Sunday, 28 December 2014

End of the year - 2014

© Gabriella Buckingham 2014

Christmas is over and we're in that strange but lovely time between saying good bye to close relatives and welcoming in the New Year. I love this time though because it's definitely a time to dream and be honest with yourself about what has worked in the last year and reflecting on the difference between what you want more of and what you need to let go of.

I had an extrememly busy 6 weeks from the beginning of November to mid December with 803 orders in total - I'm not quite sure how many of those I had to hand paint but at least 600+! 

I had opened an Etsy shop in mid November and started selling straight away which I really didn't expect, my woodland animal gift wrap was a hit.

© Gabriella Buckingham 2014

It seemed easier this year, I was determined not to get too stressed - slight cabin fever at times but just the right amount of orders for me and my occasional elf* to handle. There were a few days when I worked from 8am until 1am only stopping to eat. You can't do that all year round but it's ok if you can know there has to be an end and the great thing about being self employed is it's entirely up to me what I take on. I have two children and was only able to work so intensively because that's the time of year my - also self employed *husband has less work - very fortuitous! He takes great care of us all. Then when I finish I get stuck into Christmas and our roles become more balanced.

© Gabriella Buckingham 2014

I tend to be so busy cooking (and eating  - let's be honest) that I forget to take many photos apart from a few on my Instagram account; sad in a way but I'd say I appreciate Christmas in an old fashioned live in the moment sort of way. My mother and step father came to see us and my brother came up from London for a few days which was lovely as I probably only see him once a year, if that! We had a roaring fire, loads of delicious food and drink, good films and a walk by the sea and swapped some great presents of course!


I bought myself a fabulous diary yesterday. I had to return a dress my husband bought me which I couldn't even get over my shoulders - not easily anyway... ( maybe it had a zip but I couldn't see one)) - anyway, I didn't see any other clothes that I really wanted so indulged in a wall calendar and this Moleskine XL diary which was just what I imagined before I set out shopping! I wanted something simple but with plenty of room for notes and a week to view. I'd never seen a diary like this before that has an entire page alonside a week - it was just perfect! I have a lot to do in the next four months and this is going to be so helpful keeping me on track.


With preparations for Surtex in May 2015 beginning in earnest soon I've decided to suspend Friday Finds for a while. I want to do it justice and search out great artists and designers but I need to focus on my own development for a while. There are some fabulous artists in the archives and I'll continue it from June onwards.

Today, while the children and my husband hit the sales I had great fun printing out card samples to photograph for The Moobaacluck Shop on Etsy and my own site. I also photographed a new header as both of them currently feature Christmas images so there is a lot of updating to do on various sites. But I love doing all that - not so much the uploading but certainly the picture taking and planning. I realised that a canvas that I had lying about and on which I'd daubed some pink circles with a large brush a few weeks ago was the perfect back drop to some of my cards - funny how just playing about - even though at the time there was just instinct and the wish not to waste paint - turns out to be useful and inspiring too.


I'll be having a cull of existing designs soon and creating a lot more new designs in January. I can't wait!! By the way if you like that yellow gift wrap below - it's half price in my notonthehighstreet.com/moobaacluck shop for the next 4 weeks.


© Gabriella Buckingham 2014

I hope that Christmas for you was whatever you wanted it to be and best of luck for 2015.



Friday, 28 November 2014

Friday Finds - Illustrator Ohn Mar Win



Morning! Today's creative Friday Find is illustrator Ohn Mar Win; we haven't met but I have discovered that she and I both did the same art foundation course in Cambridge (although I think Ieft 3 or 4 years before she took it), worked a lot with the same client and both took Lilla Rogers  MATS course last year! I noticed Ohn's gorgeous food illustrations in my Instagram feed and asked her if she would be interviewed. 



©Ohn Mar Win


When did you start your business and why? Did you plan how you started
meticulously or was it almost accidental? 

I've been illustrating since graduating in the late 1990's. At least half my portfolio was printmaking with some editorial and children's books illustration. It was a real mishmash of styles, with pen and ink wax resist and collage. I really had no idea what to expect in the 'real' world, but I soon realised printmaking ( collographs) just wasn't going to get me paid work....I needed a plan B to pay rent.

Did things take off immediately or has it been a slow burn? 

It was with lucky for me that Woodmansterne Cards saw a huge collage I designed based on The 12 Days of Christmas at New Designers in London. This helped me to gain a freelance position at Tigerprint's London studio. I was in the 'Events' department (Christmas, Easter Valentines etc) in those days it meant spray mount and cutting Christmas icons with a scalpel out of actual Pantone paper ( remember we are talking last century!!) Pretty much at the same time my 'Plan B' was paying dividends. It comprised of drawing trendy young people - figure work really for health and beauty, teenage and lifestyle magazines. I also ending up illustrating few books, jigsaw, websites and even advent calendars. It was a very fun time for me and I met some wonderful people during these years. I decided to put illustration on the back burner after the birth of my first child 9 years ago. I did some stock illustration to bring in pocket money and its only been in the last year that I've fully entered the creative field again. Just this year I've managed to have some of my illustrations on olive jar packaging which was wonderful.



© Ohn Mar Win

Do you do your business part time or full time? 

Outwardly it looks like part time with school runs, homework etc but I try very much to fit in drawing or jotting down ideas all hours.

Do you intend to grow your business into something much bigger or are you happy with it as it is and why?

I would love to grow my business into something much bigger. I'm very new to the world of surface pattern/licensing but I could see my foodie images on kitchenwares or stationery. I'd also like to set up a little printmaking workshop at home and maybe sell tea towels - who knows?

Would you say you earn a good living from your work? 

I'm very grateful to earn a good amount from stock illustration which enables be to pursue work for my portfolio. Although there have been lean periods, in the past I've earnt a great living from illustration and enjoyed the rewards.

Which aspect of your work do you enjoy most?

DRAWING - I can spend hours with my dip pen and ink just drawing. It's only recently I've been able to focus on a using my drawings (with self set doodle a day type challenges that I post on Instagram) and turn them into collections...that part takes much longer for me.

©Ohn Mar Win


Is there anything you would have done differently if you were starting your business today? 

I was quite reluctant back in the day to buy a Mac and was maybe slow in catching up with the design programmes. Thankfully we have Skillshare now for quick and easy tutorials on Mac skills.

Are you someone who sets goals regularly or more instinctive? 

I've had a goals book for a couple of years which I compile at the beginning of each year. Its a mixture of short, mid and longer term goals ( eg seeing   Wat) with career, personal and financial aspects too. Most Sundays I right down a quick to do list which I cross out as the week progresses.

Have you ever or do you employ people part time to help with any aspect of your business? For example, book keeper, accountant, packers? If you do, how did you find people who were the right fit for you? 

I have an accountant who I've had for years through recommendation from other designers.

©Ohn Mar Win


Could you describe where you work? Are you alone most of the day or with others? Do you feel that they way it is now is the best fit for you? Do you see that changing?


I work in a home office that I share with my husband although I paint and do messy stuff in the utility room!! If my husband is it home he'll wander in and out but often I work alone. I've become used to the discipline of working from home and it fits around my kids. However I have 'met' a wonderful group of online friends who are hilarious and keep me in good humour with upbeat banter. 

What is a typical day for you in your business as it is now? What would be a dream day for you – business or otherwise?

Typically its a mad dash for the school run. Then I check emails with a morning cuppa then heads down till 3pm when its another school run. Then back to full time mum until the kids are tucked in. I try not to work every evening but sometimes my enthusiasm for a project gets the better of me. My dream day would be drawing the sights & smells & foods of Florence or Tokyo or Marrakesh for a cook book - that probably be a dream week.

©Ohn Mar Win

Anything else you want to add… tips or plans or ambitions or even special offers to my blog readers… 

I'm so very lucky that and grateful that I am paid for what I most enjoy doing which is basically just an extension of drawing and mucking about with nice colours. Even now years down the line I'm still learning and hopefully improving and evolving. It does take time but I know it will be worth the effort.

Finally please tell us where we can buy your work! 

I plan to launch an Etsy shop in the New Year selling prints of my food art.

http://instagram.com/ohnmarillustration

Thank you so much for finding time to be interviewed Ohn; I think the style you have developed using the Mac is wonderful.

Friday, 21 November 2014

Friday Finds - Este Macleod - Artist


Today I have the wonderful Este Macleod who creates absolutely beautiful paintings and is an experienced textile and ceramics designer.

©Este Macleod

When did you start your business and why? Did you plan how you started meticulously or was it almost accidental?

Started working  in 1992 or maybe before as I have been an artist pretty much all my life.. After I completed my textile design studies I set up a ceramic studio. Options for textile designers were limited and using designs in application worked well. I've always painted as well, but this took time. Developing my painting style and technique happened whilst I worked as a freelance textile designer and ceramicist. I also printed a range of textiles and made candles for gift shops.

©Este Macleod

Did things take off immediately or has it been a slow burn? Do you do your business part time or full time?

Full time artist, I've never worked for anyone else. Even as a student I always worked and supplied shops, so this was a resolve I've always had, having to make it work being an artist. Adapting to different markets and finding creative solutions is part of life as an artist and it was not always easy.

Do you intend to grow your business into something much bigger or are you happy with it as it is and why?

I've been an artist for nearly 25 years, a ceramicist for 10 of those. A change in direction came with me becoming more established as a artist, this only happens over time I found. I see myself as a colourist painter. I still do ceramics but really more for my own pleasure, this is ironic as it was such hard work when it was my main form of income. Being a painter offers me the freedom to work everywhere..even on holiday, I paint everyday. The path of my business followed the directions of my life, coming from South Africa and restarting things in London, then moving around...I've completed two degrees in this time as well, and enjoy learning and developing continuously. Expanding my business: I'm very happy with where I am right now, I am an established artist and represented by several galleries in the UK and abroad.  Options exist now in a digital age that was not there before, and this is exciting as well. Printing of textiles and other products based on my painting designs offer new challenges. I sell giclee prints online, and have textiles available through Spoonflower.  John Lewis and Paperchase stock my prints and cards as well. A market I would like to explore further is the gift market, I would like to see more of my designs on products as supposed to just papers products and wall art. I am cautious though to where work is to be seen. At this point I am reflecting on my background training as a textile designer, and I am very grateful for my old school hands on training and experience as a silk screen printer, colour and design sensibilities. My priority however remains painting, not design. An aspect of my practice is training, I do workshops for adults and children a few times per year. I am considering offering these as an ecourse as well, but need to do more research.


©Este Macleod

Would you say you earn a good living from your work? Where do you sell your work?

Yes, I sell through galleries in UK and abroad, etsy, spoonflower and online via social media.

Have you had publicity in national magazines? If so how did you you go about achieving this?

I've been included in books magazines, newspapers etc, it just happens and I do not pursue this. I am considering writing a book though...

©Este Macleod

Who do you think your typical customer is?

My typical customer, surprisingly men often buy my paintings, even though assumed it would appeal more to women. Over 35's typically, but a broad range of people respond to my work. I have a collector, a man who's got over 30 of my paintings. I once asked him why he had so many, he responded that it makes him happy..  That's good enough for me.

Which aspect of your work do you enjoy most?
 Is there anything you would have done differently if you were starting your business today?

I like the creation process, I work very intuitively. I paint every day. Starting a business now, I'd do a bookkeeping course, and get better grounding in computer design, that said, I am very grateful for the direction my creative journey took over the years.


©Este Macleod

Are you someone who sets goals regularly or more instinctive?

I follow intuitively, things come upon my path, opportunities that lead to things, but I don't actively ' plan' these out, I just go with things, I don't even make shopping lists.

Have you ever or do you employ people part time to help with any aspect of your business? For example, book keeper, accountant, packers? If you do, how did you find people who were the right fit for you?

Whilst working as a studio ceramicist I had throwers and decorators working for me part time, but I changed my business over time as we moved from South Africa to London in 1999. I do not employ anyone and I do not see this changing. Typical day see below

Do you have a mentor or people who you are able to discuss your business with? If not how do you find you best make decisions about your business?

A mentor, no not really, I admire lots of artists and designers who inspire me. My husband and son are my best critics, neither of them have any artistic aspirations though.I do discuss ideas and plans with my husband and friends and value their input. I am not impulsive, I think things over.

©Este Macleod

What is a typical day for you in your business as it is now? What would be a dream day for you – business or otherwise?

As I spend much time on my own working, and once in the zone find it hard to get out of it, I have adapted a routine that helps to create a balance. I do yoga, Pilates classes or power walking first thing in the morning. I find that this energises me, calms my mind and sets me up for a day of working. I'm not a morning person; my creativity develops as the day progresses. I love working at night. I have a studio in our garden and another in an office building where I do larger paintings and offer workshops. I work alone; I like to listen to music, audiobooks or Radio 4. I do much work in our house as well when I am very busy, in order to see my family, I paint and draw everywhere, I often make my best work whilst on holiday.

A dream day: I get inspiration even from dull days but I would say as I find much inspiration from travelling, an ideal day would be somewhere warm on holiday, Sardinia would be good, a lazy start, going for a swim, reading, observing, eating fresh seafood, walking about and then some painting. I've had a very productive time in Greece recently. As far as a more realistic idea, day: yoga, meeting up with a friend for a little lunch, starting work at around 3pm and working vigorously for a few hours. I have these quite often I am very happy to say, I love being an artist.

©Este Macleod

Anything else you want to add... tips or plans or ambitions or even special offers to my blog readers...

Ooh, I am not sure, being an artist isn’t easy, but I would not have it any other way, advise to aspiring artists: do follow your dream but work at it, work hard, find things that will work for you, adapt, never compromise your integrity regarding the quality of your work.

Special offer, cushions design competition: to win a cushion http://ohhdeer.com/competition#compartist=933&dir=desc&order=socialrank

Prints also on offer at 15% discount from 23 November until 1 December using coupon code CHRISTMAS14 on my etsy site.
Finally please tell us where we can buy your work! Links please:

I sell mostly through galleries, details on www.estemacleod.com

Este thank you so much. Your work is absolutely fabulous, as is your story and advice.

Thursday, 13 November 2014

Friday Finds - Illustrator Diana Mayo


Good morning; today's Friday Finds is a fab illustrator Diana Mayo with whom I went to art college, she was brilliant then and still is - she had already developed her strong style before she graduated.


 © Diana Mayo


When did you start your business and why? Did you plan how you started
meticulously or was it almost accidental?

I knew from a young age that I wanted to draw, paint or make things for a living when I grew older. Following a happy time studying Graphic Design and Illustration at Kingston (when it was still a ‘poly’!), I graduated feeling confident and ready enough to take my new portfolio of illustration work to publishers, magazine and design houses.  With perseverance and constant client-pestering, work slowly increased over the next five years until I was making a living full time as an illustrator.


© Diana Mayo


I have worked as an illustrator since then, although I have sometimes subsidised both my income and creative input with teaching work, including on Foundation, and Degree courses, and presently at a primary school.

Do you intend to grow your business into something much bigger or are you
happy with it as it is and why?

I intend to continue working as a sole trader, enjoying making images on my own, without the need for a team. However, having more illustration work coming in is always good, and too much is even better!

© Diana Mayo


Would you say that you earn a good living from your work?

At the moment, I earn a very similar amount for work that twenty years ago made the same amount of money. There is definitely less money being spent on paying for illustration commissions nowadays.

Where do you sell your work?

I have an agent to help bring in commissions (Artist Partners), as well as selling prints of my work online through this website. http://illustrators.co
I also sell prints privately advertised in my local museum and bookshop in Chelmsford.

Which aspect of your work do you enjoy most? Is there anything you would have done differently if you were starting your business today?

I enjoy the variety of working, from sketching out ideas, painting and collaging, as well as discussing and writing new projects. I would get tired of doing any one thing all the time – variety works for me. I think I would probably start my business the same way today, although I think it would be a lot harder. There are so many illustrators out there trying to get work, and yet less available commissions.


© Diana Mayo

Are you someone who sets goals regularly or more instinctive?

I seem to have one long term goal which is to continue getting good, interesting illustration commissions, and to publish my own ideas. Meanwhile I’m daily setting goals which I seem to achieve about 50% of the time, usually through running out of time!
Have you ever or do you employ people part time to help with any aspect of
your business?

I have always worked on my own, including managing my own accounts. It’s quite a straight forward sum of out and in for me!

© Diana Mayo

Could you describe where you work? Are you alone most of the day or with
others? Do you have a mentor or people who you are able to discuss your business with?

For a long time I worked in studios in London alongside other illustrators and designers, all helping each other throughout the day with thoughts and opinions, which I really enjoyed. Now I have a young family, this isn’t possible, so I help convene my local illustrator’s group here in Chelmsford at Just Imagine Story Centre, where we share ideas and critique our work on a regular basis.

 © Diana Mayo

What is a typical day for you and what would a dream day look like?

A typical day begins with getting my children ready for school, part time work at a primary school, followed by squeezing in as much making of work as I can before my two kids arrive home again! A dream day would have the “making of work” part stretched in length by at least three times. There are never enough hours to be creative!


 © Diana Mayo

Thank you very much Diana - it's lovely to see more of your work here and congratulations on signing with Artists Partners!

Find Diana's work at the following links:


Her website : http://dianamayo.com
Her lovely illustration agent is Christine at  http://www.artistpartners.com
Please contact Diana directly by emailing illustration@dianamayo.com should you be interested in buying high quality Giclee prints, or otherwise through  http://illustrators.co  

Thank you for reading! - Diana






Thursday, 6 November 2014

Friday Finds - Illustrator and Designer Lyndy Hants



Happy Friday and good morning: today's Friday Finds is a delicious designer - I love the colour Lyndy Hants uses and her distinctive crisp style.



When did you start your business and why? Did you plan how you started meticulously or was it almost accidental?

It was a along time ago! I studied Illustration and Design here in Melbourne back in the early 1990's and went straight into freelancing. After a
previous false start doing a business degree (ugggh!) I was impatient to get on with what I really wanted to do. I knew I wanted to freelance. I didn't
plan but was initially open to all sorts of projects, and work came my way. At some point I decided to narrow my focus more towards what I really
loved and moved into doing designs for stationery.

Did things take off immediately or has it been a slow burn?

After working on all sorts of projects - from illustrating educational publications to rendering film animation cells - I decided to start looking for work in the stationery area. I created a range of cards and posted them off to a company here in Melbourne. I heard back from them a few months later and produced my first range for them. This was my first job using Illustrator, which was pretty exciting at the time! I ended up developing a great working relationship with the company and went on to design many ranges of cards, wraps, stickers and so forth for them over a number of years. I loved it. 

© Lyndy Hants

also started licensing designs to another company for notebooks and photo albums as well as other taking on various other commissions. It seems absurd now that by sending just one folio to one company I would be set up with a lot of work, but i guess I just struck it lucky at the time.This was when the internet was only just starting to happen so perhaps art buyers also weren't exposed to quite as many artists as they are now.
After having my first child I decided to "turn the burners off" for a while. I found juggling babies and deadlines didn't sit well with me, and apart from a few small jobs, I wound things right back and just enjoyed my little boys. Once my youngest child reached a more civilised age I decided to open my Etsy store, just to start designing again and to "test the waters" a bit. Sales were slow to start with, but have picked up now. Unexpectedly my Etsy store has lead to licensing deals and commissions, a nice surprise!!

Do you do your business part time or full time?

My "full-time" would probably be someone else's "part-time" as I work to fit in with school hours. I use those hours fully and certainly don't have time
for another job!



Do you intend to grow your business into something much bigger or are you happy with it as it is and why?

Both! I'm happy with how things are travelling, I'm making regular sales on Etsy and have had some nice commissions but would definitely like to
create designs for a wider range of products. So I'd basically like to be doing more of what I'm doing now .

Would you say you earn a good living from your work?
My work certainly wouldn't support our family of five! It's early days for me once again, so I feel that I'm still in the "building" phase, but things are
growing nicely.

© Lyndy Hants

Where do you sell your work?

I sell prints in my Etsy store, and am available for commissions and licensing work.

Have you had publicity in national magazines? If so how did you you go about achieving this?

Yes, my prints were featured in Frankie magazine earlier this year. They've also appeared on a handful of blogs recently , which has been fun. The Frankie people got in touch and asked to feature my prints after coming across them on Etsy.

Who do you think your typical customer is?

I have two "typical" customers that are quite different. For Etsy sales my customers have mostly been women expecting their first child who are decorating their nurseries (though some of my customers have bought prints for other rooms in their homes.) And my other customers are Art buyers for large companies (Greeting Cards, Wall Art, etc.)

Which aspect of your work do you enjoy most?

The designing! I love it, particularly when I'm starting a new design I'm really excited about, whether it's for Etsy or for another client. ( I do have to discipline myself to see designs through to the end as I'm inclined to hop off and start something new.) I've also enjoyed the conversations with clients and Etsy customers, so that side of things is enjoyable. The admin side of things I have to make myself do!!

© Lyndy Hants

Is there anything you would have done differently if you were starting your business today?

There's no easy answer to that question. I started doing this work at a very different stage of my life, so if I was starting now I would naturally do it differently. Having a creative business is also so different to a business selling widgets or something because we often need to go through quite a process of developing and honing our style, and working out where it "fits". It's an ongoing process, and can take quite a long time. I think the early years of my business were really about gathering experience, and working on my style, and I'm glad I spent the time doing that. I have a very clear sense now of the style I like to work in.

Are you someone who sets goals regularly or more instinctive?

By nature I am definitely more instinctive, but I've started to use goals more recently as it really helps me remain focussed. Without setting goals I find it's too easy for designs not to make it out of my head! I have a list of pieces I want to do, and a schedule I try to stick to. Lists are a big part of my life!

© Lyndy Hants

Have you ever or do you employ people part time to help with any aspect of your business? For example, book keeper, accountant, packers? 

No, I haven't employed anyone except my accountant. I can see it could be helpful to hire someone to help with Etsy orders, but I'm managing at the moment. I have had a fabulous nanny to help with my youngest child though and she's been a life-saver!

Could you describe where you work? Are you alone most of the day or with others? Do you feel that they way it is now is the best fit for you? Do you see that changing?

I work in my home-based studio over-looking the treetops in our garden. It's a lovely space, and I love to retreat to it whenever I can. I have worked in studios over the years but working from home fits in better with my family life now. I love the peace and quiet of working alone, it's such a nice contrast to when my children are home!

Do you have a mentor or people who you are able to discuss your business with? If not how do you find you best make decisions about your business?

Not a mentor as such but I do enjoy chats with other friends who are in the art/design business. We help each other along. I find it generally really helpful to be in touch with other creative women as I think there are issues unique to the creative life that are important to share.

© Lyndy Hants

What is a typical day for you in your business as it is now? What would be a dream day for you – business or otherwise?

A typical day starts with the mayhem of getting children off to school and /or pre-school. Fortunately it's all within walking distance and I usually walk back home with one of the lovely mums from my neighbourhood, so it's a nice start to the day. Then, a quick check of emails over my cup of coffee and I start work. I've developed the habit of starting with the project I most want to work on first - whether it's a new design , or whatever, in order to make sure it happens before anything else takes over. Then I usually tackle some admin tasks as a "break", before settling in to another session. Later in the day I do my Etsy orders, and whatever else needs to be done. The day isn't super long as I fit in with school hours but I often do more work at night.My perfect day would really be doing pretty much what I do now - but with more hours at my disposal!!

Anything else you want to add... tips or plans or ambitions or even
special offers to my blog readers.

Well some big news is that I've recently become a part of an exciting new Art Collective with Monika Forsberg, Jennifer Orkin Lewis and Kristen Balouch. We make up the Cloverly Art Collective and will be exhibiting at Surtex next May.

Our website: http://cloverlyart.com/
Facebook: https://www.facebook.com/cloverlyart
And a Special offer - A voucher for a 20% discount off any purchase in my Etsy store until December 6th. (Please quote coupon code:FRIDAYFINDS123)

Finally please tell us where we can buy your work! 

My Etsy store: https://www.etsy.com/shop/LittleDesignHaus
My website : http://lyndyhants.com/
Facebook: https://www.facebook.com/pages/Lyndy-Hants-Designs/463241617099063


Thanks so much for inviting me to be part of this Gabriella! xx

You are very welcome Lyndy, thank you for doing it and for such a generous discount offer in your shop!