Saturday, August 11, 2018

March Meet the Maker 2018

Whoops, my blog has been in a state of hibernation for a couple of months. I was on holiday all of June, and then July was spent catching up with everything I should have been doing in June... so let's get this thing started up again!


This year I took part in March Meet the Maker over on Instagram. It was started by Joanne Hawker and is a month's worth of prompts that let your followers learn more about you. I thought it would be good to put everything here as well, as it's so easy for things to get lost in an Instagram feed!

So we'll start off with March 1, 'You' and all the rest will be under the cut.

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Day 2: 'Where'

Day 2 of #marchmeetthemaker is ‘Where’ 💜 I live and work in Perth, Western Australia, just a few kilometres from our little city centre. People often assume I’m from England from the way I speak, but I was born here. I live with my parents in a house my maternal grandfather built himself way back in the 1930s. There’s nowhere that could feel more like home. Why the pink bird? That’s a pink and grey galah, and they make an awful racket. (Think rusty door hinges with a megaphone. Don’t believe me? SWIPE to hear them in action! 😜). Their screeching is one of the sounds of summer here (and it’s summer now) 💜 . . . #marchmeetthemaker2018 #marchmeetthemakerday2 #galah #pinkandgreygalah #illustration #kidlitart #kidlitartist #drawing #artistsoninstagram #illustratorsoninstagram #artforkids #childrensillustrator #photoshop #westernaustralia
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Day 3: How You Started

Day three of #marchmeetthemaker is ‘How You Started’ - I got my start as a professional artist as a teenager, doing live portraiture demonstrations at the Kelmscott Agricultural Show, and picking up commissions. I couldn’t find any photos from when I started (If I’m not behind the camera, it’s usually my father, and I’m part of the furniture as far as he’s concerned. I have a lot of photos of the back of my head, or my face obscured by vases, or something 😂😂) so we have here photos from 2017 and 2014. It doesn’t change much, though, I still do live demos, and I usually do a graphite portrait of a well-known actor or actress (here it’s Emma Watson and Peter Capaldi). I tried demonstrating illustration, but found my audience preferred to see what the end product should look like. They can compare a portrait to a photograph, but they can’t compare an illustration to anything so they don’t know where I’m heading. The last few years I’ve also been demonstrating needle felting I’m not sure which people find harder to wrap their heads around... 😉💜 . . . #marchmeetthemaker2018 #marchmeetthemakerday3 #artistoninstagram #illustratoroninstagram #livedemo #liveart #portraiture #portraitartist #drawing #artistatwork
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Day 4: Favourite to Make

Day 4 of #marchmeetthemaker is ‘Favourite To Make’ - now really, I just love to draw, and I enjoy most projects overall (except ones that require a lot of perspective, but I’m working on that!) and like mucking about with different styles to suit whatever project I’m doing. But I think my absolute favourite type of drawing is fantasy or historical children’s illustration - traditional or digital, I don’t mind - where I can just draw like myself. I just love illustrating scenes with a bit of a story behind them, where I can do a bit of character development and world building. (I work a lot in educational publishing, so I don’t always get the chance to really tell a story) This snapshot is from a personal piece I did over the Christmas break, where I got to break out my watercolour paints. Fellow illustrators- do you often get the chance to draw exactly the type of things you like best, or is it a lot of literally everything else with the occasional highlight? 💜 . . . #marchmeetthemaker2018 #marchmeetthemakerday4 #illustrator #artist #illustratorsoninstagram #artistsoninstagram #artforkids #painting #artistatwork #kidlitart #kidlitartist #wip #workinprogress #watercolour #watercolor #childrensillustrator
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Day 5: Photography

Day 5 of #marchmeetthemaker is ‘Photography’. When I’m not taking snaps for my IG Story, I use an Olympus PEN E-PL2 with a good quality 14-4mm lens. I like the picture quality and it’s a nice small size for my small hands. Of course, to take this photo I had to use my phone (an iPhone SE), so the quality isn’t as good (especially as it was a low-light situation. Even if I’d been organised and taken it during the day, we had the blinds down because it was 37C out there today. We were in full hermit mode! 😜) I’ve had my little Olympus a few years now, and it is still going strong (Although the original kit lens did depart the mortal coil a few years ago. On holiday. I was stuck taking very arty photos the whole trip because the only other lens I had was a zoom 😂) and I’m very fond of it. Do you get fond of your tech and resist updating until it’s absolutely necessary, or is that just me? It always seems a betrayal of faithful service... 💜 . . . #marchmeetthemaker2018 #marchmeetthemakerday5 #olympuspen #artistoninstagram #illustratoroninstagram #smallbusinessowner #smallbusinessphotography #selfportrait #mycamera
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Day 6: Workspace

Day 6 of #marchmeetthemaker is #workspace. I’m not one of those lucky people with a studio room all to themselves (oh, how I wish I was), so I occupy most of one wall in our general library-office-computer-room-sitting-room, which was built onto our house about 15 years ago. My desk, which I bought myself for my 21st birthday, is right by the window, so I have good light during the afternoon. (And I can watch the birds in the birdbath) When I don’t have good light, I have a nice slimline daylight lamp. As it’s a multipurpose room I try to keep my stuff as tidy as possible. Most of my art supplies are on a pull-out trolley that tucks away under my desk. Since the drawers are perforated, I’ve hung a Kiki’s Delivery Service towel that a friend brought me from Japan over it, so it looks tidier. As the room is used by everyone (especially while I’m trying to work!!) I don’t have much chance to make it that kind of Instagram-worthy space, but it works for me. If I’m working digitally, my desk is occupied by a Wacom Mobile Studio Pro. I also have my computer desk nearby for more design-oriented tasks (I’m not using inDesign on a tiny 13” screen!). 💜 Fun fact! There are model mice hiding all over my desk, six in total, though they’re not all visible here. How many can you spot? Do you have any cute things brightening up your workspace? 💜 Check my story to see all my mice 🐭 . . . #marchmeetthemaker2018 #marchmeetthemakerday6 #desk #illustratorsworkspace #illustratorsoninstagram #artistsoninstagram
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Day 7: Routine

Day 7 of #marchmeetthemaker is ‘Routine’. Now, I will be the first to admit that I don’t have a good routine - a combination of being a night-owl and the lack of a quiet work space has resulted in me working late, rising late, pottering around and then generally starting work after lunch. 😶 Whenever I DO make an attempt to be a morning person and start work at 9am I find there are so many demands on my time that in the end I get less done overall... so for now, my hours are wacky but I do get my work done. As for a more strict routine within that, I’m sure most freelancers would agree that that is virtually impossible - sometimes you have a sudden crazy deadline and have to switch projects, sometimes your day is all planned but then the client doesn’t send you the stuff ... so I try to go with the flow. I use a combination of Things and iCal to keep on top of how I’m spending my time and what needs attention when, make sure I take a break at 4.30 every afternoon to walk my dog, and try to practice the piano most days. Oh, and Wednesday night is manicure night. 💅🏻 . . . #marchmeetthemaker2018 #marchmeetthemakerday7 #things #ical #routine #artistsoninstagram #illustratorsoninstagram
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Day 8: Flatlay

Day 9:How It's Made

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Day 10: Time to relax

Day 10 of #marchmeetthemaker is ‘time to relax’ - like most freelancers, there’s always something I could (or should) be doing, but I try to make sure I have a healthy amount of relaxation to keep me sane. I go for a walk every day, usually taking my dog Myrna to the park where I can pat lots of pups. If you’ve had a bad day, nothing is as helpful as sitting on the grass in the fresh air, being inundated with small dogs. 🐶 I also play the piano (not as well as I would like, I’m not innately musical, and I also tend to play quite tricky pieces) and every Wednesday night is manicure night - I settle down with the comedy on tv, and do some nail art (usually stamping), just because I enjoy it. Most people have stopped telling me that it’s a waste of time - it’s important to waste a BIT of time!! (I also love to read, but not if I’ve got work on - I have no self control when it comes to books, I just keep reading 😂) What do you do to relax? 💜 . . . #marchmeetthemaker2018 #marchmeetthemakerday10 #dog #cavoodle #mani #manicure #piano #relax #timeoff #cavapoo
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Day 11: Branding

Day 11 of #MarchMeetTheMaker is #branding: My branding has evolved a bit since I first designed it in uni, and can now be summed up in two words: ‘mice’ and ‘purple’. These mice all decorate my current website - there have been mice on my website since the very start. My logo was originally designed while doodling at a sports carnival back in high school (I am so sporty) and when at uni I had to fight to keep it. That was some ten years ago now, and I’m still not letting go of it! The uni redesign resulted in a brand identity featuring lots of brown paper and hand-stamped logo and text… since then, things have got much lighter and more streamlined, but I keep the mice, which are now associated with me. The name Alene has stuck too - it was originally a nickname in high school and I registered Alene Illustration as my business name because there were several other Alison Muttons in creative industries so I didn’t want to just use my name. When I am at expos (rarely, but sometimes) or other events, I now have a large banner, and I try to dress in colours that match my brand identity as well. BONUS: swipe all the way through to see my previous two website incarnations (along with my banner). The 2nd website had a purple Regency Stripe background, but while I’m sure I took a screenshot of the whole thing before I replaced it... I can’t find it. If you want to see the new one, you’ll just have to head on over to see it! . . . #MarchMeetTheMaker2018 #MarchMeetTheMakerDay11 #illustratorsoninstagram #mice #mouse #kidlitartist #brandidentity #personalbranding #digitalart #artistsoninstagram #childrensillustrator
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Day 12: Postage and Packaging

Day 12 of #marchmeetthemaker is ‘Postage and Packaging’: as an illustrator, I don’t do a lot of postage - it’s more uploading digital files for the client to download on their end. However, I thought a good thing to show for this prompt would be the Colouring Book sets I’ve been selling at expos here and there. I got my mother (who is a fabulous sewer) to run me up a few calico book bags with decorative tops, and ironed an illustration of Elizabeth Bennet (with a suitable quote) to the front of each one. Inside goes a copy of my Colouring Book, a bookmark (a bit of a lucky dip, I did three. This one is for Sense and Sensibility) and a pack of coloured pencils. 💜 . . . #marchmeetthemaker2018 #marchmeetthemakerday12 #colouringbook #colouringforadults #coloringbook #adultcoloringbook #classicliterature #literature #literaryromance #artistsoninstagram #illustratorsoninstagram #bookbag
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Day 13: Work Clothes

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Day 14: Dreams and Plans

A bit late for #marchmeetthemaker day 14: Dreams & Plans. My dreams and plans are pretty standard for freelance illustrators - I plan to continue growing my business, finding inspiration in everyday things and helping to bring people’s ideas to life. My dreams are to become a well-known and respected children’s illustrator (well paid! 😜). It’s hard to make really concrete plans in this business, it’s not ALL up to you... but certainly my plan for this year is to find myself an agent to help me take my career to the next level. I’ve said this before, but one day it will happen, right? 💜 Do you have any short and long term plans that are really requiring perseverance? 💜 . . . #marchmeetthemaker2018 #marchmeetthemakerday14 #dreamsandplans #park #dogwalk #ducks #pond #cavoodle #cavapoo #artistsoninstagram #illustratorsoninstagram #lookingahead
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Day 15: Boomerang

Day 16: Helper

Day 16 of #marchmeetthemaker is ‘Helper’. I’m pretty much a solo enterprise, no one helps me do my job, sometimes I get my mother to help me cut things out or something, but otherwise it’s all me ... so I went through my phone and found some pictures of Myrna ‘Helping’ me. She likes to perch up behind me on my desk chair (or on my lap, sprawled across whatever I’m working on). Sometimes, even though she can choose from two other chairs and a couch, she’ll even squeeze into my armchair in the evenings. She only does all this when the weather is cooler, but when she does my work is enlivened either by her snoring (which she does like a train) or barking at people who have the temerity to walk past the house. She’s an excellent hot water bottle though, even if there isn’t much chair left for me! 💜 . . . #marchmeetthemaker2018 #marchmeetthemakerday16 #helper #dog #cavapoo #cavoodle #cavoodlesofinstagram #pet #artistatwork #artistoninstagram #illustratorsoninstagram
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Day 17: Customers and Feedback

Day 17 of #marchmeetthemaker is ‘Customers and Feedback’ so here’s a little montage of me and Sioban Timmer, an author I’ve worked with twice now - these pics are for our latest, Feral Fergus. I think some of the best feedback you can get, as a creative professional, is when you have repeat customers. It shows they like what you do, and trust you to deliver what they want. I’ve been fortunate to work on a number of self-publishing books as well, and while they don’t pay all that well, there is nothing like bringing someone’s book dream to life and hearing of the tears (happy ones) of family and friends. Anyone who says they have 100% positive feedback is either lying or hasn’t been in business very long, but I am so lucky to have overwhelmingly positive responses and so many lovely clients. There is less feedback in commercial work (unless something needs changing) and I often find it amusing that the ‘baby boomer’ generation, while bemoaning the way my generation can’t do anything without praise and validation, is the first to get upset when my response to ‘did they like what you sent them?’ is ‘well, they didn’t say they didn’t!’ 😂 Do you find a generational gap in expectations of feedback? Or do I just gave extremely busy, terse commercial clients? 😜💜 . . . #marchmeetthemaker2018 #marchmeetthemakerday17 #artistoninstagram #illustratorsoninstagram #kidlitartist #customersandfeedback #feralfergus #drawing #photoshop #illustrator #customerfeedback #customersatisfaction
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Day 18: Inspiration and Day 19: Can't Live Without

Super-quick sketch for a double #marchmeetthemaker post - Day 18 ‘Inspiration’ And day 19 ‘Can’t live without’ 💜 I find inspiration everywhere, but I think my most consistent source is books and stories. I am a kidlit illustrator, after all! And I can’t work without my cup of tea, in the massive Royal Albert cup I was given for a birthday a few years ago. It holds a LOT of tea. If it’s summer I drink iced tea, but it’s not the same as a nice big cup of hot tea, really. I love the smell of coffee, but haven’t acquired the taste for it, it’s tea all the way for me. Black, caffeinated in the afternoon, decaf the rest of the time. What drink do you prefer? Do you need to have one on hand while you work? 💜 . . . #marchmeetthemaker2018 #marchmeetthemakerday18 #marchmeetthemakerday19 #tea #books #reading #barenecessities #artistsoninstagram #illustratorsoninstagram #sketchoftheday #dailysketch #draweveryday
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Day 20: Tools and Materials

Catching up with #marchmeetthemaker. For day 20 we have #toolsandmaterials - and this is what I’m using right now. For all my digital illustration work I use a Wacom Mobile Studio Pro and keyboard, with a Pro Pen 2 (and a smudgeguard glove to stop my hand from sticking to the glass). This is a windows machine, and I’m a Mac girl, but I like the mobility AND I want to use photoshop and stuff, since I pay through the nose for it! Until about 5 months ago I had a Cintiq Companion 2 but it was very, VERY buggy so I upgraded when I could get a good deal. And before THAT I used a Wacom Intuos, which is still plugged into my iMac for when I’m not actually *drawing* much but want the control of a pen. I’m really not sure how I survived without a cintiq variant for so long! I do most of my work digitally as this suits clients and allows for quick adjustments and stuff. If I’m watercolouring I use Windsor and Newton paints and brushes with (usually) Moleskine paper. (Check my Stories for MMtM Day 21- A Day in the Life. #) 💜 . . . #marchmeetthemaker2018 #marchmeetthemakerday20 #wacom #mobilestudiopro #digitalartist #artistsoninstagram #illustratorsoninstagram #tech #toolsofthetrade
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Day 21 was Stories, a Day in the Life:

Day 22: Sketchbook and Lists

For day 22 of #marchmeetthemaker the topic is ‘Sketchbooks and Lists’. Now, I have a lot of lists, but if I post them today, what am I going to post for ‘organised’? 😜) So here we have a selection of #sketchbooks. I don’t actually use sketchbooks a *lot* these days - I tend to sketch digitally - but I still use them. It depends on what I’m doing. Mostly I use Moleskine sketchbooks. I like sketching digitally because I don’t worry about ‘wasting the paper’ and feel like I can try more things. But I do love sketching with pencil too. Anyone else do mainly digital sketching these days? I imagine lots of people use the iPad Pro a lot now (99% of my sketching is on my Wacom Mobile Pro, I occasionally borrow my father’s iPad. I can’t justify having BOTH 😂) 💜 . . . #marchmeetthemaker2018 #marchmeetthemakerday22 #sketchbooksandlists #sketching #artistsoninstagram #illustratorsoninstagram #sketchbookhoarder #moleskine #moleskinesketchbook #pencilandpaper
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Day 23: Hands at Work

Day 24: Achievements

Day 24 of #marchmeetthemaker is #achievements. The work I am most proud of are the books I have completed. I have worked on nearly 100 educational publishing books, but I never see the finished project, and it’s not the same as taking a story and adding pictures and turning into something greater than the sum of its parts. Apart from the two books on the top left (my Literary Romance Colouring Book and The Portrait, my thesis project way back at uni, where I basically just worked by myself) I have always worked closely with the author, and the finished product is so important to them. I love finishing a book beyond the expectations of those most closely involved. These aren’t ALL the books I’ve been involved in, I don’t always manage to get my hands on a copy, but I feel so proud of my growing collection. 💜 . . . #marchmeetthemaker2018 #marchmeetthemakerday24 #books #illustrator #bookillustrator #picturebook #poetrybooks #kidsbooks #illustratedbooks #illustratorsoninstagram #artistsoninstagram
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Day 25: Being a Maker Means...

Day 26: Books, Blogs and Podcasts and Day 27: Recommend a Maker

Day 28: Organised

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Day 29: Community

Day 30: Top tip / Advice

Day 31: Creative Friends

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