"You are invited to a party with beasts,
Of delicious delights and fantastical feasts"
Welcome to "Feasts for Beasts", the 2023 Story Calendar to take you through the year as you plan your new adventures!
As long as there is a demand for my little story calendars, I will do my best to keep making them.
The idea began between Christmas and New Year in 2021 and I hastily started to scribble some notes. These calendars have become a great outlet to try new character and layout designs, but of course, take a long time to create. The earlier I begin, the better!
The starting point this time began with an old illustration from about 2009. A simple portfolio piece where I wanted to experiment with composition and viewpoint.
"Dinosaur Picnic" was originally an A3 drawing depicting 4 colourful dinosaur friends greeting each other on a hilly landscape with plates of cake and sandwiches. This then became a greetings card design, something which has sold well in my online Etsy shop.
From 2009 to now in December 2022, my illustrations have become a little bolder and more confident, so I thought a revamp of the greetings card with this image might be in order. As I was mulling this over, the idea of various animals eating all kinds of food was entering my head...Feasts for Beasts was born.
My last two Story Calendars have stayed in the realms of homes, streets and a very British looking countryside. These are all things that I love to draw, but I was ready to start visiting different places and locations with some more exotic looking animals.
The text comes before the illustrations, but I will often doodle little scribbles of possible layouts as they come into my head. I like the challenge of working out a balanced composition in such a small area - of course, the calendar layout is two thirds dates and text.
My partner, Tom, built a wonderful miniature model of an imaginary Tudor-inspired pub and named it, "The Dragon's Flagon". I just had to include it in the background for the chocolate loving dragons!
I tend to just run with any ideas I have, without stopping to think if they are maybe a little too scary for young children! However, I do remember enjoying feeling a little afraid with various Roald Dahl books, knowing that I was in the safety of home. I like to think that I've drawn on these inspirations for this particular calendar.
I like that some months are scary, some months are sweet and some are just downright bonkers. A bit like life.
One thing that I am really enjoying is treating the calendar as a story book. I'm starting to think more about the front and back covers, designing them with as much detail as possible to give the reader clues to the inside pages. The front and back covers from the hastily made Blue Hat Badger calendar (2021) were very much an after thought.
I'm always searching for ways to experiment with text and I really enjoyed creating an invitation for the viewer, as seen on the back cover. The tiger's paw was also one of my favourite things to draw for this project!