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

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

Topsy-Turvy Typography

I am a sucker for good typography and I guess that explains why it’s taken me such a long time to figure out what I want when it comes to branding Frog & Pencil.

Thanks to Truly Yours on Twitter, she tweeted about The Hungry Jpeg. Having exhausted my normal typography sites I gave it a look and they have some awesome bundles on offer…and freebies! This in turn led me to Creative Market, where it’s a little like typography heaven and over the past week I must have spent hours looking through thousands and thousands (that’s no lie!) of different fonts.

My incredible hubby (Lewie) is spending most of his free time building my website and together, we now have the bones of the site and it’s looking really lovely. I’m super impressed with his coding skills! However, I’m rather fussy when it comes to design…well, most things really; I’m simply a perfectionist and because of this I’ve been battling with typography choices.

Personally, I love my little frog and her pencil, I think that makes a cute logo. It also expresses my style and what my work is like. So, easy decision, froggy stays. Next step, which font should accompany her? I never, ever thought it would be this difficult to choose one. Lewie and I have spent a lot of late nights playing around with varying fonts and compositions on the website to make it work and I believe we’re almost there; hurrah!

Here is where we started, with the website headers…only a sneak peek though! (Apologies about some poor image quality, most of these are screen grabs.)

Moon Flower Bold

Moon Flower Bold

I found myself saying “well, I don’t hate it…” quite a lot during this process which is a glaring signal that something’s wrong. I love tall, skinny typography styles.  I think they’re quirky and fit in with my design aesthetic, I even used something similar for my wedding stationery. The problem is, I see this look EVERYWHERE. It must be on-trend right now, this font alone had millions of downloads. So, I pondered, ‘do I do something different?’ I decided to just pile in loads of options and see what sticks…and here are just a few examples.

Pier Sans

Pier Sans

To me, this font was pleasing to the eye, clean and sat well with the rest of the website but it lacks a little personality. It was helpful in the fact that it made me evaluate what I wanted my brand to represent. Whichever typographic style I choose it needs to meet the following criteria: to be a little quirky, whimsical, appealing to the wedding market and most importantly fun. My designs are fun and I feel it’s essential that this shines throughout my branding too.

Paper Cute

Paper Cute

Paper Cute is rather charming with its cut out appearance and I do like it, however I didn’t feel it was a good fit.

Bohemienne

Bohemienne

Bohemienne appealed to me with its lovely brush script style however, somehow, I find it a little too perfect and I see flourishes of ‘Disney’ which isn’t what I was looking for.

Sunn

Sunn

With Sunn, I thought I would revisit the skinny script, but this isn’t working for me, perhaps I need something a little more punchy and bold.

Farmers Market

Farmers Market

I like the varying weights in Farmers Market and there is an element of quirkyness but again, I didn’t connect with it.

After experimenting with around twenty fonts, I then added these…

Flow

Flow

Monofor Alt

Monofor Alt

These two were my favourite but I still had those niggles. For example, in almost all my trials it really bothers me that even though everything is centred, the ampersand creates an illusion that, as we would say in Norfolk, everything is ‘on the huh’ (skewed). Alongside that, the tag line also need to fit in nicely and not just hover in space.

With a few coding tweaks we came up with this.

Flow New

Flow New

Monofor Alt New

Monofor Alt New

Albeit a smidge delirious, last night felt like a break through after days of banging my head against a typography brick wall. I find these two really pleasing, a bit like eye candy. I enjoy the way these are weighted with the varying thickness. They also have a nice, fluid movement and are not dead straight. It’s almost as if the frog drew them herself as she hopped along.

There is still work to do; I need to choose a colour, finalise compositions and pick the final font. Luckily, they each cost between $10 to $20, so I’ll probably buy both (an added bonus is that they come with a commercial licence, so they’re ready to use in my designs). That way I can work with them accurately, rather than adjusting a fuzzy screenshot. I also need to consider where else my logo might be used. By working with a business card format, this may help me arrive at a conclusion. With that in mind, I started playing with potential business cards ideas.

Phew! I’m feeling much more positive about my branding now. I was starting to worry that I’d never find the right font and that we’d be working on it for weeks, resulting in something that is forced…I’d hate that. With the end in sight, I’m excited about moving on with the website, business cards and designing product packaging!

Fingers crossed, by the end of the week I’ll have a finished result that I can share with you all. I’d love to hear any of your thoughts or suggestions, please share them with me; I appreciate any feedback.

In the meantime, with all this progress, I’m off to do a little happy frog dance!

Cx

Frog & Bear’s Wedding Details

Hello there!

Last week I posted about our Wedding Stationery, so today’s post is all about our wedding details; a good example of what ‘other handcrafted loveliness’ may include.

We feel extremely lucky to have had our wedding weekend at beautiful Chaucer Barn. The barn and the grounds are so stunning there really isn’t much of a need to add extra details…but for me, that’s the fun bit! What I loved most about our venue is that we could do pretty much whatever we wanted, it was a blank canvas and a chance for us to add our personal touch. Because of this, my head was swimming with ideas (thanks pinterest!) so my issue was learning how to edit these and realise what’s manageable…and here’s the outcome.

Inside The Venue

We kept it rather simple inside by adding twinkly lights to the banister and adorning this with some of the millions (it felt like millions) of pompoms that had been fluffed. In the lounge we created a backdrop made from colourful streamers, added some more pompoms and left a box of silly dressing up gear for guests to enjoy.

Outside

In the run up to the wedding I had been hoarding glass jars and bottles which were to be used as vases.  My lovely Dad had the task of scrubbing off all the labels one afternoon and he did a stellar job.  After adding some ribbon and flowers they looked gorgeous.  We made enough for all our tables, the seating plan step ladders and to tie onto the chairs along the aisle.

I made a couple of signs to stand outside Chaucer Barn alongside the road so that guests knew where we were.  Inside the grounds, on easels, I also made a who’s who board of the bridal party and a rough schedule of the day. There was also a ‘Croak & Growl Announcement’ note to give to guests explaining how the duo ceremony would work. Sadly, these were never given out due to the rain and initiating plan B, to have the ceremony inside (and it was wonderful).

After our ceremony we all enjoyed a jam jar (or two) of Pimms and we added our little touch by way of the label saying ‘CHIN!’…this is my version of cheers!

The Marquee

Most of our little details were to be found inside the Marquee.  As an alternative to bunting we created felt, plush hearts which we strung up around the space and finished it off by adding some more of the lovely pompoms to the pillars and I thought it looked so lovely, I smile every time I think about it.

We were delighted to have Pandora’s Kitchen as our caterers and they created a delicious rustic picnic for us. I thought it would be so pretty to make our own picnic boxes where we would share one between two and my brilliant father in law built every single one! This was a labour of love which involved a lot of sanding and a lot of painting but I think they are beautiful. Alongside the boxes, I whipped up some simple menus explaining what’s in the box. We also made these gorgeous, floral, cotton blankets to cover the goodies inside but on the day we completely forgot to add them, whoops!

For the favours I spent a lot of time thinking of ways to make them personal to Lewie and I.  For the guys, we made and bottled our own beer; Hoppy Bear! I designed some labels for them and I think they went down a treat!  For the gals, I illustrated three recipe cards from the heart of my Mum’s kitchen and wrapped them up in a bow. The kids were given cute little pots of chocolate and bubbles alongside an activity pack I created.  There were twelve pages in total and each one were packed full of fun things to keep them occupied during the picnic. These were a hit and I’m planning to sell them on Etsy shortly.

Lewis and I also designed a treasure hunt for the little monkeys! We made a map, plotted some clues and the adventure took them all around the grounds, ending up in the half-moon wood where they discovered a pinata full of marshmallows! Sadly, we don’t have any pictures but they had an awesome time.

Even the teeny tiny handmade details were considered, from all the different labels to the wooden name place holders; a fun hour in a shed wielding a saw was had!

Lastly, in the marquee, I can’t forget to mention the tasty and beautiful cake table! Many of my lovely friends and family made something delicious to be added and I baked the wedding cake. It was loads of fun sculpting and painting the little Frog & Bear toppers too.  All together I think it looked a treat!

Gifts

I had the most wonderful bridesmaids by my side and to thank them, part of their gift included a floral, cotton robe to get ready in (thanks Etsy!). I packaged them in cute little tote bags where I ironed on my designs. I was thrilled with the result and I have a plan to create these little beauties and sell them online.

Phew! I think that’s pretty much all the details covered…and I had more ideas on my ‘Wedding Wall’ but I had to stop somewhere. I LOVED putting all of this together and I feel that each detail expressed Lewie and I and the feel we wanted to create.

Before I sign off, I must mention that all of this wouldn’t have happened without the help from my awesome friends and family.  THANK YOU to those of you who painted picnic boxes, cut things out, sewed together hearts, made covers, scraped off jam jar labels, iced the wedding cake, helped decorate the venue and fluffed their pompom hearts out! You bunch are amazing; my dream team!

I hope you enjoy the gallery!

Cx

Frog & Bear’s wedding stationery

Hello there!

Whilst I’m creating new work, I want to give you an idea of what it is I’ll be making. So, I have decided to write a couple of posts on the stationery and other lovely detailed bits and bobs I created for our wedding earlier this year.

First up, wedding stationery!

Now, to me, the wedding stationery was quite important, as I feel that it gives your guests a taste of what the big day is going to look and feel like. We wanted it to be personal, represent who we are and to also be whimsical; so I was super excited to be creating these. The stationery could simply be the invite itself, but I liked the idea of a ‘stationery suite’. This includes the Save Our Date, The Invitation and a Thank You card. Ours also branched out into the Table Plan and Table & Name cards.

Here’s a little flavour of what I created for our happy day.

There you have it!  I LOVED making all of these elements and I’m really proud of how they all turned out; especially the invitation.  It was a labour of love…a little book, jam-packed with all the information our guests needed to know, and more! The ‘book’ style invite is the direction I’d like Frog & Pencil to take, and I’m planning a separate post on all the goodies the different pages contained; so please do hop on over again soon.

Cx

How do you eat an elephant?

Hello there and welcome to my Frog & Pencil Blog!  I’m certainly feeling the ‘first post’ pressure here but let’s give this blog malarkey a whirl!

I’m at the start of an exciting, shiny new venture where I am setting up my own business.  Having worked in various fields over the past years, I’ve always had a niggling feeling that I should put my illustration skills to good use, but I never truly found the right direction to follow.

Cue marriage and ‘HUZZAH’ I saw the light! I already had the intention to make many of our wedding details and this was reinforced by visiting several wedding fairs; there wasn’t much that caught my eye. I was looking for the more quirky, whimsical and personal bits and bobs, nothing too traditional. For me, it’s all about the details and after lots of lovely comments and feedback about my wedding stationery, I knew I had something unique.

So here I am, about to build a business on bespoke wedding stationery and other handcrafted loveliness.  I’m not going to lie, I’m super excited but I’m bloomin’ scared; remembering to write stationery correctly is tough enough! Sometimes though, the thought of it all is so daunting I get a bit dizzy and just don’t know where to begin.

I talked this over with a gorgeous friend of mine and she simply said, “Claire, when I find a situation overwhelming, I think to myself, how do you eat an elephant?” And this little phrase has stuck with me, I simply need to tackle each obstacle bit by bit. With this in mind, along with the incredible support from my husband, family and friends I can’t wait to get started.

This blog will document my new, creative journey, including all the highs and all the lows. I’ll be posting my work, ideas, the admin challenges I’ll face with starting a business and will keep you updated on all things Frog & Pencil.

My goal is to be up and running by the end of the year…it’s early days but I have nothing to lose. I hope you’ll stick around and join me on my elephant adventure.

C x