If you’ve followed my work for a little while, you’ll know that I created a little Penguin Character a while ago. Penguin has featured on all sorts of products, he started off on his own calendar in 2017, which formed the start of my freelance career and Etsy Shop. Since then, I’ve created a second Calendar for 2018, Christmas cards, Birthday cards and a little enamel pin, which was quite popular!
Whilst preparing for Christmas 2017, I really wanted to create a few more products featuring my little Penguin and created Christmas cards for the occasion but for a few different reasons, I couldn’t branch out into different products. As Christmas approached, I had the idea that I could create a Kickstarter Campaign to raise the funds for these new products but as Christmas was so near, I knew I had run out of time. Christmas came and went and that idea was put towards the end of my to-do list and almost forgotten in the busy-ness that is Christmas time for a small business.
Fast forward to April this year and whilst planning out my work for the month, the perfect opportunity arose to launch my Kickstarter Campaign – World Penguin Day on April 25th!
Now, if you are unaware, Penguin is my little office assistant, he sits on my desk, making me smile, keeps me in order and doesn’t do too much else! He is a firm believer in my productivity, getting all the cool stuff done and having an ice day!
So, the products that I have designed for this Kickstarter Campaign are based on this. First of all there is a cute enamel pin, where Penguin is carrying his trusty pencil with the words “Get cool stuff done” on it. There is also a notepad and pencil set, and a few different colour variations of my original penguin enamel pin.
I launched the Kickstarter Campaign on 25th April and in the matter of a few days, the original target was met! I am still in shock to be honest.
If you’re unfamiliar with Kickstarter, it is a website where creatives can raise funds for creative projects through people pledging to support them. People who pledge can opt for a reward in return for their pledge and so in my case, you could opt for the new pin design, a notepad and pencil set or the new colour variations of the original pin design. Kickstarter is all or nothing, so I put in a target of £260 for the “Get Cool Stuff Done” Pin and if I didn’t reach that target, no money would be taken from you, and the project wouldn’t go ahead. However, the target was reached within the first few days and I’d created stretch goals to be able to create the notepad & pencil and the new colour variations, which have also been reached. As I’ve reached all of these targets, is likely to go ahead, the money will be transferred to me at the end of the campaign and I can get these new products manufactured! All fingers crossed that everything goes well at the end of the campaign.
The campaign has just over a week left and at 339% funded at the moment, it is highly likely that these new products will be produced, which is so exciting! This also means that there is just over a week for you to be able to pledge towards the campaign to ensure you get your flippers on one of these new products before anyone else.
If you’ve already pledged, I just wanted to say thank you so so much for your support so far, this process has been a great learning curve for me and has been so far out of my comfort zone but your support has made it all well worth it, so Thank You again and I look forward to sending out all of the rewards once they are all made.
…and just like that, it is May already! I can’t quite believe it. April was a seriously busy month for me, which was absolutely fantastic. It was full of new couples approaching me about wedding stationery, a whole heap of freelance work and towards the end of the month I celebrated World Penguin Day with the launch of an exciting Kickstarter Campaign.
I will write more about the kickstarter campaign next week, including the story behind it all. But for now, you can take a peek over on kickstarter itself. I launched it just over a week ago and because I’ve been super busy with previously mentioned freelance work and wedding commissions, I haven’t had too much time to promote it or tell you all about it on the blog. As you’ll probably see, it is well on it’s way to smashing the stretch goals that I’ve set for it in just the first week!
I hope you have a lovely May Day bank holiday weekend, what ever it is you do. I’ve heard rumours that the weather is going to be gorgeous here in the UK, so I hope you manage to get outside and enjoy it.
As always with these little monthly updates, below you’ll find the links to this month’s free desktop wallpaper. Penguin is waving to his friend in a hot air balloon, which is ironic because I saw a hot air balloon up in the sky when I was out on my walk yesterday! Simply click on the relevant link below, save the image and make it your wallpaper.
This month’s calendar page and desktop background feels like some sort of silly, non-funny joke at the moment considering the weather that we’re having in the UK at the moment. Up until last week, it had been fairly mild and my daffodils had started to grow, but now, those poor daffodils are under a few inches of snow and it’s bitterly cold outside. We’ve been quite lucky in this part of Hertfordshire so far, but I know that a lot of the country have had it a lot worse! I hope you’re keeping safe and warm. You have my permission however to use the January calendar for these first few days of March (and I really hope these conditions only last a few days, I would very much like some Spring-like weather soon, please!)
As a little update, I have been working hard on updating the wedding stationery section of my shop, all photography has been updated and I’ve updated the prices and how you order wedding stationery from me. You can find all of my wedding stationery on my Etsy Store or on Love & Lilah. I have also been designing some new greeting cards for all sorts of occasions, so I hope to share those with you very soon.
I hope you have a happy and successful March, please stay safe in the snow and let’s hope it doesn’t last too long!
All Design and Illustration by Sian Shrimpton and strictly for personal use only.
After celebrating my business birthday on 3rd October, I thought it would be great to evaluate my first year of working for myself and write about all that I’ve learned. It has been a testing, challenging, exciting and mostly fun learning curve and I’m not sure I would have realised any of the following things if someone had told me at the very beginning. Some things you have to learn on your own but if this helps someone, then I’m glad.
You can’t do absolutely everything
I look at other creatives who are self-employed or running businesses online and a lot of them are on facebook, twitter, have a large Instagram following, they keep up with Instagram stories, have a youtube channel, they’re on Patreon, hold in-person classes and workshops, they run a blog, promote their blog, they are pinning on Pinterest, they’re on Etsy and not on the high street as well as having a selection of amazing clients and are magically able to eat and sleep!
In reality, no one person is actually able to do all of the above and if they are, how? The internet is truly amazing in allowing us to do all of these things. I’ve just got to carefully choose which things I want to do as I can’t do it all.
This also applies to design work that I do, I can’t be everything to everyone. I can easily think that I’m a failure because I can’t design or illustrate like *insert artist’s name here* but I’m not them, and they’re not me. So I’ll carry on doing my thing. In fact, one could say that I’d be more of a failure if I didn’t do my thing and simply copied someone else.
Keep it simple
This almost ties in with the previous point but I have a tendency to over complicate things. I want to do all the things, and always have big plans but I’ve found recently that the key is to keep it simple. Right at the beginning of this year, I spent a lot of time thinking about my skills, what I could offer, what I’m good at and what I enjoy. There are a lot of things that I enjoy, for example, painting, hand lettering and I have a background in graphic design, I wondered how I could strike a balance where all of these things could feature in my shop. I found that I was fighting to keep all of these things together all at once and it meant that I just got confused and nothing seemed to work or make sense. Equally, I had plans for Wedding Stationery but how does that fit in with the Penguin Calendars? How does it all fit together? I panicked a lot about my shop and business being a little bit of a mix n match of different things but I learned that that was ok. The thing that ties it all together is me and my style. I aim to be a helpful and approachable designer and offer colourful, cute and personal design and illustration to you lovely people. As soon as I realised that, I’m a lot happier with my shop.
Do what you’re good at…at all times
Short story: Earlier on in the year, I started work on what was a small project. A Groom asked me to design some envelope liners and source some gorgeous envelopes for his Save the Dates. This was a project that I absolutely loved, starting work by looking at all the lovely paper samples was my idea of a perfect day! I went back and forth a couple of times with different paper and envelope samples. Every time I would send a paper sample in the post, I included a small hand-written note to explain what kind of paper sample I was sending. After a while, the Groom asked if I would hand write the addresses on his envelopes as he liked my handwriting so much. I have had a few comments on my handwriting before and make sure I put a little effort in whenever I write a note to someone, making sure it’s neat but I hadn’t considered offering handwritten envelopes as something I do. If you have something that you’re good at, keep doing it because someone will notice and one day you’ll be addressing 70 envelopes. I will be adding envelope addressing to my Etsy shop really soon.
Everything takes time
Drawing takes times. Improving takes time. Editing, printing, photographing all takes time. Healing takes time. I’d get frustrated earlier on in the year that I wasn’t growing as a business as fast as I’d like but these things all take time. I’m actually glad for the slow and steady growth because all this is a huge learning curve and there is a lot to learn. The slow and steady growth has helped me learn along the way.
This brings me to momentum. I’m glad that things have taken time but at times I could have got things done a lot quicker. A lot of the time I’ve felt like I’m catching up with myself. I’ll write down ideas, finish what I’m doing (fret about that project, delay actually finishing it for a little while) work on the next priority and over time the enthusiasm fades for that idea or I never get round to even giving it a try. The experts would say that if I lose the enthusiasm for that idea, it wasn’t meant to be anyway but I’ve learned the importance of keeping up momentum and creating when the idea is fresh and it seems to be working at the moment.
Photography & Lightroom
As I said in my year roundup, I’ve learned so much about photography. I took the product photos of the Wedding Stationery samples about 3-4 times before I was happy with them, get the right background, getting the layout right, then learning all about lighting, exposure, white balance, and focus. Product photography is still the most difficult part of running my shop for me but I definitely see an improvement. It’s a lot quicker to create a photo that I like now and I no longer have to battle with my camera to get the right effect.
My photography life also changed the day that I downloaded Lightroom, a photo editing software from Adobe. It is seriously amazing for quick edits and I highly recommend it. I even have the app on my phone which has changed my Instagram life too!
Drawing & Layers
My drawing style has definitely changed (improved?) over the last year. I have done a lot more drawing than ever before, which has given me more confidence in my style. Over the last year, or even the last few months, I’ve started to use layers of paper to create the illustrations that I work on. I do this by using thin paper (not quite tracing or layout paper but cheaper pads of paper that I’ve found in a local stationery shop) sketching out the main shape of the illustration, then laying other piece of paper on top so that I can see the original illustration through and add the details, if it doesn’t work it’s fine because I haven’t had to erase the whole thing losing the original illustration! This has become especially useful in the Christmas card and Calendar designs that I’ve worked on recently. I layer up the drawings so that I don’t ruin the original pencil drawing by trying different details that may or may not work.
I carry this through to my work on illustrator and put the scanned pencil drawing on the first layer, roughly draw out the initial shapes on the second, add shapes of colour on the next, brush strokes to outline and add details on the following layer, then finally add a background behind it all and hide the original scan and rough shape layers. This may sound like such a simple thing but it’s a simple part of my workflow that keeps me organised and means it’s a lot easier to create and edit afterward.
I’m not dreadful at what I do
I was really struggling with my work before I was made redundant a year ago. I became so unsure of everything I worked on. I thought I had been progressing over the 6 years that I worked in the job but was still referred to as a Junior Designer, which knocked my confidence. I had worked so hard but was still seen as a Junior. Then over the last year, I have worked on some relatively small projects with clients who have been over the moon with the work that I’ve done and have been really complimentary of my work, which has been really great to hear. Not only that, I’ve had the chance to work on the projects that I’ve wanted to work on, in the style that I’ve wanted to use, through my Etsy shop and it hasn’t been dreadful.
I underlined the word calm on my list of things that I learned. All of these things are a complete work in progress and none more so than to keep calm. I remember many a day of fretting over my style, worrying about my ability, am I doing enough? Am I trying to do too much? Am I even cut out for all this? But I’m slowly learning not to worry about all this and to breathe, go for a walk, hide my phone and just get on with it.
So that was quite a lengthy list! I probably could go on for a while with everything I’ve learned in the last year! It has been a great year and I’m so thankful for the opportunity. Is there anything you would add to this list that may help others?
Wow! 3rd October marked one year since I officially became self-employed and I can’t believe how fast that time has gone. This time last year, I had just been made redundant from a job I had worked at since University, I spent a few days processing the news but knew deep down what needed to be done. I had wanted to set up on my own for a while, I knew I wasn’t ready but I felt like this was the perfect opportunity to give it a try. I thought, I’ll give it 3 months but haven’t turned back.
When I was made redundant, my confidence was dashed quite considerably. I had very little confidence in myself as a person and even less confidence in my work and my ability to do just about anything. Designing a Penguin Calendar was something I really wanted to do, however, so I did it. I used drawings that I’d worked on, two years before and within 2 weeks, I had vectorised those drawings (drawn them again on the computer) and they looked great. I sat on those designs for a little while, doubting whether they were any good, wondering whether I should add anything to them. I had been painting a little for my mental health so I tried adding some painted details to them but that didn’t quite work. I think I forgot about them for a few days and then revisited the illustrations to find they weren’t dreadful, so after a few tweaks, I sent them to print alongside a typographic design that I had worked on and fretted about in equal measure.
In the beginning, I got just 40 printed and the Penguin Calendar sold out pretty quickly. My sister-in-law snapped up quite a few and I thought she was just buying them to help me out, she gifted them to her colleagues, however, who all loved them! I went on to reprint the penguin design quite a few times as they sold out quite a few times and I worked out that I’d sold about 200 of those Calendars over the Christmas period. I learned so much at that time.
I hand cut out each and every page of the first 80 Calendars that sold! I struggled to find a printer who printed that small, so printed on flat SRA3 sheets and cut each one out. Thankfully, I found out that the same printer would print A7 “leaflets” which was exactly what I needed.
Christmas was then over and all of the Calendars had sold, what now? How do I follow that? I also had quite an upsetting and stressful Christmas time that it took me a little while to get back into creating confidently in the new year. I had big plans for designing Wedding Invitations and Wedding Stationery so set out in designing those. It took a while to settle on a style for those and in the end, I had 7 House Collections of Wedding Stationery, which I really love. Since then I have designed for a couple of lovely Weddings. I hope to do a lot more in the new year.
I’ve learned so much about photography whilst trying to photograph these collections. I’ve taken the photographs 3 or 4 times over, thankfully they get marginally better each time.
The early summer was quite stressful for me, I had quite a lot of things going on, alongside my shop going quiet. I worked on a few great branding and design projects which were lovely. I continued to paint for my mental health again, which resulted in a bright and colourful selection of notecards for all different occasions, which look really great and I’m so pleased with them.
Throughout the year I’ve also faced a horrible habit of comparing myself to others. I would get into a trap of scrolling and scrolling, then wonder why 1. My work wasn’t as good as theirs’ 2. Why my Instagram feed didn’t look amazing and 3. Why I hadn’t done all that I needed to that day through scrolling all day. It’s really silly thinking about it now. But at one point, in July or August, I made a plan, to create furiously and to just keep going regardless of how I felt, about my work, regardless of what someone else had posted online and how good it was. I decided to lock myself in a little bubble and to do my thing and keep going.
Since then, I feel like my focus, momentum, and attitude towards my work has really changed, which has been great. I feel like I’ve found my groove. It has helped that I’ve started working on the Penguin Calendars again which I really love. So that brings me to now. I hope I manage to stay in this groove for a while and continue to create furiously.
Now, this post started off as a “things I’ve learned..” post for my first year of being self-employed but it ended as a pouring out of honesty about how things have gone. I am so grateful that I’ve had the opportunity to work for myself for the last year and I’m incredibly grateful for the work that I’ve been able to do this year. It has been testing and challenging at times. I have faith and hope that my second year will be even better.
My second year starts with preparing for Christmas again, which is exciting. I have designed two versions of the Penguin Calendar this time, with all new illustrations. I have a Penguin Pin badge which is so unbelievably cute! I’ve also been busy designing a selection of Christmas cards which I’m so pleased with and are now available in the shop.
I have a few Christmas fairs lined up, I share a table with my sister-in-law, who sells candles and we make a great team. I’m also excited to have been accepted for my first ever solo fair (a table all to myself) for the Hertfordshire Etsy Made Local in Ware, I’m sure this won’t be the last you’ll hear about that! I’m excited to meet all of the other members of the Herts Etsy Team and to sell at a local Etsy event.
I have some big plans for the new year, including offering custom portraits, prints, designing a range of birthday and thank you cards, and to take my Wedding Stationery Collections to at least one Wedding Fair. I would also like to take on a few more freelance clients and commissions (so if you’d like to work with me, please get in touch. 😉 ) I also celebrate my 30th birthday next year and what better than to make it the best year yet!
So here’s to the first year and all that it has taught me, let’s hope for a successful second year!
To celebrate the launch of my new Wedding Stationery Collections, I thought I’d write about each collection so that you can get a bit of background about each design and find out all about each one.
I could easily say “this design is my favourite” for the Charlotte Collection, however if I started choosing favourites, I’d be saying that for each one.
Charlotte is my sister’s middle name, it is the name that I was almost given when I was born and is my Great Grandmother’s name. Each of my Wedding stationery designs has been given a name that is close to my heart.
This design is slightly different to the other designs in that the main invitation is square. My favourite part has to be the delicate floral pattern at the top of each invitation, it is delicate and elegant and adds a lovely detail to an otherwise minimal invitation. The coordinating Save the Dates have the same delicate floral pattern.
This Collection features a 148x148mm square Day/Evening Invitation and an A5 details sheet. The front of the Day/Evening Invite has space for your names and all the most important information like time, date, location. The back of each invite can be a coordinating colour or you can even mix and match with other collections with a floral pattern on the reverse. The details sheet is a great place for addresses, accommodation, dress code, gift lists and any other information that you think your guests will find useful.
The difference in size means that the details sheet can be seen behind the invite when they’re put together in the envelope. If you love the design of these invites but would like a different size, I will happily discuss this with you and create them in a different size. Day/Evening Invitations and detail sheets are available here.
To make it quick and simple for your guests to reply to you, RSVP cards can be added to your order. These will be customised to your colour scheme so that everything is coordinated. RSVP Cards are available here.
If you want to add a bit of luxury to your Wedding Stationery, you can opt for envelope liners, which have a coordinating floral pattern, like the rest of the collection they can be completely customised to your colour scheme. Envelope Liners are available here.
– I will ask for a few details so that I can get to work on your Invites straight away, this will include things like your names, date, wording, your colour scheme, quantities and your address for delivery.
– Your first proofs will be sent to you within 5 working days after I receive all relevant information and payments. Two rounds of revisions are included if you need to make any changes to wording or colours.
– Once the final proof has been approved by you, no more changes can be made and your Wedding Invitations will be sent to a local printer in London. The printing process takes approximately a week.
– I will ship your Wedding Invitations out to you once I have received them from the printers and have checked them for quality. Your invites and details sheets will be collated in their envelopes, all you will need to do is secure the envelope, write the addresses and apply postage.
If you’d like to see all the new collections, they are now available in my Etsy Shop or on Love & Lilah. You can also contact me directly through the contact page if you’re interested in having me design your Wedding Stationery or if you have any questions about them.
To read more about my Wedding Design services, take a look at my Wedding page.
I’ve wanted to change my URL for a while now. Sian Louise will always be my name but it was a URL that I chose back in 2010 when I was 22 and working on my final project at University. Since then, I’ve graduated, worked in London at a design agency for 6 years, moved house twice, got married, started working for myself and have learned a whole lot. So I thought it was time for a more professional URL to go with my new fancy website, so www.sianshrimpton.co.uk it is.
If you’ve been redirected from my old website, Hello! Thank you so much for continuing to follow what I do, make sure you update your blog reader of choice to the new URL.
If you’re new here, Hello and Welcome! Make sure you add this new URL to your blog reader of choice so that you don’t miss a thing.
I have been working hard on new things to add to the shop and blog lately, so watch this space. In the meantime, check out the lovely new note cards and Wedding Stationery that I have in my Etsy store right now. You can also keep up to date with what I’m up to on Instagram, twitter and facebook.
A lot of work has been going on behind the scenes around here, I’ve been thinking a lot about a lot of things but specifically about how my blog fits into what I do and how I work, which is why there has been such a long break since the last post, time has also gone extremely quickly! There has been a lot to share but where do I start? I thought I could start off by sharing monthly-ish updates on what I’ve been up to as I go along. It will be a mixture of a few projects that I’ve been working on as well as some recent adventures and thoughts.
Newly improved design
I’m pleased to announce that this blog and website has a newly improved design. I’ve spruced up my logo, added a homepage and a page specially dedicated to weddings!
I’m using the Make theme by the Theme Foundry, which is so simple to use and customise. I had spent so many hours previously, wrestling with the code on themes that weren’t fit for purpose, so it was time for a change and I’m so pleased with the way that this site looks now. I’d love to know your honest opinions.
The biggest job that I had in January was to make all of my existing card designs available in my Etsy Shop. I had accumulated a lot of different notecard designs and it was a big job to take all new photography of them and make them available in the shop. I’ve had a lot of comments on them and am really pleased with the collection, so head on over to my shop to take a look. There are even a few sale items in the shop and a multi-buy option where you can get a discount for buying 5 together.
I was asked back in December if I would design some items for a family wedding, which was in January. I was thrilled! I was asked to design their order of service, table plan, place cards and a couple of signs, it was a project that I really enjoyed. There was the time pressure of getting it designed and printed within three weeks and for family which can somewhat raise the pressure a little because they were putting all of their faith in me to do a good job, and being family, had to talk to me afterwards. They are still talking to me which I see as a good sign! Joking aside, I really enjoyed designing for this couple, their wedding was like a cosy winter wonderland.
I have also been working on some logos and have just signed those off, however, I can’t share anything just yet. I have worked on logos in the past, including my own, but this was the first as a freelance designer and going through the whole process with the client was something I really enjoyed and the client was thrilled with the final result too.
The start of the year involved a lot of planning, I had all these ideas of what I wanted to do this year and in true Sian style, I planned on doing far too much and I wanted to get it all done at once. So, after a chat with a friend, she advised that I write down two goals for the following three months and split those up into small actions to be divided up over a week by week plan. These plans have changed slightly but breaking them down and assigning weeks to them, really helped.
I had two other life-changing planning moments in January, the first was discovering Trello and the second was starting a bullet journal. I’m still getting to grips with using Trello, it feels like an application that I will love but it is taking a while to weave into my process. Bullet journalling, however, is really working for me. I’m keeping it extremely simple for now. It is pretty much just my list for the week, I’m not even using a pretty notebook, just a plain one that I had in my drawer and I’m keeping the pages extremely minimal.
Since I became self-employed in October, and maybe a while before that, I’ve had a bit of a dilemma. At times, I would worry about it and at others, it wouldn’t really bother me too much; and that is, my style. I love my little penguin drawings, I enjoy vector illustration, I love hand lettering, I really enjoy watercolour painting and I regularly doodle little floral designs and patterns, but what is my style? What direction should I take my work in? Cue quarter life crisis! If you look at my Instagram, it is a mixture of styles, mediums and work that I really enjoy. I think it is great to mix things up a bit every now and then, but I had a couple of weeks in January where I was almost paralysed creatively by not knowing which direction I should take my work in. The well-known phrase, “jack of all trades, master of none” went through my mind a few times, I want to find something that I’m good at and be known for it. I got into a small trap of comparing myself to others for a while and even I know that doesn’t end well.
Something is wrong.
Instagram token error.
After a while, however, I realised that I should keep it simple. Get to work, keep drawing, keep painting and keep creating. So that is what I’ve been trying to do and I seem to be getting there. I find that when I feel overwhelmed and getting ahead of myself: if I go back to basics, just keep drawing and forget about everyone else, I seem to find my groove again.
So that was January, better late than never! We’re over half way through February now and I already have lots to share, hopefully, that will be before the end of the month!