Friday, 30 October 2015

Something Pinteresting - Halloween...


This Friday it's all about the pumpkins as we get set for a spooky weekend of trick or treats.

To celebrate this bewitching time of year I have selected a few of my pins from my Autumn Almanac pinterest board, to help get us all in the mood for Halloween.

At the top is a poster by Tom Whalen, which is part of his collection of re-invented posters - in this case it's Charlie Brown...

Above: Happy Halloween from Lab Partners in a cute, quirky retro style...
I am a mum to two little girls - the magic of Mandy Sutcliffe's Belle and Boo is just our thing.  Isn't this Halloween illustration delightful?!...

The repeat above featuring 'Witches Brew' is by Maude Asbury can be found via Hawthorne Threads,

Have a wonderful weekend!

Wednesday, 28 October 2015

This Much I Know - Growing A Business to Serve You!...


This time last week I gave you 5 'This Much I Know' tips on Staying Inspired and Being Creative.  This week I tackle the issue of growing a small creative business at the same time ensuring that, that business serves you. By which I mean - gives you what you need not only financially, but also in terms of work life balance and creative/ personal fulfillment.  

Sometimes we have a romantic idea of what it may be like to do a certain thing, e.g. be an artist, run a shop or gallery, be a freelance designer, run a wholesale business.  With each business and aspect of that business there are things that simply have to be done/ go with the territory.  Sometimes you may relish those things, sometimes you may find those things are just not for you.  
How do you work out a business plan that ensures you have the balance right for you and grow it to what YOU need?  
I'm not an expert and I'm not claiming that I have achieved my personal nirvana...but I have learnt a few things in the five years I have been running my business and I hope my next 5 tips will help you find an answer to that question, as they have for me.

This Much I Know About Growing A Business To Serve You...

  1. Be clear on what it is that you love doing most of all. Make sure that, that main thing remains your main thing! (sorry for the tongue twister!).  What I am trying to say is, you're more likely to stay the distance if you're doing what you love most as that passion can help see you through the tricky things.  Try and visualize your perfect working day/week and keep that your focus and your aim.  The moment you no longer love what you do, is the moment you need to stop and do something else.
  2. Set goals, dream big and then break it down into smaller sized actions with deadlines to help keep you moving forward.  Be open to change, find what feels good and don't be afraid to say NO if it's taking you away from what you need and want most of all.
  3. Aim to build a support team. Where possible outsource and collaborate as many of the things that could be done better by others or that you simply don't enjoy. When you surround yourself with good people to work with, you'll soon find investments in others give you greater rewards than simply financial ones. When you are focused on what you do best and enjoy most - that is when you see things grow and progress.  A good example was my experience of investing in some professional, styled photography early on in my business.  Many of those images are still used in my marketing materials and I saw a marked improvement in online sales from both my Folksy and Etsy shops after investing in them.  Not to mention the boost in confidence it gave me to have a set of images I wanted to share with pride.  Though my photography skills have improved over the years and I sometimes enjoy having a little play with my camera - I still much prefer drawing and designing, so it was great to know that I could do what I love best whilst someone else was providing me with what I need and doing what they love best at the same time too!
  4. Be open minded but do your homework.  Sometimes great opportunities present themselves in very unexpected ways...and sometimes things you thought would be ideal turn out to be quite the opposite!  Basically do your homework before making decisions, fully know what you're signing up to.
  5. Just do it! There is a lovely quote that goes "An idea not coupled with action will never get any bigger than the brain cell it occupied" - so take that chance, you never know where it will lead. 

I would love to hear any tips you may have for growing a business and maintaining the balance, please feel free to share them in the comments below.

Next week, my post will cover the tricky topic of pricing. If you missed last week, I covered the subject of Staying Inspired & Being Creative and you can catch up on that here:

Have a lovely day

Monday, 26 October 2015

Half Term Photoshoot Fun...

Happy half term to those of you with little 'uns too!
I've been having some fun today with my two little ladies.  We've been combining work and play and they've both been earning their pocket money by helping me get some lifestyle images of my new Christmas gift wraps...

They were very enthusiastic to help out as it was a great excuse to play dressing up.
They also learnt a very valuable lesson.  Being a model is hard work - especially trying to hold a pose still to get the perfect shot...

I've been busy trying to get a few images to gradually list my Christmas stock to my online shops.  It's that time of year where tinkering with images, websites and product listings fill lots of time...

These images are a few of the ones I've captured over the past few days...

Like it or not, it is definitely beginning to look a lot like Christmas as shops need to be made ready.

I'll be back on Wednesday sharing the next post in my series 'This Much I Know', sharing some business tips.

Until then, have a lovely day!

Friday, 23 October 2015

Something Pinteresting - Season of Mists


Happy Friday!
Time for some more pinteresting things.  I have done a sweep of my pinterest board Autumn Almanac and have gathered a few of my autumnal favourites to share with you here.

Above is a gorgeous and evocative illustration by Penelope Dullaghan - isn't it wonderful?! I just want to step in to the image and sit beside her to read my book under that tree too. 

Beautiful toffee apple colours of autumn by Susan Driscoll on this tote bag

Norwegian Woods - Foxtrot Fabric by Michael Miller Fabrics
Great colours, great autumn fabric collection - have a look for yourself here:

(Marc does cute so well - he is best known for his animated series Mouk).

And last but not least - I love this image. I traced it back and it appears to be from the Style Me Pretty blog which credits it to Sarah Kate Photography.

Have a lovely weekend!

Wednesday, 21 October 2015

This Much I Know - Staying Inspired & Being Creative...


Today I am starting a new mid week blog series - 'This Much I Know'

Looking through my blog post history I can see that some of my most popular posts have been when I shared a bit of my experience and a bit of what I know and have learnt.  Those posts were mainly on the subject of social media, but there are so many aspects of running a small creative business, that I thought it would be a nice idea to share a quick list of 5 key tips based on what I've learnt along the way about other aspects of being a small business owner.

I don't claim to be an expert, but I have been doing this for my job for the past five years and in order to have kept going for that time, there are lessons I needed to learn and things I needed to know.
I hope that by sharing these tips you'll find them useful, positive and inspiring!

This week...

This Much I Know About Staying Inspired and Being Creative...

  1. Creativity is a gift that needs to be nurtured and cared for, much like a small child! (or an inner child if you like!).  When you take good care of yourself by eating well, getting plenty of fresh air, exercise, rest and spend precious time with people who make you happy, doing as much as you can to enjoy simply 'being' - then you'll often find that being inspired and creative comes to you naturally.  When any of the above is out of whack, that's when the struggle creeps in.  I have learnt the hard way that it's best to be kind to yourself.
  2. Be a sponge to the world. Enthusiastically embrace the world around you. Gather experiences, travel, meet new people, look around you, notice the details in everything, listen to every sound and people watch (but don't let them catch you doing it!)...use all your senses as much as possible and read, read, read.  The more you absorb, the more resources you'll have to draw on in your creative work and the richer and more unique your work will be.
  3. When you feel the cloud of 'comparison' cast a shadow of doubt over you, that's your cue to go and grab some fresh air for a bit.  Go for a walk, listen to the birds and look up at the big sky to help you gain some perspective on everything... and then breathe, deeply! I like looking up at the sky, it makes me see things for what they are. This is your life, your journey and your chance to make of it what you want. Keep going, one step at a time and the clouds will clear.  If you're doing the thing you love most then that is exactly what you should be doing.
  4. Surround yourself with things that make you smile and create a working environment you are happy to be in.  It's hard to remain motivated if you are finding excuses not to show up let alone stick around!
  5. Most importantly of all, create stuff!  Any stuff...scribble, doodle, write notes.  Even if it's the craziest, spur of the moment idea, get it down, make a record of it in some way -  a sketch, a note, a cutting, a swatch.  These could all be the very things that get you going again when feel a creative dip.  The more you create the easier creativity and inspiration is to come by. Like everything else, it all boils down to practice, practice, practice.

As I said before, I hope you found those five helpful.  I would love to hear any tips you may have for staying creative and inspired, please feel free to share them in the comments below.

Next Wednesday, I plan to share with you 5 things I know about growing a business that serves you -  by which I mean, a business that gives you what you need, not just financially, but in terms of work life balance and creative/ personal fulfillment

Have a lovely day!

Tuesday, 20 October 2015

New Festive Patterns.


Over the past few weeks I have been busy working on a few new pattern designs for autumn into next spring.  Earlier in the year I launched my first fabric range and I wanted to expand my fabric offering, top up my Spoonflower shop and create some new gift wraps, so that's why I've been getting busy pattern making and thoroughly enjoying it.

Today, I want to let you have a good look at the three new festive patterns.  I have also released some of my popular existing Christmas designs to my Spoonflower shop and I am pleased to say that they are now available to order on fabrics.

The pattern at the top is my Partridge in a Pear Tree and can be found here:

Above is Christmas Doves and Roses:

The final one to show you today is Christmas Lodges In The Snow:

There are plenty of non festive designs over at my Spoonflower shop too.  Here's where you'll find me over there:

I'll be back blogging tomorrow as I have lined up new mid week mini series of business tips and things I've learnt along the way.  Every Wednesday, hopefully up until Christmas, I will be sharing my 'This Much I Know' series which covers all sorts of things I have learnt from running a small creative business for five years.  Tomorrow's subject will be all about tips for being creative and staying inspired. I hope you can join me.

Until then, have a lovely day!
Best wishes

Friday, 16 October 2015

Something Pinteresting - Just My Type


Welcome to the return of my series 'Something Pinteresting For The Weekend'.  
It's a little regular Friday inspiration post of curiosities and wonders that I've found over on pinterest based around a theme.

This week my theme and pinterest board is 'Just My Type'
This is where I pin treasures of typography. A mix of wonderful lettering and inspirational quotes.  These are just a few of my favourites....

Starting with the image at the top.  'Let Us Remember, One Book, One Pen and One Teacher can change the world'  The quote is from Malala Yousafzai, but the glorious lettering is all Mary Kate McDevitt....

'Learn the rules like a pro - break them like an artist' - Oh, how I love this so much!!  
Quote from Pablo Picasso, Lettering by Steph Baxter 

Another great quote to live by 'There are 7 days in a week and Someday isn't one of them'.  This has been expertly created by Jennet Liaw

Got to love a bit of Ecojot colourful quirkiness - 'Happiness is a Form of Courage'

'If you are making mistakes you're out there doing something' - Quote by Neil Gaiman, from a bit of google research,  it looks like the design appears to be by ModCloth's in house designer Ryan!

And finally, not a quote, simply an exquisitely drawn letter S by Lucille Michielli,  'S' for 'Super Scrumptious' I think!

For more lovely lettering here's a link to my pinterest board 'Just My Type':

Have a wonderful weekend!

Wednesday, 14 October 2015

Make Beautiful Plans. 2016 Calendars are here...


Sorry for the radio silence, this past month has been a busy one.  It's been a case of working on commissions and developing new designs and catching up on dreaded admin.

A couple of the new things I've been working on are some 2016 calendars.  
Followers of my social media stuff will have seen bits of these emerging, but I've not had a chance to share with you, in full over here on my blog.  So let's put that right, right now!...

First up.  This year's A4 sized Wall Hanging Calendar...  

Just like the previous year's calendars, this one is bursting with colour and features new and popular designs and has plenty of space in the date section to write in (I need plenty of space as I like to cram it all in if I can and I am sure I am not alone!).  This year, the calendar is packed with my illustrations.  I have saved the patterns for another 2016 calendar, more on that one in a moment...

Here are the images for each month of the wall calendar, with a few close ups to give you a good idea of what to expect inside...

The A4 Wall Calendar can be found listed here:

As I mentioned above.  There is a second, smaller, A5 desktop calendar which features many of my patterns and colourful florals - perfect for garden lovers...

This A5 Desktop Calendar can be found listed here:

Ahh, but what if you can't decide between these two.  It's happened before - I know I am guilty of it when it comes to pretty things. You buy something as a gift for someone, but you just can't bear to part with it so you need a second one as a treat to yourself...

Well, I've thought of that and have put together a little offer in my Folksy and Etsy shops for you.  Please look out for this listing as you have a chance to buy both the wall and the desktop calendar for £16.  Which is basically me saying, if you buy the wall calendar, I will happily pop the desktop one in for half the sold separately price.

I will be back here on Friday as I'm bringing back my 'Something Pinteresting for the Weekend' series. Which is me sharing some of the wonders and curiosities I've found on pinterest around a weekly theme, to help share the inspiration and brighten your weekend. 

Until then, have a lovely day!
Best wishes