Saturday, 24 December 2011

Starbucks @ Wisma Atria

A little sketching at Wisma Atria on Orchard Road, Singapore. It was a great day for sketching because it was so crowded but I didn't have much time. I was trying out a new pen from Muji, very happy with it. I usually use pencil but I think pen is better sometimes, you have to be more decisive.

Wednesday, 14 December 2011

Hot Off The Press Exhibition, Curwen Gallery, North London

I'm part of a group exhibition in January, so for anyone in London on January 10th please feel free to pop along to the private view. Closest tube stop is Goodge Street.

Friday, 2 December 2011

Sleeping man

I love drawing sleeping people, they fidget less and probably aren't going to mind you staring at them. This victim of mine was on a train back from London.

Thursday, 24 November 2011


Today I have been drawing sea creatures.

Wednesday, 23 November 2011

Rachel at Starbucks

More coffee shop sketching, I love it!

Friday, 11 November 2011


I bought some new lino, and I made a crab. Hope you like.

Monday, 7 November 2011

So serious.

Old habits die hard... coffee shops are still my favourite place for people watching. I recently met Angie Lewin, an illustrator/ printmaker whom I hugely admire, and she told me that when she was little she drew ducks, JUST ducks, for over a year. It made me feel better about my sketching habits!

Thursday, 3 November 2011

Exhibition at Bankside Gallery, London

My prints are being shown as part of a group exhibition in the Bankside Gallery in London next week (November 9th - November 13th) if you're around please pop by and take a look:

Wednesday, 2 November 2011

Thursday, 27 October 2011


I took inspiration from my yoga class.

Sunday, 9 October 2011

Bikes and Blossoms

New pattern in honour of my move to the countryside.

Friday, 7 October 2011

New Home

I am in the process of moving home right now, my new place has a fantastic studio room overlooking the garden, so this year I'm going to try my hand at not killing some plants. 

Thursday, 22 September 2011

Peony Patterns

I have been trying my hand at making some repeat patterns for art licensing. I really like strong, saturated contrasting colours but I know its not for everyone so I've been trying to tone it down a bit.

Wednesday, 21 September 2011


Good morning everyone! Here are some dancing bunnies to start the day.

Tuesday, 13 September 2011

Flower mania

Last night I went to a illustration business presentation in which the speaker spoke about 'style schizophrenia' and recommended keeping the same style for 1-2 years in order not to confuse art directors and people who might commission you. I had a mini heart attack because I have at least a couple styles (as illustrated above)! what to do, what to do? Maybe I will just make several portfolios.

Friday, 9 September 2011

Tuesday, 6 September 2011


I love a day at the zoo. My favourite animals in London zoo are probably the penguins, although I also have a soft spot for the hippo and the owl.

Sunday, 4 September 2011

Portfolio overhaul

I have finished my MA and am now embarking on a massive overhaul of my illustration portfolio, which hopefully will involve lots of drawing, painting, and creating new characters. Today I have been painting Fashion Grandma.

Thursday, 25 August 2011

Linocut Print

Lino, lino, lino! I love it! This print was a rejected idea for my MA Printmaking show.

Sunday, 10 July 2011

Foyles Bookstore

I found the first book I've illustrated in Foyles bookstore on Charing Cross Road. I must admit I did some sneaky rearranging and moved it to the front of the shelf! hehheheh!

Wednesday, 22 June 2011


I'm sorry I have been neglecting my blog a bit.. between uni and illustrating I've not had too much free time, but the good news is you can follow me on Facebook as "Nicola O'Byrne Illustration" which I update fairy regularly. I am happy to announce I have sent off the final artwork for "Open Very Carefully" (to be published by Nosy Crow in October 2012), I just have the cover still to do. In the mean time I'm writing a few new stories.. watch this space! :)

Thursday, 16 June 2011

Drawing without lines

I am heading towards my final show for my masters degree and I've got my plates ready to go.. the only problem is I'm not ready to commit just yet. So I'm practicing some drawing in the mean time.

Tuesday, 7 June 2011

Tuesday, 17 May 2011

Islington Green

I'm still working on my book for Nosy Crow ( so I have nothing new to upload. Here is a recent sketch of Islington Green, a place where I spend many hours because it has all my favourite stores within a 5 minute walking distance.

Monday, 2 May 2011

Artwork on a bus stop!

If you happen to be in Edinburgh keep an eye out for my artwork on local bus stops. A friend of mine saw this and sent me a photo!
Photograph by Gary Mackean.

Sunday, 24 April 2011

BBQ weekend

To celebrate this fantastic hot weather I illustrated a garlic bread recipe from I am now also on facebook, you can follow by 'liking' my page Nicola O'Byrne Illustration. Happy Easter everyone!

Friday, 8 April 2011

Mezzotint Cloth Studies

Cloth 1, Mezzotint.
Cloth 2, Mezzotint.

Cloth 3, Mezzotint.

Right now I am working towards an MA (Printmaking) degree as well as being a freelance illustrator. Before I started the MA course I saw very little distinction between Illustration and Fine art, maybe because a lot of my personal influences fall under the 'Fine Art' category. Of course, I understood the commercial nature of illustration, and that an illustration is destined for reproduction through various forms: books, internet, posters, etc. However, I also felt that a lot of 'art' was extremely commercial; hyped up into a media frenzy, with its success or failure based on how much media attention it gained, and although with most artwork there is only one original (prints being the exception!) many pieces of fine art are also reproduced in the forms previously listed.

Now I am approximately half way through my MA and although I have learned a few more differences, (and I'm still learning!) in my mind the two practices go hand in hand and influence each other. I've noticed there is sometimes a certain stigma amongst some fine artists attached to work that is deemed 'commercial'. However, I am greatly encouraged by the amount of cross over I see between Book Arts, Illustration, Graphic Design, and Fine Art. I'm very happy to have one foot in College and one foot in the industry, I hope that the two parts of my life meet harmoniously in time for my degree show! :D

Monday, 4 April 2011

How to Make a Heron Happy - out now

The first book I've worked on is out now. "How to make a heron happy" by Lari Don is about a boy who sees a grumpy looking heron in a park, and sets about trying to make the heron happy. It is published by Floris Books.

Wednesday, 23 March 2011

Mothers Day

Mother's Day is just around the corner... do you have something special lined up?

Tuesday, 22 March 2011

Added to the Nosy Crow website this week

My exciting news for this week is that I've been added to the list of illustrators on the Nosy Crow website. I've been working with them on a book called "Open Very Carefully" starring my favourite crocodile. Please click here to take a look!

Tuesday, 15 March 2011

Storlann - Gaelic Educational Resource Agency

I have recently been working on a fairy tale book project for a Gaelic educational resource publisher. It involved drawing 1 main image for each story and a couple of black and white vignettes, which I really enjoyed because I don't get to use my dip pen as much as I'd like. It was sent to the printers on monday, so here is a sneaky peak!

Wednesday, 2 March 2011

Mezzotint Take 3

I am falling in love with mezzotint but in a way its a very annoying process too. Its really hard to see how much you've burnished away. I didn't get it quite right here with the white lines but I'm going to keep working on it and see if I can soften it up a bit with my trusty roulette.

Thursday, 24 February 2011

Illustration Friday - Layer

Its been a while since I uploaded anything even though I've been working my socks off, I can't show what I've been working on just yet. In the meantime, here's a recent print.

Thursday, 3 February 2011


I want to say something about the mezzotinting process. You have a copper plate and a 'rocker' which is a curved, serrated edge. You use the rocker to put thousands of tiny indentations onto the copper plate, kind of like making pixels that will print black. Once the plate is completely covered with the dots, you can start to polish parts of the surface back. The more you burnish, the less ink it will hold, and those parts print white.

I rocked these two small plates a long time ago but I was too afraid to polish them back until last weekend when I decided enough is enough!

Thursday, 20 January 2011


I went to a meeting with my future publishers, I got there really early because my class finished earlier then I thought it would and AXEL SCHEFFLER was there!!! He drew me a piece of original artwork in my sketchbook. :D:D:D:D I'm going to cut it out and frame it. AWESOMENESS.

Wednesday, 12 January 2011

Tube Sketch


I drew this while on the tube and I'm very pleased with myself because of that.. despite travel sickness, being jostled about and trying to peer round people who stand in front of me, I think it came out fine!

Etching in progress

practicing my aquatinting

Tuesday, 11 January 2011


Mezzotint! Can you believe it took me 5 hours to make a black square? But now the fun begins.

Woman on the tube

An etching I started a little while ago.