I’m excited to announce that my illustration, Frog & Toad: Reading, has been selected for the AOI Come Together Exhibition! The Association of Illustrators is a professional body for illustrations in the UK. They champions their members (illustrators and the illustration industry). I’ve been a member since 2016 and I couldn’t be happier with their supports. This year AOI teamed up with theprintspace / creativehub, a multi purpose arts platform connecting artists, art businesses, art galleries and arts organisations around the globe, to present a pre Christmas exhibition of AOI members work. Illustrators were invited to respond to the title Come Together. In this post, I thought I would write about the background and inspiration behind my selected illustration so you could get to know me and my work a little bit before the exhibition 😉
This Frog & Toad: Reading is one of illustrations I created around the London Pride this year. Although I’m not a lesbian, gay, bisexual nor transgender myself, I support the LGBT community and what they stand for. Every year around the London Pride season, I create artwork to show my support. This year I was inspired by the children’s book classic, Frog and Toad series by Arnold Lobel. In 1974, four years after the first book in the series was published, Lobel came out to his family as gay. Lobel never publicly discussed a connection between the series, but, in that context, it’s hard not to see the beautiful and poignant stories about two amphibious friends as a celebration of same-sex love.
It’s almost impossible to think the beloved children’s book series without Lobel’s delightful illustrations. Shamelessly, I re-interpreted the cover image of Frog and Toad Are Friends (1970), in which Toad reads a book to Frog, and The cover image of Frog and Toad Together (1972), in which they ride a tandem bike, with a Pride message.
I also re-interpreted an image from my favourite F&T story “Alone,” from Days with Frog and Toad (1979). Beneath the original illustration, Lobel writes, “They were two close friends, sitting alone together.”
My usual creative process starts with sketching the characters again and again until I find something just right and unique. Then I sketch the scene on paper and scan it to colour in Photoshop. I like simple and bold screen print aesthetic (although my artwork usually ends up not so screen print like). I get many visual inspirations from Ukiyo-e (Japanese wood prints). I think you can see the influence in my compositions and simple backgrounds.
I was very happy with how my takes on Frog and Toad had turned out, so I recently created two more illustrations inspired by the stories from Frog and Toad All Year (1976). These illustrations are available as Christmas cards / postcards in my Etsy shop.
I must admit that Reading is my personal favourite. It’s one of the best work I created this year and I’m very proud of it. I think I have managed to illustrate the ‘comfortable silent’ many people in an intimate relationship strives for. So I was really chuffed that the particular illustration had been selected for the exhibition with theme of Come Together. Exhibited works have been selected to demonstrate a breadth of styles and approaches as well as a range of interpretations of the theme. It is estimated that the exhibition will include 30+ works. There will be something for everyone so please drop by and have a look if you happen to be in London! Or join me at theprintspace Gallery for the private view on Thursday the 29th of November from 7:30pm. Entrance is free and drinks will be provided! Please RSVP using the link below.
The exhibition will run from 28th November – 10th December at theprintspace Gallery. Selected work will be Giclée printed on one of theprintspace’s premium papers and will be available for sale at the exhibition and on the AOI website.
The private view was great! The selection of artwork was fantastic. The turnout was great and the atmosphere was buzzing. So chuffed to see my work beautifully printed and hanged on the wall along with other talented artists’ works. And I was so grateful that I could share this precious moment (my first exhibition) with my friends.
Exhibition dates: 28th November until December 10th (Mon – Fri 9am – 7pm)
Private View opening night: Thursday 29th November from 7:30pm. RSVP here.
Venue: theprintspace Gallery, 74 Kingsland Rd, London E2 8DL
‘”Frog and Toad”: An Amphibious Celebration of Same-Sex Love’, The New Yorker 31 May 2016