Alan Johnson

I was handed, on a plate, the fabulous opportunity to do a live drawing of Rt Hon Alan Johnson MP while he spoke to the party faithful at a Labour fundraiser in the swanky Phoenix Palace Restaurant in London NW1.  It was a situation far outside my usual comfort zone anyway but when he got up to speak, I faced having no good point of view amongst the crowded tables other than stare straight up into his nostrils.
I found Alan to be a thoroughly nice chap so opted to downplay this exaggerated angle and pushed to finish it after he'd exited stage front when he added his signature.  Moments later my drawing was auctioned to a happy Bidder who's portrait I also added while my Assistant Christine won a bottle of bubbly!
Man on the Left !

Heart of Darkness

My Heart of Darkness book (by Joseph Conrad) fully illustrated -
The close-up of the cover (below) shows it cloth-bound, in-keeping with the Folio Society's published books.  Their illustration competition's remit called for a design using 2 or 3 colours only.  My idea was to depict the featured characters in Conrad's story with the Paddle Steamer fog-bound, anchored on the fast-flowing and treacherous Congo river, in imminent danger of attack by Savages -

The publisher's illustration competition presented the ideal opportunity for me to demonstrate a more traditional illustrative style.  He wrote the book 115 years ago from his own serialized short-story adventures that appeared first in magazines for readers hungry for knowledge about uncharted regions of the world. 

My entry also required 3 full page illustrations (scenes of my choosing). 
1st scene from Chapter 2, page 39.  Marlow (the river-boat Captain) learns of the kind of driven man the rogue Kurtz is, when he's told of Kurtz's return journey up river immediately after dropping off a record load of Ivory -

'I seemed to see Kurtz for the first time.'

2nd scene from Chapter 2, page 55.  Marlow's knackered Paddle Steamer under attack by those godless Savages as it navigates the snags in the river's fast currents -

'Arrows, by Jove! We were being shot at!'
3rd scene from Chapter 3, page 81.  At the Inner-Station, Marlow confronts the sick Kurtz crawling through the long grass while the Savages get increasingly more restless - 

'I came apon him, and, if he had not heard me coming, I would have fallen over him too.'
Never mind that Francis Ford Coppala plundered the book's narrative for his movie Apocalypse Now, this Fossil of a Ripping Yarn would have remained just that if it weren't still naggingly relevant today.  Set in what was then Belgium's colonial Congo with its loose imperialist morals, Conrad's exploration into 'the Horror' he witnessed there is still recognizable, if you share the collective guilt of the West's liberalist expansion of democracy - its mighty military industrial complex: NATO in league with off-shore multinationals' looting of raw materials from foreign sovereign states, motivated predominantly by private profit, and in cahoots with 'approved' media outlets, describes 'the Horror' as continued from the Heart of Darkness book. 

It's the Elephant-in-the-room, and tuskless as I feel its ignominy (as a jobbing Illustrator straddling the digital age of publishing) after paying my 25 quid fee for this futile opportunity to compete for their commission, to then discover the publisher's 'tweet' announcing only a cursory 'thank you to all those who took part' with link to their chosen 25 longlisted candidates ... My Horror! discovering my illustrations did not even make it that far set me to a task.  So, I have put up this G+Community page where my fellow losers can freely air their own illustrated interpretations of Conrad's fine masterpiece along side mine if they wish, and have a bit of collective moan-fest' too if they so choose.  Moral: We are all Publishers! 

Site polished up!

DoodlingJim's Folio site now has new livery and have re-evaluated every page in it so all my artwork is Show-room condition - Astonishing!

Have also done replaced my blog's old banner graphic with new Easter Island stone-heads, just because there's bugger all on telly - Astounding!

Easter beer label

We're brewing a new beer for Easter and calling it GOOD EGG said Humpty Dumpty Brewery, could I make the pump-clip and bottle label so it compliments our BAD EGG you did for us 5 years ago.  I had to drill deep into my old backups, luckily I'd kept the original illustrator file editable which I re-worked, adding in what they asked to see, such as wings with gothic lettering on blue sky with a cloud and sporting a halo.  Result? .. Cheers all round! 

Person Centred Planning

A Care Homes charity organization's area Manager friend asked me to create a Wall Poster depicting their 'promotional and training models' for display in team meetings etc.  He wanted a style not too cartoony that can transfer easily as separate diagrams.  He showed examples of the kind of chart graphics needed together with the info needing artwork.  I then penciled roughs and scanned them into Photoshop to make a template for use in Illustrator where I worked up the individual pieces then basically it was a simple matter of 'flower arranging' my info-graphic presentation -

I hoped my interpretation was instantly digestible, however his response was ..My marketing manager's now is seeing it differently to me and has the insight needed, I am more artistic rather than practical..  He lead me to believe he was supreme commander!  Anyway, needless to say I was suckered by an ol'friend and we both learned our lesson.


Back in 2011 I illustrated crime pulp for a new A5 print magazine aimed at teen boy readers.  The independent publisher sent me an impressively dense brief in the post, this booklet proposed their vision for Pulp Detective it was going to be a monthly featuring 3 stories of about 14,000 words each, the setting was bootleg era 1930's America, when Mobsters, Gangsters and corrupt officials ran rife.
The Editor called for an illustrative style something like Martin Brown's Horrible Histories and Massimo Bonfatti's Leo Pulp.  A bold vision indeed I thought, there was nothing like this catering for that demographic that I could see.  My only question was - how can you be so confident in this being successful today?  We've done our research, was the Editor's matter-of-fact response.  I trusted in his vision, thinking it would look great on the shelves of WH Smith, so I naturally jumped at this chance.
Each month I was tasked with one hardboiled character, a gumshoe detective.
I did 3 stories depicting 10 or so scenes (of my choosing) for each story.  The artwork had to be oversized with backgrounds heavily detailed to allow some flexibility for chopping areas for further use elswhere in the magazine.  This, to my mind, was insensible decorative whimsy involving extra work - I suspected the onset of 'mission-creep' but went along without complaint.
Would normally expect a layout (with image-spacing) set first, then I'd know exactly what scenes (with their dimensions) needed artwork, but instead I waited with nervous anticipation for the resulting first issue's proof-copy to arrive by post.
When it duely did, my jaw thudded the mat.  Seems the Editor's publishing nous, much as I wanted to believe in it, wasn't up there with his enthusiasm for his favourite genre.  He was without doubt a bona fide amateur enthusiast.
Subsequently a second attempt with minor improvements to its 'look' was delivered.  Anyway, long story short, their backers who also being their distributors too, pulled the plug on this foolish venture so it consequently got rightly pulped.

Other pics about my Pulp Detective work (not labelled here) are at my ..find them in the Kids section there!

Science Poster update

... to my previous posting about my idea for the Brighton Science Festival's Poster.  It's Director liked and so, with one final push over the top, here it is -
Versions of it also appear on the front cover and inside their brochure here: flick through the online brochure! - it's stuffed with all kinds of events during it's 2 week run.  Here's my artworkings gone into visualizing the theme marking the centenary of World War One -

Exhibition of Poster Art!

Get the flash player here:

My Poster artworks are on the walls of the Horse and Groom pub for a limited period.  They're respectably framed behind glass, except Holy Smirk which is printed onto canvass like substrate.  As usual, my Poster artworks can still be found hanging in the splendidly decadent: Hotel Pelirocco in Brighton.

More at: in the Jim's Prints section where you can see them a little bigger with sizes and price info.  Am considering an e-commerce (another middleman taking a fee) shopping-cart for later, but for the time being, if you're thinking to purchase, go there to email me direct to arrange in the good old fashioned way. 


Public Hanging on 13th Oct' at Horse & Groom pub, a lively venue presided over by Pat who invited me to exhibit my art posters along with 3 others, that's all I really know except i gotta prepare frames, sort out the printer and polish up some art -
Holy Smirk's first airing will hang defiant along side his disciples at least till the end of November.  Like my other rebellious ignomies, this is available as signed limited edition of 200 prints (size: A3).  I'll be clearing it with the Romans this week so if you wish to indicate your interest to order, this would clue me into how many I should print off initially.

Science Poster

Director Richard Robinson of the Brighton Science Festival asked if I would artwork for their event poster and brochure cover.  This is my rough idea presented to him which he liked -
(Look out for future posting showing finished art!)

Big subject 'Science', and very inspirational educator is Richard who saw my framed poster-works hanging in Billies cafe.  We met and discussed possible themes yet he refused to get specific, instead leaving it up to my imagination to come up with something to fascinate.  He did however, for inspiration's sake, hand me a long list of 2014 anniversaries going way back to 1414 when 'Plus and Minus' was invented.  Notable there also is the Centenary of World War One - that's going to be the biggie!.. thinking I ought to somehow work that theme into the poster but careful to avoid any sombre iconography associated.  After some furious pencil work and discarded ideas I produced this Exo-Planetoid of Poppies (using photoshop's 'Polar Coordinates' filter), then I dropped in Brighton's own Pavilion building and stuck legs on it to look like the Apollo Lunar Lander which anyway shares very similar appearance to a microscopic Bacteriophage as it infects or, shall we say, 'Fracking' a blood cell.  Anyway, more to do ..!