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jellyfish drawing, work-in-progress

jellyfish drawing, work-in-progress

I’ve been drawing jellyfish lately… and I realised pretty early on in my attempts that, despite the plethora of photographic reference material to be found in books and online, without access to a real live model I had no idea how to articulate the twisting, undulating, entwining, knurly oral arms of these compelling creatures.

What’s the next best thing to observing a live model (without leaving your desk)? A highly scientifically-inaccurate dummy hastily constructed from scrap paper, pipe cleaners, tape and bits of yarn, of course!

jellyfish drawing, work-in-progress

jellyfish stand-in

Fun to make… and it really did help me to figure out how I might draw those tricky, twisty oral arms!

jellyfish drawing, work-in-progress

Taped to a window, the overlapping paper ‘arms’ coupled with the play of light and shadow create some interesting abstract shapes too…

jellyfish drawing, work-in-progress

My trusty assistant has been on hand to offer advice on the best brush for inking…

jellyfish drawing, work-in-progress

… and to engage in a bit of virtual interspecies arm-wrestling.

jellyfish drawing, work-in-progress

More jellyfish WIP to come…

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It has been icy cold

papercut snowflakes on window


gira and papercut snowflakes

Inside we are mesmerised

gira... mesmerised by fire

by fire


muji notebook (tokyo)

notebook [tokyo]* – detail

Here are some more pages from the sketchbook/notebook project I’m working on with my friend Yoko (if you’d like to read the introduction to this project you can find it here). I was working on these pages at the tail end of last year’s autumn, and apparently was a little leaf-obsessed at the time…

muji notebook (tokyo)

notebook [tokyo] – work in progress

muji notebook (tokyo)

notebook [tokyo] – detail

I also enjoyed ‘intervening’ with one of Yoko’s previous drawings…

muji notebook (tokyo)

notebook [tokyo] – drawing by yoko

muji notebook (tokyo)

notebook [tokyo] – dragon pollen?

While I was doodling dragons and playing with fallen leaves, Yoko was creating a fantastical forest of fungi in the other notebook…

muji notebook (amsterdam)

notebook [amsterdam]* (all artwork by yoko hayashi)

muji notebook (amsterdam)

notebook [amsterdam] – details (all artwork by yoko hayashi)

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

Previous posts about this project: (1)

muji notebook (amsterdam)

When my friend Yoko visited Amsterdam in August last year she suggested that we embark on a fun sketchbook/notebook collaboration: we’d start with two blank Muji notebooks (we chose these for their convenient-to-post-internationally size and unintimidating brown kraft paper pages) and we’d slowly fill them with whatever we fancied, sending them back and forth between Amsterdam and Tokyo. I thought it was a great idea and was particularly enamoured of Yoko’s ‘rules’ for the project… namely “No Pressure. No Rules.”

We’ve exchanged the notebooks a couple of times now and it’s always extremely exciting to find a notebook-sized package from Tokyo waiting on my doorstep! The suspense on opening, and the pleasure on seeing Yoko’s latest entry (and interventions with my previous entries), is singularly exciting!

I hope to document the project here as it progresses… and as we’ve been at it now for several months I have a bit of catching up to do! This blogpost includes pictures of our first entries (from way back in September/October last year) from two separate notebooks.

muji notebook (amsterdam)

notebook [amsterdam]* work in progress

My first entry was made around the same time that I was working on this print and it features one of the little Dutch canal houses that I drew for the print. I took the opportunity to have some paper-cutting fun as well, and something vaguely reminiscent of a ‘Delfts Blauw‘ porcelain plate emerged.

muji notebook (amsterdam)mujinotebook_amsterdam03

Synchronously, Yoko’s first entry (in the other of the two notebooks) also features some Amsterdam canal houses…

muji notebook (tokyo)

muji notebook (tokyo)

notebook [tokyo]* (all artwork by yoko hayashi)

… and a grey cat I’m sure I recognise :)

muji notebook (tokyo)

(artwork by yoko hayashi)

muji notebook (amsterdam)mujinotebook_amsterdam04

my studio assistant makes himself useful again

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* For my own reference: ‘notebook [amsterdam]’ denotes the notebook that started its life in Amsterdam, and ‘notebook [tokyo]’ denotes the notebook that started its life in Tokyo… simple!


I think the ongoing demise of the handwritten letter & the ‘snail mail’ posting of cards or notes to mark occasions (special or otherwise) is rather sad. A txt msg or email will never be a good substitute for receiving an interesting piece of post – you can’t beat the excitement and anticipation of finding an intriguing envelope waiting for you in your letterbox! And what about penmanship?! Do the kids still handwrite… you know, with ink and actual pens?

I love this postcard, found a couple of years ago at the wonderful (but now sadly closed down update: open again! see comments :) Bowne & Co. Stationers in the South Street Seaport area of Lower Manhattan
(postcard © John Derian Company, Inc)

As I appear to be a confirmed (and grumpy!) Luddite when it comes to the ubiquity of digital communications I’m very happy to have some of my work included in the screen printing and papercutting sections of this nifty new book by Charlotte Rivers (published earlier this month):

‘A wolf and a bear in a winter wood’ – screen printed cards

papercut ‘snowflake’ cards

And I’m delighted to find myself sharing its pages with a super-talented friend…

Jesse Breytenbach, Cape Town, South Africa (letterpress & block printing)

… and a whole host of other great, old-school stationery practitioners. The book is divided into eight sections: hand-drawn illustration, screen printing, letterpress printing, block printing, digital illustration, calligraphy, papercutting and collage/3-D/sewn, and includes brief but informative descriptions of each technique followed by inspirational examples from around the globe. Here are some of my favourite discoveries from the book:

MrYen, Leeds, UK (papercutting)

Sesame Letterpress, New York, USA (letterpress printing)

Winged Wheel, Tokyo, Japan (letterpress printing)

Karolin Schnoor, London, UK (hand-drawn illustration)

Katharine Watson, Washington DC, USA (block printing)

If you’re looking for some inspirational stationery eye-candy the book can be found online here (Amazon UK) or here (Amazon US) >

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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