2015 wrap up – a year filled with gratitude

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Where to begin?

2015 has been such a wonderful year filled with lots of hard work, endless drawing and then so much positivity and love. This is a year that leaves me exhausted, but with a full heart and deep gratitude.

The year started with a mountain of work. I came back from Canada after Christmas knowing I had to draw around 300 more pages in order to complete One Year Wiser. So that is what I did for the first half of the year. My week would be made up of designing 16 pages on a Sunday night and drawing them throughout the week. I could usually complete about 5 pages a day and then worked two days a week at my day job. That left me the weekend to catch up on other drawing or commissions that came through. It was a super intense time but very creatively rewarding!

Just as I was finishing One Year Wiser my publisher, SelfMadeHero, and I decided to put together a One Year Wiser colouring book to compliment the main one a day book. So just as I was finishing the drawings for One Year Wiser I drew 36 new pages just for the colouring book! That came together and was realised in July!

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Followed by One Year Wiser: 365 Illustrated Meditations released in September. I had a really night launching the books at my favourite comic shop (and past place of employment) Gosh! comics.

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The book received such a warm and lovely response (and even a couple five star reviews). It became available for release across the UK and then was released in the US and Canada in early November.

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Big shops like Chapters and Barnes and Nobles are carrying it and it is even available in Urban Outfitters, which was a wonderful surprise.

One Year Wiser: 365 Illustrated Meditations was also featured  gift guides in magazines such as Real Simple, Dr. Oz: The Good Life and Yoga Digest.

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Here is the book on sale in London at the iconic independent book shop Foyles.

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After the book was released I did a bunch of events and festivals to help promote the book and get it out into the world.

This was my table at Thought Bubble, an annual comics festival in Leeds.

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And here I am signing books at the Mind, Body, Soul Expo in London.

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One festival was a real highlight of an already exciting year. It was there Lakes International Comic Art Festival (LICAF) which takes place in Kendal, in the lake district. The event has been running for three years and is picking up loads of momentum as it goes.

I was a guest at the festival, along with a bunch of other comic artists, and I had an exhibition of my work in the clothing store White Stuff. All the proceeds from the exhibition went to the charity The Bendrigg Trust and I did a signing in the shop on the Saturday and Sunday of the festival.

Here is the signing table and some of the work that was in the exhibition.

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I was also asked to design a poster for the festival which was hung around town and is now set to be used by the tourist board of Cumbria to help promote the Lake District. I did a whole blog post about the poster which you can read here.

Here I am with a stupid grin on my face standing beside the poster.

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I will be working with the festival next year on some very exciting projects and will announce more news when I have it.

At LICAF 2015 I also ran a workshop called Illustrate Your Mantra where I encouraged people to take their favourite quotes and adapt them into illustrations in the style of One Year Wiser. I ran the workshop at a few other events and each one was a great success. It was so lovely seeing how different people brought their own inspirations and humour to their drawings.

Here I am hosting the workshop at The Dragon Cafe, a weekly pop-up cafe that helps create a community for people recovering from mental health problems.

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And here is one of the creations made on the day.

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I also gave a talk at The Dragon Cafe about my work and the transformative power of art and creation.

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I was also part of this S.M.A.S.H event at the Barbican, which was such an engaging day!

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And I also had a piece in wonderful exhibition at Orbital Comics titled Underneath. All the artists involved created work as an homage the artist’s who inspire them. Here is my piece from the exhibition.

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2015 was also the first year I started working as an art editor at Jessica Kingsley Publishers (JKP). My role is specifically to help develop a line of comics on the different subjects that JKP normal publishes. This year saw the release of a bunch of comics topics such as dementia, chronic pain, anxiety, trauma and sexual abuse.

The biggest project of the year for me at JKP was the adaption of the book Blue Bottle Mystery into a full length graphic novel.

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Kathy Hoopmann and Rachael Smith were amazing to work with and I learned so much about writing for comics.

I also illustrated the cover for Kathy Hoopmann’s newest novel for JKP which was co-written by Judit Kiss.

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To end the year I began a new big project creating a comic/blog for the mindfulness website Elephant Journal. It is a weekly project where I draw a comic and write a blog post to go with it. Below is the first strip and you can read the first post here. I will be continuing the project throughout 2016.

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And if you want to hear me talking about my work and making stupid jokes, I was the first guest on the new comics podcast ‘No YOU Hang Up!’ hosted by Hannah Berry and Dan Berry. Listen to my podcast episode here.

And even as I write this I am also preparing for my talk later tonight at Laydeez do Comics. It is the last LDC of the year and a perfect way for me to wrap up 2015!! The wonderful Rachael Ball will also be speaking.

This year was a whirlwind of excitement and hard work. I am very much looking forward to a quiet and reflection break over xmas and new years.

I will leave you with the picture of me in Belgium during a much needed weekend away!! Have a happy holiday season!

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