My entry for the Lilla Rogers' Global Talent Search 2014 which had to depict terrariums and have words involved somehow.  


All fonts used are copyright-free and some of the writing is from a very old encyclopedia. I wanted to introduce a historical and educational element to the piece – the reference to Wardian Cases is because Dr Nathanial Bagshaw Ward (what a name!) invented these small “glasshouses” back in 1833 to transport plants back from abroad and keep them alive – in fact, in London every single one of our parks has plants originally transported to the UK in a Wardian Case.

But I digress…With this design I was very keen to make it interesting, so that you might stop and looked as you walked past it hanging on the wall; and the more you looked the more detail you might find. I also wanted to make it into a fairyland, and had drawn lots of the fairies’ washing hanging on a washing line (for some reason, that was the first idea that came to mind!) But in the end there just wasn’t time, and it would have been a bit too much on top of the historical/educational text element.

My process here was to research terrariums (there are two types depending on the plant inside – open or closed) –  then to draw and sketch jars, bottles, and Wardian Cases. I then began to sketch shapes of succulents and ferns and play with them, sometimes totally exaggerating their pattern and colour. Next I “filled” the sketched jars with the plants – that was lots of fun! I felt freed by the fact that I could tackle it like this, without having to draw the terrarium container and the plants at the same time. I use a combination of my own previously-made patterns, my own photographs of plants, sketches made on paper and with my Wacom pen digitally, and I worked in Photoshop. Needless to say by the time I was finished I had several files each a gigabyte in size!! No wonder I’m going through bucketloads of external hard drives.

Later, after the competition closed, I realised that the style Lilla Rogers looks for is way different to mine. This was the first time I'd come across Lilla Rogers and her agency, and you can see some of the other entries here. I was later to do her MATS courses, which was to pique a fascination with illustration for me. Because of her and her "subjects" I now feel an ongoing battle between whether I want to develop myself as a fine artist or move more towards illustration, as they are rather different beasts.