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2020 a Year of Digital Illustration

There can’t be many businesses that remained unaffected by Covid 19 in 2020 and for those of us in the live events industry it hit hard. Back in March I watched in disbelief as event after event was cancelled from my diary.  

But then something amazing happened…

I took part in an online meeting of my local networking group and made notes as we talked through some ideas to help us keep busy and look to the future. I took these notes and turned them into a digital illustration entitled ‘This Won’t be Forever’. I sent it round the group and after getting a positive response I popped it on Twitter thinking others might find it useful.  Well I wasn’t prepared for the response…

The poster went World-Wide!

and I spent the next few weeks responding to messages asking if people could use the poster for emergency wobble rooms, doctors surgeries, young carers groups, schools, colleges and universities, retirement and nursing homes, community centres and churches, newsletters and websites. One of my favourite stories came from a school who printed the image on postcards and sent them to every single pupil home schooling. Another organisation printed it on bags being sent out with care parcels for the elderly.

The original poster lead to a ‘colour me in’ version and a welsh language version and from that I created other resources, all offered as free downloads from my website. And as every cloud has a silver lining that project lead to various commissions for digital illustration work that has kept me busy ever since! 

This Won't Be Forever Poster - Digital Illustration from Emma Paxton of Imagistic

Here are some of the highlights of the year: 

JANUARY.  Way back in January I was working with Stop Domestic Abuse, facilitating a series of business transformation workshops. I use visual facilitation techniques where everyone gets to contribute, consensus is reached easily and we get a whole load of work done very quickly!   I also supported Dorset Growth Hub at their Digital Dorset Day by facilitating a visual networking session and graphic recording some of the workshops. 

FEBRUARY.  February kicked off with an amazing event – Brad Burton’s Now What Live! Heros and Villains event brought together business owners from around the UK for a day of truly inspirational presentations. 

Live Graphic Recording by Emma Paxton of Imagistic for Brad Burton

I was also invited to graphic record some World Cafe events. Led by Mutual Gain these brought communities together to help them improve where they live and deal with anti-social behaviour. 

Live graphic recording for Mutual Gain by Emma Paxton of Imagistic

February ended with a wonderful opportunity to support Heather Martinez with two lettering retreats.  Held at a unique venue near Oxford we welcomed visual practitioners from around the world to delve deep into their lettering practice. 

MARCH. In early March I drew at my last live gig for Mutal Gain, close to home in Gosport, and at the People, Place and Space event in Shoreham.

Live Graphic Recording by Emma Paxton of Imagistic
People Place & Space Event

The following week events started to be cancelled and graphic recorders around the world started sharing knowledge to help each other take their graphic recording online so we could support virtual events.   By the end of March the UK was in full lockdown as Covid 19 cases soared and hospitals became overwhelmed. I was so pleased to have some digital illustration projects to keep me busy included a beautiful school vision for Yarborough Academy and a visual for Ordnance Survey to explain the value data correlation for inclusion in a report to Government. 

Yarborough Academy School Vision - Digital Illustration from Emma Paxton of Imagistic

APRIL.  Spring came early and we were blessed with gorgeous weather as the skies and roads went quiet.  Bird song woke us every morning and the sun shone to lift our spirits.  April was spent mostly replying to messages about my This Won’t be Forever Poster, but I also did my first online graphic recordings supporting Adventure Phycologist Paula Reid with her Overcoming Covid workshops.

MAY. Lockdown continued throughout May with more sunshine and some lovely digital illustration projects including a vision picture for EMZO Marketing, and a poster for Maggy Pigott to help promote her book ‘How to Age Joyfully’. It’s a great read, squished full of wonderful quotes and simple ideas to keep fit and healthy for all ages. 

How to Age Joyfully book summary for Maggy Pigott - Digital Illustration from Emma Paxton of Imagistic

May also saw the start of a wonderful creative partnership with musicians Benjamin Howell and Matthew Preston who come together as Missing Coda. Together we’ve created a whole raft of teaching materials including My Musical Journey, My Practice Diary and more. 

Digital Illustration for Missing Coda by Emma Paxton of Imagistic


JUNE.  As lockdown began to ease we started to venture out again and enjoy the sunshine. 

One of my long term clients Dr Karen Treisman MBE got in touch with some ideas for new illustrations. Karen is a clinical psychologist and trauma specialist and we have a great working partnership co-creating a whole series of posters, worksheets and training materials to support her work.  Karen asked me to draw this beautiful piece that she made available free of charge on her website to help people through difficult times. I loved drawing this one!  

Take What you Need Tokens - Digital Illustration for Dr Karen Treisman by Emma Paxton of Imagistic

June also saw my first collaboration with Echo Eighty a local marketing and web design agency. We created our first explainer video for South Hampshire Primary Care Alliance. 

I was also asked to illustrate The Concise Facilitator by Keith Warren-Price. I learnt my facilitation skills from Keith way back in the mid 1990’s so I was really honoured to be asked to draw for him. 

The Concise Facilitator by Keith Warren-Price - Digital Illustration by Emma Paxton of Imagistic


JULY. School holidays and a welcome end to home schooling for many families.   The UK opened up and people flocked to beaches, bars and restaurant bringing fear of a 2nd wave of Covid 19.  July brought another gorgeous vision picture for Borrowfield School. I also created some digital illustrations for Deborah Baxter’s first book ‘The Secret to Being a Good Therapist’ and was asked to provide online graphic recording for Solent NHS.   

School vision for Borrowfield Primary Shool - Digital Illustration by Emma Paxton of Imagistic

AUGUST.  As the holidays rolled on and everyone ‘eat out to help out’ I kept busy with illustrations for Baxter Healthcare, Koala Marketing, plus more projects with Missing Coda, Karen Treisman and Maggy Pigott plus another book, ‘Get That Job’ by Mandy Ward.

Get That Job by Mandy Ward-  Digital Illustration from Emma Paxton of Imagistic

SEPTEMBER. The changing of the seasons saw a second collaboration with Echo Eighty – another explainer video, this time for the University of Southampton.  Plus three illustration projects that easily make my top 10 for the year. The first for Mobile Molars. Grant asked me to create a postcard that he could leave with dental practices and practitioners to explain the service he provides. Secondly West Sussex Children’s Services asked me to create a vision picture to summarise their services and thirdly Paternoster Communications asked me to illustrate a series of panels to support a pitch for new business.  

All about the Mobile Molars service- Digital Illustration from Emma Paxton of Imagistic

Oooh and not forgetting rehearsals for TEDx Southampton – being back in the room with my pens was a real treat and I can’t wait for the actual event next year.

TEDx Southampton Rehearsals, graphic recording provided by Emma Paxton of Imagistic

OCTOBER.  October and we were still able to visit the pub and even enjoyed some live music! Back in the studio I was working on another wonderful school project for Whitley Abbey Primary School – a series of Animal Values and a School Vision (trees were very popular this year) I think Roo Resilience is my favourite!  I also created a poster to support Obesity UK with their Living With Obesity Campaign. 

Whitley Abbey Primary School Vision Picture - Digital Illustration from Emma Paxton of Imagistic

NOVEMBER.  As Covid cases increased rapidly new lockdown tiers were introduced and as the days grew ever shorter the country got into the Christmas spirit early.  More digital illustration this month for the lovely guys at Missing Coda plus some graphic recording and a subsequent poster for Winchester City Council to support their project to make Winchester a greener city.

A portrait of Winchester as a green city looking into the future - Digital Illustration from Emma Paxton of Imagistic

DECEMBER.  One of my last digital illustration projects before Christmas was to create some posters for Samantha Dunn. Sam is from the UK but lives on the Island of St Helena in the South Atlantic where she is planning a World Cafe for young people to help them shape the future of their island. I loved hearing about life on the island and creating a poster that reflects the people and culture. 

And finally I mustn’t forget Penny Plimmer and Martine Bolton’s wonderful Lockdown Memories book – full of inspiring and joyful stories of local people who supported others during the year. I’m delighted to have the story of my ‘This Won’t be Forever’ poster featured! 

As the year draws to a close I’ve really enjoyed looking back over this very unusual year. I’m very thankful that I’ve been able to work digitally and so looking forward to getting ‘back in the room’ in 2021! 

Thanks to all my lovely customers, friends, partners and collaborators, I’m ever grateful for your continued support and for all the amazing ideas that I get to turn into pictures! 

Thank you card from Emma Paxton of Imagistic

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