Photograph of Guy Callaby with Jess the dog
East Sussex is a beautiful part of the world. I’ve lived in Hastings since 2006 but sometimes it can still feel like I’m on holiday. I grew up in Swindon in the sixties, then Mansfield in the seventies. At eighteen I travelled south to Maidstone College of Art to study for my graphics degree. After graduating, I got a job in Covent Garden and lived and worked in various parts of London for the next 22 years. But after housesitting for friends in Hastings in 2005, I realised I needed a change of scenery and persuaded Hel, my partner, to rent a property with me in Hastings Old Town.

After three years on Ebenezer Road, keen for somewhere to grow fruit and vegetables, we bought a house with a garden in Ore. There was some debate with the local badgers about access but we have now amicably agreed to share. It’s all academic anyway as Jess, our German Shepherd, is pretty sure she owns not only our garden but much of the land beyond it.

I started Helium Badger in August 2015. My drawing style is well suited to Art Deco architecture and there are many such landmarks nearby, most notably Marine Court in St Leonards-on-Sea, Bexhill’s De La Warr Pavilion and Eastbourne Bandstand.

Hastings is also home to the largest beach-launched fishing fleet in Europe. The boats on the Stade, the tall, tarred net shops that line Rock-a-Nore and, of course, the ever-present herring gulls give Hastings a unique feel. I try to include at least one herring gull in each design if at all possible (and look out for the occasional black backed gull, oystercatcher, pigeon, cat, dog or fox).

The Helium Badger range continues to grow. I am always looking for new buildings, new views, that will adapt well to my illustrative style. I don’t expect to run out of inspiration for many years yet.

By the way, Jess makes an appearance in a card – that’s her in HB003PL, Pett Level, Winchelsea.

Guy Callaby