…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.
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.
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.
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!
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.
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.
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?
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!
Yay! I’m finally getting to grips with this whole blogging regularly thing! Here is what March looked like for me.
March meet the maker
As I mentioned in my last post, I’ve been taking part in March Meet the Maker organised by Joanne Hawker. Initially, I was quite nervous about taking part because after the failure of my 100-day project, I wondered whether I’d be able to keep up. As I write this, I haven’t had to catch up more than one day at any one point throughout the month and I’ve really enjoyed taking part.
I’ve gained a few more followers on social media and have met loads more creatives and makers online, which has been great. There are so many talented creatives around!
I’ve also been developing my photography for Instagram. Content and the caption are still key, however, shooting in low light is no longer an option and ensuring I use good composition and more importantly, lots of colour have been high on my priority list.
To catch up with my March Meet the Maker posts, take a look here.
New paints and a mother’s day card
I used to use gouache paints all the time when I was doing my foundation course (10 years ago!) but have never owned my own set and haven’t used them since. Having seen a lot of designers and illustrators using gouache in their work online, I wanted to try my hand at using them again. So I bought my own gouache introductory set in a little art supplies shopping spree a couple of weeks ago.
When they arrived soon after, I couldn’t wait to get my hands on them and to get painting. First of all, I doodled quite tentatively in my sketchbook, but a few days later, I wanted to create a Mother’s Day card for my Mum, so I got to work.
Mixing the right colour was tricky – only because I didn’t mix enough paint the first time, it ran out, then I ended up having to paint the entire background again after mixing a darker shade the second time around. I also found that I needed to use a lot of white to get the pastel colours that I wanted. I’m used to just adding more water to watercolours to make them lighter (and my first watercolour set didn’t even have any white paint) so I’m sure it is something that I will get used to. I love how this Mother’s Day card turned out, though, my Mum loved it and I look forward to playing with these paints even more in the future.
I feel like I’m finally finding my groove for this year, however, it hasn’t been easy. At the end of last year, I felt incredibly grateful and very overwhelmed (read: shocked) at the success of the desk calendars. Throughout December, I knew that I should be working on new ideas ready for the new year but I couldn’t focus on them. I hoped to hit the ground running in January with a few Wedding Stationery ideas that I’d had but nothing I created seemed to be working.
I got into a vicious cycle of first of all thinking that I wasn’t going to make a success of it all, then not doing anything anyway, so that was a self-fulfilling prophecy in itself. I would then look at what everyone else was doing, of course, it was all better than what I was creating and even when I saw work that I thought “I could do that,” even that was better than anything I’d created. It was a horrible rut to be in.
That was until, a couple of weeks ago, one evening after I’d had an especially bad day, I found a couple of articles about creating positive thought patterns and chatted to a couple of friends and made a few decisions/realisations:
Negativity isn’t going to be my default anymore I think that I’m quite a positive person and I am about most things. Apart from the story, I tell myself about myself. That needed to change.
I will not be led by anxiety Almost related to above, but I’d got to the point where I’d feel anxious about not feeling anxious and try to think back to why I was feeling anxious before. It seems silly when I think about it now and anxiety is real but I seem to have taken control at the moment.
I must make an effort to get outside or do at least 20 mins of exercise every day Fresh air, stretches, yoga, breathing, and focusing on right now is healthy and it works.
Switch off notifications! Put the phone down, back away from Instagram and stop worrying about why you only have 10 likes and whatsername has 10,000 likes and she only posted a photo of her lunch, whereas you posted a piece of work which took hours! (not based on real people or real events but I’m sure most people can relate to this)
Change my 7 am alarm to 6:35 am This is a small change but I am a morning person and get up a lot quicker when my alarm goes off earlier and feel better for fitting in stretches, a walk and a slow breakfast when I get up early, any later and I feel as though I must get to work almost straight away.
These new plans have already made a significant difference to my days, my work seems to be looking a lot better too, which I’m not sure if it is a coincidence or not. I’m sure my positive outlook and good habits have made some difference.
It’s now Spring! Yay! Spring is my favourite season, mostly because the days get lighter as the weeks roll by, also because all the new plants and flowers are waking up and popping up everywhere! In the UK, it is ever so slightly warmer, we still have grey rainy days but we can’t have everything.
Rob and I planted some herbs in a little box on our windowsill and teeny tiny shoots have started to appear. We planted basil, coriander, rosemary and thyme as they’re the herbs that we cook with the most. The coriander is the one in the photo which is going a bit wild, the others are slow and steady. So that is exciting! I look forward to eating our own herbs. We also have a chilli plant which has woken up after the winter and already looks as though it’s going to produce more chillis than last year.
Beauty and the beast
Beauty and the Beast was my favourite Disney film which I was a child (it still is!), right next to Mary Poppins, I knew all of the words by heart. So when I heard that they were remaking the film I was equal parts excited and nervous that it’d be ruined forever. However, we went to see the live action remake a few days after it was released in cinemas and it did not disappoint! It was, first of all, absolutely stunning, had all the charm that I enjoyed from the animated original and included a lot more of Belle and Beast’s story that you don’t hear about in the original. I really enjoyed it and would go to see it again in a heartbeat.
Lastly, another photo from the March Meet the Maker challenge, this one was all about milestones and included designing Wedding Stationery, Penguin Calendars, setting up shop and becoming self-employed.
Well, that was February! Whoosh! And now we’re over half-way through March and I’m posting this late again. I’m determined to get his blogging thing down.
A lot of the start of February was spent fretting about my work, and feeling a bit creatively stuck. Although I wrote about my new website design in my last post, I did a lot of the work for it at the start of February and started to feel a lot better about my “style” when I saw it all together on my new site. Thank you for all your lovely comments on the new design.
Wedding designs & Business cards
The big plan to start designing Wedding Stationery became a lot more real in February as I was invited to a Bridal shop opening to represent myself as a Wedding Stationery designer. It was a fantastic opportunity and lovely to meet lots of other suppliers and brides. It was also the boost that I needed to speed this process of setting everything up. I’m getting there. For the shop opening, I created some promotional postcards and business cards which I was so pleased with and have had some lovely comments about them.
I’ve also been working on my new collections of Wedding Stationery, I’m aiming to have these ready in the next few months. So watch this space!
100 Days of Lettering
On 1st Feb I had the amazing (read: silly!) idea of starting a 100-day project of drawing a piece of lettering each day for 100 days! It seemed like a good idea at the time, to build up my portfolio with lettering and for a little challenge to see if I could do 100 days. It was fun at the start, then it got to about day 4 and I realised a couple of potential problems.
First of all, I have got myself into what I feel is a good process of grouping similar tasks together. For example, doing all the drawing at one time, then all the scanning or photographing in one go so that I can build up focus on that one thing and get into a flow of getting it all done. So this challenge felt like an inefficient way of working, even if the actual drawing was done quickly (it rarely was!) I’d then have to work around the natural light for photography (this probably bothered me more than it should have!) edit the photography, write a description and share as one long disjointed process of different tasks. It didn’t feel natural to me and felt unfocused.
Throughout February, I was also quite busy with client work and planning wedding stationery bits and pieces, which I felt were a priority. I’d get into doing those for the day, then the letter of the day would be on my mind and the thought of stopping what I was doing to start this inefficient process would cause me to be unfocused on what I was doing until I’d completed the letter. That time could have been used more efficiently getting more important things done. So I stopped doing the challenge at day 26 and it felt like a bit of a relief, although I really enjoyed the drawing part of the challenge. I definitely want to return to those drawings and create something out of them. My favourite was the letter F, I eventually want to create the whole alphabet in this style.
This challenge has encouraged me to focus a lot more on photography however, I’ve realised how important photography is and have been getting a lot of practice in by posting on Instagram every day for the March Meet the Maker challenge.
I turned 29 in February and had a really lovely day. It was a low key day but I gave myself the day off, had a slow morning to myself, my sister visited and we sung along to musical soundtracks whilst drinking tea, opening presents and catching up on life. My Mum came round for a cuppa a bit later on and I went out to dinner with Rob and his sisters.
A trip to the Zoo
As a Wedding present, my cousin had the brilliant idea of adopting two Humboldt Penguins at Marwell Zoo for us! I thought this was a brilliant idea because 1. A couple of admission tickets were included so it included a day out for us and 2. It was supporting the preservation work at the Zoo and helps towards caring for the Penguins, which are my favourite animal! I was overjoyed! My Auntie also celebrated a special birthday the day before mine and as part of it, she wanted to do something special with the people closest to her. So, we all took a trip to Marwell Zoo for the day. It was such a lovely day, I loved seeing the Penguins (obviously!) and seeing our names on the list of people who have adopted animals. I also loved watching the Meerkats, the Otters and the Giraffes. It was a really fun day spent with family.
So that was February! 2017 is already going far too quickly but I’m glad that Spring is now on its way, we have some exciting plans coming up and I’m really enjoying my work so long may it last.
It feels so bizarre looking back to the start of 2016, it doesn’t feel like long ago that we were ringing in the New Year, celebrating that this would be the year we would get married, however, what a year it has been? I started writing this post as a month by month summary of what I did, and it was more like a list copied from my diary and started to get very long and quite boring, so instead, I’ve picked out some of the highlights.
We got married on the 7th May and what a wonderful day it was. I had been so anxious in the lead up to the wedding and found the day before so stressful (not that anything went wrong, I just worried that I’d forgotten something) then the morning of the wedding I woke up so early and was so calm. I was excited and nervous for sure, but I was a lot calmer than I thought I’d be. The Wedding day was perfect, I didn’t stop smiling all day, and a lot of guests have commented on what a good wedding it was.
Our Honeymoon in Mexico was the most luxurious holiday we’d ever been on, after months of planning and anxiety, it was so nice to just do nothing and soak up the sun, the food was amazing, we visited Chichen-Itza and swam in a Cenote which was beautiful! We’ll definitely go back one day. I love being married now, it suits us and I’ve very much enjoyed being called a Mrs and being a part of Rob’s family, they’ve accepted me with open arms since day one and I very much see them as my family. Rob has been an immense support over the last year with various things going on, he seems to take it all in his stride and looks after me too, I’m not sure what I would have done without him.
Work, My Etsy Shop & Penguin Calendars
I was sadly made redundant from my job in London last year, which was a bit of a shock but I resolved not to let it get me down, but to take every little positive out of the situation and change my life for the better. I got to work straight away on setting myself up as self employed and although it is still early days, I haven’t turned back.
I opened up my Etsy Shop in October! I worked so hard in the latter weeks of September, creating Penguin Illustrations to go into a mini desk calendar, I had also created a more typographical desk calendar. Originally I printed 40 copies of each design, thinking that this was ambitious and they wouldn’t sell, however as of 4th January, I’ve sold 178 Calendars! This number astounds me, I can’t believe it has been so successful and I’m excited to create more products for the new year. Watch this space. Thank you to all of you who have purchased from my Etsy Shop over the last couple of months, I genuinely do a little happy dance whilst packing up your orders.
Last year, I created two new logos, a set of business cards, plus my own logo and business cards. I worked on all the design for our wedding (some of the work was done in 2015 but finished in the early months of 2016). I designed and printed our Wedding Albums (I’ll make sure to write a blog post about those soon). I’ve worked on the design for a vegan recipe book and have worked on so many ideas for new products and services for my shop and business.
I started my new Instagram account for my work in February and it has been great. I’ve done more painting, drawing and lettering than ever before and have met a lot of new designer, illustrator and maker friends, it is my favourite social networking platform for sure. I took part in Meet the Maker Week in December as well which was something I’ve never done before and I really enjoyed it.
I had the pleasure of presenting at a careers fayre at my old secondary school, returning there after 10 years was quite weird. I also took my Calendars and Greeting Cards along to a few Christmas fayres.
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The fall and rise of the blog
One day in October, I was updating a plugin on my blog and suddenly everything disappeared, my screen went white, I couldn’t log in, I couldn’t visit my website, nothing. I left it a couple of days to see whether it was just me going crazy and tried to fix it. I tried everything my limited knowledge of websites, self hosting and google would allow, the back ups that I thought I’d set up, failed and I just couldn’t get it all back. I had been considering starting a brand new blog anyway (although not wanting to delete the old one) so decided to start from scratch and here I am. I hope to blog a lot more in 2017, I seem to have got out of the habit of writing for the blog and although I write every day in my diary, the blog is public and it has taken me hours to write this post because I over think every sentence.
Although 2016 had a reputation for being a bad year, there were some really happy times when I think of it. Obviously, Rob and I getting married was one of those, I’m so grateful for our marriage, our home and the life that we have. I had two Hen Dos! Two of our best friends had babies in 2016 and they are the most beautiful little babies. Another of my best friends got engaged and is getting married in 2018. We went on the best holiday to Mexico, enjoyed our holiday in Cornwall, a long weekend in Norwich and a road trip to Newport for the day. I saw The Bodyguard and The School of Rock in the West End, and enjoyed both immensely. I also celebrated 10 years since my Art & Design Foundation course with the friends that I met on the course, I can’t believe it was that long ago and I’m so glad that we’re all still friends! We also celebrated a few big birthdays and anniversaries and our first Christmas as Mr & Mrs.
Sadness and Anxiety
Sadly my Grandfather passed away in November 2016 and just two weeks later Rob’s Grandmother passed away. I have a whole other blog post to remember the influence that my Grandfather had on my work and my life but that is for another day. Whilst I’ve mentioned the highlights of this year, it hasn’t been without it’s difficulties, I’ve faced a lot of anxiety and sadness but I look back on what I have achieved and realise I shouldn’t be anxious about my abilities, then I look back on what I still have and realise I shouldn’t be sad but happy for the memories I have of the people that we’ve lost.
Onwards into a New Year
I am grateful for the lessons that 2016 has taught me, however happy to move into a fresh new year. I move into the last year of my twenties this year so I better make it count!
I like to choose a word for the year and then my goals for the year come from that. In the past I’ve had Grow, Explore, Create and Joy as my word for the year and it forms a kind of mantra for the year. The words that passed through my mind for this year were build (on my business), (find my) purpose, peace (to curb any anxiety), courage (this relates to most of my goals for this year) and thrive. But none of it seems to be sticking with me. Courage is probably the best out of those for now so I’m seeing how it goes.
Other goals are:
Make a success of my business, which will mean a balance of creating a sustainable income whilst keeping my sanity. (I could write a whole other blog post about my goals and ideas for my little business in 2017 but no spoilers).
To read at least 12 books (I think I read 2.5 books in 2016).
Start working on my Dollhouse (I already started during the Christmas break, I will write a blog post all about it soon).
Write regularly whether it be on the blog or in my diary
Get Driving (This is my goal every single year, I’ve had a full driving license since 2009 but haven’t used it, I need to get over the fear of sitting in the driver’s seat!)
Less Social Media and more socialising! (This sounds rather sad but I don’t see enough of my friends, I will plan more get togethers).
I’m excited to get going and glad you’re along with me for the ride. I hope you all had a very Happy Christmas and New Year! What are your plans for 2017?
Hello again! This is a very unexpected post because you may have noticed that all of my previous blog posts have been deleted. I started this blog back in 2008, whilst still at Uni, so that is 8 years worth of rambling from me, all gone!
It all happened when I was trying to update WordPress and suddenly my screen went blank, I couldn’t log in to the dashboard, I couldn’t even see my website, just “Computer says no!” I had downloaded a “back-up” plugin previously and thought it had been doing it’s job, but no! To be honest I was tired, so I left it overnight, still the next morning I couldn’t find a way of getting it back. To cut a long, quite complicated, story short, I decided/was forced to just start again, I had tried and failed long enough to get all of my posts back. So here I am, fresh and new!
I’m glad in a way that I have this chance to start afresh, I had been considering it for a while but without deleting all the old posts. Over the eight years of having this (the old?) blog, I had learnt as I’d gone along and all of the old posts were in a mess, with broken links, small images, low quality images, a million categories which were unused, some questionable spelling and grammar, the lot! So I’m glad I have this chance to start again. I’m a very nostalgic person so I’m sad that I don’t get to look back on old posts because it became like a diary for me but a lot of the special posts were drafted elsewhere first so all is not lost!
So Hello! I’m glad you’ve found me. If you’re new here, Hello and Welcome! My name is Sian and I’m a Designer and Illustrator. Here I will share my work, some work in progress, a few sneaky peeks into my sketchbooks and moments from my everyday life. I hope to share my progress as I work on opening my Etsy shop in the near future.