Thursday, 25 September 2014

Some Good News!

This week I was really happy to find out I had been chosen as runner-up in a fabric design competition!  Back in May, Sewing World Magazine asked for designs based upon the theme of sewing. This sounded right up my street so I decided to enter. This competition was being judged by a panel and not based on popularity votes so I thought it sounded ideal. You can imagine how thrilled I was when I found out I was runner-up. My prize is to have my fabric printed by Woven Monkey. I was also pleased that the winner (Suzanne Washington) and another runner-up (Wendy Flynn) are design friends of mine. Anyway, here is the magazine article showing my design.

And here is my original design which was based around The "New Look" of the early 1950s

Monday, 1 September 2014

The Make It In Design Summer School.

I love keeping a design challenge going so when I saw the free Summer School advertised over on the Make It In Design website I couldn't wait. I signed up for two tracks, the Intermediate and the Advanced (there is also a Beginner's track) and eagerly awaited my first brief. In all there have been three briefs with two weeks in between to design and submit. Here I reflect on what I have achieved.

Brief 1
I was very impressed by the amount of work that had gone into producing the background information related to each brief. There were trend reports, inspiration, colour suggestions and mock-ups to use. Instructions were clear and encouraged an individual response. The first challenge for both tracks was interesting and I was able to develop ideas that I was really pleased with. Below you can see a peek of my ideas.

Brief 2 
I loved these briefs as soon as they pinged into my inbox. They enabled me to really have fun and experiment with lots of different ideas. Below you can see some designs that evolved from the starting points given. It was great because it was a change from the first set of patterns I produced. I was also able to post in the very supportive closed Facebook group attached to the Summer School. A great way to engage with fellow designers.

Brief 3
This is where I am now, designing for Brief 3! Again these have been great and I am enjoying them enormously! Submission date is Thursday. For each brief there has been a submission date which is great practice for designing to deadlines. Designs from all designers have then been published via an online gallery. It is fabulous to see the amazingly diverse work from everyone. Here is a sneak peek of my last challenge! Because this Summer has been more of a staycation for me it has been really useful to keep the creativity going and be challenged. I'll definitely sign up next year!

Tuesday, 29 July 2014

Happiness Is...Gifted Too!

For the past few weeks, along with some lovely, talented designers, I have been taking inspiration from the Tigerprint Gifted Challenge. Although not eligible to take part officially (you have to be a recent graduate/ undergraduate) we all loved the idea of being given a theme a day to work to. This week (week 4 of the challenge) I have taken the reigns from Annette Kirstine Designs to blog about our ideas.

Both designs this week focus on the theme "Happiness Is..." The first one is by the fantastic Faye Brown who has created a simply scrumptious photograph!

I adore the arrangement here and the pops of colour. The typography also works brilliantly. In fact it all makes your mouth water! I think this would make great wrapping paper or would work really well on stationery. 

Faye is doing a fantastic "Summer of Design" project over on her blog (FayeBrownDesigns) which is aimed at getting children creative over the Summer. She has some great ideas for activities for all ages (adults too) whatever the weather. This weeks brief is all about photographing the alphabet and sounds really exciting!

I decided to also look at "Happiness Is..." but from a slightly different angle. I have recently been drawing lots of whimsical, imaginary landscapes, buildings and plants so I decided to use this style to create a homage to the great outdoors. I've just enjoyed a couple of days out where it was just amazing to sit back and enjoy the countryside in this fantastic weather. So my happiness is...

I hope that has got you thinking and given you some ideas. If you had the theme "Happiness is..." what would you be inspired by?

Thursday, 26 June 2014

Decades of Inspiration

I recently found a really great bargain book on Art Deco fashion which got me wondering about which design decades I am really inspired by.  In the design world certain looks often creep in and out of vogue but I tend to just go with what really speaks to me. I've written before about my love of mid-century pattern and I find that this influence creeps into a lot of my work, but for this post I wanted to explore other eras that spark my creativity.

Art Deco is a style that was influential from the 1920s through to the 1930s. It gained inspiration from a range of different sources with designers seeking to embrace a new modern style that coincided with developments in travel (cars, aeroplanes), exploration and archaeology, theatre, dance, sport and avant-garde art. Patterns used stylised motifs and strong geometric shapes and lines. These are some fave images that really sum up Art Deco for me. I love the bright pops of colour alongside the bold lines.

One of my favourite artists worked during this time and was hugely influential in surface pattern. I love the work of Sonia Delaunay, an artist who used her designs on an eclectic range of items. I came across her when I was at university and found her really inspiring. She applied the same techniques as her painting to creating textiles and sought to express the dynamism of the age through her work. I love how she conveys freedom of movement in her pieces and her use of colour is fantastic. I feel these are just as fresh now as they were in the 20s and 30s.

 I hope you find these snippets of Art Deco interesting and it inspires you to find out more about Sonia Delaunay- you will not be disappointed! Which decades inspire you? I'd love to know!

Saturday, 31 May 2014

Triumphs and Tribulations.

Again it's been ages since I published a blog post. I have been busy finishing up Module 4 of the Art and Business of Surface Pattern Design (see previous post). It has been really full on trying to submit to all the live briefs and I put an a great deal of effort to make sure I did my best.

So why is this post called "Triumphs and Tribulations"? Well it sums up my life as a designer at the moment. I've had some really good moves forward and then times where I have been rejected and dejected. It really is hard to find a balance between the two and yesterday I spent a lot of time pondering this range of emotions.

Module 4 has really helped me hone my style and be confident in my viewpoint and with this in mind I tackled one of Spoonflower's weekly contests, "Terrariums". I was thrilled when I placed third with this. I really felt that my design was putting all that I had learned into practice. My design, "Contained Cacti", has become my most popular design!

So a triumph for me which I was really proud of. Then the self doubt creeps in again. There has been some feedback from my live brief submissions and unfortunately none of my work has been singled out. I'm really pleased for those that have been highlighted and the community is so supportive but you can't help but be a little bit deflated. From high to low and back again. That's the life a designer I suppose. Does anyone have good strategies for staying positive? For me I think it's looking towards the next challenge and just keep drawing, designing and making...

Thursday, 24 April 2014

Back to the classroom! Module 4 of ABSPD.

I have been a bit quiet on here lately because I have been undertaking Module 4 of the Art and Business of Surface Pattern Design- Building Your Professional Portfolio. This is a brand new course and I just had to sign up for it straight away. Over the last year my development as a designer has gone hand in hand with taking each of the ABSPD modules. When I heard that Module 4 was being introduced I could not resist! I know this is such a cliche, but I really have been on a complete journey of discovery and I don't want to stop. This time last year I was unwell, off work and struggling to make sense of my life. Today I write this post excited, enthused and completely immersed in the world of Surface Pattern, full of anticipation as to what could lay ahead.

Module 4 has certainly been keeping me busy! It is really heavy with fantastic content.The course has been divided up into sections that logically follow the process of making your portfolio professional and industry ready.  I have spent lots of time drawing, spurred on by exercises that challenged me to broaden my subject matter. This is a design based on the letters of my name!

Also invaluable has been the wealth of "masterclasses" by people already successful in industry. They have provided me with insights and skills that will have a lasting impression on how I design, create and present my work. There have been classes with technical content as well as ones on colour, typography, repeats (the list goes on!)

Most exciting of all however are the live briefs from renowned companies. These are really forcing me to change and develop as a designer and move me out of my comfort zone. It is really thrilling to be able to work to a deadline and know that your work will be seen and that you will get feedback. The briefs have been really diverse and challenging. I can't share anything just yet but I'm really excited about what I've achieved so far.

I'm still in the middle of the course so I will keep you all updated. It's been intense so far but really enjoyable. The support has been amazing and you always feel that there is help if you need it. In my view, Rachael Taylor and her team have certainly pulled out all the stops to create a course that is enjoyable, professional, innovative and inspiring.

Friday, 21 March 2014

Fox Frenzy!

Recently I have been paying attention to my Etsy store and adding some new shrink plastic jewellery. I have fallen in love with this process and it gives me such a thrill seeing my drawings turned into jewellery. I have talked about this before but I thought I would revisit it.

Shrink plastic is a fantastic process! I start every piece by drawing first with my fine-liners markers. Here is my little owl illustration which I thought would be ideal for jewellery.

When I am happy I scan the image into my computer and then it is printed onto an A4 sheet of special plastic. Next I cut it out before placing into an oven. The plastic is then baked at a very high temperature for only two minutes. During this process the design shrinks to approximately 40% of its size. Once removed from the oven it hardens quickly as it cools. The piece can then be finished, hand coloured and then varnished or sealed. The shrink plastic that I use has a slightly textured surface which I like as it is quite tactile.

When I have a few pieces ready I start to turn them into jewellery. I have made lots of brooches, rings and necklaces but this week decided to try out earrings and key rings. I used my foxy illustrations as these have proved very popular. I now have lots of foxy items but quite frankly (I feel) you can never have enough fox themed pieces! Anyway here is a peek at what they turned out like.

...and my owl drawing? I turned him into a brooch!

Feel free to visit my Etsy store or leave a comment below!