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Sian Shrimpton February Penguin Desktop

February 2018 Penguin Desktop Wallpaper

Sian Shrimpton February Penguin Desktop

Hello and Happy February to you! A lot of people have said how long January felt but I’m glad that it was a long month, I managed to get a lot done. Including my new card designs, which if you missed it, I shared on the blog earlier this week.

Without further ado, here is the February desktop wallpaper, a bit later than I planned but I shared January’s desktop wallpaper on 15th January so the 1st February is a great improvement! Just click on the relevant link below, save the image and make it your wallpaper.

iPhone 6/7 Plus & Android | iPhone 6/6s

iPad | Laptop | Desktop

I will be taking a proper week off for my birthday this month as I’m going away to Edinburgh for a few days in a couple of weeks time, I’ll extend the shipping times on my shop so that you can still order but there will be a slight delay. If you’d like the usual speedy delivery, make sure you order before the 16th February to avoid disappointment.

All Design and Illustration by Sian Shrimpton and strictly for personal use only.

Sian Shrimpton Beautiful floral Valentine's Card - Illustrated & Hand-lettered Card

New Greeting Cards in the shop

Sian Shrimpton Beautiful floral Valentine's Card - Illustrated & Hand-lettered Card

Today I’m pleased to share my new greeting card designs with you. A lot of you have requested birthday cards when I’ve been at craft fairs over Christmas and earlier last year, so you requested and here they are!

First up, we have Penguin having a bit of a birthday party with cake, candles, party hats and you can’t forget the presents! He’s even having a little dance too, to celebrate! I know that I’m biased but it’s just the cutest!

This card is printed on a beautifully smooth card stock and comes with a textured kraft envelope.

A FEW SPECIFICS

  • 148 x 148mm square Birthday card
  • Printed on a quality 300gsm TruCard stock
  • Blank inside for your message
  • Printed at a local printer in London
  • Kraft envelope is included
  • Packaged in a pretty paper bag and sent in a board backed envelope to ensure safe delivery

Available to buy on my Etsy Store

Sian Shrimpton Cute Penguin Birthday Card - Illustrated Birthday Card

Next up, especially for Valentine’s Day but could be used for any occasion where you need to send a little love into the world, to cheer up a friend or just because. We have Penguin holding a heart garland that he’s made. It matches my Penguin enamel pin perfectly (so ideal to be bought together!) and also matches the February Calendar page and desktop wallpaper that will be coming later this week (Sorry for the spoiler!)

A FEW SPECIFICS

  • 148 x 148mm square Valentine’s card
  • Printed on a quality 300gsm TruCard stock
  • Blank inside for your message
  • Printed at a local printer in London
  • Kraft envelope is included
  • Packaged in a pretty paper bag and sent in a board backed envelope to ensure safe delivery.

Available to buy on my Etsy Store

Sian Shrimpton Cute Penguin Valentine's Card - Illustrated Valentine's or Love Card

Then to start off a different collection of designs that I’ve been working on, I’ve created this floral beauty with hand-lettered “love” in the centre. Again, this can be for Valentine’s Day or for any other time of year when you need to send a little love into the world. I’ve chosen a beautifully textured gesso card stock for these cards, which give them a gorgeous watercolour paper style feel, they’re quite luxurious.

A FEW SPECIFICS

  • 148 x 148mm square Valentine’s card
  • Printed on a quality 250gsm gesso stock (which has a gorgeous watercolour paper style texture!)
  • Blank inside for your message
  • Printed at a local printer in London
  • Kraft envelope is included
  • Packaged in a pretty paper bag and sent in a board backed envelope to ensure safe delivery.

Now available in my Etsy Store

Sian Shrimpton Beautiful floral Valentine's Card - Illustrated & Hand-lettered Card

Last but not least is a 30th Birthday card. Someone around here is turning the big 3-0 this year (hint: she’s the one typing this right now!) and so are a lot of my friends and so I thought it was a good place to start with a collection of birthday card designs to celebrate the occasion. I’ve introduced this sunflower design into the mix and I absolutely love this colour scheme! This card also uses the same gesso card stock, which gives it a watercolour paper style feel and gives it a totally luxurious feel.

A FEW SPECIFICS
– 148 x 148mm square Birthday card
– Printed on a quality 250gsm gesso stock (which has a gorgeous watercolour paper style texture!)
– Blank inside for your message
– Printed at a local printer in London
– Kraft envelope is included
– Packaged in a pretty paper bag and sent in a board backed envelope to ensure safe delivery.

Now available in my Etsy Store

Sian Shrimpton Beautiful Sunflower floral 30th Birthday Card - Illustrated & Hand-lettered Birthday Card

So that concludes my four new designs that I’ve recently added to my Etsy shop. I’ve decided to print my new designs in small batches like this because I have a long long list of design ideas that I would love to launch into the world, but I think printing and launching them at a slower and steady pace is probably better than printing a huge bulk of designs and feeling overwhelmed as a result.

So, what do you think? What should I work on next? Do you have any requests or special occasions that I could design for next?

Remember that I have a 10% off sale happening in my Etsy Shop at the moment, it ends midnight GMT on Wednesday 31st January so make sure you get in quick. I’m afraid that the sale isn’t on the new card designs but on Penguin Calendars, Christmas Cards, Pins, Gift Sets and Notecards. You don’t even need a code, the discount will be applied to your basket automatically. Just go to SianShrimpton.Etsy.com

I also have plenty of spaces for any Design, Illustration or Wedding Stationery work starting in February or March, so please get in touch if you’d like to work together on something lovely. Just head over to my Contact Page, and your message will go straight to my email inbox.

Sian Shrimpton Design Colourful Note Card

Things I’ve learned from my first year being self-employed

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.

Momentum
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.

Calm
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?

February: my birthday, penguins and letters

Well, that was February! Whoosh! And now we’re over half-way through March and I’m posting this late again. I’m determined to get his blogging thing down.

A lot of the start of February was spent fretting about my work, and feeling a bit creatively stuck. Although I wrote about my new website design in my last post, I did a lot of the work for it at the start of February and started to feel a lot better about my “style” when I saw it all together on my new site. Thank you for all your lovely comments on the new design.

Wedding designs & Business cards

The big plan to start designing Wedding Stationery became a lot more real in February as I was invited to a Bridal shop opening to represent myself as a Wedding Stationery designer. It was a fantastic opportunity and lovely to meet lots of other suppliers and brides. It was also the boost that I needed to speed this process of setting everything up. I’m getting there. For the shop opening, I created some promotional postcards and business cards which I was so pleased with and have had some lovely comments about them.



I’ve also been working on my new collections of Wedding Stationery, I’m aiming to have these ready in the next few months. So watch this space!

100 Days of Lettering

On 1st Feb I had the amazing (read: silly!) idea of starting a 100-day project of drawing a piece of lettering each day for 100 days! It seemed like a good idea at the time, to build up my portfolio with lettering and for a little challenge to see if I could do 100 days. It was fun at the start, then it got to about day 4 and I realised a couple of potential problems.

First of all, I have got myself into what I feel is a good process of grouping similar tasks together. For example, doing all the drawing at one time, then all the scanning or photographing in one go so that I can build up focus on that one thing and get into a flow of getting it all done. So this challenge felt like an inefficient way of working, even if the actual drawing was done quickly (it rarely was!) I’d then have to work around the natural light for photography (this probably bothered me more than it should have!) edit the photography, write a description and share as one long disjointed process of different tasks. It didn’t feel natural to me and felt unfocused.

Throughout February, I was also quite busy with client work and planning wedding stationery bits and pieces, which I felt were a priority. I’d get into doing those for the day, then the letter of the day would be on my mind and the thought of stopping what I was doing to start this inefficient process would cause me to be unfocused on what I was doing until I’d completed the letter. That time could have been used more efficiently getting more important things done. So I stopped doing the challenge at day 26 and it felt like a bit of a relief, although I really enjoyed the drawing part of the challenge. I definitely want to return to those drawings and create something out of them. My favourite was the letter F, I eventually want to create the whole alphabet in this style.

This challenge has encouraged me to focus a lot more on photography however, I’ve realised how important photography is and have been getting a lot of practice in by posting on Instagram every day for the March Meet the Maker challenge.


My Birthday

I turned 29 in February and had a really lovely day. It was a low key day but I gave myself the day off, had a slow morning to myself, my sister visited and we sung along to musical soundtracks whilst drinking tea, opening presents and catching up on life. My Mum came round for a cuppa a bit later on and I went out to dinner with Rob and his sisters.

A trip to the Zoo

As a Wedding present, my cousin had the brilliant idea of adopting two Humboldt Penguins at Marwell Zoo for us! I thought this was a brilliant idea because 1. A couple of admission tickets were included so it included a day out for us and 2. It was supporting the preservation work at the Zoo and helps towards caring for the Penguins, which are my favourite animal! I was overjoyed! My Auntie also celebrated a special birthday the day before mine and as part of it, she wanted to do something special with the people closest to her. So, we all took a trip to Marwell Zoo for the day. It was such a lovely day, I loved seeing the Penguins (obviously!) and seeing our names on the list of people who have adopted animals. I also loved watching the Meerkats, the Otters and the Giraffes. It was a really fun day spent with family.


So that was February! 2017 is already going far too quickly but I’m glad that Spring is now on its way, we have some exciting plans coming up and I’m really enjoying my work so long may it last.