Home » Blog » Work in progress

Tag: Work in progress

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.

My first year of self-employment

Wow! 3rd October marked one year since I officially became self-employed and I can’t believe how fast that time has gone. This time last year, I had just been made redundant from a job I had worked at since University, I spent a few days processing the news but knew deep down what needed to be done. I had wanted to set up on my own for a while, I knew I wasn’t ready but I felt like this was the perfect opportunity to give it a try. I thought, I’ll give it 3 months but haven’t turned back.

When I was made redundant, my confidence was dashed quite considerably. I had very little confidence in myself as a person and even less confidence in my work and my ability to do just about anything. Designing a Penguin Calendar was something I really wanted to do, however, so I did it. I used drawings that I’d worked on, two years before and within 2 weeks, I had vectorised those drawings (drawn them again on the computer) and they looked great. I sat on those designs for a little while, doubting whether they were any good, wondering whether I should add anything to them. I had been painting a little for my mental health so I tried adding some painted details to them but that didn’t quite work. I think I forgot about them for a few days and then revisited the illustrations to find they weren’t dreadful, so after a few tweaks, I sent them to print alongside a typographic design that I had worked on and fretted about in equal measure.

In the beginning, I got just 40 printed and the Penguin Calendar sold out pretty quickly. My sister-in-law snapped up quite a few and I thought she was just buying them to help me out, she gifted them to her colleagues, however, who all loved them! I went on to reprint the penguin design quite a few times as they sold out quite a few times and I worked out that I’d sold about 200 of those Calendars over the Christmas period. I learned so much at that time.

I hand cut out each and every page of the first 80 Calendars that sold! I struggled to find a printer who printed that small, so printed on flat SRA3 sheets and cut each one out. Thankfully, I found out that the same printer would print A7 “leaflets” which was exactly what I needed.

Christmas was then over and all of the Calendars had sold, what now? How do I follow that? I also had quite an upsetting and stressful Christmas time that it took me a little while to get back into creating confidently in the new year. I had big plans for designing Wedding Invitations and Wedding Stationery so set out in designing those. It took a while to settle on a style for those and in the end, I had 7 House Collections of Wedding Stationery, which I really love. Since then I have designed for a couple of lovely Weddings. I hope to do a lot more in the new year.

I’ve learned so much about photography whilst trying to photograph these collections. I’ve taken the photographs 3 or 4 times over, thankfully they get marginally better each time.

The early summer was quite stressful for me, I had quite a lot of things going on, alongside my shop going quiet. I worked on a few great branding and design projects which were lovely. I continued to paint for my mental health again, which resulted in a bright and colourful selection of notecards for all different occasions, which look really great and I’m so pleased with them.

Throughout the year I’ve also faced a horrible habit of comparing myself to others. I would get into a trap of scrolling and scrolling, then wonder why 1. My work wasn’t as good as theirs’ 2. Why my Instagram feed didn’t look amazing and 3. Why I hadn’t done all that I needed to that day through scrolling all day. It’s really silly thinking about it now. But at one point, in July or August, I made a plan, to create furiously and to just keep going regardless of how I felt, about my work, regardless of what someone else had posted online and how good it was. I decided to lock myself in a little bubble and to do my thing and keep going.

Since then, I feel like my focus, momentum, and attitude towards my work has really changed, which has been great. I feel like I’ve found my groove. It has helped that I’ve started working on the Penguin Calendars again which I really love. So that brings me to now. I hope I manage to stay in this groove for a while and continue to create furiously.

Now, this post started off as a “things I’ve learned..” post for my first year of being self-employed but it ended as a pouring out of honesty about how things have gone. I am so grateful that I’ve had the opportunity to work for myself for the last year and I’m incredibly grateful for the work that I’ve been able to do this year. It has been testing and challenging at times. I have faith and hope that my second year will be even better.

My second year starts with preparing for Christmas again, which is exciting. I have designed two versions of the Penguin Calendar this time, with all new illustrations. I have a Penguin Pin badge which is so unbelievably cute! I’ve also been busy designing a selection of Christmas cards which I’m so pleased with and are now available in the shop.

I have a few Christmas fairs lined up, I share a table with my sister-in-law, who sells candles and we make a great team. I’m also excited to have been accepted for my first ever solo fair (a table all to myself) for the Hertfordshire Etsy Made Local in Ware, I’m sure this won’t be the last you’ll hear about that! I’m excited to meet all of the other members of the Herts Etsy Team and to sell at a local Etsy event.

I have some big plans for the new year, including offering custom portraits, prints, designing a range of birthday and thank you cards, and to take my Wedding Stationery Collections to at least one Wedding Fair. I would also like to take on a few more freelance clients and commissions (so if you’d like to work with me, please get in touch. 😉 ) I also celebrate my 30th birthday next year and what better than to make it the best year yet!

So here’s to the first year and all that it has taught me, let’s hope for a successful second year!

Dollhouse progress

I previously wrote about my dollhouse on the blog before all of my previous posts went into the abyss, never to be seen again! So if you didn’t catch that, I’ll update you.

My Mum’s friend built a Dollhouse as a Wedding present for us (read: for me! Although it is probably intended to keep be busy whilst any football is on, so Rob is grateful for it too!) It was made completely from scratch apart from little details like the window frames and the door. We were so impressed by it when we returned from Honeymoon to find it had been delivered by two secret squirrels.

Here are a couple of photos from before I did any work on it: (Please note that I had only had my big camera for a couple of days here and no amount of photoshop has made up for my not knowing which setting to have the camera on!)

I delayed getting started on it for a few reasons, firstly, where do you start with a dollhouse? I had no idea what to do first. Secondly, I didn’t have any tools or paints etc to get started; and thirdly, I found that you could see the roof behind the dorma windows, so I cheekily asked my Mum’s friend if he could cut two small squares in the roof before I started work on it, this was so that you could see through those windows to the top floor rooms. He was happy to do it and managed to cut out the windows during the Christmas break, then I started work on it almost straight away.

I started off by painting the outside. We had some light blue paint left-over from painting our Kitchen, so instead of buying new paint, I started with that.

I then painted all the interior walls, floors and ceilings in the white paint that we painted our kitchen ceiling with. The inside was only roughly painted so I thought that painting it again would create a blank canvas to work with. I also like the fresh white look of interiors, so might leave some of the walls white. Here are some in-progress photos where I had painted the blue exterior and started on the white details. You can see that I painted white triangles above the squares for the windows in the roof, this is because you would be able to see that space when peeking through the window and I wanted it to look finished behind there, not just the plain wood.

I bought a small tester pot of charcoal grey paint for the window frames, door and chimneys. I considered painting the roof tiles grey originally but am undecided now that I’ve tiled the roof, what do you think?

Here is a close up of the door, I still have a few details to add to the door, including deciding which number it should be. I’m thinking Number 7 for 7th May, which is our anniversary.

Just after Christmas, in a little dollhouse related shopping spree, I bought some cute wooden tiles and took some time to build up the courage to work on the roof over the last few weeks or so. Working on the roof was a lesson learned the hard way. I’m usually someone who reads instructions and follows them to the letter. The instructions said to use hot glue for the roof tiles, I didn’t have a hot glue gun but they’re made out of wood, so wood glue should work, right? …wrong! I spent a couple of hours battling with the wood glue and clothes pegs and holding each tile down for ten minutes each whilst it dried, then another ten minutes later found that each tile had warped! I stuck at it trying to make it work for a few hours before insisting on a road trip to Homebase for a glue gun. My gosh did that make a difference?

Most of the first half of the roof was done over the following few hours. The most difficult part was cutting each tile to fit around things like the chimneys and dorma windows. I quite enjoyed it once I had the right tools! I’ve also added a small magnet so that the whole thing stays closed now.

So that’s where I have got to so far. The dollhouse has six rooms and I plan on creating a living room, kitchen, bedroom, art studio, man cave (although I’m undecided about this one, it’s mostly because I want a miniature pool table but might think of something else for that room!) and a beauty and the beast style library (which I’m so excited about!). I’ve already bought a few bits and pieces for each room but will finish the exterior decor first before starting on each room.

I really love that this dollhouse is something arty/crafty for me to work on in my spare time. If you know me at all you’ll know that I love anything creative. I’ve wanted a dollhouse for as long as I can remember. When I was younger, I don’t think I realised that the making/decorating of it was half the fun, so it’s probably exactly the right time to be working on it now. I wouldn’t have had the patience before either. I’m sure if I owned a dollhouse when I was about 9, I’d expect it to be some sort of magic house for Borrowers or the Indian in the Cupboard! (I loved that film!)

I love that it is such a slow process too, everything else seems to be needed yesterday in today’s world and I really appreciate anything that encourages life to slow down for a couple of hours and will be exactly as I left it when I go back to it after a break.

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.

Meet the Maker Week – Day 4

This week I’m joining in with #MeetTheMakerWeek organised by @joannehawker and if I were to take an “in action” video right now, you’d see me sipping on lemsip, wrapped up in a blanket, working on a boring spreadsheet. So thankfully, I took this video a few days ago when I was painting away with Gilmore Girls on in the background.

Meet the Maker Week – Day 1

meetthemakerweek_1

This week I’m joining in with #MeetTheMakerWeek organised by @joannehawker . So here goes, my name is Sian Shrimpton, I’m based in Hertfordshire and this is what I do.

I first opened my Etsy shop in 2010, just after graduating with a degree in Graphic Design. I would create hand painted notecards and stationery for family and friends. I had to stop selling because I found that I didn’t have the time with a full time job and a long commute.

I didn’t stop drawing however and I quickly filled many a sketchbook with ideas, drawings and a few penguins for good measure. Fast forward to 2016 and I have decided to take the leap and open my Etsy shop with all new products and working freelance as a designer and illustrator. Currently, I’m selling little desk Calendars and Greeting Cards (Greeting cards will be back in stock this afternoon).

My work is inspired by bright colours and bold lines. I have a passion for hand drawn lettering, paint and illustration. I put a lot of love into everything that I do and I enjoy every second of it, I hope that my work can put a smile on your face as much as it has mine.

Etsy Shop now open!

If you follow me elsewhere on the internet, you’ll know that back at the beginning of October, I made the leap to open my Etsy Shop again. I’ve started small, and have designed two really cute desk calendars. One features penguin in all sorts of cute situations and the other is a more minimal, typographic design. Each of them sit on a little wooden easel and are a perfect addition to your desk or office, with Christmas just over a month away, they’d made an ideal stocking filler.

Alongside the Calendars, I’ve added some Christmas cards and notecards that I had left over from previous attempts at an Etsy Shop, they are reduced for now to make space for new products in the new year. Plus, you can get 10% off on orders over £10 by using the code SALE10 until the 31 December 2016!

I am so proud of these and they have been quite successful so far, in my opinion anyway. I’ve had a few attempts at running an Etsy Shop in the past and I’ve sold four times more over the last couple of months than I ever did in the previous 6 years.

sianlouise_etsyshop

penguin_desk_calendar_1

penguin_desk_calendar_2

minimal_desk_calendar_3

Hello again

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.