Friday, 28 September 2012

Mischief Meets : Studio Seed

This week on Mischief Meets I have a delightful treat for you with my interview with Tamsin of Studio Seed. As an aspiring stationery designer myself, Tamsin is a huge inspiration. I love that she doesn't class her work as a 'proper job' but as something she is made to do, that's exactly how I feel about my job as well and probably how most of us creatives work. You can clearly see from her beautiful designs that she is absolutely right, although I'd say you may not have a 'proper job' Tamsin but you certainly have a DREAM job! Readers, prepare to fall in love....

What is the essence of your business? What do you do? 
Studio Seed is a luxury stationery and design studio. I specialise in wedding stationery, design-led greetings cards and limited edition prints but I also take on freelance design projects and commissions varying from beautiful branding, to surface pattern designs for stationery and children's wear to packaging design!

• How did you start doing what you do? Have you always been creative? What made you decide to start up on your own? 
I grew up in quite a creative/musical family and have enjoyed getting 'stuck in' creatively since I can remember. My first design project was to create the programme cover for my Primary School production of 'Cinderella' when I was about 10 years old! Thankfully I've come along a bit since then... I worked for about 5 years as a designer for the wonderful Tigerprint and then a year designing beauty packaging for Next. I was always taking on little commissions for friends and family during this time so it felt natural to progress to starting up on my own, and it's genuinely the best thing I have ever done. 

 • Where do you work? Home, studio, rent space etc. Describe your studio space. 
I work from a studio near Birmingham which I share with the lovely Jess Williams who is a freelance print and stationery designer. It's a small studio with a lot of window space which looks out on what we lovingly refer to as 'centreparcs'! Lots of trees, grass and baby squirrels/birds/bunnies so it's quite inspiring. It's great to have company and to be able to discuss ideas/new projects/problem clients. The first thing we did when we moved in was to paint the wall cerise pink, we find it makes for a better working environment! 

Do you do everything yourself or do you have a team? 
I currently do everything myself (design-wise) but rely heavily on my fantastic printers (CS Greetings) and other suppliers. I have a few trusty friends who are on call to help tie ribbons/pack orders/stick crystals on when I'm having a particularly busy time, and I will be looking to employ a part-time assistant in the near future which is very exciting! 

 What is a typical day for you? 
I usually get to the studio before 8.30am and first things first, get a cup of tea made! Then I go through emails and write my day's to-do list. The nature of my job and my varied clients means I rarely do the same thing every day (which I love!). Things I will do in a day could include designing wedding stationery, liaising with clients, designing new ranges, packing trade orders, sending wedding stationery parcels out, researching trends/new products and spending far too much time on Pinterest! I try to leave the studio about 5.30pm although in busy periods I sometimes continue working when back at home. 

What do you love about what you do? 
Everything! I love the freedom and flexibility and the fact that I and I alone can decide the direction that my business takes. I enjoy the variety of work I take on - working with different clients (especially wedding clients) is so rewarding. I love the fact that I can spend all day being creative and it's my job! It's very tough and challenging at times and it's often hard to 'switch off' and relax, but I never get the urge to get a 'proper' job, this is without a doubt what I am made to do. 

 • Which materials couldn’t you live without? 
My Mac. It's invaluable and if it breaks down I will absolutely have a nervous breakdown. Also my pens and pencils, my GF Smith swatch books, my calculator (I'm terrible at maths) and my vast collection of crystals, embellishments and ribbons. 

 • What is your design process? 
Hard to be specific due to the varying nature of my work. In general, a thorough brainstorm of the design brief and then collecting visuals/colour palettes for inspiration. I find it hard to begin a project without a colour palette in mind. Sometimes a brief will involve some hand drawing so I do that and then scan it into the Mac. I usually try a few options for the design I'm working on and often send these initial ideas to people I know will give me an honest opinion/point out things I might not have noticed! Then when I'm happy, I will ask for feedback/approval from the client and take things from there. 

 • Where do you find your inspiration? Do you have any favourite books, magazines etc? 
Could not live without Pinterest! I get lots of inspiration from Bridal, Fashion and Lifestyle magazines. I often go out to do a 'comp shop' and feel that it's really important for me to keep up to date with what products, especially stationery, are currently on sale. I regularly visit exhibitions, trade shows and bridal fairs to keep in the loop. My favourite books include Print & Pattern - Bowie Style, I Heart Stationery - Charlotte Rivers (I also own this wonderful book and will do a review of it on the blog shortly!) and anything by Chronicle Books

Are there any designers/artists you particularly admire? 
I have always been a big fan of Lisa Stickley and what she did with her business. She has now sold the Lisa Stickley brand and set up a new company so I'm excited to see what that brings. Other people who inspire and I admire include Rob Ryan, Sara Fanelli and Johanna Basford for illustration, Something For the Girls and Elena Deshmuck for cards and Louise Richardson and Abigail Warner for wedding stationery. 

Which are your favourite blogs? 

What advice would you give to someone wanting to start their own creative business. 
I hate the word 'passionate' but really, you have to be truly, genuinely 'passionate' about what you're doing! Be prepared for a hard slog, rejection and lots of 'no's' before you get a 'yes'. Talk, talk and TALK to your friends, family and anyone who'll listen about your ideas to see if they are viable and to get valuable feedback and advice. Creative Boom is a fantastic resource for small creative businesses/freelancers. Sounds obvious, but, work really hard. Share, help and be kind to other creatives because it will come back to you. Networking and collaborating is invaluable and will help develop you, teach you new things and also raise your profile. And learn to switch off and relax at times. 

Tamsin has recently launched a couple of new card ranges 'Fly Away' and 'Under the Mistletoe'. You can see these and more of her lovely designs on her website here and read what she is up to on her blog here.  

Thanks Tamsin for taking part! x

All images used belong to Studio Seed. 

Thursday, 20 September 2012

Paper Love: Poo Paper

Here are some more great designs using card made from 50% recycled elephant poo!

Greeting Card Manifesto from Holstee
The Birthday card I received from Ruby Wren (Top)
More personalised Ruby Wren designs

Mischief Makes: Ellie Poo Cards

As some of you know, my dream has always been to be a stationery designer. I've dabbled a little in the past always making my own Christmas cards and have done numerous wedding invitations over the last couple of years. Earlier in the year, my Sister sent me a Birthday card by Ruby Wren Designs made from elephant poo. I thought it was fabulous, such a great concept, kind to the environment and really brought a smile to my face. The design was so simple but totally unique. It really inspired me. I loved the quality and texture of the card so I decided to order some for myself ( from The Exotic Paper Company) and have a go at designing my first greeting card range. One of my friends is also in the process of setting up an eco-chic handmade business and said she'd love to sell my cards. I thought these would be ideal!

Here is one I made yesterday for my boyfriend's Mum and I've also just sent one to my friend's new baby (obviously can't show that one yet!). What do you think?

Tuesday, 18 September 2012

Mischief Meets: Bonnie Blackbird

Time for another Mischief Meets interview...  This week I am featuring Bonnie Blackbirds Penny and Sara. I first met Penny as a result of my 'Sew Over It' post, she'd also been to the shop and had seen my post and 'About Me' page on my blog. She too had lost her Mum around the same time as me and she she sent me a lovely message. I'm so glad she did as it seems we have quite a lot in common, we both have an obsession with stationery and pretty things and have since been back to Sew Over It  together to do a class. 

Penny started Bonnie Blackbird with her University friend Sara in 2009 when they began designing wedding stationery for Sara's wedding. The team now work together to produce wonderful stationery and print designs for all occasions. Here is their story:

• What is the essence of your business? What do you do?
We are a small business run by myself (Penny) and Sara, creating luxury stationery which can be personalised by the customer. Many people would like something a bit more personal than buying packs from big high street chains, so we take the hard work out of it for them and create bright and cheery designs to choose from. They send us the text – we do the rest, the next best thing to having your very own graphic designer, but much cheaper! We have also expanded our range by creating mounted ‘Positive Prints’ for daily motivation and a quaint tea towel collection.

• How did you start doing what you do? Have you always been creative? What made you decide to start up on your own?
I studied Graphic Design at university and lived with Sara throughout (she studied law). Although I knew I wanted to work in Graphic Design, I just hadn’t found a discipline that got me jumping out of bed in the mornings. I always thought I should work in a big award-winning studio somewhere in the city designing vinyl covers and logo’s for funky cutting-edge brands. I worked at Interbrand for a placement in my second year, which is the world’s largest brand consultancy, and whilst it was a great experience, I knew deep down it wasn’t for me.

I currently work in a corporate company in Central London at the moment as a Graphic Designer but it is very limited creatively. I used to talk with my mum on the phone every lunchtime about how I wish I could do something more creative, but just didn’t know what. In 2008, a couple of friends (including Sara) asked me to create their wedding stationery. It all just began to click – I’ve always loved stationery, why on earth wasn’t I working with it?! However, even then I was almost too scared to just go for it.

In February 2010, my mum passed away completely unexpectedly. The week before, we sat and had breakfast in bed together and spoke about the wedding stationery idea.I very vividly remember her saying ‘Oh Pen, I wish you would just GO FOR IT!’ – and so I did.

Sara was completely amazing over that whole time, she set me briefs and deadlines to complete and visited me often to see what I’d done. This was a massive distraction that I needed to move forward, some people find alcohol or drugs – I found stationery! We worked together so well and genuinely enjoyed it so much that it made sense to join forces. Sara works in a law firm full time, so is most definitely the right brain of the team (or is that left? The clever academic one anyway who does all the figures!) That said, we work together to brainstorm product ideas and concepts as well and really bounce off each other. She is also the notebook police – I’m banned from buying anymore!

 • Where do you work? Describe your studio space.
We take it in turns to go to each other’s houses, though we have a studio in my house in Richmond where all the physical designing and making takes place. It’s a spare room in my flat that I share with my boyfriend. He has his golf club, I have my studio! 

 • Do you work with a team?
We do everything – printing, scoring, the lot. If we have a large order for wedding stationery, sometimes it’s necessary to outsource the printing. My sister is a window dresser and stylist so is never short of a prop or two, which helps with the photography luckily.

 • What is a typical day for you?
As we are both in full time jobs, I get up early at 6.30am to do any orders that came in late the night before so I can try and get them posted that day. Then I head to the city for my day job (I won’t bore you with that!). Lunchtime is spent either blog reading or with my notebook, sketching or writing lists of things to do when I get home. During my commute back to Richmond I write blog posts on my iphone, or read any business books that I have recently bought (my current one being ‘Build A Business From Your Kitchen Table’ by Sophie Cornish and Holly Tucker - Highly recommended). As soon as I get home, the laptop is out and I either complete orders we got that day, or work on the new ideas that Sara and I have created over the weekend. I love Sundays because its more time I can spend on BB, doing what I really want to be doing and Sara and I are usually able get together and discuss what each other have done over the week.

• What do you find most satisfying about the work you do?
I love the fact that I get to finally work on designs that excite me. Finding such great companies to connect with is amazing too - there really are some lovely, lovely people out there in the industry.

 • Which materials couldn’t you live without?
My trusty macbook, I love her a lot. My printer. And good, thick, gorgeous cardstock.

• What is your design process?
We brainstorm the main theme of the brief, that usually gives us some concepts to work with. We compose a quick moodboard to help give us an idea of colours and style that we want to go with and after initial sketches in the layout pad, I then go on to expand the idea in illustrator. We often change the design or add to it after running a few versions through the printer and seeing how it turns out. I always email it to Sara and she sends feedback to refine it before we both agree on the final product.

• Where do you find your inspiration? Do you have any favourite books, magazines etc?
I actually really like flicking through home magazines to get ideas of how patterns and styles go together. I initially wanted to be an interior designer, so homes and interiors still inspire me. I don’t go a day without checking out stationery blogs, my favourite being ‘Oh So Beautiful Paper’ and I find ‘How About Orange’ a good way to get me all pumped to be creative! I find a walk around Richmond Park or along the river helps to clear the head aswell.

• Are there any designers/artists you particularly admire?
Oh gosh yes! The one that stands out particularly for me is Caroline Gardner. I love the brightness and simplicity of her designs and how they work on a variety of products, such as her recent launch of scented candles and even dog collars (which I’d love to do one day!). The other for being an incredibly hard worker and seems to be a lovely person is Anna Bond of Rifle Paper Co. Her botanical illustration range is just beautiful.

 • Which are your favourite blogs?
Paper Crave (and their sister company Invitation Crush)

 • What advice would you give to someone wanting to start their own creative business
Just Go For It! Don’t just talk about it, start, and see where it takes you. You can’t develop your style until you try things out and see what works for you. But be prepared for it to take over your life!

You can see more of Penny & Sara's designs on the Bonnie Blackbird website. They also have a Not On The High Street shop and write a blog here.

Thanks girls and good luck with your stationery journey!

Tuesday, 11 September 2012

Magazine Love: 91 Magazine

Issue 4 of the fabulous 91 Magazine launched this morning and I was so excited to see the beautiful stationery spreads and an inspiring article from Catherine Sprunt on the effects of the digital age on the stationery market. Well worth a read and a swoon over the gorgeous pics! Well done 91, another delicious issue to brighten my day. 

All images borrowed from 91 Magazine

Monday, 10 September 2012

Mischief Meets: What Katie Does

I mentioned I had a whole series of new Mischief Meets interviews and I'm starting off with Katie from What Katie Does.  Katie is a digital designer and illustrator but she also takes on logos, print work and blog design. I first came across her work on one of my favourite blogs Jackie Magpie where she built the blog for typographer Kate Forrester. It is her illustrations and typography which I am a big fan of. Let's see what inspires her...
• What is the essence of your business? What do you do?
I'm a freelance web and graphic designer. I run the gamut of user interface design for major brands and agencies, to logos and blogs for freelance journalists, to illustrated wedding stationery. I also run an occasional Etsy shop to sell prints and posters of my own designs.

• How did you start doing what you do? Have you always been creative? What made you decide to start up on your own?
I've also been kind of artsy but also liked science and maths, so web design is the ideal middle ground. I started building (awful) web pages as soon as we got the internet at home circa 1997 and did a degree in Interactive Media, then started working in London agencies when I graduated. I decided to go alone after 5 years because I wanted to expand my skills in illustration and graphic design and have the power to organise my own time.

 • Where do you work? Home, studio, rent space etc. Describe your studio space.
I work in agencies about 30% of the time and at home the rest. I have a small home office which doubles as our guest room at the back of the house. It's comfy, practical and pretty, which makes it quite easy to stay focused when working at home.

• Do you do everything yourself or do you have a team?
Some of my projects are just me but I usually collaborate with other freelancers or agencies on bigger projects.

 • What is a typical day for you?
On a working at home day, I usually wake up at 9 and check my emails in bed. I try to be at my desk by 10am (not an early riser) then work pretty solidly until about 3 when I stop for lunch. 

• What do you love about what you do?
An interesting, challenging array of projects and the flexibility that working for myself affords me.

 • Which materials couldn’t you live without?
Photoshop, notebook, and tea!
  • What is your design process?
Depends on the project but I nearly always start with sketching ideas in a notebook, whether it's a website or an illustration. It's then usually an evolutionary process of drafts in Photoshop or Illustrator with client feedback in between.

 • Where do you find your inspiration? Do you have any favourite books, magazines etc? 
Blogs mostly, I'm a bit obsessed with reading them and saving all the things I find inspiring to Tumblr. 

• Are there any designers/artists you particularly admire? 
Frank ChimeroJon Contino, Lotta Nieminen, Tim Smits, Marian Bantjes, the agencies Fuzzco and Ptarmak.. lots more too..!

• Which are your favourite blogs?

 • What advice would you give to someone wanting to start their own creative business.
Get some solid years of experience first: it helps build up your portfolio and a network of contacts which are vital for getting new work. Be prepared to work more hours than you expected and have most of your time taken up by admin, emails and accounting. Keep good records of your time, earnings and expenses for the tax man. But remember to take some time off some time too!

Thank you so much Katie! You can follow Katie via her fabulous blog where she writes about food, travel, interiors, design and her own home plus she offers useful craft tutorials. You can view more of her lovely work here

Sunday, 9 September 2012

She's back and with One Lovely Blog Award!

Summer is nearly over and EEK! It's been well over a month since I last had anything to do with my blog, let alone write a post on here. I've had a crazy workload over the last few months and all the fun things have been put very much on a back burner. Yesterday I had the pleasure of meeting the lovely ladies from the London Bloggers Group (we had tea and cake at the lovely Lowry & Baker on Portobello Road ) and they gave me a ticking off for not posting regularly or replying to my comments, so feeling a little bit guilty and mostly INSPIRED by them, I am back to tackle this blogging lark with a vengeance! I've even signed up for another round with Holly on BYW Boot Camp in October and looking forward to taking Pugly Pixel's CSS Workshop next week.  

While I've been away I have been collecting lots of interviews from some very talented creative ladies for 'Mischief Meets' which I will post shortly. I've also been working on some great little projects, bought some gorgeous new books, and not forgetting, received my first copy of the beautiful The Simple Things magazine, plenty to share with you over the coming weeks.....that's if I still have any readers!

I am also extremely chuffed that back in August, Amy from Simple Style Notebook nominated me for a  One Lovely Blog Award. This makes me even more ashamed that I have deserted my blog when I clearly have some very loyal followers, who I add, I am extremely grateful for and thankful for your support. 

To accept the nomination I have to (and the rules seem to vary slightly here):

• Link back to the person who nominated me
• Show the award logo on my blog
• Share 7 facts about myself
• Nominate some other blogs I feel worthy of the award

So, here goes....

• The person who nominated me Amy, who writes a fabulous style blog Simple Style Notebook. Amy is one of my fellow students from BYW as well as a fellow '30 something'. Her sophisticated blog is full of style inspirations. With a background in the fashion industry she runs her own personal styling business Simple Style Solutions. She would also be one of my nominations had she not been already!

• 7 facts about myself:
- To my family I am only known by my nickname 'Tiggy' not Anna. 
- I drive a Mini Cooper called Myrtle and I never want to part with her. 
- I have unhealthy obsession with paper products and notebooks
- I once trained to be an olympic gymnast
- I long to get a labrador puppy and totally in love with my Dad's, Lola.
- I like to always have fresh flowers in my house.
- I love magazines and still have some in their cellophane wrappers which I have never read....SHOCKING I know!

• My lovely little blog nominations are :
(I read so many blogs and could list quite a lot who are award worthy, however here are a select few)

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