Typography in Liverpool

A recent post by Creative Bloq got me thinking. It was about the 2017 logo design trend of ‘uppercasification’ (their word not mine). What they mean by this word is the trend for companies and brands to put their text into uppercase capitals. You can read the original post here.

I think the reason this post attracted me is because typography was already on my mind. It feels like there is currently one particular font that is everywhere. It is a flowing, elegant, script style, reminiscent of brush calligraphy. Yes, it can look lovely. However, it is not always easily read – a point that was brought home to me when I was sent somebody’s email address written in this font! And, possibly more importantly in my opinion, it has become overused – it has lost its impact. Maybe the trend for ‘uppercasification’ is a reaction against this ubiquitous and very decorative style of font that we are seeing so much of. In the words of The Beautiful South‘s song Rotterdam (or Anywhere) 

“And everyone is blonde

And everyone is beautiful

When blondes and beautiful are multiple

They become so dull and dutiful”

Recently I visited Liverpool for a long weekend. While there, I photographed a variety of typography and fonts, from the hand-drawn to machine produced. In many cases the choice of font used carried as much message as the words. And I think that this is how is should be. A beautiful font is only beautiful when used well and appropriately, and when any font becomes overused it loses its beauty and impact. I hope you enjoy some of my photos from that visit. Maybe you will be inspired to look at the typography used in your own local area.


You can’t visit Liverpool without being made aware of its musical heritage, and in particular The Beatles and the Merseybeat scene:


There are many other references to Liverpool’s history and heritage, especially its importance as a great port. However, there is also modern rebuilding and renovation:


And finally, restaurants and cafes are a vital part of any big city. And a great source for typography, especially hand lettering on menu boards:


I’m sure that any city or town would reveal a wide range of fonts and typography styles. And we should relish that variety.


Lantana Mandala

Recently I was able to take an on-line course with the very talented Sherry London. Sherry is a Photoshop expert, having used the program from its early beginnings. Coincidentally, she came to PS for designing for knitting machines – the same reason I got involved in computer design programs. I would definitely recommend Sherry’s courses, she is so generous and helpful with her knowledge. And no, I don’t have any affiliation to her. The short course I took is “Two Weeks to a No Fail Seamless Toss Repeat Pattern in Photoshop”.

As a freebie in this course, Sherry shared a template for creating mandala or kaleidoscope effect images from our artwork. I love this effect, and have experimented with it at various times over the years. It even featured in my degree show. So I had to give it a try.

Fast forward a few months and I have been experimenting this week with the ‘advanced’ template, where I can have more control over the placement of the original artwork. This is an addictive activity. I used photographs of Lantana Camara that I took in the Poison Garden at Guimar Pyramids in Tenerife, and I would like to share a few of my favourite results here.



Rainy days

This week has been busy catching up with various projects, and preparing to take part in Lilla Roger’s Make Art That Sells course later this month. It has also been a wet and cold week. But the rain has made it a great week for using my lovely Missoni umbrella – a bargain last year from TK Maxx. Missoni is, and has been for a long time, one of my favourite design houses. And even in the rain, there is still some brightness.


Saturday Spectrum: Sea Green

sf-stripes-collectionI recently came across the ‘Saturday Spectrum’ challenge organised by Anne Bray. This challenge is based around the different colours of Crayola crayons. This week’s challenge was the colour Sea Green. Details can be found here.

sf-stripes-2To me, sea green is a much darker blue-green than this crayon. This paler colour reminded me more of the foam on the waves – hence the name of the collection.

sf-stripes-1The designs themselves are based on some ideas I explored several years ago. But I was never quite happy with the original designs, particularly the colour palette. So I took this opportunity to revise and recolour some of the work, also playing with the scale and converting them from Photoshop files to vector-based Illustrator files.


The designs all feature (in one way or another) stripes in the sea green crayon colour.


Thank you Anne for the opportunity to participate in this challenge!

Yarnbombing in Tenerife

I love the idea of seeing art in unexpected places. To me, if it makes people interact and ask questions then that’s all good. Yarnbombing has been around now for a long time, but it is very rare that I get to see it “in the wild”.

Recently I visited the port of Santa Cruz in the North-East of Tenerife. Walking away from the harbour itself, I turned a corner and came across these wonderfully decorated trees.

the square of yarn bombed trees


Yarnbombed trees



Santa Cruz is a busy port with thriving shopping and commercial areas. It was great to see this little bit of fun in the middle of the city. Maybe we could brighten up our homes, towns, and cities with a little bit of care, colour and creativity.

Butterflies For Lupus 2015

Once again this year the very generous Dawn Clarkson has organised a gallery of butterflies for World Lupus Day on 10th May. For each image sent to her, Dawn makes a contribution to Lupus UK. In addition, this year Dawn will also be attending a a meeting of doctors and Lupus patients, where she has been asked to speak to them about her Butterflies for Lupus project. Congratulations Dawn!

This year I decided to use this opportunity to try some new techniques. Last year I discovered a digital workshop by Diane Rusin Doran (details here). Although I had used some of the techniques shown, there were others I had not. So this was to be my opportunity.




The design started with hand drawn butterflies scanned into Photoshop. A graduated fill was combined with some photographs of clouds for the background, and then the white foreground (with the butterflies ‘cut out’) was made semi-transparent.



I’m really pleased with the result. I was aiming for something with the feel of a hand-dyed fabric and possibly screen printing. I think I’ve achieved that, and will definitely be experimenting further with these new techniques.



So now you have seen my image, please go over to see the full gallery at Dawn’s blog ‘Nice & Fancy’.

Geo Links Collection

Inspired by two necklaces from the 1960s, these designs are perfect for summer use. The bright holiday-inspired colours would be great as beachwear, or for outside cushions and furniture on the patio or around the poolside. Designed in Illustrator, they can be easily resized or recoloured.


For larger images with more detail please request access to the private client portfolio here.


“Gifted Too”, Week 5

Well here we are at the end of this little challenge. I have certainly enjoyed it, and the feedback from my design partners is that they have too. And, more importantly than that, it has pushed me into new design areas and encouraged me to try new techniques. It still seems like every design I create I learn something new about Photoshop or Illustrator!

We have three designs for you this week. Again I am struck by the variation we have produced.

Working ‘old school’, Faye has used layered papers, modelling dough, and buttons to create her design. I love how Faye has avoided the computer for her work throughout this challenge, although she does admit to a bit of help with this design from her young son Harry who suggested the button bubbles. A great and original idea for a card.

In contrast, Lindsay has used her statement bold strokes to create two smiling kitties in a field of flowers. She has a very distinctive style and great use of colour. I could certainly see this being adapted into a greeting card, maybe using one of the faces surrounded by the lighter flowers?

And then mine. I was late with my design this week after being away. But inspiration finally struck when I watched a snail make its way across the patio. I’m not sure that I have finished with this idea, but am still pleased. It helped me feel more confident in character drawing and incorporating hand drawn marks. And then there was learning how to add a glitter effect – wow!

I would like to thank the designers who have joined me on this challenge and have given me such inspiration. And a special ‘thank you’ to Tigerprint who thought up the ideas. I think it is actually quite fitting that on this last week we have all produced designs that have (in my opinion) the potential to be greeting cards.

wk5-faye‘Home Is Where The Heart Is’ by Faye Brown Designs


‘Freestyle’ by Slumbermonkey Designs


‘Home Is Where The Heart Is’ by Annette Kirstine Designs

Thank you for following us on this challenge. I hope you have enjoyed seeing some snippets of the work that we do, and remember that you can see more at our websites. And watch out at the end of August when we will each be blogging about our experiences and revealing some of of our other designs form Gifted Too.



Spring Patterns

My Blog has been sadly neglected of late. My focus has been on rebuilding this website and experimenting with new techniques. I’m not totally happy with the site yet – there is still a lot of work to do. But, as with so many adventures, I look back now over the past six weeks with astonishment at how much I have learnt.


So it was a lovely change to send some work over to Julia Grifol for her Spring Pattern Showcase. When Julia put out a call for Spring patterns I immediately thought about my Geo Sunflowers Collection. I really enjoyed creating this collection. The inspiration was those little gummed geometric shapes that children use to create patterns. Well, maybe it’s my age and they don’t have them now! Anyway, I used to like playing and making patterns with them. And in creating this collection I loved the opportunity to play with them again, albeit digitally.


I hope you get an opportunity to visit Julia’s site and see the lovely floral designs, but for now here is my design – Harlequin (did you know there was a sunflower called Harlequin?)