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My Illustration Project for Sorry! We’re Closed
Written by Emma Farrell
5 Minute Read

In the summer of 2022, Gareth Milner began writing a Book on the topic of Manual Handling Risk Management, but with a humorous twist. This Book was set to be every Health & Safety Professional’s bible when it comes to expert managing of Manual Handling risks; leveraging business growth and with that leveraging their pay-rise.

Linked to this new and exciting company project and what with being the Creative Director at Osteopathic Solutions (as of 2022) my role was to add a creative twist to this Book, and in-turn bring it to life with some energetic and colourful illustrations.

My background of a Degree in Art & Design (from Limerick School of Art & Design in Ireland) made taking on this new job role quite easy for me, as it meant being back in a familiar arena. Having said that, when I first began putting pencil and paints to paper back in August 2022, I soon realized how rusty I was! The first drawing seemed to take hours. How was I going to get through 80 more of them?


Luckily, as time progressed, so did my skills. I began to speed up and drawing became quite natural to me again. Most of the quirky ideas behind the drawings came from Gareth, with an odd bit of my own twist from time to time. So it made the whole process quite straightforward. I decided to use pencil (of course) combined with gouache paints and a fine tip black pen to outline each drawing. My set up is pictured to the right!

A Change from my Original Job Role

I normally support Gareth and our Team of Occupational Osteopaths, as well as our long-standing clients and most importantly I am involved in the development and growth of the business.

As Creative Director, I regularly create exciting marketing campaigns. This role usually includes designing our products' packaging, graphic design projects, company learning material, video content, flyer design and more.


So with drawing being the new key task within my role, all these to-dos had to be put on hold for a few months. Thankfully after just finishing the final drawing today to go into the second print of ‘’Sorry! We’re Closed.’’ (Thank God) I am now able to return to these very important tasks for our business.

Making a Start

Back to the Drawing! Before putting pencil to paper, I wondered to myself what style I wanted my drawings to take on. I took a look at a few books sitting on our work desk and realized, most illustrators are actually quite basic in their technique. Or was that just because it was adult books? Yes, it seems more detailed illustrations were likely to be seen in children’s books. That didn’t stop me drawing in a way that felt best for me; colourful and quite detailed for an adult book! I mean.. who doesn’t love a burst of colour and a drawing that stands out?! Myself and Gareth both wanted to bring what is normally seen as a ‘boring’ subject matter to life as much as possible. We wanted to make it fun!. To the left is the very first drawing I did for Sorry! We're Closed … it took me quite a bit of time as I hadn’t picked up a pencil to draw in many years!

The Book's Cover

Surprisingly, I didn’t do too much research for this part of the project. I logged into our design programme and began to work my magic! For some reason, the idea of a comic book style came to mind, and with that I began sifting through the different comic characters available on Canva and how I might use them. After a couple of hours of moving things around the page, and adding lots of colour, I showed my completed design to Gareth and he was impressed. We had a remarkable cover!

I also used Canva to design our Website and Social Media graphics including this below. With the bright colours and fun design, I felt this aligned with the Book's humorous content (obviously not all its content ... most is very serious!)

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Some of the Drawings Explained

Extract taken from the Introduction of Sorry! We’re Closed

The verb malinger comes from the French word malinger, meaning ‘sickly’ and one who malingers feigns illness. In its earliest uses in the early 19th century, malinger usually referred to a soldier or sailor pretending to be sick or insane, to shark duty. As an osteopath student, Gareth learnt a way to detect the Malingerer, regarding lower back pain. We’ve all heard of Sciatica. Serious pain that shoots down the leg. The most common cause is a herniated or prolapsed lumbar disc. Patient A comes into Gareth’s clinic. A 45 year old factory worker. He presents with a back injury that he says was caused by a lifting incident at work. The case notes state ‘the load was too heavy’. Whilst he is standing I ask him to bend forwards. He screams like a Fox (who like to baffle or deceive) in agony. 


Extract taken from Tip 4 - Beware the Legal Shark

There are professions out there…. Wow, what did I just say? Re, re, rewind. I will start again. There are soundrels* out there who do jobs that we all despise. Some of us even hate, and hate is a very strong word.

Gareth’s are Estate Agents (you can never trust a word they say); Accountants (do they actually do any work for the large sums you pay them?)

Then there’s the lowest of the low. They are so low that they are at the Earth’s core …. The Legal Shark. These scummy fish swim around appearing to be so caring, so helpful, so passionate about your case, and so very aware of the minute by minute overly exaggerated financial outlay you will soon be suffering on their next invoice.

We then proceed to the treatment couch where Gareth performs a Straight Leg Raise (SLR) i.e. passively raising the leg experiencing the sciatica, and the Fox has gone quiet. After a few other Osteopathic, Orthopedic and Neurological tests Gareth writes in his case notes ‘it is most likely that Patient A is malingering.’ The problem is, people can quite easily fake back injuries. One of the problems is a lot of times they haven’t consulted an Expert like an Osteopath or Chiropractor. They have been singed off solely through their G.P. Many times claimants or simply the Entitled win 20 or 30 thousand pound payouts, and because a lot of back injuries can’t be seen (even with the modern scans) the non-existence of the back injury was hard to prove.


Extract taken from Tip 10 – Recognise Experts from Jack of all Trades

It’s Torquay in ‘British Summer Time’. The year is 1976. A certain Hotel Owner of the name Basil Fawlty has been given a (nother) job by his beloved Sybil. Basil loves a gamble, doesn’t he? If it’s not a flutter on the horse ‘Birdbrain?’ ... ‘Fishwife?’ ...  ‘Smallfly’ ... ‘Flying Tart’ ... No! They’re not right. In Polly’s relieved tone it’s ... ‘Dragonfly!’; it will be a gamble on somebody’s service to the hotel. Fawlty Towers* needs a new door. Basil wants his go-to provider Mr. O’Reilly, whereas his beloved Sybil wants ‘Stubbs, Basil!!’. Always wanting to save a penny, Basil instructs Mr. O’Reilly and his team who somehow get the job wrong and block off the dining room doors. O’Reilly returns to rectify his bad workmanship ... ‘lick of paint, lick of paint’. The result is even worse as he puts a door in a load bearing wall. 

Sybil (the female domestic abuser) takes over and calls in the Expert ... Stubbs ... who does what Experts do and gets the job done well, at a higher cost, but first time round and to the highest standard. Not only did this cost Basil more money, taking on the Jack of All Trades in Mr. O’Reilly (and then having to pay for it again with Mr. Stubbs), but it also caused him much anxiety and stress.

Scanning & Finally Printing the Book

Gareth chose to use a local Stationary & Printing shop to scan in my illustrations. Every few days he would walk down with my illustrations to Heidi, the shop owner (and also do a cheeky local treat stop along the way) where he would come back with a USB full of scans and a plastic bag full of crisps, chocolate and soda to get us through the remainder of the work day.


When I first saw the drawings scanned in, I felt they really came to life. Thank you Heidi for your time and allowing us to use your high quality scanner!

The printing company we have used is

We are really pleased with the excellent job they did and would recommend them to anyone in need of a good book printer. One thing I will say I found challenging, was trying to cut out bleeds from the finished cover (with the help of Canva). I think it’s safe to say myself and Gareth never want to hear the word ‘bleed’ again when it comes to book-writing!

I hope you enjoy looking at my illustrations after you purchase your paperback copy of Sorry! We’re Closed.

Stay tuned for the follow up in a couple of years titled Come In We’re Open! More illustrations for me!

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