Hello! Welcome to Gather • Filter• Make

Hi! I'm Ella Beech, a children's book author and illustrator living in Cambridge UK.

I have been running a Patreon membership since June 2020, and as of October 2023, I have migrated fully over here to Substack. Although I have loved running my Patreon over the years - I really felt I wanted a bit of a re-set - I wanted to create a place that will be an even more dedicated, personal and authentic place. I started my Patreon while I was still a student on the MA and it was a place for me to do extra exploring and have a creative outlet that felt separate from the MA. Since then I have graduated and started getting paid work as a children’s book illustrator, and I’m realising now I need to find a slightly new way of working. Having Substack as my new endeavour gives me a chance for a bit of a clean slate. I want my Substack to be for:

  • people who are curious about illustration (without the hype)

    I want this to be a space that feels free of bullshit, hype, false promises and claims that joining my space can make you an uber-successful illustrator. Instead, I want it to be a place where people can get a real glimpse of what it is like to be an illustrator. When I was still at work and considering leaving, I was desperate to get a real sense of what it would be like, and I was desperate to get an insight into what I could expect. I looked around far and wide to find the answers, and couldn’t find what I was looking for. So this is for past me, and everyone looking for similar answers!

  • people who love process and play

    As you probably know by now, I am obsessed with process! I think figuring out the mindset behind making work is half of the ingredients to actually making illustration. Discoveries I have made about myself, particularly during the MA, about how I work have been literally life-changing for me, and I am passionate about sharing that. Again, this is partly for past me, who was feeling lost and not sure how to move forward with my practice. I also love to play around with art materials, explore working intuitively, making artwork experiments, and playing around to keep my practice as an artist fresh and exciting.

  • for people who simply like my work!

    This is the bit that feels the most uncomfortable for me at the moment, but I am determined to get more comfortable with it! Eventually, I would like my Substack to be a place where I simply show new work, explore my practice and share it with people because they like my work! This feels like the next part of my development as I transition from a student to an illustrator, and it feels the most scary to me somehow. Hopefully, I will grow into it, like an itchy jumper that gets all soft and frayed in all the right bits the more I wear it!

  • for the journey!

    Again, for past me who just wanted to know all the juicy details of my journey, I want my Substack to continue to be a record of my progress, struggles and meanders along this crazy path I decided to take when I left work in 2019!

A bit about me (the headlines)

I thought I would be an “artist” when I grew up
I followed that trajectory for most of my young adult life: Art GCSE and A-Level, an extremely exciting and fulfilling year doing a Foundation Course in Art and Design at Wimbledon School of Art and then I went on to do a BA in Fine Art Painting at Winchester School of Art.

Ella Beech Profile Image

I remember clearly the moment I realised I had no idea how to be an artist after graduation. The idea of getting a studio and just painting felt utterly out of reach to me, as I had to pay rent and buy food and stuff! So by chance, I got a "stop-gap'“ job that happened to be in…

Children’s Books
And somehow, I ended up staying for 21 years! It was an amazing experience, and I wouldn’t swap it, but it did rather scupper my plans of becoming an artist. I worked mainly in Pre-School publishing, working my way up from Design assistant, Designer, Senior Designer and eventually to Art Director. Before I left I worked for four years heading up the Pre-School and Novelty book Imprint Campbell Books (an imprint of Macmillan Children’s Books).

Leap of faith
There wasn’t one lightbulb moment, more like a slow yearning to be creative that just got too loud to ignore any more. I realised that I wasn’t getting any younger, and it felt like my creative aspirations were slipping silently away.

So, in 2019 I gave in my notice! I applied to do the prestigious MA in Children’s Book Illustration at Cambridge School of Art - and wow, what an amazing two-and-a-half years that was! It was truly magical to devote myself full-time to my creative development with a group of equally dedicated and excited people.

a spread from one of the projects I developed on the MA

Living the dream
Since then I have been working on my first illustrated children’s books. My first book will be published later in the year by The Folio Society; My second book is due in Spring 2024 and will be Published by Wide Eyed Editions; And I am just in the early stages of my third book. I’m not sure how much I am allowed to say at this point, but if you subscribe to this newsletter, you will be the first to hear what I am allowed to say!

As well as the illustration work, I work as a part-time Associate Lecturer on the MA at Cambridge School of Art In Children’s Book Illustrations (yes, the same MA I did in 2019!). I also sell original artwork, archival prints and zines over in my shop.

So, what will you get here on my Substack?

Free Subscribers

I always want to have some free content as well as paid, so if you sign up as a free subscriber you will get regular (once or twice a month) posts in the form of life and studio updates, creative thoughts, musings and what I call “creative rambles”. Making a big mid-life change like I did, I discovered an interest in the creative process. It's not just about making work, but how… what helps? What hinders? How can I delve deeper and better understand myself and my practice? I have learned how helpful it is to reflect on what you make, and I hope by doing that here, I can help you too.

Paid Subscribers

I offer paid subscriptions for people who want extra creative content and to be part of an online community. You can expect

recorded videos:

  • behind-the-scenes video diaries (vlogs)

  • videos looking through my latest sketchbooks

  • process videos (for example, time-lapses or films of me painting)

  • Photoshop mini masterclasses

  • publishing chat from my days working in-house in children’s book publishing

  • Picture book and materials recommendations and chat

  • whatever else is capturing my imagination at the moment

Online meet-ups

I host three live meet-ups.

Motivation monthly

I don’t know about you, but I love a chance to set goals and dream up new ideas and exciting plans. Although I am a creative, messy, often chaotic artist, in a slightly out-of-character way, I also love writing a list and checking things off. So this is an online meet-up at the beginning of every month to get your shit organised. We set intentions, brainstorm ideas, set goals, and also give ourselves a good old pat on the back with a ta-da list too!

Art Play Dates

These are free, playful and fun art sessions. Each month I choose what I want to play around with that month and you can either join in, or go off-piste, and do your own thing. I might spend a session playing with wet textures, playing around with how things bleed, mix together, blend. Other times I might grab a handful of random materials and play around with those together. Maybe in the summer, we will go outside (or I will, and you can join on your own outside). I’m hoping this will evolve and grow as it continues. All previous Art Play Dates are available as replays, and each new session adds to the back catalogue to watch and play along with.

Picture Book Club

One of my favourite things on the MA was when we looked at Picture Books together and analysed them, so I am thrilled to run this on my Substack. I announce the book at the beginning of the month along suggest some questions for you to consider, and then we have a live Zoom together at the end of the month to chat all about it! It is available as a replay afterwards for those who can't make it.

How does it work?

When you subscribe you get updates sent in the form of an email, straight to your inbox. But you can also see everything on the webpage where all my posts are collated together, or on the Substack app.

If you do choose to become a paid subscriber, as well as getting lots of creative content straight to your inbox, you’ll be providing valuable financial support for me, for which I am hugely grateful. You’ll also get early access to sales, special offers, discounts and generally get first dibs on anything new I create.

My zines, which you can pick up at my online shop

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From the studio of Ella Beech - Picture Book Illustrator and teacher. Live meet-ups, process videos, Picture Book Club and loads more!


Children's Book author and illustrator living in Cambridge, UK. Folio Society, Wide Eyed Editions, Thames & Hudson. Associate lecturer and former grad of Cambridge School of Art Children’s Book Illustration MA.