I’m an award-winning illustrator and lettering artist born in Dundee and now based in the beautiful East Neuk of Fife. I studied at Edinburgh College of Art and Glasgow School of Art, graduating in 1992 with a Masters degree in Illustration. For 14 years I was a part time lecturer of Illustration at Edinburgh College of Art until I left to pursue my career as a full time illustrator.
Through my work, I’ve also been invited to teach and present at various schools, universities and events throughout the UK, USA and Far East.
My work has been widely exhibited at many venues including the V&A Museum, The National Museum of Scotland, The Museum of Rural Life, The Royal Brompton Hospital and The Royal Scottish Academy.
About writer's work
I love drawing, ideas, colour, ink, typography, narrative, sketchbooks, making books and even deadlines! I blend traditional and digital drawing seamlessly to create richly layered illustrations full of people, animals and places. I really like doing quick, inky black and white drawings too! Illustrating grittier, more challenging subject matter is just as rewarding as tackling more whimsical themes, hence why my work has broad appeal from adults to younger children.
I’ve always been a narrative illustrator for all aspects of commercial illustration, such as advertising, design and editorial clients but it’s only in the last few years that I have started to illustrate books and this sequential process, alongside working with a writer is one I enjoy enormously. My first picture book, ‘Robert the Bruce, King of Scots’, written by James Robertson, was shortlisted in the Children’s Book category of the World Illustration Awards!
Following on from this, I worked on an wonderful book project called ‘Walk The Walk’ with Scottish Book Trust and writer Gowan Calder (no relation!) It’s an interactive graphic novel for use in facilitated youth and literacy support groups to explore issues around sectarianism and how to tackle it. You can find out more, download the book and see a video interview with me over on the SBT Learning pages at www.scottishbooktrust.com/learning/adult-learners/walkthewalk.
I’ve just finished illustrating a Picture Atlas for ages 7+, which felt like drawing EVERYTHING IN THE WORLD and I discovered I really loved drawing penguins in the process. Next, I’m about to start illustrating another exciting non-fiction picture book for Bloomsbury as well as continuing to develop my own picture books as both author and illustrator.
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Current events and projects
I’m happy working with 5-8/ 9-12 / Teen and Adult audiences in a variety of ways, from illustrated talks and panel events to hands-on workshops.
Events can take the form of joint writer/illustrator presentations, with beautiful slides, readings and live drawing, showing how a book came together and characters and scenes were developed through drawing. I’m happy if the audience wants to ask questions throughout too!
In schools I like encouraging confidence and enjoyment in drawing, developing visual storytelling with simple, fun and quick exercises where even the most reluctant artist can end up drawing faces, expressions, landscapes and animals.
These ideas can be developed further with workshops where both children AND adults can draw, write, create hand lettering and make their own unique “All in One” books, using simple paper folding techniques. I’ve taught this several times to all ages from 7 to 70+ and everyone comes away delighted with the little book they have made from scratch filled with their own artwork!
For older children, teens and adults I present illustrated talks, discussing life and work as an illustrator, talk about all aspects of drawing and visual narrative as well as the importance of sketchbooks as space for healthy mistake-making (by showing some of my own dud drawings!)
Overall, I use all my experience in both the teaching and professional practice of illustration to develop and adapt projects and exercises to suit both children and adults.
2008 - Invited Artist, Gordon Highlanders Museum, Aberdeen, Create-A-Quest Project for The Prince’s Foundation for Children & the Arts
2009 - Project Illustrator, “Garden Detectives” exhibition for children, National Museum of Scotland
2010 - 2012 - Invited Artist in Residence, English Schools Foundation, Hong Kong
2010 - Keynote speaker, “Working Drawings” conference and exhibition, Sheffield Hallam University
2011 - Silver Award, Images 35: The Best of British Illustration
2012 - Illustration and poetry workshops with children, Royal Brompton Hospital, London.
2014 - Robert the Bruce - Edinburgh International Book Festival - with James Robertson
2014 - 2015 - Leader, “Inkery on Iona” , Residential illustration workshops for adults.
2015 - Shortlisted, World Illustration Awards, Children’s Book Category for “Robert the Bruce, King of Scots”
2015 - Scoping workshops with reading and community groups, “Walk the Walk”, Scottish Book Trust
2016 - Speaker, ICON9 Illustration Conference, Austin, Texas.
2017 - Merit, 3x3 Professional Show for “Experiment, Play, Throwaway” editorial piece for The Guardian