FMP… the flow


Is Easter holiday and I am trying to be at home as much as possible. Why? I’m doing the illustrations for the story of my FMP, and is actually an intense process, a gestating time, a time to observe the entrance of the spring from the window while being around the drawings, the pencils, the sketches, the printer, the brushes, pens, different papers, the computer…. There’s no procrastination in doing this, in going slowly and follow the flow. The important thing here is how the work is taking form, is in its own time pushing out and starting to stand up by itself. And also at the end of the day, of the most of the days I always realize that I worked more than 9 hours. Actually when this doesn’t happen (life: work placement, meetings, shopping…) I feel almost depress. I only want to be close to this story until is ready and for some people this might be seem as something close to madness. But for me is placer, these are days of having a conversation with my heart… who needs meditations when I have this??


In the manga exhibition at the House of Illustration I learned that in the Genga’s (Dash) technique they print originals and work over the prints. They repeat this process until having the best results. In some cases, they even leave the marks of pencils on each print so the viewer can see the process. So, thinking about this I started playing with my drawings and an old scanner that makes scans at good resolution but it always leaves strange smoky and dusty marks. I’m following the process in the Genga’s manga comics and I think is going well and have a feeling that I have found a new way that works well for my illustrations. That is something for an illustrator, isn’t it?!


The trouble with women and other things.


Today is Sunday and I had all day invigilation at the house of illustration, almost 9 hours. I left my house quite early. It felt like doing something wrong by leaving my bed so early on a Sunday. Wishing university is over and I can start doing new things without this feeling of being working only for the purpose of having good marks. But as usual life gets better after really waking up. When I arrived at the house of illustration I had the chance to be by myself in the big room with the works of the next manga exhibition which will be open to the public in one week. That was a moment of pleasure. Details and more details in each canvas, a never ending lesson in drawing. Such skilled illustrators!! How do they do so good out of the pencils, brushes, paper, and colours, how can someone use these to through in the world these masterpieces? I’ll definitely have to return and spend more time looking at all the details in this exhibition. There’s more than one can see in just one visit!
I really, really love the exhibition of women going on at this moment and today I was a bit annoyed because I had to work only in my FMP sketchbook.


I am aware of the little time I have for my too ambitious project: making a book in less than 2 months! It would be enough time if I could do it in my way but I know that part of the learning process at university is to explore new techniques and also the research. So with all this I couldn’t get to dive into the wonderful illustrations from these women as I would have liked… I was jealous of the people who came and wandered around the rooms, some of them spending hours in each room, time was stopped for them. They were in another galaxy that I know very well, the place of engagement with arts, that space without time, without worries. Lost in illustration; the most similar thing I could think of is when you fall in love and you are only happy with that person. Why the world is not something about being in love, eating delicious food, swimming in wonderful beaches and, important here, being surrounded by good illustration and, of course, doing it too!

But….. there was one book I made time to look at… and this is the story of the book: At some point in the morning I learned that we were going to have Jacky Fleming signing books. I wondered who could be this Jacky Fleming so I went to the room where she was exhibiting and looked at her work and her book “The trouble with Women” I realised that the layout of the book had some similarities with one of the ways I was thinking about for my project, the one I was working on today. Illustrations are framed, simple lines, with ink and hand written typography. So, since the book was interesting, beautiful, with sense of dark humour -a bit British, not as a criticism but the opposite- and I get a 25% discount in the bookshop, I decided to buy it and have it signed by the author. When she came I asked her to sign it for me and she asked me what would I like her to write for me, so I said “something beautiful, please”, and she looked at me I guess wondering who was I to ask for such a thing. Then I realised that when I looked at her work I noticed she was a woman more into the cynicism than into beauty. So, kind of saving the situation, I told her why I was buying her book. My sketchbook was under my arm and I showed her the similarities I saw in my drawings with her illustrations, and surprise! she liked my drawing and she insisted in looking more into my sketchbook. She told me to get in touch with “Rose” from the editorial of her book and she said she would talk to “Rose” about our encounter. Now I’m wondering what can I show Rose since I don’t have a portfolio. I will have to ask at university on Tuesday how I should show Rose.

This is me with Jacky after she sign my book and it says:

For Iris,

Good luck with your beautiful illustrations. Jacky

So maybe at the end she was also into beauty!

The last two hours I decided to leave my sketchbook and get a couple of graphic novels from the exhibition to end the day at the House of Illustration. So I had a bit of time for this at the end. It’s difficult sometimes to concentrate when people are coming and going around, but I managed to do some sketching and write most of the post you are reading now and get closer to complete my 60 hours intern-ship.

Final outcomes for Editorial Illustration

Ghosts 1

As this category of illustration is meant to be done really quick I tried to do these illustrations within hours after our workshop. Once you are commissioned an illustration for an article by a newspaper the dead line is usually less than one day. I came home with the sketches I made in the previous workshop (shown in my previous post called “Editorial Illustrations”) and made them as soon as I could. It took me about three hours to do it. I wanted to show myself that I can do it and although I think they are ok, still I feel they could be improved. But most importantly here, was to do something acceptable in the less time possible. And for this goal I think I reached my expectation. This is the article I worked on:

The Strange Tale of the Aldgate Station Ghost

An electrician once fell onto the lines at Aldgate station in London. Instead of dying from the incredible shock he’d been hit with, he was fine. His co-workers saw why…
Jan 20, 2013

There are endless stories of ghosts haunting the London Underground but one of the most ‘electrifying’ tales of supernatural activity has to be the strange case of Aldgate and the suspicious spectral old lady who made a shocking appearance in the twentieth century.

Built on the site of a plague pit that was the final resting place for an estimated thousand victims of the Bubonic Plague in 1665, Aldgate Station was opened in 1876. Almost as soon as the trains began rolling in and out, the stories of spooky shenanigans began. A popular early tale relates to Tube staff being able to hear ghostly footsteps in the tunnels only for the noise to abruptly and mysteriously stop. Then an electrician was working at Aldgate one night when he slipped between the tracks, hit the live rail and received a 20,000-volt shock. It could – perhaps should – have killed him, but despite being knocked unconscious by his fall, he survived with minor injuries and made a full recovery.

And these are the illustrations (plus the one above, at the beginning of this post):

Ghosts 2Ghosts 3Ghosts 4

Yesterday we also had a workshop with Rachel related to this but using collage. In one hour and a half we painted some A3 sheets with acrylics with textures, patterns and plane colours and them we used them to do illustrations with collage for the same article.


I only did two because I wanted to show Rachel the outcomes I did at home and after seeing my work she introduced me to the work of Jaques Benoit, he works for The Guardian and found him absolutely amazing. I will keep looking at his work!


Little hands


This time we worked with two courses of year (10 years old). The drawings were much more developed but missing the innocence and originality of year 1 previous groups (6 years old). Never the less still many good things to take with me.


This workshop’s task was to make them do in groups of five a strip of illustrations from a fairy tale and then, not telling anyone which tale was, the other groups had to find out to which fairy tale belonged these illustrations just by looking at the drawings. We gave them only ten minutes to do this. After this we gave each child a piece of text from the tale “The wizard of Oz” and a story board template with six squares to fill in with illustrations from the text. When they ended the storyboard with pencil they used a long pointed stick to go through all the lines with ink. They also could use some colour ink if they wanted.


I asked them if I could take photographs of some of their work, and as usual, they were really happy for me to do so. The thing is that I am filling up a folder in my computer with images from their work and I feel like I have a bank of great ideas, really good illustrations, gems of art. And all this coming from such generous artistic hearts!!! Life and its presents!!


Sweet Lakwena


Lakwena came today to share her experience which was quite different from the graphic designers and illustrators we had before in our Hothouse talks. I must admit that I had prejudge her by the work I looked in internet before the talk and had this feeling in my way to the talk of “oh God give patience to interpret nicely and blog about another strident designer to my best intention”. I know we are invited to criticize other artists work, yet I don’t feel comfortable in doing this because I believe that there’s room from everyone and respect should be a principle in the artist’s community. Anyway, after the talk there’s no need to criticize Lakwena’s work at all.

She gave us a lesson in humility: she didn’t have in her beginnings enough money to buy a computer so used her crafty hands in the same way as we use Photoshop: cut and paste, and paint was basically what she used to do posters, illustrations, flyers, etc. Her first commission was with a barber (who she ended married some time later) and she did something he didn’t ask for, yet she believed it was the best for his business. She never had an agent, everything comes to her by friends (she told us to believe in this as we never know who our friends know) and also Instagram works very well for her. One of the many advices she gave us is that if someone ask us to do a job and we don’t know how to do it we say “yes” to it and after we get the job we work out how to do it…. even if we are scared to fail!!

In her childhood she did lots of trips to Africa and this is reflected in her work. Especially African style of typography has a strong influence in all her work.


She was dresses in black and white, lots of big pieces of gold jewels. Lakwena loves combining text in fabrics as a way of communication. There was something that I still don’t quite work out about her: her work is really strong as colours, patterns, enormous sizes, the way she dress is radical but when she started talking was the sweetest person we ever had in our Hot House. I felt like I could listen to her voice for ever; as if I was a little child listening to a beautiful story. Thank you Lakwena for this moment.

Editorial Illustration



I really enjoyed yesterday’s workshop. We learned how to work illustrating texts for magazines and newspapers. This is, I feel, the real test for an illustrator. The faster you work the best, and ideas are the main thing here…. even more than the illustrations!!!

The generation of ideas should be clever, visual metaphors, images obtained from the core idea plus details and ideally it shouldn’t illustrate what is already in the text but the subtle, the allegories. The gathering many possible ideas from the article is key, so a good reading and re-reading is essential. Then comes the composition of these ideas in one or two images, maybe three. Also taking into account the general mood of the article is important. The illustration should enrich the text and make it more attractive, is an invitation inside the magazine or newspaper to read the article. Is the selling of the article.


We practice this with one of the articles we choose for our final pieces which needs to be done by the end of next week. I choose an article about a ghost in Aldgate East tube station and for this I reflected the station as a “Haunted Amusement Tube Station”. The story is about a man who was saved from an electrocution of 20.000-vol shock death in Aldgate East station. And the saver was a ghost!! It seems that this station has been known by its ghosts who are coming from a pit with the remains of an estimated thousand victims of the Bubonic plague in 1665. The first step was the creation of roughs through brainstorm, putting as many ideas as possible in a sheet of paper. Then we create at least two ideas. I actually had four ideas I wanted to work on and now the next step is to do the final pieces out of this roughs.



Pop Ups Workshops




Today at the House of Illustration we had two workshops with two different classes from the same school: year 1 and year 2. First we showed them the competition of illustrations for the “War Horse” and the exhibition of “Mapping Kings Cross” by David Lemm. After that we had them drawing with pencils inspired by these two exhibitions. And, after this, we took them to the workshop room downstairs and teach them how to do a “pop up” card. The theme was related to treasures; their own treasures, pirate’s treasures, etc. The enthusiasm was absolute. When they work, they really commit to it…. One could say by looking at them that they are living their own drawings. I saw a little girl who drew a butterfly and then took it around the room as it flying in reality. There is also so much insight in the way they work: strong confidence in their strokes, follow of the instincts, really doing it in their own very way. It was a privilege to see so many artists working today and to learn from them.



Final Mayor Project

  1. Title:
  • The making of an illustrated book.
  1. Project Proposal Content:
  • What and Why:

I would like to work in the process of making an illustrated book since this was one of the main goals I had when decided to study illustration at university.

  • Definition of the project and intentions:

I first looked for a story to illustrate with the theme of “Local Universe” in different books such as Jack London. Then I realized that I would prefer to work for someone I can talk to about her/his work. This, I think, would be more realistic as what is going to happen if I end working as an illustrator. After reading some stories I decided to work in an old one my mum wrote many years ago. I have adapted with her permission to our “Local Universe”. This was very easy to do as there’s only one reference to a particular place in the whole narrative.

  • Detail of the theme/subject to investigate visually:

The theme is about a girl who finds herself having to choose between ordinary life and magic life.

  • Rationale of ideas:

The work of text and image. Narrative supported by illustrations.

  • Starting point must be VISUALLY exciting and the project realistic and clear.
  1. Context and audience:
  • Potential areas of developing my practice:

Book Illustration for children and adult.

  • Identification of audience and the primary purpose of the project work:

This project has the main purpose of a learning outcome and use it after university as a content for my portfolio which I hope I can present when looking for commissions of illustration.

  1. Research Sources:
  • Where to find and original and secondary visual research. Research must show breadth and depth:

This is an area I feel really confident because there is nothing I like more than looking at other artist’s work. Actually there are moments I need to stop myself from over doing this because it can steal time from my own production. I am going to start with the French illustrator Aurelia Fronty. This is the starting thread. One illustrator takes me always to another and another and so on. I’m excited to think about this “journey”.

  1. Learning Methodology:
  • How I will begin to generate visual ideas and to develop work for my project. Acquisition of new knowledge and weaknesses:

For me the real science of a good outcome is the use of sketchbooks with hours in the studio. Looking into other works is also essential, but as I said in the previous point, there’s a moment to stop doing it to really connect with my own style without having “too much” influence from the outside but new perspectives of work, colours, methods, shapes… Fortunately I count on the guidance of my tutors for this last project at university.

  • Exploration of new media, materials, technologies, and why is appropriate to my project, theme, practice:

I am going to work in colour for this project. Not sure yet if is going to be gouache (which is absolutely new for me), watercolour, colour pencil or acrylics. All this will be revealed by itself after the stage of research and primary sketching. I’m excited to learn new ways of illustration in my last part of university.

I will edit all images in Photoshop and take it to InDesign when putting all together as a book as I think these two are the best programs when working in book illustration.

  • Identification of the need of new skills and the support I will need for this:

I consider myself at the very beginning of illustration and I will be able to spot some lack of skills. I am sure Emily would be able to support me finding many more and new ways to solve problems. I feel she has an eagle eye to spot design problems in any image and she would be really valuable for this. And I don’t mean she is the best of all my tutors, it’s just I had the chance to share with her my work more than with the rest of the team and learned a lot with the way she critic my work and my class peers. Also I am curious to learn from our new tutor Rachel Gannon and love her work, so I am sure I will be able too to gain some insights.

  1. Work assessment:

At the end of this project I would like to use this experience to be able to illustrate a book (layout, fonts, style, choosing of appropriate printing method…) and be self-confident that I can do it by myself without the help of university.

The intention is to submit a book that I can also show as a professional illustrator outside university.

The singing mums


19th of February I helped in a workshop at the House of Illustration with young vulnerable parents and their babies coming from an organisation called All Change. This workshop was a bit messier than the one before as babies tried to get attention from their parents while they were trying hard to commit on making their own piece of art. And they tried really hard!! Once again art was showing an escape route for a harsh reality. We also did the lenticular piece for this workshop. Babies here and there, pencils, food, magazines, glue, baby bottles, conversations about children teethes, toys, lipsticks…. But the final surprise was when a mum started to sing and another one follow her and then another and at the end they all sang teenager songs and babies enjoyed their mums. It was really lovely to see once again how we all find our way to enjoy life, no matter what you are going through.



Ideas, initiative, development, business, marketing, promoting, setting up, finding clients, incorporation to work…. All this and more Emma Thatcher brought us from an agency called Accelerator. Being at the end of the last year course we feel a bit saturated by information and things to-do. Yet, I am really grateful for this information because we can use it after we leave university for the next five years. That gives a breath! I will keep this information safe to use it as soon as I will be recovered from the intensity of university in the next year. They offer funding advice and mentoring, office space, workshops, talks to incorporate the students into the “real” world of making a living with the learned skills and knowledge from university. They are also the appropriate place to go with an idea ready to get it out.

Contact for help or advice:\mailing list