13th January 2013

Week Two


Fuelled by a potent mix of Berrocca, caffeine and nervous adrenaline,

it was time to kick start Week 2.


First off, a little sabbatical house keeping:


* I posted blogs on Flourish and Turning Pro – 2 books that I consumed last week.


* Arranged the first of my new skills courses: Japanese brush calligraphy with Campbell Sandilands.

This divine combination of oriental inking and typography might cause me to implode.


* Brought together by Twitter, I’ve arranged a shoot with photographer Blazej Marczak.

The freedom of the sabbatical has allowed me to team up with amazing people like Blazej – an opportunity that the whirlwind of commercial work prohibits.


* The good folks over at Digital Arts will also be publishing all my Sabbatical blogs.

In addition to reposting what’s here, they’ll also have some bonus behind-the-scenes snaps.



This week I’ve continued working on my first supersized illustration.

I’m creating a forest of delicately hand penned trees, each between 60 and 100cm tall.


The opportunity to work large is wonderfully self-indulgent.

Filling huge sheets of paper with inky intricacies is massively time consuming and rarely plausible on commercial budgets and lead times.

It’s this type of work though; the tiny details, the little areas of curious and the delicacy of working with a 0.05 nib that makes me happy.

In an age when speed and mass production is everything, dedicating your day to crafting something so meticulous both enchants and delights.


Inky Tree

Inky Tree

I do however, on some level, have a need for speed.

I’m no arborist, but I’m guessing 4 trees does not a forest make?

I’ll definitely need a few more.

And maybe a squirrel or 2…


The completed woodland will form the first exhibit at my DCA show.

An illustration presented in such a way that you become immersed into the inkiness and wander between pen strokes.


This week I picked my way through Stanford University’s Entrepreneurial podcasts;

An audio Aladdin’s cave brought to my attention by Alex Barton of Student Designer

– if you haven’t met him, DO.


Although not a fan of the term ‘Entrepreneur’ –

(I lump it in the same category as Social Media Guru, i.e. if it’s in your bio you probably aren’t)

– I loved the podcasts.

You need to shuffle, some are bit Venture Capitalist / Silicon Valley centric.

One absolute gem is a 2005 talk by a young guy called Mark who’d come up with this thing called

‘The Facebook’.


My osmosis-like approach to listen and learn means I don’t always catch the details, but I latch onto the nuggets.

Case and point:


“Problems are just opportunities for creative thinking.

The bigger the problem, the bigger the opportunity”


Awesome, inspired, game changing advice.

I have no idea who said it.


If you follow me on Twitter or Facebook, you’ll know I’ve been searching for a white car to form part of an inky installation.

It proved tricky and the little automobile of my dreams was not materializing.


I trawled social media, gumtree, ebay, garages and scrap yards.



This was problematic.

Or was it actually opportunistic?


At 4:23am on Thursday morning, inspiration struck!

I emailed myself: “boat not car” (along with some other dream based nonsense) and went back to sleep.

If I couldn’t source a car, I’d look for something else, something better.


The solution to my problem was the little white fishing boat I found the next day.

Now, to call the long-suffering parents and ask if they’ve got room at the farm for a boat…


Week 2 and I’ve:


·      Blogged about Flourish and Turning Pro

·      Adopted What Went Well into my daily sabbatical diary (see the Flourish blog)

·      Arranged my Japanese brush calligraphy course

·      Discovered photographer Blazej Marczak 

·      Begun preparations for my Wonderland book

·      Drawn more of my inky super sized forest

·      Bookmarked the Stanford Entrepreneur Podcasts

·      Bought a boat

·      Resolved to check email just twice a day

·      Learned never to leave a studio pup to roam the house freely…

Studio Pup

“It wasn’t me”


Follow the progress of my 4 month sabbatical via

www.mydesktoday.com – daily studio snap shots

Twitter or Facebook – random snippets and lots of linkage


Big thanks to Creative Scotland who supported the Sabbatical through a Professional Development Grant. 

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