Thursday, 30 January 2014

Valentines Day Card Showcase

It is now just over two weeks to Valentines Day! I know some of you will be completely against this day and how commercialised it has become and part of me agrees with you.  It's madness when you walk into the supermarkets and there is almost a full aisle full of red and pink.  For me it's not about all of that, it's not about buying your boyfriend or girlfriend expensive gifts that are supposed to show how much you love each other.  It's a day of celebrating your love for each other, and there is no better way than writing down what they mean to you in a simple card.  It says 1000 times more than that bunch of flowers you rushed to buy on your way home from work or those expensive earrings you've bought her.  Although those things are always appreciated!

Instead take a few minutes and write them a heart felt note inside one of these unique Valentine's cards!

First up is my own creation for Valentine's day with a bit of love heart confetti

Faye Brown's wonderful typographic Valentines card!

This is Jessica Wilde's wonderful illustration

 JLWIllustration's cute birdie love.
With a gorgeous colour palette and 4 different designs to choose from!

Ruth Thorp's delicate style translates beautifully into her Valentine's collection

One of my Etsy finds was this beauty from Print Stitch and Paste

Sam Osborne has a great selection of unique Valentine's cards
She also has a printable collection you can print off at home!

Another Etsy find is this personalised one for long distance relationships by PattonPrints

Emily Mcdowell Draws has a great selection of amazing Valentine's cards!
Very funny and a bit different to your usual ones.

Applemint Designs has put together personalised message in a bottle!

Acadreamia have a beautiful illustrated collection

Anchobee's cute kitten cards come in packs of three so you can send them to family too!

And last but not least Slumbermonkey have a collection of printable cards you can print off at home

Thursday, 23 January 2014

What I've learnt working with an agent

Today I thought I would share a bit about how it has been working with an agent.  As a lot of you will know I am a guest designer for Believe Creative Studio.  They are taking their studio to the Indigo Premiere Vision show in Paris this February and my work will be winging it's way there along with several other designers work.

It has been such a fantastic opportunity and as soon as I saw the shout out from Rosie Martinez-Dekker I knew it was meant to be!  She was asking for children's designers to come forward for consideration for the guest designers roles.  I absolutely love to design for children so am just so thankful I grabbed the opportunity when I saw it.

This post is all about how I've grown as a designer because of this and what I've learnt about myself in the process.

First of all, when I put my mind to it, it's really surprised me just how much I can get done.  I never really pushed myself enough before, I now spend my weekends away from the computer, which is a lovely break from the glare of a computer screen. Instead I spend them drawing my motifs and illustrations for the following weeks patterns.  I go through a huge amount of paper, which can't be good for the environment!  It never really feels like work when I'm drawing though, so it's a nice way to spend my weekends if I haven't got plans to go out already.

I love to use Pinterest to gather my ideas, of course when a project has to be kept under wraps you don't want to let the world know as you begin loads of new boards.  So I opened another Pinterest account under and alias and use that for projects such as this.  It means I can collect my ideas without anyone knowing!  I use these to spark ideas for my drawings.

This then sets me up for the start of the week where I scan them all in, this takes a surprising amount of time!  Once this is done I am usually set up for 8-10 patterns.  I divide my motifs up into seperate illustrator files with similar ones or motifs I think will work well together to make a complete pattern. This gives me a good idea of how many patterns I could have from that weekends drawings.

I've learnt that in just over two weeks I have finished 10 designs, not simple ones either, they mostly have a lot of different motifs and plenty to look at.  This may not seem much for 14+ days.  But take 4 days for the weekends for drawing, I then worked every Wednesday and Thursday so had no time for working on these patterns then.  This leaves me with 7 to 8 days of putting the patterns together and colouring them, aswell as coming up with a coordinating pattern for these 10 aswell!  Which works out at more than one pattern and one coordinating pattern a day.  I don't know about you but I'm impressed with myself!

I didn't know I had it in me!

Not only have I seen the rate I can design at, I've learnt tons of new little tips and tricks with Illustrator.  When you spend a lot of time on a software you can find some things take you quite a while to do.  So I would just Google it to see if there was a quicker way about it, and 9 times out of 10 there is!  It's made my work process a lot less painful when you're spending 20 minutes doing something that could take you 2.

It's fantastic working with Rosie and having a mentor there who takes the time to really help you see how you can make your work better.  She likes her 'pops' of colour in patterns, and I've begun to add those pops of colour to make a pattern really jump out in areas.

This is fantastic for children's designs, and I think Boden do this really well, which you can see in the images below.  Children should be dressed in lovely bright colours and wonderfully cheerful patterns.  It's about the only time you can get away with it!

 The white really jumps out against the dark blue background.  
The orange also adds a brighter pop of colour.
 You can see straight away the yellow jumps at you.
The orange again adds little pops against the blue and yellow though.
A softer colour palette but the darker blue and bright red jump out.

Monday, 20 January 2014

Some Tropical Fusion Bloghop picks!

As promised I have picked out some of my favourites from the Tropical Fusion bloghop that is happening at the moment.  It was so hard to pick which ones to showcase because they really were all wonderful designs and all of the participants have worked so hard to put this together for everyone to enjoy.  If you haven't got time to hop through all of the blogposts you can see some of the work below but I really recommend you do so you can see everyones beautiful designs!

You can also find a full list of the participants on Groovity's blog, below her lovely work.  This way you can easily find where you are if you're unable to find the next link!

 Mary Tanana of Groovity Designs

 Maike Thoma of PatternJots

 Onneke's wonderful take on the theme!

 Tina Devins of Dreaming on a Star

 Lesley Todd from Finch Five

 Claire Lordon's cute characters!

 Creative Doodlez beautiful mock up of her patterns

And finally Surface Hug's delicate motifs!

Saturday, 18 January 2014

Tropical Fusion Bloghop 2014!

I mentioned about a bloghop that would be happening this January, well this is the weekend it's gone live! Over 40 designers have got together to design a collection of patterns each on the theme Tropical Fusion, they also have to use the Pantone colour of the year, which for 2014 is Radiant Orchid!
Quite a challenge!  There are tons of beautiful surface patterns for you to have a look at this weekend so without further ado you can start this bloghop over on Mary Tanana's blog.  All you have to do is follow the next link on her blogpost to make your way through the whole bloghop.  I sadly couldn't take part in this event due to moving house and other exciting deadlines but I'm making my way through the hop and supporting all of my fellow friends!  Don't forget to leave some lovely comments, it really gives you a boost when you hear from your readers.

So off you hop onto the first!

I'll be back with a showcase of my favourites soon!

Monday, 13 January 2014

Where life is leading me next

This is more of a personal post this morning.  I have some wonderful news, after 6 months of living in Newton-Le-Willows I'm moving again!  I absolutely hate moving, and this house is a nightmare to be moving out of but I'm quite excited to move to another part of the country (Derby) and to get exploring again. 

The house we're in at the moment was oh so much fun to move into.....we couldn't get our mattress up the stairs so had to launch it up and over the balcony, whilst the next door neighbors were watching.  The sofa was a bit of a challenge too, we ended up having to unscrew the feet to squeeze it up the staircase!  My parents helped us move in and I'm pretty sure they are dreading being asked again, so thankfully we have opted for a removal company.  This means I can sit back and try to relax as they cart all of the 100's of boxes I'm starting to think we may end up with.

I've been working at a local company for the past 4 months for a little extra money so I could start my own line of products.  I'm not afraid of some hard work and am quite happy to juggle my two jobs to make sure I give my best in everything.  I spent 2012's Christmas period rushing about in one of the top restaurants in Leeds, 12 hours shifts everyday, waking up and grabbing an early lunch at 10:30 before being back at work.  Having to wear smart shoes that inevitably left your feet swollen and throbbing by the end.  I also had to throw those babies out after the Christmas period as they had just about had it! 

This year I've had a really enjoyable Christmas time though.  I work for a home delivery company, it's independently owned and they deliver vegetable and fruit boxes aswell as meat, dairy and pretty much any other product you can think of to people's homes.  My super glorious job is as a vegetable packer....glamourous I know!  I've met some incredible people though and having grown up on a farm I'm not afraid of a little labour, it came along at the right time, it squeezed 16 hours into one and a half days so it was a good little wage each month and it helped me begin my dream of getting my products out there. 

It's funny what life can throw at you sometimes.  I never ever would have imagined a year from working in a lovely fancy restaurant I would be packing vegetables.  This Christmas was a dream compared to last year, I could get wrapped up in as many layers as I pleased each day, have some really thick socks and my chunky walking boots on so I was toasty warm most of the time!  The hours were still long but at 10 hours I got plenty of breaks and wasn't being yelled at by rude customers every 15 minutes.  I also got in by 6pm most nights so could enjoy a few hours of tv and some deliciously cooked food instead of getting in and going straight to bed. 

Now that I am heading to Derby though I sadly have to leave this part time job behind me, it's always nice to reflect on what life gave you, I needed as many hours as I could get in as little days as I could find and I got given it.  It meant I had plenty of time left to design and build Emma Frances.  I wonder what life will throw at me next!?

I don't know where the quote originally came from but it is perfect, if anyone does know get in touch so I can properly source the image =)

Thursday, 9 January 2014

Amazing Knitted Sculptures!

I'm back with some more unusual arty finds!  We have a bit of a craft theme for this post, I came across this article about an exhibition at the Brooklyn Botanic Garden's.  Fitting in with the 'botanic' theme they put on an exhibition of knitted plants.  Now you may associate knitting with your grandma's handmade jumpers....these are a little more eye catching and it's quite amazing to see what people can do with some yarn and a couple of needles.  I'm always impressed by some of the more unusual pieces of art where the artists use materials you wouldn't normally think of making art with.  There are loads of incredible artists out there and I hope to bring you a handful of the more uncommon pieces!

Two of the knitters really stood out with their work, the first is Ruth Marshall, who knits a lot of animal skins, the sheer size and lifelike look to them from a distance made me think they were actually tiger skins!  After my initial shock I noticed a close up image and saw that they were knitted replicas.

Ruth's piece for the Botanic Garden's can be seen below, just think about the time spent to put a piece like this together!

The next artist must wield her knitting needles in special ways to achieve these super sized florals!  The detail and intricate patterns make them even more inspiring to look at.  Just fantastic work by Tatyana Yanishevsky!

Sunday, 5 January 2014

Top blog posts of 2013!

In my last post I had a look back at 2013 and what achievements it brought for Emma Frances, today I've put together a look at the best blog posts from 2013, the ones that brought the most views or comments and the ones readers really interacted with and enjoyed.

Hopefully this year there will be many more helpful insights into the world of surface pattern, It's always nice to hear that what I have to say has helped other designers with their careers.  I've often had to find things out for myself with a lot of research and time taken to make sure I am doing something right so to be able to pass this information on to others who would otherwise be feeling a little lost (like I have many a time) is a wonderful feeling.

First up is My Favourite Pinterest Boards picks!  I've been a keen pinner for a while now and it is such a fantastic place to go for inspiration and to put boards together for upcoming trends.  It helps you sort your ideas out and there are always some fantastic finds.  Expect another of these posts this year with more inspiration filled boards from lots of different designers!

For those times where your inspiration just isn't flowing I put together 12 ways to get past a creative block. These are 12 different ways to try and get your creativity back and for your designing to get past that stage where you find yourself doodling without a purpose.  It's always helpful to read these posts that give you several ways to try something, whether it be marketing strategies, keeping focused or new drawing techniques to try out.  It gives you a selection of things to try, as sometimes you may not be drawn to some of them!

My Craft Fair Experience was a very popular post, I was very honest and really let you all know just how bad my first craft fairs were, it's good to be honest sometimes and to let others who may have had a similar experience know they're not alone!  I felt very down and lost my confidence, in myself and in my designing, after my first craft fairs.  It was a great idea to talk about it though as I got a lot of other designers coming to me and letting me know their bad experiences and it helped me realise I wasn't alone.  You've always got to pull some positives from the negatives though!

Two of the most popular blog posts were about some short courses two of my designer friends have put together through Skillshare.  I have taken part in both of these courses and have to say the amount of information you get for your money is astonishing!  They have both gone above and beyond to ensure you have value for money.  Majo runs the Reign Repeats course where you learn all about producing repeating patterns and Faye runs The Art of Typography course all about producing your own type!  Both very valuable even for accomplished designers as they teach you their little tips and tricks.  Well worth looking into these two courses!

Finally I took part in two design events last year, the Bloghop in January and the PinHop in June!  I had to produce two small collections for each of these events and it was a pleasure to take part and to see everyone elses creations.  My workload has increased a lot since last year (which is great!) so I won't be participating in the bloghop that is happening soon (more to come about that later) but I will be hopping my way through it and supporting all of the amazing designers who are taking part!