March 17, 2016

Illustrations that Begin with a Note

The image of an artist starting their next piece with a favorite retractable pencil or fine liner pen and (equally important) the exact right notebook with paper that’s both smooth, and offers the precise amount of resistance for that exact right pen is one we’ve seen in countless novels and cafes. After the pen and paper sketches, comes the watercolors, paints and/or felt tips, whether digital or traditional.

Joanna Henly, aka @MissLed, the London-based artist whose large-scale illustration and delicate portraiture have been commissioned by Ted Baker, Nike and Lufthansa airlines begins with pen and paper too. But she adds one more layer to her starting point: note taking. 

How illustrator Miss Led builds her portfolio with an hour’s worth of writing.

Photo credit: Joanna Henly 

“I write every morning for an hour or so. It’s a powerful part of the creative process,” says Henly. She then adds free sketching in, which for her has evolved from just pencil and paper to include digital as well. Sometimes she sits and works out in the world, in busy cafes and restaurants where she may find her next creative idea before heading to her quiet studio.

She adds, “I use the Bamboo Spark when I’m outside my studio or running around in the city and want to sketch or write down ideas that I can continue in the studio on my return.  I love writing notes, they are so much more creative than typing into a computer. From notes come ideas and from them come better projects.”

Henly’s 50,000 Instagram fans track the evolution of her work. Daily she shares her works in progress, behind-the-scenes snapshots of her studio and the inspirations behind her latest campaigns. Many of her followers are aspiring artists themselves so they are hungry to understand her process and want to witness these intimate moments in time that they can relate to in their own practice.

Photo credit: Joanna Henly 

So how does she make Bamboo Spark work for her?

Step 1: Pen and paper.

Henly writes her notes, and gains inspiration from the collection of art in her studio. Then she sketches with her Bamboo Spark. After that, she presses a button and her sketches can be saved as a .pdf or picture file or exported to the free app Bamboo Paper where her ink is still alive. 

Step 2: Refining on iPad

Within Bamboo Paper, Henly evolves her sketches using the Bamboo Fineline 2.

Step 3: Photoshop

Henly then brings her Intuos and Photoshop into the mix to add other images, paper choices and colors for a collage effect.

Henly hasn’t relinquished all her analog tools—she still relies on her retractable pencils and colored pens—but she recognizes how technology has not only made producing her art more streamlined, but ultimately gives her access to a worldwide audience.

She has always been passionate about art and people and when asked about her dream job, for her it’s to create more large-scale work. Here’s her advice to others who want to pursue their art:

  • Always look for opportunities around you
  • Be aware; what surrounds you can inspire you
  • Take notes and photos of everything worth documenting
  • Get your work out there

Regardless of her next project, each time she posts her work and shares her experiences with her online community, she’s already making a large and lasting impression in the art world. 

Photo credit: Joanna Henly 


Items that match

Bamboo Spark

Ready for instant shipment. Delivery time: 3-7 working days.

Bamboo Spark Take notes. Make ideas. From paper, to cloud, to life. The Bamboo Spark is a smart folio with a smart ballpoint pen, and a spot for your favourite paper. Write by hand. Press a button and save your handwritten notes to the Bamboo Spark app for light editing. Use the Wacom Cloud for archiving, sharing and access anywhere. Capture handwritten notes on any paper and with a push of a button your handwritten content is saved in the...

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Bamboo Stylus fineline

Ready for instant shipment. Delivery time: 3-7 working days.

Bambooo Sylus Fineline Experience the full power of your iPad®. Introducing the revolutionary Bamboo Stylus fineline: this high-precision pen for note-taking, handwriting and doodling puts wings on your ideas. Compatibility The Bamboo Stylus Fineline is compatible with the following devices: iPad 3 and 4 iPad Air 1 iPad Mini 1, 2 and 3 The Intuos Creative Stylus 2 is not compatible with the iPad Air 2. The Intuos Creative Stylus 2 is not...

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