this northern boy

Illustrations for an imaginary age

Category: Uncategorized

Recent Commissions


I’m now happily accepting a new round of illustration commissions. If you’ve ever wanted to own some original art – and like my work – now’s your chance.


If you would like to buy an original drawing, email me at rob [at] thisnorthernboy [dot] co [dot] uk , and you can request one of the following:

An isometric building
A robot
An Astronaut
A Spaceship
An imagined place
Something else entirely

What you’ll receive will be a black and white pen drawing, on an A4 or A5 sheet of good quality, 220gsm cartridge paper. If you would prefer a colour illustration – let me know and we can have a chat.

You can also request for the illustration to be landscape or portrait in orientation.

Any other requests – type of landscape, style of robot etc. can be made, but there’s no guarantee I’ll be able to take this into account. I know this sounds a little strict, but I only want to accept commissions that I’ll enjoy drawing right now, and in return you get a lovely surprise when you open your finished illustration.

What will this cost?

For an A5 (148 x 210mm) commission I charge £50 + post & packaging.
For an A4 (210 x 297mm) commission I charge £80 + post & packaging.

When you email me to request a commission, if you can include the address you’d like it shipped to, I’ll work out the cost of postage and let you know. If you’re happy with the overall cost I can accept payment by PayPal.

When will you get your drawing?

I’ll aim to complete and post all illustrations within three weeks of receiving payment.

Isometricness III

It’s been a couple of weeks since the end of Inktober and, despite my computer’s hard drive failing, I’ve finally got all the images scanned and cleaned up.

The month was rewarding for me in terms of my drawing, I definitely think I improved from week to week. It was also great in terms of marketing me as an illustrator. Over the course of the month my Instagram followers increased from a little under ten thousand, to over twenty thousand – I haven’t been able to work out quite how that happened. Every one of the isometric drawings sold, and I got another 15 illustration commissions on the back of that.

My next blog post will be about social media, so I’ll discuss a little more then about Instagram, Facebook and Twitter.

Here are all 31 of my isometric Inktober drawings. Do you have a favourite?


Day 1.




Day 31. All done.

Thanks very much to everyone who liked, commented, shared and retweeted my posts throughout October – and a special thanks everybody that bought one of my inktober illustrations.

August blogfest – day 29

Busy today, lots of inking, paint-splattering, scanning, photoshopping. No time to put together a blog post of any note.

I’ll just leave a picture by one of my favourite artists here…


Hellboy, Mike Mignola.

August blogfest – day 28

Everything I know about art (or did at the age of 15)

When I was a kid my mum enrolled on an Open University Course in the History of Art. One of the books that appeared on the bookshelves as a result was E.H. Gombrich’s The Story of Art. For a good eight or nine years, pretty much everything I knew about art came out of that book. My current copy is the third I’ve owned, and it’s still pretty indispensable.


The Story of Art, first published in 1950 (and updated regularly since) is a fantastic introduction to the world of art, from prehistoric cave paintings to modern art, Gombrich discusses the development or art, painting, sculpture, and architecture. It really is an invaluable resource – even in the age of the internet, and if you want to learn something about art, particularly in a broad sense, it’s hard to beat.

For me the Story of Art was a real introduction to renaissance art – BerniniTitian, Bellini, Bosch, Van Eyck, Dürer, Holbein… The first time I saw many of the works of these artists was in the book, and it wasn’t until decades later I saw some of them in real life.

Years later when I was studying Art A Level, my teacher would read sections of The Story of Art to us, I think this was the history of art element of the A Level in its entirety. The thing was the teacher wasn’t really very good at pronunciation – so when she was reading sections on classical art, it was kind of hilarious. Heracles, became Herrackles, Hermes became Herms, Praxiteles became Pracsittles… Some things are just beyond the scope of Gombrich’s influence it seems.


August blogfest – day 26

“Regular maps have few surprises: their contour lines reveal where the Andes are, and are reasonably clear. More precious, though, are the unpublished maps we make ourselves, of our city, our place, our daily world, our life; those maps of our private world we use every day; here I was happy, in that place I left my coat behind after a party, that is where I met my love; I cried there once, I was heartsore; but felt better round the corner once I saw the hills of Fife across the Forth, things of that sort, our personal memories, that make the private tapestry of our lives.” Alexander McCall Smith.


Mapping an imaginary place.

I drew this map for the episode artwork of the North v South podcast I make with Jon Elliman. Every week we have a topic, last night’s recording featured us discussing maps. We love a map. Doesn’t everyone?

August blogfest – day 22

Today I’ve been working on some sketches for an article I’m writing about my methods/process for a new illustration magazine called Graphite. It’s a really nice little sci-fi brief, and having to write about how I approach it has meant I’m probably thinking about the way I’m working more closely. One of the elements of the illustration I’ve been thinking about in particular today is the composition, scribbling down little thumbnails, trying to work out an interesting layout. If I think about composition, I generally think about two artists  – Sergio Toppi and Mike Mignola. I’m going to come back to Mike in a later blog post, so here’s a little sample of some of Sergio Toppi’s amazing work.

Toppi’s composition is always striking, using dramatic contrasts of black and white, finding balance in seemingly impossible asymmetric layouts. I’m not sure there’s ever been a more masterful exponent of the art of composition and blimey, he could certainly draw.

August blogfest – day 21

Tired. Work.

Sums things up today.

Final tweaks on a couple of projects before they go back to the clients. Hopefully next week will be a bit clearer so I can work on my thoughts for prints of my illustrations and my website.

In the absence of any pretty pictures from me, here’s another of my favourite paintings, The Incredulity of Saint Thomas, painting by Caravaggio in 1601.

“…reach hither thy hand, and thrust it into my side: and be not faithless, but believing”


August blogfest – day 19

It’s eleven in the evening and I’m still drawing.

So, I’ll share two things with you:

  1. It’s my mum’s birthday today – Happy Birthday mum! You’re absolutely ace. My mum was as responsible as anyone for me drawing from a young age, and she’s great at drawing too and really should do it more often. (My dad did once draw me an incredible Space Shuttle – so he’s no slouch either.)
  2. I helped my wife with a wedding this morning. I’ve mentioned before that she’s an amazing wedding florist. She’s a bloody great wife too. Have a look at the work on her blog, and on her Instagram page. Bloody talented.

Back to drawing…

August blogfest – day 14


In the village of Compton in Surrey, not far from Guildford, is the one of the most beautiful and remarkable places I know. The Watts Memorial Cemetery and Chapel was built between 1896 and 1898 by the people of Compton, under the guidance and tutelage of Mary Seton Fraser Tytler, the wife of George Frederic Watts the Victorian painter and sculptor.

There’s a peace and tranquility associated with many churches and chapels, but at the Watts Chapel, and in the beautiful cemetery surrounding it, there’s something especially serene and hushed.

There’s much more about the Chapel, and the Watts Gallery, here. It’s well worth a trip, and if you’re lucky you might just see the hares and deer in the field nearby.

August blogfest – day 3

A productive day.

The tattoo commission was finished and posted off to California (not Connecticut like I said yesterday).

I worked on some logo designs for the branding project, put together a presentation and emailed that to the client.

On Twitter I ran a quick giveaway for some of my badges and stickers. Three, very quick-off-the-mark, people should have their goodies tomorrow. It was a nice, fun little thing to do. I’ll probably run something similar again soon when I get some postcards printed.

Tomorrow I’m helping Steph out on a wedding in the morning. If you don’t know, Steph (my wife) is an amazing wedding florist, and I sometimes help her setting up weddings if I’m not out working at a client’s. Once the wedding is sorted I’ll ink the sketch for the Californian client – I’m looking forward to that.


Commission ready to post


Badges and stickers giveaway


Detail of a logo design