MIMI CHATTER BEAUTY ILLUSTRATIONS

Back in summer I was contacted by one of the designers over at InStyle Magazine and Mimi Chatter, New York. Mimi is a relatively new site, run by TIME Inc and features all things beauty! They were after a new social icon, together with some further illustrations of beauty items that they would be able to use as part of an accent library in order to help create a soft and elegant feel. Since Mimi is new, they also wanted their illustrator to help pull the look and feel of the brand together. It was a real pleasure to work with them. Here’s a taste of what we came up with …..

MIMI Chatter illustration by Helen Simms blog

MIMI social icon by Helen Simms

nail polish by Helen Simms

Helen Simms mimi chatter lips blog

AN EXCITING NEW YEAR AND SOME RECENT(ISH) DABBLINGS WITH ABSTRACT WATERCOLOUR

Helen Simms dot watercolour painting

I think it’s acceptable on the 13th of January to still be saying Happy New Year to you – especially since I’m ashamed to say that my last blog post has not been since the end of May! With that in mind, it’s also a fair assumption what my new years resolution is going to be! I’m definitely aiming to create more work and share my process with you on here – warts and all.

2015 was an excellent year for me. I had some exciting clients – including L’oreal and TIME Inc and  am currently anxiously waiting to see my illustrations “come to life” for a project I did with Sanctuary Spa back in summer, that will be launching nationwide later this month ….. watch this space! Not only that, me and Mr Simms managed to buy our very own house together. We got to kiss goodbye to the perils of renting and set about making our house into a home, ripping out bathrooms, carpets and dated 70s style fireplace cladding and completely redecorating (aside from the kitchen – our budget didn’t quite stretch that far!)

With that in mind, I think it’s fair to say that my creative practice became a little sidelined since the move as I began to find more and more instagram accounts to follow – based purely on how their creators had styled their home, searched Pinterest to create mood boards for each of the rooms and quite a few hours on ebay trying to get the best price on vintage french furniture.

However, the projects that I did focus on got me thinking about my overall style. A few of my clients encouraged me to be looser with my technique. I LOVE working this way and certainly the works that I have considered most successful in the past have shown a really loose, confident technique that I would love to develop this year. Sometimes I feel like I need to give myself permission to work this way – it seems too easy, too enjoyable … but then I guess it takes a certain amount of confidence to give oneself that kind of permission and shut everything else out.

Helen Simms abstract watercolour

 

Helen Simms abstract watercolour 2

Helen Simms abstract watercolour 3

abstract watercolour helen simms 4

 

Above are a few abstract experiments trying to loosen up both my technique and my mind! Also, living in the country, I’m often inspired by botanicals and again I wanted to loosen up my response to them.

helen simms abstract watercolour 5

helen simms abstract watercolour 6

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

 

The Investment Coat?

 

 

As you might have read back in summer, I was in need of a new winter coat this year and having been inspired by all the beautifully fitted coats last year with belts to cinch the waist (including a rather glorious Burberry Prorsum number), I went in search of said coat. Now, my budget does not quite stretch to Burberry (whose does these days?), but I was prepared to spend a decent amount as an “investment”. I mean think about it, if you live in the UK or somewhere with a similar climate – where most of the year it’s, let’s face it, pretty cold and miserable, it makes sense to buy a decent coat because you’re going to be wearing it a lot!

But the trouble was, which one? I knew I needed something to keep me warm, something perfectly fitted (not easy, as I am tres petite) and something three quarter length that would look smart for “dressed” occasions. However, when searching through the shops I was confronted with:

  • Capes – beautifully cut and great for every now and then, but wouldn’t your arms get cold and wouldn’t you have to either; a) buy a pair of snazzy long leather gloves, or b) constantly consider what you are wearing under the cape to ensure your arms don’t clash (i.e. no Christmas jumpers)

 

  • Leather Biker Jackets - I have wanted one of these for years.* They are great for Spring and Autumn and look great either with jeans or skirts and dresses but wouldn’t quite battle a cold January morning. Nevertheless, let me just try on this beautiful Whistles leather jacket. Ahhhh, so soft, so beautifully cut, drool! But no, it will not keep me warm, and besides, if I am “investing” in a winter coat, I can’t afford it!

 

  • Faux Fur - would definitely keep me warm and would be great for Christmas parties…. but is it classic enough for day to day? …..Maybe.

 

  • Military – Ah so stylish! This could be it …. if only I could find one that didn’t dwarf me. I found one in Zara that fitted pretty well but the buttons looked cheap (sorry Zara, you have served me well, but not this time)

 

  • The Cocoon – Looks great with skinny jeans to balance out the lack of shape on top** but wear with anything else and you are at risk of looking like a blob

 

After all this, I found a perfect and affordable single breasted, three quarter length camel coat from Mango. (It looks a bit like something Del Boy would wear but I’m prepared to overlook that.) So affordable in fact that I decided to “invest” in that leather jacket after all!
What kind of coat will you be investing in this winter?
* The reason I have not bought one until now is because my friend Kate bought one a couple of years ago in the sale from All Saints. It is to die for and I have never found one to match it, until now.
** This is on most people but as I am petite and have very short legs, I look like someone who has dressed up as a Christmas bauble at the office party.

 

Chanel No 5 and that Brad Ad!

In the lead up to Christmas we were hit with the inevitable barrage of perfume adverts during our favourite programs. Seems reasonable, given that perfume is a “relatively” inexpensive gift. I’m sure the festive season helps many fashion houses’ profits tremendously in this respect and Chanel No.5 is one of my favourite perfumes of all time. Classic, classy and elegant. Like a Chanel suit, it will never go out of style, but unlike a Chanel suit, most people can afford the perfume, even if it is a bit of a treat.

I also (usually) love Chanel’s perfume adverts. In the past they usually have a narrative of some kind and a romance! They just seem so…..well, so French! One of my faves of the past was the previous no 5 ad featuring Audrey Tatou searching for her mystery love, with Billie Holiday’s melodic tones in the background. Like I said, French, romantic and with a narrative. Perfect.

But then the first time I saw the new No.5 advert, the one in which Brad Pitt is shot in black and white and recites a monologue directly to the camera, well, I wasn’t sure what to think?

I like Brad Pitt a lot. He’s a brilliant actor and if you think about it, I guess it was really quite innovative of Chanel to choose a man as the face of a woman’s perfume. It’s never been done before. But I think it’s the fact that there’s no real narrative and a lot of the romance and ALL of the Frenchness has gone. Maybe all the budget went on Brad’s fee (dare I say it?!), or perhaps, more likely, the director felt Brad’s monologue would have more impact if it was stripped back and direct to camera?

Perhaps I just don’t like change?!

What do you think about it?

 

 

 

I’d be Patient if I had the Time