Illustrating a Book Cover

emma block book coverEarlier in the year Text Publishing got in touch with me about illustrating a book cover for an upcoming chapter book. It was a really lovely project so I thought I would share a behind-the-scenes peak with you guys.emma block book cover 

They had a fairly clear idea of what they wanted from the cover so I went straight in with the sketch. The feedback was that the plant life needed to be more varied and more wild looking. After my second sketch got the go-ahead I started on the artwork. I painted the mirror and the girls separately and then layered them on photoshop so they could be edited and moved. 

IMG_6401emma block book coverI painted the botanical wallpaper straight onto green paper which looked really lovely and definitely set the tone for the piece, but it was difficult to edit in photoshop. Ultimately I started the background again, painting individual plants on a white background which could then be removed in photoshop. The individual plant motifs could then be arranged on a green background which meant the design was much more flexible. The plant motifs were also use to create a gorgeous decorative title page. I also painted some little botanical flourishes to be used for the chapter headings.emma block book coveremma block book cover

I’m really happy with how the book cover has turned out and the author actually emailed me to say how much she liked the cover which was really lovely to hear.

The book is Elizabeth and Zenobia, by Jessica Miller, published by Text Publishing.

Print and Pattern Design Workshop

Emma Block PatternAfter the success of our first two workshops, Nancy Straughan and I are back at West Elm to teach you how to make beautiful repeat patterns. This workshop will be dealing with the technical side of repeat patterns, taking you through the whole process from initial mood boards and sketches to developing a pattern collection ready to print.There will be a little goodie bag for each student and refreshments are provided.Emma Block PatternEmma Block Pattern

The class will be held in West Elm, which is full of gorgeous pattern and design inspiration! You can buy your ticket here. The class takes place on Sunday 4th of September 1:00 PM – 3:30 PM.Emma Block Pattern

Top Tips for Recent Graduates

emma block homemaker magazineGraduation is always a scary time, and after the degree show comes down it’s easy to feel a little bit lost. Here are 10 little nuggets of advice to hopefully get you through this transition period.

1. Don’t let anyone tell you that you can’t do it
When I was preparing for my degree show a lot of people were saying things like ‘well obviously I don’t expect to work as an illustrator’ and ‘everyone knows there’s no work in the illustration industry’. These things aren’t true. It’s not easy but it’s not impossible, and somebody’s got to take the photos, design the clothes and draw the pictures we all enjoy, so why shouldn’t you be the one to do it. I have made my living solely as a freelance illustrator since graduating 5 years a go.

2. Stay passionate and keep producing work
If you’re passionate about your, work prove it. Don’t put down your sketchbook for 6 months after graduating. Keep writing/drawing/taking photos and producing new work. A portfolio with nothing but uni work in it doesn’t look great. I update my portfolio website every time I complete a new project.

3. Get a website
This is essential, and something that really should be sorted out before your degree show. A web address on a business card that leads to a blank page doesn’t leave a great impression. Making a simple but effective website doesn’t need to be expensive or difficult. SquarespaceCargo, and WordPress are all great platforms. In the 21st century your website is your CV, so keep it updated. I currently use Cargo for my portfolio website and wordpress for blogging: they’re both easy to update and come up well in Google searches. A very large percentage of my customers are also readers of my blog, so for me this is one of the most important aspects of my online presence.

4. Look out for graduate opportunities
There is a relatively short time span when you are classed as a graduate, not just a student or a run of the mill freelancer. Take advantage of graduate schemes and awards while you can. Lots of big website and agencies like It’s Nice That and YCN run graduate showcases that guarantee a lot of exposure. This is something I really wish I had known about when I graduated.

5. Make the most of student discounts
You probably have about a month left of your student discount. Now is the time to join the Association of Illustrators and take advantage of your Apple student discount. Another thing to be aware of is once you’re are no longer a student you have to start paying council tax straight away, potentially making the last month of your tenancy agreement an expensive one.

emma painting6. Get a part time job
Working full time in your chosen career field is always the ideal, but sometimes you need a part time job to pay the rent before you get there. I would advise a part time not full time job so you still have the time and energy to devote to your work, but you know what will work for you. Look out for studio assistant job where you can learn from a successful artist as well as earning money.

7. Set up an online shop
Setting up a simple online shop somewhere like Etsy can help you start making an income from your artwork straight away. Whether you’re freelancing or working a day job it’s always nice to have another stream of income. Selling something like prints or greetings cards is fairly low risk as the minimum orders aren’t huge and they sell well. I recommend and Awesome Merchandise for all your printing needs. Doing craft markets is also a great way of making an income form your work and getting yourself out there.

8. Use social media
Using social media isn’t essential, but I can’t see why you wouldn’t want to utilise this amazing platform. Social media is a great way for clients to find you, as well as building an audience, interacting with like minded people, getting your work out there and finding a community. The platforms I get most work from is Instagram. As a highly visual platform it makes sense to use it was an illustrator. I also use Twitter, Pinterest and Facebook and I blog.
9. Keep your options open
When I first graduated with a degree in Illustration I thought I might do some drawings for greetings cards and magazines. I never imaged that I would draw live at big events, that I would teach hundreds of students brush lettering and watercolours and that I would be whisked off to France with Stylist Magazine. My career has developed in ways I could have never imagined. Be open to trying new things.

10. Don’t give up
To be honest the only person that can put an end to your dreams is you. Success never comes overnight. It takes years of hard work to build a career in the creative industries.

emma block


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