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Folio illustration agency, established London 1976


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.

Michael Parkin's Latest Creations

Michael Parkin illustrates parody fishing magazine

Michael Parkin shows his playful side with his newest illustrations. The vibrant illustrations display his never-failing energy and ability to create texture. We had a short chat with Michael to get his take on the project. See what he has to say below and check out the awesome illustrations!

What was the inspiration behind this project?

At the beginning of the year I got a commission for Times Higher Education for an article about the dumbing down of University courses, and how some lecturers are now making comparisons between classic art/literature and modern pop culture in an attempt to appeal to students. This sparked a thought in my brain that ended up producing a mash up of classic art and gossip magazines - which the Art Director liked and I worked up to a final for the magazine.


I really enjoyed thinking up the fake headlines on the magazines and giving myself freedom to write anything, which led to me taking it further and writing my own small gossip magazine called 'Blab'. At the time I was looking for something a bit different to send out as promo material to Art Directors and thought this would fit the bill. The project was turned around quite quickly, and whilst there are bits I would definitely change, I enjoyed the whole process immensely. It was featured on It's Nice That and was well received, so I decided to work on another. 

This time I have picked a fishing magazine to parody in my own way, and am taking longer on it so that it will hopefully have more pages and be a bit better finished. I am maybe half way through as I write this, although ideas keep flying to mind so it is getting bigger and bigger!

How did you first approach it?

The project has been in my mind for quite a long time, so ideas gradually formed and I had quite a bit planned out before I had even started work on it. I generally form as much of the idea as I can and whilst I am still excited about it I start work on the illustration for each section. As these come together a layout starts to make sense in my head and I can work to the space available. I have pretty much sorted the cover (although the article titles need to maybe go on there at some point) and a few articles are also ready. I regularly bounce ideas off my friends Dan and Ed who are really helpful in telling me whether what I have is rubbish, or showing me a new direction I could take things in. 

Once all of the illustration is done I will work up the copy and then move on to tweaking and laying everything out ready for print. The project is quite drawn out in terms of time, as I am also working around commissioned work and other bits and pieces - but I hope to get it all finalised before January...

How was this project different than others?

I guess the most similar project to this would be a graphic novel I worked on for my Final assessment at university. It was a long process that required me to plan it all out and work it all up over time. Since making that I have fallen more in to editorial illustration (which I love), and that usually involves a tight deadline so I am used to working quickly and getting an illustration finished and signed off in a short time window. The magazines are different in that it takes a long time to put it all together and whilst I enjoy it, I do also find myself itching to get it all done quickly so I can see the final piece. This is partly why Blab was a bit rushed, and I am allowing myself as much time as I need to make this one (Sweet Breams) to a better standard. It will be used as promo material after all, and I want to reflect the best of my work in one booklet.

Any other general thoughts?

I was chatting to a friend about this the other day, and was explaining how much I enjoy making these magazines. He really enjoys reading them, and I mentioned that I might try and make it a biannual thing, which will hopefully grow over time. I am going to get more of Sweet Breams printed that I did for Blab, which will allow me to send a bunch out and also to sell some for a good price online - hopefully funding the next one! I think I am going to choose a different genre of magazine for each print run, to keep things fresh and fun - and there is definitely a rich variety to choose from. Maybe the next one will be horses or trains, or caravans or knitting...

I really hope people enjoy the magazine as much as I enjoy making them. I think there is a lot of serious and often scary reading material around and my aim is to provide a bit of nonsensical respite from that. 

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Posted: 5-Dec-16   //   Permalink   //   Top

Rebecca Mock Illustrates League of Legends for Passion Pictures

Rebecca Mock illustrates for League of Legends Trailer

Rebecca Mock lends her comic illustration expertise to Passion Picture’s animated video for Riot Games. The video is a creative collaboration between Zedd, a record producer, DJ, and musician, Passion Pictures, and Riot Games to promote the 2016 League of Legions Worlds. League of Legends is a multiplayer online battle video game developed by Riot Games. Rebecca’s work can be seen at the end of the promotional music video. As usual, Rebecca successfully brings exciting perspective on space, colour, and scene. League of Legends is one of the most played PC games in the world, so we are incredibly excited to announce that Rebecca played a part in the process!

We had a chat with Rebecca about her creative process and her thoughts on this project. Check out what she said below, and be sure to watch the video and see the magic for yourself!

How did you decide to approach this specific job?

This was a treat for me--the job was to paint two viewpoints of an imagined, sun-drenched, cozy bedroom, which is basically everything I love to do. I collected images of interior paintings and background paintings I loved, and thought about what bedrooms I'd love to send my time in, and how I'd decorate them.

How was this job different than others?

I was given a lot of freedom after the initial concept was decided. The clients were very good about explaining the details they needed to be clear, and then I was set loose. The images themselves needed to be very detailed and hi-def, while usually I've working on pieces that need to be simple or small.

Any other general thoughts on the project?

I was asked to paint these very quickly, considering the level of detail. All this meant was that I painted them mostly start-to-finish in one sitting. I built the whole image up at once instead of cutting it into chunks, which allows for an easier flow when painting. It had been a while since I'd painted a background-style image, and so I had missed painting in this style!

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Posted: 2-Dec-16   //   Permalink   //   Top

Bodil Jane Illustration Featured by UNICEF

Bodil Jane illustrates pollution for UNICEF

UNICEF took to social media to start a conversation on the detrimental impact of air pollution, with a specific emphasis on young children. Through their Instagram account, the works poignantly illustrate climate change’s harmful effects on today’s children. Our wonderfully talented Bodil Jane was one of the artists featured in the project. Bodil was excited for the opportunity to use her artwork to make a statement for UNICEF. Here’s what she had to say about the project.

What were your thoughts on working with such an open brief?

I love it! I had a lot of different ideas for this project. It was quiet a hard subject though, so sad… And I wanted to communicate it in a more playful way instead of drawing a depressing picture. I think this one is still not very happy, but I think the monkey makes it cuter.

How did you initially approach this project?

I asked for some extra information and facts about pollution, but actually I already had some ideas before receiving those details. I think the numbers didn't really matter for this illustration: it's more of my personal interpretation of the subject and the sadness about it. I wanted to show something that we definetely don't want for the future kids: wearing a helmet/bubble to protect them from pollution.

What was your favourite part of the project?

Going to the final illustration! I've been looking for inspirational pictures of kids and pollution. I think it's reallllly hard to draw children, that's why I choose to do a young girl. And I wanted her to be Indian since there's really bad pollution there.

How has social media played a part in the development of the illustration?

Well, because I wanted the illustration to draw a lot of attention (for the subject) I made sure it was a strong image with a center composition (that really helps for social media - Instagrammers love things that are symmetrical). Also, a lot going on and a lot to see, people seem to like that (is what I learned from my own followers) and a square size. So, it did play a big role in choosing composition and size.


The project was also shared on UNICEF’s twitter, It’s Nice That and Medium.com. Check out some campaign images below and head over to UNICEF’s social media to see for yourself!

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

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


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

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