The Penguin Calendar was my best seller last year. I was only just starting out and was a little overwhelmed by the reaction to it last year! It was quite bizarre really, I had very little belief in myself, and then it did so well that it took me a little while to recover from the reaction to it.
I planned on doing so much more this year, there were thoughts of different versions of the calendar and a few different products, the pin badge being one of those. I haven’t managed to do half of what I’d planned but I hope you approve anyway.
I started planning out the Calendar in July and the worked on it in the background whilst the summer flew by and suddenly we were at the end of September and I was patiently awaiting the delivery of 200 Penguin Calendars from the printers.
There are 2 versions of the Penguin Calendar this year. There is the tiny A7 version with a small calendar in the same style as last year and a bigger A6 version which has a grid style calendar with a small space each day for appointments, birthdays, events or meetings.
Both versions have all new Penguin Illustrations on each page and I’m so over the moon with them. I realised how much my style has changed (improved I hope) over the last year and I really hope that you like them as much as I do.
The smaller version is £9.50 with an easel and £8 if you already have an easel. The larger version is £10.50 with an easel and £9 if you do not require a little easel for it to sit on. These prices do not include postage.
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.
When Rachal, contacted me about the branding for her new Vegetarian & Vegan catering company. I was over the moon! I’ve been good friends with Rachal, since we were 2 years old, she has recently been posting delicious looking lunches on Instagram and so I was honoured and so excited to be working on her branding.
She put her trust in me to create something great for her, so I got to work.
I gathered a collection of images, textures and colours, into a mood board and started drawing out ideas.
Whenever I start a project, I like to have what I call a “drawing day” it might not be a whole day but I call it that anyway. I switch off my computer and sit with my pad of paper and draw as many ideas as I possibly can. It might last an hour, it might last a whole morning but the key is to get everything down.
I then scan those sheets of doodles into illustrator and start drawing the parts that I like most. Some things don’t always work when I draw them properly in illustrator but very often, I get a nice selection of things to put together.
Rachal had mentioned that she loved my hand lettered style, so it was important for me to include that. The handcrafted lettering would reflect the handcrafted nature of her dishes, I added in an olive branch illustration (after drawing about a hundred different olive branches) and I selected a palette of olive greens, purples, and a slate grey. The purple wasn’t used in the end but the combination of a light olive green and slate grey look great together. They capture the natural, organic and vegetarian nature of Rachal’s dishes and the slate grey in a gentler alternative to black.
With the end of term fast approaching for most schools and students moving into a new academic year or even a new school, I was asked to design a set of graduation cards for a group of preschool children who were leaving for primary school. I had great fun creating this fun and cute card design.
I started by thinking of all the school and stationery related things that these children will be using and started by drawing then all. I wanted the background to almost look like a chalkboard and the illustrations to look like they’d been drawn in chalk.
I enjoyed adding in smiley faces on the pencils and the addition of hand drawn text in the centre made be a really fun greeting card. Inside the card was the word “Congratulations!” in crayon looking text and space for my client to write a message to her students.
If you’d like a custom greeting card design, please get in touch.
I was asked to design a set of Thank you cards for my client to give to a group of people, who generously donated prizes for a raffle. The client wanted something simple and had loved some of the designs in my Etsy Shop so wanted something similar for these cards. So I got to work straight away, trying a few different lettering styles and this is the design that was chosen.
If you’d like a custom greeting card design, please get in touch.
I’m pleased to introduce to you my wedding store on Love & Lilah.
Love & Lilah is an online wedding store that brings together a fabulous range of British wedding suppliers under one virtual roof and I was so pleased to be approached by them a couple of months ago.
I am so excited to be selling on a dedicated Wedding website, especially for British suppliers. At the moment you’ll be able to order from all seven House Collections on the site, which all include free postage & packaging.
Please go on over and have a little look and let me know what you think. I hope to be adding more products in the near future including Save the Dates and on-the-day Wedding stationery.
Yay! I’m finally getting to grips with this whole blogging regularly thing! Here is what March looked like for me.
March meet the maker
As I mentioned in my last post, I’ve been taking part in March Meet the Maker organised by Joanne Hawker. Initially, I was quite nervous about taking part because after the failure of my 100-day project, I wondered whether I’d be able to keep up. As I write this, I haven’t had to catch up more than one day at any one point throughout the month and I’ve really enjoyed taking part.
I’ve gained a few more followers on social media and have met loads more creatives and makers online, which has been great. There are so many talented creatives around!
I’ve also been developing my photography for Instagram. Content and the caption are still key, however, shooting in low light is no longer an option and ensuring I use good composition and more importantly, lots of colour have been high on my priority list.
To catch up with my March Meet the Maker posts, take a look here.
New paints and a mother’s day card
I used to use gouache paints all the time when I was doing my foundation course (10 years ago!) but have never owned my own set and haven’t used them since. Having seen a lot of designers and illustrators using gouache in their work online, I wanted to try my hand at using them again. So I bought my own gouache introductory set in a little art supplies shopping spree a couple of weeks ago.
When they arrived soon after, I couldn’t wait to get my hands on them and to get painting. First of all, I doodled quite tentatively in my sketchbook, but a few days later, I wanted to create a Mother’s Day card for my Mum, so I got to work.
Mixing the right colour was tricky – only because I didn’t mix enough paint the first time, it ran out, then I ended up having to paint the entire background again after mixing a darker shade the second time around. I also found that I needed to use a lot of white to get the pastel colours that I wanted. I’m used to just adding more water to watercolours to make them lighter (and my first watercolour set didn’t even have any white paint) so I’m sure it is something that I will get used to. I love how this Mother’s Day card turned out, though, my Mum loved it and I look forward to playing with these paints even more in the future.
I feel like I’m finally finding my groove for this year, however, it hasn’t been easy. At the end of last year, I felt incredibly grateful and very overwhelmed (read: shocked) at the success of the desk calendars. Throughout December, I knew that I should be working on new ideas ready for the new year but I couldn’t focus on them. I hoped to hit the ground running in January with a few Wedding Stationery ideas that I’d had but nothing I created seemed to be working.
I got into a vicious cycle of first of all thinking that I wasn’t going to make a success of it all, then not doing anything anyway, so that was a self-fulfilling prophecy in itself. I would then look at what everyone else was doing, of course, it was all better than what I was creating and even when I saw work that I thought “I could do that,” even that was better than anything I’d created. It was a horrible rut to be in.
That was until, a couple of weeks ago, one evening after I’d had an especially bad day, I found a couple of articles about creating positive thought patterns and chatted to a couple of friends and made a few decisions/realisations:
Negativity isn’t going to be my default anymore I think that I’m quite a positive person and I am about most things. Apart from the story, I tell myself about myself. That needed to change.
I will not be led by anxiety Almost related to above, but I’d got to the point where I’d feel anxious about not feeling anxious and try to think back to why I was feeling anxious before. It seems silly when I think about it now and anxiety is real but I seem to have taken control at the moment.
I must make an effort to get outside or do at least 20 mins of exercise every day Fresh air, stretches, yoga, breathing, and focusing on right now is healthy and it works.
Switch off notifications! Put the phone down, back away from Instagram and stop worrying about why you only have 10 likes and whatsername has 10,000 likes and she only posted a photo of her lunch, whereas you posted a piece of work which took hours! (not based on real people or real events but I’m sure most people can relate to this)
Change my 7 am alarm to 6:35 am This is a small change but I am a morning person and get up a lot quicker when my alarm goes off earlier and feel better for fitting in stretches, a walk and a slow breakfast when I get up early, any later and I feel as though I must get to work almost straight away.
These new plans have already made a significant difference to my days, my work seems to be looking a lot better too, which I’m not sure if it is a coincidence or not. I’m sure my positive outlook and good habits have made some difference.
It’s now Spring! Yay! Spring is my favourite season, mostly because the days get lighter as the weeks roll by, also because all the new plants and flowers are waking up and popping up everywhere! In the UK, it is ever so slightly warmer, we still have grey rainy days but we can’t have everything.
Rob and I planted some herbs in a little box on our windowsill and teeny tiny shoots have started to appear. We planted basil, coriander, rosemary and thyme as they’re the herbs that we cook with the most. The coriander is the one in the photo which is going a bit wild, the others are slow and steady. So that is exciting! I look forward to eating our own herbs. We also have a chilli plant which has woken up after the winter and already looks as though it’s going to produce more chillis than last year.
Beauty and the beast
Beauty and the Beast was my favourite Disney film which I was a child (it still is!), right next to Mary Poppins, I knew all of the words by heart. So when I heard that they were remaking the film I was equal parts excited and nervous that it’d be ruined forever. However, we went to see the live action remake a few days after it was released in cinemas and it did not disappoint! It was, first of all, absolutely stunning, had all the charm that I enjoyed from the animated original and included a lot more of Belle and Beast’s story that you don’t hear about in the original. I really enjoyed it and would go to see it again in a heartbeat.
Lastly, another photo from the March Meet the Maker challenge, this one was all about milestones and included designing Wedding Stationery, Penguin Calendars, setting up shop and becoming self-employed.
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.
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.
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!
It feels so bizarre looking back to the start of 2016, it doesn’t feel like long ago that we were ringing in the New Year, celebrating that this would be the year we would get married, however, what a year it has been? I started writing this post as a month by month summary of what I did, and it was more like a list copied from my diary and started to get very long and quite boring, so instead, I’ve picked out some of the highlights.
We got married on the 7th May and what a wonderful day it was. I had been so anxious in the lead up to the wedding and found the day before so stressful (not that anything went wrong, I just worried that I’d forgotten something) then the morning of the wedding I woke up so early and was so calm. I was excited and nervous for sure, but I was a lot calmer than I thought I’d be. The Wedding day was perfect, I didn’t stop smiling all day, and a lot of guests have commented on what a good wedding it was.
Our Honeymoon in Mexico was the most luxurious holiday we’d ever been on, after months of planning and anxiety, it was so nice to just do nothing and soak up the sun, the food was amazing, we visited Chichen-Itza and swam in a Cenote which was beautiful! We’ll definitely go back one day. I love being married now, it suits us and I’ve very much enjoyed being called a Mrs and being a part of Rob’s family, they’ve accepted me with open arms since day one and I very much see them as my family. Rob has been an immense support over the last year with various things going on, he seems to take it all in his stride and looks after me too, I’m not sure what I would have done without him.
Work, My Etsy Shop & Penguin Calendars
I was sadly made redundant from my job in London last year, which was a bit of a shock but I resolved not to let it get me down, but to take every little positive out of the situation and change my life for the better. I got to work straight away on setting myself up as self employed and although it is still early days, I haven’t turned back.
I opened up my Etsy Shop in October! I worked so hard in the latter weeks of September, creating Penguin Illustrations to go into a mini desk calendar, I had also created a more typographical desk calendar. Originally I printed 40 copies of each design, thinking that this was ambitious and they wouldn’t sell, however as of 4th January, I’ve sold 178 Calendars! This number astounds me, I can’t believe it has been so successful and I’m excited to create more products for the new year. Watch this space. Thank you to all of you who have purchased from my Etsy Shop over the last couple of months, I genuinely do a little happy dance whilst packing up your orders.
Last year, I created two new logos, a set of business cards, plus my own logo and business cards. I worked on all the design for our wedding (some of the work was done in 2015 but finished in the early months of 2016). I designed and printed our Wedding Albums (I’ll make sure to write a blog post about those soon). I’ve worked on the design for a vegan recipe book and have worked on so many ideas for new products and services for my shop and business.
I started my new Instagram account for my work in February and it has been great. I’ve done more painting, drawing and lettering than ever before and have met a lot of new designer, illustrator and maker friends, it is my favourite social networking platform for sure. I took part in Meet the Maker Week in December as well which was something I’ve never done before and I really enjoyed it.
I had the pleasure of presenting at a careers fayre at my old secondary school, returning there after 10 years was quite weird. I also took my Calendars and Greeting Cards along to a few Christmas fayres.
Something is wrong.
Instagram token error.
The fall and rise of the blog
One day in October, I was updating a plugin on my blog and suddenly everything disappeared, my screen went white, I couldn’t log in, I couldn’t visit my website, nothing. I left it a couple of days to see whether it was just me going crazy and tried to fix it. I tried everything my limited knowledge of websites, self hosting and google would allow, the back ups that I thought I’d set up, failed and I just couldn’t get it all back. I had been considering starting a brand new blog anyway (although not wanting to delete the old one) so decided to start from scratch and here I am. I hope to blog a lot more in 2017, I seem to have got out of the habit of writing for the blog and although I write every day in my diary, the blog is public and it has taken me hours to write this post because I over think every sentence.
Although 2016 had a reputation for being a bad year, there were some really happy times when I think of it. Obviously, Rob and I getting married was one of those, I’m so grateful for our marriage, our home and the life that we have. I had two Hen Dos! Two of our best friends had babies in 2016 and they are the most beautiful little babies. Another of my best friends got engaged and is getting married in 2018. We went on the best holiday to Mexico, enjoyed our holiday in Cornwall, a long weekend in Norwich and a road trip to Newport for the day. I saw The Bodyguard and The School of Rock in the West End, and enjoyed both immensely. I also celebrated 10 years since my Art & Design Foundation course with the friends that I met on the course, I can’t believe it was that long ago and I’m so glad that we’re all still friends! We also celebrated a few big birthdays and anniversaries and our first Christmas as Mr & Mrs.
Sadness and Anxiety
Sadly my Grandfather passed away in November 2016 and just two weeks later Rob’s Grandmother passed away. I have a whole other blog post to remember the influence that my Grandfather had on my work and my life but that is for another day. Whilst I’ve mentioned the highlights of this year, it hasn’t been without it’s difficulties, I’ve faced a lot of anxiety and sadness but I look back on what I have achieved and realise I shouldn’t be anxious about my abilities, then I look back on what I still have and realise I shouldn’t be sad but happy for the memories I have of the people that we’ve lost.
Onwards into a New Year
I am grateful for the lessons that 2016 has taught me, however happy to move into a fresh new year. I move into the last year of my twenties this year so I better make it count!
I like to choose a word for the year and then my goals for the year come from that. In the past I’ve had Grow, Explore, Create and Joy as my word for the year and it forms a kind of mantra for the year. The words that passed through my mind for this year were build (on my business), (find my) purpose, peace (to curb any anxiety), courage (this relates to most of my goals for this year) and thrive. But none of it seems to be sticking with me. Courage is probably the best out of those for now so I’m seeing how it goes.
Other goals are:
Make a success of my business, which will mean a balance of creating a sustainable income whilst keeping my sanity. (I could write a whole other blog post about my goals and ideas for my little business in 2017 but no spoilers).
To read at least 12 books (I think I read 2.5 books in 2016).
Start working on my Dollhouse (I already started during the Christmas break, I will write a blog post all about it soon).
Write regularly whether it be on the blog or in my diary
Get Driving (This is my goal every single year, I’ve had a full driving license since 2009 but haven’t used it, I need to get over the fear of sitting in the driver’s seat!)
Less Social Media and more socialising! (This sounds rather sad but I don’t see enough of my friends, I will plan more get togethers).
I’m excited to get going and glad you’re along with me for the ride. I hope you all had a very Happy Christmas and New Year! What are your plans for 2017?