Category Archives: The Business of Art

A whole week sketching at The Big Malarkey Children’s Festival in Hull

A couple of weeks back, I spent the whole week recording The Big Malarkey Children’s Festival in Hull. It was an amazing week put on as part of the City of Culture celebrations. Here are all the videos I made in order.

Many thanks to the wonderful Library Staff who put the whole thing on with the help of all the festival volunteers. Thanks also to the performers and visitors who also appear on the pages of my sketchbook.

Drawing rough sketches for a children’s book – spoken tutorial

See how I draw the rough sketch for the illustrations for my forthcoming book, Dragon Red. It’s due to be published on the 1st of March, so we are up against it, time wise.

I’ve done all the full page illustrations and they have been fitted into the book,. Now we know how much space is left for me to fill in the rest of the illustrations.

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How to get your creative inspiration back when you’ve lost it

1 Art doesn’t need to have a message! It can just be about making things beautiful through decoration.

It can be for recording or explaining stuff

It can be design to help sell stuff or make it more useful and pleasing

It can just be a nice time on your own, doing your own thing, not worrying about having a voice or having to send a message to the world. The Wold has quite enough conflicting messages already!

2 it’s not that you don’t have a voice it’s just that you might not have much to say at the moment. That doesn’t mean you won’t have anything to say in the future. Maybe you’re just trying too hard I need to get a little distance.

There is so much art out there and there are so many brilliant artists it can make you feel a little insignificant. But each artist has their role to play in the grand scheme of things. You may not be destined to greatness. But you might influence someone who is. You won’t know unless you do the work.

3 If you’re really stuck and uninspired and don’t know what to do then I would suggest you pack up your pens and pencils and paper everything put it in a drawer hide it away and do something completely different. Fill up your time. Get a job doing anything. Be a Coffee barrista or go and clean offices or something to get completely away from it all. Do something very, very different. After a while you will realise that you haven’t thought of art for a while and don’t mind if you never do it again – or ideas will come pouring in and you will be desperate to dig out all those art materials and get to work again having found a new message, new meaning, and, probably, a new voice.

4 Voice is a strange thing I know as a writer he took me years to find my voice and every time I thought that I’d written something really original I would stand up in school and read it out and I could hear all the authors that influence me speaking through me. Until one day a brilliant editor made me go and rewrite a story. She said she thought that I could do better if I took out all the description and put it into dialogue and by doing that I discovered my voice. Actually, she discovered my voice – but it took a long time and it took a lot of practice and trial and error and learning to get top that point where I could do what she asked of me.

To find your voice you just have to keep doing the work and eventually it will come. You will spend a lot of time copying others and doing not very original work but that’s how it goes. Eventually all those influences will come together with your original ideas to create something unique that is all yours. It doesn’t happen overnight. If it did everyone would be an amazing, truly original artist.

However easy it might appear for other artists, trust me they have put the years and years of practice and experience into their work before they ever began to get noticed.

This is nothing to be upset by – it’s just something you get on with. In the meantime you need to reach out and experience stuff – meet new people – go to museums – read books – watch TV – fill your head with lots and lots of experiencs – keep drawing and making notes – trying new things, and eventually you will find themes recurring that will become the basis of your voice through which, you will discover what your message truly is.

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How to Draw a Happy Cat – Scrwlrbox opening & #Scrwlrchallenge

This month’s #scrawlrboxopening and #scrawlrchallenge is how to draw a Happy Cat using as many of the materials supplied in this month’s scrawlr box. Scrawler box will send you exciting new art materials to try out every month, so you can experiment with different types of materials and media. You can find out more at

In this box:
Spectrum Noir Alcohol Markers
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A wide selection of refillable double–ended markers that boast a broad chisel nib for large area fills and a fine bullet tip for more fine detailed work. The ergonomic, rubber gripped, hexagonal barrel also provides greater comfort whilst colouring,

Staedtler 308 Pigment Liner Pen 0.3
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A quality opaque black flneline pen with a long metal tip, for seamless use with rulers and templates. The pigment ink is indelible, lightfast, waterproof and quick drying, so no smudges.
Zig Brushables Two-Tone Brush Pen
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A marker with a clever concept: one end lays down a fully pigmented colour, whilst the other applies a 50% tint of the same colour. Use the light end to work over the dark ink for a smoother, more even blend.
Staedtler Mars Lumograph Pencil set
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The Lumograph Pencil is a great choke of pencil for all types of drawing and sketching. The lead is super bonded, which makes it more break resistant, but it is still easy to erase and very easy to sharpen.
Staedtler Mars Rasor Eraser Pencil
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An eraser pencil for fine point detail erasing, that also has a brush on one end for deaning your page. You can even sharpen it with any good-quality standard pencil sharpener.
Canson Bristol Paper 250gsm
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This paper has an extra smooth, strong, clean white, acid-free surface perfect for using with markers.



How to make a comic

I’m working with Manchester Museum at the moment, making a fold out comic with two stories relating to the museum’s collection.

Students from Cedar Mount Academy spent the day looking at the collection and thinking about how to create two stories for the comic.

We were working with a five point story plan:

1. Inciting incident
2. challenge
3. crisis
4. climax
5. resolution

Not easy top do over 3 A6 panels, but I think I succeeded in compressing the story we camera up with on the day.

Manchester museum is just wonderful. It’s kind of old-fashioned, but totally up to date and wonderfully cared for – all the exhibits are fresh and squeaky and shown in exciting and novel ways. Do visit if you are in manchester or have a look at their website

Thanks to the students of Cedar Mount Academy for helping us come up with the great story ideas.

This video shows my working practice as I decide how to write and plan the story and illustrations.

This is part 2 of my How to make a comic series in which I show you all the processes I go through to make a fold out A3 comic for manchester Museum. You can see part 1 here:

In this video I show how I refine the drawing and get the speech bubbles the right size to fit the text. You can see me paint the cover picture in this video:

I go through the process of scanning, tidying up in Photoshop and finally laying out in InDesign ready for print.