Monday, 31 March 2014

The job hunt has begun!

After quite a bit of decision making I have decided to go on the search for a full time job.  Working for myself has been fantastic and I've loved every minute, but whilst there are tons of advantages to being a freelance designer there are also negatives.  I'm self motivated by nature so have no problem with getting on with my work, everyone gets a little distracted from time to time but on the whole I'm a hard worker and am happy with designing without needing someone stood over me making sure I'm not procrastinating!

One of the hardest parts I find about being a freelance designer is the lack of human contact, I imagine it is a lot quicker to improve your designs when you are in a studio full of other creatives whom you can bounce ideas off.  Working on your own can often be quite hard to see what is missing in a pattern or illustration, so you end up leaving it and coming back to it with fresh eyes the next day.  I have a fantastic online network of wonderful designers but am looking forward to getting into a studio full of them and feeling the pressure of a fast paced environment.

It can be quite difficult, when writing covering letters and CV's, to get your passion for the job across. You have to maintain a certain level of professionalism and can't really start warbling on about how designing is all you would dream of doing, how you sometimes feel like your bursting with ideas and are so keen to learn and progress through a company that you would jump at any opportunity!

So I've written this blogpost full of my passion for the industry and a bit about myself too.

Why do I love pattern and designing for print?  That has to be one of the hardest questions to put into words, I honestly can't imagine doing anything else, I love to draw, I love to come up with lovely colour palettes, I love to see my designs go from initial idea to finished digital piece to the final printed product.  I enjoy everything about designing prints and illustrations, patterns really appeal to the organised side of me and it takes a good eye to make sure the composition works and the colours are well placed so the pattern flows without your eye being drawn to one particular part of it.

I've always been a hard worker in everything I do, I worked part time whilst at University and took part in quite a few societies aswell as the usual student nights out.  I was constantly juggling all of my commitments, but I thrive on the feeling of being under pressure.

I've worked in restaurants for over 8 years and I would much rather the restaurant was crammed to the seams than only having a handful of tables.  I can somehow stay calm and organised when the environment around me is chaotic.  This is the same for being in the design studio where I am more than prepared to push myself and my design abilities, I find I've designed some of my best work when there was a tight deadline looming over me.

My drawback is I can be a little shy at times, and yet I have probably signed up and achieved more than your average 23 year old.  I single handedly sourced and designed all of the costumes for a University theatre production (my assistants backed out at the last minute), I completed my Gold Duke of Edinburgh which included going to Edinburgh on my own to volunteer on a children's summer camp, I've travelled over to America a number of times on my own,  I took up kickboxing (which no one expected!) and probably one of the biggest - I set up my own business.

Everyone has their flaws but I don't let mine hold me back, I'm always tackling my shyness head on and just go for it despite sometimes feeling terrified!  One way I get over this is to be prepared, I like to do a lot of research so I go into a situation feeling confident in my answers, it really helps you to feel ready for anything that might get thrown at you.  That is until the interviewer asks you a rather nasty question you've not thought of, in which case, don't panic!

Matthew's being helping me to prepare for interviews and such as he has been through quite a few and now appears to be an expert.  It's quite funny he's helping me with regards to interviews because even though he landed himself a fantastic engineering job, he has had some rather embarrassing moments on his job hunting journey.  I don't plan to follow in his footsteps! I won't go into detail as I know people who know him may read this, but as long as I make sure to double check the city in which the interview is I should avoid at least one of his mishaps...

I've updated my LinkedIn profile so my CV is available online for you to have a look at and I've launched a new website which has my portfolio for everyone to take a look at too.

Tuesday, 25 March 2014

Bobbing Along - Minted Submission

I recently came across, I'm not sure how I managed to miss this website as it is full of wonderful illustrations!  From wedding to party invitations it includes just about any type of stationary you may need, all beautifully designed by independent designers.  It's a wonderful sight!

They regularly put on design competitions with one of the most recent ones being for a children's birthday invitation, so naturally I entered.  I had some children's designs I was dying to show the world so inbetween my other work I took the time to put my submission together.  Perfect for a little boys birthday party!

Now this competition requires you to collect votes (which I'm sure most designers hate to ask for!) but there are a number of awards up for grabs which are chosen by a group of judges, which is one of the things I loved about Minted's design competitions.  So if you have the time I'd really appreciate a vote or two, if not then just have a look at my entry and let me know what you think :)

Saturday, 15 March 2014

Personalised prints are now possible!

I have recently bought a brand new all singing, all dancing printer.  The Canon Pixma Pro-100 is replacing the pitiful Pixma MP190.  My old printer really needed updating, it very rarely printed the right colours, wouldn't work on my computer so I was having to print and scan everything through my laptop.  It was fairly temperamental!

My wonderful new printer arrived two days ago and the guy carrying it from the van looked like he was was a huge box!  This printer is a bit of a monster.  I had to carefully push it up the stairs as the box was too heavy to carry and I was far too impatient to wait for help.  I wanted to get this baby up and running!

Having finally got it up and into my studio I opened the box to find the printer in a sort of sling, it was that heavy it needed a huge thick carrier bag complete with handles just to get it out of the box.  It is now happily sat on it's own table next to my desk.

The print quality is perfect, I've ordered some special photography paper so I can get going with personalised prints and cards aswell as bespoke orders.  I love that I can now print my designs off and not worry about the colours looking completely different to how they do on the screen.  Now all I need is a super scanner then the MP190 can officially retire =)

Wednesday, 12 March 2014

How to pick yourself up when you get those rejection emails

It's difficult to keep upbeat when your a young designer in a very competitive industry.  Rejection comes at you from every angle, and it sometimes feels like you have to claw yourself up each little step!

This means it is really important to focus on the little things, the little positives in your day.  I'm taking part in #100happydays, this is where you find at least one happy moment in your day, or one little thing that makes you happy for 100 days in a row.

I'm only about 30 days in but it's been a fantastic way of seeing what makes me happy, which helps when you get another rejection email or when all of those emails you've sent out don't get a reply.  I love a nice milky, sugary cup of coffee, I love those songs that make you feel unstoppable, with the amazing drum beats (I'm a drummer) that make you want to get up and dance.  I love to dance, if I'm feeling tired or unproductive I put on an amazing song and have a dance about to get my heart rate up, I can focus after a good dance.  I love spending time with my mum, she always believes in me and when I'm worrying about the future or I doubt myself then she is one of the people I go to to fill myself full of confidence again.

It's good to recognise what makes you happy, so that when you get bad news or something doesn't go as planned you can get back to being yourself and working your way up the ladder.

I had another wonderful treat this week, I took part in a little snail mail swap that Mirta from Mi+ed Design set up (I love getting mail!) and I received a little parcel all the way from Austria, from Belle Accessories.  We were asked to send something we had made, something we had bought and something old to our partners.  I was so lucky to be sent two beautiful pairs of earrings (I really must go and get my ears pierced now!) and a hand drawn postcard which I plan to get framed for my studio.

Thank you so much to Barbara who sent me these and I hope she receives mine in return!

Monday, 10 March 2014

What I love about paper!

I absolutely love paper!  I couldn’t do my job without paper, it’s where all of my designs begin.  Even when I’m using my tablet I begin with drawing in my sketchbook.  I love that when presented with a new, crisp, blank piece of paper the possibilities are endless, it’s just up to your imagination what you can do with it.

I’m a surface pattern designer and illustrator and begin every new design with just this, a blank piece of paper and a pencil.  I have folders stacked full of my sketches which very few people will ever get to see.  So just for you I’ve taken a photo of a tiny section of these initial ideas.

A tiny selection of my sketches

I get so excited about getting a new sketchbook or notebook, then the terrified feeling that I’m going to mess up the first page and ruin it all (as I’m sure every other stationary lover does too!).  This means I have some beautiful notebooks that have never been written in! I’m waiting for an amazing project that feels worthy of writing in them.  Am I alone in this? I suppose we all have our little quirks, if anyone has any suggestions of how to use them let me know!  I mean look at them, they’re just too beautiful to use!

I’ve taken part in quite a few different snail mail projects, ones where we send each other a beautifully illustrated envelope, or send little drawings inside and I’m taking part in one at the moment where we send little gifts (more to come later this week!).

An illustrated envelope I've sent

My world seems to revolve around paper and card at the moment, I have a greeting card and notebook collection currently for sale with more on the way.  There’s something so wonderful about holding a printed version of your work and my love of stationary made it clear what to manufacture first.

I’m so happy to be part of this bloghop where lots of paper lovers are sharing why they love paper, make sure you keep reading =)

Here is the participant list so you can easily find your way:

The PaperLove Blog Hop is a celebration of all things paper! Follow the links to discover more bloggers who love paper and use it to inspire and delight. And if you want to explore a whole world of paper, and stretch your paper passion further with a host of creative projects, why not join the innovative new online course PaperLove (starts March 31). Led by book artist Rachel Hazell, PaperLove is a five week creative adventure for paper lovers. Find out more here.

Monday, 3 March 2014

Off to meet the Duke of Edinburgh!

Something very exciting is happening this Wednesday for me!  It isn't design related but it is such a huge achievement that I just have to share it with you.  Last year I finished my Gold Duke of Edinburgh award after almost 6 years of working towards it I am so happy to announce I'm off to St James Palace to get my award from the Duke of Edinburgh!  a.k.a Prince Phillip (the Queen's husband!).

There are three levels of the award, Bronze, Silver and Gold, I finished my Silver back when I was 16 but the Gold award is by far the hardest to finish.

For each award you have to take part in expeditions where you go hiking and camping for 2-4 days depending on which level you are working towards.  You have to plan a route, including working out the compass bearings (don't ask me how to do these, the guys in the group thankfully handled them!), and carry everything you might need for the whole expedition, this means a super heavy bag on your back for days. 

The expedition is only one part of this though, and even then you have to go on a practice expedition before the actual one!

You also have to complete a skill, service and sport for these awards, so for this you do an hours worth of each a week for a certain amount of time.  for the Gold I did 6 months of a sport and 12 months of the service and skill.

The sport I did was kickboxing, which I ended up in more pain after one session than doing a four day hike.  For the service I helped at Girl Guides which I had been part of for 7 years already, and the skill was my drumming lessons.

So it was fairly easy to get that part of the award done as I did most of it already anyway.  The last part of the Gold award that sets it apart from the others is the residential trip.  Which the website describes as "Undertake a shared activity in a residential setting away from home for 5 days and 4 nights."  Basically go away from home for at least 4 nights, I went and helped kids with asthma for AsthmaUK which was a weeks trip to Edinburgh.  I got to see some wonderful places and pretty much play games and organise fun activities for a week.   I stayed at Fettes College, which is such an amazing place to stay!  I was a volunteer so my travel and accommodation were all included, for anyone looking to complete their Gold award that are still searching for a residential to do, I couldn't recommend this highly enough!

So you can see there is quite a lot that needs to be done to achieve this award, especially when your only 17 and having to motivate yourself to do all of these things.  It has taken me 6 years to finally finish it (mostly due to starting the sport while I was at University as you've got to be part of a group to get these things signed off).

I have so many funny memories from the expeditions, although I doubt they would seem quite so funny at the time when your feet are sore and blistered and your shoulders feel like they're about to drop off from the weight of your bag.  It's been 6 years since we did this expedition and since then we've all gone to different Universities and most of us are now in full time jobs around the country, but we still keep in contact and meet up whenever we have the chance.  I made some amazing friends from doing this and it definitely made us a lot closer.

The beginning of the 4 day expedition

The morning of the last day, only 10 km left! All looking a little worse for wear.

First group to finish so back to the youth hostel and hot showers!
Good thing you can't see closer because my face is unbelievably puffed up.