Workshop apron

So I’ve been away from here for a while – this week I’m going to post some of the things I’ve made over the past two years. I got myself a sewing machine, and the first thing I made was a woodwork apron, complete with pencil pockets and somewhere for a tape measure and hammer. There’s an old belt to close it with, and it still does the job well.

I’ve generally moved away from actively seeking out illustration work for now (although if you’d like a piece made, get in touch!) as while there was a big surge in demand at the start of lockdown, nobody seems to have money for private commissions any more, and chat gpt came along and just knocked all those nails into the coffin. So instead, I’ve been working on mending and making, and I’ll show you what else I’ve made soon.

This years’ reading

I’ve read a lot of books this year, almost sixty already, and these are my favourites so far:

Drew Williams, The Stars Unclaimed. A great big slice of action-movie fun, with pace, invention and humour poured on generously.

Kirsty Logan, The Gloaming. A slower-paced book than anything else here, this is Logan’s second novel and it is beautiful. It manages to be about island life without ever feeling isolated, and is entirely magical.

Luke Pearson, Hilda and the Stone Forest. The Hilda series continues with this latest instalment, and it’s my graphic novel of the year.

El-Mohtar & Gladstone, This is How You Lose the Time War. Short, crystalline, and without a spare word.

Wells, Murderbot series. This series is up to four novellas, with a novel coming next year, and my word they are fun. An extremely efficient robot security operative with a heavy case of social anxiety and a sarcastic attitude might be my favourite character in any medium this year.

Valente, Space Opera. Every single page is studded with inventive touches, there’s not a humanoid with a prosthetic head in sight, and Valente goes all-out in writing, imagination and wit with this Eurovision-in-space that is soaked in her love for the subject, and the whole book shines in the best and most glorious way.

Jamie Smart

I’ve been a huge fan of hard-working comics legend Jamie Smart for about fifteen years now, ever since reading Bear straight through back in 2004, and my oldest kid has managed to catch the fans off me. Well, Jamie just wrote Flember, an illustrated novel, and he sent us a signed copy. Look at the inky glory!

Yeah, he’s an actual Boss. Cheers Jamie!

Duncan of Jordanstone Degree Show 2019

It’s Local Degree Show time again! I spent a good Saturday afternoon looking around, with the one bad point being that the Illustration kids were too hungover to open their shop table. Anyways, my favourite dozen, in no particular order, were:

Cecile Bec combined illustration and sculpture, such that her whole show formed one giant composition.

Joanna Migut used a tightly restricted colour palette to great effect.

Eleanor Begg used enormously energetic lines in her paintings, with vibrant colour splashes

Catherine Paterson was my favourite in sculpture – an interactive show encouraging people to make rubbings of her brass and laser-carved wood wildlife images. It looked like it had been enormously popular on opening night as well.

Courtney Szabo had one of my favourite shows – intense, spontaneous movement, massive energy and great colour contrasts all over the place.

Hannah Benassi was another stand-out show, with subdued tones layering into some remarkable compositions.

Sam Renson left me utterly confounded and entranced – giant painted seascapes that look like distorted aerial photographs on crumpled paper.

Kirstie Behrens had some beautifully crafted near-abstract landscape prints on show.

Maia Aitken had some wonderfully expressively alien compositions, with careful colour work.

Lucia Pearla was another highlight, with highly detailed abstracts giving the impression of cityscapes, dominated by almost-legible letter forms shouting into the illuminated dark.

Maike Herrmann was one of several shows in Textile Design that caught my eye. Amazing multi-layered prints, with great depth and complexity.

Katie Scott, likewise, had enormous vitality and playfulness in her work, with a great interactive board for kids to add to her designs.

Molly Marshaley completes the set of vibrant, joyous textiles, with geometric shapes abraded and worn into textures.

Aimee Coulshed finishes my list, with sublime landscapes created in fabric.

That’s fourteen, but don’t make me choose.

Spamming the spam calls

I have a deep and special hatred for spam calls. I get anything up to four rage-inducing, work-interrupting, badly timed calls every damn day, and you know what stops me tanning my phone out the window? Taking the piss. Popular tactics in this house include:

Car insurance scams: Tell them that yes, I crashed into a clown car just last week. It took them three hours to all get out, then they followed me home, now the place looks like a circus, there’s a lion in the shed and nothing in the fridge but pies, can you send an exterminator please?

Internet scams: Damn right there’s something up with my router, it’s full of snakes. Every site re-directs to and my youtube history is shocking.

Everyone else: “You’re through to someone who doesn’t give a damn,please hold.” (put on some music, have a dance)


Over the past few months I’ve upped my newsletter intake, with my gateway drug being Warren Ellis’ Sunday special Orbital Operations. That being the keystone, the other standouts are:
Austin Kleon: writing and artistic motivation, mixed in with that week’s discoveries.
Chuck Wendig chums out a rich trail of thoughts, author guest spots and writer’s craft. New posts at, frankly, a terrifying rate compared to everyone else in this list.
Saving the most beautiful and satisfying till last, Disturbances by Jay Owens, aka Hautepop, is an on-going series of long reads on the subject of dust. No, I’m not kidding. Go on, they’re perhaps the best short non-fiction I’ve read in the last couple of years. Dedicated, thorough, absorbing.