Earlier this year I contacted John Purcell Papers (London), requesting offcuts and example sheets that they thought would be appropriate for use with printing and book making. They were extremely helpful and sent me a pack of 9 different sheets. Each was tested with a woodcut, brushpen and watercolours. 

Zerkall Smooth 145gsm - Overall best, printed nicely, appropriate feel and weight

Somerset Book White 115gsm - Too much texture

Fabriano 5 160gsm Smooth - Nice weight and feel, perhaps use reverse side

Magnani Pescia Book 120gsm - Too white

Somerset Book Offwhite - …..

Zerkall ENE Special Special Making 150gsm - Nice weight, too smooth

Zerkall Smooth - Too floppy

Japon 130gsm - Too smooth

turquoiselizard replied to your photoset: (Click images for slideshow) As promised,…

i’d love to purchase one please reply if you have one to ship :)

Sure thing! Email me at joeward234@hotmail.co.uk and we can discuss prices :)

Riceboy Sleeps, Jon “Jonsi” Thor Birgisson and Alex Somers, 2006

A collaboration between Sigur Ros’ frontman and his boyfriend, this book contains highly textured, expressionist layered collage images that are exquisitely presented in a small hardback book, on high grade paper. Birgisson has also produced all of the band’s artwork to date, beautiful imagery that sails strong in a sea of cheap, disposable media.

Research - Little books are awesome. Hardback books are awesome. All of these are from my own collection, and are an influence on how I’d want my final piece to turn out, as a really high quality little book that draws the reader in and is an appealing item in itself. These photos are of an early 20th Century copy of the Rubaiyat of Omar Khayyam (hardback, yellowed pages, intricate detailing) and Craig Thompson’s Habibi. No copyright infringement intended, these are purely used as examples.

Pieces from a blog I found, a hiker’s collection of diaries. Interesting little books filled with sketches, maps, notes on weather and general ephemera collected over his travels.



(Click images for slideshow)

London Book Fair, Earl’s Court, 2012.

Three days of self promotion and contact making, it was a great experience. All of my business cards went, and the bulk of my books did too. It’s a shame that the general vibe received was that actually, most publishers weren’t there to gather illustrators, but to actually do business and have boring board meetings. Why do that when you can look at pretty pictures? The mind boggles.

(Click images for slideshow)

As promised, selected pages from my self promotional book. Size is A5, limited to 20 copies. A fair selection of work was included in varying styles to entice potential customers and show flexibility. 

Not overly pleased with the title, it was a generic filler that I decided to go with due to time constraints, and felt it fit. 

I only have 3 copies left, for swaps/sale. The rest have been distributed at the London Book Fair to art directors and relevant publishers.

Amanda Wood, Publishing Director at Templar Publishing commented that she felt I’ve concentrated too much on one subject. I agree wholeheartedly on this, and feel that perhaps I should have done a more general piece, including other animals and ephemera from worldwide history and cultures. This applies to my portfolio too. On the plus side, she really liked my work and style, and advised putting all my effort into promoting my work to museums and similar institutions. 

1- Illustrations were scanned and individually removed from the white backgrounds, each being saved separately. This was time consuming but ultimately made composing and creating pages extremely easy and quick.

2- The scientific descriptions for each insect were neatly handwritten onto decent paper using the lightbox and a sheet of lined paper underneath, again being scanned, edited and saved as above (but easier due to the contrast between b+w)

3- I chose enough insects (with a fair variety of style) for 15 pages A5, then the cover. A dummy book was knocked up to see which pages would fit where (for printing purposes). These were then arranged in photoshop to A4 pages. I doubled these up to A3 sheets to save on printing costs.

4- WHSmiths 135g sketchbook paper was used to print on via an MFD printer. Each A3 side had to be hand fed and flipped/rotated, at 20p a side. I used 2 sketchbooks at £4 each, 30 sheets each. Roughly £25 was put into the printer. A lot cheaper than sending it off to be printed, and I didn’t have to rely on HAL, our studio printer.

5- The sheets were then cut in half and scored with my trusty Stanley to provide a more snug fit. The cover was folded, for aesthetics and also a better wrap around. Staples bind it all together. The book guillotine was used to cut down and even out the page ends. Finally, a rubber stamp of contact details was added to the back page.

I’ve found creating this book to feel intensely rewarding, having put so much time into the illustrations, then spending hours (days) making the final product from scratch, using my own initiative and skill. I’m overall very proud of it, but can also see what I would change and improve for future projects. 

(This will be covered in my next post, with some sample photos. Thanks for reading!)

Today I’ve edited 39 individual insects, cutting them out on photoshop, erasing the edges to a feathered effect so they can all be composed for future work, being put onto any background I want, hopefully with minimal extra effort. It’s taken roughly 11 hours straight, well, having an hour break, and a quick booze run. Quite tired now.

Better be worth it.


Another A3 sheet of insects. Kinda time I did something with these, so shall be spending loads of time in front of the screen editing and compiling. Favourites are the Cicada (middle, red and white wings) and the Thorn Bug above. Seems my favourites are always the most difficult to do (fiddly bastard wings… layering… layering… LAYERING).
(Copyright is mine)

Insects, 2012.

Two A3 pages from my sketchbook. Thought it’d be much simpler just to show them like this than edit and edit and edit. They take too long to do. 

Wing Details, 2012
Banded Orange Heliconian and Malachite butterflies. Watercolour studies focusing on pattern and colour of wings. I really enjoy building up the colour, especially where it’s splodgy, indicating the individual cells (?). Originally sketched out as designs for woodcuts, this will probably happen eventually. Possibly. It’ll happen.
(Copyright is mine, and a big thanks to Alaska Uni Museum and Scientific Illustration tumblrs for reblogging my work, you’re brill)
Shield Bugs, 2012
(L-R Hawthorne, unspecified Indian, Forest, Common Green)
A small selection of shield bugs from the pages upon pages of insects I’ve been drawing recently. Going for the whole museum collection look. One project aim is to have loads of bugs drawn out to print into a huge piece. This can then be separated out into different individual collections based on species, colour etc. These are really just meant to emphasise intricacy, colour and detail over anything else.
(Copyright for these illustrations is mine)
Beberian Doodles, 2012
Craig Thompson’s Carnet de Voyage is incredible (just knowing he did that, and more, plus actual work and research, not forgetting public portraits, then spending EIGHT YEARS developing it into Habibi), makes me want to work my socks off. Running into familiar artists, they contribute doodles and portraits to their friend. Here is a piece by Charles Beberian, inspiring me to try and be looser with my meticulous work. His sketch succeeds in the pressure of the liveliness of this cafe environment, whereas mine doesn’t due to the safety of a photographic book. Lesson? Find living creatures.
Fiddly bug paintings will be posted tomorrow…..
(Copyright belongs to Craig Thompson/Charles Beberian for the page extract. I own my doodles.)
Opaque  by  andbamnan