Elise Martinson’s Winter Wonderland

A while ago when we asked Elise Martinson if she would create a new background for hai we were super excited when she said yes. Have you seen the work Elise did for the Perth Mint? It’s absolutely gorgeous.

The process when creating a background is pretty much the same each time and this one was no exception. We make sure the artists understand the dimensions and how the background would work with the site, but apart from that we give them free rein to come up with something unique that reflects their style and look. Another thing we also give them is no deadline; I never know if this is a good or a bad thing, but I guess it depends on the illustrator really.

Last October Elise got in contact to show us some very cool sketches. I personally love checking out the sketches and pencil work. We had talked about a Christmas background, but I think it was decided it should be less specific to any particular event.

This was one of the rejected ideas.

This one got rejected, but was still an interesting idea.

I think it was a little bit too “environmentalist”… (It was penguins chasing colourful pegs and other plastic junk that look like schools of fish). Above is a super rough draft. I realised it was quite a negative theme even though my intention was to render it so that you have to look twice to realise the plastic. – Elise Martinson

Pencil sketch with the site overlaid. Idea two.

Pencil sketch with the site overlaid. Idea two.

After seeing the lovely sketches above, we asked Elise to proceed as the direction was exactly what we were looking for… Heaps of snow-camouflaged animals!

The sketches were then followed in January 2014 with a coloured version of the sketch with the website overlaid to show how it would work.

Idea two in colour.

Idea two in colour.

A close up of the coloured sketch.

A close up of the coloured sketch.

From there Elise went ahead and started cleaning up the sketches. As you can see they look great!

This is the one we went with.  :)

This is the one we went with. 🙂

Close up one.

Close up one.

Close up two.

Close up two.

After the sketch was approved, it was time for Elise to do her thing and here is the progress in chronological order with incremental changes and adjustments.


First colour rendering.


Did you notice the detail added to the snow and the addition of some birds?


Big changes with lots of refinements. Some elements are gone and a couple have been added.

This is the final image and we absolutely love it!

This is the final image and we absolutely love it! You probably can’t see it in these images, but comparing this to the last one, there’s so much more detail.

Close up of the final.

Close up of the final.

Close up of the final.

Close up of the final.

Elise Martinson was a pleasure to work with. She was very quick to understand what we wanted and stayed in constant communication with updates and roughs. Then, when it came to the final image she was able to produce the exact files I needed for inserting into the site. I wouldn’t hesitate to work with Elise again in the future. You can check out Elise Martinson’s Winter Wonderland live on the site and see more of her work via her hai portfolio or personal website.


Gunther the Underwater Elephant

We’ve got lots of books that we’ve been meaning to post about for ages, but this one is especially overdue (sorry Ginger)! Written and illustrated by the very lovely Ginger Nielson, Gunther the Underwater Elephant is a charming story about a baby elephant (Gunther) who gets lost while swimming in the river with his family. He ends up having an adventure where he meets a surprising new friend who helps him to find his way home again, just in time to become the hero in a dramatic rescue! Colourfully illustrated throughout, this book would appeal to any animal-loving youngster and be a lovely book to share at story-times.

Gunther the Underwater Elephant is available to buy on Amazon.

Title: Gunther the Underwater Elephant
Author: Ginger Nielson
Illustrator: Ginger Nielson
Publisher: 4RV Publishing (2011)
ISBN: 978-0983274025
Pages: 27

Twit Twit Twoo…

As I’m sure you’ve probably noticed we’ve had a very nice autumn background up on the site for a while now. We’ve got a new one to go up in December, but the one up at the moment is by the brilliant Wylie Elise Beckert. The images was created several months ago… And I would like to share with you one of the earlier sketches as it’s always nice to see those things. 🙂

As soon as we saw the Lemurs we were sold on the piece! We think Wylie did a wonderful job, what do you think?

Elf & Safety – the new hai background illustration

A few weeks ago leading up towards Christmas we asked the loverly Miriam Bos to create a winter background for the hire an illustrator website. We love the way it turned out and we hope you do too!

Here’s the finished article in all it’s glory.

Backtracking a bit, here is the original rough/sketch. Miriam was a joy to work with and very quick off the mark. From the word go, she knew exactly what we were after.

Miriam explained to us that the image had a story behind it and it was the story that was the basis for the concept. There was an elf who thought that the winter was so cold that the trees needed clothing to keep them warm! After receiving the rough I made a few small suggestions, like moving the squirrels onto the inner trees to give them a bit more screen time, but all in all I was happy for Miriam to proceed to produce the final image.

The final was then produced and we went back and forth a few times, knocking off a few pixels here and there, optimising the image for web, and arranging it to work with the layout of the website and logo. Once that was all done with a couple days to spare we got the new background up for Christmas!

With a great eye for colour, Miriam Bos was a pleasure to work with! Check out the new background on the hire an illustrator website. 🙂

Fish on a Stick, Pugs and more…

We just love having interesting, original items created by illustrators on show in our home and office. It really makes for a unique environment to live or work in and provides shed-loads of inspiration! We thought we’d share our latest arty acquisitions with you 🙂

We were very happy to give this rather cool, folksy fish a new home! He’s hand carved and painted by the awesome Jim Bradshaw and if you swim on over to his Etsy shop, you might be able to find your own fishy friend to brighten up your office or living room! Jim also has lots of other original character-based artwork to choose from.

Jane was extremely chuffed to get some fab Gemma Correll stuff for her birthday, including one of Gemma’s Boston Tea Party tees, some badges, a roll of Animal Parade tape and a brilliant original framed Pug drawing. We’re not quite sure what to do with the tape yet, but suspect it won’t be long before any bare-looking folders or boxes are covered :). Check out Gemma’s shop on her website for lots of great gift ideas!

If you have a favourite illustrator (or several!), don’t forget that they probably have their own shop online or sell items through other websites. If they don’t, but you fancy having a piece of their work hanging in your home, it’s often worth getting in touch with them to ask if they would sell you a print or create an original for you!

Lovely letterpress and linocut prints

It’s been some time since we bought any new artwork to hang on our walls, so what better choice than a letterpress print from the wonderful Gemma Correll?

It’s the perfect print for any lover of cats, coffee or cakes (or all three, as in our case!). We love it, thank you Gemma! The shop is closed for the moment, but keep checking back on Gemma’s site to see when it reopens so you can get your hands on some of her brilliant goodies!

We also spotted Lottie Penchion‘s rather lovely linocuts on the LCS. We decided we just had to have Mr Badger…

…and Lottie very generously sent us an extra one too, which was much appreciated as they look just great as a set! Check out Lottie’s print giveaway too!

Some very distinguished visitors

We were very happy to receive the latest collectible trading cards from the talented Mr Chet Phillips this morning! Chet very kindly sent us the Artistic Pets and Literary Pets 2 sets, which feature such eminent artists and authors as Labrador Dali, Oscar Wildecat, Franz Katka, MichelangeLab and Edgar Allan Pug. There are 20 cards in each set, which come nicely packaged in their own little portfolio. These are really lovely, and would make great original gifts for cat, dog, art and literature lovers alike.

Artistic Pets and Literary Pets (1 & 2) are available to buy, along with 8″ x 10″ prints of the characters, from Chet’s Etsy shop.

You can see more of Chet’s work at his Hai! portfolio and on his website.