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Folio illustration agency, established London 1976
 

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Folio illustration agency regularly works with clients to help them commission new illustrations. We work with a broad range of clients, from major international brands producing award-winning advertising campaigns, through magazines and newspapers requiring feature illustrations, to small-scale first-time illustration buyers.

Here will you find examples of our most recent projects - click on the images for larger versions.


John Devolle illustrates booklets for a British Library Exhibit

John Devolle illustrates Make-A-Map guide books for the British Library

John Devolle offers his distinct conceptual style to illustrate the Make-A-Map guide booklets to accompany the Maps and the 20th Century: Drawing the Line exhibit at the British Library. The exhibit will be open to the public until the 1 March 2017. The exhibition focuses on how the past 100 years of mapping technology has shaped the society we live in. We had a chat with John to get his take on the project!

How did you approach this specific job?

I was very excited to be involved on this job as I’m a big fan of the British Library, the building is amazing, but also, over the years I have been to a few of the exhibitions they have and they are always really interesting, they have so much amazing stuff (not just books) in their archives! So when I first found out about the commission, I already had an idea of trying to do something involving the British Library building, even before I had the full brief! Whilst drawing up initial sketches the idea presented itself of making the building more ship-like, seeing as the exhibition was about maps / navigation. It was only after showing this concept to the client that they informed me that the building was originally conceived to be like a ship with the towers and round windows mimicking portholes etc, so the fact that I gave it a crow’s nest was very appropriate. I originally drew up 3 ideas, as seen below. We ended up going with a combination of ideas 1 and 2, so I worked up a more finished rough, also shown below! From there, I actually began on the final artwork.

Were you given much direction or did you have free conceptual reign?

I was given quite a free reign, and luckily they went with my first idea, pretty much. Once we agreed on the basic concept they pitched in some ideas for what details to include, they didn’t want to focus too much on old fashioned ideas of navigation so we needed to include some more contemporary and futuristic things, hence the rocket and the car being added.

How was this job different than others?

Every job is different! But this was a particularly fun one, and its always nice when the client like your ideas and lets you run with them, so in that way it was a very straight forward job, but is was nice to be involved in something like this, the exhibition itself is amazing! Everyone should go check it out.

Any other general thoughts on the project?

Just want to send a special thanks to John Overeem at the Births Library for Art direction and layout design.

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Posted: 22-Nov-16   //   Permalink   //   Top

Owen Davey iIllustrates Directory of Illustration #33

Owen Davey illustrates cover and inner spreads for Directory of Illustration

We are very proud to announce that Owen Davey was the selected feature artist to create artworks for the cover, endpapers, title page, and contents page of the Directory of Illustration #33. As always, Owen did not disappoint in bringing his creative expertise to the project. The annual book consists of work by professional illustrators to be sent out to art directors around the world. We had a chat with Owen to get some insight in to the project, here’s what he had to say.

How did you approach this specific job?

I was given this years DOI theme which was ‘Make Them Look’ and decided to explore this idea as much as I could to try and find a narrative I could explore over the several pages I had to Illustrate. I focused on the ‘look’ element quite early on and had a vague recollection of a mythical creature with lots of eyes; something that would both be weird and cool to see (make people look) and also have lots of angles to ‘look’ from. When I found the Ancient Greek story of Argus who had one hundred eyes and his task to look after lo, his secret lover, I thought it was an awesome tale and something I could really play around with. I took inspiration from the approach of ancient Greek artwork on pottery for the endpapers, using only a combination of an off-black, an orange, and an off-white.

How was this job different than other?

I wasn’t really given much of a brief, and I was free to explore more of what I wanted to do. It’s been a while since I had a personal project, so I wanted to make the most of it, and draw the stuff I like drawing most.

What was the initial thought process behind the cover idea?

I wanted to start the story of Argus and lo in the middle, so that the cover would be intriguing to grab attention, but not necessarily give everything away about what this story was. Most people won’t ever have heard the story anyway, so I just wanted to create some form of ambiguous narrative for people to explore.

Any other general thoughts on the project?

I’m really proud of the results. I think I’m going to have to do some more work on Ancient Greek fables when I next have some free time.

Be sure to check out more of his work for the book below!

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Posted: 21-Nov-16   //   Permalink   //   Top

Maïté Franchi illustrates Pop-Quiz Les Saints

Maïté Franchi illustrates newest French Pop-Quiz Card Collection on Les Saints

Maïté Franchi’s charming digital style can be seen in her newest illustrations for the French publishing company MamE. Pop Quiz: Les Saints cards feature unique illustrations paired with a description about each saint. Each box contains 30 cards to be enjoyed by family or friends. Maïté, a French native herself, expertly illustrates images that symbolize each saint represented in the deck of cards.

Test your knowledge of the saints and check out Maïté’s wonderful illustrations!

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Posted: 14-Nov-16   //   Permalink   //   Top

Olivia Knapp illustrates for Pears Soap

Olivia Knapp creates hand drawn illustrations and animations for Pears Soap

Olivia Knapp offers her talent for crafting intricate, hand drawn crosshatched illustrations to Pears Soap’s newest advertorial campaign. The project was commissioned by creative agency Adam & Eve for Pears Soap. Olivia uses a combination of inked dots and lines to create detailed illustrations such as the ones for Pears Soap.

Pears Soap has been considered “the soap of London since 1807”. Olivia’s handcrafted paired perfectly with the essence of the handcrafted, authentic British soap. Olivia’s intriguing illustrations reflect Pears statement that “for 200 years we have held on to crafting Pears with care to give you a soap that is pure & gentle on your skin.”

Olivia thoroughly enjoyed working on the campaign. She explained, “It was the first opportunity to put my work into animation, which was really exciting!! Our goal for the campaign was to highlight the craftsmanship and care of these heritage projects. It was really important that the line quality felt soft, to support this idea of “gentleness”.” Using illustrator, she did a custom live trace and then used custom brushes to recreate any areas that were lost in the live trace. A tedious process, but definitely worth it! Well done Olivia!

Check out some of the amazing work below!

Olivia Knapp Pears Soap from Folio on Vimeo.

Olivia Knapp Pears Soap from Folio on Vimeo.

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Posted: 14-Nov-16   //   Permalink   //   Top

Alexander Wells illustrates Isaac Asimov’s I,Robot

Alexander Wells illustrates new edition of Isaac Asimov’s I,Robot for The Folio Society Christmas Collection!

Alexander Well’s offers his unique and vibrant style to illustrate the graphics for a new print edition of the classic novel for The Folio Society’s Christmas Collection 2016. I, Robot is a collection of nine science fiction short stories by Isaac Asimov and explores the complex world of robotics. The futuristic, sci-fi style of writing pairs well with Alexander’s comic illustration background.

Alexander utilizes a mix of traditional and digital mediums to create detailed visuals that are spread throughout the novel and on the cover. Check out some of the illustrations below and get your copy of the book out now!

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Posted: 7-Nov-16   //   Permalink   //   Top

Muti Illustrates for The Guardian

Muti Muti designs maps to be released in The Guardian

South African creative studio Muti has designed a set of maps in collaboration with Destination Canada and The Guardian to promote tourism and knowledge of what Canada’s major cities have to offer. The maps center around cities such as Montreal, Toronto, Vancouver and Calgary. Muti’s sleek and modern design style was perfect for bringing vibrancy and life to the city maps of Canada.

The idea behind the maps was a collaborative effort between The Guardian and Destination Canada. The elements of each unique illustration were inspired with the help of John Quilter, a food blogger who dedicated months to travelling across Canada, eating, sight seeing, and blogging. There are 7 maps in total, each aiming to promote Canada’s tourism and give people a snapshot of what it would be like to visit some of their major cities. The maps highlight places of interest, activities, and restaurants.

We had a chat with Muti to get their perspective on the project. Here’s what they had to say!

How did you decide to approach this specific job?

A starting point was the stylistic approach to the two main map elements: characters and buildings. We kept the buildings geometric, simplified and stylized yet still recognisable. The characters have more of an organic shape and movement to them, making the piece as a whole more relatable and dynamic.

Can you elaborate on your choice of colour palette?

The client requested a bright and fun colour palette, which we maintained throughout. We wanted the maps to feel vibrant and exciting to look at. We took a natural approach to land and sea – areas that were largely city were kept in a neutral grey, whilst trees were kept in a lush green.

Any other general thoughts on the project?

Having several maps to illustrate in the same style and same colour palette can be quite challenging. We started by creating elements that could be carried across all maps, but found a way to add humour and interest so that each map could be able to stand alone as a unique piece.

The high quality maps will be published weekly in the Guardian’s weekend supplements. All 7 colorful illustrations will be paired with detailed itineraries of what can be done in a day in each city. Be sure to check them out each weekend and get inspired to plan your next vacation!

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Posted: 28-Oct-16   //   Permalink   //   Top

FOLIO TURNS 40!!!

Nick began life as an illustration agent when he started working for Andy Archer in 1971.

Andy had previously spent five or six years selling space in Queen magazine to ad agencies – he was good at sales and had ad agency contacts. Andy set himself up as an agent and took Nick on, teaching him how to hustle on behalf of the artists. Nick had been introduced to Andy by his good friend, the artist George Underwood, who Andy represented. Nick was fascinated when watching George draw and paint works such as the early Marc Bolan album covers and was happy to get to know other talented artists as an agent. At the time, Andy was part of London’s legendary bohemian scene centred around the French House and the Colony Room in Soho – Nick became the Colony’s youngest member and when there he was introduced to many of the leading musicians and artists of the time, including Francis Bacon and Lucien Freud.

With five years of experience under his belt, Nick struck out on his own and founded Folio 26th October 1976. There were still just a handful of agencies in the UK at the time and Folio is the only one that continues in its original form; run by its founder.

After a year in a basement shop in Edgeware, in 1977 Folio moved to Lincoln’s Inn Fields, where its studio office was furbished with plan-chest drawers, transparency holders and state-of-the-art lighting and ample flat surfaces – not to mention, of course, a bar. Every Friday, art buyers and artists from across the country would come together at Folio studios to socialise and check out the latest artworks. Folio is still based in the same venue today – see office photo. For a period, several artists were based at Folio and would habitually work through the night to meet deadlines – the office became known locally as ‘the lighthouse’.

In a pre-digital time, all work was physical. The artists worked on paper, artboard or canvas. Every work that came through the office was photographed on 5x4 transparencies and stored. If you called an artist, such as Paul Hogarth, and they were in middle of a watercolour wash, they couldn’t be interrupted. A1 portfolios were lugged around or carefully packaged for shipment. In order for clients to see the work, it had to be couriered to them, whether they were in London, elsewhere in the UK or overseas. Amendments were a huge effort; if they were required, not only did the artist need to find a way to redraw the artwork but the physical object also needed to be couriered back to the artist – and then the process began again. Oil paintings took five days to dry, but deadlines were tight that they would have to be packed in deep frames for shipping while the paint was still wet. Nick would spend many a night waiting on train platforms for the Red Star Express with the work. Twice works fell onto the tracks and were run over by trains, and one internationally couriered artwork even arrived with an aircraft tyre print running across it!

In the early days, the artists themselves always had highly developed drawing skills, usually born from hours of life-drawing, and this talent meant that they could handle any kind of job. Today’s artists are often more developed in terms of graphic techniques. What has kept Nick in the business is the love of seeing the artworks created. He has worked with Royal Academicians and D&AD Black Pencil award winners, trend-setters and innovators. In his pre-Folio days working for Andy Archer, Nick even worked with Salvador Dalí – not an easy artist to commission!

Folio has always tried to find new ways to promote itself, whether that it is through the DoI, events or, more recently, through the web and online social media. The importance of self-promotion was impressed upon Nick by his mentor Andy, who once concluded a presentation at JWT by unveiling a freestanding life-size picture of himself which he then left behind so that the art directors would remember who to call whenever they needed to commission artwork.

One of the principles that Folio was founded on was the protection of the artists. It used to be that artists had to sign the back of the cheques they received from publishers, and this signature was an agreement to sign away the copyright of their works. The AoI was founded by illustration agents, Nick included, in order to protect artists so that they didn’t have to sign away the copyright of their works, amongst other things. While that battle seemed to have been won, the situation is beginning to regress again now, as clients increasingly expect copyright buyout or perpetual worldwide use, or want artwork delivered in digital layers so that they can adjust it themselves or merge in other imagery, thus throwing the issue of the artists copyright and moral rights into question.

The longevity of Folio is down to its willingness to refresh itself with new talent, even from its early days – new artists are taken on all the time, bringing novel techniques, new ideas and fresh eyes. Folio has always prided itself on working with originators: ‘often imitated, never duplicated’.

All photos taken by Dick Jordan.

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Posted: 25-Oct-16   //   Permalink   //   Top

New Portfolio Update!

James Gilleard debut’s new portfolio style!

Out with the old, in with the new! James Gilleard is hitting the refresh button and taking his illustrative style in a whole new direction. Still drawing from his experience living in Japan, his new portfolio features a mix of landscapes, architecture, technology, and characters.

Each illustration is bursting with vibrant colors and amazing texture. James experiments with geometric shapes and futuristic ideas to create unique and inspiring illustrations. We are very excited for this new stylistic direction and what it has to offer in today’s creative world.

Be sure to check out James’ fantastic new work!

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Posted: 21-Oct-16   //   Permalink   //   Top

Roger Watt Exhibiting in London

Roger Watt exhibits latest works at Plus One Gallery

Plus One Gallery hosted an official opening show on Tuesday, September 20th to celebrate their relocation to Battersea Reach. The gallery's main focus is on the promotion of British and international contemporary hyperrealist art. The show displayed an amazing collection of works by many talented artists.

Folio was extremely pleased to hear that Roger Watt's illustrations of the underground were displayed in the opening show. Roger is a graphite artist who uses only pencil and paper to create photorealistic images. His illustrations, including those part of Going Underground, highlight his amazing technical competence and attention to detail.

The exhibition will run from the 21st of September - 15th October. Be sure to check it out and have a look at some awesome artwork!

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Posted: 23-Sep-16   //   Permalink   //   Top

ESPN Pin Kings

Alexander Wells illustrates ESPN’s Pin King

Alexander Wells offers his bold and unique style to create thought-provoking images for ESPN’s story titled ‘Pin Kings’. Wells mixes digital and traditional mediums to produce striking images that are always sure to impress; and his work for ‘Pin Kings’ is proof of this!

‘Pin Kings’ is an unbelievable story about two childhood wrestling teammates, Kevin Pedersen and Alex DeCubas. The story follows Kevin, wrestler turned DEA agent, and Alex, wrestler turned drug smuggler, as they navigate a cocaine war from opposing sides.

The exciting twists and turns of the story are brought to life by the dramatic visuals expertly crafted by Wells. Wells describes his illustrations as dynamic, digital, and caffeinated, and that is exactly what we’d call his work for ‘Pin Kings’. Check out a few of his striking images below!

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Posted: 12-Sep-16   //   Permalink   //   Top

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