A renowned children’s illustrator playing a key role in Royal Crown Derby’s NHS fundraising ‘make a mug, make a difference’ competition, has produced some top tips to help youngsters looking for artist inspiration.

Royal Crown Derby has launched the contest earlier this month to encourage young people to use their artistic skills to celebrate the NHS – and leave a lasting legacy of the vital role of healthcare professionals in these unprecedented times.

Now, to give participants a helping hand, children’s artist and author Liz Million has drawn up some top tips to inspire young designers to get their concepts into production.

The winners will see their designs expertly produced by Royal Crown Derby Artisans, who will aim to manufacture 26,299 of the winning designs, to celebrate every day since the formation of the NHS on 5 July 1948 to its 72nd anniversary in 2020.

There are two entry categories in the competition, for the under 12s and 12-18-year-olds. The two winning designs will be exhibited in the V & A and rolled out into production.

The Royal Lancaster Hotel in London has donated a stay at the 5-star hotel and the winners will also take a tour of the Palace of Westminster with Jo Gideon MP.

Entries are being shortlisted by Royal Crown Derby’s in-house design team, before artist and Liz Million selects the winner in each category.

Liz Million said: “I’ve kept the design tips to cover three main areas, the importance of trying, and trying again, experimenting and research.

“I hope those taking part will find the advice useful, and I cannot wait to see the entries come in.”

The deadline for entries is 7 May, and more details can be found at www.royalcrownderby.co.uk/makeadifference

Liz Million’s advice to young designers is;


  1. Try, try and try again – “Don’t get frustrated if your first attempts are not as you expected! It takes me hours to get a simple drawing how I actually want it. It takes LOTS of practise to create drawings and paintings. Going ‘wrong’ doesn’t mean you are failing at something; it means that your brain is trying to learn something new – so be patient. You are LEARNING all the time. “


  1. Experiment – “Try different styles of drawing and use different materials. Find out what you like to do and what with! I didn’t discover paint until I left university and now, I use paints, inks and pens depending on what I’m drawing and which style I choose. Lots of artists are digital now and use computer tablets to draw with. Personally, I only use computers at the end of my drawing as I LOVE drawing on paper too much.”


  1. Research – “Look at what is already out there and gain inspiration from it. Try not to copy exactly the same image from the internet though as it’s not your original idea. It’s fine to do that in your spare time as it improves your skills but not for a competition like this.”


Royal Crown Derby Museum Director, Elizabeth Woledge said: “I am so pleased that Liz Million is supporting this project.

“Her boundless enthusiasm and passion for encouraging young people to draw makes her the perfect ambassador.

“I would encourage all young designers to have a go and remind them that sometimes the best ideas are the most unusual so have a doodle, have a go and see where your imagination takes you.”

“The winners will get an amazing prize and in having their designs printed on Royal Crown Derby will join some of the world’s most famous artists and designers including the surrealist Salvador Dali.”

The Royal Crown Derby is retailing both mugs at £30, with 100 per cent of profits being donated directly to the ‘NHS Charities Together COVID-19 Urgent Appeal.’

They are immediately available to pre-order via the Royal Crown Derby website and each purchase includes a free ticket to tour the Royal Crown Derby factory and museum.

Those wishing to buy the mug as a gift have the option to add a personalised gift message to their delivery.

Royal Crown Derby Managing Director, Christopher Oakes, said: “Everyone at Royal Crown Derby has a strong ambition to support the NHS, especially as many of our team have front line workers in their immediate family.

“We hope our entry packs will give children a much-needed challenge, boost creativity, and encourage them to learn about how precious the NHS is”.