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Clarke Hutton Mid century Illustration

February 6, 2023

Stanley Clarke Hutton was born in Stoke Newington, London, on 14 November 1898, son of Harold Clarke Hutton, a solicitor, and his wife Ethel, née Clark.

In 1916 he became assistant stage designer at the Empire Theatre.

About a decade later he took a trip to Italy, which inspired him to become a fine artist. In 1927 he joined the lithography class at the Central School of Arts and Crafts in London. He studied under A.S Hartrick, replacing him in 1930-1968 as the instructor in lithography.

As soon as he took up his post, Hutton began to experiment with using the autolitho technique for book illustration. His aim was to develop a process that would make it possible to produce affordable, colour illustrated books for children. Here’s a few of the covers he created.

For many different publishers and on a wide variety of subjects.

This is the story of Noah.

He later worked with Noel Carrington at Penguin Books to develop the Picture Puffin imprint.

He used the same technique on Oxford University Press’ Picture History series. He illustrated about 50 books in all, for publishers in the UK and USA.

The Story of Tea.

Wartime in Britain.

Life in other parts of the globe.

Also some of his geometric work from the sixties.

A more Surrealist feel.

His paintings, figures and lanscapes, were widely exhibited.  He died in Westminster in 1984.

Leaflet promotions by London County Council.

Such a wealth of talent, don’t you agree ?

Any images that grabbed your attention today ?

Kenneth Rowntree

January 29, 2023

Hello to one and all, I hope this finds you well. Today’s wonderful artist is the legendary Kenneth Rowntree.

He was an artist, designer and teacher who worked in Britain from the 1930s through to the 1990s. Born the son of Howard Doncaster Rowntree, and educated at Bootham School, York. Kenneth was part of the extended, and famous, Quaker Rowntree (confectionery) family. His immediate branch of the family were shopkeepers and business leasers in the Yorkshire seaside resort of Scarborough – where they owned the town’s department store. There’s some interesting background family history here…

The Rowntree Family

He studied at the Ruskin School of Art, Oxford and went on to the Slade School of Fine Art. At the Slade he met Eric Ravilious and Edward Bawden, moving to north Essex to work more closely with them. They became known – with others – as the Great Bardfield Artists. Here’s one of Bawden’s painting from around the village.

In 1939, Kenneth married architect Diana Rowntree (née Buckley) with whom he had two children.

He painted beautifully tranquil depictions of life around him.

During the Second World War, he worked for the War Artists’ Advisory Committee. He was one of more than 60 artists commissioned by the Government and financed by the Pilgrim Trust to record the face of England and Wales before development or wartime destruction changed it.

Amazing to have these scenes catalogued in such a way.

Capturing scenes of devastation and celebration both.

Recording Britain, as this project came to be known, covered a total of 36 counties. Kenneth Rowntree concentrated on capturing the essential character of old buildings and interiors in Bedfordshire, Essex, Yorkshire, Derbyshire and Wales.

Ravilious had been one of Rowntree’s tutors at the Ruskin School, Oxford, in the early 1930s and was to remain the single most enduring influence on his design work, with the two men sharing a particularly fascination for letter-forms.   This fascination is evident in a number of the glazed ceramics Rowntree made whilst at the RCA and also in Alphabet (c.1957) his roller-printed glazed cotton design for Edinburgh Weavers, which, with its delightful vignettes, is an unashamed homage to his mentor’s pre-war Wedgwood Alphabet design.
His tribute to Ravilious’s memory with the wallpaper he designed for his own use in the house in Ruvigny Road, Putney, (above top right), to which he and Diana moved in late autumn 1949, in which he juxtaposed enlarged versions of Ravilious wood engravings with engravings by the late eighteenth-century master of the genre, Thomas Bewick, thus creating an elegant eighteenth-century papier peint effect.

After the war he joined the Royal College of Art as head of its mural painting studios. He designed book covers, such as that for King Penguin and created “A Prospect of Wales”.

Kenneth contributed 20 watercolours to the book, covering the landscape and buildings that inhabit it. The painter Clive Hicks-Jenkins has this to say about it.

In 1951 he completed a major mural, Freedom, for the Festival of Britain and two years later painted scenes along the processional route of the Coronation, with the Queen later acquiring some of his works.

In 1953, he painted scenes along the processional route of the Coronation, with the Queen later acquiring some of his works. In 1959, he was appointed to succeed Lawrence Gowing as Professor of Fine Art at Newcastle University; it was one of the most progressive art schools in Britain, where the teaching staff included Victor Pasmore and Richard Hamilton. He held this post until his retirement in 1980.

It was at Newcastle that he became receptive to various modernist idioms, such as assemblage and constructivist forms, and incorporated them in his own work. He repainted the scene of an outdoor table and dishes, over and over again, everytime slightly changing it’s location and use.

I can’t help but wonder if he had been inspired by Ravilious’s earlier Tea at Furlongs painting from 1939 ?

Amongst many other achievements, Kenneth Rowntree worked with the architect Ernő Goldfinger to produce coloured glass panels in Goldfinger’s Alexander Fleming House (now Metro Central Heights) in the Elephant and Castle. He also created many portraits.

But he’s possibly best remembered for his country scenes.

I particularly like this scene set in the woods of a church. You really feel the crisp autumnal leaves and slightly cool breezes.

In the 1960s Rowntree was elected Professor of Fine Art at University of Newcastle, where he remained until his death in 1997.

Dong Kingman Part 2

January 10, 2023

Welcome back to part 2 of my post about the artist Dong Kingman. Check out Part one from last week and we’ll start today with some coastal views (probably from the 1940’s)

Such great perspectives and rolling land and seascapes, coaxing the viewer’s eye to travel to the very edges of the canvas.

1954 was a year of dramatic changes. Hollywood director James Wong Howe‘s film short “Dong Kingman” was released, Dong’s wife Janice died, and U.S. Department of State International Cultural Exchange wanted him to tour the world as a cultural ambassador.

He put himself into this work whole-heartedly and returned to the USA to publish the 40 foot scroll chronicling his visits to the worlds cities in the pages of LIFE magazine in February 1955. In 1956 Dong married journalist Helena Kuo, and the following year he began his lifelong association with Hewitt painting workshops, traveling to exotic locations once or twice a year teaching watercolour workshops.

You can see how much lighter his work has become.

By the time his first book The Water Colors of Dong Kingman, and How the Artist Works was published in 1958, Dong Kingman was a household-name. That year Kingman moved from Midtown to Wildenstein (1958-69) where he broadened his international reputation with successful exhibits in New York, London and Paris.

Dong had met many people in the entertainment industry through the years and some of his friends were now employed in the art departments of film crews. He added his touches to films such as The World of Suzie Wong (1960), Flower Drum Song (1961), 55 Days in Peking (1963), and Sand Pebbles (1966). His friend Emil Kosa, Jr. was also on the art team of Sand Pebbles, providing the matte paintings for “special visual effects”.

A few early sketches.

The 1960s were a whirlwind of painting and traveling worldwide. Dong’s unique multi-cultural persona, pegged early on as merging Eastern and Western styles made him a valuable asset to the USA in world relations. His influence on the popular culture of America through use of images of his paintings in movies, magazine covers, posters, and illustrations furthered the warming of relations between China and America that culminated in President Nixon’s historic 1972 China visit. A decade later in 1981, Kingman was the first American artist to be accorded a one man show in China since diplomatic relations between the two countries resumed. More than 100,000 visitors attended and the retrospective received critical acclaim from the Chinese media.

Through the rest of his career Dong continued traveling and painting the cities of the world. His high-visibility assignments through the years included creating posters for the Olympics and Pan Am, and numerous cover assignments for magazines like Time, Fortune, Life, and Saturday Review. He was invited to be a judge in the Miss Universe contest in 1969 and was proud to serve 20 years, sharing the stage with stars and celebrities of the day.

When Dong Kingman went on tour for the State Department in 1954 he realized cities were his favorite subjects and he spent the rest of his life capturing the lively essence of the world’s great cities. In 1997 “Portraits of Cities” was released chronicling the vitality and beauty of the world’s major hubs of civilization as seen through the eyes of one of America’s own watercolour masters.

If you look at Dong’s work year by year you can see his skills and style sharpen and shift. The muted grays and umbers and realism of his early watercolors gradually gravitated to brighter colours with scenes populated with characters and symbols drawn from Dong’s personal iconology and sense of humor. His late period paintings are brighter still with masterful abstractions in design using the white of the paper to expert advantage.







Dong Kingman passed away from pancreatic cancer in the year 2000 at the age of 89. His paintings hang in over 60 Museums and public institutions world-wide.

During his lifetime he won “virtually every major award for this medium” including the American Watercolor Society‘s prestigious Dolphin Medal and National Academy’s 150th Anniversary Gold Medal of Honor. His family keeps his legacy and good works alive through archival and arts outreach at

Many thanks to Watercolor Painting dot com for their information on Dong which has helped make this post possible. Which of his paintings caught your eye today ?

Dong Kingman Part 1

January 3, 2023

I first discovered the work of Dong Kingman work after spotting this San Francisco poster for American Airlines. Again because there is so much of Dong’s work to explore, I’ve split the post into two sections. A real travel feast for the eyes : )

Dong Kingman (1911-2000) was born in Oakland, CA of Chinese parents was originally named Dong Moy Shu. According to Chinese custom, Kingman was given his new name when he entered school. Hearing that he wanted to be an artist, his teacher gave him the name of King (scenery) and Man (composition). In later years he combined the two words into Kingman and following Chinese custom, he used the family name first and the given name second. He studied at the Ling Nan School in Hong Kong.

Dong returned to Oakland in his late teens in 1929. He attended the Fox Morgan Art School, held a variety of jobs and experimented with oils and watercolors. Soon he decided to concentrate on watercolors. At the time, Charles Burchfield, John Marin and George Grosz were the leading practitioners of the medium. During the Depression era decade that followed, Dong would emerge as one of America’s leading artists and a pioneer of the California Style School of painting.

I love his observational skills and layouts, as much as his use of colour and shade.

Here’s some of the work inpired by his China visits.

A 1936 solo exhibition at the San Francisco Art Association brought him instant success and national recognition. Reviewing the Second Annual Exhibition of Watercolors, Pastels and Tempera on Paper, sponsored by the San Francisco Art Association in 1937, art critic Alfred Frankenstein wrote: “Dong Kingman is bold, free and joyous as always. He paints with soaked light. He is San Francisco’s A No. 1 watercolorist at the present moment.”

Some of his early work here, really captures life on the streets of the forties and fifties.

In 1941 Dong earned the first of two, back to back, Guggenheim Fellowships which allowed him to travel and experiment with the watercolor medium. During World War II he joined the army and was assigned to the Office of Strategic Service at Camp Beal, California and then Washington, D.C. The nature of his duties allowed him to continue his career.

After the war Kingman settled on the East Coast, in Brooklyn Heights, New York, assuming teaching positions at Columbia University and Hunter College in 1946 for the next decade. His first one-man show in New York at Midtown Galleries in 1942 was well received in the media, including Time, Newsweek, The New York Times, the New Yorker and American Artist. M.H. de Young Memorial Museum in San Francisco held a major exhibit of his watercolors in 1945. In 1951, Midtown presented a 10-year retrospective of his work. Time Magazine wrote, “At age 40, Dong Kingman is one of the world’s best watercolourists.”

A few paintings showing trains, railways and tram structures around the city.

I wonder how many other folk were painting structures like these in those times ?

Other retrospectives, including Corcoran in Washington, D.C. and Witte Memorial Museum in San Antonio, were held for the artist. In the late 50s, Dong moved from Midtown to Wildenstein where he had successful exhibitions for over a decade in New York, London and Paris.

A few of his London paintings here.

Many thanks to Watercolor Painting dot com for their information on Dong which has helped make this post possible. Look out for Part 2 next week.

Lisa Larson World Exclusive Interview for Fishinkblog

December 24, 2022

Hello and welcome to all my readers and followers old and new. For my end of year post I decided to look back to 2017 to a brighter time and an interview that I really enjoyed doing with a lady I admire greatly, Swedish ceramist Lisa Larson. It read like this …..

Welcome to all of my visitors and whether you are a regular reader or a new visitor, I have a very exclusive treat for you today as I have managed to secure an interview with the wonderfully talented, Swedish Ceramist, Lisa Larson! I can hardly believe it happened myself and I’m still rather smiley as a result lol

Through a chance email, I received a reply from Lisa’s daughter Johanna. She just happened to be visiting her mum that week and very kindly offered to ask Lisa the questions I had mentally prepared (never thinking for a moment that I would actually get to ask them). The following post is a culmination of a few months work, ordering books and magazines and then the wonderful surprise of the interview itself… enjoy!

My first question went to Lisa’s daughter Johanna.

What was it like growing up with Lisa’s creativity around you.. I see that you have a graphics background yourself, do you think your mum’s encouragement has given you a love of the arts too ?

I grew up in a very creative home with two big artist studios connected to the house, and I also went along to the factory sometimes. I basically spent most of my time in a studio since I was a baby. I played with ceramic tools, or clay, or in the sandpit they used for casting. I was encouraged to draw and paint and knit and sew, my mum taught me how to throw clay. I went to art school but ended up specialising in Graphic Design and Illustration.

Here’s a fab selfie shot (below) of Lisa and Johanna.

Now my questions are directed to Lisa….

What are your first memories of art and drawing… were your parents creative and did they encourage your own creativity when you were younger ?

My father collected art and antiques and was a creative person. (My mother had died when I was two.) He encouraged me. He owned a sawmill and I could use the waste bits of wood to carve figures. I used to bicycle around and paint the farms around the area too, and sometimes sell the paintings to the owners, as was popular in rural Sweden. My father once gave me a load of blue clay and I made a life size portrait of the boy next door in our garden!  Another neighbour (perhaps the boy’s father?) was an art teacher and was the person that advised me to apply to the art college in Gothenburg.

Was it unusual for a woman to be a designer in Sweden, some fifty years ago ?
My sister and I both wanted to be fashion designers and made all our own clothes. She did succeed (Titti Wrange, Annamodeller)…

and I ended up being placed in the ceramics department in art school, and loved the material from day one.

I saw a great video of a gentleman on the potter’s wheel and you reforming one of the pots he had thrown into a female figure, and later into a family pot etc. Growing up (and perhaps today) who helped in your own creative journey and who’s work do you admire who may or may not have been an influence on your work ?

The ceramicist and thrower in the video is Richard Manz who was my assistant at Gustavsberg. He was a very skilled technician. Else-Kulle Petersson and Kurt Ekholm were my teachers at Slöjdskolan in Gothenburg. I was also influenced by my husband Gunnar Larson and his artist classmates, teachers and colleagues. Stig Lindberg was my mentor at Gustavsberg. He had hired me and became a very good friend and colleague. (more about Stig here.)

What was it like working alongside Stig, (another hero of mine) and was it his free thinking style and humourous work, that allowed and perhaps encouraged your own style to develop and be appreciated ?

Yes, Stig had a lot of humour and we were all influenced by each other at the factory. He was very encouraging to us new students. We were free to experiment and he would visit the studio every week and discuss our work, and sometimes pick something for production, like the cat he thought was suitable. He asked me for more animals in the same style to make up a series. It became my first, Lilla Zoo.

I was frustrated for you when I read the story about you not getting paid very much for the work that you did that helped make Gustavsberg so famous. Was your transition to a freelance artist part influenced by that frustration yourself and are there any regrets about ever going it alone ?

No regrets. I had worked there for 26 years. Stig was gone, it was different times. Time to move on.

How did the collaboration with the Japanese company come about ?

I was originally contacted by a photo publishing company that wanted to do a photo project, and then they decided to produce some Lisa Larson merchandise instead (my photos probably weren’t that great!) and really wanted to launch the brand in Japan. My daughter was also enthusiastic about it and wanted to manage the brand internationally, and take care of all the new communications and new 2-D design tasks.

Below are part of the new Zodiac series due out in 2018,  planned future orders are already sold out!

Being trained as a textile designer, I think your scope for design onto fabrics has a universal appeal, I know that the Japanese company you work with has made tee shirts and tee towels in their ranges, but have you ever thought about creating furnishing and fashion fabrics for children as part of your product range. I would love to put drawings into repeat for you if it would be helpful : )

Thank you but that is my daughter’s job!  She has been inspired by my ceramic sketches and turned them into textiles, and she constructs the illustrations and the patterns for Uniqlo and other licenced clients. We have already worked with Ljungbergs Textiles and Boras Cotton in Sweden, and recently with Aswan curtains and rugs in Japan.

You can find more of the Japanese range of ceramics and kitchenware here.

Here’s one of the beautiful Japanese publications I discovered by Pie Books , great photographs.

Look at this cheeky chap awaiting some soup lol

Can you tell me a little more behind the story as to how your cat design came to be used by Baldelli and made into a moneybox ? I assume it was done with your permission ?

Not at all! It is total plagiarism! I first saw it in a shop window in San Francisco in 1966. When I asked what it was, I was told it came from a Danish importer. The shop owner said: “But, we do have a genuine Lisa Larson too”, and showed me into a back room!

Shocking to hear that blatent copying of designers work was happening mid sixties too. Some have the cheek to say it’s a compliment, but I disagree and if a company wants to compliment you on your skills and creative design, they should at least pay a royalty for using it !! Shame on you Baldelli and Bitossi.

I am delighted and also encouraged to hear that you are still designing and making now in your eighties (she is now 91 in 2022)… as an artist myself, I can’t imagine a time when I wouldn’t be still drawing and making new work. Do you have a list (perhaps even just in your head) of new pieces that you want to make and release to the world, as it were ?

Yes, my list is endless!

During my searching about Lisa’s work, I came across this fantastic company Scandinavian Retro who produce ‘Retro Klassiker’ magazine. Sadly it’s not available in the UK, but the very generous Editor in Chief sent me a complimentary copy and it is amazing….

132 pages just about Lisa Larson with photos of the majority of her ceramic work, what a delight. I just feel now that I need to learn Swedish or find a local Swedish friend to read all the text for me lol

The publication is excellent, concentrating on all the retro designs in textiles, fashion, ceramics, furniture etc from the mid century era. Sooo perfect for me.

I’ve read that the bulldog may be your most favourite piece that you have designed. Is that still the case and are there any designs that given the time you would perhaps do differently or work up again ?

I always try to make new and better things. I am never happy with my own work, until possibly much later on. Like when I said that the Bulldog was my favourite, was some 40 years after I made it!

Like you, I have a very quirky style of my own and often draw images of dogs and cats etc for use on fabrics and other textile surfaces. Do you think that your strong sense of humour has played a part in the style of ceramics that you produce ? Was that quirky style unusual in Sweden in the time that you were first making designs ?

Humour is important. We had a dog poster in the children’s room and I decided to interpret the funniest breeds.
I have always had my own style. I do not study other people’s style. (Other people copy me.)

I lastly want to say a vote of thanks for the joy that your work has given me. I’ve a family of three lions who sit in front of me on my desk that really make me smile daily, and for that alone, your work is truly priceless to me.

Thank you for your kind words

I want to say a huge THANK YOU to Lisa for answering my questions with such great consideration and honesty. Also to Johanna, without whom this interview wouldn’t have happened and for her lovely pictures. Lastly to Viveca Carlsson for generously sending me a copy of the wonderful Retro Klassiker.

I’ve a feeling there’s room for more of Lisa’s ceramics to come : ) Watch this space. Please share this post with your friends, leave a comment and sign up for regular Fishinkblog posts too. I hope you’ve enjoyed this interview as much as I have in making it.

So Lisa is now the fabulous age of 91 and her work is still gaining fans year by year. I have been buying pieces of hers when they come up at a reasonable price ! and plan to part with some of them next year and have a sale of her work on here so look out for that : ). Wishing you all a wonderful festive break and much joy, rest and recharge over the holiday season. See you in 2023 !

























Michael Robertson Updated

December 12, 2022

I last featured the work of Illustrator Michael Robertson back in 2011. Since following one another on Instagram for the last couple of years, I thought it was a good time for an update and so fired a few questions over to Cleveland USA to discover a little more about the artist himself.

Hi Michael, at what age did you first get interested in Art and did you get encouragement by anyone in particular (family, teacher etc) ?
Craig hi there, I have been interested in art for as long as I can remember. I think my mom recognized my talent very early on because she saved one of my first drawings that I did when I was only 2 years old. She thought that out of all her kid’s early artwork, there was just something special about my little drawing of a dalmatian.

How did your style develop into a midcentury one, who are your major influences design wise ?
When I was a child, I would wake up very early on Saturday mornings to watch cartoons. Back then, there was no streaming or internet so if you wanted to watch cartoons, getting up early was the only option! I was particularly interested in the cartoons that had that “modern” feel, such as Loony Tunes, Rocky and Bullwinkle, Pink Panther, The Jetsons and many other Hanna Barbera cartoons that had that quirky drawing style. I also have been an avid collector of mid century art, design and furniture, which has certainly influenced my style. I spend most of my free time combing thrift stores, flea markets and antique shops looking for modern treasures,  including old childrens’ books from the mid century era. Some of my favorite illustrators from the past include Mary Blair, Alice and Martin Provensen, Jim Flora, Helen Borten, Abner Graboff, Paul Rand, Bernice Myers, Leonard Weisgard, to name just a few. I could go on and on!

I see that you worked as a game and toy designer before becoming an illustrator. What prompted the shift in career and how much did that previous training help you become the artist you are today ?
I graduated from college with a degree in painting, but finding profitable work proved difficult until I stumbled into character and toy design at a company called Those Characters from Cleveland. There, I worked on developing characters for licensing as well as developing toy concepts. Some of the toys I was lucky enough to have a hand in have become classics from that era, including My Pet Monster, Popples, Nosey Bears and Madballs. Although I did enjoy toy and character design, I was a bit frustrated that I was never able to produce any finished illustration art. Since I was developing concepts, all my presentation art was done strictly in pencil or markers!

What do you most / least enjoy about working as an illustrator in 2020 ?
Obviously, the pandemic has affected businesses all over the world and I’m certainly feeling the ramifications as well. I’m feeling optimistic that things will eventually turn around and 2021 will be a better year for everyone.

In which direction would you most like your work to follow and why ?
I would like to push my style and make my work a bit edgier, yet still remaining approachable. I would also love to learn some simple animation programs so that I can really bring my characters to life.

Here you can compare Michael’s early sketch to the finished artwork. The additional detail and subtle fine tuning makes the second illustration ‘POP’ !

Are there any market areas you would still like to make a mark in (computer games, books, stationary etc ) ?
Not really, I think I’ve touched on most aspects of publishing- book and magazine illustration, stationary, greeting cards, toys, games, puzzles, wrapping paper, stickers. One thing I am trying is writing and illustrating my own books. I did a lot of writing for fun in the past but never really pursued it. I am currently working on a couple of new ideas that I’m very excited about. The first one is done as far as the writing end, I just have to start the illustration part and hopefully find a publisher.

Which contemporary artists do you most admire ?
There are so many amazing and talented artists and illustrators that I admire. Some that immediately come to mind are Peter Emmerich, Joey Chou, Riccardo Guasco, Chris Sasaki, Johnny Yanok, Satoshi Hashimo, Steven Millington, again, I could go on and on.

What would be an ideal freelance brief for you ?
The jobs that I get that allow the greatest amount of creative freedom are always my favorite kind. I like to get jobs that are challenging. 

Here are a few rough idea sheets and sketchbook pages to show how Michael’s ideas develop.

What advice would you give to someone who is looking to start their career as an illustrator today ?
I would say that one of the most important things is to develop a style that is uniquely your own. Take in inspiration from everything you see. Art, design, nature, film, music-everything you take in influences the way you see things and will help to develop your style. Study other artists, both past and present. Concentrate on what you like. If you love dogs, draw dogs. If you love cars, draw cars. Always carry a sketchbook with you and draw whenever you can. Be yourself, but also be open to advice from others. As an illustrator, you will have to work with art directors who have their own ideas and you will have to be flexible and easy to work with.

Great Advice Michael and thanks again for appearing on Fishinkblog today, It’s been fab having you drop by. You can see more of Michael’s work here.

Fishink Ceramics

December 6, 2022

Hello Everyone, I hope this finds you well. A couple of people have asked me about purchasing my ceramics when they don’t have an Instagram account, which is a good point. So I decided to share some of my work on here so you can view and make purchases safely using PayPal. You don’t need to have a PayPal account to use it, you can just purchase through it using your credit card but firstly leave me a message on my email if you see anything here you would like to buy. I will email you back and we can arrange from there, I ship worldwide. Hope you enjoy browsing through my work. Please feel free to share it with your friends and for those of you with Instagram accounts, you can find the work on my stories here .Thank you

Just to say that I only have one version of each of these ceramics in those colours, so once it’s gone, it’s gone lol

I look forward to hearing from you, All the best Craig


Fishink Ceramic Sale

December 3, 2022

Hi everyone, well it’s a busy busy day for me here at Fishink HQ as I’ve not one, not two but three separate events going on this weekend which means I will need to have my eyes and ears in about twenty directions all at the same time lol

Firstly I have the final sale of this year of brand new work on my instagram stories starting at 9am GMT today until 5pm Sunday. You can find me here at or just @fishinkblog if you are already logged into Instagram.

Please help me share the event, give me a follow, a like or even make a comment or a purchase if you can, it all really does help so much in keeping my small business going and in turn help keep my blog going and free to read.

Here’s a taster of what to expect this weekend.

I only have one of each plaque in that particular colourway as they are all unique and hand made.

The second event I’m taking part in is with the Great Northern Contemporary Craft Fair, I have a page here which should go live at 9am today too, but failing that working, I am under the Ceramics section at with a small collection of new work for sale.

Last but not least, if you are in the Manchester region over the next three weeks I am taking part in a wonderful popup event organised by Jo Lavelle and run by Inch Arts in Altrincham. It is in the old Library building at 20 Stamford New Road, Altrincham, WA14 1EJ. There are at least 30 artists taking part displaying their paintings, ceramics, textiles and designer crafts between 10am and 5pm on the next three Saturdays in december, ie. 3rd, 10th and 17th. Please spread the word again and drop in to brwose some fabulous and individual christmas gift ideas. Hope to ‘see’ you at one or more of these events today.. do say hello if you can make it. : )


November 28, 2022

Hi there and I hope this finds you all well, this post originally went out in 2020 but I thought it a great colourful addition to these colder greyer days that I’d like to show it again.  I picture you snuggled down with a cuppa ready to be visually entertained lol. Well I hope not to disappoint with the vibrant and fun artist I have in store for you today.

I’ve been following Helen Foster’s company Rollerdog for quite a while now. Helen is an Illustrator and Designer, living in Derbyshire. She is also on Instagram as rollerdogdesign. As you can probably tell, Helen, like myself, has a penchant for lovely (and often lanky) longdogs! Here’s a couple of her initial drawings.


I messaged Helen to ask her more about her company.

How did you first become interested in the Lurcher, Greyhound, Whippety dogs that you illustrate?

I’ve always been enchanted by the gentle elegance of these dogs with their supremely long snouts, and their affectionate, sweet nature really appeals to me. I had a whippet called Speedy and sort of shared our neighbour’s beautiful greyhound, Talent, who I had a deep bond with. I also love it that despite their noble appearance, they often have hilarious, tangled sleeping positions and some extremely goofy facial expressions.

I noticed that you had been inspired by some great pics of other hounds from Instagram, which helped create some of your wonderful designs. Do you have any plans to branch out into more products using antics from pet profiles online as your inspiration? Perhaps it could be a competition for a new tea towel design lol


That’s a lovely idea! I’ve run a few competitions in the past and invited folks to upload their hound photos and I was overwhelmed with the funny and touching responses. And yes, I’ve been so inspired by my Instagram feed: I love the ‘pile of whippets’ photos of @cosmicpearlwhippet, and those of your very own Boo of course! I really enjoy making a cup of tea and scrolling through the beautiful photos and incredible artwork that’s being made all over the world. 

Talking of Instagram, I’ve found happiness in the ‘creative hub’ experience of getting to know fellow creatives. As an example, a creative ‘visual conversation’ started after I made drawings based on some of @cosmicpearlshippet’s beautiful whippety flower crown photos. Jane then recreated her original photo, complete with flower crown and a handmade collar to match the collar I’d worked into my drawing, as you can see in these photos:

What is your training or business-life prior to Rollerdog Design?

I became a freelance illustrator after leaving uni in the late nineties, and carried out commissions for some wonderful and diverse clients, including educational publishing houses, charities and public sector organisations. One memorable project was to design the children’s range of packaging for Hotel Chocolat, for which I was part-paid in Turkish delight! (Don’t worry Association of Illustrators, I was paid properly in actual money too).

I love the fact that you donate to the Forever Hounds Trust. Did you choose this worth-while Charity for a specific reason?

It started with a phone call from Naomi from the charity, who’d seen my work online, and we hit it off. Afterwards I looked at the gorgeous hounds on their website and I’ve never looked back. They have a fabulous team of volunteers who rescue abused or abandoned greyhounds, lurchers and other sighthounds from all over the country.

I believe the business is more than 2 years old, is this a full-time venture for you or something that’s still developing and growing?

Answering this question reminded me that Rollerdog turned 3 in January this year, and I completely forgot to celebrate! Yes, it’s a full time venture which continues to grow. It still feels new and I don’t get bored – there are always new products to try my designs out on (some more successful than others…let’s try to forget the unfortunate saggy socks experiment of January 2020).

Cushions, Tote Bags, Cards, Coasters, Aprons, Magnets, Tea Towels and Keyrings… what’s next for Rollerdog Design?

I often get asked about producing art prints and have recently found a fab print house that produces beautiful quality prints onto a range of art papers, so I’d like to offer this as an option in my shop. I’d also like to look further into getting my work licensed so that I can spend more time making new designs (although retail that can be great fun, and not meaning to lay it on too thick but I’ve truly never had a mean customer. I receive the most touching feedback, sometimes with very sweet photos – and quite often with the hound interacting with their new Rollerdog goody in the cutest ways, as you can see in these photos, the first one giving new meaning to the term ‘doggy-bag’ !

I’m loving the new cards and would like to see more of a range of those that you can purchase separately or together with the gift selection you presently offer. Also a few more male centered doggy designs for us dog loving males too : )

I’ve been talking with my printing chap (@artistgiftprinting) who produces the cards and we’re hoping to start offering just the cards on their own in the months to come. I’m also planning to bring some other animals into the mix, such as one of my favourite mammals of all time, the beautiful but endangered pangolin. I’m also a great fan of the beautifully dinosaurial rhea and seeing a hare in the wild always gives me a jolt of happiness – and they need our help too due to the cruel sport of hare coursing.

Any other dog related businesses or Illustrators work that you follow and admire?

So many. One of my favourite artists who also happens to love sighthounds is Whyn Lewis (@whynlewispaintings). I admire the characterful drawings of J. Otto Seibold (@jottoseibold) and Marc Boutavant (@chienpourriii) and Helen Dardik (@helen_dardik) produces the most gorgeous, fun patterns and paintings. Not dog-related I know but as a lifelong Moomin lover I find the work of the wonderfully wise and funny Tove Jansson endlessly inspiring. The list could go on and on.

Many thanks Helen for your informative, amusing replies. I get a sense that you match your chirpy characters very well ; )  I recently bought four beautiful coasters which I admire everytime I make a cuppa, which as were all in home isolation right now.. is quite often these days lol. How fab are these ? You can purchase anything from Rollerdog’s great range of gifts here and tell Helen I sent you : ).

Helen’s design skills include some great cards !


and have recently also turned to ducks !

Thanks Helen for letting us share a bit of your world today : )

Margery Gill Mid Century Book Illustrator

November 21, 2022

Happy Start to the week everyone and I hope this finds you well. Before I show today’s guest illustrator, I would like to tell you about an exciting event that is happening on Saturday 3rd and 4th December.  I am hosting my last sale of Fishink Ceramics this year on my Instagram account @fishinkblog between 9am and 5pm GMT, in my stories and on my feed. There will be a host of Ceramic Retro Birds, Fish, funky bird shapes and new Cat / Dog and other animal plaques suitable to hang on your wall like the ones below. They range in price between £15 and £50.

It would be fab if you could drop by, say hello, leave a like or perhaps make a purchase for yourself or a present for a friend, it all helps so much and also allows me continue to work, live and run this blog. If you don’t have an instagram account you can also visit (link will be live on the day or the day before) who will also have a selection of my work on their site under the ceramics section.

I look forward to seeing you in either place and please follow me on instagram and tell your friends who may like my work, to do the same, many thanks Craig.

Ok on with the post today and I’m talking about an illustrator who many Enid Blyton fans may remember.

Margery Jean Gill (5 April 1925 – 31 October 2008) was a British illustrator of children’s books.

Born in Coatbridge, North Lanarkshire, Scotland, on 5 April 1925, she was brought up in Hatch End, London after her father Oscar moved there to take a job at the Post Office Research Station developing the speaking clock.

She left school at 14 and took a place at Harrow School of Art. In 1946 she began studying etching and engraving at the Royal College of Art, married actor Patrick Jordan, and illustrated her first book, Robert Louis Stevenson’s A Child’s Garden of Verses, for the Oxford University Press.

After a series of commissions for the Oxford University Press, Gill began an association with The Bodley Head, for whom she illustrated over thirty books between 1957 and 1982, including Margaret Kornitzer’s 1960 novel about adoption, Mr Fairweather and his Family, and books by Anita Hewett, Roger Lancelyn Green and others. John Ryder, the publisher’s design and art director, said her early work was “interfered with, rather than aided” by her background in etching and engraving, but as her drawings became bolder her work became more in demand, her serious, unsentimental view of childhood suiting the kitchen sink realism prevalent in children’s books at the time. She remarked “that is often how children are — taking their own lives seriously”.

Eleanor Graham, the founding editor of Puffin Books, also sought her out to illustrate books including  A Little Princess by Frances Hodgson Burnett. Gill’s lack of recognition was cruelly underlined, when a 1961 edition of this book was reissued as a Puffin Classic. Margery’s 24 pen-and-ink illustrations for the book were among her best work, but on the title page her surname was mistakenly printed as Hill.

She worked for numerous other publishers, including Jonathan Cape, for whom she illustrated Susan Cooper’s Over Sea, Under Stone in 1965, and Chatto & Windus, for whom she illustrated Cooper’s Dawn of Fear in 1972, drawing on her own memories of living in London during the Second World War.

I love her interpretations (below) for Susan Cooper’s classic first book in ‘The Dark is Rising’ series of books, “Over Sea Under Stone’.

Cooper said of her work on Dawn of Fear, “She caught the image of the kids I was writing about perfectly, with no communication. That does huge things for the confidence of a writer.” She illustrated A Candle in Her Room for Gollancz in 1966. She would often travel to capture the landscape and setting of books she illustrated, particularly those by Ruth Arthur and William Mayne, and for this reason a German publisher commissioned her to illustrate a German translation of Arthur Ransome’s Swallows and Amazons.

During the 1960s Gill was working in colour and had become one of Bodley Head’s prized possessions – she was hugely sought-after as publishers began to explore working class lives in children’s literature. In his obituary written in 2008, Matthew Weaver made this astute observation: “Her sometimes solemn drawings of children underlined a new attitude to the young. Children were no longer to be talked down to, but taken seriously. Margery’s drawings, which presented a lively and unsanitised view of childhood, were in vogue. But always modest, she shunned the opportunity to exhibit her work “

Gill didn’t always find the creative process easy and would often go through periods of despair when she would threaten to destroy all her work. But ultimately she was prolific and clearly she saw her drawing as fundamentally important to her: Every drawing is a fight which I really enjoy. I enjoy, too, the failures, and starting again ” 

But by the early 1970s the prevailing fashions in book illustration were beginning to change and there was a declining demand for Gill’s social realism. Her output declined significantly and ill health – breast cancer and arthritis – meant her last book was illustrated in 1985.

She combined freelance work as an illustrator with motherhood – she had two daughters – and a teaching job at Maidstone College of Art. From 1969 she and her husband lived in Alpheton in Suffolk. As the 1970s went on her work fell out of fashion as publishers preferred cartoonier illustrations for children’s books, and her output was slowed by arthritis in her hands, and in her later years, cataracts. The last book she illustrated was Anne Thwaite’s Pennies for the Dog in 1985. She did voluntary work in her retirement, including charity collections and Meals on Wheels. She died on 31 October 2008.

She was admired by fellow illustrator Shirley Hughes, who said “I thought her work was terrific. It made me look to my laurels. It was modern – the children she depicted were less sweet. Margery used solid black line with tremendous fluidity and ease: the way her children stood and moved was very distinctive”.

Many thanks to Wikipedia for the information used in this post.

Also for all folks local to Manchester, UK I will be taking part in an afternoon Craft event here next Sunday. Hope to see you there : )