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At last, I’m back with new instalments from the long-distance sketchbook/notebook collaboration I’ve been working on with my friend Yoko Hayashi.

It’s always a thrilling day here when a MUJI notebook sized package, postmarked Tokyo, lands in my letterbox!

mujinotebook collaboration - post packagaing

In my previous entry (which you can see here) I’d left Yoko with a rather awkward, untidy-back-of-embroidery page to work with…

muji notebook (tokyo) - back-of-embroidery

I was intrigued to see what she’d done with this page. I knew it would be beautiful and inventive, but I wasn’t prepared for just how beautiful – there was actual gasping when I turned the page to reveal Yoko’s most recent entry…

mujinotebook (tokyo) - artwork by yoko hayashi

notebook [tokyo] – detail (artwork by yoko hayashi)

This fine lace-like filigree evokes a constellation of delicate celestial bodies or magical snow crystals.

Although they are painted they have an enticing three-dimensional quality – like real openwork – that makes one want to reach out and touch them.

muji notebook (tokyo) - artwork by yoko hayashi

notebook [tokyo] – double page spread (artwork by yoko hayashi)

The village beneath this constellation (itself, it would seem, born of fallen stars/snow crystals) exudes a peaceful otherworldly calm, and that deep stillness that almost always accompanies abundant snowfall.

muji notebook (tokyo) - artwork by yoko hayashi

notebook [tokyo] – detail (artwork by yoko hayashi)

Soft, substantial snow came to Haarlem a few days after the notebook arrived. Coincidence or enchantment? I favour the latter…

muji notebook (tokyo) - artwork by yoko hayashi

notebook [tokyo] – all artwork by yoko hayashi

notebook [tokyo] denotes the notebook that started its life in Tokyo, and notebook [amsterdam] denotes the notebook that started its life in Amsterdam

The preceding Amsterdam/Tokyo project posts can be found here:
(1) | (2) | (3) | (4) | (5) | (6 – part I) | (6 – part II)

All artwork in this post is copyright yoko hayashi

Soon after I had started work on the drawings for my ‘amateur naturalist’s specimen collection’ print series I was approached by Chômu Press about creating a book cover illustration for one of their new releases (Nick Jackson’s ‘The Secret Life of the Panda’). The brief I received from Chômu contained phrases like “There’s a scholar studying tiny creatures under a microscope in sixteenth century Holland” and “There are repeated animal references… (birds of various kinds, an ermine, a cockroach, a water flea, vipers, rabbits, fish, river dolphins and so on). Often these have a scientific quality – like the study of biology and anatomy, or the collecting of specimens” – Um… yes please! I’d like to work on that!

concept sketch & drawings for the book cover illustration

I presented several different concept sketches to Chômu, but it was the rough sketch of a collection of specimens laid out in a grid (intended to simply represent a specimen display cabinet as though viewed from above) that they wished to pursue… and so the early work I had done on my ‘specimen collection’ project inspired and informed the creation of the book cover illustration, and work on the book cover illustration fed back into my growing series of specimens. A very happy bit of synchronicity!

some of the drawings made for ‘The Secret Life of the Panda’ book cover

The author and the publisher made the bold (and exciting!) decision to leave the cover entirely, mysteriously free of text (apart from the ISBN on the back and the Chômu Press logo on the spine).

‘The Secret Life of the Panda’ book cover

I had the opportunity to read the book in its entirety earlier this year… it’s a hauntingly memorable “fusion of realism and dream-like fantasy”, an always intriguing, at times disturbing, collection of finely-crafted stories. But I am no skilled literary reviewer – you can read reviews and find out more about ‘The Secret Life of the Panda’ on the Chomu Press website >

* apparently not a valid Scrabble word… but I like it!

Way, w-a-y back in August last year I posted briefly about an illustration I was working on for the NarcoAgent website. I finished it shortly after that post and it has since been gathering (digital) dust on a forgotten shelf of my hard drive. The ‘Mixtape’ project for which is was originally intended is now online, so the illo has finally been dusted off and put to good use.

More importantly, you can listen to some great music here (and if you like any of what you hear then please do support the artists by buying their albums – preferably directly from them, their label, or an independent record store :) 

 mixtape illo


Mixtape’ illustration

some of my work, available on etsy
support worldwide wild cat conservation


Sketchbook doodling… in search of my lost mojo #creative_block #ugh #sketchbook #doodling #drawing #acrylic_ink #white #anthracite #monochrome #leaves #birch #botanical #pattern #negative_space #design Bold, beautiful brassica #cruciferous #cabbage #leaf #phyllotaxy #purple #green #verdant #fibonacci #pattern #raindrops #roofgarden Gira sez "Eat yer greens!" #good_advice #yum #catgrass #cyperus_zumula #teeth #canines #green #grey #cat #gira #catsofinstagram September is upon us (!) and this is an illustration I made towards the end of last year for @essie_letterpress ‘s 2017 Artist’s Almanac. The almanac is produced in South Africa and the only stipulation for the illustration (apart from colour and sizing guidelines) was that it should fit a Southern hemisphere timeline… September is early springtime in South Africa, when the remarkable fynbos wildflowers begin to bloom and southern right whales migrate through SA’s coastal waters where they can be seen frolicking close to shore.
The almanac’s cover illustration (partially pictured here) is by the talented @ikronk
#south_africa #spring #cetacea #eubalaena_australis #baleen #whale #southern_right_whale #tail_sailing through a #garland of #fynbos #flowers #gazania #quaqua #stapelia #pelargonium_incarnatum #ornithogalum #lachenalia #spiloxene #romulea #oncosiphon #euphorbia #lapeirousia #protea #flora #pattern #artistsalmanac #calendar2017 #two_colour #illustration #letterpress Our brave, beautiful boy… happy to be back home after his first cancer treatment @mcvoordieren earlier this week.
If you’ve got any healing good vibes to spare (I know that’s a big ask in this perennially tough world) please send them Gira’s way ☄💙🐈
#gira #cat #greeneyes #steady_gaze #inscrutable #manga_eyes #studiomate #best_fur_buddy #positive_energy #healing #lymphoma #enzyme_injections #fuckcancer #catsofinstagram A profoundly pleasing polar bear…
'Orso’ by Simona Vergani (1998, white Carrara marble, h 350cm) can be found in Amsterdam’s Erasmuspark, and is definitely one of the coolest ❄🐧❄ public sculptures I’ve encountered!
#polar_bear #ijsbeer #ursus_maritimus #vulnerable #habitat_loss #climate_change #paws #orso #sculpture #carved #white #carrara #marble #blue #summer_sky #amsterdam #erasmuspark


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