Jon’s slugs and mugs have legs!

McLaggan Smith take on direct supply as The Grey Earl’s book hits stores


Slugs and mugs are proving they have legs for The Grey Earl as the Scottish greeting card publisher’s two latest projects come to fruition.

Owner Jon Bishop has just changed his partnership with McLaggan Smith, which has provided his mugs for the past eight years, to the company taking over supplying both retail and trade customers directly.

Above: There’s a distinct style to Jon’s illustrations
Above: There’s a distinct style to Jon’s illustrations

“The benefits moving forward are that it will allow me to expand the range of designs much more easily and increase the exposure of my work to their clients both in the UK and internationally,” Jon told PG Buzz.

As manufacturers and suppliers to galleries, museums and shops across the country, other artists/designers on McLaggan’s platform include Quentin Blake, Rosie Made A Thing and Orla Kiely, “and Jon added: it feels great to be a part of their roster.”

McLaggan said: “We were delighted to recently launch a new collection of mugs designed and illustrated by Jon Bishop. His award-winning designs have a distinct style and sense of humour and appeal to adults and children alike – certainly the many Star Wars fans out there will adore and collect them!”

Above: Finding a slug in her mug sparked Laura Westring’s story
Above: Finding a slug in her mug sparked Laura Westring’s story

And the mugs move chimes in nicely with Jon’s other project – his Slug In A Mug children’s picture book tie-up with author Laura Westring, which is raising money for kids’ activities and community workshops at creative hub Made In Stirling as well as promoting confidence.

Scottish speechwriter Laura explained: “Families with young children have gone through the lonely trial of providing care while working in pandemic conditions only to see the cost of living rise astronomically as they begin to tackle the longer-term emotional and developmental consequences of those difficult years.”

Jon’s illustrations colourfully tell the tale of a slug whose taste for sweet treats leads him to unexpected places – an “almost true” story inspired by the author’s move to an empty cottage in 2020 when she woke one morning to find a slug in her mug, then began inventing stories for her young son to relieve the stress and social isolation of pandemic lockdowns.

Above: Laura and Jon have self-funded the book project
Above: Laura and Jon have self-funded the book project

Having contacted Jon through Creative Stirling, a social enterprise supporting local artists and makers, the pair have been working together since January 2021 on the self-funded project to bring their slug to life, with the book now available in independent stores and on The Grey Earl website.

Laura believes imagining and reciting stories can be a beneficial activity for the whole family and increase the confidence of young children as they learn to speak and empathise, and they have collaborated with Gerald Richard, ceo of Scottish charity Super Power Agency, to include an activity to help children with writing skills.

Jon said: “It was the first children’s story I wanted to illustrate from the first reading. From the subtly sick sense of humour to the message that it’s okay to be bold and think differently to those around you, everything told me this slug had legs!”

Top: Mugs and slugs from The Grey Earl

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