Monday, 29 August 2011

Illustrators Pick: Joao Ruas

Last week I posted about James Jean, a former illustrator for the renowned graphic novel Fables. In continuing my love of the Fables covers, today is another illustrator who also did covers for Fables: Joao Ruas.

Joao's penchant for limited color schemes, amazing line work, and modern compositions make his work breathtaking. His dark approach to subject matter and aesthetic leave me wishing I could dissect his brain. Steal his mystical powers. 

Currently he is working out of São Paulo. Make sure you check him out because he is fantastic.

Sunday, 28 August 2011

Illustrators Pick: Susie Wright

Superb work from Edinburgh and London based illustrator Susie Wright. The complex and detailed line drawings against a vast white space certainly draws the viewers attention, each part you look at there's always something new. It's like looking at a map.

Susie has a shop full of beautiful products and do read her blog while you're at it.


Tuesday, 23 August 2011

Submission Update

A HUGE thanks to everyone who submit their work for our first issue!!!

Now that the deadline has passed we are going to be hard at work putting everything together. We will be updating you on the official release date a little closer to completion. We apologize that we can't give you a date quite yet, printing in two countries takes a bit of finessing. Please bare with us.

Good news though! Now that all of the submissions are available we are going to gear up for a new phase of Little Constructs! Every artist who submit their work will get a feature post on our website! So look for a brand new series of posts coming soon. (:

Thank you again to everyone! You are amazing and we are honored to have your support and participation.

Jo and Erica

Friday, 19 August 2011

Illustration 101 - Self Promotion

Every creative knows the importance of self promotion. Without it the chances of being "found" dwindles and less work is available to us. There are many methods available to us for self promotion, how do you find out what methods work, who to target, and how to have successful campaigns for promotion?

Erica - Self promotion for me starts with who I am, aka. my brand. Without knowing who you are and what you do, it's hard to make yourself marketable. So step one for self promotion should always be defining these two aspects. From there, create the visual identity that you associate to that brand, web layout, banners, business cards, email formatting, etc. Once basics laid out put them into practice. Use them constantly, become your brand, but be professional. No one likes emails that are littered with poor grammar, spelling errors, or shorthand.   Even if you have the best brand in the world and an amazing portfolio, being a dolt will quickly get you overlooked or ignored.
Everyone's journey into branding is going to be different so I'm not going to get into that, let's skip how to brand yourself, and assume that you have already established yourself and your brand. There is a lot of debate floating around about whether electronic promoting (blogging, email campaigns, social networking, etc) is better than print promotion (post cards, portfolios, letters). It takes a lot of experimentation to find out what works and doesn't. It takes time. So start now.
My own promotional methods utilize both print and electronic mediums. I am a sucker for traditional work, I love holding something in my hand. Tangibility means a lot to me and in a today where the majority of correspondence is done online, I appreciate physical even more. Spend some time figuring out what you like, and what your budget is. Twitter, Facebook, emailing... all typically free. Printing postcards, making portfolios to take to meetings, fliers... all not free. So establish your budget and stick to it, especially if you are experimenting, don't waste tons of money on a postcard mailer that only 5 people of 200 read.
My personal methods for promotion are as follows:
Electronic- website, blog, Facebook page, Twitter, Behance Network, Society 6, Etsy.
My website links to all of these. Each one is slightly tailored for a specific use, and some are experiments. As I progress and take on more work I'll venture out into other sites and networks. But for now, having a tightly knit "base of operations" between these works well for me. As long as I update them frequently (which isn't always the case). I'm still a little web-shy. But eventually I'll get over it.
Printed- Postcards, business cards, fliers, specialty promo items, packaging.
I try to make sure that everything I make can be identified as coming from me, even if it doesn't fit my "brand".    I want people to know its me, and to know how deeply I care about what I do. Enthusiasm goes a long way I think. Right now, I only used printed materials when I know I'm going to be face to face with someone. Seeing my face and being able to hand them something will make me more memorable. I'm new enough to the game that being able to do so will show people that I'm willing to put myself out there and that I am living what I do and am willing to stand up for it publicly.
No matter what method you use, believe in it and know that it's not just your brand or your work you are marketing/promoting. It is  you, and that makes all the difference in the world. In the words of my mother, "What you do and how hard  you work is a direct reflection of your character and what kind of a person you are. Make sure that your work tells people all of the positives of your character, not the negatives."

Jo- Working in the creative industry has become competitive, I guess for most jobs nowadays! With the 'x' number of students and graduates all going for the same thing you need to start promoting yourself the earlier the better.

Both print and electronic communication go hand in hand. You need something physical to give and send to people as well as having an online presence.
I have promotional postcards and business cards I hand out to people and also when I do my craft markets. If you're feeling a tad creative why not make a pack of promotional items to hand out to potential clients/ agencies? Like have a few postcards of your work all nicely packaged plus have some info about yourself and where they can find you. I've seen artists using stickers which is pretty clever.
I'm not too keen on carrying a massive portfolio around unless if the client wants to see work printed then fair dos. In that case I'll bring along the book or magazine for them to see the real thing. Personally I find that they're a pain to carry around ono the tube and expensive. I rarely use mine anyway, instead I send out a pdf CV and portfolio to people if they want more information about me.

Before I had a website I was using Flickr (and still do.) For me Flickr was a great tool to promote my work, once I got my head around it's very easy to use. And when you start to get people leaving nice comments about your work you feel super good about yourself! Now I have a website, which my blog is integrated within it, and I keep it updated with the latest news and work I'm currently doing. The role of technology and social media has enabled me, and like many other artists, to communicate and reach a far great audience (by the way I'm NOT dissing print.)
I use Twitter and Facebook a lot simply because I can always update people about what I'm up to. I sell prints and paper goods so I'm on Society 6 , Etsy and Envelop.

I am also up for trying out new things such as Pinterest and The Fancy. Although it's not in anyway promoting myself it allows people to see what my interests are in a visual way.

There are so many ways to promote yourself nowadays sometimes I still find myself running round in circles trying to update everything! The key to it is to spend a bit of time during the week to update your blog or your website with new work etc.

Please tell us about your promotions in the comments below. We would love to hear about it!

Thursday, 18 August 2011

Giveaway for first issue of Little Constructs

The release of Little Constructs first issue is upon us!! In less than a week all submissions will be in and then Jo and I will be diligently laboring to construct our first issue. We are so happy that so many of you have reached out to us and are not only telling us about how excited you are, but are participating in Little Constructs. 
While the zine side of LC is obviously important we want to make sure that we aren't just creating a quarterly publication, but that we are creating a community and resource for all of the amazing artists and illustrators out there. But we need your help to do this! 
So to help jump-start the process and start making amazing things happen we are doing our first Giveaway for Little Constructs! The prize up for grabs is one of the limited edition, signed copies of the first issue! Only 40 of these beauties will be available worldwide and now is your chance to get one for free!

Here are the details:

Tell us what you like most about Little Constructs, and then tell us what you would like most to see from Little Constructs in the comments below.

This will get you one entry into the contest! Easy right? Want to earn more entries? 

You may have additional entries by:
**Following our pretty little blog
**Following @Little Construct, @jocheung,  and @HookieDuke on Twitter
**Sharing links to Little Constructs blog on your Facebook
**Tweeting about the giveaway with this--  
"Enter our giveaway now to win the @LittleConstruct first issue on"

Please include each entry here as a comment (don't forget the link to your entry!) here  on the blog. If you put them all in one we may miss something and you might lose out on additional entries. Include your contact information in each comments so that if you win, we can reach you!

One winner will be selected from the UK and one from the US. All entries must be made by August 29th at 2400 hours in order to be valid. 

Good luck everyone and keep rockin' on!

Wednesday, 17 August 2011

Illustrators Pick: James Jean

James Jean, the amazing former illustrator of the covers for Fables. Although he is no creating the amazing covers for fables his work is amazing. His range is so great I don't think I can accurately represent his talent without linking to 50 images (though he is well worth the space!).
Since I could go on about how much I love his work and all of the subtle nuances that are present for about a decade, I am simply going to offer up these teasers as well as the links to find him elsewhere. I strongly recommend it.
And if you think his images are amazing, wait till you hold them in book form. Wow. Even better. The construction behind his books is fantastic and only makes him even more of a creative genius.

So take a look:
Offical site

Tuesday, 16 August 2011

Illustrators Pick: Camilla Engman

Camilla Engman's work is enchanting isn't it? There's an atmospheric, playful and surreal quality; it's like a dream world of the odd and the mundane. It makes us as the viewers aware of these odd characters dotted around in these strange and secluded places. Her 2010 paintings are a great example of how Camilla can make the viewer feel slightly uneasy by portraying faceless characters with no sense of identity, they look sort of lost don't they?
Great use of colour throughout Camilla's work which makes it unique and distinctive; muted tones and pale shades of grey and brown. I do love Camilla's collages and mixed media pieces about her collections of found objects. It's taking every day things which we find around us and giving them a life of it's own, making them that special and precious. Like finding treasure.

Follow Camilla's blog and her Flickr page for the latest news. You have to visit her shop while you're at it. Love the calendars, may have to buy one for my wall....


Preorder of Issue 1 now available!

We are now offering a preorder for our first issue!! Please visit our shop if you would like to place an order.

We have set the pricing as follows:
$7.40 per issue (printed copy)
$3.00 shipping charge

which translates into approximately:
£4.50 per issue (printed copy)
and £1.80 shipping charge

If you would like to purchase more than one copy we will be setting this up at a later date.

Why do you want to secure your copy of issue #1 now? Because it's going to be amazing, of course. Issue 1 is going to be extra special due to the following:
  • Printed in color. (Following issues will most likely be printed in black and white.)
  • We are only printing 40 copies total! 20 copies will be available in the US and 20 will be available in the UK.
  • Each copy will be hand signed and numbered by both Jo Cheung and Erica Williams

We will also be doing a giveaway of the first issue! More details on this will be announced closer to the release date but for now, keep your eyes open! One issue will be given away in the UK and another in the US to our lucky winners.

We are also offering PDF versions of the zine if you would like! These are not up for sale yet, but will be soon. PDFs of issue 1 will be £1 (approximately $1.60).

Don't forget the submission deadline for issue one is August 22nd at 2400 hours. We won't be pushing back the deadline again so make sure you get your submission in on time.

After all submissions are in we will work diligently to have all consturction complete and ready to go within 3 weeks! The pre-order will be available until this time. If at any time orders exceed the quantities available per region we will contact you regarding the order and and see what we can do as far as shipping from another region. If all quantities in both regions are sold out, sorry. But don't be sad! Issue 2 will be here soon and issue 1 has unlimited PDFs available!

Friday, 12 August 2011

Illustration 101 - Motivation

From time to time we all lose our steam. Things that should be simple are impossible and things that we love seem to lose interest. Apologies for the stereotype, but a lot of artists (and other creatives) tend to procrastinate. So how do you get that motivation back? How do we get our brains back into the game?

Erica - Finding motivation can be a huge challenge when you don't have it. It seems that half the time I'm at the top of my game and the other half I'm in a lull, sometimes completely incapacitated from creative thought or the ability to produce. Sometimes we (as I assume I am not the only one) get so caught up in  this lull that we end up consumed by it, extending the reach of that lethargy into a seemingly infinite space. Just because we love what we do, doesn't mean we are always able to do it the way we hope, or in the time we hope.
In the attempts to confront my own creative block or lethargy I have been experimenting with several methods:
1.) Leave, just leave get away. For fifteen minutes, a day, a week (hopefully not this long) but to go and come back to it later.
2.) Work through it. Push on as much as possible and hope it turns out the way you want or need it to be. Perseverance goes a long way, so they say.
3.) Walk away. Completely. If it really was that important... I wouldn't be having the issue.
4.) Change direction. Maybe changing direction will ignite a new flame and add a new vibrancy to myself and the work
5.) Research. Maybe I'm just not looking at something the right way. Maybe if I learn more it will bring me back to where I really need to be
6.) The internet. It has cats. Nuff' said.
While on occasion one, or more, of these may work I have to be honest and point out that perhaps this isn't a great idea.
Say you employ method 1, maybe you just needed a break. That cup of tea was delicious. Now you can resume work. But if it didn't you have potentially lost time. In 30 minutes I can get VERY distracted. If longer, I could easily convince myself to completely abandon a project that didn't actually need to be abandoned. If I had continued, maybe It would have been spectacular.
Method 2, more likely than anything you are subconsciously settling for less and weakening your work. Just like if you run a race with a hurt knee you aren't going to perform as well, if you push through on something that is mentally exhausting because you have less than stellar appreciation for what you are doing, the overall outcome could be seriously compromised.
Method 3, while I firmly believe that this is a great idea some of the time, not so great if you have a deadline or a client is waiting for a project. Now you are basically... screwed.
Method 4, I haven't really had a lot of negative effects from this method. Keep what you are working on already, or take a photo, and start working on it with a new outlook, new direction. Maybe it is slow going at first, but you are more likely to expand the possibilities of the work and experiment with a new technique. And if you don't like it, go back to the photo or to the original and try again.
Method 5, while research can often lead to pig-trails on the internet with non-subject related content or spark new ideas, you are learning and looking at new things. Really this is all it takes sometimes. Books do this really well. Sit down and read an essay or a chapter of a book and you'll probably think of something and learn something in the process.
Method 6, laughter is the greatest cure. I have many silly images strewn about my work space so if I am feeling a little less than hyped at what I'm doing, I walk around the room, peruse my internet derived landscape of laughter, giggle or smile, and sit myself down to work again. Just don't get too caught up in "wow, what other amazingly cute baby animals can i find on the internet" or you could waste a lot more time than you really need to.

All of these methods aside, the one I have had the best luck with is this: talk to people. Constantly. It's always nice to talk to people and communicate. They have new ideas and different perspectives. Infinite possibilities are available when people come together. But don't just practice social interaction for fun. Keep in mind that we ideally are doing this to pay bills. Set up business meetings, appointments, whatever. Having a deadline of meeting with a new potential client, buyer, gallery, always puts a little extra flare in the fire. I consistently try to show my portfolio to new people, and because I always want to improve and avoid rejection at all costs, I employ the "every new person I meet needs to see something that no one else has seen" philosophy. This way I am constantly creating new things, and hopefully they are better than some older work, but if nothing else it's new and potentially exciting in comparison to older work. With the pressure of this being professionally driven, rather than chatting about recent work with a friend, you are more likely to work a little harder and maybe faster in order to get things done for that meeting, and at a higher quality.

Every once in a while stumbling into a motivational lull is going to happen. We aren't robots, thought it would be cool sometimes, and creativity is hard to maintain at times. Recently I watched a documentary (about Joe Strummer) and a comment near the end struck a certain cord. I don't remember the exact quote but here is the gist of it, "When someone is burning so brightly for that long, we get used to it, and we expect it to continue forever. But it's selfish of us to expect that forever. Things that burn that brilliantly can only last so long." While we aren't all Joe Strummers rocking pens and brushes instead of microphones, we expect ourselves to operate at peak performance all the time. We want to, but we just can't. All we can do is find our  own way to recoup and recover, and then get back to business.

Lastly, we love what we do. Illustration, art, design... it's amazing. We live and breath it because we love it. Think about why you love it and what you really love. Sometimes we lose steam because we are caught up in life, which does suck sometimes (not going to lie), and maybe illustration is our way of paying the bills, but it's not life. It is our chance to escape, or it is our escape. It is our chance to say what we don't otherwise know how to, or our way of working through something. And other people want to see that. How cool is that? It's pretty rad, right? What you have to say, or what you have to show, matters to other people and inspires them or makes them happy. Not everyone can say that about what they do. So even if are wandering without purpose, you, by simply being you, will get it back. Until we die we will continue to experience, discuss, grow, and a really long list of other things. All of those things will create new things to say and share. Motivation will be there, is, it's just waiting till your eyes are closed to throw you a surprise party and put pictures of you in silly hats on the internet. (;

Jo- I work from home so the major distraction for me is the Internet, well, Twitter to be exact. And Facebook.... I'm aware that I consciously do it like every 5 minutes. I find that I procrastinate a lot when I have a creative blockage so doing random things fills the day up/ keeps me busy. Oh and I make loads of tea too and snack a lot... I sound really bad don't I?!

For me, motivation is about finding a solution to tackle that difficult brief/ starting a new project/ sorting out the paper work etc. Whatever you're doing it needs to be fulfilling, interesting and not simply a mindless chore you have to do by the end of the day. Ultimately it should make you feel good about yourself, right? To see the end result, no matter how big or small, plus the time you've spent on it should make it worthwhile. And seeing through it may be the first challenge you face especially when you have to help yourself.

I learnt that the only way to keep me motivated was firstly to have a tidy desk space and to keep as much free space as possible. Why? Because the majority of that time finding the right paper or pencil sucks up your time. I feel at the end of it I really can't be bothered to even get started because I spent all that time getting worked up on finding that pencil. Well that's me anyway! Having a clean desk space feel more refreshing than a cluttered one. I admit I do like to leave things lying around from time to time but all my equipment has a place so I know where to look for it.

Secondly, I like to get advice and opinions from my friends (I mostly have a good rant!) Or even chat to them about illustration or exhibitions we've seen when we're in the pub. As I've said previously I work mostly from home so it's good to talk to someone face to face.

This might be an odd one but I always think to myself I can do better. I hope I don't sound competitive or a right old meat head (only when I'm playing computer games I will shout at the screen!) But you need to have a mind set where you have to and need push yourself in order for your work to grow and develop. I believe that being strong spirited, persistent and that drive will keep you going particularly when being a freelance illustrator is hard. Don't know if it's something psychological.

Keeping a to do list is another good thing. Having structure and a deadline means you need to do it. Unless you manage to talk your way out of it... then reward yourself with a tea break!

With experience and time you learn what your strengths are and go along with it. It's not easy but every day is a new day.

Thursday, 11 August 2011

Illustrators Pick: Jill Bliss

I love Jill Bliss's delicate and intricate approach to mark making. Capturing the natural formation of surfaces and patterns so much detail goes into every illustration. Her beautiful line drawings of animals, plants and birds are so organic and has a life of it's own.

Jill also has an amazing shop full of lovely decorative things, which is certainly right up my street!

Check out Jill's Etsy shop and Flickr page.


Illustrators Pick: Tran Nguyen

I adore the work of Tran Nguyen not only for the fact that it is absolutely amazing, but because of her belief in art as a healing mechanism. Taking visual cues from Klimt, as well as a similar philosophy of therapeutic art, she creates masterful images that are powerful and continually draw you into them. Her use of gold leaf is fantastic, I wish I could see her work in person because it could only be even more breathtaking in person.
If you have the time to look into her process you definitely should. It is incredibly complex, exact, and time consuming (not to mention gorgeous).
Make sure to look out for her sketches as well, like last week's pick Mucha, Tran is also has tremendous draftsmanship.

For more info on Tran check out these links:

Thinkspace Flickr (for behind the scenes photos!):


Friday, 5 August 2011

Illustration 101: Inspiration

This weeks topic Jo and Erica talk about artistic inspiration.

It can be extremely frustrating when your mind goes blank and you can't think of anything creative. We've all been there at some point!
Inspiration comes from anything and anywhere, it's an internal process. From quotes, to books it plays a key part to those initial stages of developing an idea.

Jo: I've had those 'bad' days when I procrastinate because I can't think of anything to do! Also I tend to waste time on the Internet because there's a lack of motivation but more importantly, I need inspiration!
Now that I'm a graduate I need to find my own work and develop self-defined projects. This really helps as it keeps me busy and it also expands my online portfolio.

My main interests are animals, of course, wild life, music, films, travels, places around London... basically the list goes on. I find that so as long as I continue to look for new sources of inspiration it'll always keep my work fresh.
If it's a tricky theme which totally baffles me I'll do some research and develop some thumbnails. And I tend to try new things out as well, if I don't like it so be it at least I've given it a go. So at the moment I love cutting up triangle bits, making messy collages and playing around with it in Photoshop. If it looks good to me then I'm happy with it!

When there's a creative blockage the best thing to do is to either go out and draw or simply take some time out. Make yourself a cup of tea and read a book, do something different for half an hour. Everyone needs a tea break!

Erica: I take inspiration from a variety of things, but most of all I take it from experience. I firmly believe in empiricism but I am also a post-structuralist/post-modernist. Much of the way that I approach the world, and my work, is taken from ques in these philosophies. If I explain I'll talk way too long. But basically, I take in everything and break it down, and see how it applies to me and my experience. From there I I try to figure out how it would be for someone else. The journey or attempts to bridge that gap is what inspires me the most. It's a place to learn and grow and you find new and really beautiful things. Removing yourself from your own existence and forcing your way into the role of another allows you to see things that you may not have encountered if you never left the safety zone of self.
I also find inspiration in fear, the things that I am afraid of. Approaching those topics through art to me is safe and private. It allows me the time and the patience I wouldn't otherwise have to really explore specific fears as well as fear as a much broader concept and the feelings that come from that sort of exploration really inspire me.
From a purely visual sense I enjoy form and math. I like seeing something intangible and foreign to me (math) and trying to turn it into something more palpable (form). I am still struggling with this in my work but the game is very exciting. I love colors, but I sometimes struggle between my desire for muted palates and my tendency to go with much brighter ones.
If you really get stuck for inspiration I recommend going to a bookstore. Look at some literature, the titles of books, the colors and the covers. I also sit and flip through magazines and a bunch of the books in the arts section. I always look at the books that are really different from work I actually do. I think those are the most inspiring because they can give you ideas or challenges that you can go take back into your own work. And who knows what might come from that sort of experimentation. You could find a completely new outlook on an old subject matter that revives it and your love for it again. I also try to avoid photography when I am really stuck, it distracts me too much. I want to see the imagination of the world not reality seen through a lens when I am in a creative block (don't take me wrong I adore photography but sometimes it hurts more than it helps).
Music is also really great for inspiration. I will probably go deaf by the time I'm thirty because I blare it all the time. I just love the way it feels. How can you not be inspired by the creation of people so talented and passionate about something that they are willing to put it out on the line like that, and for it to be so incredibly beautiful. Sound is amazing and constantly impressive.

Thursday, 4 August 2011

Illustrators Pick: Alphonse Mucha

Alphonse Mucha - pretty much amazing. Incredible draftsmanship, incredible color, incredible compositions. Pretty much one of my favorite people ever and a constant reference source for when I need something that looks amazingly feminine and graceful. I really can't think of any image of his I've seen that I didn't love or enjoy. 
Of all of my books (art related) this spine is the most worn. I constantly love flipping through pages of his sketches and being enamored by their beauty.
His style is distinctive yet versatile and always lovely.

Monday, 1 August 2011

Deadline extension for 1st issue!

Hello everyone,

Sorry to do this with such short notice but we have decided to extend the deadline for Little Constructs first issue by two weeks. We hope that this will allow everyone enough time to finish their submissions and interviews.

Thanks so much for your understanding on this, if you have any concerns please feel free to ask.

Official new deadline is August 22nd by midnight (24:00). Please make sure that your submission is sent to

We want to thank everyone who has already submit their illustrations and let you know that they look FANTASTIC. Really amazing thus far.

Thank you for your understanding and support and we look forward to seeing your submission soon.
Have a great week everyone.

Monday's Pick: Valero Doval

I love illustrator Valero Doval's collages, aren't they just great? I like the use of different media and how the original images are manipulated so that they're totally surreal. 

My favourite of course has to be Circus Pets which is a series of collage work about dogs and cats with round noses. 

Twitter: @ValeroDoval