Got a bit bit behind on #marchmeetthemaker so here’s Day 12 “Hands At Work”. These hands have been drawing for at least 38 years now, these days it’s pretty much always on an iPad in Procreate 👍
Day 10 of #marchmeetthemaker is “Reducing Waste”.
I’ve recently been trying to reduce the amount of unnecessary plastic in my products whilst also not increasing the price of anything. I currently use plastic free, cardboard packaging to post all my products, having phased out Jiffy bags last year. I occasionally need to use bubble wrap for my mugs but when I do I reuse the wrap that my picture frames are delivered in.
I’m just starting to transition to potato starch biodegradable bags for my cards and prints from Eco Craft Ltd. Because I buy my packaging in quite large quantities (to keep the price down) I still have to use up some of my cellophane stock. But as I run out I will be replacing all of it with potato starch. This means it can be composted at home and will break down in about 12 weeks. I’ll also be switching to plastic free packaging tape once I’ve used up my current stock 👍
Day 10 is “You” so here is me. I generally prefer to be the other side of the camera.
Day 9 of #marchmeetthemaker is “Story Behind the Name”.
My name is Jago (pronounced Jay-Go) it’s the Cornish form of James and it’s slightly more Cornish than I am. Growing up I could never get any of that personalised rubbish in shops (probably not a bad thing) ...
I once had a letter from a small Jago who thought he was the only one in the world. I sent him one of my books. I also once tried to register Jago.com but couldn’t afford the £30 fee. It now costs thousands 🤷🏼♂️. I managed to get @Jago on Twitter but in the early days of Instagram you could only sign up for an account with an iPhone and I had an iPod Touch. By the time they allowed signups on other devices it had already gone
Jago Illustration ended up being the name of my shop because it was the name of my website, so there you go 👍
Day 8 of #marchmeetthemaker is “Product Range”.
My product range has expanded over the years and continues to do so. I started off just selling prints of the illustrations from my books. Then I added prints of illustrations I’d done just for myself.
Then my wife and I decided to get serious about the online shop. We invested in our own printer and were able to drop the price of our prints considerably. We began to get a lot more orders. I designed a whole range of notebooks which we offered in two sizes and we started selling greetings cards. Then we added pocket mirrors, badges and magnets to our range. These were all super popular and so we continued to add more products.
Tea towels came next and then laser etched enamel mugs. The following year we added cushions and our Campfire Kits. Last year we introduced water bottles and sold them all. Calendars have also been one of our most popular products for several years running now. We are just about to trial a couple of new products (as soon as I finish the illustrations...). It’s always a bit risky introducing a new one, you never really know if it will be successful or not. Sometimes things are an immediate hit and then peter out, other times they gradually build up to success. It’s always tricky to balance the risk of trying a new product with not wanting to waste money - so fingers crossed for the next one 😬🤞
Day 7 is “Less glam side”.
I’m not sure what the glam side is to be honest. But backing your work up, whilst essential, definitely isn’t glamorous. Having worked digitally for so long, backup is something I take pretty seriously.
So far I’ve never lost anything. I store pretty much everything in a 2 Tb Dropbox account and as I have more than one Mac at home this means I have an almost instant local backup. It also makes it easy to access all my work from whichever device I’m using.
I also use Time Machine on all my Macs. To archive my older work and store my 250,000+ photos I use the 12 Tb of drives pictured, in pairs. I use Super Duper to clone one to the other on a schedule so that I always have two copies of them. In addition I use Backblaze as an offsite backup of all my Macs and iCloud Photos, Google Photos and Flickr as online photo storage. It’s not glam, but it’s pretty bulletproof 👍
Day 6 is Full time / Part time
I started working as an illustrator before I graduated in 2003, I’ve been illustrating ever since. Over the past 16 years I’ve illustrated over 50 children’s books, mostly for the American market. I’ve also sold over 3.2 million books, a fact which continues to astonish me. In addition, I’ve illustrated for magazines and TV shows. These days I divide my time between working on books, working on smaller illustration commissions and working on illustrations for my own shop and range of illustrated products.
I realise I am very fortunate to be able to do something I love for a living but I sometimes think people don’t realise how full time it can actually be. When you’re self employed, full time can mean literally all the time. From first thing in the morning before the school run until the early hours if there’s a deadline to meet. Weekends are sometimes hypothetical and school holidays are often just another working week. Being able to continue working even when you’re tired and fed up or ill and ensure you still respond professionally to clients is a skill that you have to develop and it isn’t always easy.
You also tend to be responsible for everything, so while my job title might be illustrator, I’m also doing the accounts, marketing my work, promoting my shop, negotiating and communicating with clients and publishers, responding to endless emails messages and DM’s, coming up with new ideas, trying to learn new skills, printing and packaging orders, calculating overseas shipping fees and trundling off to the Post Office once a day.
It’s sometimes frustrating to be told “how lovely” your job must be by people who have a stable monthly income, reasonable working hours and a pension, but having done it for so long now I can’t really imagine doing anything else.
Day 5 is Detail or close up, so here’s a close up of a detail of one of my illustration. This was a twist on the Bear & The Maiden Fair from Game of Thrones recasting the maiden as a Brienne-esque warrior. Drawn in Procreate.
Day 4 is Tools & Materials
I have always worked digitally, first on a home-built PC and later on a variety of Macs using a range of Wacom tablets. I have also owned each version of the iPad since it was released in 2010. I remember watching the keynote presentation where it was announced and thinking “wow... that would be my ideal computer”. Despite trying most of the third party styluses there are, it didn’t quite live up to it until the iPad Pro and Apple Pencil arrived but since then it has become more and more the central tool that I use. Last year was the turning point for me and since then my Wacom Cintiq has remained entirely unused.
My my current setup is the November 2018 12.9” iPad Pro with the new Apple Pencil. I use it with a Paperlike screen cover which gives the screen a very subtle texture and also makes it far less reflective. I keep it in a felt and leather sleeve from Band & Roll which has a handy pocket for the Pencil and a few other essentials.
I also use use a handy little lightweight aluminium stand when I’m drawing on the iPad. I have a much sturdier one on the desk in my studio but as I use the iPad more frequently elsewhere, this has become my go to stand.
Procreate is my most important digital tool, despite having used Photoshop for more than 20 years I’ve quickly come to love this focussed and elegant app. All my work is now produced exclusively with it. I only return to the Mac and Photoshop when I need to put together more layout-type documents like my calendars and cards.
Lastly, whilst not necessarily used in the creation of my illustrations (although I do use it to capture textures sometimes), my camera is another essential tool. Without photos of my prints and products I wouldn’t have any way of promoting my work and with this camera I’ve taken my best photos so far. It’s a Leica Q and after my iPad it’s my favourite piece of technology by far.
Day 3 is Flatlay
To be honest I don’t use these much in my product photography but perhaps I should?
Day Two is “How you started...”.
I was always very clear and certain about what I wanted to be, from quite an early age I was determined to be an .... archaeologist.
I followed this idea through school and college and eventually ended up with a place at university to study it. At this point I realised that I was spending all my time trying to figure out how to use Photoshop (or Paint Shop Pro back then) and thought about changing direction. I managed to talk my way on to an Art course with a sketchbook of drawings and then ended up getting a place to study Illustration at Falmouth University.
Whilst in the third year of my degree course I was commissioned by Cornwall Today magazine to illustrate a story in each issue. This was my first commissioned work and taught me a lot about working to a brief and a deadline (I had to post my work to the publisher on CD’s because there were no easy file-sharing services back then). My first story was called Tales From The Titanic.
Some of the work for the magazine was included in my degree show along with a book I made as a kind of sequel to Charles Causley’s poem By St Thomas Water. I was particularly pleased with the battered leather cover I made. It started life as a leather handbag that I found in a charity shop. I seem to remember cooking it under a grill with candle wax on it to get the weathered look!
At my degree show in 2003 I picked up a three book deal to illustrate a series of Cornish stories for Will Coleman and was invited to go to Oxford University Press for an interview. I travelled up to Oxford and partly due to the work I’d already had published by Cornwall Today I signed a two book deal with them. Ever since then I’ve been illustrating children’s books.
I’m going to try to participate in this years March Meet The Maker. Day 1 is “Favourite to make”.
My favourite thing to make is drawings, but as I make them digitally I suppose the closet thing to this is my prints. I produce all my own prints using an Epson SureColor 600 printer with pigment inks and archival paper. This means that my prints should last at least 50 years without fading (I’ll be 89 by then so hopefully I’ll be able to check). Here’s a few recent orders I printed today.
Here’s a Tree Sparrow on their way to work in the morning
Here’s a Northern Flicker, not particularly happy with it so I tried to camouflage it with a jazzy background.
Here’s an Eastern Bluebird, drawn in Procreate.
Day 17 is a Cedar Waxwing, possibly my favourite one so far.
Here’s Day 16 of the 20 Winter Birds Challenge- a Brown Creeper. I tried to continue with the Charley Harper-esque vibe from the previous one, but hopefully with some more subtlety.
Here’s a book project I worked on back in 2016. It never got beyond the character development page but I quite liked this little caveman and his big bird friend.
Tried for something completely different and much simpler, so naturally it took me far longer than usual......