Doris Flo And The Pea

A little gander at one of my cover versions for my kid's book Doris Flo And The Pea… "Peas have feelings too!"

The Illustration Iceberg: Part 15

Hello, welcome back to the next snippet of my book about life as a freelance illustrator. Work has started to come in, which is all good, right?


16 August
Maybe I spoke too hastily? Two cards arrived from the Post Office informing me two unpaid packages were waiting to be picked up. This did not make me happy. I went. I paid. I picked them up. Both packages were copies of Worms Below (my children’s book) returned from two different publishers. Both were in the addressed envelopes I’d enclosed complete with stamps… that were now somehow missing. I had to pay to read my own rejection!

17 August
There are no bounds to the amount of rejections that fly through my letterbox. Today’s one was a script for a play and as I read it I could see why, it’s just not good enough. Rejection of writing has the edge over rejection of illustration. Perhaps it’s the added personal directness and the fact that my writing often feels unfinished, though I can’t spare any more time on it. I know it suffers from not being my main activity but I don’t have the confidence to leap into it (I know, I have ‘some talent’ but…) Perhaps I need to make more effort?

20 August
An interesting request arrived. It’s from the organization Illustrators Anonymous (‘helping illustrators through the darkness’) asking if they could use some of my illustrations for their membership brochure. The email was very nice and words like favour, you will be fully credited and we’d be delighted all guarantee one thing… a low budget (correct! There was £100). I didn’t consider saying no as IA is a great organization I fully support. What they wanted was four illustrations. Two would come from my existing body of work and the others from scratch. I got to work on roughs.

21 August
Some days, coming up with a coherent witty idea just seems impossible. Today is one of those days. The cover illustration for IA was the one giving me the most trouble. Nothing remotely good would come to me. I ploughed on, as you have to when it's your job and I can’t have something as trivial as ‘no ideas whatsoever’ stop me!

My first idea ready to wow IA new recruits plopped into their email tray: They must think I’m off my rocker… Yes, they did. More ideas were requested. Again it was like getting blood from a stone but eventually I cobbled my second batch of ideas together:

1. stabilizers for beginners.

2. Guy ropes prepare for rough conditions.

3. Joining for lift off

4. Smooth landing (or possibly behind enemy lines?)

All four were rejected for the cover. Back to the drawing board.

To be continued…

You can read more snippets by scrolling down on this blog. (Please join Illustration Iceberg on Facebook )


Survival… gone too far. Fuzzywork 2014

The Illustration Iceberg - part 14

Hello, welcome back to the next snippet of my book about life as a freelance illustrator.

8 August
To my amazement another job dropped through my e-mailbox and onto the invisible mac-doormat. This is a good one. It’s two illustrations over two consecutive weeks for a high profile newspaper called The Tower. Kurt the AE is quite laid back so the signs are good. Even though it’s a big newspaper the pay is pretty poor at £175 each. Each article is on the theme of family and written by a different celeb-type person. I’ve been given the copy for the first one so I can just do my thing. Can’t wait to get stuck in… But before I do, it's a lovely sunny day, I think I’ll take my latest script out for a coffee. At last, some benefits to being freelance.

10 August
I’ve sent in the first Tower commission roughs. It’s about what we inherit from our parents, from poor digestion to tastes. Here are my line roughs:
IBS (also a play on the words from a well know radio show slot)

Useless objects (like dad’s special paint stirring sticks)
Etch-a-Sketch (that goes a bit wrong when you use it)

My favourite was Inheritance Tracts, the other two need a bit of development in hindsight… Kurt however, said ‘Inheritance Tracts’ was far too obscure for their readers (which surprised me, being very familiar with their readers, i.e. me). He thought they all needed a bit of work so asked me to come up with something better based on the Etch-a-Sketch. Back to the drawing tab-ard (cross between computer tablet and drawing board)

11 August
Sent in the new Etch-a-Sketch rough and received an email from Kurt that went something like this:
Hi Fuzzywork
Due to an ongoing court case there’s a possibility that this week’s article will be delayed. We could swap articles, or can you do both for Monday? Like the new Etch-a-Sketch rough.
Thanks, Kurt.
Bearing in mind that today is Friday I can’t even be bothered to question this request because anyone who would make such a request clearly doesn’t understand what is and isn't reasonable, plus they are only obeying orders from above and their job is on the line - working for a newspaper is like being in the army, do as you're told or leave. The thing is, as I’m always mentioning to art directors, the most intensive part of commission is coming up with the idea, and as I’ve already come up with the Etch-a-Sketch idea, and now have to come up with a new idea, it would be like doing two illustrations anyway. I agreed to do both illustrations. I have an hour to generate the idea.
It’s and hour later, I’ve done two roughs and sent them in. Hopefully he will okay them so I can forge ahead over the weekend. The article is about stepparents and here are my roughs:
Rough no.1  Copyright Fuzzywork 2014

Rough no.2  Copyright Fuzzywork 2014

Kurt got back that evening and told me to go ahead with number 2.

12 August
There’s a whole Ivory Coast bar of chocolate in the fridge, my fav coffee is brewing, music’s cued up (no radio Tweed today) and the cat has been fed seconds so is already snoring away on her day bed, which is also her night bed, actually it's my bed... (she’s hardly moved). I’m ready to work, and work I will have to in order to meet the Monday morning deadline. Lucky for me, I love a bit of a deadline. I enjoy the clock ticking down. Not that I produce my best work under pressure, I know I don’t. I just enjoy the simplified structure of it. See you on the other side.

14 August
Both illustrations were sent off last night and I already heard back from Kurt. He said he loved them both so that’s a relief. I celebrated with a square of chocolate (two squares) gathered up a script to work on and considered where to go for coffee. Better check emails before I go. There is one from Kurt.
Would you be alright with us using a spot from the Step Parent illustration? It would be very small.
Cheers, Kurt
Spot in this case means taking a section and using it again, effectively making two illos out of one. I know immediately I just can’t agree. I know I am supposed to say, ‘Yes, no problem, absolutely fine, yuh great….’ but I can’t. This is a national newspaper with a large circulation asking me (illustrator struggling to put food on the table) to give them extra use of my work for free not to mention the fact I’ve been working ALL weekend and half of last week for £350 (excluding tax). My answer:
Hi Kurt
I’m really happy for you to use a spot from Step Parents illustration, the fee for which will be £50.
Best wishes.
I didn’t hear back. They didn’t use a spot.

To be continued…
You can read more snippets by scrolling down on this blog. (Please join Illustration Iceberg on Facebook )

The Illustration Iceberg - Part 13

Hello, welcome back to snippet 13 of my book about life as a freelance illustrator - The Illustration Iceberg.

1 August
I’m not religious, I’m not keen on hierarchical setups and can’t take seriously that ‘god’ is a man (or a woman, if anyone ever claimed that) or even definitively factual, but once when the cat failed to come home and I thought she'd been cat-kidnapped I lit a candle and the innate power of FLAME coaxed out a minor miracle. She came back, immediately! But she’d changed… around her neck was an exotic sparkly collar and she had a craving for catnip. I never found out what happened but shortly after I saw a litter tray and poop-scoop in the recycle bin two doors down.

I’m going to try the candle again, this time for a work-based miracle. I’m a bit concerned the goal will be made void due to its self gratifying request for work rather than the safety of a cat or world peace.

2 August
It bloody worked! A job came in. It’s for a leading holiday company called Climates and I will be working with a design agency called Eye 4 Illumiation. As usual it’s all a big rush. I’ve got to go in for a meeting tomorrow. Potentially it could be a big job. Fingers crossed.

3 August
I’m not good at meetings. I get nervous. Years ago I attended a briefing with my agent for an important potentially lucrative job. We went to this posh boardroom where the art team showed me beautiful library photos detailing exactly what they wanted me to illustrate. Instead of thinking, that will be nice and easy, I said… out loud ‘Why don’t you just use the photo?’ My agent almost had a coronary. I’ve made a mental note not to say anything so stupid today.

I’m back. It didn’t go well. I’m not off the job exactly, but I definitely said something stupid...
It was one of those important meetings where someone from every department attends, including Climates. The ad team leader explained to me all about Climates, such things as how long they had been going, how they had never had to do a full on ad campaign because they were so great and so loved and well known by all, a household name and all that. This went on and on and I found it hard to remain interested until finally my concentration ebbed away entirely. It was at this point I said, ‘That is amazing. I’m surprised they haven’t gone bust!’ This of course was what the last fifteen minutes had been about, plus no one in the room wanted to hear such negativity. Ms Climates look decidedly put out and I detected a flash of concern across the table between the design team . . . sense of horror and realization that I was in fact a moron.

Things improved a bit when they started telling me how much they liked the ‘quirky-ness’ and ‘weirdness’ in my work. Great I thought. They talked about the brief and I made notes in my sketchbook. I’m terrible at writing stuff down when people are (a) speaking, and (b) watching, but I’m supposed to be the person who’s going to come up with the brilliant stuff so I needed to exude confidence. I finish with a pen flourish and snapped my book shut as though I already had the best ideas forming in my head, which I didn’t. None of that last bit actually happened. I shut my book quietly and hoped no one noticed my awkward scrawlings.

The brief: Initially they want test work, which involves some line drawings about holiday destinations. There is a sum of £300 for this test work.

4 August
The first day on the Climates job and I’m determined to give them my best weirdness. Florida is the first destination so with a pot of my favourite Italian coffee I set to work on ideas. I selected 10 (probably too many?) and sent them off. Here are a few very rough roughs:

It’s the end of the day and they haven’t got back. I decided to imagine it was due the design team picking themselves up from the floor after howling with laughter at my brilliantly funny ideas, followed by a period of their careful consideration.

7 August
I received an email from Eye 4 Illumination thanking me for my ideas, rejecting all of them and telling me, ‘For now, we won’t be taking it any further.’ Well that didn’t go as well as I’d hoped. I obviously hadn’t hit the spot, or maybe it was my general incompetence in that meeting? I’m troubled by this, I need to work out what went wrong…

Oh! Noooo! Those ideas I sent were a load of S&M drawings. Touch the Moon… Simulate yourself… gimp Mickey Mouse outfits! 

(morose fuzzy-ramblings)
Has my talent for inappropriateness reared its head again? Or is it simply the weird corporate type meetings that bring out the worst in me? I don’t know. So often I hear, ‘We love your quirky-weird-ness!’ What they don’t realize is how difficult it is to make weirdness work, especially in mainstream advertising. 
It’s all about honing the weirdness. 
It takes time and creative face-to-face discussion to get it right, but there’s never any of that. They run a mile from my weirdness. HEY! Maybe weird quirky work comes from weird people. I can only assume they don’t trust their own judgement or they’re scared of anything going wildly wrong. News for them; most of my stuff goes wildly wrong before it goes right. Of course, on this occasion it’s not just them, perhaps if I’d listened in that meeting I might have twigged onto the fact that Climates is a pretty conservative company. I needed that job and I lost it. Only myself to blame here.

To be continued…
You can read more snippets by scrolling down on this blog. (Please join Illustration Iceberg on Facebook )



It's getting busy… as well as my illustrated book The Illustration Iceberg I've finally started work on my animated film. A while ago I studied screen writing for two years. I made some films using bits and bobs, which managed to get screened on TV and at the BFI would you believe!

Ever since I've been waiting to make a new film… and now it's happened. It's the first time I've actually animated my work and so far it's a lot of drawing, with quite a lot of drawing and a bit more drawing after that. When that's all done there's a little bit more drawing to do and then it'll be complete! It's all in the script and the story, which it has to be said is weird and does involve LOVE and LITTER… ay! that might just be my title.

A new film about

Below is a still and the star of my film. If you've not read any of my Illustration Iceberg Please scroll down to read snippets...

The Illustration Iceberg Book - Part 12

Hello, welcome back to the next snippet of my book about being an freelance illustrator… so far - coming across work is very hard, even though I've been busy in the past… snails in peril in the garden… and illustration takes a back seat with my film now finished.

10 July
I screened my film in a small cinema yesterday. Apart from the trauma of having to be in the same room as those watching lots of people came and it went extremely well. For what it’s worth I’m pretty proud of that little film, the music and all, which I struggled to do myself… making it was the embodiment of Difficult.

There’s still a technical problem with the sound, which involved me having to control the projectionists sound knob by hand mid-screening (not as much fun as it sounds) so a fully usable version of the film still doesn’t exist, and there's no solution on the horizon so it could have been the first and last screening of the film.

There have been three responses from publishers regarding my children’s book Ping & Pong. They are, No, No and ‘There is a certain charm, we enjoyed your quirky approach, but…’ No.

11 July
There is no avoiding real life or gardening, though I can’t say I enjoy either very much. My thumb still hurts and continues its refusal to join in with general movement despite its elastic band hand therapy. Lawn mowing involves hacking and slicing my way through wildlife. Weeding wipes out entire cities of ants and ruins the lives of ordinary everyday worms, molluscs and insects.

I am forever stopping the mover and scanning the grass for froglets, slugs, bees and grasshoppers so the whole painful process takes twice as long. To me gardens are the homes to creatures so a ‘gardener’ naturally has this in mind but I doubt boss Quentin would agree or relate to the snail emergency I had the other day. I inadvertently damaged the poor thing’s shell. I felt bad so gathered a selection empty shells with the vain hope it might re-home into one of them (apparently not possible), and put them all in a safe place.

When I checked later the injured snail (Sheldon) was ‘eating’ the empty shells! I like to think it was recycling the old shells to repair its damaged one, which I have discovered they are able to do to good effect.

15 July
It’s been such a long time since I had a commission I’m now on desperate measures. I’ve signed up to a stock agency called Stock Sensation (SS). I’m torn. It’s probably a bad idea and I don’t feel good about it but…

Stock agencies are not good for illustration because the cheap readily available images undermine the whole process of illustration commissioning both financially and creatively.

SS emailed suggesting I provide images on these themes: Christmas, fairytales, women at work, soccer, school, horoscopes… (joint this is definitely a bad idea!) There is also a contract to be signed between SS and me. A dense five pages of teeny tiny hard to decipher small print. I’ll be honest the language is typically convoluted and very difficult for the layperson to understand but to sum up:

‘I vowel never to blame them for any mistakes while taking full responsibility for any mistakes, whilst also giving them 50% of any royalties my work generates’. 50%! That seems a little excessive don’t ya’ think?

Who’d be a stock illustrator! (I will definitely never ever respond if you answer that rhetorical question and send it in on a postcard)

To be continued…

(If you enjoyed this please join me on Facebook  Cheers)

The Illustration Iceberg Book

Hello, thanks for calling by… I am about to continue where I left off posting bits of my book on the blog again. It's still a work in progress so the book will look very different with many more illustrations and of course.. the story in full. 

My aim is to self publish, which ain't easy… so please feel free to leave a comment… the whole point is to give you an enjoyable read so if it's not doing it for you and you have an inkling as to why I'm all ears.

I'd love to you to join me on Facebook, and if you like please spread the word: click here THE ILLUSTRATION ICEBERG on Facebook

This gorgeous cat is a very wild stray I've named Sid, on account of his hissing at me every dinner time (he doesn't mean it). He was virtually starving to death when he moved in to the little wooden cat shed, built by my dad for another stray (the one in the book, who now keeps my diary and runs my life including when I get up in the morning). She wasn't happy about Syd living in her patio cat studio but she tolerates him, just. He is adorable, that little down turned mouth, big eyes and pink nose… this picture captured him tap dancing.

UPDATE: Illustration Iceberg Book

UPDATE: so far I've posted ten excerpts from my book on this blog. If you scroll down you can read them. I'm still putting it all together and working on the many illustrations (with the other hand and one foot as I write this)

You can follow Illustration Iceberg on Facebook… and I'll soon be posting new bits of the book so please drop back when you've time. X

click here THE ILLUSTRATION ICEBERG on Facebook

Here's a little taster of one of the illustrations… Contracts OR Chocolate? (never ask your cat important questions)

Copyright Fuzzywork Illustration. Illustration Iceberg Book 2014.