Cocktails, chocolate and Freddie Mercury

I have been excitedly adding new products to my Etsy shop (and hopefully many more to come). The end of 2018 went by in a flash, with another thoroughly enjoyable stall at the House of Illustration Winter Fair. And I’ve finally found some time to take stock (literally and figuritively).

I added some of these cute notebooks to my range. They are printed on recycled paper and are a really nice handbag size. Ideal for sketching on the go and notes.

The cocktail designs were a new set of illustrations I’d been working on for some time. Initially my idea was to create a poster that would sit well in kitchens, but a repeat pattern appealed to me and seemed to lend well to this product.

I also applied my retro chocolate design inspired by my visit to The Museum of Brands to the notebooks, along with my ‘Hide & Seek’ cat illustration. You can’t go wrong with a cat illustration.

Another unexpected star of my shop was this birthday card design of Freddie Mercury, which I initially drew as a birthday card for my brother. He was very amused by it which is always a good sign.
These all sold out at the HOI fair, and I’ve continued to sell a steady amount through my Etsy shop. Bohemian Rhapsody fever is clearly not over yet (I STILL need to see the film).

I’m hoping to add some new products soon and to keep the range going. Anything you’d like to see? Let me know in the comments below

You can visit my shop here

The House of Illustration Summer Fair & an Etsy Shop update!

It’s been a busy summer in the city! I had a great time at the House of Illustration Summer Fair back in June. I had previously shared a stall at the HOI Christmas Fair back in 2015, and this was my first fair since then, and also my first time going solo.


It was a beautiful sunny day in London and everyone seemed to be out enjoying the weather. There was a great buzz throughout the fair which was situated next to the House of Illustration, just off Granary Square in Kings Cross.

The area has seen a lot of changes over the last few years and now has a lot to offer on a day out; with restaurants, cafes and various free festivals being put on in the area (I saw part of Lumiere London – the light festival here earlier in the year and it was really impressive).

It was a great day for sales, but also a great day for meeting new customers. I had some lovely conversations with people and it was really nice to see how people reacted to my work. It’s great running an Etsy shop. Receiving feedback and reviews from customers is really helpful in getting to know what people like, but seeing peoples’ spontaneous reactions to my work was priceless.


I created a few new products for the fair; art prints which I’d not produced before, and also badges which went down well on the day.


One of my new designs – my Keeping Up With The Kardashians greetings card which depicts the infamous Todd Kraine’s prank went down better than I expected. Not everyone is a KUWTK fan, so it was hard to predict how it would be received. On the day of the fair I was surprised to sell a couple of cards, and have since sold several through my Etsy shop so I guess there is a market for everything!


The House of Illustration Fair will be back at Granary Square this Christmas so I hope to have a stall there again. In the meantime I will be adding more new products to my Etsy shop, and also a few customs orders. Watch this space!

You can visit my Etsy shop here

An Illustrated trip to The Museum of Brands

I’ve been living in London for over 8 years now and have wanted to visit The Museum of Brands, Packaging & Advertising since I first moved to the city.

I finally carved out some time recently to visit and decided to take a little mid-week holiday and get myself down to Ladbroke Grove. I’m pleased to say my visit was not a disappointment. The museum has a vast and equally fascinating collection displaying branding, posters, adverts and packaging from the Victorian era to the present day.


Visitors walk through a sort of time tunnel – literally and metaphorically as the large portion of the collection is displayed within what I’d describe, as a long and winding glass corridor. There are all kinds of brands on display, from well known cleanings products to liquorice all sorts. From war time paraphernalia to Spice Girls memorabilia. It’s all there!

What I found most interesting was seeing some of the products and brands that had stood the test of time, and seeing how their image had changed and evolved over the years. As some one who enjoys their food, and very much enjoys illustrating it too, I was drawn to the confectionery section which housed packaging which I remembered but had long forgotten.

Cadbury’s packaging and it’s Dairy Milk bars was a much simpler affair back in the early days, almost unrecognisable but for the signature ‘Cadbury’s Purple’ and the synonymous ‘Cadbury’s’ logo.

MOB_ChocolateI also remember my Grandparents buying boxes of Smarties like those above on special occasions. Confectionary tends to come in resealable pouches these days, but I remember being fascinated by my Grandad’s ever-present box of Maltesers that he kept beside his armchair in the living room.

Breakfast cereal was also something I remember being obsessed by as a child. Arguing over who was going to have what from a Kellogg’s Variety Pack was a regular occurrence in our household. Frosties were always considered the best of the bunch. I myself didn’t really like Frosties however, I found them too sweet and didn’t like that they made the milk turn sweet. But having an older Sister meant that I often ate them anyway, simply because she would.


Seeing the evolution of Tony the Tiger was also very interesting. He evolved from a quite angular and stylised looking Tiger, to then becoming the more bulked out and smiley Tony that we have today. And I have to say, I think I preferred Tony back in the early days. He looked more cheeky and the design felt sleeker.

Also on display were a range of tinned soups and other foods from brands such as Heinz. The Heinz Real Turtle Soup was one of my favourites and I found this snippet  from explaining the history of this surprising soup:

“…turtle soup had become immensely popular in the 1750s after sailors coming from the West Indies landed a couple of them upon British soil. Sailors would catch them and keep them alive on their ships as a source of fresh meat. They were very delicious, and it’s a surprise that any even made it back. Those that did, were readily snapped up by royalty. Now everyone wanted to get their hands on one and suddenly no banquet or dinner party was complete without its turtle soup. At its peak in trade, 15 000 live turtles were being shipped live from the West Indies per year. Of course, these huge beasts were very expensive, and because such numbers were being caught, trade was not sustainable and the green turtles were almost hunted to extinction, driving up price even further.”


Due to this, the more familiar Mock Turtle Soup was created as an attempt to mimic the flavour of Real Turtle Soup, as real turtle soon ceased to be a viable option for most people. Calves head seems to have been one of the staple ingredients of Mock Turtle Soup amongst other cuts of meats.

I also enjoyed all the detergent packaging. I think it’s hard to view 1960’s household brands without associating them with Andy Warhol’s infamous ‘Brillo’ screen prints and 3D installations. The design back then really was much simpler. A very limited colour palette was often used, usually of only three colours. The text was very minimal and concise.


At The Museum of Brands, Packaging & Advertising there was so much to see, even a section at the end devoted entirely to One Direction. Right now it’s hard to have a perspective on these later brands and products, and to really understand their cultural significance. But 30 or so years from now people like myself will be looking back on those things, and reflecting on how much things have changed in the world of branding and packaging design.

Go visit now!

The Museum of Brands, Packaging & Advertising
111-117 Lancaster Road
Notting Hill
W11 1QT

Dinner Party Illustration for delicious. Magazine


I was recently commissioned to create a double-page spread of illustration for the April issue of delicious. Magazine. I’m a big fan of the mag, and am always at my happiest when illustrating food so it was a great job to work on.

The brief was open, so I used the text and subject to inform the illustration, whilst also adding a few quirky elements and nods to current trends.


I wanted to create an image that conveyed a more relaxed dinner party feel, as the text suggested. And to also create something that would compliment but not overshadow the text.

I also added a few stand alone elements that directly referenced the text (including a Communards mention for those old enough to remember the record). It was great to be given free reign on this project and to have the opportunity to really respond to the brief with a totally fresh perspective.

Now to brush up on my dinner party hosting!

The April issue is out now, and as always features some really great recipes.

My Top 5 Cruelty-Free Beauty Products

I’ve been a bit of a lover of all things make-up and beauty for as long as I can remember (perhaps it’s the Essex girl in me) but I’ve always struggled to find affordable and effective products that are also cruelty-free.

The rise of online shopping and also social media has made it much easier to discover new brands and to get real information about their policies on animal testing. So I wanted to share My Top 5 Cruelty-free Beauty Products that I use on a regular basis.

The great thing about these products for me is that there is in no way a compromise on quality. These products are truly brilliant! And most can be found in our high street stores.

1. Umberto Giannini – Blow Dry In a Bottle

I went for the chop a few years ago, getting a new, sassy bob hairdo. After finding that my carefully blow-dried hair would become a wavy mess by the time I’d made my morning commute into work, I needed something to help. That’s when I discovered Blow Dry In a Bottle.

The spray is applied to towel dried hair and then you just blow-dry as normal. Blow Dry In a Bottle boasts “…a blow-out as good as your hairdresser does it” and I would agree. My style stays sleek and smooth regardless of weather conditions (obviously an umbrella is still advised for British weather – no hair product can protect you from that). But this stuff seriously works.
The spray also has heat protection built-in and castor oil for moisturisation so no need to use an additional heat protector.

In addition to Blow Dry In a Bottle I also use the Weatherproof Finish Hairspray which is an anti-humidity hairspray. Not only is it a light but effective hairspray, which I find is much better for my shorter hairstyle. It also prevents my hair from frizzing-up and losing it’s style. These are my hairstyling power couple!

2. e.l.f. Cream Eyeliner

I was first introduced to e.l.f. Cosmetics when I was fortunate enough to do some live illustration at their Superdrug UK launch party.

I was given a delightful goodie bag of products to take away with me after the event and to be honest, there aren’t many of their products I wouldn’t recommend. I still can’t comprehend how they make such genuinely brilliant products at such affordable prices. These are seriously good products!

But my favourite has to be the Cream Eyeliner. I like this product because it stays on all day long, it’s waterproof and the Black is super black. I also love the fact that I’m not even half-way through my first pot, where I would have gone through several liquid eyeliners by now.

The Cream Eyeliner comes with a small angled brush for application but I didn’t find this especially easy to use as an eyeliner. I’d probably use it more for brows. But I received one of the Beautifully Precise Eye Liner Brushes in my make-up haul so I used that instead. And the precision I get with it is amazing. I also find the results are more accurate and the brush easier to control than an eyeliner pen.

The brush – one of the Beautifully Precise Brush Collection developed by Achelle Richards has an angled handle which gives better grip and control.

3. Weleda Skin Food 

So I have to admit, I started using this product after it was going around in the press that Victoria Beckham uses it too. If it’s good enough for a Spice Girl then it’s worth giving a try I thought, and it turns out VB wasn’t wrong.

It really is what the name suggests. Skin Food. Apply it liberally to chapped winter hands, or to the face at night for an intense moisturisation.

I chose to use it as a night face cream for a while when my skin became dry as the weather got colder, and I felt like I was getting an intense moisturisation no night cream had ever been able to deliver! My skin appeared to be glowing and radiant.

Loved by beauty bloggers and make-up artists, this is a great all round moisturiser made from natural ingredients, and it also smells great too.

4. Lily Lolo Mineral Concealer

It seems dramatic to say that a make-up product could be life-changing, but this concealer had me staring at my under-eye bags in the mirror in absolute wonder! I had been using the Lily Lolo Mineral Foundation Spf 15, and had been amazed by the results, but was sceptical that a powder could really work as a concealer.

After reading the 5 star reviews I decided to give it a try. I found the coverage of this product was incredible, with just a couple of brush strokes my dark under-eye circles were gone. Where previously I’d been using different concealers, and touche éclat rip-offs followed by powders with out great effect.

And It’s not just for under the eyes. I’ve used this to cover spots and blemishes and they just disappear with one application, and stay covered the whole day.
The concealer (like the foundation) is an all natural mineral product. Because of this, I think my spots are far less frequent and linger for less time.

I also use the Lily Lolo Concealer Brush with this so I can get more precise application.

5. Stella McCartney POP

I started wearing the original Stella Eau de Parfum some years ago as I wanted to make as many of my beauty choices as possible cruelty-free.
I love the scent and often get complimented on it, and have also bought the various different incarnations Stella has produced over the years. Most unfortunately seem to end up being discontinued though.

But Stella’s POP seems to have a clearer identity behind it and is aimed at millennials and young, hip kids (Madonna’s daughter Loudres was one of the faces of the 2016 campaign). I think this one will have more staying power.

Also, where previous incarnations where always quite similar to the original Stella scent, this one is quite different. It’s younger, sweeter and fresher. And I tend to use it as a day perfume for this reason.

And that is My Top 5 Cruelty-free Beauty Products!
I hope you enjoyed the post. And please tell me in the comments if you’ve tried any of these products and how you found them!

Carmen xoxo

All illustrations Copyright © Carmen Johnson 2018


Ford Capri Sketchin’

I had lots of fun working on this personal project recently. My Brother-in-law is a Ford Capri fan (he is currently in the process of restoring one) so my Sister thought it would be nice to create a unique gift for him for Father’s Day.


It was great to draw something a bit different, and also something with a more masculine edge. I sourced a few images and really got into the retro seventies styling and all the different bold colours of that era. I decided to draw just the MK 1 Capri since this is the model my Brother-in-law likes the most, and also the model of the Capri he is restoring.


The process was the same as usual. Since the illustration was to be printed on to a mug, it took a little time jigging around the different illustrative elements to create a strong design. I wasn’t entirely sure if the design i’d created would work on the wrap-around as I wouldn’t see the product until it was finished, but I was really pleased with the result.

Processed with VSCO with c1 preset

I decided to use Vista Print for the printing as the print quality is often good, and there were the added options of having coloured handles and interior which really added to the overall look of the design. It was a total fluke that the lime green I used in the design matched with the colour option offered by Vista Print.

Processed with VSCO with c1 preset

And most importantly my Brother-in-law was very happy with his gift. Now he just needs to work on getting that motor on the road. Perhaps being fuelled by several good cups of tea will help!

Processed with VSCO with c1 preset

Live Illustration for e.l.f. cosmetics

I was recently commissioned to do some live portraits for the UK launch party of e.l.f. cosmetics at 19 Greek Street in Soho. e.l.f. is a U.S brand due to launch in Superdrug stores this June, and being a lover of make-up I was quite excited to be part of the launch.


It was a busy night and the place was buzzing with activity. There were opportunities to try the make-up and receive tutorials, along with having a live portrait created by my good self.


My first task of the evening was to create a portrait of the Artistic Director of e.l.f., Achelle Richards. The canvas I was asked to work on was a little larger than i’m used to and due to the gloss surface was a little tricky to work with as my pens didn’t seem to want to dry, but in spite of the ‘technical difficulties’ I was happy with the final result!


I was also fortunate enough to be joined by the incredibly talented Miss Led, who was also live illustrating for the event. We were both hard at it all evening with people queuing around the room to get their portraits.

It was great fun and a great experience. We were encouraged to experiment with some of the make-up and to incorporate it into the illustrations. The make-up was very versatile so I found myself being able to match colours with relative ease.

And the best part of the evening for me was going away with a goodie bag of e.l.f. products. I have been having lots of fun using them, not only are they good quality and affordable, e.l.f. are also a cruelty-free brand. So it’s a double thumbs up from me!