A global field guide to design, (life)style and secret finds
est. 2007
  1. Best of British: Lesley Barnes

    It’s less than 24 hours before the London 2012 Olympic Games begin, and I can’t help but be caught up in the excitement of the count-down. I don’t think I’ve ever spent so much time on the bloody Daily Mail but I’m absolutely thrilled by their incredible images of the torch relay as it winds its way through the old streets of London town. It’s like the Jubilee celebrations all over again – and I’m loving it.

    I will be blogging about the best of British design and style over the next few weeks, so I thought I’d kick things off with Lesley Barnes‘ triumphant lion illustration as the perfect celebratory image to mark the Opening Ceremony tonight – and follow it up with her rather handsome wee knight (below).

    I’ve been following Lesley’s gloriously vibrant and pattern-rich illustrations for some time now, and I featured the Glasgow-based illustrator/animator’s festive Christmas wrap last year. I’m in love with her dazzling and sophisticated use of pattern and colour, and her illustrative style is a subtle nod to mid-century artists such as Edward Bawden, Alexander Girard and Charley Harper.

    Lesley is incredibly prolific and has worked with the likes of Puffin Classics, Poketo and the V&Ayou can see more work from her portfolio here. Most recently, she portrayed a kaleidoscope of colour in her illustrations of the Autumn Winter 2012 collections of various British fashion designers (attention all fashion magazine art directors!).

    Her signature paper-cut graphic style is perhaps most beautifully realised in the animated video she made for (another British great) Belle and Sebastian. Lesley’s playful and folky characters come to life in the video for ‘I didn’t see it coming’ and imbue Sarah Martin’s sweetly-sung vocals with a sense of childlike naivety, while a darker threat – and heartbreak – nudges at the edges.

    I Didn’t See It Coming (Richard X mix) from Belle & Sebastian on Vimeo.

    It’s this shadow of darkness in Lesley’s work that intrigues me, and I reckon the book world is crying out for a new Grimm’s Fairy Tales filled with Lesley’s mythical and colour-saturated illustrations. ‘Twould be a design classic! And I’m hoping that someone will hand this lady an animated title sequence for a feature film – I’m thinking something along the lines of Catch Me If You Can.

    You can purchase Lesley Barnes’ delightful cards, bookmarks and limited edition prints from her Etsy shop. Get her adorable bookmarks for Belle and Sebastian from their website. You can also find her work at Soma Gallery and Many Hands.

    Click here for the best Union Jack souvenirs.
    Click here for the 25 best London Olympic Games souvenirs
    Click here for the best non-tat Jubilee souvenirs.

    • Elliott

      Her work is so stunning! I love the lion but I think the B&S video has to be my favourite part of this post. Best song on the album too! In my humble opinion anyway.

      • Anonymous

        I have to agree with you, Elliott. xx

    • http://thefty.wordpress.com/ Helena

      I really, really like these! I like the way she uses layering and transparency to give the colours extra depth. Thanks for this!

      • Anonymous

        So pleased you love Lesley’s work. You’re so right about her use of layering – I hadn’t even consciously recognised that! xx

    • Lesley Barnes

      thanks so much top bird!

      • Anonymous

        Aha! Lesley! You’re welcome.

    • Milly

      Mmmmm.. Very nice. Two clever girls-Lesley for her beautiful work and Top Bird for putting a gorgeous post together. Thanks. And let the games begin!

      • Anonymous

        Why thank you, Milly. I’m super chuffed. I’ve only been meaning to write a proper post about Lesley’s work for around six months now! xx

    • http://www.spudballoo.com spudballoo

      Thanks for introducing me to Lesley Barnes, new to me but woweeee stunning. x

      • Anonymous

        Hey Spud, so pleased that Lesley has gained a new fan! xx

    • http://www.jenx67.com/ Jennifer

      These are amazing. Thanks for introducing her to me.

      • Anonymous

        Pleasure, Jennifer. She really is a wee gem.