FIRST FASHION BOOK ILLUSTRATED, NEW HOUSE (HOPEFULLY!) AND LOTS MORE IN THE PIPELINE – IT’S BEEN A WHILE!!

It’s been SUCH a long time since I last blogged and lots has happened since then! I’ve been super busy. Firstly, since my last post I had the experience of illustrating my very first book! It’s called “The Bare Essentials: A Passion for Lingerie” and is written by the super lovely Tracy Martin. The book itself, as the name suggests is about the various lingerie types that have become “The Bare Essentials” of a woman’s wardrobe. Not only is it a really useful and practical guide but it also explores the origins of various styles throughout history. I absolutely loved being asked to create my own flapper girls, glamourous and classy burlesque figures and modern day divas!

Burlesque girl Helen Simms

IMG_5754 copyAs an artist, I think the book was one of my largest commissions so far. It contains over 40 of my artworks and it stretched me in terms of realising what I could achieve within a limited time frame (without hyperventilating!) and also gave me an invaluable insight into illustrating for books. It was something of a learning curve but definitely something I look back on with pride. The book itself came out in March and I actually created most of the works for it last summer, so I have moved on a little in terms of work since then but here are a few shots of some of my favourites.

1950s glamour Helen Simms

Beautiful Afro illustration

kimono illustration Helen Simms

Also, another big thing that is happening in my life is that we are in the process of buying our very first house – to which there have been lots of set backs and we have had to be very patient and work very hard to get everything in place but it looks like now the end is in sight and I will finally be able to get my hands on some Farrow and Ball and put lots of artwork up in our own little place – so exciting! I’m literally obsessed with all things interiors (as any of my Pinterest followers will be well aware!) and have been looking forward to sharing some of my art in situ with you and to creating some larger botanical pieces. I’m also hoping to update the blog a lot more as I share a little more about my life, process and the often psychological battles you have to go through as an artist! Watch this space : )

image via Pinterest

gallery wall inspiration
last two images via Pinterest

 

A Moment in Time

Helen Simms J Crew earrings website

 

 

 

In this illustration I’ve tried to create more fluidity in my work – so it was all about letting go and getting into the flow of it rather than thinking too much. So fun to create. What do you think?! x

 

Stripped Back

stripped bare small

 

 

My lovely friend Alex recently sat for me. I had asked to paint her for a few reasons;

 

1. She is one of the most beautiful people I know – both inside and out!

2.She has been a huge supporter of my work, right from the beginning …. and a cup of tea or (more likely) glass of wine with Alex can set the world to rights on days when I am questioning what the hell I am doing with my life.

3.I knew it would be fun and we could have a bit of a catch up …..

And we did! But what surprised me most about the whole process, was the fact that this stunningly beautiful girl was actually really self conscious. I took some snaps on the day and made the mistake of letting her see some when she asked. “Noooooo! Ugh, I look awful. Delete, Delete, Delete! Pleeease!” No-one likes themselves in photographs (unless perhaps you are Gisele)! But in the end, Alex put her trust in me and I’m so glad she did.

I must admit to being super nervous to show her this work. I tried so many versions before I eventually stripped the whole thing back and just made it about the lines of her face and her eyes – pretty much the first thing I noticed about her.

Anyway, I hope I did her justice. Thanks again Alex! x

 

The Lipstick Conundrum

A couple of years ago I met up with some of my old girlfriends for dinner. I hadn’t seen them in ages and wanted to look my best. It was the middle of winter and as my skin is naturally pale and hadn’t seen anything resembling sunshine in months, I reached for the fake tan. I swear by St.Tropez. If you apply it wearing gloves and have exfoliated etc beforehand, it can give you a very natural looking tan, which usually boosts my confidence.

But …later on that evening, after a few glasses of wine, one of the girls took a photo of the group. When we looked at the photo somebody commented “Helen looks SO brown!” I looked at the photo and yes, I did look very brown, no, orange! My eyebrows were even darkened by the stuff. I looked like an oompa loompa!

I think the problem was this – I had put on the tan on the morning of the event and as such, while I thought I looked naturally sun kissed in a “I’ve just popped back from the South of France” kind of way, the tan had actually had time to develop throughout the day and by the time the photo was taken I was a little overdone. It was then that I vowed to only use the fake tan a night or even two nights before an event, allowing enough time to wash the stuff off and for it to look natural.

So, once I accepted my natural paleness, I decided to embrace it! I love a strong red lipstick on others, especially those, like Dita Von Teese with beautifully pale complexions. The result is so retro and glamorous. So I figured I may as well try vamping it up myself. I went to MAC to talk to one of their makeup artists since usually I’m actually a bit scared of lipstick and only ever shove on a little of their Politely Pink (seriously, that’s what it’s called). The very helpful lady picked out a fantastic matt colour called “Ruby Woo”. Woah! Very red! We put it on and I was all lips! I liked it though.

Feeling slightly self conscious I wandered out the store, towards Pret a Manger. It was lunchtime. But, after tucking into my sandwich I nipped to the loo. There was lipstick on my chin and a weird patchy bit in the middle of my lips where most of the lipstick had been removed. It was hideous! No wonder I had some funny looks when leaving Pret.

There is obviously much to be learned about the fine art of wearing lipstick. If I go for gloss it will always, I mean always, be a windy day and I end up with my hair stuck to my lips and with bright lipstick you clearly can’t eat anything (is this why French women are so thin?)

What do you think? Any tips?

 

 

 

 

Hair Trends for 2013: The Braid

Helen Simms Braid

 

One of the major hair trends this year seems to be the braid. It was featured (as shown) at Herve Leger, as well as Balmain and Marchesa and I personally think it looks both practical and chic.

 

It’s therefore a look I’d love to try, but I have a feeling it shouldn’t be done without the help of a hairdresser?! Any tips? xx

Follow me on Bloglovin!

After a lovely lunch today, I was introduced by a good friend to the wonders of Bloglovin and so am now looking forward to following my favourite blogs and I do hope you can return the favour by clicking the bloglovin button in my sidebar.

Thanks so much! xo

The Vintage Girl!
The Vintage Girl!

Shutting Out The Negative Voices and Why I Wish I Was A Little More Like Adele

Being an illustrator is not like being an accountant or a lawyer. It’s not what you might call a secure career path. In fact, it’s not a straightforward career path. You’re not necessarily guaranteed a career in illustration just by doing a degree in that subject (mind you, you’re not guaranteed a career as a lawyer just by doing a law degree, but you catch my drift). You have to work HARD, be professional, grow a thick skin and learn to bounce back, move forward, be self motivated, keep going even when you’re at a real low point – because that’s usually when something really good happens.

But the hardest thing of all, I have found, is learning to shut out all the negative voices. It has taken me a while. Perhaps this is a British thing? Some of my lovely American friends, use words like “wonderful” when discussing my career path and say things like “you have a real gift. I’m so thrilled you’re capitalising on it”. A gift? …… Me? ……..Really?! Even the ones that don’t gush quite so much give off an air of support and understanding when we talk about my chosen career. Perhaps it’s just more a part of the American psyche to go after your dreams?!

Anyway, of course I have very supportive British friends, not to mention an incredibly supportive family and husband, but over the years I have heard a variety of comments from people who perhaps don’t know me so well. “When are you going to get a proper job?” Seems to be a bit of a classic and it usually comes from somebody who doesn’t love their own job. Another recent one stemmed from somebody who knows my husband (and also hates her well paying job) “but Helen just draws all day, that’s easy”. Hmmmm.

Then of course there are the negative voices you project onto others when they innocently ask “how are things going?”, “Are you busy?”, “sold any paintings recently?” Of course, these could just come from a well meaning friend or acquaintance trying to make conversation, but because you have heard the classic “when are you going to get a real job” a few too many times, you start to project this as sub text.

So the trick I have found is to learn to shut out all of the negative voices (whenever possible) and only focus on the good.

Another trick I have learned is to ask myself – “what would Adele do?” Sounds ridiculous I know but I just LOVE her. Her music kicks a$$. She is extremely talented and works very hard but more to the point you get the feeling that she wouldn’t take any nonsense. Cut her off mid acceptance speech and what does she do? Gives the middle finger to the fat cats while being shown live to the nation!

Now, I’m not saying I’m going to start being abrasive. Not even close. But with Adele, you get the sense that it’s all about the music. She doesn’t seem to give a stuff what anyone else thinks and if she does, she does a good job of hiding it. She knew what she wanted from a young age and she has gone out and gotten it. Perhaps us polite girls could all stand to be a little more like Adele.

 

What do you think? Anyone else encountered a similar scenario?

 

xx

 

*Seriously, if you ever need your ego boosted, just hang out with an American (a nice one that is) – it works wonders.