Tuesday, 28 March 2017

NYC Midnight; a journey into the world of short story writing

I was absently scrawling through Facebook the other day, when I saw an advertisement for something called NYC Midnight. I love writing - I write everyday, whether it be note-taking, morning pages, stories and ideas.

NYC Midnight is such a brilliant idea - you enter the competition and there are three rounds. There's a prize for the best story, but I imagine most people aren't motivated by it. They're motivated by the sheer thrill of the process. Every contestant is assigned three prompts - character, subject and genre. Then, they are given a week to write an epic short story of 2000 words.

Untitled, book illustration, 2017 LMC

If you get through to the next round, you are assigned new prompts but are given 72 hours to deliver the goods.

If you get through to the third and final round, you are given new prompts and 48 hours to complete your story.

It's such an interesting process; often when writing, I'll hit a block or hurdle and I'll feel it impossible to overcome it. The NYC Midnight process helps me develop methods of quickly overcoming these blocks. The idea that if you leave it too long, or procrastinate too much you'll miss your deadline works like an energy drink. You have to do it, so you do. It's a similar way I create my illustrations for my clients;  I have a deadline, and I don't miss them. Even if I'm stuck, I just find a path through it, and deliver good work. I just never thought of applying this to my writing in the same way.

The number of people who enter this is insane; rolling through the list of fellow writers (I refuse to call them the competition!) it's pretty obvious why we do it. Not only are the judges highly talented writers themselves, but they give every single contestant feedback, whether you get through to the next rounds or not. It's incredibly useful, nurturing and productive.

There's also something beautiful in knowing that around the world, in all these different countries, people are working on the same thing as you - yes, everyone has different prompts and every story will be delightfully different, but the knowledge that all these people I've never met are pouring their love into their tales is a wonderful thought.

I've just completed the second round, and it was a wild ride! Yes, I got stuck occasionally, and yes I had moments of 'This is crap!' but I kept going, kept honing the words and tweaking the story until I loved it - and that's the point.   I would thoroughly recommend it for next year!

L xxx

Saturday, 31 December 2016

Studio work 2016

Since November I've moved to the Isle of Wight for 5 months. While I'm here I'm working on a few projects and a new book.

I'm also entering the Folio Society annual competition, which I enter every year. This year is Mansfield Park. It's a very difficult novel to get to grips with. Firstly, the heroine - Fanny Price - is a very problematic character. She is shy, quiet and often makes things more difficult for herself by being very passive, and willing to take the backseat. On the other side of her character, she is very judgmental of people she finds 'unworthy' or lacking 'moral fibre'. 

On my first reading of Mansfield Park (I actually started by listening to the audio book) I found it very hard to have any sympathy for Fanny. Then, on reading it again I came to the realisation that Fanny may be acting in this way because she is depressed. Constantly sidelined by her wealthy relations, made to sleep in the cold attic, having only one true friend at Mansfield Park could be the result of her mental state. 

Finally, I read the book one more time with this idea in mind - Fanny Price is suffering from depression - and the whole of her character opened up to me. I began to understand her - I could see where she was coming from. She had a deep pain inside her, and she needed to let it out.

This understanding of the central character in Mansfield Park has definitely influenced my drawing style for this project. I'll post the final spreads when I can.

L xxx

Wednesday, 24 February 2016

Travelling and working reflections

I've spent the last half a year travelling the world - llustrating, living, loving, drinking, swimming, talking, listening and being. It's been pretty great. Here are some of the things I've learned.

1) You can't escape your inner voice. You can go to the other side of the world, it will still be there. The trick is to accept it, and love it and it floats away.
2) Most people in the world are essentially decent. And the people who seem not to be are yearning for something, happiness, money, love, and it makes them seem like dicks.
3) Illustrating in hostels is HARD! I need a desk and private space.
4) The world is more beautiful than I can comprehend. From Peru to Japan to New Zealand. I don't understand how there is so much beauty here on earth.

5) Be kind to people, even if they aren't kind to you.
6) Everyday is an opportunity to find something amazing - stop planning and just let the day enfold.

That's all I've got so far...but I'm sure I'll have more.

Lots of love,

L xxx

Monday, 28 September 2015

How a Late Paying Client Can Ruin a Freelance Business

Aaaah dear. This again. This AGAIN.

As an artist and a freelance illustrator, I've always known the key differences in the two. As an artist, I work by myself, for myself. I create work that I love. Art that makes me calm and happy. And the way I am able to make art is by creating illustrations for different clients. 

And I love it.

There's nothing better than getting a challenging brief and really pushing yourself, and then getting it right. Also as an illustrator, I end up working more collaboratively. My job is to help visualise what the client wants, and sometimes I have to pull away and do my own thing to get the best results. 

It's all cool.

So the job's over, and weeks turn into months, and no payment shows up. This becomes really tricky. A freelance budget is constantly precarious. You're relying on the goodwill of your clients to pay when they say they will, and if they put it off, forget to pay you, or flat out refuse by dodging emails or losing your invoice, then you're in trouble.  

A late payment can be the difference between just getting by, and wracking up extortionate bank charges. A late payment can be the end of the line for an illustrator. 

It's hard to imagine for many people not getting a pay check every month. Every month, on the dot, you'll get paid. You may have had a slow month at work, it may have been one of the most stressful, but you know each month that the money is coming in. 

This is not the case for freelancers. 

I can budget all I want - things can look rosy. Jobs are lined up and are being illustrated. And then, the silence after the job. The long months of worry as you watch your careful plans for your business' survival crumbling. 


Because your huge corporation of a client wants to hang on to your bill just one month longer. Screw the illustrator. She'll be fine. We don't care any way. 

Well - here's the thing...a late payment is death to a freelancers business. A business that they've spent years nurturing with loving hard work and long hours.  

So clients, when you've commissioned an illustrator...just pay your damn bill. 

Thank you.

Thursday, 16 July 2015

'The Magical City' published today!

Here it is! My first book with Penguin 'The Magical City' hits the shops today!

Here is an interview I did with the lovely Neil Bennett at Digital Arts Magazine about the book. 

Interview with Digital Arts Magazine 

Photo credit : Digital Arts Magazine