Sketchbook artist can’t stop doodling

Andrea Joseph describes herself as a professional doodler and admits wryly that she may have a bit of an ‘obsessive compulsive drawing disorder’.

Well that’s no bad thing at all if the results are the truly awe-inspiring illustrations for which she is fast becoming internationally famous.

What is surprising is that the 47-year-old artist only turned to drawing as a creative outlet ten years ago. She says she had always doodled a bit and drew at school like everyone else, but she had never considered studying art.

She travelled a lot in her 20s and then returned to Manchester where she worked her way through a variety of jobs none of which she considered long-term.

Then one day she stumbled across an online sketching blog by New York’s Danny Gregory, who writes best-selling books on art and creativity and is
co-founder of Sketchbook Skool.

“I thought ‘hey that’s something I wouldn’t mind having a go at myself’ and as soon as I started drawing everything seemed to make sense. It just struck a chord with me and it was just such fun,” said the self-taught artist.

“Danny encourages people to keep a sketchbook and draw things from everyday life and I just started drawing the everyday stuff around me and honed my technical skills. I read that you needed to draw a subject 100 times to get it right and so I did that with among other things my cat,” she said, grinning.

“I consider myself a sketchbook artist and have various books with different subjects. I even have one in my car dedicated to cars and roads. The one I treasure the most is my travel-themed sketchbook,” she added fetching it from her studio upstairs.

As I turned the pages of it I could see why she would be proud of it as it is so full of detail with drawings of all the souvenirs she has collected. Months and months of work must have gone into it.

Andrea, who now lives at Furness Vale near New Mills, has worked hard to promote her illustrations and has made the most of the opportunities offered by social media and the internet – especially facebook flickr and Etsy. That has meant that her reputation as a top class illustrator has spread worldwide and she is better known in the USA than she is in Derbyshire.

“My work is studied in art and graphic design classes in schools,”   she said.

And she tells how students at New Mills who were looking at her work and spotted a train ticket from Furness Vale among the drawings.

“When they discovered I was actually just down the road they were amazed,” she said.

However it was when Danny Gregory, the man who inspired her ten years ago, asked to film a lettering course for one of his online Sketchbook Skools that she knew she had made it.

“I just couldn’t believe that he was knocking at my door. It was one of those moments in a career which just takes you to another level,” she said clearly still excited about what has changed in her life.

It was about 18 months ago that Andrea decided to take the plunge and become a full time artist which has meant she has to become more focussed and she has been promoting her illustrations more locally.

She now has work in The Gallery in New Mills and will be exhibiting at Made in New Mills at the Mellor Road Church Hall on September 24.

She has also gained a reputation for staging life drawing classes with a difference. She has created a series of weekly Drink and Draw evenings at The Studio in the town, with an ongoing narrative and an exhibition of work at the end.

The first featured a showgirl with a dark secret which was in a red suitcase which each week was passed on to a new model and a new set of props.

“It is a sort of soap opera for sketchers. Each week I leave them with a cliffhanger and they can’t wait to get back to see what happens.

“It has worked exactly as I wanted and has been absolutely amazing fun.”

There will be a special Drink and Draw event as part of the New Mills Festival on Friday, September 16 at 7.30pm

For more information about her work go to