Artist Interview Series: Illustrator Carly Watts

Welcome to the artist interview series where I interview talented designer makers, surface pattern designers, artists and illustrators. Today's artist, the second of the interview series is talented illustrator Carly Watts. She creates colourful and beautiful illustrations that are inspired by animals and nature. 

1.Explain a little about yourself and what you do?

I'm an Illustrator and designer currently based in Sheffield. At the moment I'm focusing on my little online stores but I also offer custom illustration commissions, such as blog headers and portraits. I love illustrating nature and animals, and I'm inspired by folk & decorative art. I adore colour! 

2. Do you have any favourite techniques?

I primarily work digitally these days which is perfect for me because I can be a little indecisive! This gives me a chance to play around with colours and textures and switch things up if they aren't working. Every single illustration starts off as a rough sketch on paper though. It took me quite a few years to get into digital illustration, I used to use watercolours regularly but I've totally fallen out of practice now! 

3. What are your favourite art materials to use?

If I couldn't work digitally anymore for whatever reason, I think I'd probably use gouache and ink! All of the equipment I use to make art right now is super basic. I literally draw with a mouse and don't have a fancy graphics tablet. I think this goes to show that any material is viable though, anyone can get started anytime with what they have! 

4. Do you have a favourite piece of artwork you have made?

I actually really love the 'Fly Through Space' pattern I made recently. It's such a simple piece but the colours really appeal to me and I loved making a retro space themed piece. It sort of reminds me of something you might see at Epcot! 

5. What's your preferred colour palette?

I love to experiment with colour and I'm always looking for colour palette inspiration on Pinterest. I like working with deep, rich colours - blues, purples and greens. I also love using gold in my work, especially when I can add a slightly foiled effect. 

6. What influences your work?

Nature and the animal kingdom influence my work more than anything else. Whenever I'm stuck and unsure of what I will illustrate next, I always turn to animals to inspire me. I also love looking at vintage folk art, particularly for the vivid, unusual colour palettes. 

7. Could you show us where you work/studio space?

Unfortunately I don't have a proper work space at all! My boyfriend and I live in a small apartment and he has claimed the only desk space! I just have to make do at the moment which is fine, sometimes you just have to make the most of what you have. 

8. What path did you take to get where you are now?

I've definitely taken a bit of a convoluted path to get to where I am now.  I studied art at college but then went on to do a drama degree! I then realised that I preferred the set design aspect of it which led to me getting interested in illustration. I've also worked in shops, and even in schools! There was no clear path for me (maybe there isn't really one for anyone!) but I just followed my instincts and hopefully I'll be able to grow my business even more next year. 

9. Are there any defining moments in your creative career?

Last year I was fortunate enough to be chosen to participate in Secret 7" which is a charity initiative. They take 7 tracks by 7 of the best know musicians in the world and then press each one 100 times to vinyl, artists from around the world then have the chance to design artwork for the sleeves which are then sold for £50 each - all of the money goes to a different worthy cause each year! It was a particularly special experience for me, because the exhibition of the sleeves was situated at Somerset House! 

10.When did you know you wanted to be an artist/illustrator/designer/printmaker?

It's a little bit of a cliche to say, but I've always been interested in art from a young age! When I was at college I was incredibly interested in becoming a fine artist, I just didn't think it was a particularly realistic goal at that time. It's really special to be able to create art each day now. 

11.What would be a normal day for you?

If I have any commissions on the go, I would usually start off by creating a rough sketch on paper and sending it off for approval before I start on the digital version. If I'm just working on new designs/patterns for my shops, I like to do a little research to start with. I have lots of Pinterest boards with colour palette ideas and little things that have inspired me. I will do some sketching in my pad and then scan my drawings so I can start working digitally with them. I also have to set aside some time to upload new work to my shops - a little boring but it has to be done! 

12.What is your dream project or goal?

I would really love to be able to have my illustrations published in a book in 2017! I'm currently working on an entry to a Folio Society competition - the winner will have the chance to illustrate Mansfield Park so I'll see how I get on!

13. Is there any advice you could give to an aspiring artist?

Experiment with all different types of media and never stop learning and practising! Don't worry if you sometimes lose your inspiration, you will always get it back - just keep scribbling and sketching. Set up social media accounts and share your work/connect with other artists - this really helps with motivation! 

14. Is there anything else you would like to add?

If you really dream of becoming an artist, please don't give up! Even if you don't have a lot of time to create, just keep going with it and utilise whatever resources you have. Start out small and keep building.

Thank you so much Carly! I hope you've enjoyed this interview!

If you would like to follow Carly or see her work here are some links you should be sure to check out! :

My Creative Process: Drawing People + Tips

When it comes to drawing people I still have a lot to learn, but it's one of my most favourite things to do. I love being able to create different expressions, details, paint glasses and my most favourite thing, the hair and use bright colours and patterns. So I thought I'd show you my process of illustrating people. I've not been in the most creative spirit so this new project will hopefully help get my creative juices flowing. First of all, what I find easiest is painting with a water brush pen as it means I can paint quicker.

I find that the eyes are probably the most important part for me when illustrating people as they hold a lot of expression. You can also size up the other features better once you perfected the eyes. I like to play with bright colours when painting the hair and different hairstyles create a really fun vibe.

So here are some tips on illustrating people:

Experiment with facial features 
By experimenting with different facial features you can find what style you like. So draw lots of different eyes, noses and lips using different materials such as watercolour or brush pen and then pick your favourites that are most aesthetically pleasing to you.

Find your style 
By finding your 'style' you feel so much more confident when painting people. Your style could be something small and simple such as a signature look. This could be painting the cheeks in a certain way, adding marks to the face or hair, drawing the eyes in an unusual way. Try to draw in a way that is different to other people.

Design is in the detail

Adding details such as freckles, cheeks and glasses can really create a detailed illustration and add character and lots of personality to your drawing. It can also guide you into creating your own personal style.

Create a colour palette
This tip you don't have to do but creating a color palette can help when painting people and clothes. You can then use these colours for the skin, hair, eyes, and clothing / accessories. Choosing a colour palette can be really helpful if you are combining illustrations of people with a setting.

Experiment with different hair styles
This is probably my most favourite thing to do as I love unusual hairstyles. It can also add a lot of personality and character to the illustration. Try drawing hairstyles you wouldn't normally draw or find hard to draw. Use different colours and most importantly have fun with it.

Pratice, pratice, practice!
This is the most important tip of all! The more you pratice the more you will improve in your illustration skills.

I hope you have liked reading and have found some of the tips helpful! Do you illustrate people? I'd love to see your work!! 

Painting In Coffee Shops

Painting in public such as places like coffee shops can be very daunting at first. I can be quite shy when showing people my work and it the thought of it made me anxious. But, I found a little coffee shop that I've been going to for quite a while now called Chin Chins coffee house. It's local to me, it's cosy and totally relaxing. So I got my little Winsor and Newton set out, my water brush pen which is a godsend and my pink pig watercolour sketchbook and started doodling. I've found some of my favourite paintings and watercolours have come from this and it's also a good way of starting conversations and even telling people about your work and shop. I find having company helps but I've even managed to paint on my own which is a small win for me.

I found that once I showed my work people really liked it and asked for more such as commissions! So never be scared to paint in public. I'm now even selling my own hand painted cards which are only available in the ChinChins coffee house!!

In other news I've decided to not apply for uni this year and instead focus on my health and well-being, January hasn't been the most amazing start but it has helped me realise I need to focus on my self and painting in coffee shops helps with this by relaxing me. It's also helping to build up my portfolio so when I do apply for uni I'll have more recent and experimental work in my sketchbooks!

This seems to be going off on a tangent so I'll leave it here for now. Thanks for reading.

Do you paint or doodle drawings in coffee shops? I'd love to know!

My Enamel Pin Collection

Collecting brooches and pins is something I've always enjoyed doing! For many years I've built up a vast collection of vintage pins but that will be for another day. Today I wanted to share with you the start of my new collection of modern enamel pins created by some of my favourite artists on Etsy. I love retro stuff, feminism and plants so you can't be surprised that I picked out pins that resembled these three things. Why I love collecting pins so much is because I love art & illustration, patterns, typography and colour and I love seeing these techniques explored in pins that you can wear. Each one if totally different and the added details make them so interesting. I also love textured pins where you can feel the outline. 

One of my favourites is this peace girl power enamel pin. I love the colours, the typography, the silver and the little love heart details in the nails. 

So if you wanted to know which great artists I bought these cute and charming enamel pins from here's the info ( All found on Etsy) :

Monstera Leaf Pin - This Way To The Circus

Girl Power Pin - Zabby Allen

Cacti Cup Pin - Water sounds

Sofa Cat Pin - Peskimo

House Pin - Finest Imagery

Thanks for reading! My pin game is strong, how strong is your in game? Do you have a pin collection? I'd love to know!

Artist Interview Series: Printmaker & Illustrator Aleesha Nandhra

Welcome to the new artist interview series where I interview talented designer makers, surface pattern designers, artists and illustrators. Today's artist, the first of the interview series is talented illustrator-sometimes printmaker Aleesha Nandhra. She creates awe inspiring screen prints/illustrations that have a playful attitude and are full of colour and fun. So without further ado here's what she has to say: 

1.Explain a little about yourself and what you do?

I am an Illustrator-sometimes Printmaker from London. I solve visual problems for clients, as well as constantly producing nee work that I feel others will enjoy!

2. Do you have any favourite techniques?

I love mixing things together: drawing, painting, collage -I really enjoy printmaking too.

3.What are your favourite art materials to use?

 Pencil, fine-liners and gouache paint

4.Do you have a favourite piece of artwork you have made?

That is so difficult to answer...I make every piece for different reasons, and in different ways... I can't pick! A couple of favourites from this year are my comic "Grief" that was printed in Issue 13 of OFFLINE my Space Travel inspired cards.

5.What's your preferred colour palette?

I don't have a preference in terms of colour, but I do try and limit the palette I use every time. I feel that it helps me make quicker decisions because there are less options. I use red a lot - it's my favourite colour.

6. What influences your work?

Music, travel, food, packaging and good stories.

7.Could you show us where you work/studio space?

8. What path did you take to get to where you are now? 

After completing my A-Levels I went on to study Illustration at The Cambridge School of Art I graduated in 2014, and have since done some part time teaching, freelance work, in-house work at a toy stationery factory, and completed a screen printing internship. Now I am where you fine me now! Still doing quite a few of these thins. It's nice to be creative busy.

9. Are there any defining moments in your creative career?

The first time I went to WHSmiths and picked up a magazine with my work in it...that was a big deal. It was amazing to see my work in this tangible thing that someone could buy.

10.When did you know you wanted to be an artist/illustrator/designer/printmaker?

I've always loved drawing, and art. I think I always knew that I wanted to pursue something creative. I decided that my work fitted best in the world of illustration when I was looking to study Art/Design at higher education and visiting lots of degree shows. Everything just naturally grew from there!

11.What would be a normal day for you?

Waking up and going or a run, then after showering and having breakfast I like to be at my desk before 9am to check emails (and instagram...) Then I go through my to do-list and check what needs working on first, put some music on, and get to it! At some point I do stop for lunch...and a few cups of tea, but I like to be at my desk from 9-5. Of course some days I head over to Print Club to do some screen printing, or I head into school to do some teaching - it just depends on what day of the week it is. :)

12.What is your dream project or goal? 

My dream project or goal would be to create work for a band or musician - gig posters, album artwork, merchandise etc. That or create illustrations for food packaging.

13. Is there any advice you could give to an aspiring artist?

I feel that I am still in the early ages of my career myself! So I'm not sure what other advice I could give other than: Keep working hard and what you love to do!

Thank you so much Aleesha! I hope you've enjoyed this interview!

If you would like to follow Aleesha or see her work here are some links you should be sure to check out! :

My Creative Process: Brush Lettering With Watercolours + Tips

One of my favourite things to do besides drawing with watercolours is to do brush lettering with watercolours. Over the last few months I've been experimenting and honing in on my brush lettering skills and I'm really starting to like the outcomes. Brush lettering takes practice but by adding you own little twists you can create really cool lettering. What I love about doing it with watercolours is that you can get the lovely gradient and faded effect with the watercolour which you can't get with opaque ink. So as a new series I wanted to show you my creative processes, so here are some of my favourite outcomes and tips to do with watercolour brush lettering!


The best tool to ever use when creating lettering with watercolours is using a waterbrush pen. It acts like a paintbrush and a pen giving you great flexibility.


Finding inspiration from Pinterest and google you can find quotes you like. Then faintly with a pencil write it down. This gives you a guide to where you should paint.


I like to do my hand lettering in watercolours using the brush pen as it's a whole lot easier than using a normal ink brush pen. You can also mix colours and create gradients with watercolours, Getting a slow rhythm is key. Going to slow and it will look wobbly. Go to fast and it can look completely messy...well for me anyway.


Either at the beginning / middle / or end depending on the letter is a great place to add a loop. For example, adding a loop at the start of the letter 'W' as shown below can make it look more elegant and fun. You can also add loops to letters such as 'O' 'R' and 'S'.


Adding flicks to the the start or the end of your letters can make your type look much more flattering and will give it character.


For me this is the most important aspect of lettering. With all the loops and flicks in the world, if you don't change thicknesses of your lines you won't be able to get a perfect type. I do this by pressing down on the water brush pen when the line of the letter goes down. I then press lightly when a line of the letter goes up or does an up curve as shown below.

Here's another of one of my favourite quote designs that I created using watercolours:

I hope you enjoyed this post and learnt some new tips on brush lettering with watercolours. Have you ever tried brush lettering? I would love to know!


I've spent new years with my family drinking cocktails and playing board games. However you spent your New Years I hope you had a relaxing and lovely start to the year.