vortex / cover & illustrations

Before the academic year was over I was working on an important side-project. The second book by author Vera Petrova called Vortex, about to come out.

After the success of her first book 6 years ago she wished to collaborate once more to create a second boutique publication, this time with illustrated chapters rather than just a cover. Saying I was excited would be an understatement.

What happened was quite interesting – Vera had had a look through all of my work online and liked several pieces which she thought would fit the esthetic she imagined for her book. I suggested making new work in accordance but she was set on several sketchbook pieces from the beginning days of my final year project ‘Cosmic Genesis’. As they were no longer of any importance to the outcome of the project, I felt they would fit well for the occasion. Thus they became chapter illustrations.

The cover artwork was chosen in a similar manner. Vera wanted her second book to carry on the layout of her first book (‘Instead of a Book’) – a short but wide image which flows from the back cover to the front cover as one long piece. A very fitting image I had done was, again from ‘Cosmic Genesis’, the 3.3m-long animation concept. She felt it was illustrative of her entire idea behind ‘Vortex’ so she had me send it over to her visual editor (Rumen Dimitranov), who shortened it wonderfully so it can fit the format without losing meaning.

You can see the finished cover below, as well as some of the illustrations inside.


inversion experiment

Wouldn’t it be interesting, I thought to myself, if dreams were just reality inverted.

I’ve been experimenting with inversion as a way to differentiate between drawings of ‘reality’ and drawings of ‘dreams’.

The piece below was a quick way to distract my overloaded mind so I could focus on my project better. Even though I was coming up with ideas around those two cityscapes, they are mainly an experiment, as this time I was directly drawing the inverted piece, rather than inverting it with photoshop.

sity scape & epacs ytis


Why Illustration?

Why illustration? Why not just art? What is the difference? Isn’t illustration an aspect of Art and Design?

There’s a lot of ways to communicate, some more universal than others. When proposing and sharing ideas, we can write them all out, but they would be limited to the language used to write them; music is another language, more universal than words – the emotion of a melody can be understood by anyone regardless background or nationality. And then there is illustration.

There’s a reason why the expression is “to illustrate ideas”, rather than just draw or visualise. There’s a certain power to an image which speaks to the viewer without the additional help of tons of theory and conceptual justification. Illustration is the language which speaks to everyone who comes across it, and it’s up to the illustrators to convey the right message through the work that they produce.

Illustration is more than just pretty pictures in books, as people seem to think most often. Illustration can educate, it can comfort the individual, it can inspire the masses, and it can fuel a fire of revolution – what could be a reason behind the shooting of Charlie Hebdo’s satirical political illustrators… it is the most inconspicuous art form as people don’t necessarily see it as ‘real art’ (what we come across in the exclusivity of a gallery space) and so it is viewed in a completely different light. In a way it’s like we take the understanding of visual symbols for granted – we don’t even realise how often we grasp concepts and ideas from illustrated images, and this right there is the hidden power of illustration.

An illustration has the power to evoke responses, emotional as well as physical, unexpected as well as predictable. We may laugh at the funny little caricature collage of David Cameron riding a pig (UK) but we won’t be laughing when we see an urban landscape of destruction where the street has turned into a river of blood (Syria)… and at the same time, illustrations can make mentally healthy people understand what it could feel like to have depression or heavy anxiety, they can evoke empathy towards others and explain what cannot be said otherwise.

Mythologies have been illustrated since the dawn of art and craft – there are caves dotted around the world with drawings made tens of thousands of years ago; narrative after narrative on the tomb and temple walls of ancient Egypt; we see entire tales drawn over ceramic pots and vases in ancient Greece; stories carved in doors and their frames from Celtic and Slavic origins; the carved stones of Incas, Aztecs and Mayans…  And let’s only mention the entire Renaissance, where classical myth was deeply intertwined even within a highly Christian environment. And why? Is it because myths just present pretty narratives or because they may hold existential information and universal truths about the human experience? Why illustrate myths? Perhaps because with each new image, we find a new way of understanding the ‘same old concepts’, because with each new image we can redefine what we’re already familiar with not for ourselves, but for the world, in the context of our experience of life today. If a picture is worth a thousand words, an illustration can be worth millions. Because one illustration, if it’s the right one, in the right context, in the right place at the right time, can potentially change the course of history…


Goddess of Revolt, Justice, and the Divine Balance between Light and Darkness, upon her return from the Stars to restore Balance in a world of chaos and lies. 

The final image.

I decided to make a layered image (coloured circle, temple and backround)so, the one I sent over for the zine had a different background.