The Art of Scamps

Need scamps? You're in the right place.

Rough and ready quick drawings getting ideas down on paper. A lot of my output involves making scamp artwork. For production companies and collaborations with other creative agencies who need to generate visuals quickly.

Scamps are very similar to storyboards or mock-ups. They help frame an idea, giving an art director or advertiser something to see that can help 'proof' a good idea, pushing it to the next stage, or decide if they aren't quite working, to help find the right direction.

They're an important early part of the creative process where speed and clarity are more important than the quality of the image.

Note: I often work under NDA's (non-disclosure agreements). That means the work is not for public display, on websites or social media. Scamps are often only for private use and owned by the company they are created for. The examples on this page are from real projects, and I've been permitted to share them. Just in case you're production company looking for a scamps artist and are worried about privacy.

Scamp artwork examples

These examples are from various projects I've worked on with leading production houses around the UK. From TV adverts to product design, it's often about facilitation, taking other people's ideas and converting them into images without being precious.

As you'll see in these examples, even at the early stage colour can be introduced a little, which often helps align with branding when presenting to clients. I've worked under direction with an art director to help achieve their vision, and I can offer ideas too.

Scamps happen at the very beginning of the process, and can on occasion stressful when they are created alongside conversations - that can go in different directions, but they don't have to be.

Good quality scamps help win pitches.

I have a background in comic art and improv comedy, and studied sequential art and communication design as a student. Learning the shorthand for storytelling and attention-grabbing that comics use so often really helps when it comes to composing images. Scamps can get messy quickly, and less is often more when it comes to choosing images for a presentation.

Get in touch for more info and rates.


Full-service design for WentFest

'Full-service design' covers everything you need for a marketing campaign. From logo, branding and website, to social media, graphics, illustration and print - everything. It's a bit broad and not always a great description, as clients can differ.

Wentfest, formerly Wentworth Festival has built its brand since 2017 and each year's look is fresh and vibrant while being consistent across print and web, so it always looks professional. As with all the work I do, nothing is outsourced.

A logo, a poster and a quick-loading responsive website that sells tickets, for a new music festival. I love it when I get a project that covers all design disciplines for great cross branding experience.

One such recent project was Wentworth Music Festival. Working with a client I've had for many years they said 'this is what we want, and this is the deadline.  It needed to be bright and punchy, but also put on show the spectacular venue itself, Wentworth Woodhouse. A large privately owned stately home outside of Rotherham.


The choice of font and colours were a delicate process of finding something loud and energetic enough to capture the identity and vibrance of a music festival, while also being respectful of the venue. Chatting with the clients while knee-deep in organising big name bands , I put forward a big-splash illustration. Working up a detailed sketch of the venue would show it off with a lot more vibrancy than a photo alone could achieve. There was also a tight deadline and go-live date. Four bold colour silhouettes of non-specific singers and musicians meant the pre-publicity for the event could be while waiting for the confirmation of the big names to come.  After sign off the graphics were reformatted for social media covers and the project was- quite literally - ready to rock!

With over 18 years of industry and design studio experience and a dedication to researching the latest design trends and web technology, it's not just about creating a look and feel , but solving design problems. JCU is more than just the final product, it's a design service.

Design is everywhere. John understands the DNA of great design communication and how to get you noticed. Rocket Steps has clients throughout the UK and overseas.

Branding for Shore Thing Theater

'Theater'? That's not a typo. My annual visit to the USA allows me to meet a lot of new creative folks with business plans. This month I've been helping Ria Toricelli  with the branding of her new theatre space 'Shore Thing Theater' in New Jersey.

Simliar to a previous branding project for The Fresnel Theater  in Portland, and Comedysportz Las Vegas, the brief for Shore Thing Theater was to create a brand logo reflecting the ethos of this venue. An entertainment space near the New Jersey shoreline, Shore Thing hosts live comedy, arts and education in a safe environment for the diverse surrounding community.

Working with Ria, we discussed a few different approaches, eventually settling on a logo where waves and a shoreline met with a stage and spotlights, blending the two aspects together into a memorable brand image.

Here's the final design, together with some earlier iterations, showing how the brand design evolved.

Branding the Kings Arms, Salford

Back in 2018, I did the logo and rebranding on the Kings Arms Theatre pub in Salford, but I never did a blog, so here it is.

As a regular there they knew me well as my graphic design work for other productions had already graced their walls. When it came to their rebrand, they just had to ask.

freelance illustrator Salford

Rebranding of the King.

The venue is pretty unique, being a great real ale pub, and also a theatre. Many times I've sat in the bar, watching it fill up in seconds as the sold-out show upstairs has its halftime break. It's a grand old place bursting with fresh new talent (The sitcom Fresh Meat was filmed there).

Above the bar is a stained glass window of a king. Not sure which one, but it was a starting point. For the rebrand, I took what was already there and gave it a bit of modern pop.

I got a lot of great feedback from Lisa, who commissioned the work and suggested the tattoos of local legends.

Using the same forms from the window; beard, robes and crown I created sketches, simplifying the stained glass into line art and turning the king to face and embrace his subjects. A new king with a broad smile who likes to put on a performance. (in my mind he sounds like Brian Blessed!).

Since the rebranding, the pub has launched its own ale, the Queen's Legs. Does the queen have hairy legs or is it the King in drag? I'm afraid even I can't reveal that.

Branding Design - Fresnel Theater (USA)

A brand design is more than just a logo. It's a representation of what the product or service is – what it stand for. With a good brand should tell you what what it's selling at a glance. A good brand tells a story.

Matt and Krista were looking for a designer for their new community theater space, the Fresnel Theater, opening in Portland, Maine. I met Matt through Comedysportz, a comedy improv show.

He’s a really enthusiastic smart guy, and it came as no surprise that he already had a mission statement, which is a great starting point for a designer.

It answered the questions that I'd initially ask - designer to client. What are the goals of the business, what makes your company different? Descriptive words. So that I can read and listen to the language they use and tune into their frequency and start creating visuals

Branding and logo design
Branding design - The Fresnel Theater (USA)

So in designing the logo it was important to look for something that was welcoming and incorporated The keywords of playfulness community and compassion.

From a practical point of view It needed to be bright and chunky so that when transferred into signage on the building, it's seen clearly from a distance.

Matt was keen for the logo to reflect the lighthouses that portland is known for. The name fresnal comes from bevels in the lens of a lighthouse main lamp that helps focus the beam. As a designer, I love that kind of creative thinking. 

Once the colours and typeface were finalised I created and branding guide. This is a reference document for printers. Most large commercial brands have very detailed branding guides, but really every business should have something like this. It’s helpful to printers and is a reliable way to future proof the consistency of your brand over time.

Here’s the final logo that Matt and Krista approved.

Branding Design Manchester