Monday, 27 May 2013

Reasons To Be Cheerful Part 3 - Bank Holidays with Some Sunshine!


Just a quick post today with another of my reasons to be cheerful...  
Can you believe it, we have actually seen some sunshine this Bank Holiday weekend.  OK, it was a little bit chilly in the breeze but who cares, we saw the sun - it's still up there! Woo Hoo!
If ever there was a reason to be cheerful, that would be it for me.

We even had a chance to build a little den for the our girls to play in with their cousins which looks just like the tent on my 'Happy Glamper' cards.  I don't know who had the most fun, me or the kids :)

Happy Bank Holiday :)

Friday, 24 May 2013

Time to Make Some Changes...


Happy Friday!

With today's post I want to share with you some of the thoughts and feelings I've had about my business and where it's been heading in recent months.  I'm stepping out of my comfort zone a little as I'm not a big one for sharing too much personal stuff on social networking sites and am a bit old fashioned, British stiff upper lip in that I prefer to confide in my close friends and family for all the support I need.  I've always wanted this blog to be about my work, inspirations, creative events & discoveries and a general source of positivity to help inspire the creative work of others...  

However, this blog is also about running a small creative business and in the past couple of months I've had plenty of things crop up in my life that have made me stop, think and re-assess where I'm at with my business. I'd like to share some of that with you today.  I know many of you who follow this blog are also owners of small businesses and work from home or aspire to run a business from home, so maybe by opening up about some of my experiences it will help someone else who finds themselves in a similar situation at some point.

When I started the Artwork By Angie website nearly three years ago my main aim was to try and make a living from purely illustrating. I have always wanted to be an illustrator and can remember telling my school careers advisor that I wanted to be a 'commercial artist' whatever that is.  In my mind it was clear, it was my way of articulating that I wanted to be an artist that got paid a living wage and if that meant my work was used in a commercial way that was fine with me - as long as I got to draw everyday I knew I'd be a happy person. At University I chose to specialise in illustration because I had my sights on working on either greetings cards or children's books.  My degree show was very much focused on paper engineered greetings cards in a colourful, quirky style.  These cards were displayed on the branches of a large paper tree I'd made covered in birds and blossom (I wish I could find a photo to insert here to show you, but it's buried deep in a box in our loft somewhere).  Funnily enough, looking back it was an early version of my family tree print but in 3D across exhibition boards.  What I'm trying to say is, I have always had a vision of where I want to be with my work, but it's taken me until now to have the courage and confidence to chase that dream with all my heart and soul....and I'll let you in on a badly kept secret - I'm still working on that courage and confidence part!...

The thing that sometimes happens when you set up a business is, if you are little bit clever and a whole lot lucky you may come up with a product or service that seems to hit the spot and for which the demand becomes so great it becomes all consuming on your time and resources.  That's fine if that particular thing is what you intended your business to be all about.  It's not fine when it was only ever intended to be an add on service to help put fuel in the tank of the business and enable it to grow ...and perhaps help others along the way by providing a needed service.  

In the past 12 months I have found my self steadily falling into such a situation which is gradually making me feel more and more frustrated about not being able to attend to the things I originally placed at the heart of my business plan.  Not only that, it has also been affecting my home life as the work/life balance is out of the window.  That has to stop.  The brutal reality is I'm not making enough from this to make those kind of sacrifices worth it.  My children are young and I want to give them one of the most precious things I can - my time and attention...

I'm very fortunate to have made some wonderful friendships in the design and craft world in the past 3 years and from chatting to others know that I am certainly not alone feeling the way I do.  I believe this is a very common issue for small, home based businesses.  The key to making it work is knowing when to say 'enough' and 'perhaps there is a better way to do things?'....and that is basically where I'm at right now.  I have spent some time thinking long and hard about a better way to do things and am finally comfortable with my decision on how to move forward.

The decision I have made is to spend at least the next few months focusing purely on some work for new ranges and not book in any jobs from my long waiting list for branding designs during that time.  Whilst developing those new designs I want to try to develop some ready made, one of a kind branding packages in an effort to move away from custom designs as the admin time for those has become far too time consuming.  This is my solution to the question 'perhaps there is a better way to do things?'.  I also have a number of  large collaborative projects on the go at the moment and am still very committed to my lovely loyal regular design customers, so that is quite enough for me to be getting on with for now.

I'm fully aware that this will be disappointing news for some who have very patiently waited for a custom branding design from me and I am sincerely grateful for all the support and kindness I have been shown.  I am sorry about that - this has not been an easy decision to make.  I'm not saying I'm never doing custom branding designs ever again, just that I need to have a break from them and make time to do my own ranges for a while.  Which means once I've finished off the few I'm currently working on, I'm unlikely to be booking any jobs from the list for while.  These changes need to be made in order to bring a bit of balance and harmony back into my home life, to help restore some of my creative energy and enthusiasm and to also ensure I am using my business hours to develop work that will give me the chance to try and move in the direction I so dearly want to be heading in...  

Thank you for bearing with my long and heartfelt post today, I look forward to sharing some new designs with you again soon.

Have a lovely bank holiday.
Best wishes


Wednesday, 15 May 2013

My Creative Space...

I'm checking in for a quick mid week catch up as I have a couple of things featured this week and thought it would be nice to share them with you.  Particularly for those who have followed my blog for a long time because one of these features provides a candid peep at where I create my artwork.

Photographer Lyndsey James has a wonderful new blog called Photo Craft which is steadily filling up with lots of helpful tips for photographing and styling handcrafted items.  The blog is also running a series called 'Creative Spaces' which features the work space of different artists and crafters and creative folk.  
This week my creative space is featured and you can read all about it here on that blog: 

The other feature that put a smile on my face this morning is today's front page on Folksy which was curated by More Tea Vicar? and is called 'Everything Stops for Tea'.  You can view the original pinterest board for this collection here:

I must admit, I fallen a little bit in love with the tea cosy that More Tea Vicar has created.  I'm so pleased I spotted this feature simply to discover a yet another lovely Folksy shop...

Here's to lots more new art, design and craft discoveries - I'll raise my tea mug to that!  :)

Best Wishes

Angie x

Monday, 13 May 2013

Starman Waiting In The Sky...

Happy Monday!

I'd like to start the week with something a bit different today.  Today, if you look at that photo above you'll find me a bit further to the right of those clouds covering the South West of England waving frantically to say a big thank you to a man in the sky! 

For the past few months, like thousands of other people, I have been thoroughly enjoying the experience of having stunning photos of our planet pop up in my facebook newsfeed thanks to the Canadian Astronaut Col. Chris Hadfield.  He is the man behind the lens on the photo above of Devon and Cornwall taken from the International Space Station orbiting our planet.  Here is a link to his page, it is literally out of this world!!:

Today, Col. Hadfield is preparing to return to earth.  To celebrate this and all things universal I'd like to share with you a few illustrations I've found via pinterest, which I find inspiring as they remind me there are things far greater than us all so we really shouldn't sweat the small stuff and try to be kinder to each other, because when viewed from space 7 billion plus becomes 1.

Vintage illustration above from a book called 'Blast Off' by Linda C.Cain and Susan Rosenbaum (1973).  Illustration by Leo & Diane Dillon:

'Moon Hug' by Carbine.  Available as a print from Society 6:

'Solar System' by Anneka Tran

You can find more of my space inspired pins over on my pinterest board :

Have a great week
Best wishes


Wednesday, 8 May 2013

Swapping Pixels for Paintbrushes..

 Hello.  I hope you all enjoyed the bank holiday weekend - wasn't it gorgeous weather? Aren't these bluebells gorgeous?  I've got lots of them popping up in my garden at the moment, they are a joy to see.

The reason I'm posting bluebells is I've been feeling rather blue lately.  
I've not been feeling my best these past couple of weeks which made me do some deep thinking and soul searching.  Every now and then it's almost a blessing to be reminded that you aren't invincible.  I see this as an opportunity to sort out priorities and get my house in order so that I am living the life that makes me happy and will hopefully make those around me happy too. 

I started with making time over the weekend to do some painting because I couldn't remember what it felt like to hold a paintbrush and relish the feeling of mixing colours on a palette rather than just selecting a colour on a screen with a mouse...

...Ta Da! and here is my first acrylic painting in over 18 months! 
I must admit, it's a bit rough and ready and needs some finishing off,  but I can't begin to describe the enormous sense of achievement I feel for just being able to get the paints out again whilst watching my daughters enjoy playing in our sunny garden.  

Doing that painting has certainly helped chase a few clouds away so that I can get on with things and go back to the hard task of chasing my dreams.

I'll leave you with a little cheeky peep at part of a collaborative project I'm working on at the moment that has got me very excited and inspired.  It's a job that's enabling me to develop some designs aimed at children which is something I've been wanting to do for a long time.

Have a lovely rest of the week!
Best wishes

Angie x