Incremental improvements

I wanted to write a little just to encourage any creatives out there to keep persevering in doing what you love. Since 2013 I have had the incredible privilege of being able to give a great deal of time to growing and learning in illustration. Up to that time I had been working as a lawyer, but spending what free time I could spare from family and church life drawing.

It mainly started with sketching on the train to and from work after my brother (himself a talented artist) gave me a sketchpad and pens one birthday. From a hobby to kill time on the way to the office it grew into something I wanted to do even when I wasn’t stuck in a train carriage. There’s a handful of my drawings below.

‘Duck on a crowded train’ remains one of my all time favourites

Drawn on the train, but I didn’t actually ride the Hogwarts express to work

Just to reassure you that it wasn’t all gold…

Around 2012 I got interested in illustrating digitally. I bought a Wacom Bamboo tablet, essentially a flat grey surface connected to your computer – you draw on it with the included pen, and the cursor on your pc screen follow the pen’s movements – it also registers how hard you are pressing to try and mimic the feel of drawing by hand. I enjoyed drawing, but my motives were also largely mercenary – various sites offered the opportunity to profit from illustration, and I got particularly into, a t shirt site that sources its designs from artists all over the world, sending in illustrations every week in the hope of being picked and getting some sales commissions back in return.

While I never really saw much success, that motivation gave me a huge push to keep illustrating. I learnt a great deal from other artists there, and submitted over 150 designs across a number of years. Even if you’re not doing formal training, practicing something for hundreds of hours will have a marked effect on your ability. Here’s the first design I ever submitted, titled ‘the adventures of tin tin’. I still maintain it’s a worthwhile pun.

The adventures of tin tin

The quality of illustration however leaves a little to be desired, particularly compared with what some of the other artists are producing there. Here are some of my later illustrations from my time there:

Likewise, in 2013 I was made redundant and left wondering what to do with my career. I applied for a number of jobs as a lawyer, but without success despite some seemingly promising leads. At the same time my wife and I thought that if I was going to try and make anything from illustration, it would be worth setting up a website for a portfolio. To give people a reason to keep coming back, we decided to host a comic on the site as well, and we gave it a memorable name so that it might stick in the mind – one legged kiwi. The first comic I ever posted looked like this (it seems to have gotten lost from the archive at some point):

I then posted 3 comics a week for the better part of a year, dropping to 2 comics a week, then 1, before largely tailing off in 2015. I also started a second comic, Anchor Lines, which updated once a week for some time. Although not updating as often as I would like – other commitments and projects mean I don’t have the same time to spare – those comics, and having a regular deadline forced me to create a significant amount of work. That output, although wearing at times, most definitely brings with it an improvement in quality over time as you learn and practice. The most recent comics on the site were posted almost two years ago:

Jurassic World: the tv series - episode 5

Since that time I’ve been working on a couple of self published books – one you can see here, and the other is still under wraps. I will share one image from it that may not make the final cut:

As I look at what I’m drawing now, it seems a far cry from my first efforts. I can look at other artists and see that they might yet be streets ahead of me in style, composition, ability, but I am very pleased with the work I’m producing. And although I can see a noticeable difference in the end product, it’s not been a tremendous length of time – 5 or so years of consistent practice.

Many won’t have the advantage I have had, in being able to focus on illustration without juggling another career, but the point is the same – if you care about doing something enough to keep practicing, keep learning, keep going for it – improvement will steadily come.

I’d love to see some before/after samples of other people’s creative endeavours – if you’d like to share any examples of your work from early on alongside something more recent, you can find me on twitter at @kiwihopper, or on facebook at – and if you’d like to commission me to draw something for you, get in touch through the contact page!

We’ve made a book!

Apologies for a lack of activity at One Legged Kiwi these last few months – I’ve been very hard at work illustrating a book – which is at long last available to buy.

The book is a beautiful poem written by Stef Liston from Revelation Church in London, all about Jesus. I was deeply moved the first time I heard it, and I think that’s come across in the illustrations. Essentially, it’s a lyrical, graphic way of explaining why we’re so crazy about him. If you’re a believer, I hope it will fan your passion for Jesus into greater flame. If you’re not a Christian, or you’re not sure what you believe, then I hope it will at least say something of why we think this Jesus so worthy of our time and affection. Also, you can enjoy the pictures!

You can get a copy at my site Anchor Lines through this link, or you can also order through Amazon – although shipping seems to get more expensive through there.

Jurassic World: The TV Series – Episode 10

A dramatic denouement to our hero’s airborne escapades! It seems as though perhaps narwhal and the friendly mosasaur haven’t come out all too well in this particular encounter, but it didn’t seem like they were having that good of a time anyway.

I should clarify that the oversized explosion is entirely reasonable from a scientific point of view. The plummeting tryannomoth’s velocity alone guaranteed a certain release of kinetic energy upon his impact. Add to that two crucial factors: 1) dinosaur hybrids are, as a necessary part of their production, composed largely of highly unstable nuclear isotopes – even at the best of times they are capable of high yield detonation (another reason why they are often considered unsuitable for use in a family oriented dinosaur theme park) and 2) our nautical friends are (were) swimming above a rich, just-barely-subterranean vein of natural gas. Needless to say, the kiwi was at all times entirely ignorant of the above information, with the baby on the fishing line in fact serving to mastermind the majority of the operation.

Jurassic World: The TV Series – Episode 9

To clarify, a baby on a stick should only ever be used in a tyrannosaurus rex/moth hybrid situation. It would be both ineffective and unethical in just about every other situation, and One Legged Kiwi in no way condones the use of a baby on a stick for any such circumstances. I understand that, even confined to this extremely narrow range of usage, some people still find objection to this particular application of a newborn attached to a fishing line. My answer to their objections is straightforward – look how well it’s working! That dinomoth is going nuts for that proverbial carrot. I’m not going to say that the end justifies the means, but hey, come on, this is just going better than anyone could have hoped. An actual carrot would not have lent itself nearly so well to this scenario. Plus that baby is having a whale of a time. Swaddled up, warm and cosy, wind in its hair – perhaps the nip of altitude even soothing its teething pains. Let’s put aside our preconceptions, and just see how things play out from here.


Jurassic World: The TV Series – Episode 8

If there’s one way to drive a tyrannosaur/moth hybrid, it’s with a baby on a fishing pole.

Jurassic World: The TV Series – Episode 7

Things are getting hairy in Jurassic Park. It is sort of uncharacteristic of the kiwi to lend a hand to another person if there is even a remote chance of it costing him anything. His one weakness however, is his natural avian obsession with twitter. If you ever want to get a bird to do anything for you, promise it some retweets. Little guys are even more nuts for that than they are for seeds and fat balls.

Jurassic World: The TV Series – Episode 6

Another breathtaking dose of unpredictable narrative from the author of ‘Jurassic World: The Series – Episode 5’

Jurassic World: The TV Series – Episode 5

Episode 5 is upon us. As promised, the ice cream scoop of exposition is doling out increasingly adult sized dollops. Can this pace of drama and intrigue be sustained over a multi part series? Can it sufficiently wow audiences that the studio executives responsible for greenlighting this pilot series will commission a further season, with the possibility of a movie based on the tv show based on the movie? Only time will tell. In the meantime, episode 6 awaits! If you have a deeply held fear of dinosaurs and/or moths, then hold onto your butts. If you have both of those fears, please cover your eyes for the next three to nine weeks.

Jurassic World: The TV Series – Episode 4

Man this show has it all. Intrigue. Suspense. Soggy suitcases. Some sort of narwhal trail leading into a shady secret complex. Tune in next time for some more hot plot.

Jurassic World: The TV Series – Episode 3

The hotly anticipated dino-drama continues as Jurassic World: The Series enters its third episode. Suspense is mounting as our charismatic monopedal protag starts to pierce the mystery surrounding his holiday destination of choice. With sleuthing to match Hercule Poirot or Sherlock himself, no minute detail of his temporary island home will escape his steely gaze.

Tune in next week for another hot dose of frenzied fossils, as the resort’s glossy veneer starts to crack like the egg housing an infant velociraptor.

It’s high time for a summery sale – check out the store page for some discounts on t shirts.