The story of a paperchase notebook that turned into a …


One day an enthusiastic inky illustrator pottered into a certain stationary store whilst venturing on a weekend retreat to Leamington spa.  It was after pottering out of such a store with a small purchase that sparked a bit of creative thought for a rather inky project.

IMG_20140811_155450It all started with the blank cover of a Kraft paper chase notebook , sure on the outside it might seem a little plain  with nothing going for it but really if you look deeply you’ll find that this blank little book’s got endless potential.


Home with me this little notebook came and using a bit of “imagination”  and a pen in hand one can create something that can’t be bought off the shelf ( though who knows it could be a shelf filler one day).


Not thinking too much into what is drawn the aim was to be brave and daring to draw straight from such an imagination onto a little blank page without the guidance of a pencil that we often fall to for safety ( who likes to make mistakes!). I dared to use that very imagination because that’s what it’s there for, its unique , one of a kind and bespoke to the illustrator the holder of the pen.


What becomes of such a little notebook you say ? Well it all depends on where the nib of a pen takes me ,  it could have turned into an inky woodlands in which we become lost in wonder or immersed within the depths of a floral garden where its inhabitants flutter and float around really who knows.


Just maybe I’ll begin making more of these inky cover notebooks what do you guys think? If you had a blank sketchbook what would you doodle on the cover? 

Kate x

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One positive awesome thing out of pursuing a freelance creative career

The other day I was pottering about my email inbox when I noticed I’d received an email from Alex Mathers over at the Red Lemon Club and if you haven’t heard of it, the Red Lemon Club  is a place of great illustration and creative industry tips and advice written by Alex himself (or Ape On The Moon) so be sure to check it out.

Anyway back to the point. In his email, he asked the reader to “Tell me one positive, awesome thing about what you’ve experienced so far working for yourself.” and so I did. I put together my little blog-posty like email and popped it on over to him. Despite the many emails alex has no doubt received I wanted to send mine along and here is what I wrote ;


Hello there Red Lemon Club or Alex  :) ,

My name’s Kate Leonard and I’m an inky illustrator based all the way in Staffordshire Uk, I started out my creative journey to be a freelance illustrator in 2013, as well as, a creative blog writer. So primarily I offer a service through my little creative business. Though at the moment, I am still quite small. Starting out on my creative journey was both a terribly scary and exciting venture. The prospect of going freelance self-employed and not quite knowing where my journey may lead or the stability  I might find, was again, one of those factors that either makes you stand by your passion or give it all in. However, I’m not one to give up so easily, so I went for it.

I’ve been running just under 12 months now. And to answer your question of “ one positive, awesome thing about what you’ve experienced so far working for yourself.” I’d have to say that being in the driving seat of where my business is going is the most positive experience I’ve come across during my creative venture. I am in control of which path I take, and the decisions I make. As in the past, like many, I’ve come across dictator’s and discouragement at pursuing art as a career. Being in control of my career is refreshing without feeling I have anything limiting me or holding me back at all. The decisions I’ve made so far have enabled me to meet many talented creative people, sprouted future collaborative projects, acquired funding for my start-up business, develop my skills, build a blog reader community, found mentoring relationships and grown some portfolio illustration projects.
Though being self-employed isn’t peachy, I won’t lie. It’s easy to look at a successful illustrator and admire all their achievements, but failing to realise they went through the early struggles and obstacles like I’m experiencing myself. For me, the financial instability has been one big obstacle (I am far from rolling in it I have my ” cinderella job” during the day in which no one understand’s my passion and I’m an illustrator/ writer by night ). My second struggle was the amount of time / committment you need to put into the business. Though it can really take it out of you, I keep telling myself it will definitely be worthwhile.
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If any aspiring freelancer can truly see the heart of their business and the talent they have yet to share I don’t think they should let anything stop them from achieving all aspirations and dreams they may have inside. Yes, it’s scary. A lot of changes in life are, but if I hadn’t of taken the steps I did this time last year and had settled for a career I didn’t love to do every day, I would have felt I’d seriously let myself , my talent , family and dreams down.
My passion is in my illustrating and writing. I illustrate my passion and blog about it to then share inspirations with like-minded people who read it and build relationships with them to also learn their stories. I truly want to improve my business and have a list of dream clients I’m scared to approach. I can do big amazing things , I’m sure of it, but I’m just sometimes unsure how to get there and may require a positive boot up the butt along the way.
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You can find out more about my inky doodles at my website and blog I’m also a blogger for the Illustration Friday blog, which keeps me busy aswell. Anyway, thank you for all the inspiring and advice filled articles Alex. I hope this little email just so happens to help yours.
Many thanks and appreciation from an inky illustrator,
Kate Leonard
So the question is what’s your positive to being your own boss ? :) or what will be a positive when you take that leap?


My #makeartthatsells bootcamp experience

Hey everyone,

So sadly my “make art that sell’s boot camp” experience has come to an end , time has completely flown by since my eager excitement at the start of the course back in February 2014 this year. Before more months fly by since my time on mats I thought I’d reminisce and blog a little bit about the whole  MATS bootcamp experience to share with you all , whether your intrigued or want to pursue it yourselves in the future.

Bare in mind though this is what I’ve learned and how I’ve developed and felt on the course along the way, everyone’s experience and development will be different but no doubt a positive one :).

1-MATS 1

What I set out to do in the beginning?

In the beginning of the make art that sells boot camp we were simply asked to think of three things we wanted to achieve through the course.  My personal aspirations were to;

  • Build my portfolio
  • Better my understanding and skills
  • Meet new people

What I’ve learned? 

  1. Share your talent – Before I took mats I realise now I was extremely shy about sharing my art with others , in real life I’m quite shy but mats has taught me to share what I do from the smallest of doodles to the most detailed pieces whether good or bad.
  2. Don’t think of the end product – I’m not the only guilty one of this but thinking of your end product before you’ve even drawn anything cramps the creative process and in turn causes procrastination. So what’s the cure? Have fun with your art, draw motifs and doodle as much as you want and slowly but surely your developed compositions begin to form.
  3. Talk to others – I realised talking about my problems in terms of creative stuff, whether formatting problems, photoshop, scanning or simply just tips with a composition helped a lot. Understand yes you need to know these things yourself and work independently but it’s ok to ask a creative friend for help to.


1-MATS 2

What has been my favourite project during mats ? 

I have to say that without a doubt ” the cuckoo bird project” which was our very first boot camp project has to be my most favourite of all the briefs ( even though due to a bit of water and paddling about in my studio I was unable to finish the last two dangnit :( ). Though despite I’ve learned that the woodlands and its occupants that dwell within it , along with a few flower’s dotted here and there are really where my inky skills are at their best. Even though it was cool to challenge myself and experiment differently with themes , colours and briefs I feel that I’ve found my niche.

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What  will I take from my boot camp experience ?

A bunch of new creative friends who share the same passions and love for a creative life as I do, being an illustrator can be really isolating work and though you can become absorbed in your own space nothing really beat’s having someone to laugh and share your creative thought’s with. For me this has been a learning curve and for those of you who are wanting to learn about yourself creatively, grow and meet new like-minded people then I’d give it ago .

Kate x

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Ways of finding and building your own creative experience




Starting out as a young creative is tough because in the beginning things can be both nerve wrecking and exciting at the same time because you’re doing something you love but you’re not sure whether you’ll do it 100% right . For me my creative venture has all been about trial and error, no doubt its that way for many very talented established creatives today :) but where would they be without their own creative experience?

Although I’ve drawn since I was two years old, I experienced my very first illustration project at the age of 16-17 creating illustrations for a children’s book project with an author . It helped me in so many ways such as gaining that insight into how things were done, how I was to communicate with my client , managing my time and editing the work into finished pieces and its this experience that put me on the path I’m on today .

So here I’ve put together a few tips on gathering creative experience to help build up your understanding of your creative practice;

  • Putting your work out there is a start , there are student websites such as who allow students to apply for job availabilities or briefs for projects to help develop and gain their experience in their practice. This is a website I used previously when I was younger and its a good place to build my portfolio.
  • Applying for competitions is a great way of experiencing working to an industry brief and deadline , applying your own style and skills to a chosen theme for a company brief. Websites such as Tiger print and spoon flower release monthly creative competitions and briefs that you can submit for with also a possibility of winning prizes and such .
  • Attending creative seminars though different in a practical sense is another great way of gaining industry experience by listening to those who work within it. I attended a creative seminar held in Coventry back in 2013 for illustrators, there I got to listen to spokesmen for both a magazine publisher , creative agent and a freelance illustrator called Luke Brookes whose also based in Staffordshire uk.

Remember books and education though they’re good can only take you so far, I used to think that having lots of books by my side and putting in the hours would make me a pro and though it can help it’s actually doing it that helps you progress and learn .

I hope this helped some of you wanting to get started in building your own creative experience because through this little post I wanted to share with you how I built up bits of my understanding. If you’ve got any questions just pop over a comment and I’ll be sure to get back to you :).


Kate x

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Sketchbook sneak peak #makeartthatsells and an inky update


Hey everyone ,

What a drama the month of june has been , whether those of you have noticed this month has been a tad quiet on my little inky blog front but there is a good reason for that I can assure you. No I wasn’t saving the world with batman, sailing across the pacific or anything extravagant like that quite the opposite though in not so many words you could say my studio resembled that of an ocean.


Without going into detail that little hiccup was the reason for my disappearance and temporary two-week holiday from my inky doodling ( oh how I’ve missed you). To make things worse I missed my Make art that sells boot camp deadline so sadly all I have to show for my june project is my deep-sea doodles you see here.


On a brighter note though things could have been a lot worse , so my plan from here on out is to rescue what’s left of my studio , get back onto my blog writing both here and at illustration friday and continue to share with you more inky doodles minus the soggyness. More to come soon though guys so watch this space and I’m eager to get back checking out your creative works and wonder’s aswell!



Kate x

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3 things my golden retrievers taught me


Working from home every week can get a bit lonely at times though often when I feel that way I happen to notice something golden and fluffy lay by the desk under my feet.

I’m lucky enough to have three fluffy golden’s that keep me and my family company throughout the day, though being a thinker despite them being apart of our family my golden’s have actually taught me a thing or two .

  1. It’s ok to lie in the sun and do nothing now and again ( housework can wait)
  2. Get to know  somebody you never quite know what “treats” are in store if you do ( you know like bacon stripes, chewy milky bones and all that good stuff ;) ) .
  3. Don’t pick faults in yourself  and be happy with how you are , even if you completely miss the frisbee you still attempted to catch it, give everything your all and are willing to try again.

My golden retrievers though they are extremely fluffy, steal my socks, drool on my leg whilst I eat biscuits and prevent me from ever wearing black I love them to pieces.  It’s surprising how much you can learn from something so slobbery and small don’t you think?  :)

Kate x

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