Monday, March 2, 2015

Winners, and celebrity dinners.

Winners of my website launch commission give-away are as follows:

Prize for most interesting sounding commission: 

Karen Kelleher requesting a Granny (who is an international spy) skateboarding with her pet Jack Russells,  Charlie and Benny down a London high street.

Randomly selected prize:

Andrew Smith

we will have to see what Andy comes up with for me to draw

watch the space of here

Bonus bumf and promo package winners:

Kirsty Usher
Meike B

I will be in touch with these lovely people individually for details.

Thank you to everyone who took part in the competition across all of the platforms of the media of social. It took a little detective work to get the list together but I am 99% sure I got you all on the list. 

A few people have asked me about the celebrity dinner party illustration I posted in the competition post, so I thought I'd expound on it here as a post-launch treat. 

I am actually really bad at those kinds of games with open ended questions, what films would you take to a dessert island? (to watch while you eat dessert) if you could use one pen for the rest of your life what would it be? (a clearly inhumane restriction) and the classic what people alive or dead would you have round for dinner? 

Give me a kiss, marry kill any day, something with some concrete options. 

But I decided to do this one anyway because I'd been to on an excuse add colour and a bit of collage to my Real TV Wisdom style of line drawing for a portfolio piece to show off that I can do celebrity likenesses actually. 

So this is who I thought I would like to have round for dinner (from left to right)

Lady Gaga

because I think she would get the party started, and wear something excellent.

Sir David Attenborough 

because his voice and demeanour would put everyone at ease and encourage them to relax and let out their animal natures. Or something.

because he would make really good jokes with people's names and raise the profile of my dinner party on social media.

Grayson Perry

because he could give Gaga a run for her money with his outfit, and wouldn't pull any punches with his philosophical banter.

Monica Galetti 

because I love her face. Although I am now thinking that this could be bad because she would be eating my food and I don't think it would be good enough. 

And Tina Fey

to make fun of everyone else. And because in my head she is basically Liz Lemon she would not judge me food. 

They are all basically just celebrities that I would like to hang out with in real life. Also that I wanted to draw. 

I'm not going to ask you to tell me who you would have round for dinner, because I think that is cruel. 
But out of these six people that I chose, who would you most like to...

a) share a two bed flat in Crouch End with?
b) have to plan and execute a small scale invasion with?
c) have a miniature version of as a pet that could live in your room?
d) kiss, marry and kill?
e) go to a theme park with?
f) sit in a waiting room with for half a hour, but not be entirely sure it was them or have the courage to speak to them?

answers on a postcard or in the comments please. 

Sunday, February 15, 2015

You don't get to choose who you love.

I made this comic for the amazing Ztoical's visual campaign ahead of the Irish vote on marriage equality in May. 

It was nice to have this impetus to make a comic about something I believe strongly. 

And a marriage is a marriage is a marriage, whoever you are and whoever you love, that promise is the same and should have the same name. 

And the other thing too, that monogamy is a choice. I've never believed in soul mates or love at first sight or any of that, and I think that's a big part of why I've managed to be one half of an excellent relationship that has lasted almost 14 years and one and a half of marriage so far. But the faith thing is true too. Monogamy is like dieting. You can only do it if you believe in the back of your head that you deserve the rewards and that they are worth it. Not faith in a fairytale ending, faith in a continuing adventure.  

I wrote the words before I had thought of the visuals, and it's a little bit cheesy. 

The hardest line to illustrate was the 'sometimes it should end' line, and I want to issue a disclaimer that I absolutely do not think that mothers are the only victims of domestic abuse, or that domestic abuse is the only valid reason for giving up on a marriage or relationship. There are lots of reasons relationships should end. It's ironic that in a piece where I'm actively aiming to show many sides to the story of love and subtly subvert clichés that having only one panel to show and idea can put one in danger of the opposite.

But I absolutely do believe in marriage equality, and if you are in a position to vote for or support it, I wholeheartedly urge you to do so. 

And to follow the tumblr campaign this kicked off here.

Friday, February 13, 2015


YES I am officially launching my revamped and moved website. 


(Literally: Ooooh I should draw a quick sketch of a bird parade here that would be fun! But the physiology of birds marching and playing brass instruments is just fundamentally inaccurate. Which I cannot refrain from pointing out. That would be irresponsible.)

Not the most flashy upgrade in the world, but it does have a lot of my work on it, organised into nice posts and pages where you can see it nice and clearly.

Work like this:

It has, like, an about section, and a press section, and 6 separate portfolios of my work plus a bonus sketchbook section. AND different banner designs and a feed of this blog, so you can go back and forth between the two all day if you like. 

Coincidentally, I noticed that this very blog has almost reached the exciting milestone of 25,000 views! Sadly there doesn't seem to be a way for me to see who exactly my 25,000th viewer will be/has been or I could give them a prize. So instead I will have another competition to help you lovely people celebrate these two lovely milestones with me, and to give you the exciting opportunity to share them with your friends.


To keep this simples, I'm offering 2 people a straight up commission of my drawing time up to 3 hours. I will draw something of your choice for you, and post you the original and the digital versions. This can be a portrait of you or of someone or something dear to you, or something a bit more inventive like a scene you'd like to see, a dream you had or a celebrity in a compromising position. The winners will also get a selection of my promotional bumf including stickers and zines.

I may send out some runners up envelopes of bumf if I get a large response to this.

(These celebrities are all talking about this epic competition.)


One winner will be the thing that I most want to draw.
The second will be chosen using a random number generator.

1. Make sure you like my facbook project page and/or follow me on twitter, and/or instagram or follow this blog.

2. Add a comment to this post, or send me an email at jennyrobins[at] saying what you would like me to draw for you if you win.

3. Share this blog post on as many platforms as you like using the #jennyrobinsillustration - the more times you share the more likely you are to win, although if you have high privacy settings on facebook please note I may not see your shares so let me know you have sent them.

This competition will run until the 1st of March.

Good luck n'est pas?

And don't forget to visit my improved and new site of web.

Friday, February 6, 2015

Horay for Love

It's almost Valentimes ladies and gentlemen (and anyone who does not identify as a lady or gentleman), I did this reworking of a collage card but with bonus classical romance shtick piece above. There is also a really cool (if somewhat cheesy) love themed comic that I made that I'm not allowed to show you yet, but hopefully will be able to give you all that as a Valentines gift. 

Do NOT be forgetting to head along to my Etsy Shop if you are interested in one of the alternative Valentines cards or Love Zines for one of your loved ones, or to encourage your loved ones to buy them for you.

 If you are not in a state of loved bliss per say, or that is to say, a singleton by chance or design. I am sharing this story for you which I stole from Invisibilia. I don't believe in it at all, the idea of soul mates that is, or this particular creation story. But I enjoyed it anyway.  

The story is by Simon Rich and it's called "The Children Of The Dirt." from the book The Last Girlfriend on Earth
 According to Aristophanes, there were originally three sexes - the children of the moon who were half-male and half-female, the children of the sun who were fully male, and the children of the earth, who were fully female. Everyone had four legs, four arms and two heads, and spent their days in blissful contentment. Zeus became jealous of the humans' joy so he decided to split them all in two. Aristophanes called this punishment the origin of love because ever since, the children of the earth, moon and sun have been searching the globe in a desperate bid to find their other halves. Aristophanes' story though is incomplete because there was also a fourth sex - the children of the dirt. Unlike the other three sexes, the children of the dirt consisted of just one half. Some were male and some were female and each had just two arms, two legs and one head. The children of the dirt found the children of the earth, moon and sun to be completely insufferable. Whenever they saw a two-headed creature walking by, talking to itself in baby-talk voices, it made them want to vomit. They hated going to parties and when there was no way to get out of one, they sat in the corner, too bitter and depressed to talk to anybody. The children of the dirt were so miserable that they invented wine and art to dull their pain. It helped a little, but not really. When Zeus went on his rampage he decided to leave the children of the dirt alone. They're already f*cked, he explained.
Happy gay couples descend from the children of the sun. Happy lesbian couples descend from the children of the earth. And happy straight couples descend from the children of the moon. But the vast majority of humans are descendants of the children of the dirt. And no matter how long they search the earth, they'll never find what they're looking for because there's nobody for them, not anybody in the world.
In other news here are some new Facebook Project drawings for you to see. This is Jerson with a spoon on his nose. And Jess radiating peace and love. Both the photos they were adapted from were from weddings. So it's kind of on theme.

Horay for LOVE

Friday, January 2, 2015

2014 highlights - trips, events, drawings, fun times and adventures.

Can it be 2015 already? It seems like only a year ago it was 2013. 

In factuality I tend to think of years in the academic sense (September to August), so I am always confusing people with my use of last years and next years. THIS year though, I definitely did some things that are worth recalling in blog form I'm sure, even if I have to triple check the dates to make sure of what actually happened in the year of two thousand and fourteen. 

It's been a busy year and a number of those things I didn't even get around to blogging, so there should be some surprises too. I shall be vaguely chronological. 

A quick look at my calendar tells me that in January of 2014 I went to see the Light Princess, the brilliant alternative fairytale musical by Tori Amos

It was awesome.

I also went to Budapest. That was also awesome.

Alex had a beard at the time. 

I also ran a little valentines competition to help choose which of my long running series of collage cards got printed, culminating in 8 favourites becoming commercially available 
(and I'm sure I'll be shoving them down your throats again in no time as I still have some of the stock left you lucky lucky people).

In February, I made my first visit to Jumble and Pearls, who I revisited twice over the course of the year, it's such a lovely bunch of creatives to work with I can't actually believe it's been less than a year, and hope to do more events with Rosalia and co this year coming. 

Also in February I saw the estimable Sir Quentin Blake talk about drawing beyond the page and wrote about it for Amelia. The best part of this story which I'm not sure if I mentioned at the time, is that the legendary illustrator himself actually sent an email to thank me for the post - that's pretty amazingly cool right? He said I was a good listener. 

Also in February I saw War Horse

In March I turned 29 (avec cocktails) and did some fashion illustrations

Vita Gottlieb A/W 2014 

According to my calender I was reading Bourdieu at the time, or at least, I needed to return some to the library. 

In April I went to the MALDIVES

For mine and Alex's official honeymoon. It was pretty ****ing idyllic. 

As soon as we got back I was full tilt into preparing the first of two events organised by StoryHands this year - our workshop at Tate Modern with Tate Collective, which took place on the 3rd of May.

Myself, June Sees and Antonia Parker (fellow StoryHands veterans, I've known both these amazing ladies since the early days of my London illumastrating) organised a tour of the Matisse Cut Outs exhibition for groups of young people, then got them creating with a series of activities based on the themes of the show. For me this as much about a fluidity of process as it was about colours and shapes, Matisse's work in his later life shows such sensitivity to the power of simple composition and imaginative serendipity. It was also a fabulous opportunity of course to work with such a prestigious organisation and with such exciting artwork. The vibrant and varied work our young collaborators came up with was fantastic and I think we were pretty successful in evoking the spirit of Matisse's Vence Studio. You can read a lot more about the event in my write up for the StoryHands blog here.

Here's me, pontificating on my own productive processes. And here's just a small selection of some of the work that got made on the tables, walls and windows of the inspirational room Tate provided us with for the workshop. 

I always have to make something with a bird. 
(no really, ask my students. ALWAYS.) 
So I made this bird, seen here with the Globe and the Walkie Talkie. 

In May I did live drawing at a burlesque and variety night in Hoxton, and completed work on Katie and Elliot's wedding stationary, both of which I have blogged at a decent length recently, so I won't elaborate, except to say that both were very satisfying and fun commissions. 

One thing I don't think I did mention here was this other cool thing I did for the lovely couple's big day - a watercolour portrait in front of the church used as a guest book at the reception. I needed to put this together from a number of fittings and hair rehearsal photos in the week before the wedding, so it was all a little manic and last minute, but came together nicely and happily the weather on the day matched the sunshine I painted!

A lot of the summer was taken up with thesis writing as I came to the end of my MA in Art and Design Education, but I did manage to fit in a few weddings, some portraits, visits to shows and exhibitions including a late night viewing of the Royal Academy Summer Exhibition at which I drew this sketch of  Gabby Young and her band performing amongst the artworks.

At the same event, my sister Hazel and I experienced our first silent disco. Which was excellent. 

In August, and sensibly just before my thesis deadline, I went to the Green Man Festival in Whales. We slept in a really cold tent and ate a vast variety of world cuisines out of disposable containers and saw bands and stuff. I took quite a lot of mirror sunglasses selfies. 

In September I started a new part time art teaching job working in North West London which is going well.

In October and November StoryHands hosted our second great event of the year - a sketchbook scavenger hunt in the City of London as part of the Big Draw festival. 

June and I led groups on a little walk from the Monument to the Great Fire of London to Postman's Park, with stops in between taking in some hidden gems of the city and challenging our guests to discover and draw there. I've already done three write ups of the event and I'm getting a bit repetative, but if you're interested you can read ALL about it here on the StoryHands site, and see LOTS (and I do mean lots) of pictures. If you do follow me on some of the social medias, you've probably heard all about it already. 

Here we are beginning the first walk with some spiel on looking and appreciating our great capital.

I had a lot of fun doing these walks and it was so great to see our planning and preperation pay off in all the brilliant drawings made by participants of all ages. Although the decision to have two walks on each day - one family friendly one in the afternoon and one adults only with added pub crawl in the evening meant those two Saturdays were certainly long and exhausting for us, I think it was a good decision to do both as it really gave us the opportunity to meet and work with a great mix of people, including old friends and illustrators, but also new friends from lots of backgrounds and professions. We didn't change the tasks or the approach much in each walk and, while there were a lot of individual approaches, everyone embraced the challenges and made great drawings. 

After the success of our first Saturday of drawing, we attracted the attention of the director of the Campaign for Drawing, Sue Grayson Ford, who came to our second family walk to join in with our activities - what an honour! I've also been invited to write a piece on the experience for AN Magazine, so I think that we can safely call this event even more successful than the first. 

Also in October  I attended a conference on drawing at the British Museum, dressed as a bat for Halloween and took a sneaky trip to the Red Sea. In November I took a large number of children on a trip to the Natural History and Pitt Rivers Museums in Oxford. I could actually spend a week in that building (a cathedral to science, FYI) looking at all the things, it's so good, you should definitely go there if you have the chance. 

The Natural History museum is full of amazing animals and natural forms, while the Pitt Rivers is full of astonishing cultural artefacts. 

In the last few months I have been working on revamping my website, which is ALMOST FINISHED. Honest. That will be the next thing. Also I have completed a four page comic story based on a collaged found text story which is in the new issue of Meanwhile... from Soaring Penguin Press. I don't think I'm allowed to publish it all here but here are some sneaky pics. 
Clicky the links if you would like to buy a copy. 

It's a fancy dress love story. With zombies.

Also in the last few months I was working on an epic musical collage project creating lyrics pages and design work for The New Tabloids new album Good News. This was a bit of a departure for me because the work was almost totally abstract rather than figurative, but a lot of fun because for each song I was able to work on communicating the themes and feel of the music through the use of different colours and collage materials. Again at this point I can only show you a sneaky peek, but keep an eye out for the imminent release of the entire album, I'm sure I'll be bigging it up on the media of social.

To conclude the triumvarate of recent projects combining text collage and imagery, I also did this poem about the enduring mythical image of the witch in popular imagination for Amelia Gregory's new book That Which We Do Not Understand. This is a fabtasticly beautiful publication with luscious gold foil printing and lots of exciting artwork, so I definitely recommend getting your hands on a copy. If that is still possible, of which I am not sure. 

Well that was quite a lot of stuff, but then I guess a year is quite a long time really. 

Here's a few of the many sketchbook scavenger hunt pictures to finish off my yearly round up. 

Anna and Fran!

Hopefully 2015 will have as many adventures as 2014, keep your eyes open for my imminent website relaunch, and here's wishing you and yours all of the good things and success in your endeavours. 

Happy New Year.

Tuesday, December 30, 2014


My Christmas season has been fabulous so far, I have watched a LOT of children's films. 

And saw lovely friends and family and ate tasty food of course. 

As is traditional I decided to make a portion of my gifts this year and I decided to make a selection of coasters. 

After umming and ahhing over various tutorials on Pinterest, I bought a job lot of wooden and felt circles from ebay and then began covering them in collage designs. 

Some were in sets like these almost obligatory map and bird designs

and roses

and others were one offs. 

In all a good crafting activity for giftage, although beware of taking up a lot of surfaces in the home when many are drying at once.

If you are thinking of making some coasters and you want them to be functional as well, make sure you consider the waterproofness of the materials you use - I used found printed papers and book cutouts for a lot of the designs (woo serendipity etc.) but where I did use pictures I'd printed from my own designs I made sure to print them on a photocopier with heat sealed ink, and not on my inkjet printer. I also sprayed the finished coasters with two coatings of varnish, but early results indicate the brand I used might not be particularly heat resistant, so do more research than I did. 

Merry betweenchristmasandnewyears

Friday, November 28, 2014

In praise of felt tips

Felt tips can get a bad press, Mostly because if you use them badly, they look, well, really bad.
But if you use oil paints badly....  yeah they look really bad too. und so weiter. 

I don't know if the quote is a bad workman or a poor workman who famously blames his tools, a poor workman at least has more reason to own low quality tools I suppose. 

And I could easily go on a sadly un-sponsored (but welcome to offers!) praise singing bent about the virtues of Promarkers, or Sharpies, or Kuretake Brushables. Or reminisce about this really amazing set of felt tips I bought in a french supermarket in my late teens (Ultra-lavable) which just bled perfectly on cartridge paper and blended so nicely. But I think that's only half the battle. 

In fact sometimes rubbish felt pens can be even more satisfying, getting that scratchy half tone with a perfectly uniform colour? yum. 

I've been using felt pens, and yes, specifically but not exclusively Promarkers and Sharpies, in a lot of my live drawing work recently, because they are quick and colourful. And for the tonal work (the shadows) too - yes for realsies, in fact I often like to start with the tones, and add details after (because even with posh pens, dark colours can sometimes bleed into lighter colours if you go over the top, and because as well, it makes people go oooooh). As can be seen in these pictures herenow.

I just drew the brilliant Jen Conroy in this very style and thought to cunningly scan the process in three simple stages, so that you toooo, can ooooh. If you like. 

Negative Space first!



Detail, and some whimsical pattern.

Here are some portraits I did a few weeks ago at the Jumble and Pearls Christmas Fair.


In the summer, I used felt pens for a few other more exciting live drawing instances, which I did not get around to blogging about at the time, due to excess of thesis.

In September I went to an OffLife quick draw event at The House of Illustration, a newish graphic arts gallery in that newly developed nice fountany bit at granary square across the canal from London St Pancras. Which I like to call London St Pancreas and pretend I'm a tourist.

We were given a theme to illustrate every 15 minutes, so we literally did have to draw quickly and think quickly too. I sat with the always excellent value Gareth Hopkins aka GrthInk, he did a blog of the event (in a much more timely fashion) here.

I like having to think on my feet, or perhaps with my fingers in this case, and I had a great night, although not all of the drawings I did are ones I'd necessarily want to show you. One I'm holding back because I want to do a properly worked up version for my portfolio when I get time. I left the original drawings taped to the wall, so apologies for the phone photo pictures

The first topic was 'How I'd get my five minutes of fame', I started straight in by drawing a newscaster standing in front of a TV frame, hopeful that by the time I'd drawn this I would have come up with a good idea. I didn't really come up with a good idea, but I'm happy with the image because of this early attention to framing and composition innit?

Here's my drawing for the brief brief 'What I'd do if I had only one day to live'

I've always wanted to become an epic street artist and commit nefarious acts of beauty, but I've never had the balls. This is also one of the many answers to the question what would i do if I had Bernard's Watch. But that's another story.

I really do not know what was happening in my brain when I drew this in response to 'What's really down the back of the sofa'

Off Life actually run an online Quick Draw every Thursday, if you're interested in getting involved with some speedy illustration.

Now on to the final felt tip adventure I want to chronicle. Way back in May I pitched a live art idea to an events manager I've worked with a few times doing live portraits with Cult Events, what I ended up doing was not exactly what I pitched (I'm keeping that one under wraps still, I'm going to make it happen sooner or later) but was possibly the most fun I've had with felt tips.

Over the course of an evening at Dive Bar beneath Hoxton Seven titled Peep Show, I filled two enormous boards with live sketches of the performers of the evening, amassing together to make one large record of the event. 

Did I mention that a large number of these performers were burlesque and drag artists? 

Similar to my cowardice in not so far becoming an internationally renowned street artist, is my persistent lack of dressing up in feathers and face paint and shaking my thing. The spirit is willing but the flesh is lazy. I adore anything OTT and sparkly and tongue in cheek, but realistically, I'm not going to be the one on stage singing about my sexploits. That would be inappropriate. 
Because I am a teacher. 
And afraid. 

But I can DRAW them. 
This is what I drew that night.

I started with the mirror ball, and added atmospheric light splashes with the square end of my Promarkers.

Of especial note was the mesmerising musical performance of Kristal Sisodia,
I almost captured her elegance.

Also in evidence were several members of The Family Fierce, some of whom you may have seen on Drag Queens of London. 

Including but not limited to the enigmatic and effervescent Mx Ruby Wednesday (centre, Jokeresque makeup), the compère par excitement Rubyyy Jones (singing and pink opera gloves, bottom left) and I'm pretty sure (should probably have made notes) that the figure top left is the ineffable art queen Bourgeoisie.

I also enjoyed meeting Fairyprincessmermaidbarbie  although I didn't get to draw a detailed picture you can see her here in profile.

Have I convinced you that felt tips are brilliant yet? Or perhaps of your future career as a drag artist?

If not me, then why not someone else, here are some other awesome artists I like using felt tips. 

Ahh the wonders of felt tippery. Next week: why I really like filing cabinets.

Not really. 


I mean. I do really like filing cabinets. I just might not blog about it.