Monday, 30 June 2014

A new painting or two and a peep into my studio




I painted this small canvas this weekend and feel like it's the best thing I've done in ages.  I also finished another larger painting too - having painted out the pink flowers that you can see in the picture of my studio below...


...it turned out like this..


both paintings are now in my Folksy shop. Whether that is the best place to try to sell them is another question. I feel it merits it's own post! But if you have any thoughts on that subject please do comment below. Here's to sunshine and creativity.


See that stripy cup... it's usually full of green tea. MATS mates will see the relevance ;)



Friday, 27 June 2014

Friday Finds - painter and surface pattern designer Claire Leggett


Good morning! Today's Friday Finds is illustrator and artist Claire Leggett whose richly colourful and detailed work I discovered on line. 



When did you start your business and why? Did you plan how you started meticulously or was it almost accidental? Tell us your story of how your business came to be!

I had trained as a Surface Pattern designer but post-degree had immediately gone into admin jobs that paid and then retrained as a Primary school teacher. This turned out to be a super plan B for about 19 years; I love children, loved teaching and specialised in special needs teaching in mainstream education and was fulfilled for many years supporting the kids and their parents. 

But back in 2009 I was nearing 40 and having that moment of life assessment that so often comes with it, when I had a dawning realisation that a large part of my hopes and dreams had remained unexplored. At that stage I was working part-time in school and so I secretly began my own other part-time work of painting again in my days off.





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

It took me a while to get good again – my paints had been in the loft for years! Then one day I produced something that my husband thought was good enough to get framed as my Christmas present and all of a sudden I saw that I’d reached a special point. It was the beginning of me finding my style of painting. Skip forward past three years of painting and beginning to find exhibition opportunities whilst still teaching and I took the momentous step of finishing at school and going full-time at Claire Leggett, and that came about as a now-or-never moment when a change in family circumstances came about. I then had time to learn new things like pattern design on the computer and explore wider options.

Do you do your business part time or full time? 

Full time.

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

They say you live and you learn and it’s true – I know from past experience that I don’t like managing people so I already know I don’t want a big business but I am learning to say yes to every opportunity and keep pressing to make new ones so I hope it will grow organically but remain intrinsically me.





If this is your full time job do you mind saying what your approximate turnover is annually (before costs and expenses)? 

Turnover!!! If I plotted my income on a graph for the last 18 months, it would be going upwards – that’s all I’ll say!

Where do you sell your work? 

I sell my original paintings through galleries who exhibit them but also take commission and through website enquiries. I sell my giclee prints and cards myself through a local arts market and I’m applying to other venues to widen those sales. I design surface patterns for two licensing agencies and have an art agent for licensing card designs and wall art.

Which of the selling methods that you use works best for you? Why do you think this is?

I think you have to stick at something for a long time before you see rewards and it’s too soon to say yet – that said it’s best not to put all your eggs in one basket. It’s important to do things that are authentically you.




Who do you think your typical customer is?

I did an art festival recently (Patchings) and was delighted to find men as well as women enjoying my work. It seems to appeal to anyone who loves colour, pattern, textiles or plants.

Which aspect of your work do you enjoy most? 

I love the variety – each discipline: painting, designing, patterning – requires something different and so I love circulating through these, as it’s all creative but different – one feeds the other.

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

They say that creative businesses are the first to fail because the creative takes rejection personally whereas the business minded with a product to promote just moves on and tries again – I could have toughened up a little quicker maybe…

Are you someone who sets goals regularly or more instinctive?

I love a list! I love to plan -in January I cleared my pin board and made a time line and pinned onto it all the things I had been meaning to do and contacts I had meant to approach etc. That was enough, I haven’t touched it since but it set me off into a period of activity, which hasn’t lulled yet. But play to your strengths – lists don’t galvanise everyone. I also sometimes have chats with my husband and allow myself to be accountable for getting things done which I avoid because I dislike doing them – like marketing. 





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 am very fortunate to have a partner who has run a web design company for 22 years so it is a resource to me in many ways – web design, accountancy, business planning theory etc.


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?

We live in a three-story house and I have a room on the top floor as my studio. I’m never alone as we have a dog (dog lovers you will know what I mean) I also have two teens – one works as a chef and does irregular hours and the other is at college so I often see them during the day. I sometimes miss the staffroom laughs we had at school, but not the agro or bells or dramas - usually I am so absorbed in what I’m doing that I don’t watch the clock. I was worried about becoming lonely but it just hasn’t happened so I think I’m in the right place at the right time.





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?

My husband did a business management course for his own company development and I have learnt a lot through him. I’ve done a few good online classes too that have developed this thinking in a more specialised way to my field of work. And I’ve made some great Internet friends through blogging and have approached one or two of them over things along the way.

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?

I had my dream day a couple of weeks ago when I hung my first solo painting exhibition and because it was close to home, a lot of friends and acquaintances came to the private view or saw it in the local paper and so people have got a better idea what I’m doing - I feel like I ‘came out’!

Anything else you want to add… tips or plans or ambitions...

Well I’m saying this to myself as much as anyone else – keep working, create beautiful things that are authentically you, get up everyday and go to work and keep throwing yourself into it. 60% of a good business is marketing – so get the balance right, and don’t be put off if you don’t succeed quickly – shooting stars are bright but over quickly. 

Finally please tell us where we can buy your work! Links please ...

My work is current showing in Harborne Art Gallery but you can contact me at helloclaireleggett.co.uk if you see something on the paintings page of my website claireleggett.co.uk

It is on my pin board list to open an Etsy shop really soon and I will have prints and cards available on this – my blog is paintdropskeepfalling.wordpress.com so please feel free to follow by RSS feed or like my Facebook page Claire-Leggett-painter-and-surface-pattern-designer and I’ll blog about the shop when I open it.

Thank you so much Claire  - I look forward to seeing your Etsy shop and hope to join you later this year! 

*Stop press: Claire is also exhibiting tomorrow at Moseley Arts Market, Alcester Rd, Moseley - Saturday 28th June from 9am until 3pm*










































Thursday, 26 June 2014

Floral pattern - Orange Explosion in my Spoonflower shop


This week I experimented with some watercolours that I made a few months ago.  

I named this simple design Orange Explosion and have just ordered a yard of silk crepe de chine from Spoonflower. In order to make a design available for the public to buy in any of their fabric formats you have to buy some yourself to check you are happy with the colours. I can see this could become dangerous.

Today I had the email to say that my fabric had been dispatched from the US - I imagine I'll have a week to wait then I will blog about the result!

p.s.Tomorrow's Friday Finds interview on this blog is a painter who incorporates pattern into her work.  

Friday, 20 June 2014

Friday Finds - Debbie Bellaby Illustration


Morning all! I hope you enjoy today's interview with illustrator Debbie Bellaby whose lovely work I came across very recently. She's also a maker as you will see from the stunning hare ceramic decoration below. I love the energy in her work - clear to see in the bicycle sketch which I am fond of having been brought up in and around Cambridge myself.



When did you start your business and why? Did you plan how you started meticulously or was it almost accidental? Tell us your story of how you came to be!

Having worked in the design industry for many years I decided to freelance when expecting my first child. Drawing has always been my passion (I will doodle on anything) and maternity leave brought me back to this. 

I needed to choose hours to fit around 2 pre-school age children so I began to freelance as an illustrator and sell my own work. It has been tough putting in the hours, often very late at night. But I’m excited to now be in a strong position take on much more this year as the youngest starts school. 

I think if you are lucky you come back round to working on what you love the most and this is what I want to do.


© Debbie Bellaby

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

It’s been slow burn through necessity but I’m happy with that.



Do you do your business part time or full time?

Technically it’s a short day, but in total, probably full-time hours.



Where do you sell your work?

Online at ‘Not On The High Street’ and ETSY. In Local galleries and at Christmas fairs too. Also through Cambridge Open Studios  


Which of the selling methods that you use works best for you? Why do you think this is?

‘Not On The High Street’ is brilliant for an online presence, but personally I enjoy selling directly from Etsy and face-to-face, as I love to meet my customers.


© Debbie Bellaby

Have you had publicity in national magazines? If so how did you approach them?

Not nationally, but local magazines have been a fun and helpful experience. I would say a polite, persistent approach and be positive about your work. Maybe send a parcel of goodies so they can see, at first hand what you are all about. It’s good to cheer up someone’s desk on a Monday morning.


Who do you think your typical customer is?

I think it appeals to a wide age range and generally female.


Which aspect of your work do you enjoy the most?

Always drawing the initial ideas, sometimes this is the best part and it feels overworked by final artwork stage. Admin comes at the bottom of a very long list..

© Debbie Bellaby

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

Maybe less doing and more planning?


Are you someone who sets goals regularly or more instinctive?

I set goals and make lists (and tick them off). I think it’s easy as a self-employed person to sometimes feel a bit directionless.


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?

At the moment it’s a home studio, if cabin fever sets in I catch up with other creatives. 

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?

When starting out family and friends are invaluable. Further along I have been lucky to meet some great fellow creative people (through freelance work, local and online groups) they have become a trusted network for honest, impartial advice and we support each other. If you are a sole trader I think you need this camaraderie to help boost your motivation. And of course listen to customer and client feedback and try to act on it.





© Debbie Bellaby

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 dream day is variety. Projects that challenge me are important, so children’s or editorial illustration. I want to work more with local schools and colleges, plus the opportunity to develop a greater printed range of work. I would love to have more time to keep a sketchbook going too. Having more time is a theme here isn’t it..



© Debbie Bellaby


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

I have learned the value of mutual support from fellow designers and illustrators. I’ve also finally found my own style and discovered my strengths, so I am trying to stick to what I am good at and not repeat mistakes!



As a thank you to all the lovely readers you can use this voucher for my ETSY shop until the end of July: Summer14 - which gives you 15% off my range.

Finally please tell us where we can buy your work or find out more about you:

For portfolios, info and directions to everything visit: www.debbiebellaby.com


You can find my Etsy shop here: https://www.etsy.com/uk/shop/ElyIllustration


And a sneaky look at work in progress here on my Facebook page

I am also addicted to Pinterest (who isn’t) 

http://www.pinterest.com/tommybelle/illustration/

Thank you very much Debbie - it's been lovely to find out more about you.
 


Thursday, 19 June 2014

Floral patterns - Gouache Painting

© Gabriella Buckingham

I just love to paint. Moobaacluck orders have been light this week so I've been working on Floral patterns over the past few days - painting separate images with gouache and just starting to assemble some of them  in photoshop to create patterns in repeat. A lot of fun but also quite fiddly to do the computer aspect! I shall get there though.



© Gabriella Buckingham


I'm not happy yet with the repeat of the one above so I am going to tackle that again - love the colours though. This is my favourite completed one so far..



© Gabriella Buckingham

I've entered it into the latest Tigerprint competition ... which closes on Monday so still time for you to enter too :)

P.s here's another I did today..

© Gabriella Buckingham

P.s I have a great illustrator interview tomorrow from 7am on the blog!



Friday, 13 June 2014

Friday Finds - Louise Lockhart - The Printed Peanut


I noticed the inventive work of The Printed Peanut - a.k.a Louise Lockhart when browsing through Notonthehighstreet.com where we both have shops. I was struck by her wonderful hand drawn style,and the inventiveness of her products. Even though she has been in business for less than a year she has been featured in The Guardian Gift Guide at Christmas and has recently collaborated with textile designer Donna Wilson..more on that later! She is a whirlwind....


© Louise Lockhart

When did you start your business and why? Did you plan how you started meticulously or was it almost accidental? Tell us your story of how you came to be!

I am an illustrator based in sunny Yorkshire, England. I graduated from Glasgow School of Art in 2009, where I studied Visual Communication. I create my designs by drawing, printing, cutting and finding collage material and textures, then I compile them using a computer. I've always made unusual versions of the party game pass the parcel for as long as I can remember. I had a few pop up shops at Christmas after I left art school and I would sell my parcels and other handmade things. I realised there was a market for more original party games and accessories. I've done a lot of traveling and lived in Canada last year where I worked in a beautiful stationery shop called Paper-Ya. I was surrounded by illustrated products by independent artists and designers and thought I can do this too. I began by setting up a screen printing workshop in my bathroom and printing wrapping paper for my parcels. I worked long hours, fueled on peanut butter sandwiches and so The Printed Peanut was born.


© Louise Lockhart


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

I still feel very much at the start of my business journey. I'm learning all the time. They don't teach you much about selling your work when you're at art school! It's a real balancing act and I feel like I'm only just starting to get the hang of juggling designing, making and selling. I recently accepted that I can't possibly make all of these products as well as design them and I paid for a professional screen printer to do some t-shirts for me. It felt amazing! I think you need a lot of patience and concentrate on one product at a time and market it as much as you can. I'm not naturally patient and beat myself up if I don't design a new thing every day!



© Louise Lockhart



Do you do your business part time or full time? 

I've never really been in one place long enough to do it full time, and since getting back from Canada in October 2013, I thought I'm going to have to do this full time now, I can't put half of my energy into making lattes for other artists as they sit in the cafe where I work. I haven't got a regular wage coming in, but it's amazing how much I've developed my style since I've started doing it all the time. It's like anything, whether you're an athlete or a dancer, you have to do it full time or you'll lose the ability.

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

I would like to keep growing, if only so I can collaborate with more people! My dream is to have The Printed Peanut as a shop selling unique printed products from a range of talented designers.


© Louise Lockhart

If this is your full time job do you mind saying what your approximate turnover is annually (before costs and expenses)?

I literally have no idea! I haven't done it for a full year yet and I haven't got a business brain. Hand-to-mouth living!

Where do you sell your work? 

I sell my work in my own online shop theprintedpeanut.co.uk, as well as on other great sites such as notonthehighstreet and thelostlanes. I have my things in selected little shops around Britain and beyond  too. You can't beat a real shop where you can walk in and touch the products. I like having pop-up shops and I'm having one as part of the Tour de France Grand Depart in a few weeks time, as the race is coming through Hebden Bridge, the little town where I live.

Which of the selling methods that you use works best for you? Why do you think this is?

Online selling is ideal as you keep much more of the retail price (shops can take up to 56%) but it's difficult to create traffic to your site. The best time for me was last Christmas as my parcels were featured in The Guardian's online gift guide. I did a huge Christmas fair in London last year but I found it a bit disappointing. Everything's a gamble in this business!


© Louise Lockhart

Have you had publicity in national magazines? If so how did you approach them?

Not really, I emailed a lot around November last year to tell them about my parcels in time for Christmas, but they said they had finished their Christmas editorials in August! better get my Christmas head on soon actually. ..

Who do you think your typical customer is?

Definitely women, of all ages, but mainly in their 40s plus. I think that must be the main buying age group in this recession! They make the world go round.

(We do,we do)))

Which aspect of your work do you enjoy the most?

Sometimes I have to remind myself that I probably have the best job in the world 'Louise Lockhart: Professional Pass the Parcel Maker'. My parcels are a constant in my life, but I love creating new things. I like the stage where you're in the middle of a design, when I know what I'm trying to achieve. I get very frustrated when I'm starting a new project. I just have to hold out until I have a little Eureka moment. It happens with every single project I do, so I just wait for it now. I love getting something fresh from the printers and seeing it complete for the first time.


© Louise Lockhart

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

If I could go back and give myself some advice i'd say 'stay away from sewing' and 'you don't have to make everything yourself'. I knew I couldn't get going properly until I was settled somewhere for more than 8 months without going off on a road trip or something.

Are you someone who sets goals regularly or more instinctive?

It depends what is I'm doing. Last month I had 6 weeks to get my first solo show together, which was a great excuse to work like mad and to get a great collection. I'm always working towards something new. I'll never stop until I've illustrated every known surface on planet Earth. I've just completed a 300 foot high drawing on a hillside, so that goal is getting closer!

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

Apart from sending my things to the printers, I do everything myself. I often think that one day I'd love an accountant. I can't bear that side of things.


© Louise Lockhart

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've just bought an old mill that I'm going to change into a home/studio, hopefully. That is going to be a long-term project and at the moment I work on a desk in my parent's house. They are artists and have loads of studio space and materials and inspiration lying around which is great. I love working with other people and my dream is to have a bustling studio where I can bounce ideas off other people. I've recently collaborated with the wonderful Donna Wilson, where I made a Pass the Parcel inspired by her knitted creatures. She's my role model really and I'd love to have a business and a studio like hers. That's my aim.

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?

I probably need to start thinking with more of a 'business' head on. I just enjoy creating things that I would like to buy and hope that other people might too. I run everything past my mum at the moment. She is very good at telling me when something's not quite right. I also email my old boss at the stationery store in Canada. She knows what folk want to buy and how best to display things.

© Louise Lockhart

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?

I get up when I naturally wake up as I love my dreams too much to disturb them. Then I work all day long, usually at my desk but i often cycle into town to post things or buy bits. I don't stop until I go to sleep around 11, I even make wire drawings in front of the TV. I need to learn how to stop, especially at weekends as every couple of months I just burn out and lie horizontal for 3 days watching black and white films. My dream would be to sit gazing out onto an incredible view, drawing in a little sketchbook, surrounded by creative people, all working together on a big project.


© Louise Lockhart

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

I'd love to collaborate with any like-minded people out there and create a range for the home. Natalie Lété, the French designer, is an inspiration. She's turned her drawings into rugs, toys, fabric and scarves and I'd love to do the same. 


© Louise Lockhart

Finally please tell us where we can buy your work or find out more about you:

You can buy The Printed Peanut's products online at www.theprintedpeanut.co.uk

For a sneaky peek into the Peanut factory follow me on twitter @printedpeanut and like my Facebook page www.facebook.com/theprintedpeanut

See my inspiration on my blog louiselockhartlikes.blogspot.com 
and on my Pinterest www.pinterest.com/louiselockhart/

© Louise Lockhart

Thank you so much Louise, I've no doubt at all that you will achieve whatever you set out to do. Fantastic... I'd love to see your parents work too..








Thursday, 12 June 2014

New work - on a Nautical theme


© Gabriella Buckingham

The subject this month for Lilla Roger's Bootcamp was a Nautical theme - whales and ships in bottles were mentioned... After I enjoyed myself making some dip pen sketches I was inspired to design these party invitations in watercolour for my Moobaacluck shop on Notonthehighstreet.com before we'd the brief. 

This is the reverse side, plenty of room to write the important details....



Once we'd had the brief - to create a piece of wall art with a nautical theme - I spent a day painting from small doodles I'd done in biro in my sketch book;





This is a 39 cm square canvas painted entirely with acrylic. I loved doing it! The day was perfect. I had both doors on my summerhouse studio open and I'd worked hard on commissions to make sure I had the day free to devote to this alone. 

© Gabriella Buckingham

I'll be making prints of this available at Moobaacluck.com and the canvas will be for sale too, happily I've already had one or two interested parties!!


Tuesday, 10 June 2014

Gratitude and Thankfulness - A chapter from a new book by Jenipher Lyn Gallardo

© Jenipher Lyn Gallardo


One of the very gifted people I've met virtually is Jenipher Lyn who has worked tirelessly on a fabulous new book for tweens and teenagers about coping with depression and difficult aspects of growing up in a positive encouraging way.

It's best you read all about it here from the horse's mouth :)

Jenipher has been having a blog hop and we're now into the last week of that but there's still time to join in if you feel moved to do illustrate or write about the topic Gratitude and Thankfulness.

I am now in my forties but I can still remember how it felt to feel alone and different from other people.. if I am honest I still have the odd day like that - almost certainly hormone induced!! but that's balanced by far more days when I feel full of life and so excited about all the potential I have still - that we all have, inside us.


© Gabriella Buckingham - a print available from moobaacluck.com

I recently took a women's self development course in which we were encouraged to keep a diary - just a little notebook. It was to be written in daily - one side marked Sucesses and the other Things to be grateful for. Every day I've been writing  a little something for each side of the notebook. Some days I can write for ages and as it's a small notebook it's a little tricky to read it! Other days it's harder but I still do it - just one thing is enough.

Being thankful for waking up each day is a start, every second of life is precious. Even if all you do with it is doze :). I genuinely think doing this one thing has made me feel more content and at times truly joyful that I have the life I have. There's plenty of room for improvement in some areas but it is MY life and ultimately we have the power to change things for ourselves. No one else can - they can support you and help you feel less alone but the action has to come from ourselves.


© Gabriella Buckingham

When you're depressed little things seem insurmountable but they aren't... we think, therefore we feel they are. I've never been diagnosed as depressed, I am not any sort of expert (but I came close to being diagnosed after my children were born - it all seemed overwhelming and I was exhausted). Depression is in my family and I've seen how devastating it can be. The mind is so powerful. I guess that I am just of the artistic temperament veering from joy to gloom and back again. The point is with some effort - necessarily perhaps small to start with - we can change the way we think by being thankful for everything we do have rather than focussing on what we haven't.

This wasn't meant to be a lecture and it's a bit simplistic! I think what Jenipher has done - writing and illustrating a book to help young people is just wonderful; please check it out and if there are young people in your life who might be struggling  perhaps you can buy them a copy.

Take a good look at your life...what can you be thankful for today?





Friday, 6 June 2014

Update on #Friday Finds, how you can get involved and some other news about #Uppercase

Apologies that there is no Friday Finds this week due to the fact that I am human and had a holiday and simply haven't caught up with the hunt for victims. Would you like to be featured ?

I am looking for solo makers or teams of two with illustrative, design led businesses or people who paint for a living - whether that be on canvas or other surfaces. Have a look at some of the previous Friday Finds to get an idea of the questions and if you think your work fits then please email me at gabsbuckingham 'at' gmail 'dot' com placing 'FF submission' in the title. Please include your website address and say hello and I will take a look; if I think you fit what I am looking for then I will be in touch. Bear with!



© Gabriella Buckingham

Talking of submissions.... I've just had an exciting email from Janine Vangool the editor of Uppercase Magazine to let me know that my COLOUR submission for the next issue has been accepted :) The above image wasn't one I submitted (I think) but I considered it.. So thrilled to have been included in July's issue and can't wait for it to wing its way to me from Canada. It's the most quirky and interesting magazine for creative people there is so it's an honour to have been included.

I've had a busy week - one which reminded me again of the value of knowing which day it is and its corresponding date! Arriving home on a Monday from Spain and starting work on Tuesday threw me a little and it's time to stop holding all events in my head so that I don't miss them by a day. Enough said ;


© Gabriella Buckingham

Yesterday I started work on sketches for Lilla Rogers 'Nautical' Bootcamp this week - it's such a lovely subject... these were the first images I made, I've since done more and also sketched out a children's party invitation that I will create today ready for sale in my Moobaacluck.com shop next week. I'll be reopening my own site with a shop over the next few weeks with my favourite Moobaacluck items and new Gabriella Buckingham stationery. 

I've managed to complete all the hand painted orders I had for this week which allows me a day to create - as well as the usual chores that come with working at home. But I will do the minimum; the sun is shining so the washing it will be!