chocolate packaging

Chinese New Year is just round the corner, and I've designed some exclusive packaging for Hong Kong based personalised (you can create your own flavours!) chocolatier chocoyou. The special new year red and gold sleeve is wrapped around a gift box of 5 chocolate bars. 2013 is the year of the snake, so I've based the illustration on a stylised Chinese papercut snake. When opened up flat,  it also works as a fai chun (lucky sign) you can put up in your house. The shiny gold brings good fortune, wishing you a prosperous new year. Here are some of my sketches for the project...I also designed a sleeve for a special Valentine's Day set.The pretty watercolour floral illustration is a romantic Valentine bouquet.You can order both these box sets here, the perfect gifts.

show continues this weekend...

Thank you to everyone who braved the cold to make it to our private view last night! Helene Turbe makes delicate jewellery, Aude Van Ryn makes decorative ceramics, I have etchings and woodblock prints on show, and Romilly Graham has bold colourful ceramics. The show continues this weekend, 11am-5pm both saturday and sunday. We'd love to see you!

Sweet Anthology

I love sweets. I've always loved sweets, and I'm fascinated by unusual and exotic confectionery everywhere. So when a friend asked me if I'd like to collaborate on a new venture for her sweet company Chorley & Baker, I jumped at the chance! Ladies and gentlemen, may I introduce 'Sweet Anthology'.To suit this high-end brand, I created the illustrated label and hand-wrote the name for the identity in a classic, slightly baroque style, but kept a modern feel. The colourful sweets are packaged in high-quality designer jars, and the label needed to work with each variety of colours.We've created the brand to have collections, like a fashion house, and we're launching with an A/W collection of 42 varieties, focusing on traditional British sweets. We'll be refining these, and adding new flavours each season.The website for the brand is full of gorgeous photographs, and I created a muted leafy background to highlight the bright jewel-like sweets. I also drew some fun little illustrated characters interacting with the sweets.We're doing a soft launch on achica that starts on monday (29 October), with the prices slightly discounted (let me know if you want to buy them, I have a discount code for first time buyers). After that we'll be selling through our online shop, and in fancy stores near you soon! Give them a try, they make the perfect gift...

last chance to 'heart' my designs

My collaborative T-shirt design project for OuterEdit has just finished, and I'm super happy with the designs I made. I took bits from everyone's artwork and created something surprising and Mariko-style out of them...My favourite themes that came up through the collaborative process were the fox, the stag, and the heart symbol. I played with these to create my designs.Only the top 5 'hearted' designs will actually be produced as T-shirts, so please take the time to go to the site, register, and vote vote vote! There are a few days left to vote before a decision is made. Thank you!

Janice's wedding

Another pretty wedding project for a client in Hong Kong. She asked for two pheonixes, a bird symbolising longevity, that could be used in various elements of her wedding. I created several stages of the pheonix motif, in two slightly different colourways. The first illustration showed two flying birds, with the bride and groom's names interwoven into the design. This was used on the Save the Date notification and formal invitations, in the traditional Chinese wedding colours of red and gold.The next version of the illustration showed the story growing, and included a little landscape, with a tree and butterflies. This was used on the first stage backdrop used at the actual wedding, in soft pinks, with a watercolour textured backgoround.The illustration developed, with clouds and a golden moon, for the next stage backdrop in red and gold...And the final development of the illustration included musicians outside a cosy house, and a little golden nest in the tree. This was used on a specially made china teacup, given as a wedding favour to each guest.I adore this cup, it's such a lovely gift to remember the wedding...

trip to the South

I've just come back from a road trip through the South of America. It was amazing. We started in cultured Savannah, Georgia, where I was super happy to see the Bird Girl sculpture, made famous by the book 'Midnight in the Garden of Good and Evil' (one of my favourites).Then onwards to Charleston, South Carolina, where we toured a few preserved historical residences,and also the Magnolia Plantation with its gorgeous swamp garden. We stayed in some lovely bed and breakfast places. Then it was on to the Great Smoky Mountains, where we saw a baby bear! In Nashville we went to a Honky Tonk in a Western bar and saw the Don Kelly Band...and watched a show at the Grand Ole Opry, and also ate the best "meat and 3s" ever at Arnolds. Mostly, this was a music and food trip, to sample all the specialities of the South. Here's an example of local cuisine, although usually there's a few fried somethings thrown in too! And of course, pies aplenty...The local "chess pie" was extra sweet, but the winner was the "lemon ice-box pie" from Corky's in Memphis. Their ribs were also the overall winner!

Vienna cake weekend

I went to Vienna recently, and spent the weekend visiting as many cafes, and eating as many different cakes, as possible. Viennese cakes are irresistable...We went to Cafe Diglas, Hotel Sacher, Cafe Sperl, Cafe Landtmann, and some other slightly less famous places, which were just as tasty... My favourite was the Cafe Sperl, which had a beautiful quiet atmosphere, but the best cake was definately the Sacher Torte at the Hotel Sacher. The apricot jam was so smooth and light, like a dream. Tis a cake for grown-ups.

new River Cottage TV series

The new series of River Cottage starts tomorrow in the UK, all about vegetables, hurrah! It will feature many of the recipes from his new book (illustrated by me, by the way). I did the calligraphy for the title sequence, and one of  my vegetable prints will also be animated in the opening shots.From Sunday 15 th October, channel 4, 8pm. Enjoy!

travel photos

I've just got my negatives back from my latest Asia trip, and here are a few photos to share...This is Taipa old village, in Macau. There are still a few tiny patches of old charm left there, if you look hard.Ritsurin Garden in Shikoku, Japan. It's listed as one of the top three, and was calm, orderly and very green, with delightful koi and picturesque red bridges.Sayabashi bridge in Kotohira. We went to climb the mountain to Kompira san here, a famous pilgrimage temple & shrine. More photos on the way, but hope you like these in the meantime!

iriya plus cafe mural

While I was in Tokyo two weeks ago, I went to visit my friend Naomi who runs iriya plus cafe, in Iriya, near Ueno. It's in an old warehouse building that she renovated, keeping the gorgeous original wooden beams and shelves, and overall traditional Japanese style, but adding a modern feel.She commissioned me to paint a mural on the main cafe wall, as a backdrop for the upcoming 'pancake party' event, with live music by the local band JOYZ (you can see them in the above photo).I drew this initial rough design, but found out that they don't make pancakes in a frying pan! So I took the pancake out and added more text. I also changed the font I used for 'POP' into my more comfortable calligraphic stye. Here's how it looked when it was done.A photographer called Takumi Yamamoto, a friend of JOYZ, documented the day: me doing the mural, and also JOYZ playing live while I was doing the painting. There was a typhoon that day, but we were all snug inside. This is everyone, including the cafe staff... If you're in Tokyo on October 29, try to make it to the live event, I bet it'll be fantastic. For tickets and more details, go to the iriya cafe blog. Wish I could be there!

connecting your world

Hello! I've just found out that an illustration I entered into the Cathay Pacific competition 'connecting your world' won a prize! I'm very excited. The competition was for images or text that showed how air transport connected Hong Kong to the world, in a creative and inspiring way, to celebrate the 100th anniversary of the first powered flight to HK in 1911. My winning picture...

And the photo I entered, that didn't win, but that I still think is pretty good ...

My favourite view in the world (Hong Kong island) ...


Finally, I win an award! Well, technically I didn't really, but I was part of the team that made the piece that won the award, so it's a good start... The UCDA (University and College Designers Association) in the US gave the 'Award for Excellence' for the Betty Jones 'Summer School' annual report I illustrated for Middlebury College. It was designed by Carey Bass, with photographs by Brett Simison.

With pen and ink line, I drew on top of various photographic portraits of teachers, highlighting what they thought about their experiences as educators. I really enjoyed this project, which just goes to show that sometimes the fun ones are the ones that really work.

Here are a few pages from the report...

Cliveden visit

This weekend I went to Cliveden, a National Trust Property in Buckinghamshire. The grand Restoration era house (more of a large castley-villa) is now a private hotel, where you can also take meals. You get to the house up a long, wide gravel drive, past a magnificent marble fountain. In the 30's this was the home of Lord and Lady Astor, and there was a beautiful painting of Lady Astor by John Singer Sargent in the lobby. I explored a little, upstairs and downstairs, before lunch...

After lunch, a stroll in the gardens, to admire the parterre, and the house itself.There was a small group of re-enactment actors playing at being Lady Astor's crowd of socialites and celebrities, from 1934. How wonderfully English. They even had lemon drizzle cake...

wedding invitations

So, my good friend Ping got married this May, and I designed his wedding invitations, and also created a special map for him of Central Park in NY (where he made his romantic proposal). The style brief for the invitation was a vintage, country feel, with a quirky, hand-made aesthetic; light-bulbs hanging from wooden rafters and flowers in jam jars, that sort of thing.

I created a simple, hand-lettered invitation, in two slightly retro colours, with a few illustrative details. Inside, the card was also hand-lettered.

The card design was used as a detail throughout the wedding, with cards on the tables as menus, place settings and memory cards, where everyone could write notes for the bridal couple and hang them up on a washing line...

The map I created for them was a narrative of where they walked that day, where Ping hesitated, where they got lost, and where he finally proposed.

It was used as an animated feature in a mini-movie of the wedding, and also as a back-drop for the stage at the reception:

What a lovely wedding...

*the photographs were taken by Tec Petaja