Thursday, 13 December 2012

Illustrator in Residence

I am very excited and also delighted to be able to say that I have been chosen to be Illustrator in residence at the Sick Kids hospital in Edinburgh, for the next 18 months!
It was a tough recruitment process but I got through it, and on the way I got to meet some of the children I might be working with and some of the lovely staff. 
I will be working with Linda Cracknell, who is Creative Writer in residence for two years. We have already come up with some great ideas for our project, and I will be writing about what happens as the residency takes shape on my blog.
I don't really have an image to add to this post that is relevant, but as I am going to be working with kids, here is a picture by a child that I am a big fan of. Drawn by someone at Gylemuir Primary School I think.

Tuesday, 27 November 2012

Portobello Christmas Shopping Crawl

This week Edinburgh switches on its Christmas lights and the fair opens and all that stuff (mulled wine at the German market!), and also Portobello has its own special evening on Thursday 29th November. Lots of the shops on the High Street are open late, there is singing and other fun stuff. Here is a poster by ME to advertise it.

Wednesday, 14 November 2012


So it's Wednesday again and the authors and illustrators who I bothered into answering the questions for The Next Big Thing have been blogging.
Suzi has no blog set up, so is hi-jaking mine for a while so that we can all have a good old nose round her head.
Here are Suzi's answers...

What are the working title of your next book?
Lexiland (junior fiction out Jan 2013)
Chosen (junior fiction 2014)
The Magic in the Night (picture book)
Whoops! (picture book)

Where did the idea come from for the book? 
(We best stick to the JF! Ideas for PBs come from weird places - like on a run up to Yes Tor and I got lost in the mist on the way down and I was like er WHOOPS!)
Lexiland  my grandfather had just died. he was a twin. Mum wasn't sure where to scatter his ashes
Chosen (working title) comes from something my husband once said about being adopted and from something he wrote in his column for the Guardian Weekend Magazine

What genre does your book fall under?
Lexiland  Friendship, idenity and loss
Chosen  Adoption, identity and coping with change.

What actors would you choose to play the part of your characters in a movie rendition?
 I really can't answer that!

What is the one sentence synopsis of your book?
My sister died on March the first which was really annoying because it was my birthday, well, actually it was our birthday;  Laura was my identical twin

Will your book be self-published or represented by an agency?
MBA Literary Agents
 Simon and Schuster
How long did it take you to write the first draft of the manuscript?
My first drafts are very very rough!
 Lexiland - 2 months
 Chosen  - 3 months
 What other books would you compare this story to within your genre?
 EEK! I have no idea but my German publishers ( Random House) compared it to A Monster Calls  by Patrick Ness but I haven't read that yet so I have no idea what that means.
Who or what inspired you to write this book?
 Lexiland - A childhood memory, a childhood friend and the fact that someone said I couldn't.
 Chosen - My husband, Exmoor and the words just needed to come out of my head
What else about your book might pique the reader's interest?
 Chosen is set in a place and at a house that really exists - it is as magical as it sounds

Wednesday, 7 November 2012

The Next Big Thing

Blogging is something that i am not very good at remembering to do really, but last week I was asked by lovely Lari Don to be one of her authors to pass the blog-baton onto, as part of The Next Big Thing. The idea behind this is to spread the word about as many writers as possible. I have three to pass onto, two of whom are illustrators like me. 
I am primarily an artist, but telling stories visually has taught me a lot about writing and I am now giving it a go myself. 
I couldn't pass up the opportunity here to mention the amazing Vivian French (my adopted Edinburgh Mum) who has not only had hundreds of books published, but also taught me everything I know about working as a visiting illustrator in schools and libraries and book festivals. She is the best. I would've asked her to be one of my authors to pass the questions onto, but I am sure she is far too busy, and has probably been asked by everyone!

So are the questions, and my answers.

. What is the working title of your next book?
Basil. It is about a rabbit. And that is all I am saying at the moment. I didn't know what to call him so I googled "good names for rabbits" and that was a suggestion.

. Where did the idea come from for the book?
I have had an idea in my head for a picture book about a rabbit since I graduated from my Illustration masters course in 2007. My brother always wanted a pet rabbit when he was wee, and he got one. He was called Carrots and my mum still has a scar on her finger where he bit her.

. What genre does your book fall under?
Picture books. The pictures are the easy bit.

. What actors would you choose to play the part of your characters in a movie rendition?
Well...since my characters are animals and the only way Basil would become a film is through animation, I guess I would need a voice actor. My choice would be Peter Serafinowicz.

. What is the one sentence synopsis of your book?
A counting book seen through the eyes of an adventurous rabbit.

. Will your book be self-published or represented by an agency?
I am very pleased to be represented by Katherine Ross at Fraser Ross Associates.

. How long did it take you to write the first draft of the manuscript?
About half and hour. Should I say that?!

. What other books would you compare this story to within your genre?
I'm not a fan of comparison but it always happens anyway. I would say Rosie's Walk and The Cockatoos have probably both inspired me whilst working on this particular book.

. Who or what inspired you to write this book?
Oh! See above! Also, I have worked with Vivian French as a tutoring team at Edinburgh College of Art. I have heard her suggest to many stuck students that they perhaps think about a counting book. I took her advice and I think I have come up with a really sweet story. Thanks Viv!

. What else about your book might pique the reader's interest?
The images are great, even if I do say so myself. 

So now I am handing over to the following awesome people:

Kristyna Litten is one of the most talented people I know in the picture book field, and indeed illustration in general. She is also from Yorkshire and tiny, like me.
Kasia Matyjaszek was previously one of my printmaking students at Edinburgh College of Art. She has a great eye for a character and fun stories that are a little bit dark and wicked.
Suzi Moore is an author of books for children. We met on Twitter and regularly discuss important issues such running and eating. I am excited to read Suzi's new novel which I am hoping she will tell us more about next week...

And of course, you can read Lari's answers by visiting her blog. Lari and I will have a book of Scottish Stories published next year by Frances Lincoln. 

Tuesday, 6 November 2012

picture this...

Last month I was chosen to exhibit in picture this... which is at the Riverside Gallery in beautiful Richmond (in London). On Friday last week I travelled down to hand deliver Harry and Barry (the squirrel twins) to the gorgeous Orleans House gallery in St Margarets, which is now where I would like to live, if I ever leave Edinburgh. 
If you happen to be in the area then please go and have a look at the exhibition. It is a showcase of contemporary children's book illustration and free to get in. Perfect!
Details in the photo above.

Tuesday, 30 October 2012

Althelstaneford primary school

Last week I had the great honour of being asked to open the new library at Althelstaneford Primary School near Haddington. I had a great morning there working with the kids and reading stories to them. We made masks and drew animals and talked about being an illustrator. A brilliant way to spend a morning!


It's been a busy old time lately and I have been as rubbish as usual at keeping up to date with my poor, lonely, ignored blog. But to make up for it, here is a lovely picture from my new story that I am working on. That's all I am saying about it for now, but it is very cute and I shall be looking for a publisher very soon!

Tuesday, 11 September 2012

Sandy and Charlie

This makes EVERYONE smile. So here it is again. Sandy and Charlie, my swimming pals of 5 and a half years at Ainslie Park. The book is dedicated to them and they feature as extras in the story. I should probably also mention that Lollipop and Grandpa and the Wobbly Tooth is out this week!!! Also, I have signed up to do a further two books so will be spending more time with Lollipop and Grandpa this year, which is good because I am missing them a little bit.

Take Five Illustrators

Just a reminder that Take Five Illustrators exhibition is still running at the Scottish National Gallery on the Mound in Edinburgh. I had a brilliant day there last month working with kids, and running a masterclass for adults in the morning. This is part of an animal we invented, and below is a photo of me reading Lollipop and Grandpa Go Swimming.

There was no official opening for the exhibition, but just after it opened we were lucky enough to be invited to a masterclass at the gallery by one of my heros, Oliver Jeffers, which was a great opportunity to drink wine and eat crisps with my work on show. The exhibition is on for another six weeks, so if you get a chance, go along. I met fellow exhibitor Barroux last month. He is a brilliant artist and quite the charmer!


Last weekend I took part in the excellent REDISCOVER events which happened all over Dumfries and Galloway. I did two events on Saturday in Castle Douglas library and St John's Town of Dalry library. They were both excellent fun; the kids were really up for drawing and listening, and the librarian at Dalry stepped in when I lost my voice from too much talking. 
On Sunday I was based at the Mersehead RSPB reserve, and after a beautiful drive I was blown away by the beautiful scenery. It was literally breathtaking. One minute I was in a wood surrounded by hills, the next minute I was on a beach that wouldn't have looked out of place in New Zealand.
NOW I realise that I got eaten alive by midges but I can live with that, it was worth it (although I'm not leaving the house until the one on my forehead goes down a bit).
Being an illustrator can be so studio based, and as much as I love that, being out in the fresh country air and away from the city has really removed any pent up city anger! I need to do this more often. It's also a great way to meet your audience, and to steal ideas from them (thanks Matthew!). I would certainly encourage any illustrators who get invited along to these events to do them. Don't be scared!

Monday, 20 August 2012

A quick Monday drawing

Today is the start of the second week of having no deadlines, just long term projects, so I can relax for once and have a bit of time off. However, although this sounds great in theory, I am terrible at not working. If I don't draw then I go actually crazy. So today I sat at the side window of my house and drew the accident-prone traffic at the lights. It's research for the book I am writing, and also gave me the excuse to make this image. All cars look the same these days, so I found the vans and buses much more fun to draw.

Monday, 13 August 2012

It's them Modern Faces again...

I have some friends and they are called the Modern Faces and they are from Dunfermline and they are really talented musicians. They are soon going on tour as you can see from this poster that I designed for them. 

Tiger Post

Hello there! Here is some work that I have been doing. It's annoying to have a blog and then do lots of secret work that you can't tell anyone about for ages, so in the meantime, here is a lovely post box. It is to advertise the Tiger Post service that is available in Paper Tiger in Edinburgh. is their website. If you visit this site you will see many lovely things that you want to buy, and some of my design work in the form of maps and stuff.

Wednesday, 18 July 2012


According to this it is Thursday (lie) but the rest is pretty accurate. I rediscovered this the other day. It was part of a series of daily rants I did in 2008. Typical that the weather is so terrible when I have free time that could be spent in my overgrown garden.

On a different note...

Yesterday I had no illustrating to do, and my mind went into a bit of a panic due to a lack of creative output (and too much daytime tv). I started to remember that I am also a printmaker and that last year I did millions of etchings which I wanted to look at. So I did, and then I started to work on them.
My Mum sadly has Alzheimer's and these etchings are about that, and also my obsession with memory which was the focus of my MDes work in 2007. I want to get these etchings to a point where they are suitable for exhibiting now so I'll spend some time working on them. This one here is kind of a starting point in a series of about 12 etchings.

Tuesday, 17 July 2012

Next year's resolution...

In the past year I have illustrated FOUR books, yes FOUR. That is a lot. But I am not exactly a natural author, so I have been working with people who are. I have never had an actual career goal ever before but I am determined that next year I will get to illustrate one of my own stories. I am currently working with my superagent Kathryn on a new story, and here is an illustration for that story. I'm quite excited about it all so let's hope that someone wants to publish it. Anyone..?

Good clients are good

For a year and a half now I have been working with lovely Paper Tiger and Studio One in Edinburgh as their not-in-house designer, and I get to do some really interesting stuff for them. Here is a snippet (what a great word) of one of my recent ads. Look out for it in their shops!

Tuesday, 3 July 2012

Monsters, Horses and Scottish things

This is a little bit of an image from the other book I am working on at the moment but it's all a secret!
This is a monster who is a bit upset about her baby being kidnapped by a lonely and mean crofter (it could happen!). More about this next year...

Lollipop & Grandpa 3!

Lollipop and Grandpa and the Wobbly Tooth is at the printers!!! It's not an easy feat to draw three books in one year but we are proud to have done it! This one is by far my favourite, and features a cheeky woodpecker, an elephant and a tug-o-war team. 
It will be published in just over two months and I will try to remember to announce this on my blog!
We are hoping that there will be more from Lollipop and Grandpa next year...

Update begins...NOW!

HELLO! I have just realised that it's been over 2 months since I have posted anything on my blog. I do this quite often and it's a habit I should put a stop to probably.
So...I will start with this exhibition.
TAKE FIVE ILLUSTRATORS is an exhibition currently running at the Scottish National Gallery, on the Mound in Edinburgh. It is on until the end of October so make sure you go see it.
The exhibitors all work in children's publishing and we are a lovely mixture of styles. Three of us are graduates and sometimes teachers at Edinburgh College of Art which makes me proud.
In addition to the exhibition we are all presenting a two hour masterclass for adults, and two reading and signing sessions for children. I am looking forward to mine which is on July 28th. All work is for sale, and there is merchandise in the shop! It's not a particularly well advertised exhibition, so to find it, enter the gallery by the garden entrance and pass all the cafes and desk and it's at the back in the education centre. Let me know what you think!

Tuesday, 1 May 2012


Here is the cover image for my new L&G book. I think this is my favourite book so far as there was a lot to draw and it was all fun. Not saying anymore about this book yet, apart from it is published in September this year and is really very sweet!

My dream...treehouse

I was asked to produce an illustration for a children's magazine by Hannah Foley. She is setting up her own company to publish this magazine (the name changes all the time so I am not too sure what it is this month!) and it looks to be great! I know other illustrators and authors who have contributed to it, all quality people!
This is my dream treehouse and is basically a self portrait in treehouse form! I need live music, food, swimming, sleep, art and travel to get me by. Oh, and books. And I would probably need somewhere to run but I used artistic licence on that one! I also need sunshine, so the trees are palm trees in Australia probably. I think I need a holiday...

Modern Faces Tour

My lovely friends in Modern Faces are doing not too bad for themselves! After supporting Kasabian last year, as well as The Charlatans, they are now well into a UK tour. They have an EP out on vinyl and are playing in Edinburgh on Friday this week. Check them out!


This morning I received my first advance copy of LOLLIPOP & GRANDPA GO SWIMMING. It feels like I just finished drawing this book (so many armbands to colour in...) and here it is already!
I like this story as it is set in a swimming pool, (obviously) which is an environment I am particularly at home in. I have dedicated this book to my best pals at swimming, Sandy and Charlie. They feature on a few pages, and can be seen swimming past the big blue whale. Sandy has been away for months getting his hip replaced with a better one, but I was very emotional when I saw him back in the pool yesterday. He's all fixed. 
I am almost finished with the next book in the series too, but then I have a rest from these cheeky characters. I will miss them.

Thursday, 22 March 2012


..."it's been me birthday"... was something my best friend Kirsty said to a lady in Jenners in 1994 to explain why she was making a purchase. I laughed at her a lot for this overshare and we have used the quote ever since. ANYway...last week it was her birthday again, and mine, and made her this mouse card to celebrate her mouse birthday. Kirsty calls me Mouso Jamesyface amongst other things, and we both very much enjoy a Dressed Mouse, which is a gentleman who looks like a mouse in clothes eg Sergio Pizzorno (ONLY when he is wearing a bandana on his beautiful head though).
I think that's probably enough of that now. Should probably do some work.

Wednesday, 29 February 2012


Today was spent at Edinburgh College of Art for the very important Animal Olympics, in conjunction with Gylemuir Primary School. 29 assorted children ascended on the illustration studio this morning, for the culmination of weeks of hard work producing 7 Olympic events. I produced this poster for the event, using some of the stunning artwork which was created by the keen sporting children. 

Thursday, 26 January 2012

Valentine's Day, Whatever.

I hate Valentine's Day but had fun creating this image for Paper Tiger despite my bitterness! Always good to do some hand-lettering.

Friday, 20 January 2012


Here is an almost finished page from my latest book with Penelope Harper LOLLIPOP AND GRANDPA GO SWIMMING which is due to be published in June. It is available to pre-order on Amazon, or on Waterstones' website.
These are the naughty pirates being thrown out of the pool for being very noisy.