am a North East UK based artist and designer living in the ex pit
village of Ferryhill in County Durham. I work from home, designing and
illustrating in my studio, and renovating furniture in my basement
Thanks for visiting, if there's anything you'd like to know or request, just drop me a line.
Helen was born in Stockton-on-Tees on 22nd January 1969 and raised in
Ferryhill, County Durham, where she has lived for most of her life. She
has strived hard through sacrifice and struggle to achieve success.
leaving school, she studied graphic design for two years at New
College, Durham City. The following two years she studied at Cleveland
College of Art & Design (CCAD) gaining an HND in visual
communications, specialising in illustration. On leaving college, Helen moved from Middlesbrough to Murton, near Seaham, in the East Durham/Sunderland region.
college, Helen became a freelance designer, covering a broad range of
disciplines including graphic design, illustration, sign-writing,
portaiture, murals, tattoo design; building a varied and extensive
portfolio in the process.
daughter Shannon was born in 1991, Helen worked hard to balance
motherhood with the continuation of her freelance work. Then, around
1994/5 she started making videos of punk and rock bands, travelling
throughout the UK and parts of Northern Mainland Europe, working as part
of a team to create videos of such bands as Stiff Little Fingers, The
Men They Couldn't Hang, 999, UK Subs, Angelic Upstarts, and many more.
then worked for Durham County Council Arts Libraries and Museums
Department, as part off their Open Learning Project. Entirely from
scratch, she wrote teaching materials and study books for Apple
Mac-based design programs, including Adobe Photoshop and Quark Express,
over a period of many months, involved in pioneering a new form of
learning in the region when there was scant knowledge of this kind of
learning. Local press and TV coverage followed as the project rolled out
across the county, with Helen travelling the region teaching students
on both a one-to-one and group basis throughout libraries, community
centres, church halls, and other venues.
same time, Helen became a part time IT lecturer for East Durham and
Houghall College (now Peterlee College) and teaching
design, spreadsheets, database, word processing, Sage accounts and
computer programming to 17-18 year old students.
She taught both on site in the college and in libraries and community
centres throughout East Durham, taking IT out into the local mining
villages, to students of all ages and backgrounds, as well as to young
people with learning difficulties and behavioural problems, all of which
she found extremely stimulating, inspiring and fulfilling.
her contract with the Council ran out, Helen worked on a number of high
profile community projects, including a major schools project with a
local writer and graphic designer, for which she illustrated a
children's spelling book, receiving lots of coverage in the local press.
Throughout this time, she survived many major personal upheavals,
including the loss of her home and divorce.
to Ferryhill, Helen continued to develop her freelance artwork.
This included children's educational posters for poster company Chart
Media, which sell nationwide in branches of Waterstones, one of which is
Chart Media's best-seller worldwide. She achieved all of this during a
second extremely difficult personal period, including suffering a broken
hand, which made continuing with her creativity a major challenge.
her second child Aaron was born in 2001, Helen went into child-minding
whilst still taking on commissions, which she would complete in the
evenings during an intensive period of work, creativity and home-life.
When Aaron started school and Helen had ended her child-minding role,
she decided she wanted to get back into full-time artwork. For the
time-being, however, she had to continue taking full-time day jobs, as
she had two children to bring up on her own.
in 2011, Helen went totally self-employed and established 'Winkin'
Bitsy Designs', whilst continuing to carry out extensive freelance work.
relatively humbly with a market stall in Durham City Centre, she
progressed to opening her own shop, selling her own work as well as
various items by other local artists and creatives. She successfully ran
the two projects concurrently for some time before giving up the market
stall to focus full-time on the shop.
successful and popular, she realised, however, that the practicalities
of running a shop as a sole trader, was taking up all of her time and
thus stifling her creativity, so reluctantly gave it up and moved on.
at last, to devote all her attention solely to her artwork, Helen set
up both her own official website, Winkin' Bitsy, and an Etsy shop, and
started having her designs printed onto a wide range of clothing and
accessories. Her Winkin' Bitsy clothing range has proven extremely
popular, sells worldwide, and has led to wholesale outlets in Australia,
Austria and Eire. The online clothing business continues to grow, going
from strength to strength, whilst Helen is now focussing on her first
creative love which is illustration and design.
designs have been featured in numerous quality magazines and websites,
including Women's Health Magazine, Germany, as well as being included in
the Etsy 'Lookbook' two seasons running.
off-shoot to Winkin' Bitsy Illustration, Helen has even found time to
branch out into furniture renovation. In partnership with sign-maker and
graphic designer Geoff Siddle, Helen's Winkin' Bitsy Workshop takes items of furniture and decorates them with interesting and imaginative illustrations and artwork on a commission basis.
Helen's latest business collaboration is with her life-partner, Mad Martins
Musical Director and Songwriter Gary Miller. She is now the
official full-time designer and artist for Gary's various projects,
including Gary Miller Songs, The Whisky Priests, Whippet Records and of
course, Mad Martins itself. Furthermore, the pair are currently in the
process of establishing a brand new Community Arts Organisation for the
provision workshops and projects in their local area and beyond.