Welcome to the creative hub for Illustrator and Creative Adventurer Andy Medcraft


APPLE

I set myself the challenge (with a little prompting) to pull together a character that I can pop onto a card to thank teachers at the end of the school year. I went with an elephant initially. It was super cute and I worked on it all day but as I’ve played around with various colours, the shapes of it’s ears, how it’s holding it’s trunk, I realised I just wasn’t feeling it. It was cute but it was just not saying what I wanted it to say. As an illustrator, I want to make sure my work speaks. I want it to convey a message so, the elephant has been parked for now and I wanted to share with you my blank canvas moment, right the way through to launch…

So, having packed away the nameless elephant for another occasion, I flipped the page in my sketchbook and drew a small circle in a soft pencil. I do this, or a similar mark making to break the intimidation of that blank page – especially as I work on an A3 pad. Writers block (or the creative equivalent) can be crippling.

Rather than just jumping into another drawing, I then began to write down what I wanted to achieve, scribbled untidily across the top of the page. I knew my audience wasn’t actually the recipients, but rather the kids that would be sending it. I wanted it to be able to reflect the child and also not limit their audience, so I had to ensure the character was non-gender specific. I also wanted to extend the message beyond the teacher student relationship. There are teaching assistants and carers and childminders and mentors and playground leaders and so many other people that may need thanking, so I needed the message to be inclusive.

I’d got stuck on the retro “apple for teacher” and was finding it difficult to break away from that. I even considered making the character an apple rather than an animal but it felt like I was targeting teachers and not representing the kids and got stuck in a bit of a rut. However, rather than let that interrupt the creative flow, I embraced it and made Apple the name of the character!

That cleared the way to move forward with the design.I began thinking about what the kids were thanking people for and realised it all came down to growth and that’s when I had the lightbulb moment. I needed Apple to be a character that reflected growth, and having already been down the avenue of not necessarily making Apple an animal, I knew exactly what I needed to do…

Ladies and gentlemen, it’s my pleasure to introduce you to Apple…


LOGOS AND MASCOTS

One of the most interesting parts of going freelance and going through the motions of setting up my own business is meeting other like minded individuals and small businesses en-route to setting up their own mini empires. I absolutely love it.

I’ve worked with quite a few now, mainly designing logos and mascots and wanted to share my latest one with you. Squirrels on the Hill is a local childcare business that’ll be taking on kids in the not to distant future and really wanted to get their identity locked and loaded.

I wanted to keep the vector feel and make the colours as solid as possible so it lends itself to home printing, keeps it’s impact on social media and can be dragged and dropped wherever the client wants.

I looked at reference photos but squirrels are one of those critters who just don’t photograph well. Trying to capture it then taking a walk and seeing the real ones darting across the path I soon realised I’d not really caught the spirit of them at all. Then, after two days of scribbling and editing and inking and finally getting the right silhouette, my mum pipes in and says, what’s it meant to be!!! She then proceeds to go and get a book that has a photograph of a squirrel in! #souldestroying

But it came good and I’m really proud of this one.

Check out the other pics for the text and full image (with hill, tail and house!)

Logos/Mascots starting from £80. Contact details in the bio…

🐿️🐿️🐿️🐿️🐿️

Just hashtags down here…

#friedandy#childrensillustration#childrensstorybookillustration#childrensillustrator#illustrator#illustration#art#artist#creative#creativeadventurer#creativebusiness#cartoonist#cartoon#drawing#smallbusiness#logo#logodesign#commission#squirrel#squirrels#branding#freelance


MUMMY BROWN

I want to take a moment to acknowledge what could be the most fascinating colour I come across so far. I’m gonna get geeky here. Hold on. Let me grab my soapbox…
*Drags out soapbox
Ladies and gentlemen, I give you “Mummy Brown.” It’s also dubbed Egyptian Brown or Caput Mortuum – which translates as “dead man’s head” and is a beautifully rich brown pigment that would sit comfortably between burnt umber and raw umber in your pack of infinite coloured pencils and was one of the favourite colours of the Pre-Raphaelites.

Now, get your brain around this…
Mummy brown was originally produced in the 16th and 17th centuries from white pitch, myrrh, and the ground-up remains of ancient Egyptian mummies! Yes, you read that correctly. Ground-up remains of mummies, both human and feline, but mainly human because of the historic embarming techniques. And not just Egyptian, but also Guanche mummies of the Canary Islands!!

Mummy Brown has a good transparency to it and was applied as glazes, shadows, flesh tones and shading. However, in addition to its tendency to crack, it was extremely variable, and since it contained ammonia and particles of human fat, it was likely to affect other colours with which it was used.

Historically, demand for Mummy Brown once outstripped the available supply of true Egyptian mummies, leading to the occasional substitution of contemporary corpses of slaves or criminals. In 1564, a mummy seller in Alexandria displayed forty specimens he claimed to have manufactured himself and worked equally as well as those hundreds of years older.

Mummy Brown began to fall from popularity during the late 19th century when its ingredients became more widely known. The Pre-Raphaelite artist Edward Burne-Jones was reportedly so upset to learn of his favourite paint’s ingredient, he went so far as to have ceremonially buried his tubes of Mummy Brown in his back garden!

By 1915, the demand for Mummy Brown had fallen so much that one London seller claimed that he could satisfy the demands of his arty farty customers for twenty years from a single Egyptian mummy.

The French artist Martin Drölling is reported to have used Mummy Brown made with the remains of French kings disinterred from the Royal Abbey of St-Denis in Paris. It’s been suggested that his beautiful L’interieur d’une cuisine (that’s the name of the painting) is an example of extensive use of the pigment.

By the start of the 20th century, Mummy Brown had largely ceased production in its traditional form, owing to a continued decline in the supply of ancient mummies thus hugely increasing its value, coupled with the lack of demand from artists now the true ingredients of the pigment has been revealed!

Fascinating or gross???

I LOVE these little nuggets of history…

…and there’s so much more. Now I’ve scratched at the scab, I’ve discovered some amazing ingredients. But I’ll save them for another day.

You’re welcome.


HEADSHOT

There’s a lot of science behind the notion of having a proper headshot for your LinkedIn profile, I get it. I really do.

Having once been the main recruiter for a Domiciliary Care company, I’d get a lot of CVs and every once in a while they’d be a passport sized headshot on the top of one. Now, I’m a bit long in the tooth so CV writing from my world was very much keeping all dates and experiences to two pages, with a catchy “about me” bit, but never once did we include photos. As I further developed my role into HR and recruitment, there was a lot of bias placed on not including certain information in a CV to avoid potential prejudice.

While including a headshot on a CV feels alien to me, uploading a photo to accompany a LinkedIn profile is commonplace. In fact, studies show that a LinkedIn profile with a headshot is 40% more likely to attract a potential recruiter. And then comes the science because not any old profile picture will do. It’s important to pick a LinkedIn profile photo strategically so that it helps, rather than hurts, your job prospects!

There’s books on this stuff! Experts hold educationals on how to take the best profile pic! It’s not a simple upload like facebook and there’s certainly no duckface! You have to take into consideration the framing and the resolution as well as the age of the photo and ensuring the image of you is current and not catfishy. You can’t have anybody else in the photo and shouldn’t attempt to crop other people out as your pic needs to an exact size. Your face needs to be the focal point of the image, which sounds obvious but there’s a social media culture now where hair and accessories along with filters help us hide our insecurities – the irony being these insecurities tend to stem from social media in thee first place.

It’s even suggested that you should apply subtle filters and that slight changes to the tone and lighting and the softening of blemishes to improve the overall look and feel of a photo without drastically altering your image too much. You’ll look better and therefore become more employable! That grosses me out a little. What grosses me out more is the amount of “experts” who suggest apps such as Photofeeler to ensure you look “attractive, smart, trustworthy, fun, confident, and [ultimately] employable.”

None of this sits comfortably with me. It feels a bit judgy that somebody might only employ my creative services based on my look but I’m putting the science to the test: I’ve amended my LinkedIn profile to see if the change helps me interact with other like-minded artists and ultimately, gives me the 40% leg-up to land me some work. I’ve compromised and went with this slightly enhanced one that I feel sums me up as well as promotes me work rather than just my face…

*warning: mug shot may cause distress



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HELLO MAY

Hello May!

Now I’m sat back on in my creative hub – which is actually a plank of wood and a laptop on the sofa but sounds way more like a spaceship when I call it a “creative hub” – I wanted to welcome in the month with a splash of colour. So, we’ve gone yellow! It’s my nephew’s favourite colour and for that reason alone it’s grown in my affections over the last five years. There’s a lot of theory behind yellow, but as an avid orange fan, I always skipped it – shame on me! So this month, I’m going to be embracing the yellow as much a possible and sharing the love with you.

What adventures have you got penciled in this month?

I’ll be sharing some fun stuff I’ve been working on plus a proper intro to me now that I am a month into the freelancing gig (and loving it).

I’ll be looking at the possibility of getting an agent too, which feels like a cake mixture of a million things right now but mainly doubling up on the excitement and nervousness!

What else can expect from me in May? Well, there’s some new cards hitting the Etsy shop, some A4 prints which I’m hoping to be able to personalise for you too, a new character to add to the friedandy family and even some mermaids!

I’ll also be updating my gallery on the website this month so you may see a few old favourites pop up on here alongside some of the top secret stuff I’ve been working on for a few charities and local businesses. It’s only day one (well four…) and the adventure is well underway.


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FRIEDANDY UPDATE 2021

friedandy update (April 2021)

HellooOOoo friends, family and fellow creatives (or “eggs” as I like to fondly refer to you all)

As many of you will know, my 9 – 5 came to an end at the close of March. I‘m using this change in circumstance to put some weight behind my creativity and from today, 5 April 2021, I’m setting sail on a solo mission and am now officially self-employed as a freelance illustrator and creative adventurer!

For more details and for some examples of my work, please visit my website: http://www.friedandy.com
Keep an eye out for some new greetings cards coming this week to celebrate the launch.

What can you expect to see: commissioned illustrations, greetings cards, invites, wedding stationary, cake toppers, business cards, logo designs, short stories, children’s books, activity sheets, creative downloads, menus, colouring books, prints, postcards and eventually creative world domination! Mwah ha ha ha ha (evil laugh)

You can follow the adventures here as well as the usual social media platforms by searching friedandy

Thank you for your continued support. Fingers crossed we can share an adventure of our own very soon…


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THE POSTCARD PROJECT

I wanted to make a difference with my work and the postcard project seemed perfect way to start. It’s not about changing the world, it’s simply about making somebody’s world feel a little less lonely. That’s the whole concept right there. Just one postcard at a time…

Hugo began life as a elephant. I wasn’t keen on her. She just looked hacked off with life and although technically she was a good illustration, she just looked miserable. I knew I wanted something that would make people smile when it was pushed through the letterbox and this just didn’t hit the spot.

The elephant softened with a few more pencil lines and transformed into a hippo. She was smiley but I wasn’t convinced she was fluffy enough and so the fur was added and the hippo became a brown bear! To be honest, a lot of my work transforms like this on the page. The final touch was the nose and although still bear-like, it just screamed PANDA and so Hugo was born.

His name came from an online request. There was a huge response and Hugo was actually suggested by three different people and was perfect.

Once named, Hugo pulled on a rainbow sweater and appeared on the postcard as a “hug” – and now they’re making their way all over the country (and the world) sending perfect little hugs to those we can’t physically hug due to distance and, more significantly, this pandemic.

You too can get your hands on a “hugs” postcard via the shop http://www.etsy.com/uk/shop/friedandy


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FEBRUARY

I’m not sure how I feel about February just sneaking in like that! Isn’t it meant to have fireworks or bells or something attached to it so we can hear it approaching? I feel like I switched on the PC and it was the 4th already! This lockdown is slowly eating away at my concept of space and time.

But you’re here now Feb, so you might as well pull up a chair. I have big plans for you…


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JANUARY

This post is a little later than I planned but, well, we made it. It was touch and go for a moment back there but we made it through 2020. What an absolutely bonkers year it was. Those of you who know me will know I had my own battle with Miss Rona at the beginning of the year and unfortunately she’s like sand at a picnic! I’m still finding grains of her embedded in things nearly a year later. And she’s still here. She’s still circling the dancefloor. It’s a shadow that none of us can avoid and until the vaccine has been fully rolled out to all those who want it, we’ll never fully close the chapter on 2020. She’ll still stain our dance cards.

To everybody who follows and supports my creative endeavors, I sincerely hope that you are safe and well.

For me, 2021 brings a new adventure. After three years of dangling the carrot of redundancy just inches away from my nose, the all-important end date is now confirmed and the official papers drawn up. As from March 31st I will no longer be employed. It’s not the first time I have been without employment but it is the most positive time I’ve been without employment.

My positivity is not giddiness. I am well aware that losing a job I have relied upon for the past nine years will have significant financial impact. I am in no way flippant when I say this is a learning curve because the route I have chosen is one of self-employment and self-discovery. I’m fully aware that their will be significant redundancies in the UK this year and as a result my potential safety net of gaining alternative employment is incredibly weakened by the number of people also finding themselves out of work (the number of people made redundant in the UK has jumped to over 370,000 since October – the highest increase on record)

I’m aware that as much as I want to sit back and draw pretty pictures all day, there is an incredible amount of hard work ahead of me to ensure that I am a success.
Before I begin to measure what success looks like for me, I need to map out the route through the next three months of my redundancy period and ensure that when I wake up on 1st April 2021 (the irony of this date is not lost on me), I have done all I can to tip out the crayons onto the kitchen table and colour my way into my new career as a self-employed creative adventurer.

Do you fancy coming along for the ride?