It's been a privilege to work on this edition of Orwell's 1984 for The Folio Society not only because it's my favourite novel of all-time but also because of it's huge cultural significance and it's political warnings that become more and more significant over time. It was a big task to illustrate and one where I felt a weight of responsibility. It's the kind of challenge I crave and makes my life as an illustrator such an interesting one.

I coloured the book illustrations to give a sickly atmosphere that's dark, oily and grimy. It's very different to my usual illustration but then of course it had to be. The project included the binding design and 10 interior full page illustrations.

Folio asked me to write about my thoughts on the book itself and my approach to illustrating it. I've added the text below which appears in their summer catalogue.

I first read George Orwell’s 1984 in my early twenties and was struck by its powerful ideas that I find impossible to shake off. The book creates a brutal world of an oppressive political system where the people are controlled through fear. It’s a nightmare vision with many parallels to todays’ society including constant surveillance from CCTV cameras and the recent revelations on the NSA. There are so many comparisons with the present world that ‘Orwellian’ is now a much used term to describe breaches of privacy, restrictions of liberty and surveillance under the pretence of security. However, 1984 has humanity and it’s Winston Smiths fragility that draws me in. He’s constantly struggling to remember how things once were and I’m moved by his sentimental attachments to objects and childhood songs as if these hold a key to something more human. He wants to experience life and follow his instincts and there’s a glimmer of hope in his secret and illegal love affair with Julia. He’s willing to risk everything in order to feel something real. That is what I hold onto from the book. He’s a physically weak man resisting at all costs a society where love, individuality and freedom of expression are banned. 

In illustrating this book I wanted to show his fragility contrasting with the imprisoning atmosphere. I drew him hunched over with very pale and sickly skin against settings made of straight lines bearing down on him and everywhere the dictatorial face of Big Brother watching.

You are being watched


I've had the privilege of illustrating my favourite book of all time for The Folio Society and is published in September. 

Throw this in the memory hole once read.

Around the World in 80 Days

If you follow me on twitter or instagram you'd have seen some sneak peeks at a new book I've illustrated for Milan Editions in France. It's right up my street as it's 'Around the World in 80 Days' by Jules Verne. It's published in Oct this year so I'll be posting much more once it's out in the wild.

Here's those teasers so far...

Prints and original drawings

I have a new shop so please feel free to pop in and browse.

I've had many requests for a deck of Odd Bods Playing Cards but unfortunately there's none left with no immediate plans for a reprint. Hopefully one day though. The best I can offer at the moment is the print of selected picture cards available at the shop.

It's early doors but if the shop goes well there'll be lots more on offer soon.

Also not everyone has paypal so if anyone wants to contact me directly regarding a sale then please send me an email and we'll sort something out.


Folio Society Quiz. Inscribed by....

The Folio Society are holding a competition this week to win The Hitchhikers Guide to the Galaxy and The Restaurant at the End of the Universe that I will inscribe / dedicate to the winner. Please enter here. Competition closes 20th December 2013 at 10am GMT. Good Luck!

Update: Competition now closed!

Odd Bods for sale

Lots of people have been asking if the Odd Bod Playing cards are available. 

Previously sold out it seems they've found a few more deck of cards to sell here: Tusch und Egon

There's only a few left!

AOI Illustration Awards 2013

It was a huge honour to receive the Overall Professional Winner Award at the AOI Illustration awards this year for my Odd Bods Playing Cards commissioned by The Folio Society. The exhibition is on at Somerset House in London until October 27th.

A special edition of Varoom celebrating the awards was published to coincide with the exhibition.

Congratulations to all the award winners!
 Top row from left: Merav Salomon, Joe Caslin, Ceri Williams, Mitch Miller, Jane Reiseger, Victoria Turnbull and Edd Baldry Bottom row from left: Levi Pinfold, Lesley Barnes, Jonathan Burton (in a rather fetching demin number), Nate Kitch, John Riordan and Anna Cattermole

I'll post some more photos soon as they come available...

Bafta process - ARGO

Earlier this year I had the pleasure of illustrating the BAFTA program covers for their annual awards evening. The illustrations acted as an alternative film poster for the nominations in the Best Film category. The deadline was a real test as once the nominations were announced I had basically 10 days to create ideas and complete the finals. I'd spent some of the Xmas break catching up on possible noms with the DVD's that Bafta sent me 'For Your Consideration'.

It was a thrill receiving these 'screeners'.

Lots of note-taking and thumbnails during the films. (the 'dig deeper' is a note to self, my sketchbooks are full of me telling myself off)

Here's a little 'behind the scenes' for the ARGO illustration including the original drawing then the photoshop colouring. 

Sketch for the scene I felt summed up the idea of the search for the escaped hostages.

Line work. With a LOT of shredded paper.

Details of shredded 'documents'

The shreds needed some shadows as it was looking a little flat. 

The dark floor beneath was needed for the type and logo to stand out but also helped to make the shredded paper look more real.

The layers without the line work

and a look at the layers (if you like that kind of thing) with the finished illustration.

The program.

I hope you like and please feel free to comment. I'll try to post a behind the scenes of the Life of Pi illustration soon. It was a tough one for me....

My UK agent Handsome Frank are selling large scale prints of the BAFTA illustrations including also Life of Pi and Les Miserables. Their online shop is here. They are also available at the Pick Me UP graphic arts festival in London (18 – 28 April 2013)


It's been a while since my last post  but I've been busy with some exciting projects that unfortunately I can't reveal yet. Nearer Xmas I'll be doing a 'give away' of a product I've illustrated so keep checking back for a chance to win a goody or two.

I can reveal though that I've been selected as the official illustrator for the BAFTA awards 2013. It involves producing images for the tickets and five alternative program covers for the Best Film nominations. Thanks to my UK agent Handsome Frank.

Bafta's previous illustrators works are beautiful so now I'm really feeling the pressure! The film nominations are announced on the 9th of January and that's when I find out too, then I'll have two weeks to produce the 5 illustrations for the event which will then take place on February 10th.

So what films are likely to be nominated? Could it be the nonstop fun romp 'Jack and Jill' and the exciting CGI action thriller 'Battleships'? No, fate can't be THAT cruel. More likely the excellent 'Argo', 'The Master' even 'Skyfall' possibly?

I'll try to do regular updates to show you how it's going....

Lucky Jims

Of all the Kingsley Amis books I've illustrated for Penguin over the past year 'Lucky Jim' is probably the most well known and well loved.

The title has had some great covers since it was first published in 1954 and here's a selection of my favourites with my version at the end. The strange thing is that the last four editions on this list have all come out this year.

Archibald in 'The Depths of Despair!'


Can it get any worse for Archibald?

Oh yes.

'In a cloud of black ink the octopus reaches in, pulls Archibald free and hurls him and his hat into the dark abyss.'

Thanks again to Scott Garrett for the idea which leaves Archie floating in the blackness..... and into another dimension? 

No ideas for the next one thank you - I'm going to take over from here so I can start to wrap the story up.

Stay tuned for the concluding episode coming to your screens soon!

But first a message from our sponsors:

Archibald in the darkness

So many things have taken over leaving me with little time for Archibald. I slap my own wrist for being neglectful! I wish I could be a bit speedier with turning the work around to keep it constant but they take time. I think I'm going to start bringing Archibald to a close and to do that I'm going to go with Scott Garrett's lovely idea of hurling Archibald into the darkness..... and then...... we will see.

Back Shortly....

Royal Mail - Dickens

Last year I was asked by Royal Mail to produce ideas for two of Dickens's stories to commemorate his 200th anniversary. It was a great project to work on and very exciting though they weren't chosen to be published in the end. When choosing new stamp designs The Royal Mail ask a number of designers to pitch several ideas worked up to final using illustration / photography so it becomes a tough competition. There's a few sketches and the finals below. I hope I get to have another crack at some stamps again.

PS: they eventually decided to use the character illustrations by the victorian illustrator Joseph Clayton Clarke. Tough competition indeed.

Burton Burton

Cinema magazine sent me this video clip today which is of Tim Burton appreciating this:

Bloody weird to see something from my little world collide with a major star director and having him be so enthusiastic.

Tim, I'm waiting for your call ;-)


You said you liked me!

Ti ii m!

Oh he's gone..

Perils book

I'm been putting together a mock up of the Archibald book so I thought I'd show how it's going. Each chosen contributor will receive a copy!

It's not too late to join in, I want to add a couple more pages to really push it to somewhere crazy so please suggest away....