The story behind the design – Birds and cacti pattern

Today I will tell you the story behind the YUK FUN birds and cacti pattern, which features on our Birds and cacti T-shirt.

Birds-and-cacti-white-blogI was raised in Suffolk, in a village close to a river, wood and some water meadows. I spent a lot of my childhood going for walks and exploring these natural habitats. If we went on a walk as a family there would always be a little unofficial competition to see who could spot and point out the most unusual animal or bird. The most prized sightings were kingfishers with their dazzling display of colourful plumage.

When I got home I would draw endless pictures of birds and other animals, using felt tip pens and coloured pencils. Here are a few examples I dug up back at the old Gildersleeves family home.


This one is clearly inspired by Indiana Jones, complete with hat, whip and pistol (circa 1994).

Bird by Patrick Gildersleeves

An anxious looking bird in a desert (circa 1994)

Rare parrot by Patrick Gildersleeves

A Rare Parrot (circa 1996)

Some might say that my drawing style hasn’t progressed a great deal – I would tend to agree but add that I don’t think that’s necessarily a bad thing…

For our T-shirt collection I wanted to create something bold and playful with a summery feel, so I thought back to sunny days walking by the river and the outrageous colours of the kingfishers. I drew a big group of birds and vegetation using my imagination (rather than google image search or a bird book), just like when I was a child, and then added some very tropical colours using the computer.

Birds line drawing by YUK FUN

This is the original pencil line drawing of the birds on A3 yellow paper.

Birds and cacti coloured by YUK FUN

After separating the layers and adding colour using the computer.

Birds and cacti pattern by YUK FUN

After a lot of shuffling around, here’s the pattern “block” from which the repeating pattern is made.

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