The blog of Hannah Robinson, artist, illustrator and graphic designer.

Sunday, 30 December 2012

Editorial work

For the first time in an age, I produced a piece of editorial work today, my first and chief love in illustration. The article is about the decline of the powerful male in popular culture.

Wednesday, 17 October 2012

New cards...

These are now available in my Etsy store. The colour-in cards are available in my Not On The High Street shop. Apologies for lack of ramble, no internet yet in the new place...
Bereavement Christmas Card

Wednesday, 26 September 2012

I just treated myself... this beautiful fabric from Celtic Fusion Fabrics. I've recently moved to a new flat and I'm making some cushions for my dining chairs, and re-upholstering an old stool. This is the fabric:

How gorgeous are those colours?

A couple of years back they were on Folksy, but now you can buy from their website. I can't wait for this to arrive!

Friday, 21 September 2012

Another job

My latest commission, just finished. Lots of fun, a tad daunting at first coming up with something original, given that Christmas is such a popular subject. But I think I managed something different, and hopefully it will make people want to come along. :-)

Monday, 10 September 2012

Tiger, tiger...

Couldn't sleep the other night, I am currently battling a nasty flu type bug. I decided I would pretend I illustrate book covers. The tiger is based on a doodle I did in my sketchbook, where I made his face up out of lots of different shapes.

Wednesday, 22 August 2012

Not On The High Street

In April I was approached by Not On The High Street, asking them if I would like to have a shop with them. At first I thought it might be a scam! I had heard of NOTHS, but I'd never thought about applying to them, I never assumed they'd want me! So what a boost. After doing some homework and contacting other illustrators who sell on NOTHS for advice, I took the plunge. 
What with work, freelancing, and generally having a life, it's taken an age to get the shop ready and I'm not quite there yet. I took ages getting the product photos taken - as NOTHS are quite strict about the photos you post in your shop. You wouldn't believe what a royal pain it was trying to find somewhere with good light and an inoffensive background, but it's been a really valuable exercise, as I've never put this much effort into my photos on Folksy or Etsy, and now I have a bank of images I'm extremely proud of, and they show my stuff in a much better light. So, hurrah!
I've submitted my shop with bated breath, and they have come back with feedback on how to improve. Mercifully they think the photographs are fine, double hurrah! I've been sitting down of an evening tweaking the descriptions, and creating a new logo on their request. Here it is:

As for my Etsy and Folksy shops - to my shame they have languished of late. I've not kept on top of stock, or visited the forums at all. I'm really sad I've let things slide- but the positive side is the reason has largely been freelance work coming in, which one should never complain about.
My latest zine, Any Old Iron issue 3 will soon be ready- you can see previous editions here. This one is going to be longer and I can't wait to get it printed and distributed.

Friday, 3 August 2012

Monday, 23 July 2012

Overground Arts Fest, July 2012

Saturday can only be described as a day of pure happiness. I went along to the Green Backyard at 10am for the Overground Arts Festival, now in its third year. Luke Payn, one of the organisers, had invited me to be one of the guest artists there. Basically they get artists from all over to come along on the day and paint onto a wooden board. Most people there were graffiti artists of amazing talent, but there were some painters and collage-ers too. I’d been allocated a nice, un-intimidating 4’x4’ board, and I’d decided to do a grid based composition featuring one of my favourite things in the whole world: hand-drawn typography.

For those of you who don’t know or who are maybe reading from a far-flung place, The Green Backyard is a beautiful piece of land in the centre of Peterborough, and it is home to a number of amazing projects, like sculptures, allotments, a pond, a bee mound, free-range chickens, green energy, live music, art… the list goes on. It is run tirelessly by a father-daughter team as well as volunteers. Oh, and our city council would like to get rid of it. And replace it with a coach park.
Yes, you did just read that right.

So, outrage is plentiful round here at the moment, especially on a day like this one, where the sun beats down on delighted English people who have endured more than two months of sodden misery thanks to a mischievous jet stream. Why would the council want to get rid of such an amazing, popular community project? Especially as in the past Peterborough has led the way in green living, so I thought. In bleak economic times, a place that encourages sustainability and companionship, and shows us an alternative to consumerism must be a good thing, surely? If you want a coach park, can’t you dynamite Liquid or another ghastly nightclub?

Sigh. But the mood on Saturday was peaceful, and happy, mostly. I did have a strop mid way through my piece – the sun was beating down and I hadn’t had a beer yet. The colours were looking mucky and the brushwork was looking clumsy. I was on the verge of packing it all in, unfinished, and flopping on the grass with a drink, when someone cheerily approached asking me if they could buy it. I cheered up slightly. Five minutes later my neighbour who was also painting a board came over and asked if she could buy it. ‘I know exactly where I’m going to put it,’ she said. I cheered up a lot, and pushed onwards to finish it. Just who will end up with the final thing I don’t know, I didn’t pay for the board so it’s out of my hands. Here it is, all finished.

Oh, and in other news, I’m fully signed up to start a PTLLS (Preparing to Teach in the Lifelong Learning Sector) in September, which I can do at night around work. Very, very happy. Nothing like learning to shake life up a bit!

Wednesday, 18 July 2012

Tuesdays - and the Artiste Complex...

Recently I was commissioned to do this zine-ish publication for St. John's in Peterborough. They wanted something interesting to give to visitors, to encourage them along to their events. I played around with drop shadow to create a 3d feel, but in the end the request for more colour meant the impact was lost somewhat, but I'm happy with the end result, and so is the client. Which is what really matters! Talking of which...

Customer is always right?

I sat in the pub recently with a friend of mine for whom I've done a few bits of work. One flyer in particular she let me go nuts with, and I hope it isn't big headed to say I was delighted with the result. At the same time I produced a poster for a children's holiday club, and was talking to my friend about how they'd requested it to be 'even more colourful', and asked me to have a different colour for each line of text. This request made me wince slightly, but I did it. My friend asked me how I felt about the final poster.
I shrugged. 'They liked it a lot, which is what matters most.'
She raised her eyebrows. 'I'd love for you to talk to a couple of my friends who are designers. They really don't like it when people ask for changes and get quite uptight about it.'

I can see where these friends are coming from, but I think it's very important to make sure you don't get too attached to your work, and are open to requests for changes. In fact, if you want to embark on a career as an illustrator or graphic designer, it's essential. Things will often get sent back maybe 5 or 6 times, (if you're lucky, but for bigger jobs it can run into double figures) and sometimes you will be asked to amend or delete an element you have grown really proud of.

There are ways you can get round this though, if the customer requests a change that you just don't think will work. 

Firstly, always have a go at what they want. If you don't try it, you won't be able to articulate your concerns as well.

Then, quickly mock up an alternative version that you think works better. Send the client both, and explain to them politely the concerns you have with their request, and how about they reconsider? That way your customer is able to physically see why your idea may work better for them. I used to be more timid about telling a client if I had reservations. Some of the most common problems I or my illustrator mates have had to tackle are:

  • Being sent way too much copy - result: finished product looks cramped, and the impact is lost.
  • Being asked to make things 'more colourful' (I get this a lot, serves me right for being an illustrator who loves bright colours. This one can ensure groans of frustration when I've carefully selected a kick-ass limited colour palette)
  • Getting sent photos and being asked to lay text over the top - Aaaaaaargh no.

I'm sure there are more. But these days I'm more confident about raising these issues with clients, and nine times out of ten they are grateful for your input. That's why they turn to designers in the first place - because they want a creative, yet clear outcome.

Monday, 2 July 2012

Peterborough Lions - complete

So, the lions are all done. It took a total of three whole weekends, two afternoons off work, about one hundred bottles of innocent smoothie ( I kid myself that they can replace proper fruit and veg), three flasks of hot water, many many teabags, six paintbrushes, fifteen tubes of paint, one special black pen and a roll of masking tape.

I loved it so much, but it would be a lie to say there were no challenges. I love painting but I don't get to do as much of it as I'd like. And when I started painting, it soon became clear that if I carried on at that pace, the lion would never get finished in time. So I had to adapt, and become looser, more chilled in my approach.

I don't normally use black. I believe when mixing, it kills a colour, and I'd rather find another way to achieve darker colours. BUT, in this instance, nothing was helping me acheive a clean, clear distinctive outline, until Stuart leant me his black pen, and a big obstacle was overcome. It sped up the process and allowed to get the look I wanted without faffery involving tiny paintbrushes and lots of swearing. Thanks Stuart!

I'm an illustrator at heart, and my work has a friendly, colourful look to it, which I suppose people must like if I get hired now and then. But I had to overcome some insecurity about my work: Would people like it? Will they get it? In the end I just have to do what I can and let people decide for themselves. My work isn't especially cool or profound, but hopefully I've given Peterborough a vibrant, energetic piece that people will want to walk around and explore. Let's hope so anyway.
Peterborough Museum were really accommodating and I loved pretending this magnificent venue was my studio for three weeks. Stuart and Cain were great neighbours too and I loved seeing them decorate their lions, not being familiar with spray art I was suitably awed.

So, the lions will welcome the Olympic torch when it comes into Peterborough tomorrow (3rd July) and then mine will be on display for a year. If you're local, come and enjoy them. If not... enjoy the photos.

Wednesday, 6 June 2012

Peterborough Lions

I'm really excited to be blogging about a great artistic opportunity, and it will all be kicking off this Saturday at Peterborough Museum and Art Gallery.

About a month ago I was contacted by Stuart from Peterborough's Blok Collective, a group of local artists. He'd seen some work I'd done for a local competition and wondered if I wanted to be one of four artists who get to paint their own design on a life-sized statue of a lion. Guess how long it took for me to leap into the air, shouting YES!!!

For those of you that haven't seen, it's become a bit of a craze in the last couple of years to have statues of various animals dotted about British cities, all uniquely decorated by different artists. In London there were elephant statues all around the city, highlighting the plight of the Asian elephant. Go here for the whole story. There's also been gorillas in Bristol, as well as the SuperLambBanana statues in Liverpool some years ago. 

Now my city is getting Lions and Unicorns! They will all be standing on the platform to welcome the Olympic torch when it arrives by train into Peterborough on July 3.

This is the lion I will be painting this weekend. Isn't he a beauty?

I've got some preliminary ideas shown below here in acrylic, basically I think my lion is going to made up of many different brightly coloured illustrations, all connected to Peterborough, spread over him like a patchwork blanket. The illustration of a pomegranate represents Katherine of Aragon, who is buried in our cathedral. To this day people still leave flowers and pomegranates (the symbol of her family) at her grave.

if you live in Peterborough, come to the Museum this weekend to see me and the other artists painting our lions. I'm nervous but also really excited. The painting will be taking place over the next couple of weeks. I'll post pictures of his progress as I go.

Sunday, 3 June 2012

Photoshop brushwork

At university I used photoshop a lot. Fast forward a few years and I'm shocked at how rubbish I am on it! I'm trying to create painterly pictures with it. Today I've been painting with acrylics and watercolour, and as soon as I find my cord, I'll upload the photos. 

The painting is to prepare for a really exciting project I'm involved in next weekend: painting one of four life-sized lion statues to go on display in my city, in preparation for the Olympic torch visit. This thursday I led a workshop with some Peterborough residents to come up with ideas for the design, it went really well. I provided each participant with a blank 'Peterborough alphabet', and they all filled in each letter with something from Peterborough. At the moment I know that the design will be colourful, and that it will involve intricate details from Peterborough's past and present, lots and lots of different elements all scattered all over.

In other news check out my friend's blog, a very talented and prolific painter and illustrator, Carly Allen-Fletcher

Tomorrow I'll be putting on my handmade red dress with the black dots, a dash of lipstick and beads, and going out on my bike into the city to celebrate the Jubilee, first at a Big Lunch where my giant greetings card will be signed by everybody and sent to the Queen (see blog post below), then perhaps onto the Green Backyard for more celebrating. If anyone else is celebrating, I hope you have fun!

Monday, 28 May 2012

Thank you Ma'am

A very very last minute commission - a community holding a street party near me wants an enormous thank you card for the Queen made, which can be signed by everyone on the day. Nice idea, no?

Saturday, 28 April 2012

USURP Gallery zine fair, London

Have a look at these photos I took today at Usurp Gallery's zine fair in Harrow, London. Great people, fabulous zines, cute location and terrific food made by volunteers.

This is the back view of the gallery, I was outside at the bottom of the 'garden' in a large, brightly lit summerhouse type building. It was well attended, with about twelve tables in all, and the variety of zines available was excellent. I had a happy browse and bought postcards, zines, badges and art work. Occasionally I ran back to my own table to sell the odd colouring book or issue of Any Old Iron.

These guys are The Gym: check out their twitter and tumblr. They do beautiful posters (On 200 GSM! Whoa! You kind of had to be there), as well as zines, a hand stamp, and other lovely print based products. I bought one of their notebooks, and had a great chat with them. Thanks GYM for good conversation and great zines.
My table: messy as usual. You can see, if you squint, my new wordsearch  promotion postcards, my brown Thinking Notebook for zine ideas (I just love notebooks) and my join the dots sheets.

Such a great day, thank you Rachel and Rose for organising and for stocking my zines. I will definitely be going back, and it has inspired me in my tentative goal to organise something similar in Peterborough. Watch this space. As ever, if you want to swap zines with me then contact me for info, or visit my shop to contribute to my teabag fund.

Wednesday, 25 April 2012

Silence is boring...

But it's been down to a busy, busy life. I've got a sore throat at the moment which luckily doesn't affect my ability to type, so here we go.

This year has started really well for me, with a number of exciting jobs headed my way. I completed some project branding for a local competition called How Morland Court Got Its Name, it was great fun to do, and on top of the flyer I illustrated, I also got to deliver a workshop to local children and help them prepare entries for the competition. I really love talking to people and creating art with them so this was a golden opportunity.
I've also been making adjustments to my website, it's almost there. Next month I'll be running some more workshops in Peterborough in conjunction with Vivacity, and getting involved in a hugely exciting artists' project tied up with the Olympics. More of that when I know more.

Unfortunately this blog has suffered a bit, what with full time work, illustration commissions, swapping zines and trying to have a life. I want to get back into blogging and also featuring people on here again, so get in touch if you'd like to be on here.

This is some of the stuff I've been up to lately.

Friday, 9 March 2012

Illustration Friday– 'Intention'

His intentions become clear as I prepare to lose another game. Why oh why can't I grasp the art of strategy? This is a sneak peak of an illustration that will appear in issue #2 of the zine Any Old Iron. You can buy issue #1 here.

Tuesday, 28 February 2012

Thank you postman

Boo, my camera memory card is mislaid, which means I can't take decent photos of the THREE envelopes waiting for me when I got home today. Hurrah for laptop cameras, although I'm sorry I can't do these proper justice. Here is a rundown of the zines I have happily devoured tonight.

Pixelated, issue #3, by Brandy
I answered a call on etsy to contribute to this zine, the theme is My Favourite Thing. It's thread bound, zig-zag format (probably a proper name for that), the cover is a sturdy, chocolate brown card. Inside are contributions in the form of poems, drawings, an encrypted message (love it!) typography, collage... a beautiful and whimisical addition to the zine box by the bed. Thanks Brandy, and it's great to see my work in someone else's zine . That's one of my new year resolutions fuflfilled by February. Please go here to get yourself a copy.

Deafula, issues #1 and #2, by Deafula
This is a lovely zine. It's written by a young deaf woman in Philidelphia, USA. I've finished issue 1 and am working through issue 2. The inside is a mix of type, drawings and collage, and I learnt a lot about being deaf, it was friendly and so informative. My Grandfather has gone deaf recently and as a family we have had to adapt to that- the chief priority, I think, has been making sure that he feels included at family gatherings, and remembering to speak up. Anyway, it really got me thinking about a lot of other things - Grandad, our health service, attitudes to deaf people and how I will behave when I next meet a deaf person. Thanks Deafula for your brilliant zine! She sells her stuff here.

The Ken Chronicles
This is a perzine from Ken in Philidelphia, and it kind of reads like a journal. There's plenty of content, he puts my zines to shame. I was really interested to see that he mentioned an album I have, Mumford and Sons, I think I bought it in 2009, and I agree with him it's a small dose album. He also mentions Just My Type, a book a work collegue lent me recently. Small world sometimes. Photos, quotes, reviews... my natural nosiness is satisfied in this zine, I love glimpses into other people's lives. It was great to read something by someone who is so obviously experienced in making zines, especially for a newbie like me.

In other news: I was so excited to be reviewed here by Carlos Palacios Hidalgo on his brilliant blog. He's a really nice guy and it felt wonderful to have feedback on the web. Please visit his blog, I love his reviews and because of him have been exposed to some great new music and other jumbly bits. Thank you Carlos!

Monday, 20 February 2012

Latest new stuff

I've been busy lately with a handful of commissions, as well as getting my new zine, Any Old Iron, out into the world. I've had some terrific,, encouraging feedback which has really put a smile on my face, and issue #2 is already underway. In the meantime here are some of the things I've been working on.

Preliminary sketch for a new colouring book for The Green Backyard, Peterborough

I was very fortunate to be asked to do the branding and overall 'look' for the Fenland Poet Laureate. The awards are this Friday night. This flyer is one that I developed alongside Atelier East. They wanted a definite 'fenland' look, so I used the huge skies as a background. I also developed the title font, great fun.

This is a little sneak peek of an unfinished flyer for a local competition. I'm having tons of fun along the way working with a new client. I'll post the final image when it's done.

I'm also going through the first steps in supplying some of my cards to a shop, very exciting, although I don't have a clue what I'm doing, so it should be interesting!

Tuesday, 7 February 2012


It's out! My new zine, Any Old Iron, issue #1! (Champagne cork popping sound)

Monday, 6 February 2012

Aaaargh... blogging has really suffered lately, what with other bits and bobs going on. Ironically I'm almost certainly less busy than I was in 2011, due to the fact that I gave up a couple of regular commitments in order to empty my week and start new hobbies. I haven't started any new ones yet, but I'm not too worried about that, as I'm often busy to a fault, and it can't hurt to have slowed down a bit.

This past month I have: attended a zine meet in Coventry (loads of fun, big shouts to all those who were there), been to Prague with friends, written and finished the first edition of Any Old Iron, my new zine, and had a friend to stay from the United States. He's studying in London and wanted to see British life outside the capital, and I'm pleased to say I think we managed to oblige. I cooked him a proper English breakfast and took him to some of the finest pubs Peterborough has to offer, as well as our stunning cathedral. It was great to see a visitor's perspective on familiar sights, and to have him leave with good memories.

My online shops have been as quiet as the grave this month, dead as a doornail, no sales whatsoever. It's probably not unusual for this time of year, but slightly disconcerting nonetheless, it makes you wonder if your stuff is worthwhile to anyone. Mind you, it was doing okay before Christmas. Plus I don't depend on my shops for an income, so I have to remind myself that these shops are simply a good way for me to 'test the water' as to what's popular.

I'm getting more and more into zines lately, I've now swapped a fair few with people around the globe. One of the main reason I love zines is that they are mainly produced with no thought of profit or promotion, in that way the work is pure and very creative. I've found zine making to have revitalised my personal creative process, which has leaked into my work. I've been feeling the need to refresh my style and approach for ages, I just didn't know how to do it! Here are some of my recent buys/swaps:

This zine is full of Lee's beautiful line work and his gentle musings on life. He's a great writer and formidable artist. A zine that gets you thinking and examining your life, as well as having a peek into his.

Jumping the Shark by Sammy Borras.
Sammy's comics are funny, bright and skilfully drawn, her characterization is just enviably good. 

Coloring for Creeps
I swapped this zine with a girl in Nevada, the images are dreamlike and, I'm sure she won't mind me saying, pretty creepy. The flowing line makes the strange creatures within seem almost fluid.

The Runcible Spoon by Malaka Gharib:
I bought this one off Etsy, it's a riot of colour, based around food and recipes, with anecdotes, instructions and quirky collages throughout. A lot of the recipes are new to me so I'd like to try them, in the privacy of my own home of course, as my cooking is, well, pretty terrible, sadly.

Sunday, 29 January 2012

Prague 2012

I've just got back from Prague and thought I'd share some of my photography. Prague was cold, whistley, wide, twisting and crooked. I liked the street graffiti and the trams. Alcohol was cheap. I ate strawberry chocolate and hot pastries, bought underneath Charles Bridge. I left my miniature zines in secret places for people to find. I'd definitely go back because I wanted to go to the museum of communism and see a light show, but the friends I went with weren't keen on the idea. Enjoy the photos, I'm going to produce a zine containing my artwork and photography from the trip, so stay tuned.