From play to project: how artist Alex Evans designed the packaging for Winsor & Newton Fineliners

Alex Evans is an Artist based in London. His work uses drawing to explore languages of architecture, geometry and nature. Alex shares his experiences of designing new packaging for our Fineliner range, including the conceptual design, collaboration and artistic processes. 

Throughout my journey as an artist, I have been accompanied and facilitated by inspiring art materials. Sets of pens and pencils would inspire me to try new techniques, focus on different subjects or experiment with an unfamiliar style. And the packaging, for me, did more than just showcase the product – it offered a gateway into a world of creativity. 

I was lucky enough to revisit this sense of wonder through creating a series of original artworks for Winsor & Newton using Fineliners. These pens have always been my tool of choice – in my practice I use them as a way of exploring my relationship with nature, geometry and architecture, creating detailed, minuscule arrangements of cities, organic systems and mathematic principles. I wanted to showcase the pens’ capacities for creating texture, tone and variety within a composition referencing the ‘Flower of Life’ pattern, timelessly significant in its beauty and cosmological and mathematical meaning.   



I started playing around with the Fineliners in the studio, initially exploring techniques like stipplingmaking successive dots in various densities to offer tonal variety. The Fineliner range offers plenty of thickness control and responds sensitively to pressure; essential qualities when creating artworks which play with illusion and scale, or high levels of technical skills. They respond well when used alongside rulers and stencils to achieve precision as they offer an enhanced density of non-fading pigment ink and reliable ink flow. The smooth application at every nib size helped to avoid any ruinous smudges, lumps or marks, realising a more mechanical appearance. 



The unique rounded shape of the Fineliner nib allowed me to create extremely detailed drawings on a miniature scale as well as much thicker lines using just one pen. This was especially important when employing the technique ‘chiaroscuro’ (the use of contrasting of light and dark areas) to create the illusion of depth, shadow and volume.  



I wanted to showcase fluid lines in a looser sketch style, weaving in and out of more rigid geometric forms. In order to achieve this sense of flow I need to feel physically comfortable and attuned to the pen I am using, and the Fineliner features a comfortable long barrel which makes grip adjustment easier, especially useful when changing angle or position when drawing.  

I used the pens with layout paper on my Lightbox to plot co-ordinates and trace compositional elements together. I photographed and filmed different stages, using timelapse photography to offer an insight into my creative process and the different techniques made possible by the pens, which you can find on Winsor & Newton’s social channels. 



I’m not used to working in the role of a packaging designer. The packaging team at Winsor & Newton offered feedback at different stages of the project and supported me to make decisions in response to the brief. The important thing for me when working in this way is to find the point of inspiration between the media I am working with, my own artistic style and the brand’s unique identity. There is always some anxiety about whether the final image will meet the expected and unexpected elements within the brief and showcase the product in the best possible way 



If I were to offer guidance to budding designers, it would be a reminder to listen deeply, respond and push the brief, take on board different perspectives and work in service of the product. As an artist it is important to have integrity and create work that is true to your vision, so finding ways of communicating and sharing your ideas is important.  

My final piece resonates with the possibilities of drawing, shifting between forms and defying expectations. Sometimes it appears as a star, an explosion or a skyscraper, at other times a tropical bird or a flower. Inherent within the piece is a sense of orderly beauty, but it is unpredictable and misaligned too.  



This commission gave me a chance to further explore a tool I was already familiar with. In doing so, I have been able to explore my creativity and develop my skills in using Fineliners. I am just one person among many who will use these versatile pens; each person – with each pen – will create something truly unique and of their own world. 

All images are courtesy of the artist. Click here to see more of Alex’s work. 

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