Life Is Funny…

Hello all!

I hope you all had a marvellous Christmas, jam packed with merriment, we certainly did. With 2016 just over Twelve hours away, I’ve been reflecting back over the last few years.

Life is funny and always surprising. For as long as I can remember, I wanted to be a strong woman with a career. I simply wished for something that I had built which made me happy and proud. But life is never that straight forward. In all the jobs I’ve worked in, I believe I never found my true place. Don’t get me wrong, I loved working on arts festivals and being a part of those teams but there’s always been a nagging sense that it wasn’t enough. I needed to be creative and I needed something that was mine. I’ve been blessed to be a part of a loving and committed relationship for thirteen years now, however marriage was still never high up on my priority list, I always fought against it…I guess I just needed to get my sh*t together.

Life is funny. Being a bride and going through the experience of planning a wedding has opened up this whole new chapter in my life. I honestly believe that without it, I wouldn’t have found the confidence in myself to use my illustration skills and start Frog & Pencil. I’d still be lost. It just goes to prove that you really don’t know what’s around the corner when you say ‘YES!’.

Frog & Pencil is still in it’s infancy but I believe in me and I will work my damn hardest to get this business off the ground in 2016. I know it’s a job that I can’t do alone and I want to say a huge thank you to everyone who has supported my endeavour so far. I’m so grateful knowing that you guys have my back. A special thank you goes out to my new legal partner in crime and number one fan Lewie, for your unfaltering belief in me; I love you Bear.

2015

2015, you have been a beautiful whirlwind, the bones and heart of a whole new life. Here’s to the future, saying yes more and to the wonderful adventures that await.

Wishing you all a happy & healthy new year!

Cx

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Yippeee, Business Cards!

Hello all!

I can’t quite believe that Christmas is this week!!! We’re almost ready for the festive season here at Frog & Pencil HQ but I wanted to squeeze in one last quick post before I settle down with some mulled wine and a mince pie.

Last week was rather exciting for me. Having met with a local printer, Eco Colour Print (who are brilliant by the way!), I now have my first batch of business cards and I’m over the moon with how they’ve turned out. Having these sitting on my table, ready to dish out to people in the new year, it’s feeling rather official…I’m a tad giddy.

Designing a business card isn’t as simple as it looks and my process certainly evolved. Originally, I had a fun and colourful idea which needed some tweaking and I liked the concept. However, taking a step back and really looking at my images, a niggling feeling was bothering me. I asked myself these two questions:

“What does this business card tell a potential client about me and what I do?”

“Does this say wedding?”

No, is the simple answer.

Back to the drawing board and this time it needed to be clearer, I had to consider my brand and also maintain some kind of cohesion with my blog and soon to be ready website.

So here you have it, the initial and revised versions. I’m truly pleased that I took the time to reconsider my choices and these are the type of questions I’ll need to keep asking for future designs. I’m delighted with the outcome; I believe it to be the best representation of my brand and they also give couples a glimpse into what I can provide.

As I say adieu, I wish you all merry little Christmas and I hope you have a happy and lovely festive season…now, where’s that mince pie?

Cx

Quill London Workshop

Hello all!

I absolutely love Instagram and have spent many an hour scanning it for inspiration. During our wedding planning stage, my account was full of wedding suggestions…but since then it’s all illustrators, makers and puppies (super adorable pups)!

I started to notice images of lovely calligraphy and upon further investigation I discovered these were mainly pictures from workshops. It looked like fun and I thought that this could be a pretty useful skill to have in my Frog & Pencil arsenal, so I decided to give it a whirl!

Way back in early October I found a Beginners Modern Calligraphy Workshop with Quill London. Having zero experience but a love for typography this was the right choice for me, however there are other options for those who have a little skill already. It costs £49 for a 2.5 hour session with refreshments and you get to keep all the equipment you use which I think’s a pretty good price. Now, these guys are popular! I signed up in October for a date in early December, but you’ll be happy to know that they’re always adding new sessions.

Thursday 3rd finally came around and it felt good to get out of Norwich and head to London for the day. Our workshop was being held at West Elm, which is a store that sells gorgeous home wares. I was under the assumption that Quill were based in the shop. After wandering around a little confused trying to find their department, I stumbled upon people setting up the workshop in West Elm’s cosy coffee shop and we were ready to begin.

Set up

Set up and ready to start…it all looks so inviting!

There were around fourteen of us and the bunch of girls I sat with were really friendly, chatty and all first timers like me; I instantly felt comfortable. It was pretty funny when the first thing we all did before sitting down was take pictures of the table…I wonder how many blog posts are up from this session?

Megan Riera led the workshop and began by telling us a little bit about her background. She then went on to explain that this workshop would be split into three parts. Part one: learning how to use the pen to create different strokes. Part two: copying the alphabet. Part three: writing our chosen word or short phrase. Megan also mentioned that calligraphy is actually pretty difficult when you first start…and she was right, it’s a tricky mistress!

Part one:

It was a bit like Christmas having this lovely bundle of goodies to open and we were all given ink, the pen, a nib, paper and instructions for each section of the workshop.

For the first part we learnt how to use the pen correctly and how to adjust pressure to create different strokes. Key point being, apply pressure on the downstrokes and release pressure on the upstrokes. An additional important tidbit is to keep the nib pointing to the top of the paper as you move your hand up, down & across. Mine kept veering to the left, as if on auto pilot to write; my brain just could not get it.

I  enjoyed this part but the curly-wurly symbols were problematic and I certainly had vortex envy to those who could make these look beautiful…but I was getting there.

Part two:

Symbols and pressures ‘conquered’ we moved on to the alphabet. Watching Megan whip out letters effortlessly was pretty impressive…I’m still trying to master the squiggle!

We all cracked on with copying the alphabet and I loved some of those letters, like C, C is a breeze. However, B became my nemesis…damn it, that’s one tough cookie!

Part three:

We came to the part of the session where we would start putting letters together to make a word or a short phrase. The night before I was thinking about short phrases to use and considered my tag line ‘creating bespoke stationery & other handmade loveliness’. Ha! Well that would have been hilarious and ridiculously long. I just about got to completing ‘Frog & Pencil’…but it’s good to be ambitious, right?

This was probably the most difficult section, stringing letters together. It’s how to join them and deciding which way to write the letter that was hard. To help with this, we were encouraged not to look at the alphabet we had previously been copying as that would hinder the flow and to try to scribe everything organically.

Megan helped me out by writing a few examples of ‘Frog’ to copy (I wonder if you can find which lovely ‘Frog’s’ are hers?) that I found extremely beneficial. I liked the concept of playing with spacing and the letters sitting at different heights alongside varying the lines weight, and I feel this will come after some practice.

The time just flew past and I thoroughly relished my workshop with Quill. The atmosphere was relaxed, everyone was lovely and Megan was supportive; I’d certainly recommend this session to anyone who is thinking about trying calligraphy.

I feel that this would be such a great skill for me to learn, especially for the future of Frog & Pencil. Once I feel confident, I can write pleasingly addressed envelopes for invitations or simply use my own crafted words in my designs; there is plenty of potential.

So with that, I’m going to practice little and often and hopefully it will start to feel more natural in the coming months. Thanks to Megan and Quill London, I had a lovely afternoon learning a new creative skill and I hope to sign up for the next stage soon!

Blog stamp

I’m off to get inky fingers, have a wonderful Sunday.

Cx

Facing Fears…

Hello all!

Woah, time has flown by since my last post and how is it now December?! A big slap on the wrist goes to me for taking my time and leaving it so long. My general aim is to publish something of interest at least once a week, however the last few weeks have disappeared on me (I did have a week off with my hubby too), but it’s lovely to be back.

So what’s been happening on the Frog & Pencil lily pad?

In a nutshell, the past few weeks have been a little tough. I can have some super productive days and then I struggle to make anything. I’ve developed a post-it note wall to schedule out my weeks so that I have a purpose every morning and that helps me to keep working towards the end goal.

I am the type of creature who needs people around so it can be lonely working at home, but I’m learning to like my own company. I just need to remember to get out in the air every now and then as cabin fever is becoming a bad habit. With all this horrible weather on top, I do find it extra hard to motivate myself somedays but it’s a work in progress and I usually pull myself out of a slump.

Overall though, I’m a positive person and search for ways to help me be more productive. Music is so good for the soul and it lifts my spirits. I’m often found asking people on Facebook for new suggestions for something to listen too. I find most things can be accomplished with a short, sharp, power dance to get the blood pumping and I’m good to sketch! How about you, what helps motivate you when you’re having ‘one of those days’?

In between all that, there has been more progress on the website and I’m starting to finalise my branding. Originally I was thinking to launch F&P officially by the end of the year, but I do feel that with Christmas coming up it may be swept aside. Therefore, I’d like to go live in January; a new year and a new start.

I have been sketching and painting most days though and I’m thoroughly enjoying it. Around a month ago I was thinking about my invitations and what I’ll be providing. I decided that some lovely folk may not want to be interpreted as an animal, like Bear and Frog; they may want a portrait. Now, for some reason this instilled in me a fear...right to the gut! I’ve struggled in the past with drawing people but I thought I’d confront the faces fear and give it a shot in my own style. I’m so happy that I did.

I began by drawing Lewie and I along with some friends of ours. It frustrated me at first that they’re not highly detailed but it dawned on me that they don’t have to be and that was incredibly liberating. I’m delighted with how they’re turning out and when put into a composition, I think they’re quite lovely. These can be used on a Save the Date, on an Invitation or I could also create personalised portraits to sell separately as gifts.

Here’s a few examples in the gallery below, click on an image to expand it & enjoy.

So, whaddya think? I’d love to have some feedback.

With the website nearly built and having more examples of content, the next big decision is pricing up my work. I’m making a plan to visit local printers soon to get a good idea of their costs and also quality. I don’t want to sell myself short so I’ve researched other illustrators to get an idea of what they offer which is a great base to begin. I also purchased ‘Craft A Creative Business’ by Fiona Pullen, which is all about making and marketing a successful creative business which is packed to the brim with useful knowledge and in turn should help me figure out these important details.

As a curious side note, if you were to buy an illustrated couple’s portrait as a gift, what would you be willing to pay?

That’s about it for now but I’ll have more for you by the end of the week. I’m hopping off to the big smoke on Thursday to take part in a beginners modern calligraphy course with Quill London and I’m rather excited! A post on my time there coming very soon!

Cx