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.

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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.

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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!

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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!


Spooky Illustration for Texto Editores

I was recently commissioned to create a series of illustrations for Portuguese educational publishers Texto Editores.

One of the briefs was to create an illustration of a home complete with all identifiable rooms and corresponding furniture, even down to empty cardboard boxes in the attic.
It was an illustration to feature in a text book to teach Portuguese school children English, so it took me back a few years to my school days, learning French and Spanish in the same way.


I was also commissioned to create more detailed illustrations of the bedroom, bathroom, kitchen and living room (as shown above). It was surprising how enjoyable it was to draw all the little details that make up a typical room in a house, even things like the toilet roll holder in the bathroom!


The project required a bit of drawing and re-drawing to get all the angles and perspective right. There was a lot that needed to be visible in the house so fitting it all in and also keeping a good level of realism was a challenge. But I was very happy with the end result and hope it will work as a helpful tool for learning English.


And after the house was complete, I was also commissioned to turn the same house into a spooky haunted house, complete with ghosts and a witch on a broomstick! I’m used to drawing from life quite a lot so relying on my imagination for most of the elements in this final illustration was a real change for me. But a change that I thoroughly enjoyed.



Affordable Art @ Art Rookie

It’s been a while since my last post to say the least! But i’ve been busy with lots of new and exciting things, one of them being my new shop on Art Rookie.


Art Rookie is an online platform where artists can sell their artwork on a variety of products, from greetings cards to wall clocks.


And I’ve been having lots of fun creating new artwork (and adapting some old) for my product range.
The quality of the finished product is very good, and the range also quite extensive. It is also a much more sustainable way of getting my work on some of the products i’d wanted to, but hadn’t been able to due to the initial financial outlay needed.


Mugs seem to be the most popular products that i’ve seen ordered from my range, along with plates. I’ve been loving seeing my artwork come to life on products that people will have and use in their homes every day.


Also available to buy are art prints at very reasonable prices, framed, unframed and on canvas which has again given me a broader scope in the products I’m able to sell.


I’ve also been expanding my greetings cards range, and was able to take the opportunity to create a Father’s Day card I knew my Dad would like (along with present!)



Another great thing about Art Rookie is that they are always promoting their artists. I was very pleased to be a recent ‘Featured Artist’ on the Art Rookie Blog, where I was interviewed about my creative journey so far, the things that inspire me and also the ups and downs of self-promotion.

It was a great experience to be asked some questions I’d not pondered on for a while and to get a broader view of my ‘creative life’ so to speak!

You can shop my products here:

And of course, read the interview here:

Featured Artist: Carmen Johnson

Christmas Art-Making

Woh, it’s been a busy couple of months. With lots of great work on I can’t complain though.

I took part in the Illustrators Christmas Fair last weekend, organised by House of Illustration. There were lots of talented illustrators there, selling their illustrated wares. I mainly sold a selection of Christmas cards and other greetings/postcards.



The fair was really interesting and I believe the first one HOI have done of it’s kind. It was held within the UAL building in Kings Cross, a beautiful restored granary building in you guessed it…Granary Square.

I’ve also been selling my Christmas cards on Etsy this year, managing four designs this year, rather than just the one I produced last year. They seem to have been well-received and i’ve been kept busy on little trips to and from the post office.

Another Christmas themed project came in the form of a Christmas e-card commission for Jo’s Cervical Cancer Trust


The brief for this was open, so I came up with a couple of concepts and this ice-skating idea was the one that we went ahead with. This was my favourite concept so I was pleased that it was chosen.
I worked the charity logo into the pattern on the main figure’s skirt, and also into the trail she leaves on the ice. It must have been quite an impressive twirl on ice that she performed…shame we missed it.

So all in all, a busy but very satisfying end to the year.
I look forward to seeing what 2016 brings!

Merry Christmas x