The Making of GoGoDennis

This Summer, Norwich will be taken over by a blaze of 84 huge Dragons sculptures – the GoGoDragons. A follow on from the gorillas of 2013 and the elephants before that. 

GoGoDragons is an interactive art trail organised by Break charity (You can see their website and the excellent work they do here) and Wild in Art. Each sculpture is sponsored by a local company, and painted by a local (and sometimes not so local) artist. The sculptures all have Bluetooth sensors in them, so with the help of an app, you can complete the trail using a smartphone. You can also fill in the trail map and send it off the old-skool way to win a pair of flights from KLM. You can download the trail map here, or pick one up from the Forum, or Jarrolds.

My world map design was sponsored by Konectbus and Anglianbuses, and was inspired by medieval maps and the monsters who inhabited them. 

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Freelance life – 3 years in.

Once again, it’s been a while since I wrote anything on here. My blog has been somewhat neglected in favour of social media lately – If you’ve been following me on twitter, FB or Instagram, you’ve probably seen a lot of what I’ve been up to.

A lot has happened in the last 18 months, both on a professional level and a personal one. I’ve worked on lots of brilliant projects for some lovely clients, expanded my portfolio a lot – I’ve decided to specialise in map illustration (not exclusively) I’ve met lots of excellent people – many fab local artists and illustrators, painted some dragons, had some exhibitions and have taken part in some great local markets and street fairs. I’ve been to more funerals than I’d have liked too. (I shan’t go into that here)

I’ve also just reached my three year anniversary of being freelance, and it seems to have gone in a flash. I’ve now been freelance longer than I’ve spent in employment, and it’s been a really enjoyable learning curve. I’m happier (and more overworked) than ever. I would recommend it to anyone though, and it’s really not as scary as it seems at first. The fear of having no work, quickly turns into worrying you might have taken on too much.

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Latest Projects…

It’s been a while since I wrote properly on here, the last few months have been crazy! I’ve been super busy working with the lovely chaps at Green Android on a brand new set of kids craft books – ‘Mini Crafter’ to accompany the ‘Mini Artist’ series I did a couple of years ago. As well as producing hundreds of new illustrations for the third and fourth books in our ‘How to Draw’ series – Space’ and ‘Vehicles’

They’ve both been brilliant projects to work on. For the Mini Crafter books, I was commissioned to design, make, and photograph all 11 step by step projects in each of the 4 books. They’re quite a diverse range of titles – Junk Modelling, Puppets, Masks, and Clay Modelling, and together they saw me making all sorts of fun and messy projects, from bin bag snowmen, to vampire masks, and Toilet roll tigers. I can’t say I didn’t enjoy it!

I’m particularly pleased with the clay modelling title, which I was (if i’m honest) a tad apprehensive about. I’d not really done much clay work before, so it was a bit of an unknown. However, It’s the title i’m most pleased with and i’m over the moon at how some of the models worked out.

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I’m a Busy Bee at the mo…

It’s been a while since i’ve posted on here, I’ve been super busy working on new books for the Bolognia book fair at the end of the month, alongside some other brilliant projects.

Some great stuff has been happening lately though that I just wanted to share…

The little Illustration collective that I’m part of has an exhibition up at Cherryleaf coffee house in Norwich all this month. It looks fab, and i’m dead proud to be part of a group of such lovely talented and organised people. We all took a classic book, and re-designed the cover art. They’ve come out brilliantly and everyone has done a fab job.

Continue reading “I’m a Busy Bee at the mo…”

Release the BEAST! (From the east…)

A lot has happened here in the past month or so, I’ve had my stand at craft markets, been to conferences, and have been getting out and seeing people, which makes a nice change from working at home in isolation. It’s good to get out and connect with other people.

One of the most exciting things lately came from a twitter conversation and ended up with a group of us starting an illustration collective here in Norwich.  – BEAST!

BEAST! are:
Grace Sandford
Karl Newson
Kellee Rich
Mark Standbrook
David Hurtado
Me (Fiona Gowen)

We gave ourselves  a little project to get started on first, put all our names in a hat, and drew a beastly portrait of the beast who’s name we pulled out. It was a super fun project, and there’s some awesome drawings!

You can follow us on twitter here @BeastNorwich
We have a website HERE
and a Facebook page HERE

We’ve been working hard on some christmas cards, and have chosen a charity (The Hamlet Centre) to donate all the profits to. They’re currently at the printers being finished off, and we should have them available to buy in all our etsy shops, and at local craft markets soon!

Hooray for collaboration!

Autumn Clutter City and Winter craft market preparations.

On September 28th, I took part in the Autumn edition of Clutter City, a local craft market held at Norwich Arts Centre. It was a fab day, and I met some lovely people, Including the super-talented Kellee Rich, and Deerly Beloved Bakery, with their tasty cakes. 
I took along a fair bit of new stock: a good few of my new little notebooks, – Mushrooms designs and Norwich themed ones – as well as a new, improved stand setup.

For a couple of weeks beforehand, I’d been preparing some screenprints of my Norwich Illustrated map down at the Stew gallery and print rooms. It’s the first time in about 7 years I’ve done any proper  screen printing. I had a brilliant time, and learned a lot. I’m definitely going to go back and do some more work down at Stew. It’s a brilliant resource for local artists and printmakers.

I’ve also been accepted for several local craft markets in the run up to christmas. 
• Sat 26th Oct – Pottergate Crafts – Rackheath Holy Trinity 
• Sun 17th Nov – Pottergate Crafts – Costessey Centre
• Sat 23th Nov – Thorpe Christmas Fair
• Fri 6th Dec – Castle craft fair
• Sat 7th Dec – Norwich Makers 
• Sun 15th Dec – Pottergate Crafts – Costessey Centre
The Courtyard garden centre cafe is also stocking a selection of my earrings too. 
I’m currently working on some new stock, and should have some new screenprints, cards, notebooks and earrings for sale soon.

Zero2Illo 2013 ‘LIVE’ Illustration Conference

Last Saturday I got up super early, took the first train out of Norwich to Nottingham to attend Zero2Illo ‘LIVE’ a brilliant illustration conference set up by Jonathan and Lea Woodward. It was a series of talks and discussions centred around ways to progress your illustration career.
I arrived in Nottingham at about 8.30, so had plenty of time for a mooch around and to grab a coffee. What I saw of Nottingham seemed nice. There were some good looking abandoned factories as the train pulled in and there were also caves in the shopping precinct… I’d definitely like to go back and explore more of the city. 
The event was held in Nottingham Contemporary, a striking art gallery in the centre of the city. Architecturally it’s very bold, and apparently inspired by the industrial factories that were in the area, and the silk market.

The conference started at 10.30. After some tea, and a chat, Jacqueline Bissett – a prominent UK fashion Illustrator provided a keynote speech, and a great insight into her career and working practices. She stressed the importance of being open minded and keen; she also talked about how her style has evolved over the course of her career. 
Lea Woodward was up next, talking Strategic Business planning. She introduced us to her recommended business planning tool – the OGSM, – a kind of one page business plan – and with the help of brilliant illustrator Joy Gosney, talked us through how to fill it in, ensuring we get the most out of it. This was a really useful insight into how getting all your ideas and goals onto paper can help you achieve more. I’m definitely going to be taking this on board. 
‘Adding an additional income stream’ was the title of the next panel discussion. Featuring Gemma Robinson (illustrator / creative coach) and Alex Mathers (Red Lemon Club / Ape on the Moon). It was really interesting to hear how other illustrators are adding to their career. Alex focusses on helping people via his website and earning a bit extra from selling banner space, and stock illustrations. He stressed the importance of having a passion, and purpose for your ‘extra’ work. Gemma is a creative coach. After becoming disillusioned with the lonely freelance life (I think a lot of illustrators can relate to this), she decided to get out and coach others. She talked about the hurdles she has had to overcome – not least her crippling fear of speaking in front of people, but now she does it for a living alongside her illustration work. Both are very inspiring cases.

One of the most useful parts of the day for me, was having my portfolio reviewed by Victoria Pearce – a senior agent at Illustration Ltd. She talked about what agents look for in a successful online portfolio site. She reviewed three peoples websites – Including mine – and talked about what was, and wasn’t working in each of them. Her advise was invaluable, and she stressed the importance of keeping lots of work on the front page, and avoiding too many click throughs. She was a great advocate for the one page website – apparently there’s a trend for them at the moment. Her thoughts and review of the day can be read here.
Ross MacRae from Bikinilists – the events sponsor, joined in a panel discussion alongside Alex Mathers and Jacqueline Bisset. Together they gave us some very useful insights into smarter ways to market ourselves in the digital age and how to connect with more potential clients via email. He stressed the importance of following up on connections, sticking to a regular routine and staying in contact with people.  
Amy Taylor, a freelance accountant was up next. Her talk on accounting was fun, interesting and engaging, she gave us valuable advise on tax brackets, what you can and can’t claim expenses for (using a fab array of props) and the pro’s and con’s of becoming a ltd company. 
‘How to animate your Work’ was the final talk by Claire Cheung, of Wired and Esquire digital magazines. She gave us lots of tips about the best way to optimize illustration work to be animated, should the need arise, and how important it was for illustrators to know this in the digital age. She went on to give us some pointers on how to go about animating it yourself. It was really inspiring, and I’m definitely going to give it a go when I upgrade to Creative Cloud.

All in all it was a brilliant day. I met lots of lovely, inspiring people, learned a lot and came out feeling inspired and motivated. Jonathan and Lea did a fantastic job of organising the day and although they’ve decided not to host another Zero2Illo LIVE event again, I really hope they come up with something similar – It was a great opportunity to meet other freelancers and pick up lots of tips and advise. The speakers were all fab and everyone had wealth of knowledge and experience to draw upon. 
You should check out the Zero2Illo website for lots of useful resources. They’re on twitter too, why not give them a follow @zero2Illo

They have a fab blog post on the day here too.