Wednesday, 8 May 2013

Jute and jam jars....A Cornish Wedding

Hello! Hello! Did you think I'd disappeared off the face of the blog planet? Well I had (almost!), but I'm back. The last few months have been somewhat testing as you know. Not only have I deserted my blog but I've had very little interaction with anybody out there in the creative world. I've not been on Pinterest for weeks! UGH! What is going on? Anyway, you'll be pleased to know that I am finally coming out the other side...slowly. My creative juices are flowing once more.

How gorgeous and summery was the bank holiday weekend? I was lucky enough to be down in Cornwall for the wedding on my friend Jo. The setting in Trevose Head/Booby's Bay was spectacular. Everything about the wedding was so beautiful but it was Jo's attention to the (hand-made) details which really stood out for me. Think, jam jars, hay bails, white wash wood, country flowers and lots of jute! They even built the bar themselves! I managed to capture some of it on camera and thought I'd share it with you here.

The professional photography was done by one of my favourite photographers, Marianne Taylor. I can't wait to see them, I'm sure they will be fabulous!

Tuesday, 26 February 2013

Photography For Bloggers with Emily Quinton

I've always been a keen photographer taking pictures whenever the opportunity arises and as a designer always trying to be creative with angles (often a little too much!), effects and a little bit obsessed with the macro setting! Despite having a good eye for things I've never really been 100% happy with the pictures I take and always wanted to learn how to take better photos, especially beautiful ones to use on my blog. Then I came across the delightful photographer and blogger Emily Quinton (of The Start Up Wife)  via Holly Becker's Blogging Your Way Course and when she announced she was going to be teaching a photography workshop for bloggers, I think I was one of the first to sign up! 

So, a week last Saturday, my friend Mel and I, some of my fellow London Bloggers (Geraldine, Kate, Jane & Kirsty) and a bunch of other lovely creative ladies took to the back streets of trendy Shoreditch for a full on session with Emily and our cameras. As you can imagine with Emily's crafty and blogging background we were all greeted with gorgeous little goodie bags filled with stickers, pencils and Moleskin notebooks. 

We learnt all about composition (the 'rule of thirds'), how to get the best lighting, including taking pictures in 'the golden hour',  which type of lenses to use and some very good tips on how to achieve great quality photos, even on an iPhone and which apps to do it with! Then to finish off the day we had a lesson on how to save, edit and use our photos to their best potential on our blogs and with other social media.

Below are some of the best images I took during the day. Let me now what you think! Which is your favourite?

All in all was a day packed full of great advice, hands on practise and lots of fun. Emily is teaching the workshop again in September (see the link above) and I highly recommend it if you are a blogger and looking to improve your photography skills or if you want to take photos of products for a website. Even if you aren't a blogger it is still a great day and you will come away having learnt so many key skills to put to use in your photography. It's not a course to teach you how to use your camera mind you and it can be taken with any camera or camera phone. I was lucky enough to borrow a friends digital SLR camera for the day which has now very kindly been donated to me so I can get in some much needed practise and have fun taking lots of beautiful photos. Thank you! And thank you to Emily for being such a star and a great teacher. 

If you'd like to check out some of the other girls posts you can do here. Me Plus Molly, Papermash, For Bella and Will

Monday, 4 February 2013

Ask Mum...Follow your dreams

January is always a difficult month for me as it marks the anniversary of losing my lovely Mum (who this blog is dedicated to), however, this year it has been a particularly challenging month in a number of ways. Towards the end of January I found myself rather lost and not knowing which way to turn. I kept thinking to myself, if only I could sit down with a cuppa and have a good chat with Mum, what advice would she have given me? This created an idea for a new column 'Ask Mum' where I will share little pearls of wisdom I find which might just help me (and you) along the way. I LOVE this one and it's certainly great advice for me right now...

Image from 
Freya Art 

Sunday, 3 February 2013

Mischief Meets : Jess Williams

I was meant to post this interview at the end of last year but time just ran out, and then due to various events in my personal life during January, updating my blog got a little waylaid... however, here I am and  I'm so glad I waited because just reading this interview again has given me such an motivation boost and if any of you are still feeling ever so slightly sluggish and still in hibernation mode (like I have been), this Mischief 'meeting' will kick you right back into touch and raring to get going. 

Jess is a super talented print designer and illustrator with a love for fashion, pattern and colour. She has worked with some big names in the retail/fashion industry and is now branching out into stationery and homeware as well. I'm really happy to introduce you to her and hope you enjoy her interview... 

• Who are you? What is the essence of your business? What do you do?
I have to admit I have my fingers in a lot of pies at the moment! I am a Print Designer and Illustrator and work across Fashion, Interiors and Stationery. I also lecture part time at Birmingham City Uni on the BA Textiles course.

• What is your background? Have you always been creative? How & why did you start doing what you do?
I've always loved to paint and draw ever since I can remember. I think I knew I wanted to be a designer before I even knew the job I wanted to do was called a 'Designer'!

My Art Foundation course in Nottingham completely opened my eyes to a new world, we were taught a new way of looking at things, observing our surroundings and finding inspiration in everyday things. 

I went on to study Embroidery at University and after graduating worked as a print designer for a fashion supplier. I loved fashion but knew I wanted to expand and work in other areas too, in 2009 I handed my notice in, went freelance and haven't looked back (yet!). This year has been exciting for me as I've just launched some of my own products! It feels like a new chapter is just beginning.....

• Where do you work? Describe your studio.
I work from a bright pink studio in Birmingham which I share with the ever-inspiring Tamsin from Studio Seed. It's in the middle of the countryside so we enjoy beautiful views, it's very idyllic, squirrels and pheasants stroll past our windows!

• What is a typical day for you?
At the moment there is no 'typical' day for me. My clients will book me by the day, sometimes months in advance, sometimes the week before. I also book days out as 'studio days' where I will catch up with all my emails, catch up on any admin, email new potential clients, write blog posts, plan my weeks ahead and do my accounts. Recently I've started releasing work under my own name so I'll book studio days out for this too. 

I visit clients once or twice a week and work from their offices, days like these usually start with a LONG commute; London, Leicester, Bradford, Bristol, all over the country! If I'm not driving I'll use my travel time to catch up with all the latest fashion magazines to see if any of my designs have been featured. I enjoy working 'in house', meeting the design teams, talking through new ideas, looking at any samples that have come in and sampling the various on-site catering facilities!

If I'm working for a client from my studio I will email a few days in advance so I'm ready to go with lots of new ideas as soon as I get to work. My working day starts at 9 a.m but I get to my studio around 8.30 so I can have a cup of tea and deal with any urgent emails before my client work begins. I'll email my clients with progress throughout the day and respond to feedback.

If I've finished all my tasks I leave work between 5.30 and 6, I keep to whatever hours my clients keep to though, so if they're working 'til late in to the evening then so am I. 

A teaching day for me is non-stop! I teach Print students on a BA Textiles course so a typical day would be working with the students in the screen room, supervising workshops, holding group tutorials and presenting lectures.

•What do you find most satisfying about the work you do? What are your biggest challenges as a creative?
The most satisfying aspect of my job is that I get paid to be creative everyday! I love the freedom of running my own business and the feeling that I am carving my own path. I feel proud that I've created a 'job' that is perfect for me, the variation keeps me excited and inspired and I think that really shows in my work. I'm an Aries so I really thrive on adventure and my career has definitely been an adventure so far!

• How do you get out of a creative rut?
I take time away. When I worked in commercial fashion we were paid to travel the world on 'inspiration trips' and this is something I have continued since setting up on my own. I find that travel helps clear my head and inspires new work, I love Paris for the flea markets and independent boutiques. New York for amazing thrift shops and department stores, Berlin for....well, everything and Stockholm for inspiring street fashion. Obviously budget doesn't always allow a glamorous location so I will often set off to explore somewhere closer to home. The next mini-trip I'm planning is an afternoon in Ledbury, I want to check out my friend Abigail Borg's work in Hus&Hem, explore the local area and sit in a teashop with my sketchbook.

• Which 3 things couldn't you live without?
My external hard dive (I like to be portable!), Muji fine liners and Google. I really would be lost without Google; my email account is my connection to my clients, my Google calendar allows me to instantly see my work schedule from my phone or computer and I've recently started using Google Drive to upload client work. It's completely free and I can send huge files easily. *I should probably add that I promise I'm not sponsored by Google here!

• What is next on the agenda?
I'm really happy with the current clients I am working with so I will definitely do everything I can to make sure they are getting what they need from me. I have only just started working on my 'Jess Williams' range so hopefully I will expand next year and add some more home products. I would love to see my prints on home furnishings and wallpaper. I'm also planning a vintagey, up-cycling kind of adventure with my best friend so hopefully we'll be working on that next year too. 

• Where do you find your inspiration? Do you have any favourite books, magazines etc?
I live and die for Pinterest! I also love magazines and will literally devour anything from Frankie magazine to Hello! I read a lot and have recently fallen in love with 'my heart wanders' by Pia Jane Bijkerk. Pia is a wonderful stylist and her book is so beautifully written and presented. I love Selina Lake too, her books are in every room of my flat...mostly just to show my boyfriend it's not just us who have a flat full of vintage treasures and a million patterned cushions on our settee!

• Which designers/artists do you admire?
Selina Lake for styling, I love her aesthetic! I stumbled across Aprile Elcich recently and find her work so different and fresh. I am a huge Celia Birtwell fan too, I love her fantastic prints and the thought of her as the darling of the 60's and 70's jet-setting with Ozzie Clark and David Hockney, dressing Pattie Boyd and Jane Berkin and hanging out with the Beetles and the Rolling Stones. Oh the glamour! 

•  Blogs are taking over the world, which are your favourites?

I'm also quite nosey so blogs like Bleubird and RockstarDiaries are a guilty pleasure, I love learning about other peoples' daily lives!  

•What advice would you give to someone wanting to start their own creative business?
I would say the first thing would be to look at it from a practical point of view, it is near impossible to be creative when you have serious money pressures so perhaps it's sensible to start part-time to keep a steady flow of income in those early stages. Ask for help and really make the most of all the resources that are available to you. Know your field inside out, do eCourses or extra training. Websites like Creative Boom are amazing for business info too. 

It's important to be brave and bold and to push yourself out of your comfort zone. For me positivity is key, it's so important to be able to take the rough with the smooth. I try not to dwell too much on any setbacks I have and when good things happen I celebrate big-time! Champagne all round!

Jess, you are a great inspiration and proof that working for yourself can be really exciting and diverse. Sounds to me like you have the perfect job and I'm rather envious of your's and Tamsin's pink studio! You are one busy and successful lady, thanks so much for finding the time to fit us in. 

You can find out more about Jess and see further work on her website here and read her blog here

All images are courtesy of Jess Williams. Scalloped badge by Pugly Pixel

Saturday, 5 January 2013

Belated Christmas & Happy New Year!

No I haven't fallen asleep and missed Christmas but I wanted to share my 2012 Christmas Card design and I couldn't show it before Christmas or I'd have ruined the surprise for all my expectant recipients. 

Each year my friends tell me they they don't think my next year's card can top the last which is great because it gives me the challenge of coming up with something even better! 2012's card was 100% handmade by me and I have to say I was rather proud of it... 

It involved a stamp of a loving gingerbread man I designed myself and had made at The English Stamp Co. I stamped him on to A7 recycled cotton rag using Dew Drop Pearlescent Rust pigment ink to give him a bit of sparkle. Inside I folded a piece of brown kraft paper and printed one side with my Christmas message and the other with the all important 'How to Make a Gingerbread Man' recipe. I attached this as an insert with some luxury red & white bakers twine and voila! 

The card was greatly received and one friend even gave me a tin of gingerbread biscuits she'd baked from the recipe in my card... so lovely and very yummy! So friends, did I top last years card?....ideas for next year on a postcard please!

Hope you all had a fun filled Christmas my dear readers and I wish you all a very happy new year and best wishes for 2013. I've been a little under the weather for the last week or so but once I am back on my feet and raring to go, I have some lovely things to share with you. Back
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