Johanna Basford’s inky Wonderlands

Illustrator Johanna Basford has published a printed portfolio featuring projects from the past five years and photographs from her first solo exhibition.

Illustrator Johanna Basford has published a printed portfolio featuring projects from the past five years and photographs from her first solo exhibition.

Wonderlands includes monochrome illustrations for Computer Arts Project, the Edinburgh Festival Fringe, Starbucks and Creative Review, plus a collection of black and white shots of Basford’s Wonderlands exhibition, on display in Dundee earlier this year.

The book, published by Dundee Contemporary Arts, showcases her ink drawings beautifully. Text is kept to a minimum to let the intricate artwork speak for itself, and each copy is encased in a silk screen printed dust jacket for a hand crafted finish.

CR was first introduced to Basford in 2009, when she used an unusual tactic to get our attention; creating a bespoke hand-drawn cover complete with a spine reading ‘commission me’ (below).

Since graduating from Duncan of Jordanstone College of Art & Design in 2005, Basford has built up an impressive client list, designing packaging and print illustrations for brands including Sony, Umbro, Absolut vodka and Pernod Ricard. She already has an online portfolio, but wanted to create a more tactile showcase of her work.

“My practice centres around the analogue process of putting pen to paper, so a printed portfolio feels much more in keeping with the work than a digital one. A website, PDF of iPad presentation all serve a very necessary purpose, but there’s something so intrinsically charming about a printed page,” she says.

The book was designed by Richy Lamb, a graphic designer at Glasgow studio Owned and Operated. “I met Richy when we were at art school together and knew he would make something beautiful,” explains Basford. “I wanted a book that was simple yet elegant and which would let the artwork be the main focus.

“The brief was pretty loose – we just wanted to highlight the artwork, strip back everything else and wrap it all up in a hand printed cover. Richy stripped out any unnecessary text (including page numbers, which we felt peppered the artwork obtrusively) and handled the flow of images, layout, typography and print finishes,” she adds.

Basford’s printed portfolio makes a lovely change from zip files and slideshows, and her illustrations are a reminder of just how powerful – and versatile – ink drawings can be: her work has been applied to boats, skis, skin, walls , packaging, and even dogs:

“There’s something magical about putting pen to paper. I love the wobbly lines, the imperfection, and the smudgy finger prints of working by hand – I think it adds a sense of soul and character that computer generated can’t compete with,” she says.

Wonderlands is published by Dundee Contemporary Arts and is available to buy at Basford’s website for £20 plus p+p.

signed and wrapped in a delicate sheet of acid free tissue, before being packed securely for its journey to you. – See more at:

Want to learn a new skill? Hone your craft? Or just switch off that Mac and do something a little less boring instead for a while? Then our August issue is for you with details on workshops, short courses and a host of ideas to reinvigorate the creative mind. You can buy the August issue of Creative Review direct from us here. Better yet, subscribe to make sure that you never miss out on a copy – you’ll save money too. Details here.

More from CR

Immersive site re-tells the story of 1963 March on Washington

The US National Park Foundation and digital marketing agency Organic have launched an interactive site allowing users to record their own version of Martin Luther King’s ‘I Have a Dream’ speech to celebrate the 50th anniversary of the March on Washington.

Out of the Shadows: MacDonald Gill

The first major retrospective of designer and architect MacDonald Gill’s work opens in London next month. We spoke to Gill’s family about curating the show and why his work has received so little recognition until now.

CR September issue: Gradwatch 2013

Eight top graduates are profiled in our September issue – each has a page with which to introduce themselves to the creative world, and we also take a look at some of their best work to date. It’s the CR Gradwatch class of 2013

Graphic Designer

Fushi Wellbeing

Creative Designer

Monddi Design Agency