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Cute Penguin Rainbow note card - Illustrated Card

Shop news | New Penguin Cards, 2019 Calendars, sneak peeks and 10% off

Good Morning, how is your week going so far? For a while now, I’ve been trying to make a plan for this blog. I’ve read many an article saying “you must have a blog for your business,” “if you want to succeed on the internet, you must write a blog” and “blogging is back” (in my book, it never really went away!) and I’ve written for my own blog for a little under ten years now, with a few breaks here or there. I’ve written about my research at University whilst I studied for my Graphic Design degree, then later about working in London, my life as a graduate and creativity, with a little phase where I loved creating scrapbooks.

Recently however, I’ve been trying to figure out how I want this space to work and considered all different types of blog. I want it to be a useful, helpful space for you, whether you are a regular customer of my Etsy shop, a potential client or an engaged couple, considering asking me to design your wedding stationery. It took me a while longer to figure out what that looks like and so I think I have a little plan.

I plan on posting three times a month (roughly!) with a mixture of posts, featuring:

  • a freebie post at the beginning of the month, like a free desktop wallpaper,
  • a shop update around the middle of the month, with all the new things in my shop and any new goings on, which may or may not let you know about offers or sale events in my shop (that’s what this one is,)
  • a useful post towards the end of the month, some ideas I’ve had so far for this are about my process and what I’m doing to help the environment. I think of this as an extended version of an FAQ section, so if there’s anything you want to know, just give me a shout in the contact form.

Enough chatting about it and more getting on with it!

New super cute card designs in the shop

I have been dreaming up a few new card designs for a while now and finally got round to getting them printed. There are now three new Penguin note cards available to send to a friend to cheer them up, to say hello or just-because. I’ve also added a few colour variations of my floral birthday cards.Cute Penguin Rainbow note card - Illustrated Card

Back to School wall planners and an offer!

If you’ve gone back-to-school or back-to-college/university this month, or just want to get organised for the academic year, I have added two new wall planners to the shop. There is a minimal version and a version with cute penguins on it, if that’s your thing! These are instant download wall planners and available in A3, A4 and US Letter sizes. To celebrate back-to-school, I’ve created a little offer in my Etsy Shop until the end of September, you can get 10% off those new wall planners, penguin stickers and notepad & pencil sets when you use the code BACKTOSCHOOL (or click on the code to add the code to your basket straight away).

Penguin academic wall planner

 

2019 Calendars (a little sneak peek!)

Now for the exciting bit, I have had quite a few messages asking if and when the Penguin Calendars will be back for 2019 and the good news is that I have been working hard on some new designs for the 2019 Calendars. I have expanded from just a Penguin version this time. There will be two other versions and I have exciting new stands that they’ll sit on this time as well. I hope that these will be available next month ready for my 2nd business birthday!

On the subject of calendars, the 2018 version is now available at the ridiculous price of 50p (+postage) and these won’t be available from October 1st to avoid confusion, so if you’d like one make sure you order one before the end of the month. I made the mistake of printing a few too many and so I’m pretty much giving these away. A few people have said that they’re cutting off the calendar part and using them as bookmarks, as postcards, sticking them on the wall or even as gift tags. I’m sure there are endless possibilities!

2019 Calendars sneak peek

 

No. 7 Cherry Tree Lane

On a non-related note, I have set up a new Instagram account for my dollhouse. I had considered documenting the progress here as I had started to write about it on the blog, or setting up a new blog for it, but I struggle to keep up with this one. So, I thought an Instagram account would be perfect. Updates are slow, and I’m still catching up with posting the progress so far but I’m excited to post more about it in the future.

7 Cherry Tree Lane, Dollhouse Instagram Account

 

So, there you have it. I hope you enjoyed the first of my shop updates. There might be some months with more to update and others where there isn’t much at all. Let me know what you think, and just give me a shout if there’s anything you want me to write about that might make ordering from the shop or working with me easier.

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

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

Sian Shrimpton Design Penguin Pins

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 Penguin Pins

Penguin Enamel Pin Badges

These have actually been in the shop for a little while now but I’ve been dreadful at updating the blog, so please forgive me. I’ve made a plan to make time for blogging in October, so now that I’ve said it, I’ve got to do it! I’m making a schedule and mapping out an afternoon each week for the blog. I’d just prioritise other things in front of the blog and never get round to it. Well, now I even have a posh fountain pen and a dedicated notebook for drafting blog posts, so no excuses!

So onwards to the exciting news…(that you probably know already!)

I now have Penguin Enamel Pins available in the shop!

I wanted to create a little token that you could either gift to a friend or keep all to yourself that every time you look at it, it would make you smile or remind you that you’re loved and that someone is thinking of you. Then whilst creating the little Penguin drawings for the 2018 Calendar, I created this cute Penguin holding a heart garland for one of the pages and it seemed perfect!

Each pin is 25mm across, made of soft enamel and is a super cute penguin holding a pink heart garland. He is so adorable, I might cry!

He is available in my shop right now and is being snapped up quickly so make sure you don’t miss out.

New website – SianShrimpton.co.uk

New website, new url, sianshrimpton.co.uk

 

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.

 

April & May: Wedding Stationery, Afternoon Tea & Our Anniversary

Well, I haven’t exactly stuck to my weekly blog plan. Life gets busy and the blog seems to be the first thing to suffer, sorry blog! Onwards and upwards I suppose! And because I’ve been totally neglectful, I’ll update you on the last 2 months in one post.

Wedding Stationery

Work wise, April and May have been so full of me working on the new Wedding Stationery Collections. When I think back to 2 months ago, I had been struggling with these designs, all the self-doubt was going through my mind. I worried they’d never be good enough, worried no-one would like them and the other half of me just wanted them done and out in the world already. Then after struggling for a while, I decided to keep it simple and get it done.

They slowly but surely started to come together. I wrote a rough timing plan for myself and after worrying that everything was taking too long, I managed to launch the new designs ahead of schedule.

More importantly, though I am over the moon with how these have turned out. I’m in love with every one of these Stationery Collections. There are seven new Collections, all named after some of my best friends and family. Each collection features day/evening invites, details sheets, RSVP cards, envelope liners and belly bands. Each can be completely customised to your colour scheme and wording. You can even mix and match between Collections to make it completely personal to you and your partner if that’s something you’d like to do. They are all available in my Etsy Shop or get in contact and I’d be happy to discuss your requirements.

I can also create something completely customised if you have an idea for something a little different.

Photography & Lightroom

When you run an online shop, the photography can be the difference between making a success or failure of a product. When you’re someone like me, who has had a DSLR for less than a year, doesn’t exactly know how it all works and got completely lost in the photography class she took more than 10 years ago, it can be a bit of a struggle to take great photos.

However, over the last few months, I have learned a lot about photography. I still have to face a lot of trial and error before getting it right but I learn something new and hope I get better at it each time. I’ve also found the great place to take photos in our home, I thought that by the window in my studio was great but found that by the window in our bedroom was even better!

Over the last few weeks, I have started to use Adobe Lightroom, an app that I thought was either made up or inaccessible to me, but it has changed my life! I used Lightroom to edit all of my photos before doing a bit of refining in Photoshop and after having a mostly turbulent relationship with Photoshop in the past, Lightroom seems to speak my language. However, photoshop and I are starting to understand each other a bit more recently too.

Beauty & the Beast Afternoon Tea

Little Sidenote: Whilst writing this post, I had been having a bit of a crisis about what I wanted to share on this blog. As I was so far behind with these little updates, was it worth sharing what I did in April when it’s almost June? Do I really want to document my life online for all to see? But then I’ve been so excited to share this that I decided to share anyway. I almost shared it as a separate post but it’s here instead.

Back in February, around my birthday, I saw an advert online for a Beauty & the Beast themed afternoon tea and spent one Sunday afternoon trying to book a table for my Mum, Sister and myself to go. Beauty & the Beast is my absolute favourite Disney film, and this would have made my life!

It was booked up so quickly however for the original dates and the site kept crashing. I didn’t want to give up, however, so I tweeted the hotel asking if it was in fact fully booked which it was but they later messaged me privately to say they’d added more dates! So it was a race against time to book a table before they were sold out again and I got it! I was so happy! I likened it to getting tickets for a super popular gig or festival (something that I’ve never even tried!)

When the day came around at the end of April, I was so excited! I have, what I call, a Beauty and the Beast dress. It is navy with a pink floral pattern, so I wore that and we went excitedly on our way.

The Kensington Hotel, where is was held, was beautiful! Even though I had dressed up, it felt much too posh for me! The staff were lovely too, it had the feel of a very special day and the fact that I shared it with my Mum and Sister made it even more special.

We started with a glass of Champagne and our starters, which were based on the “Be our guest” song. Beef Ragu, Cheese Souffle and a venison pie, all bite-sized treats that I could have eaten a lot more of. Then came the tea, I had earl grey, of course. There were mini brioche baguettes instead of scones, because of the line in the film “Marie, the baguettes, hurry up!” These came with an Apricot Jam and a chocolate pot. There were the usual mini sandwiches then the small puddings were the best part. “Try the grey stuff, it’s delicious” was served in a Chip cup and was a white chocolate mouse with a grey coloured white chocolate topping. Cogsworth’s face was a chocolate and shortbread biscuit with a few marzipan details. There was a clear jelly and edible rose petal, served in an upside-down glass, so it looked like the cloche over the rose. The waiter poured cream from Mrs Potts into the top of this glass. There was also a coconut and chocolate macaron to look like the snowballs that they throw in the film. We were then given a gingerbread biscuit covered in marzipan to look like Belle’s dress, I took this home to enjoy the next day.

It was so well thought out and put together and really was a special day with my family. It was like all my childhood dreams in one.

The Beauty & the Beast Afternoon Tea is currently sold out until the end of November but you can sign up for updates on the Kensington Hotel website.

Our Wedding Anniversary & Centre Parcs

The 7th May saw our first Wedding Anniversary. I really can’t believe how quickly that year has gone! They say that the first year is the most difficult but the marriage part of our lives has been so easy. I’m not sure whether Rob will say the same, having to deal with me every day!

We celebrated with a nice dinner and night’s stay at the same hotel where we had our Wedding Reception. It was so lovely, the weather was similar to our day last year, the bluebells were out again and it was nice to reminisce about the lovely memories together.

We then made our way to Centre Parcs in Elveden Forest straight from the hotel. It was especially for my Sister-in-law’s 30th Birthday. I had never been to a Centre Parcs before, so wasn’t sure what to expect. I think it exceeded my expectations though. I loved being in the middle of nowhere, the number of trees, deer, ducks, birds and squirrels.

I also loved riding a bike everywhere, I get nervous on a bike usually but as there were very few cars around, I could ride without feeling anxious. We swam (well, went down a few slides and round the wild rapids!) went on a Katakanu, spent time in our hot tub, played adventure golf, played lawn bowls, went ten pin bowling, had a toast to our anniversary with Champagne from our Wedding and spent a day at the spa. It was a great holiday, I just wish it was a little bit longer (isn’t that always the case?). It was quite an active holiday for me, I took my sketchbook and paints with me but didn’t have two minutes to even open them. That might have been a good thing in hindsight, I returned from that holiday ready to hit the ground running with my work.

Other little things over the last couple of months have included a hair cut, planting a fuschia called “Shrimp Cocktail” for our anniversary, visiting the Ashridge Estate and taking more photos of Bluebells, lots of work on a little website refresh (coming soon!) and seeing Lion King at the Theatre.

March: Meet the Maker, creative block and herbs

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.

Creative Block

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.

Herb growing

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.

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.

January: new site, new ventures, new thinking

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.

Notecards

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.

Wedding

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.

Logos

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.

Plans

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.

Style dilemma

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.

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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!

 

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