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January page of 2017 penguin calendar sitting on a miniature easel, styled in front of a plant and pencil pot.

The Story of Penguin and a Brief-ish History of my Business (Part Two)

Last week, in part one, I started at the very beginning of Penguin’s story and covered the start of my business story. If you haven’t read it already, please pop on over and have a read, otherwise, this part won’t make much sense. I left it on a huge cliff hanger, in this part two you’ll find out what happened next?

To recap, at the end of my previous post, I was newly self-employed, I had decided to re-design the Penguin desk calendar for 2017 and was determined to make it work.

Creating the 2017 desk calendars and a mini creative crisis

When it came to creating the desk calendar for 2017, I had all of the illustration ideas down on paper and I knew they were already popular with my friends and family. I remember my Uncle asking if and when I was creating another version of the Penguin calendar. However, this didn’t stop the mini creative crisis that followed.

Do I continue with the watercolour style that I had started with a couple of years before? I had loved lettering up until this point and should I include my lettering in with the Penguins? How can I combine the two? Will they be good enough? Will they sell? I had found scanning watercolours really tricky to get the colours right, if I was going to sell these and make it the start of my business, it had to be perfect. I loved creating vector illustrations and this was where my comfort zone was, was that enough? How could I push it further? I compared myself a little bit too much to strangers on the internet. This was the start of my dream, I had jumped right into the deep end with starting this business, I wanted to make it work, I needed to make it work! It was still a bit of a shock that I was now working for myself, and a lot was going on personally too but I was determined to make this work!

In the end, after much deliberation, I created the first “official” Penguin calendar using vector illustrations and I sent it to print. For some bizarre reason, it didn’t occur to me that I could print the calendar pages as A7 leaflets, and so that first run of calendars were printed as flat A3 sheets and I cut each and every page out with a ruler and scalpel. I printed 40 copies of that original calendar, with 13 pages for each including a front cover, it was a lot of cutting by hand! Realising that I could print the pages as A7 “leaflets” saved me a lot of time and saved my hands because, after a while, that was painful!

January page of 2017 penguin calendar sitting on a miniature easel, styled in front of a plant and pencil pot.

The unexpected success of Christmas 2017 and many (many) trips to the Post Office

I reopened my Etsy shop and on 17th October 2016, announced on social media (now on my “business” Instagram account) that the Penguin Calendar was available to buy in my shop alongside a minimal hand-lettered version. As time went on, the popularity of the Penguin version especially, completely shocked me! I remember feeling a lot of imposter syndrome, in awe of their popularity, waiting for someone to find me out or to complain about them. But no one did! Everyone was over the moon with them.

I sold 134 of those Penguin desk calendars for 2017 and that was just on Etsy. It continues to be one of my best selling items each year.

More Creative Crises

After the success of the 2017 Penguin Calendar, I didn’t quite know what to work on next. I faced a bit of an internal crisis, wondering what I “should” be doing, reacting to what I thought customers might want and feeling a little lost. A lot had happened in 2016, and to process all of that, I created a series of colourful floral paintings, which were really intricate and cathartic to create. These I made into a collection of note cards, which are still in my shop today.

Rainbow coloured floral watercolour painted greeting card styled with pens and paints

My very first card designs from 2011 had been painted dots, with little funny faces and legs drawn onto them. Did I want to continue painting my designs? (But ahh the scanning!) After designing our own Wedding Stationery, which I loved doing, I wanted to help other couples by creating their wedding stationery for them, so I created a few wedding stationery collections, which would act as samples. I loved lettering, I loved vector illustration, I enjoyed painting, and working on wedding stationery, how does this all fit together? I hadn’t studied illustration previously, I had worked as a graphic designer/art worker (working on very corporate financial & healthcare brochures etc) as my job for 6 years previously. I thought that carrying on with the Penguin illustrations wasn’t “serious” enough to be part of my job and I wasn’t an illustrator, what right did I have “pretending” that I was? It has been a long process of working it all out and is still an on-going process.

All the while, I’d listed all of my older card designs on Etsy and sold a few of those. What if the Penguin calendar was a one-off fluke and I’d never make or sell anything ever again?

Penguin takes over

It wasn’t until September 2017, after working on those wedding stationery collections, setting up my own website and a few other creative experiments to see what I really enjoyed doing vs. what my customers liked, that I used one of my favourite designs from the upcoming 2018 Penguin calendar as inspiration to create my first enamel pin badge.

Photo of a hand holding a penguin enamel pin. The pin design shows a cute penguin holding a pink heart garland.

Those original pin badges have continued to be another best-seller since I launched them in 2017 and looking back through my Instagram feed, Penguin has been a regular feature throughout my product ranges and social media posts since then.

It took a while and a lot of thinking, trying different things and more thinking, but I realised that people really liked the little Penguin character and I really enjoyed creating products featuring him!

Penguin has featured on a selection of notepads, more pin badges, 2018, 2019 and 2020 desk calendars, wall planners, stickers, postcards, a selection of greeting cards, wrapping paper, a cushion, birthday cards and Christmas cards. This has also included two successful Kickstarter campaigns and a lovely collaboration, which featured in a magazine no less…but now I’m just showing off! There are a lot more plans for him to be featured on more things in the future.

I still love lettering and illustration and they remain big parts of my work, I’ve also had the pleasure of working on the wedding stationery for a few lovely couples, branding projects and a lot of work for corporate clients over the 3 years that I’ve worked for myself. It hasn’t all revolved around Penguin (although, I’m sure he’d tell you differently!)

Lost along the way

It wasn’t until I created a comic strip featuring the little characters who sit on my desk a couple of weeks ago, that I realised I’d really missed the storytelling side. I had almost forgotten how and why it all started in the first place. So I’m going to try and share a few more stories of Penguin as time goes on and embrace doing what I enjoy rather than what I think I “should” be doing.

I hope to continue to be completely flexible with my business though, sometimes floral illustrations, sometimes lettering, sometimes wedding stationery, sometimes corporate brochure design or artwork, and sometimes cute Penguins on a notepad or greeting card, depending on the bright ideas that I have.

So that’s it! That’s the very long answer to why I chose Penguins to feature so heavily on my products (or rather how they chose me!) and I hope you’ve found this little insight into my business interesting.

I hope to make blogging a more regular thing this year, do you have any unanswered questions that I might be able to answer on the blog? As you can see, a small question like “Why do you draw so many Penguins?” has been translated into two whole blog posts, so any question large or small and I’ll see what I can do, just let me know in the comments. 

a pencil illustration of a penguin jumping in the air

The Story of Penguin and a Brief-ish History of my Business (Part One)

a pencil illustration of a penguin jumping in the air

Last month, I spent a lot of time thinking and planning about the why, how and what of my little business. I’m sure you’ll hear more and hopefully see the results of all this as time goes on, but it led me to answer one very important question: Why do you draw so many Penguins? And as I started to think about this question, it wasn’t a short answer. I like Penguins for sure, and although it’s very difficult to look at a Penguin waddling along and not smile, I wouldn’t even say they’re my favourite animal! (I’m so sorry to disappoint you, they’re one of my favourites, but this isn’t the reason why I’ve made Penguin drawings a central part of my business).

Read on to find out the real story behind Penguin, which has been intertwined with a not-so-brief history of my little business. Take a sip of water every time you read the word Penguin, and by the end, you’ll be well hydrated!

The very beginning

Rewind back to February 2013. I’ve just scrolled back through my personal Instagram to find the exact post and spent far too long reminiscing. At the time,  I was working full time in London, I was joining in with the #FMSPhotoADay challenge, I really enjoyed keeping up with my scrapbook and my previous blog. I only had about 77 followers on Instagram back then, but that felt like a lot. I had already opened my Etsy shop about 3 years prior, but it made a grand total of £10 over the 6 years before I started it back up “properly” in 2016. I look back on the cards I designed back then and smile (then cringe a little!) and realise that I had really no idea what I was doing. I still feel like that sometimes but I think 2013 Sian would be pretty pleased with how 2020 Sian is doing! I must try to remember this when I start to doubt myself.

Anyway, I digress. I had recently been to a Dollhouse and miniatures fair with my friend Harriet. I didn’t have my own dollhouse at the time but loved the idea of creating little scenes and I marvelled at the intricacy of the craftsmanship of all the tiny furniture and details. Harriet (who has since written, illustrated and published 11 Isadora Moon books, and in the process of finishing a 12th) had brought along Mini C, a small doll who she photographs in little scenes and situations, all of which are so cute and I love keeping up with the goings-on of Mini C. On that day, I was inspired to look more into my own story-telling. I didn’t want to copy Harriet but I loved this idea of creating a little character, who would get into all sorts of situations. Mine would be drawn rather than a physical doll.

It started with a doodle

At the time, I didn’t even draw regularly, and if I did, it was most probably lettering and not character drawings. I’d been keeping a notebook for little doodles and thoughts whilst I commuted into London every day and I don’t even remember why I thought of drawing a Penguin one day. The original drawing of Penguin was very square because I’d used the squares in my notebook to help me draw the lines and curves, he then had a little speech-bubble saying hello. I posted it to Instagram on 3 February 2013 with the caption: “Meet Penguin, he helps me with the day to day running of this place (ie. standing there smiling at me while I’m being a busy bee)” and Penguin was born and I miss his birthday every year. (Sorry Penguin, I will change that!) Looking back, that photo received a grand total of 3 likes…I’m sure I was over the moon with that too.

a pencil illustration of a penguin on squared paper with a little speech bubble saying "hello."

Why a Penguin?

I still have no idea why I drew a Penguin that day, it was a long time ago! Looking back at the Instagram photo, there seems to be a faint drawing of a person on the page that had been erased, maybe I considered making my little character a human first of all. I’m fairly convinced, however, that I drew a Penguin because I thought they’d be much easier to draw! It sounds like something I’d do. Let’s not forget that it was just a doodle to start with, I didn’t quite imagine that 7 years later I’d still be drawing Penguins.

I imagined a Penguin character and drew it using really simple shapes and it wasn’t until a few years later that I realised the Penguin I’d drawn, from no reference at all, didn’t look like a specific breed of Penguin at all! Oops!

What I do know is that the idea of a little Penguin as an assistant would be really cute! I can imagine them getting into all sorts of mischief, waddling around getting tangled up in things, making a mess, being a little clumsy! The Penguins I draw these days are similar to the Blue Penguin breed (also known as fairy penguins, little penguins, little blue penguins or Eudyptula minor) they are the smallest of the penguin breeds, but a few of my recent designs have included all the different breeds of penguin.

As time went on, I doodled Penguin in a selection of different scenarios, he’d be lying on a beach, the dancing version was one of my favourites, sitting behind a bunch of papers doing my work for me (I wish!), floating away on a balloon was another of my favourites, splashing around in some puddles, you might have seen some of these as updated designs since.

a pencil illustration of pencil sitting at a desk with a big stack of paper work, pencils in a pot and a hot cup of tea.

Fast Forward…

Fast forward to Christmas 2014, and I decided to make those Penguin drawings into little desk calendars, as gifts for family and friends. I had been experimenting with a few different art mediums by this point and decided to paint them all in watercolour, before scanning and printing a few times at home for different members of my family and a few friends. I partnered the printed pages with a little easel so that it could sit on their desk. To my surprise, they went down amazingly with my family and friends! A few people said: “you should definitely sell these!” and I’m sure I dismissed that at the time, but it continued to stay in the back of my mind.

a photo of my work in progress whilst working on the 2015 penguin calendar. The drawings show the January page design in both watercolour and coloured pencil.

The Other Beginning

Penguin almost took a back seat after I created those little desk calendars. We’d got engaged at Christmas in 2014 and so my mind and creativity were all consumed with planning our wedding and working full time. I had bought a little needle felted Penguin I the meantime and he’d featured in a few photos, including a little photoshoot with Harriet’s Mini C. However, I hadn’t drawn him in any new drawings or worked on my Etsy shop for a while. I think I’d even taken down all the Etsy listings by this point, because I just didn’t have the time to maintain a shop alongside working full time and that 1.5hr commute to and from London each day.

Then in September 2016, I was made redundant from my job in London and although a shock, I saw this as a huge positive. It had been on my mind since graduating in 2010 that I wanted to create my own product line, have an online shop and work for myself. It was always one of those “one-day” dreams and I didn’t let the fact that my Etsy had only made £10 previously stop me, I saw this as my chance to make a real go of it. I had a sketchbook full of sketches and little ideas that I just hadn’t had time to implement. Over the following week, I decided that I’d create a new version of the Penguin Desk Calendar for 2017, see how I did and see if I could make this dream of mine a reality.

…and that’s where I’ll leave this story, on a huge cliff hanger, until next time when you can find out how well or how badly it all turned out. 

Three Years of Sian Shrimpton Design & Illustration

Shop News | Stickers, Postcards & Christmas!

There has been a lot going on in the shop since the last time I posted, so I thought it was a good time to update you on the exciting goings-on around here.

Three Years of Sian Shrimpton Design & Illustration

Third Business Birthday

First of all, on October 3rd, I celebrated three years as a freelancer and three years since I opened my Etsy shop. It doesn’t feel as long as 3 years at all. When I first started this little venture, I had no idea what direction I’d be taking it in. I had a few ideas, some of them I haven’t even had the chance to work on yet but there is still time. Some of the things I have worked on, however, have surprised me. I never thought I’d create enamel pins, for example, I never thought I’d run TWO successful Kickstarter Campaigns (more on that later!) If you’ve supported my business at all over the last 3 years, I thank you from the bottom of my heart. Every like, comment, share, cheerleading message and purchase means the absolute world to me.

Sian Shrimpton Design - Keep Going Postcard

Postcards & Stickers

I have a few new products in the shop, one of those is a collection of new postcards and the option to buy the hand-lettered postcards individually rather than as part of a set. There are plenty of cute colourful Penguin postcards, perfect to send a little note to a friend or to pop on your noticeboard to cheer you up in the end.

I also now have stickers! If you had told ten-year-old me that I’d be making stickers, notepads and postcards as part of my job, I’m not sure I would have coped. 30-something me is also finding it hard to comprehend that this is my job sometimes.

There are Penguin stickers and my favourite of the hand-lettered pieces, “keep going” all available now, with a few more to come once I have sent out the Kickstarter rewards.

Kickstarter update

On the subject of Kickstarter, the campaign was a success! It ended at 151% funded which was fantastic. I had my doubts as the campaign went on because a few pledgers cancelled or changed their pledge to a smaller amount. I understand why you would cancel or change a pledge, however, I feared the campaign wouldn’t get to fully funded, let alone to the stretch goals! Everyone surprised me though, and I shouldn’t have doubted it! I did reach the first stretch goal, albeit after reducing it slightly and there are two lovely Penguin pin designs in production as I type this!

Christmas!

Sorry if it really is too early to be talking about the c-word but the organised among you have already been asking me about Christmas so…I’m sorry!

As you can possibly tell, there is a lot going on in the shop at the moment and I have a lot of new products, with more to come soon! This does mean that there have been no brand new Christmas themed designs, for this year. I did create two brand new designs for Christmas wrapping paper last year and looking back at my Instagram and blog, I didn’t even promote said wrapping paper! Doh! These are back in the shop for this Christmas and there are plenty of my older designs for Christmas cards and tags in the shop too.

Keep a lookout for a few new and exciting products coming to the shop in the next couple of weeks. If you missed out on the Kickstarter pins, if there any leftovers, they’ll be added to both my website and Etsy Shops. They’ll make the perfect for little gifts or a treat for yourself and I also have a few super-secret products to add soon, including a very exciting collaboration.

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.