this northern boy

Illustrations for an imaginary age

Tag: blog

Off the radar

Hi all, apologies for the lack of blog posts in the last few months. I’ve become a little disillusioned with social media lately and that’s meant I haven’t been posting content as frequently. I’m not sure if that’ll change too much, algorithms and the like are taking a bit of the joy out of it. When you post something and it gets half the engagement a similar post was getting a couple of years ago, despite having more than twice the number of followers, it’s a bit discouraging.

Anyway, here’s what I have been up to since summer.

Patreon. I’ve continued to work on my Patreon project – Weird Field World. There’s a bit of info about it here. I’m really enjoying fleshing out the world, adding background, history, little stories and characters. The engagement with my supporters there is great, and it’s very energising to have people to discuss the project with. You can support me here.

Inktober. I failed to finish Inktober this year. I think I just ran out of steam and enthusiasm for the project after a couple of weeks. My plan was to draw a series of little building based, loosely, on the play Under Milk Wood, by Dylan Thomas. I started off OK, but there wasn’t, perhaps, quite enough to go on for a whole month of building drawings. I think I managed 14 or 15 in the end. I was reasonably happy with most of them, and I might add one or two more at some point. A bunch of the illustrations are available to buy, so I’ll add a separate post soon.

Illustration work. This year has been a disappointment compared to last year. Working on a couple of books, plus work in a couple of magazines, some t-shirt designs and a little concept art work meant that 2018 was by far my best year for paid illustration work. 2019 by comparison has been awful. I’ve had a steady flow of private commissions this year, but no major commercial work at all. I’ve worked on concept art for a couple of clients, but both of those projects fizzled out due to publishing or financial issues. It has made me realise that I need to be much more proactive in seeking work, so in the last few weeks I’ve been getting organised. The year has ended brighter, a few little commercial projects have come in over the last two weeks, and I’ve had enquiries about a couple more.

Digital Illustration. A year or so ago I bought myself an iPad Pro and Apple Pencil, hoping to dive in to the world of digital illustration. One of the main reasons for doing so was to be able to produce super clean linework that would reproduce well in print. I have found working digitally a huge, and difficult, leap. The simple act of drawing on something other than paper, even with a matt screen protector on the iPad, has taken a huge amount of time to get used to – and there were many times when I thought it simply wasn’t going to be possible for me. The turning point was a suggestion from Rob McCallum on Twitter that I simply give up working on paper for a while, and only sketch on the iPad. It might seem like an obvious solution, but to draw digitally, and not get the results you want, for even a day was quite a task for me. Gradually, over the course of a couple of weeks things began to feel more natural. I got used to the feel of the stylus on glass, to the way digital lines worked, how to tweak brush settings to suit my way of drawing. Now, although I still have huge amounts to learn, I really do feel comfortable working on the iPad. I even enjoy it. Part of that is down to just how good the iPad and Pencil are, and how great a piece of software Procreate is. Together they are really quite formidable. Adobe and Wacom should be worried, particularly with the lacklustre release of Photoshop for iPad.

Parklife. I’ve continued to get out for walks as often as I can, if not as often as I’d like, in Bushy Park. Getting out in to the fresh air, and out in the open is hugely important for me, particularly if I’ve been stuck at my desk for a few days. I still get a thrill from seeing the variety of wildlife in the park – Red and Fallow deer, woodpeckers, kingfishers, and a huge number of other different bird species. I can’t recommend getting out in to the countryside enough. Make the effort if you can, you won’t regret it.

Reading. I’ve struggled to find moments to read this year. Not commuting in to London at all has been one factor – the only good thing about a three hour commute each day is that it gives you three guilt-free hours to read each day. Apart from that I just don’t seem to have been in the right frame of mind. Perhaps it’s a feeling of guilt – spending time reading when ideally I’d be working – even if I haven’t had the work to do this year. I’ve tried to put things right in the last month or so. I read and thoroughly enjoyed Gareth Powell’s sequel to Embers of WarFleet of Knives. And Ann Leckie’s Provenance, set in the Imperial Radch universe she introduced us to in Ancillary Justice, was a great read. Currently I’m reading Wilding by the appropriately named Isabella Tree. It’s the story of how she and her (affluent) family set about rewilding large parts of their 1400 acre estate in Sussex.

That’s it for now. I’ll do my best to post more often. Do let me know if there’s anything in particular you’d like me to write about.

 

You can find prints of my work here

I also have a Patreon page

And you can find more of my work online…
Twitter
Instagram
Facebook
Tumblr

Buy Me a Coffee at ko-fi.com

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.

Commissions

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.

August blogfest – day 31

It’s finally over! At the beginning of August I wrote that I might be making a rod for my own back by committing to one blog post a day for the month. I was right. I really enjoy writing my blogs, but I tend to write and post them when I feel I have something to share or something to say. Finding the time, and a subject every day was a real struggle. Far too many of the posts have been written hurriedly at eleven o’clock at night. I definitely think I write better with a little more time – both to do the actual writing, and to think about the subject.

How was it for you? Did you enjoy reading a new post everyday? Were the subjects interesting? Was the content too image heavy? Too wordy? In the future are there particular subjects you might like to read about? I’d be very interested to know your thoughts, so please add a comment if you have time.

In terms of stats, blogging every day didn’t have much affect. I had just over 1400 visitors in August, compared to 1100 in July. A little up on my average of 930 each month so far this year. Likes, comments and new subscribers were about the same as previous months too. I think previous posts, where I’ve written in a little more depth about a topic, or had the time to put together lots of images, have definitely had better responses and have been shared more widely on social media. Which I think suggests that it’s all about quality rather than quantity.

Next month I’ll revert to posting three of four times, and I’ll try to make sure they are a little more detailed and considered.

Thanks for reading, if you are still reading and haven’t nodded off by now, and please do add a comment when you get a chance.

Goodbye August. Hello September.

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_Penanggal

Hellboy, Mike Mignola.

August blogfest – day 17

A busy one.

I’m still working on sketches and final inked illustrations for the client in California, feedback has meant a few changes – and the addition of helicopters! Not something I’m used to drawing, Google coming in very handy.

I’m also working on the branding project, again feedback has come in so I have a few amends to make before I get stage two over to the client.

Good to be busy though.

As I haven’t had time to write a more interesting blogpost today, I’ll just leave you with my favourite painting, if you’re ever in London drop in to the National Gallery and stand in front of it for a few minutes. It’s a treat for the eyeballs.

 

Whistlejacket_by_George_Stubbs_edit

Whistlejacket, painted in 1762, by George Stubbs.