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Jules Birkby - calligrapher, illustrator and word obsessive

Our founder and curator, Tim, introduces the featured artists in Brocken Spectre One.

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Sometimes the universe delivers exactly what you need, even when you’re not quite sure what that missing ‘thing’ is.

One such serendipitous moment came as I scrabbled round in the snowy dying days of 2016 trying to cobble together a professional looking crowdfunding campaign for my latest wheeze, in much less time than it honestly demanded.

I knew I needed a logo of some sort for this book subscription idea, and set about persuading Abi, a talented calligrapher I knew, to create something for me.

In the end it wasn’t to be, as time constraints hemmed us in. However Abi very kindly introduced me to the equally talented Jules Birkby, who it turned out lived round the corner from me.

Jules painting

Which is how Jules came to create the wonderful Adventurous Ink script, which I love so much I had it indelibly inked along my forearm!

Over the years we kept in touch even though Jules moved away. I was always impressed with the energy and enthusiasm she threw into her latest project, whether a local crusade against plastic packaging or crowdfunding campaigns to publish uplifting colouring books.

They say you make your own luck, and I guess that serendipity is one of luck’s many sub-divisions. So in it's own fortuitous way the universe intervened once again whilst I was in search of an illustrator to take inspiration from September’s Ink ‘The Forager’s Calendar’.

Chanterelles on Jules' instagram

I spotted a post from Jules delicately sketching some chanterelles and sharing a story about eating them whilst barbecueing by a lake in Sweden.

Who better to illustrate the range of edible mushrooms that emerge during autumn?!

A novice to foraging myself, I had already discovered that the route to success lay in identifying some key species, then heading out purposefully to look for those.

A lesson I nearly learnt the hard way after randomly wandering through the woods and hoping that every variety might be edible…

With her lavish creative skills Jules has captured a host of edible autumnal delights, to hang on your wall as a permanent reminder of the choicest varieties for eating.

Shaggy Ink Caps

So you’ll never not know that the Shaggy Ink Cap is good eating, whatever it looks like to the untutored eye!

Join us in conversation with Jules as we launch Brocken Spectre on Friday 27th November.

Purchase Jules' print 'Mushrooms' here

Buy back issues of The Forager's Calendar here

November 20, 2020 — tim frenneaux