No I'm not banging on about my ailments, it's the annual Print Club Exhibition! This year the theme is TV Shows! There are 50 Artists with 50 Prints and they each cost just £50! This is my largest print to date at B2 and the design is secret until the show opens on Friday the 5th of October, but I have a super sneak peek for you below plus a little video that print club made! Make sure you RSVP
In the lead up to July I’d had a few conversations with fellow creatives where I compared myself to a hamster stuck on it’s wheel having forgotten that to get off you just need to slow down! I was feeling burnt out, pulled in every direction and unsure what to spend my time on. So I decided that I needed to start saying no.
I’m constantly haunted by the ‘Freelance Spectre’ a ghost whispering in my ear that I’ll never get another offer of work if I turn this one down! So for the month of July 2018 I turned off that ghoulish record and set myself the challenge of saying no to any and ALL offers. (Obviously if THE dream client had got in touch with THE perfect job I would have put the experiment on hold, but that didn’t happen!) This is what happened.....
- I worked through my to do list; for example screen printing the remaining few prints on a couple of editions, a time consuming task which I’ve been putting off for months!
- I made some new personal work; finally developing some ideas that I’ve been thinking about for a while, designing new work for my portfolio and new products for my shop which will be useful as we move towards the winter months!
- I got on top of my accounts; Like many creatives I hate the financial side of running a business ignoring it until I have to deal with it. It’s a major weakness that I need to overcome, so I started using an accounting software called Xero to help me! I’m now weirdly loving looking at my finances because for once they are organised!
- I got on top of my emails; ever heard of email debt forgiveness day? You get the idea!
- I said yes (whoops) to one indie collaboration with a brand whose ethics I really admire because I had a gut feeling of excitement about it and I always listen to my gut! This also weirdly helped me say no even more, as if you aren’t excited about at least one aspect of a job then why do it?
- Apart from that one yes, I said No for a whole month; as a result I’ve become a lot more comfortable with saying No, something I’ve always struggled with.
This experiment has left me feeling a lot more relaxed about work (an afternoon on the sofa with my cross stitch has happened this week!) Stepping off the hamster wheel has given me way more perspective on my business and what i want to focus on. I'm going to continue on saying no going forward because taking on more projects means spreading myself too thin and leaving no time for nurturing personal work.
To wrap up; saying No is important no matter what stage you are in your career; as a new illustrator taking on a job that doesn't suit you stylistically can leave you confused and with an incoherent portfolio. As an experienced creative saying yes to everything leaves you with mediocre work and burnout. Finally definitely say NO to unpaid 'exposure' work as it devalues the whole industry. BUT say yes to collaborating with fellow creatives on cool (possibly unpaid) projects that excite you and that you want to see in your portfolio!
Did you like this post, do you have something to add? Let me know in the comments!
Applications and call out's for the Market season ahead are opening, don't miss your chance to exhibit at London's top craft and illustration fairs! I've rounded up some of my faves below;
- Crafty Fox These guys were at the forefront of the craft market scene and for that reason they know how to put on an amazing event that is a delight for customers and stallholders alike, now in residency at 'Mercato Metropolitano' in Borough
- The London Illustration Fair Aimed more at illustration but they have a wide variety of exhibitors and the space at the Oxo tower wharf is amazing! This is a long 3 and a half day event and it's constantly busy with visitors!
- Renegade Our friends from across the pond visit once a year to host an extravaganza of an event filling the Truman Brewery with an eclectic mix of the UK's best design, craft and illustration practitioners I've done this event three years in a row!
- Illustrator's Fair - The House of Illustration host a biannual illustrator's fair under the canopy outside their venue at Granary Square King's Cross, usually attracting close to 100 vendors the market is buzzing with inspiring work!
- Urban Maker's East - These guys are super on it, regularly hosting events, pop ups and markets around the East End of London in great venues
Top tips: If you are interested in applying to any markets now or in the future then get subscribed to their mailing list to hear about what opportunities are coming up and when to apply. Also many of them run really awesome blogs filled with top tips for getting prepped for a fair and articles on what to bring etc!
The irony has not escaped me that I’ve sat down to write this after spending 40 minutes lying on my bed scrolling through instagram and watching cat videos >.< But I suppose that even when you are trying your best, off moments / days will happen, perhaps that is part of our natural rhythms and after all flexibility is the best perk of working from home!
Here I my five top tips that have become central to maintaining mental well being while working from home;
Routine: When I left my job in Textile Design I’d been working 9 to 5 for six years and maintaining a routine I was accustomed to was crucial, both then and now. I get up at the same time everyday and get ready like I’m going to work in an office! I might even pop to the shop to have a little walk, helping to fool my brain into ‘work mode’ I also make sure I finish work at a similar and reasonable time each evening.
Stretch & Move: I’d enjoyed group classes like aerobics before freelancing but in this new life they took on a whole new meaning; as pillars of consistency in my week. Body conditioning on a Monday morning kicks things off and Yoga on a Friday afternoon winds me down. I also love and recommend Yoga with Adrienne a treasure trove of free you tube tutorials that totally help me find zen when I’m stressing over a lack of clients or a looming deadline!
Read: I personally love reading, both fiction and non fiction depending on my mood! Researchers at the University of Sussex have shown that six minutes of reading reduces stress by as much as 68% so before bed (realistically I have a quick scroll through instagram but then) I pick up a book and get into it as reading does wonders for my sleep!
Flow: So what about actually having a productive day? Well for me I have to trick my mind into ‘flow state’ by distracting it with something else! Then I stop over thinking the task and get on with it! Different things work for different people; I know fellow creatives who listen to tv programmes and others that enjoy music. Personally I’m all about podcasts and preferably something that isn’t related to my work or business, as that could take me out of flow. My favourite is Reply All which is quirky weird stories about the internet that I can really get lost in!
Talk: The freelance life can be a lonely one but the lovely internet that is helping us work from home is also helping us to connect with others on the same path! These communities whether Online or IRL are full of people who totally get the ‘own boss’ struggle. I love being a member of online facebook group Indie Rollercoaster where I can complain when a manufacturer has let me down and ask others advice. I also like going to Ladies wine and Design London to socialise with fellow creatives! There are loads of groups out there and many can be found on Meetup so find something that appeals and works for you!
I was so excited to be invited by Ralph Creative to create 'A very British Summer' illustration for Twitter UK's header in July 2018 we decided to go with a Wimbledon plus Strawberries & Cream theme and I used an isometric grid to create the pattern as I wanted to capture those views over Wimbledon with all the courts and stands!
Well Blogtacular has been and gone and boy was it a good one!!! After attending last year as a market place vendor I was keen to go as a punter and get the full experience!
I actually managed to bag a free ticket by winning the goodie bag design competition; illustrating a bloggers 'tool kit' But the conference isn't just aimed at bloggers, it's really for anyone running a creative business online.
I chose to visit talks on SEO, Pinterest and writing as those are my weak spots that need brushing up! But the conference started off with a light hearted photo walk gathering content for the ever greedy 'gram! :D
I loved these fly-posters by Fandangoe Kid which felt very bold and feminist, also the installation on Franks roof by Irina Kirchuk which saw everyday objects painted wild colours and assembled unexpectedly! Plus the newly painted building in the Bussey Building courtyard by Katrina Russell Adams was the perfect backdrop for getting some colourful snaps of my products!
We finished by grabbing a cocktail at Near and Far Bar in Peckham Levels which had a very retro tropical vibe which I enjoyed as I happened to be rocking some Hawaiian print myself!
The following day was an early start as I needed to pop some finishing touches to the Paper cut, photo back drop I'd designed for the event! We were lucky enough to get sponsorship from GF Smith meaning I could work with their beautiful Colorplan papers to make the display! I used a palette of Bright Red, New Blue, Sorbet Yellow, Candy Pink and Pistachio, echoing the branding of Blogtacular!
The rest of the day was an inspirational whirlwind!!! I attended keynote talks by Anthony Burrill amazing graphic designer and typographer and host of 'Raise your hand say YES' Podcast Tiffany Han plus workshops on; Pinterest by @annasterntaler, SEO by @xomisse & writing by @greta.solomon (mind literally blown).
I was left with an information hangover BUT more importantly as the days go by I'm feeling more equipped and excited to tackle my business with fresh energy & new ideas! It's so important to invest a little time in yourself I reckon that you end up reaping the rewards further down the line! Watch out for more blog posts coming your way concerning making a living in illustration as well as balancing your mental well being when you work from home!
Check out my previous post for other details on our East Coast Road Trip, here I'm rounding up NYC highlights! We arrived in New york with a huge list of things we wanted to see and visit and worked our way through as best we could! We started off with a little shopping downtown, popping into Madewell (I ended up getting a yellow jumpsuit, as you do!) Plus Nathan wanted to visit Best Made Co as he's a long time fan! Then we took a tour round Racquel's Dream Home which was filled with iconic pieces of design and fun to explore; plus those stairs!
Next we skipped uptown to see the American Folk Art Museum, we've both always been followers of outsider art and the collection did not disappoint, discovering new artists and also seeing a huge collection of drawings by Henry Darger below is a piece I really liked by Paul Laffoley; The Telenomic Process of the universe, love love love!
We also checked out the current exhibitions at the Met and especially loved William Eggleston's Los Alamos Photographs and of course the obligatory 'selfie' from the rooftop was taken!
We strolled down Madison Avenue taking in the local sites towards the Gagosian where one of our favourite artists Jonas Wood currently has an exhibition. I was entranced by the tennis ball wallpaper which I could not get enough of! But I also loved the new print editions especially this little one with the Wood / Kusaka Studios stamp!
Next we were hungry for both cake and Instagramable goodness so we hit Sprinkles who have a Cupcake ATM! Amazing, so we got Snapping and snacking! ;)
The following day we hired the city bikes for the day which was super fun as we went cycling over the bridges between Brooklyn and Manhattan stopping off in Chinatown to visit CW Pencil Enterprise which was a stationary addict's delight filled with the pencil goodness! Also there was a cute mural round the corner which I enjoyed practising my posing with!
We cycled over to ESPO's art world Stephen Power's art Gallery where he constantly exhibits work and has prints for sale! After seeing his mural series in Philadelphia it was great to see more of his work and chat to his studio assistant!
Finally we had an awesome day out at Coney Island which I remember going to in my early twenties and being utterly hypnotised by; I'm sure it's changed in the 10 years since but there was still at lot of charm and beautiful hand painted signs, exactly what I was hoping to see!
Thanks so much for reading I hope that you enjoyed my roundup, if there is anything specific you'd like me to write about on here please leave a comment below! :D
The first stop on our East Coast trip was Wildwood an eclectic town on the New Jersey coast where we stayed at the historic 1950's Motel The Caribbean famous for it's Doo Wop Style and architecture which did not disappoint! There are so many great vintage motels in the area, with new and vintage neon signage plus gorgeous colour palettes so that most of our time was spent just walking around exploring!Read More
Wow thanks so much to all the lovely people who are following me on Instagram! I've put together a little giveaway to say Thanks as I've reached the awesome milestone of 15K! Pictured below is the prize; lots of the bits and pieces that I designed for my 'California Road trip' range at Ohh Deer So head on over to my Instagram it is super simple to enter! :D
Lucky Dip Club is an awesome surprise subscription box full of fun and colour! I was so excited to collaborate with the lovely Leona of Lucky Dip Club! She had seen my plants illustrations and wanted me to create a design that would 'wrap' around the sock. The theme for the months box was 'Grow' and I was very happy that Leona also asked to use my Houseplant pattern to decorate the box! Check it out below! :D