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~ New York Society of Illustrators Awards, 2008 (two prizes) ~

I’m at the tail end — seeing the ‘light at the end of the tunnel’ — of making a brand new website, starting totally from scratch and focussing on all the things that are currently missing from the current one.

I’ve been meaning to do it for a couple of years, and much as I adore social media for sharing and enjoying each other’s work, there’s nothing like an online Mothership for telling the world who you are and what you like to make; a central place where I can put everything that’s ‘me’.

In the course of doing this, I chose to re-visit my FAQ section and where necessary (which as it turns out was 100% of all of it) write my thoughts afresh. After all, the types of questions I get asked have changed in nature, and now mostly come increasingly via Instagram messages and Twitter messages rather than via email, as they used to. …


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~ Illustrations are mostly shown in this blog in their original pen-and-ink form ~

SPACEY! Published this week is this energetic new book by Abby Harrison aka @astronautabbyofficial, co-founder of The Mars Generation, called DREAM BIG!

Illustrating this book occupied eight months or so of my 2020, begun and ended in different lockdowns, with over 30 black and white pen-and-ink illustrations to help guide its young readers through the process of not just envisioning a goal, but making it a reality. Not through wishing and hoping and throwing cosmic orders out there, but via the only method that works: planning, small steps, staying focussed and good old fashioned hard work.


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It’s definitely not too early to post this Christmassy book by Kristin Hannah — after the weekend we’ve had and the weeks we’re about to have, I thought we needed an unashamedly seasonal bit of work!

I started this book cover in February this year, before the ‘first’ lockdown when Christmas seemed a lovely recent memory rather than an imminent but uncertain event. …


I was extremely happy to see this campaign by Papyrus UK finally make its way into the world after Covid-related delays. September was National Suicide Prevention Month, so the release was timed to coincide.

Released across the UK press, online and in social media, the campaign used the idea of bedtime stories to highlight the dangers of children using social media alone. …


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Published this week is ‘Ink & Sigil’ by New York Times best-selling author Kevin Hearne, which has its US release on 25th August and its UK release on 27th.

In a ‘career first’, I’ve illustrated both the North American and UK editions of this murky Glasgow-set novel involving enchanted ink (obviously), mysterious symbols known as ‘sigils’ (look them up!), craft cocktails and the cursed Al MacBharrais, whose apprentices keep…dying.

In ever-bizarre and unexpected ways.

It’s published by Orbit Books US and is the most recent of Kevin’s myriad fantasy and adventure novels. I have been most pleased to make his acquaintance while working on his books! This is the first in a planned series which is a departure from his usual style of novel, so the cover had to reflect that. Influences for the US cover, which came first, included tattooing, Victorian medicine bottles and apothecaric ephemera, whisky bottles, etchings and classic maps. …


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For a large part of my career I’ve received emails asking me to do work for free, usually for some scheme, a project someone is very excited about that will make big money one day; a charity, a collection of postcards that will head into a gallery, a children’s book that’s been written by someone who hasn’t got the budget, but when the book sells they’ll have some…

Most of these people mean well, and don’t mean to offend. They often, however, simply don’t think about their email from the point of view of the recipient. Even now the notion lingers that artists work for the love of it, with money as a nice but inessential by-product, or that they create because they ‘simply have to’, and payment is somehow vulgar or selling out. …


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Published in August 2020 is this book by Christine Heppermann, for which I made this cover using just ink on paper for Greenwillow Books, USA.

It’s a YA story told in prose, an unusual format which lends the book a slightly magical, wistful atmosphere, despite dealing with some heavy topics — secrets, regret, mistakes, break-ups.

Unusually, although I suggested seven or eight different roughs, this cover went to press almost completely unaltered from the rough that was chosen. Always a lovely thing to happen!


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A new book is out in hardback on August 1st — the follow up to Patricia Forde’s ‘The List’ (published also as ‘The Wordsmith’) which I illustrated a couple of years ago.

This cover was created for Sourcebooks USA, and was made with a combination of large, hand-drawn inky pieces and elements dream inProcreate.

I loved putting it together this way — for me, tools are tools, and I get as much out of slopping inks onto a big sheet of paper as I do creating worlds within Procreate, which I still feel like a novice with, but I’m getting there!


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I wrote about my 26 year relationship recently with my local gym, John’s Gym as it was then, now known as Empire Fitness, in my blog ‘Two Habits.

I’ve been going to this gym for more than half my life, and it feels like a second home. Over the years it’s had many logos, and looks, and changed names of course, but it’s been Joe’s gym rather than John’s for almost two years now, so when it was forced into closure by The C That Shall Not Be Named, it was an excellent chance to rebrand.

Owner Joe seized on the notion of several weeks (we didn’t know it would actually be months) of closed doors to reorganise the rooms, build new spaces, clear out old kit and invest in new. He’s hung new lights, got little electrical jobs sorted, reconfigured the reception and catering spaces, re-thought the pathways through the various workout areas, grouped kit together in ways that make more sense, repainted, and installed all the necessary new distancing and health and safety measures. …


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Teddy is available for other modelling opportunities.

Close to the start of lockdown I designed two masks each for every member of my family, and in order to purchase them I had to upload them to the shop system I use for some of my illustrated products; my Christmas jumpers, leggings etc.

I kept them private as I was unsure about the ethics of sharing a product which would earn me commission out of a pandemic, but without having breathed a word about them to anyone outside the family, I immediately started getting emails — chiefly from the US — confirming orders. …

About

Sarah J Coleman

Artist + illustrator of over 800 books and owner of the same amount of pens. Enough to write you a picture AND paint you a story. inkymole.com / inkstagram.ink

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