probably in gouache.. 

But quickly the illustration took on a life of its own, even at the initial sketching out ideas stage:

The one on the right seemed to work somehow, even though it was nothing like what I had planned.
This pencil sketch was scanned and, because it was so faint, I printed it over and over. In addition I played about with 'illustration' settings and printing in sepia. For the moment, until I open that Photoshop box sitting on my shelves, this is the extent of my photo 'manipulation'. 

Very much wanting to include some retro fabric patterns, I sepia printed (and used pen to 'work up') some contact print size images of 50s style fabrics. These were then 'collaged' into the picture and pen was used to write the text on top. A final scan and ....
the final illustration existed! Matt (as above & Fashion Editor at the magazine) then very kindly, and with only encouragement and no fuss whatsoever, dealt with resizing the image (something I have now learned to do).

I don't think I have ever been more excited than on Friday 21st of January when it appeared in Amelia's Magazine.
To read the article click here.

Of course there are issues here about establishing one definite style in your work, and someday very soon I shall have to address that one. But in the meantime, I have learnt so much in a very few days from this... and thank you so much to the incredible Amelia and her magazine for her approach and ethos that is so supportive, valuable and encouraging to new illustrators. (Yeah I know ... too many 'so's..)


  1. This is a lovely post. Loved seeing your process from start to finish a lot of work went into that illo. Amazing result x

  2. Thank you Avril! Yes, I mainly did it as I know, as a beginner, I find it so helpful seeing the processes that other people use. Also that much can still be done without complicated technology. And it's nice to be told that even a beginner's efforts can be interesting! x
    - Show quoted text -

  3. Really great to see your work and so pleased it worked out.

  4. Thanks Laraine! Glad you liked it.