Monday, 22 December 2014

Christmas Cards For YSC

Here are this year's Christmas e-cards for YSC's UK and Australia offices.

                                                                                                                                      (c) Becca Thorne for YSC UK
                                                                                                                           (c) Becca Thorne for YSC Australia

I've been illustrating for YSC for three years now, working with the wonderful marketing team in the London office. They're a pleasure to work for and I've enjoyed it immensely - here's to many more! Cheers!

Now it's time to down the cutters and head off into the countryside to visit our families for a few days. Maybe we'll get some snow! Merry Christmas one and all!

Wednesday, 3 December 2014

Beauty & Curiosity In The Forest: An Exhibition of Print & Photography

Things are still ticking along nicely with my new blog, The Illustrated Vegetarian, though I haven't been posting quite as much as I'd like because I've been creating new prints for an upcoming exhibition at Dean Heritage Centre, a cool little museum in the Forest of Dean which is dedicated to preserving and promoting the unique history and heritage of the beautiful Forest in which I grew up.

I'm exhibiting alongside my brother, James, who will be showing a whole host of large format photographs depicting the Beauty and Curiosity of The Forest. It's his show really, but he asked me to join him, so I'm busily creating brand new pieces. As I haven't lived in the area for over a decade my prints will take the theme outside of the Forest of Dean and into other beautiful, wild areas of the UK that I've wandered and enjoyed - the Pembrokeshire coast, the Lake District, the Peak District and the Yorkshire Dales.

Here's the full version of the print on the poster above:

                                                                                                                                                                   (c) Becca Thorne 2014

The show runs from the 10th January - 22nd February 2015, everything on show will be editioned and for sale and entry is included on admission to the Centre. If you go, please make a day of it and visit the Heritage Museum as well, it's a great place.

You can find the event on Facebook, which you can join to receive updates and reminders and possibly some sneaky peaks of the show!

Tuesday, 21 October 2014

The Illustrated Vegetarian

I've rather neglected this blog in the last few months, partly because we've been moving and while we were travelling I was documenting our adventures on a separate Tumblr - - but also because I've started a new blog, The Illustrated Vegetarian.

It started life when I was considering a better way of storing my own recipes than either in my head or on the back of envelopes and stuffed in a crumpled pile in a cupboard with recipes torn from the Guardian Weekend, and grew into an idea for experimentation and development of my illustration work.

                                                             Ciambella, The Illustrated Vegetarian (c) Becca Thorne 2014
 My recipes naturally tend to be distinctly seasonal as I use what's available on the allotment, so in the next few months I'll probably be sharing a lot of soups, stews, pies and roasts, with maybe a few curries, cakes and breads. The most recent post is a Stilton, Leek and Sweet Potato Pie, which was incredibly tasty and warming on a cold and rainy Sunday evening.

Of coure I'll still be sharing my illustration work here, but if you want a little nosy into my kitchen habits, as well as some foodie inspiration and pretty pictures, please do pop over to And if you try any of the recipes out, please leave a comment over there to let me know how it went. I've never really written recipes for anyone but myself before, so do tell me if you find any problems. Cheers!

Friday, 15 August 2014

Follow My Travels on Tumblr!

If you follow me on Facebook or Twitter you probably already know that I'm travelling in mainland Europe through August and September. Since my last post we've moved out of Leicester, put all our stuff into storage in my parent's barn, bought ourselves a 13 year old Polo and driven it from the UK to Italy over a period of seven days. Our first stop was Belgium, where we camped in Blankenberge and spent a day wandering around gorgeous Bruges (and sampling the waffles mit kirche) before heading into the German alps for some fossil hunting, fossil museums and camping in the pretty medieval town of Pappenheim. From there we drove into the unbelievably beautiful Swiss town of Lucerne where we camped for the night and then headed into Italy the slow way, via numerous mountain passes, partly to avoid paying the motorway vignette but also because it was much more fun! We're currently staying in the little mountain hamlet of Moglietta, above the town of Amandola, in Italy's stunning Monti Sibillini National Park. We're here for the next couple of weeks, so I'm making the most of the wifi access today and have been posting some of the photos of our travels so far! You can check out my travel blog at and follow me there if you want to see (hopefully) more regular photographic updates of what I'm up to and where I've been, as well as pages from my sketchbook and other gubbins.

In the meantime (because this is what the internet's for, no?) here's a photo of the very colourful lunch we just ate, looking out from the edge of the garden into the Sibillinis. I swear this is the only food photo I've ever taken!  Happy Summertime, all!

                                                                                                                   (c) Becca Thorne 2014

Thursday, 17 July 2014

Mooke & Fylthe for BBC History

This month's BBC History magazine features a "mountain of 'mooke and fylthe'", for which I produced a large, centre page illustration. The article, by Pamela Hartshorne, describes how Tudor householders dealt with their plethora of stinky leavings, covering cesspits, chamberpots, middens, dung heaps and other foetid treats.

                                                                                                                                      (c) Becca Thorne 2014

The article is in the First World War centenary issue, out now.

Thursday, 10 July 2014

A Special Request

I was recently contacted by a very nice lady who'd seen the duvet set I created for my brother and wanted one as a surprise for her husband to go in their newly-redesigned bedroom. I wouldn't normally agree to do this, as the original took blimmin' ages to print, even longer to cure and was, frankly, something of a pain in the arse. Something about Sally though (possibly the fact that all my attempts to dissuade her just seemed to peak her interest more), made me decide to take the job on. She loved the pigs from my brother's set, but also wanted some chickens to tie-in with the wallpaper she'd chosen for her bedroom walls.

I decided to use oil-based ink this time, as the Speedball fabric printing ink I've used before tends to fade after just a few washes, and I wanted to ensure Sally got something that lasts. The problem with that, however, is that I couldn't allow the freshly printed fabric to fold in on itself as it draped over my table in the way I did with the quicker-drying Speedball stuff. I also needed to leave it undisturbed somewhere for a couple of weeks to allow the ink to fully cure. My house is tiny, so in the end I found myself in Rowan's parents' spare bedroom one sunny Saturday, windowsill covered in newsprint and inky blocks, with the dining room table set up in front of the spare bed (and back in one piece after we took its legs off to get it up the stairs), a chair either side to support the printed fabric as I slid it across the table to reach the next section, periodically calling for an assistant to help me carefully move the cover up the bed, until it was finally completely covered in farmyard animals.

By the end of the day the ink proved to be touch dry, so we were able to move it to a clothes rail so it was a little more out of the way and the dining room table was dismantled again and restored it to its rightful spot. The duvet's on its way to its new home now, and I really hope Sally and her husband get years of enjoyment from it!

Tuesday, 8 July 2014

Oxford Lieder Festival: The Schubert Project

Earlier this year I created a whole heap of illustrations for the brochure of the 2014 Oxford Lieder Festival, which is going back to its roots this year and focussing solely on Franz Schubert to deliver the world's first complete performance of his songs.

Working closely with graphic designer Ana Acosta I illustrated two maps and the eleven main brochure pages, combining Schubert's life with modern Oxford.

The festival runs from 10th October - 1st November, with performances of all 650 of Schubert's songs, selected chamber works, four-hand piano music, orchestral works, and opera. There will also be exhibitions, theatre, food & drink, talks, workshops, masterclasses and more, to bring Schubert's Vienna to Oxford.

For more info and to see the brochure in full, visit

Wednesday, 21 May 2014

More Challenger Brand Illustrations for PHD

A couple of years ago I illustrated five of the different types of challenger brand described in PHD's book Overthrow | 10 Ways To Tell A Challenger Story. This week the media agency is presenting the book in Brazil and sharing all ten challenger types on a set of promotional cards, for which they recently asked me to illustrate the remaining five challengers.

                                                                            (c) Becca Thorne 2014 for PHD UK

Above are my four favourites, clockwise from top left: the Game Changer, the Irreverent Maverick, the Real & Human Challenger and the Missionary.

Tuesday, 13 May 2014

Mail Me Art 4 - it's on its way!

I've finally gotten round to finishing and posting my piece for Mail Me Art 4: Open All Hours. This time I decided to try out resingrave, a cheaper alternative to end-grain wood blocks for wood engraving. It's weird, and took some getting used to (it's no lemonwood), but it's definitely worth it for the price difference.

                                                                                                                                                                                 WIP, nearly finished

My ink wasn't too keen on the shiny texture of the postcard, but I think the result's pretty cool. It reminds me of those weird old sci-fi covers.
                                                                                        Like A Moth To A Flame, resingrave print, (c) Becca Thorne 2014

This morning I sent it off to Darren, at the last minute remembering to take the obligatory Post Box Shot (a little self-consciously as there was a man waiting in his car parked right beside the post box).

There's no deadline for submissions yet, so you can still take part if you wish. All you need to do is head to the MMA shop and buy a copy of Mail Me Art: Short & Sweet, where you'll find your postcard and instructions on how to enter (as well as lots of lovely pictures of last year's art)

Find out more here

Friday, 21 March 2014

A Slice of Britain

A few months ago I was commissioned to illustrate A Slice of Britain, a book by Caroline Taggart charting her round-Britain trip in search of all the traditional cakes, sweet pastries and biscuits our little island has to offer.

                                                                                                                                                                             (c) Becca Thorne 2014  Clockwise from top left - Cream Tea, Maids of Honour, Aberffraw Biscuits, Shrewsbury Biscuits, Bara Brith

It features over 60 (scrumptious) recipes based on her findings, interspersed with my little linocuts. I highly recommend the Cumberland Courting Cake - ye olde interwebs came up short on reference material for that one, so I made my own using Caroline's recipe and, my word, it was a tasty treat. I wish I'd had time to make my own reference for all of them.

I've got my eye on the Welsh Cakes too, I miss a decent Welsh cake like I miss a decent pasty - oh the trials of living in the East Midlands (see also; no seaside). To get yourself a copy of A Slice of Britain, head over to The AA Bookshop.

Saturday, 1 February 2014

Happy Chinese New Year!

                                                                                                                                                                   (c) Becca Thorne for YSC

And a (more than a little late) Happy not-Chinese New Year too! I created the above piece for YSC, to be used as an e-card celebrating the new Year of the Horse.

Aside from illustration stuff I've yet to share (I'm very much looking forward to the release of Caroline Taggart's new cakey travel book, A Slice of Britain, which I illustrated - I received my advance copy recently, from AA Lifestyle, and it's fabulous) there are also a few non-illustration bits from last year that I never got round to sharing. I did a lot of them in December and forgot to take proper photos before I wrapped them as Christmas presents, so most of these photos were either kindly taken on camera phones by the recipients or by me as works-in-progress, so please excuse the image quality.

December was busy: I created a new moccasin-style slipper pattern and made these cosy presents, then decided my own slippers, which I crocheted at the start of last year, were wildly inadequate:

Man-sized ones on the left, after a fair bit of wear, and women's on the right, still in production ('scuse the state of my sitting room). I used Erika Knight's lovely Vintage Wool, which is made entirely in Yorkshire, with environmentally friendly techniques.

I learned how to tapestry crochet while I was making these fingerless mittens for my mum, using this gorgeous pattern by Danielle Kassner:

It turned out to be surprisingly easy once I got on with it, though I did use the wrong size wool, so had to reduce the number of stitches in each row. This made them a tad too long in the fingers and a tad too tight around the middle, but the wool is just so soft and cosy it was totally worth it (it's Rowan Alpaca Colour).

 I also designed and block-printed a gorilla T-shirt for my brother...

                                                                                                                                                                        (c) Becca Thorne
and a commemorative "Bowling, Swanny!" tee for Rowan. For all you non-cricket fans, 'Swanny' is an English spin bowler who retired from test cricket just before Christmas. Rowan asked me to make this T-shirt ages ago, so it was now or never. Both are printed on H&M organic cotton tees.

                                                                                                                                                                                    (c) Becca Thorne

Earlier in the year, my brother finally got the tattoo he'd been asking me to design for about three years. He likes gorillas:

                                                                                                                                                                                     (c) Becca Thorne

In allotment news, I finally managed to grow decent-sized celeriacs (which the bugs are taking more than their fair share of, the thieving swine) and had such a glut of berries that I made several batches of gooseberry ice cream, some not-exactly-perfect raspberry & honey frozen yoghurt, raspberry vinegar, a lot of jams and chutneys and my own gooseberry and damson wines (outcome TBA). But, to balance that out, my celery has been more trouble than it's worth and some douchebags broke onto the site and stole all our tools. So, swings-and-roundabouts.

My greatest achievement this year? Learning how to make sourdough bread using the River Cottage Bread Book - I've been making two or three loaves a week ever since. No more crappy shop-bread!

Here's to an enjoyable and delicious 2014 (and some new forks and spades) x

Friday, 31 January 2014

The Dead Box

I take most of my inspiration from nature, and I've always been happiest surrounded by wildlife and countryside - even just watching the leopard slugs that sneak into the kitchen pleases me immensely. When I was little I loved to collect all the intriguing little things that nature seemed to have discarded - snail and sea shells, delicate leaf skeletons, patterned feathers and iridescent butterfly wings, the fuzzy bodies of dead bumble bees... I kept it all in a shoe box, which became known to my family as the Dead Box. I can't remember who christened it, but at one point it even contained a fox's skull, stripped entirely of flesh except for the perfect black nose. I wish I still had it; I think my mum might have seized her opportunity when I left for college and 'lost' it.

My mum told her friends all about my Dead Box over tea and cake while I sat in the garden and recited The Tale of Peter Rabbit to snails. This led to a sort of Dead Box Chinese whispers - a few years ago I saw a guy who had lived down the road from me growing up, and he asked if I'd still got "that box with the dead pigeon in it..."

I promise you, there was no pigeon. I stopped well short of anything fleshy or rotting (aside from anything else, I HATE maggots), but I still have a tendency to photograph dead things when we're out walking. I've built up quite the collection, here are some faves:

                                                                                                                                          Hare's Head, Swithland (c) Becca Thorne

                                                                                                          Sheep's Skeleton, Pembrokeshire (c) Becca Thorne

                                                                                                                             Seal Carcass, Newport Sands (c) Becca Thorne

                                                                                                                                       Dead Gannet, Pwllgwaelod (c) Becca Thorne

I'm particularly fond of the gannet, it's like a Renaissance crucifixion painting. But it's not all dead stuff, here's a nice picture of a garden spider and her beautiful web to prove I'm not a total weirdo (she kept me amused for weeks):

                                                                                                                                                                                       (c) Becca Thorne

But why am I sharing all this? Because I've decided to start a new Dead Box. I doubt I'll ever get anything as good as the fox's skull again, but I love to be able to hold something, to turn it round and round to draw from all perspectives, and get up close with a magnifying glass. You can't be so intrusive with a live animal, and I find all these wonderful creatures hugely inspirational. For ages I've had the body of a gorgeous banded demoiselle damselfly, who died before it's wings could fully unfold, sitting on my shelf, as well as a large yellow underwing moth that fell out of a bag full of old camping stuff from the shed. The other day I added a jet black ichneumon wasp, with perfectly curled antenna, that I found in the kitchen (I think he came in with the Seville oranges). I drew the moth yesterday for a birthday card. Just look at that fuzzy little body!

                                                                                                                                                                    (c) Becca Thorne 2014

Friday, 10 January 2014

21 Cities for

Last year I worked closely with the marketing team at YSC London, creating illustrations to represent each of the 21 cities in which YSC have (or are soon to have) offices. 

The final pieces are now live on YSC's  website (see some of my previous work for them here), and these are some of my favourite deisgns - London, Paris, San Francisco and Melbourne.

You can see the full* series by heading to and hovering over the 'Our Locations' tab in the top right-hand corner of the page. Then simply choose a city!

 *or the almost full series - some of the offices aren't fully open yet!