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Penguin Enamel Pin Kickstarter Campaign Sketch

The Story behind my Penguin Enamel Pin Kickstarter Campaign

Penguin Enamel Pin Kickstarter Campaign Sketch

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.

Penguin Notepad, Pencil and Enamel Pin Set

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.

Simply pop over to my Kickstarter campaign here and select the reward that you’d like.

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.

May Free Penguin Desktop Wallpaper

May 2018 Free Penguin Desktop Wallpaper

May Free Penguin Desktop Wallpaper

…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.

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

iPad | Laptop | Desktop

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

Sian Shrimpton Penguin April Desktop

April 2018 Free Penguin Desktop Wallpaper

Sian Shrimpton Penguin April Desktop

Last month I was complaining about the snow and it feels like it has only just melted, it has certainly been a strange start to spring! I can’t believe we’re celebrating Easter and that it’s April already. I was reviewing my Dream Plan Do planner just a few days ago and wrote down everything that I’d achieved in the first three months of the year, it was surprising to see how much can be achieved in a short amount of time. What have you been up to this month?

Throughout March, I have been taking part in #MarchMeetTheMaker over on Instagram which has been great fun! I’ve tried to take part in the past but have lost momentum a few days in or have dipped in and out of the prompts, not this year however! I’ve met some great new makers and if you’ve found me through the challenge, please do pop me a message to say hi, I’m always up for a chat!

I have been sprucing up this space a little recently too, there’s still a little way to go but I hope you like the new homepage. I hope to add more projects to the portfolio section and eventually add a shop section so that you can purchase directly from me, so that’s exciting! I also have a brand new secret project planned for April, so keep you eyes peeled for that on the blog and instagram, it’s super exciting and a little scary for me so I hope you like it! I’ll be posting a few sneak peeks of my progress over on Instagram so be sure to follow along.

Whilst we’re on the subject of little updates, there are just 6 penguin pins left in my Etsy Shop at the moment, there won’t be any more available for a little while, after these 6 are sold so get in quick if you’d like one!

Without further ado, here is April’s free desktop wallpaper. Penguin is looking super cute in his bunny ears and is searching for Easter Eggs. Simply 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 wish you a Joyful Easter Xx

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

April 2018 Free Penguin Desktop Wallpaper
Penguin in the springtime for the March 2018 desktop download

March 2018 Penguin Desktop Wallpaper

Penguin in the springtime for the March 2018 desktop download

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!)

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

iPad | Laptop | Desktop

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.

March 2018 Free Penguin Desktop Wallpaper
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.

January 2018 Penguin Desktop Wallpaper

January 2018 Penguin Desktop Wallpaper

January 2018 Penguin Desktop Wallpaper

Good Afternoon! How is your January going so far? I’m pleased to introduce to you my new selection of Penguin desktop wallpapers for January. It is better late than never but I hope these will cheer up the second half of January for you. 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

If you’d like a matching desk calendar to cheer up your workspace even more, please head on over to my Etsy shop where I have 10% off everything except custom portraits until 31st January 2018.

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

2017 in numbers

Happy New Year! I hope you had a lovely Christmas and New Year wherever in the world you are and however you chose to celebrate. I chose to take the Christmas week off, and I take time off very seriously. I did take some time to make plans and schemes in my notebook and Dream Plan Do planner but I stayed away from my ever growing inbox and only switched my computer on once last week to send off a few of your orders throughout the sale. It’s so good to be back at my desk this week, I’ve been looking forward to getting back to work this year because I have so many exciting things planned for the year so far and I’m looking forward to getting started.

I reviewed most of my 2017 back in October when celebrating a year of self-employment, I didn’t want to repeat myself, so have decided to review my 2017 in numbers instead.

2017 consisted of 365 days, which was 52 weeks and 1 day, 31,536,000 seconds or 525,600 minutes, at which point, I start singing Season’s of Love from Rent!

At the end of 2017, I have spent exactly 10910 days on this earth and turn 30 in February 2018!

Now onto some more relevant numbers…

Social Media

My Top Nine Liked Photos from 2017

Etsy Shop

  • 10.4k of you viewed my shop, which is an 116% improvement on the same time last year
  • I had customers from the UK, US, Australia, Germany, Canada, France, Netherlands, Italy, Belgium and Switzerland
  • There are 39 items currently in my shop
  • I’ve received 61 five star reviews in total
  • 201 of you follow my shop
  • I’ve had 151 orders, bringing the total up to 311 sales
  • November was my best month so far
  • My Penguin enamel pin was the most liked with 89 likes on Etsy
  • I sold 55 mini Penguin Calendars, 24 grid style Penguin Calendars and 24 Penguin Enamel Pins and many more in person

Possibly my favourite project from last year, and smallest at 25mm across

Website & Blog

  • 766 views of my website
  • 2 comments (I think one of those was my reply! haha!)
  • 10 blog posts

Design

  • 3 wedding commissions
  • 4 Portraits drawn
  • 4 logo designs including my own
  • 1 map commission
  • 18 new card designs
  • 7 wedding stationery collections
  • 2 Penguin Calendar designs
  • 1 soft enamel pin design

Do you recognise these two? I now offer a selection of portraits in my etsy shop

Other achievements

  • 19 Jan – First logo job
  • 6 June – Opened my Love & Lilah Store for my Wedding Stationery
  • 30 June – First wedding commission
  • 13 July – Changed the URL on my website to sianshrimpton.co.uk
  • 24 October – First Christmas Card sale
  • 27 November – 15 Etsy orders over one weekend
  • 3 December – First solo Christmas craft fair
  • 8 December – Started a 2nd Instagram account for Wedding Stationery
  • 15 December – Sent first portrait commission
  • I read 2 books (ooh dear!)
  • Watched 39+ films and I don’t usually “do” films (This was thanks to having a Cineworld Unlimited card and making weekly-ish visits to the cinema)
  • Goodness knows how many cups of tea and frothy coffee!

Taking a look at these stats and achievements has been so interesting. In some cases I’ve been able to compare them to last year and have seen improvement in places but not in others, which is ok. I know that some of these numbers aren’t huge, for example, there have been moments where I’ve fretted over the number of Instagram followers I have, but I think I only had about 200 at the beginning of 2017, so that is a significant improvement. Hello to you if we’ve found each other through Instagram over the last 12 months!

There have been times in the past where I’ve almost obsessed over stats like these and wondered why they’re not better in some cases but this post isn’t to do that but to celebrate where I’m at right now. Rather than worry about why I only had 766 views on my website and 2 comments, I can celebrate that I created 18 new card designs and sold a total of 69 Penguin enamel pins! I must also note that I could easily compare these stats with those of others and find that I have come up short, something that I regularly make a habit of but that isn’t the aim of this post either, nor is it to be a point of comparison for others. It is meant to be a fun little celebration of my own accomplishments over the last year, I have worked hard and hope to achieve more in the next 12 months.

2017 was a great learning year for me, it was a big learning curve after plunging into self employment at the end of 2016. I’ve learned a great deal and although I felt like I was making it all up as I went along for a lot of the year, by November and December I think I found my groove. Now I’m excited to get started on 2018 and look forward to all that it has in store for me.

I’d like to take this chance to thank everyone who has bought from my shop over the last year, who has followed along with the few blog posts I’ve written, if you’ve liked my posts, commented or even been at the end of a private message when I’m in a panic (and there have been a few times!) I really appreciate each and every one of you and I thank you from the bottom of my heart because even though it can be tricky business sometimes, I’m the happiest I’ve ever been and I absolutely love creating cute and colourful things that you’ll enjoy too, so thank you for allowing me to continue.

I’m so proud of these little penguin calendars. I sold a lot more of them last Christmas but I think the illustrations have improved ten-fold from the 2017 version…plus it’s not too late to buy one from my shop! 😉

Some goals & plans for 2018

I’m going to spend most of January this year drawing, painting, writing and creating as much as possible, to get all those ideas that are in my mind, down on paper. I like to call it “creating furiously,” I don’t think much of what I do is actually furious but I like to get loads of ideas down really quickly, then move onto the next thing until I have a selection of good ideas that I can develop further. In this time, I try not to worry too much about it, done is better than perfect. Only after I feel like I’ve got all my ideas down on paper, do I start to over think it all a bit too much!

Other plans/goals include:

  • My word for this year is: Focus
  • Stay off social media when it makes me feel down, when procrastinating and when spending time with others
  • Read 12 books (or more than last year’s 2 at least!)
  • Sew 3 projects including something to wear
  • Visit a gallery/exhibition at least once every 2 months
  • Yoga every day
  • Blog at least once a fortnight
  • Complete a 30 day creative challenge
  • Expand my shop with prints & cards
  • Start a Society6 and/or Redbubble shop
  • Work on 3+ Wedding commissions
  • Work on 3+ portrait commissions
  • I added creating videos to my 2017 list, it might happen in 2018!

So that is that. These are things that I’d love to do this year, if I don’t reach some of them that’s ok. I’m sure I could add a few more to this list but I’d be going on forever.

What have you got planned for 2018? What accomplishments are you celebrating from last year? I’d love to hear from you!

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?

My first year of self-employment

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!