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Nuts and Bolts and Plastics in our Oceans.

This is a collection of things that I have read this month, or have found inspiring. A bit newsletter, a bit reading list...

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Above are notes for the talk I gave at The Nuts and Bolts Illustration Symposium held at Cambridge Art School over the Summer, I am thinking of making a zine of these tips for my shop. Would that be useful? Let me know here.

1. After our recent visit to Iceland we were disturbed by stories of plastic pollution in our oceans, and how it effects whales. 'A whale washed up in southern Thailand has died after swallowing more than 80 plastic bags.' So when we launch our next whale poster in October, we are excited to announce that 10% of proceeds will go to the WDC.

2. I started a hastag project #walktosee for sketchbook drawings of our daily walks. Join in on instagram and twitter. My #walktosee sketchbookzine is back in stock.

3. This episode of Dear Sugars on Surviving the Critics, 'Lots of great writers have written less than great books.'

4. I read The 100 year life - Living and Working in an Age of Longevity by Lynda Gratton & Andrew Scott and The Multi Hyphen Method by Emma Gannon. Both books talk about modern careers taking many turns instead of one straight path. 

5. One extra nugget of information I had to share because I can't contain my excitement: My book, 'How to Hide a Lion' was adapted for stage, and tours this summer! See tour dates here.

The Importance of the first draft and my top five podcasts

I am currently illustrating a huge book of Fairy Tales, nine stories in total. It's almost as much work as illustrating nine individual picture books. It is something I have always wanted to do, and therefore I have to fight a pressure for this to be perfect. As soon as I feel pressure to do an extra specially good job, I freeze up and the work suffers. So I am being practical and just getting on with it. JUST GETTING ON is half the battle. Nine Fairy Tales is a huge mountain to climb, but I have to start somewhere and KEEP GOING.

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Slowly, slowly they are taking shape... I make my way through step by step and even if I am not happy with bits and pieces I keep going. Once I have the first set of roughs done, I have something to work with, I can fine tune things and work out how to fix the problem pages later. It has made me remember again, that starting is the most important part. Especially true if you are writing or illustrating your first book. You have no idea where it is going, or if it will be good, or if anyone will read it. But get that first draft on paper, then you have something to work with.


Whilst I illustrate I often listen to podcasts on my earphones. I thought you might like to know my current faves:

1. The Adam Buxton podcast, especially this episode where Louis Theroux sings 'Yes Sir I Can Boogie'.
2. Your Dreams My Nightmares 'Internet Famous'. It is long and could do with some editing, but I enjoyed the part about Instagram and how copying is viewed amongst illustrators these days.
3. I went through a huge This American Life phase, and overdid it I think. But if you haven't been there yet I thoroughly recommend it. One of my favourites is this one about car salesmen, called Cars, probably because my dad was a cars salesman when I was a child.
4. Elizabeth Gilbert Magic Lessons
5. Death in Ice Valley

So many more I could tell you about, I will get to those soon. Let me know if you have any favourites I should listen to.