The Simple Things

It may have taken me nearly three weeks to get hold of a copy (thank you for letting me temporarily steal yours Amanda), but the current issue of The Simple Things magazine has a lovely few pages with some illustrations from Speaking in Tongues.

Essentially exactly the same book as The Illustrated Book of Sayings, but Speaking in Tongues is the UK version with a different title and cover. It's both bizarre and wonderful to see your work printed in these places, and I always feel very gleeful about it all.


The wonderful author and journalist Summer Brennan is currently finishing a book for Houghton Mifflin on Victorine Meurent, forgotten art star (and muse of Manet) of 19th century Paris. Her Indiegogo campaign was over 200% funded, and I'm creating a tote bag design which will be one of the stretch goals. I really love freelance projects, because they are often so different to book work, and this difference makes for a bit of a shake-up, fresh ideas in both cases.

The drawings below are small elements taken from Victorine's life, the paintings of her, and I will likely be working these into a pattern as part of the design. I'm quite fond of the parrot.


Book Based

Two years ago (two years? heck!) I was invited to speak at a literary festival in the tiny French town of Parisot, Festilitt, and last year I missed them terribly; I accepted the task of creating an illustration based on one of the books being spoken about that year, and this year I'm creating two (I feel this is an increasingly slippery slope). One of them is for Claire Fuller's new book 'Swimming Lessons' (her previous novel 'Our Endless Numbered Days' was spectacular), and the other is for the busy-sounding Adam Thorpe, and his book 'Missing Fay'. Both of these people have won awards for their writing/loveliness, so I was honoured to be asked to make these designs.

The illustrations get printed onto small notecards, which are sold at the festival, and the original artwork gets sent off to Parisot, where it joins others in an exhibition.

Below is the beginning of the illustration based on 'Missing Fay', which I must hurry up and complete, because I'm meant to have them both to their destination by June 30th—yikes!

It Will Stop, Eventually

As you likely know, I'm taking part in a 100 Day Project over on Instagram. It's a hoot, and we're on day 36 already, which is both fun and intensely alarming to take note of.

It's 100 days of other languages, and although so far I've managed to contain the fascinating to a single post each day, mentioning one expression, saying, or small piece of a language. But as I'm consistently in awe of the richness I keep running into while searching for these, today I'm finally giving in and laying a couple more Galician expressions on you.

Notorious for receiving far more rain than the rest of Spain, I encountered numerous rain-related sayings while looking for something interesting. The one above means 'it’s never rained for so long that it didn’t eventually stop', which seems to be considered an uncharacteristically optimistic saying—bad things don’t last forever, so there’s no need to despair (things will never be so bad that they cannot be worse). That, or it just rains so relentlessly people need to be reminded it will stop.

Then we have 'A ti chóveche' which literally means 'it's raining on/in you', or you could say 'a ese home chóvelle' (it's raining in that man). These seem to be short for 'a ti chóveche na cabeza', which means 'it's raining inside your head'. The Galician speaker writing about these particular sayings explained them concisely with the following: "it's basically saying that this person's head is so empty there's enough room for water to evaporate, gather into clouds, condensate and precipitate in the form of free-falling drops of water. That's quite a lot of emptiness.".