The (not so) secret life of a fanartist

I’m the girl in the office who does those weird Japanese cartoon drawings. I’m not a designer, I’m definitely not an ‘artist’. But I doodle a lot, and once or twice a year I dress up in a school uniform and go sell stuff at conventions.


So. I do anime/manga style drawings. Back when I was a kid, it wasn’t something I’d publicise. Now, it’s kind of (I say that loosely) acceptable and quite a few people know what you’re talking about. Some even find it cool (or at least, that’s what they say to your face).

A couple of years ago, I realised that this ability can buy me money* and fame* and so I ventured into the world of conventions. This means getting a table at a nerdy event (I share with a friend) and selling stationery with my fanart printed on it.

What does it involve?

  1. A lot of drawing
  2. Realising you haven’t drawn as much as you’d like
  3. More drawing (furiously)
  4. A short-lived break during the printing process
  5. Dragging everything to the convention centre
  6. Getting stared/laughed at on public transport
  7. Sitting behind a table for 12 hours and trying to smile
  8. Repeat (6) and (7) for 2-3 days
  9. Burn out

Sounds tiring, but there are benefits.

It’s an experience (of course). You meet other fanartists.

It can be entertaining. The best thing is when men want to buy prints of half-naked women. They have tactics.

A big one for me: you can get free food at the end (example: £40 worth of extortionate rice balls).

And last, but of course not least – it’s fulfilling! Who would have thought that people would pay REAL MONEY for something I’d drawn? I may not be an accomplished illustrator, and I definitely have a long way to go before I’m in any way satisfied with myself. Yet when someone wants to buy something, when someone gets excited about or admires your work, and even wants it on their wall, that’s really something.

I bet someone’s wondering this, so: yes, I do cosplay (dress in costume). But you try sitting behind a table for 12 hours in a wig and 5 layers. In summer. So we keep it simple (ie. sorry, no interesting photos, ask another time).


That’s it. My random hobby. I’d like to add that I never took art GCSE or beyond. Just did a lot of doodling! Don’t feel like you have to be ‘qualified’ to give something a go.

PS: if you want to check out my drawings, go here.


Helen Belben  |  Senior Account Executive


Communiqué Competition!

Here at Publicis Life Brands Resolute, we’re thrilled to be shortlisted for the Judges’ Special Award for Innovation at this year’s Communiqué awards. And our PHCG UK sister agencies Real Science and Digitas Life Brands are also up for awards too!

To celebrate, we’re giving away a magnum of champagne in our Communique Competition. To be in with a chance of winning, simply Tweet @ThePLBR with the Hashtag #PHCGAtCommunique. The competition is open to everyone who works in Healthcare Communications in the UK.

We’ll be announcing the winner on Friday 3rd July, along with the runners up, who’ll receive Hangover Kits delivered to their offices – what better way to ease those Communiqué hangovers!? Cheers!


#KittenCamp LOLs

If you were to ask someone outside the media world what they thought young media types got up to on a Monday night after work – they would probably (sarcastically) describe something along the lines of #KittenCamp.

Which is why I duly went down to an underground bar in Soho, drank free (craft) beer, and watched two grown men in onesies ‘battle’ each other using nothing more than the power of internet memes.

Unsurprisingly, I loved it.

To give you a bit more background, #KittenCamp is a quarterly meeting at which the most widely shared memes from the last few weeks are watched, laughed at and voted on. Then, guest presenters take us through a relevant topic of their choosing.



The ‘Battle’

In the first half of the evening, the two presenters @WilliamEdHarvey (Innovation Lead & Tech reporter at VCCP, and @theQuiggler (Managing Director at Sharethrough) ‘battled’ against each other to see who had found the best meme in a series of preassigned categories.

Aside from literally laughing out loud, the audience were asked to hold up a physical expression of a LOL (a sheet of paper with the word LOL written on it) to show which of the two memes they preferred in each category. The meme with the most LOLs won.

Some of the highbrow entertainment pieces included:

Do the Protein Shake

Arnie blowing sh*t up   

Shia LeBeouf

Charity for Tidal

GoPro kids

Forgetting Ed Miliband

Rapping egg


Dimuthu Jayawardana   Strategic Planner

Chris Bracey – Gods Own Junkyard

Chris Bracey’s passing in the late part of 2014 saw the loss of an unsung hero of London. He sadly lost his battle with prostate cancer at the age of 59. He was an artist and designer who owned and created one of the largest collections of neon signs and sculpture. Starting out in graphic design, he later joined his father Dick in the neon business.

The 1980’s saw the glamorous rise of the sex industry in the West End of London and with it came a very bright designer. Chris Bracey ceased an opportunity and latched onto the need for advertising there. His skills in lighting design rapidly developed along side the boom of the sex industry. He was a sought after individual, with his artist work on show in nearly all of the sex establishments in the Soho area for two decades.

His work wasn’t just famous in the underworld of Soho, he was also commissioned numerous times to work in film, retail and fashion. Creating signs for Stanley Kubrick’s Eyes Wide Shut, Bladerunner and Batman films as well as creating catwalk and in store displays for some of the UK’s biggest brands and stores. The majority of his work was stored in ‘Gods Own Junk Yard’ in Walthamstow in the north east of London.

After his passing, an exhibition of work from his 40-year career was put on in the part of London he was made famous. A group of us went down to talk a look. It wasn’t until we arrived at the ‘Lights of Soho’ in Brewer Street, that you could really appreciate the artistic craft involved in his career. The exhibition space was full of some of his most famous pieces, large or small, static or animated. It fascinating to see how he conveyed a message through light, using just key words in appropriate colours to sell a product.

Accompanying this blog post is a video Rosie and I put together, that captures the energy and spirit of his career. Documenting a variety of pieces we saw at the exhibition.

Philip Hawkins Designer

Help Nepal. Fast

Nepal has now been devastated by two catastrophic earthquakes in just over a fortnight. At least eight thousand people are dead. Tens of thousands more are injured.

At Publicis Life Brands Resolute, we wanted to do what we could to help. Fast.

So we have created the #HelpNepalFast movement ‒

The idea is simple:

  1. Fast for 12 hours
  2. Donate the money you would have spent on food
  3. Share a photo of your empty plate, with cutlery arranged to resemble Mount Everest at #HelpNepalFast

It’s a small gesture of solidarity for the thousands in Nepal who are grieving, injured or both, and who will very likely go cold and hungry tonight.

It’s time to help Nepal. Fast.

Nepal ad - DOWNLOAD A4 

Visit our website to download a poster for your workplace, and to donate to the victims.

Thank you,

Everyone at PLBR.