Where Have I Been? (Apology & Art Update!)

Taken by Oliver J Cooper (Instagram @coastaloliver), September 2017, Eastbourne, UK.

I am completely aware of my lack of new art work recently, and I apologise!

As I discussed in my December vlog, I recently took the leap into freelance work (you can read more about it here). This was one of the best decisions I have made and I am loving it. My big fear was not being able to find enough work to make a living, but recently I have been receiving so much it has been difficult to juggle.

Alongside my art work I create design pieces. I am working with some really fascinating small businesses, ranging from designers to therapists to photographers. While it’s mostly graphic work, I sometimes get to use watercolours in my designs, which creates a lovely combo between my two passions. I also write and work with different crafts, and and I’ve been learning how to balance and make time for a bit of everything.

I love the variety of my work and am grateful for the opportunity to work on so many great projects, but unfortunately I have found that while I have been finding and building a repertoire with my design clients, my artwork has been pushed to the side.

Learning how to manage my work is becoming easier with time. I am planning to spend a large part of the Spring sitting down outside with my paints, getting all the ideas that have been buzzing around my head onto paper.

What’s coming next?

Recently I have been really keen on minimalist line work, and I am looking forward to combining this style with my own.

I have also started to get my children’s book ideas onto paper, which is really exciting and should be the start of a fascinating project.

Another goal is to create a series of textile designs, as I think it’s interesting to cross the line between art and something that is functional – I’m looking forward to sharing more with you, thank you so much for your continued support.


Photo credit: Oliver J Cooper (Instagram: @coastaloliver). 

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Make Your Own Handbound Notebook

I recently added these hand-bound notebooks to my Etsy store. I had a lot of fun making them and wanted to share a few tips on how to get started with book-binding. The idea can seem quite daunting, but once you get the hang of it there are so many options for customisation.

What you need:

  1. 10x sheets of paper. It is best to use a high quality writing paper, but you can also use regular printing paper. 10 folded sheets will make a 20 page notebook (40 sides) when the binding process is complete.
  2. 1x sheet of thick printing paper. Make sure that it is 150gsm or more.
  3. A small awl.
  4. A needle.
  5. Thread. There are many different kinds of thread that you can use for book binding. The best is linen thread, but cotton will work as well. The important thing is to choose a natural fibre that will last a long time and be strong enough to hold the notebook together.

Step 1

Print your chosen design onto your printing paper. This will be the cover of your notebook.

Step 2

Fold your notebook cover in half. Repeat with the 10x sheets of writing paper, and place the writing paper inside the cover, as you want the pages to lay.

Step 3

Find the centre of your notebook. You should start binding from the inside. You may want to use paperclips to hold the pages in place while you begin threading. Use the awl to make three holes – one in the centre, one an inch from the top, and the last an inch from the bottom. If you want the binding to be perfect then you should measure the holes to make sure they are at equal distances, but this is not completely necessary. Begin by threading the needle through the centre hole.

Step 4

Flip the notebook over and pull the thread through. The cover should now be facing up. Thread the needle back through the top hole, and flip the notebook over so the writing paper is facing up. Thread back through the centre hole.

Step 5

Repeat step 4 by threading through the third hole at the bottom of the notebook, so that the cover is facing up, then push the needle back through the centre hole. You may repeat steps 4 and 5 twice if you would like the binding to be particularly strong.

Step 5

Finish by laying the notebook and the writing paper facing up, and tie the loose ends together. Trim the loose thread and you’re done!

There’s so much opportunity to play with this process, designing your own covers and working with a variety of paper sizes, creating mini notebooks as well as larger books with different types of paper. Notebooks, sketchbooks and journals can all be created in the exact same way.

If you decide to try it out, I’d love to see the results!


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