Category Archives: Illustration & design

Artwork. Commercial illustration, private commissions, etc.

Idioms, eponyms and learning new words

I’ve been working with Manchester Children’s University, creating fun new illustration and games for their online learning platform.

Taking their original content from the older flash format and converting it to new standards was a challenge, but also a great opportunity to get really creative with illustration, and I wanted to push the boat out on this one to enhance what is one of the largest sections of the website.

Professor of linguistics  Kersti Börjars and students at the university created a rich teaching tool covering everything from nouns and adjectives to  eponyms and idioms for the platform,  designed to support  key stage 2 children (7-11) at school and at home.

The team at Manchester children’s University have a great passion for learning. Since first working with them back in 2010 when flash was still flying high they’ve always been very trusting in my creative input, letting me add a little character and humour here and there, without disturbing the the practical learning exercises.

The ‘adjective detective’ and ‘noun monster’ were already part of the original content and it was great to give them both a little bit of a makeover, putting the ‘noun monster’ in the John Rylands Library – where I’m sure a word monster would want to live, made sense. It’s been a refresher for own knowledge too, I’m sure back in school I learned that  to “talk the hind leg off a donkey” was an idiom and not an eponym, but it helps to be reminded. That and also finding a way of drawing a legless donkey in a way that’s not too grim!

Check out this module for yourself over at the Manchester children’s university website along with many other great learning modules they have there. I’m proud to be a contributor to this great online learning resource for children.


The Christmas Sock Monster! – illustration

I rarely find Christmas cards that are my kind of funny,  so most years I do my own illustration. What started as a way to show off back when I was a student, has now become a tradition of sorts.

“You don’t need big ideas, you need cheap experiments” said Micheal Schrage, talking about innovation in a digital economy, but he might as well have been talking about Christmas card artwork.

No time for procrastination or perfectionism, just keep it simple, fun and a little bit scary, like all the best books I read as a kid.  Grab an idea one evening over a nice pint of mulled cider, sketch it, draw it up the next morning and email the files over to the printers (the nice chaps at service point) for a click and collect.

The Christmas Sock Monster!

Illustration and design Copyright © John Cooper