Meet The Maker

Hey guys,

Well, the lurgy has struck the Lily Pad and it’s a ‘Froggy down’ situation but I think I have enough energy to put this together for Blog Post Thursday. Forgive me if it doesn’t make a whole lot of sense, I didn’t get much sleep last night.

Today I’m offering up something a little different; a Meet The Maker post where I’ll disclose ten Froggy facts about me; a fun change to my usual posts. So, first off, for those that don’t know, this is me…

Meet the Maker blog post, image of Frog & Pencil

Image credit: The lovely Rose & Spear Photography

FACT 1

One question I’m often asked is, why did I choose the name Frog & Pencil? Well, it’s from a loving nickname my hubby gave me. Apparently, from a certain angle, I look like a Frog. Having created a Frog and a Bear character for our wedding, it naturally progressed to Frog & Pencil for my business. I love the name, it’s certainly memorable but I don’t quite see the Froggy resemblance.

FACT 2

I have dual nationality and was born across the pond in Austin, Texas; I’m officially a cowgirl…best get me some boots and a Stetson!

FACT 3

I love what I do but if I wasn’t an illustrator, I think I’d want to be a florist. I have found a new love of flowers after being in this industry and I’m in awe at how creative people can be with blooms. Their workshops also smell incredible…not sure how I’d deal with the cold though…I’d have to find a fab hat! My Mum kept the most amazing gardens, so I’m hoping I’ve inherited some of those green fingered genes for my own little plot.

FACT 4

I adore Children’s books. When I’m in a bookstore I always make a pit stop at the kids section and you’ll most likely find me giggling away and drooling over the beautiful and playful illustrations. My hero was Roald Dahl and I remember how deliciously lost I found myself within his words and Quentin Blake’s drawings. A dream of mine is to illustrate my own Children’s book one day and to create something that fires off kids imaginations.

FACT 5

At some point, during all my commissions and illustrations, there will be a moment where I utterly hate what I’ve made and I think it’s a pile of poop. I’ve learnt to try to not give in to those feelings and to simply carry on. The magic happens right at the very end when the last brush mark has been made, it just requires a dash of patience and a lot of belief.

FACT 6

I have a phone phobia! I’m fine when it’s friends and family but if my phone rings I get super anxious and tense. And making a call, well that’s the worst! I have to psyche myself up and make sure I have everything ready. For example, sorting out the car insurance. I have to sit in the quiet, have a glass of water and a pad and pen ready. I’ll write down my own details, address, phone number, etc, just incase I blank when they ask for them. I even write down reference numbers even though they’re right there on the letter…they have a funny way of hiding when prompted. Holy moly I just hate it and I feel so relieved when it’s over! Silly right!?! Anyone else feel this way about phones? If so, any tips on how to manage those feelings would be greatly appreciated.

How I survived in a call centre, on the phone selling mortgages for 3 years, I don’t know, I already feel a cold sweat coming on just thinking about it!

FACT 7

I fell out of love with illustration. I was a mature student at University and after an amazing year at foundation level, I was so excited about Uni. It was mostly a horrid three years where I just didn’t fit in and never found my groove. In hindsight, I think I should have seen a doctor as I was terribly depressed and I became a crazy person. I made it to the end though and somehow passed. I graduated in 2011 and still to this day when I’m in that part of Norwich I get very uncomfortable. I’m a believer in things happening for a reason though and I discovered tenacity. It also opened some sideways and upside down doors which inevitably led me to where I am today. I’m happy to say, for the majority of the time, my illustrations and I are friends. 🙂

FACT 8

I ADORE earrings and hats. They make me so happy.

FACT 9

I’m a big fan of cheese but it makes my face tingle…I could be allergic but the stuff is too damn tasty. Nom!

FACT 10

A lovely friend recently asked what inspires my work. Some of the biggies would include, nature and the awesome colour play you can see right outside your window. Couples stories inspire my work, if they have a cute anecdote that can be captured I like to include it. Instagram is a big inspiration, the creative community on there is incredible and spurs me on to make good work too. Lastly, the local wedding supplier community fuels my passion. There are so many talented people in this industry, photographers, stylists, cake makers, designers and florists to name a few and they’re always pushing the boundaries. Their way of thinking encourages me to step out of my comfort zone. I’m honoured that I can call a lot of these guys my friends.

There you have it, some Froggy insight which I hope you enjoyed and could also relate to. The Bear and I will be having a two week break as of this coming Monday, so look out for a new post when I return, there’s always plenty to share. In the meantime, I’m off to battle this lurg!

Adios amigos,

Cx

The Personal Touch – Nicky & James’ Save Our Date.

Hello you lovely bunch!

Another Thursday has rolled around which means another Froggy post (not gonna lie, pretty proud that I’ve stuck to my ‘every other Thursday’ schedule so far!).

Today I want to chat about those personal touches I bang on about when it comes to wedding stationery. When I speak to couples about what they’d like their design to feature, I always try to eek out something special and unique to them as a couple. Everyone has their ‘thing’, be it little quirks, a beloved pet or cute stories that could be expressed through their invitations. Quite often, my couples aren’t too sure, so we work with details that will match the wedding day such as colours and flowers, and that’s brilliant.

However, I do adore it when a Bride & Groom want to inject more of a narrative about their journey into the designs and a fantastic example of this comes from Nicky & James.

I began this commission at the start of the summer and when I rang lovely Nicky, she was full of ideas. They’re getting married at The Norfolk Mead but she felt strongly about making a point of where it all began and wanted to express this somehow through their Save Our Date. Nicky recounted her and James’ first date over at gorgeous Sea Palling (for those who don’t know, it’s a fabulous Norfolk Beach) and how it’s now a special and significant place for the two of them. It was to become the spot he chose to pop the question. (I do love a good proposal story!)

I sketched a variety of ideas, including a map of the location with a tiny doodle of a seagull (who we named Sammy). This little ring bearer stole our hearts and he became the main focus of the design. On the reverse they wrote a little ‘ditty’ to share their story:

We shared our first date at Sea Palling,
And were engaged at that special spot,
Now we’re getting married,
We’d love you there as we tie the knot!

It became a much simpler way to tell their tale compared to the map but I feel it’s a much sweeter way to express it.

I have a coffee date with Nicky (and their gorgeous new addition) in a few weeks to discuss the next phase of their stationery and I can’t wait to see what we create! I’m positive that it will continue to feature more lovely little personal touches about her and James’ life together.

This was a blast to make; enjoy a few snaps of Nicky & James’ Save Our Date with that cutie, Sammy the Seagull.

Watercolour Illustration ready for a Save our Date card.Save our Date with a personal touch!Save our Date card with personal touches, including the couples story.

So, as you can see, when it comes to the stationery for your big day, you can do anything you want and this is just one way of making it more personal. If you’re looking for wedding stationery that’s bespoke and a little out of the ordinary, then get in touch. I’d love to chat about your adventure so far, the wedding plans and we can discuss how I can help create designs that reveal your story with those personal touches.

Until next time,

Cx

The Little Horse Box

Hey there!

It’s a bit of a stormy one here in Norwich today so while the sky rumbles I thought I’d write a new post and share my recent commission with you beauties.

Lovely Liddy is the proud owner of The Little Horse Box (TLHB), where she has lovingly restored an old horse box and transformed it into a luxury bar you can hire for weddings and special events. It’s such a gorgeous local business and I feel that this bar is ideal for all kinds of weddings, especially those with an alternative, vintage, boho or festival vibe. You can tailor the bar too, with bespoke drinks packages, coloured lighting and by dressing it with your wedding flowers. My personal favourite package is the ‘Pimp Your Prosecco’, I could really get into that!

Look, isn’t it adorable (swoon)!

the-little-horse-box

Liddy got in touch as she was looking to have a bespoke card made which she could then give to her couples and fellow suppliers. I was delighted to be asked and couldn’t wait to get cracking! We chatted about a few ideas but it was clear the focus of the illustration should be on the TLHB itself. The garland was also important and she wanted it to be full of pretty flowers and pastel colours, a little like a country garden. With a few extra tweaks and finished off with welly boots bursting with flowers, a ladybug and juicy strawbs, we created a design which I think is just smashing! What do you guys think?

I loved making this for Liddy and I hope all her fab couples and the suppliers she meets along the way on her TLHB journey enjoy the cards too. If you’re a fellow supplier and are looking for a unique card (or something similar) that echoes your brand, then drop me a message, I’d love to hear from you.

Please do check out The Little Horse Box’s website and if you’re in the market for a bar or know someone who is, give her a shout. Liddy is so friendly and passionate, you’ll be in safe hands when it comes to catering your drinks for a big event (Psst, I’d Pimp your Prosecco if I were you!).

Thanks for commissioning me The Little Horse Box, it was a pleasure!

Until next time y’all,

Cx

Kim & Jody’s Spanish Castle

Hola you lovely lot!

Wowzers we’re having some amazing weather! Frog & Pencil HQ is certainly hotting up and this heat has reminded me of a wedding invitation commission I finished a few months ago and it’s about time I shared it.

Lovely Kim contacted me at the end of December wanting to buy a few Bridesmaid Cards and I was delighted when she came back to commission me for their personal wedding invitations. Next year, Kim & Jody are jetting off to sunny Spain to say ‘I do’ in a beautiful Spanish Castle. Being a destination wedding there’s plenty of organising to do and tonnes of information that their guests will require. To keep things simple, these guys have chosen to set up a wedding website which will hold all the details that their friends and families are going to need to know. However, they still really liked the idea of having a physical invite to pop in the post and it also makes for a cute little keepsake from their day.

When it came to their main illustration, Kim & Jody opted out of a portrait and instead asked if I could paint their beautiful wedding venue, Castillo de Conesa. I jumped at the chance! We personalised it further by incorporating dusky purple tones within the garland to match their flowers on the day; aside from that we let the Castle take centre stage.

It was an absolute joy creating this invitation and it made a nice change to illustrate a building. Additionally, it was a pleasure getting to know Kim, I really do have the best Brides!

Enjoy Kim & Jody’s mini gallery…with an ice cool tipple in hand and browsing these photos, it’s almost like we could be in Spain!

Wishing Kim & Jody a wonderful wedding next year and I hope the sun’s shining just as brightly as it is here today for your Spanish Castle wedding.

If you love my style and like the idea of capturing your special venue on your wedding stationery, send me an e-mail to hello@frogandpencil.com, I’d love to hear from you!

I think this Froggy is about to melt so I’m hopping off for an ice cream!

Until next time,

Adios!

Abi & Rob Little Bespoke Books

Abi & Rob’s Little Bespoke Book Wedding Invitation

“Finding a mate in the giant world is challenging, and it’s somewhat hazardous when you can get run over by a millipede.”
Sir David Attenborough.

Hello you lovely lot.

I’ve been excited to share this commission for a long time now and with these beauties out in the world I’m delighted to introduce to you, Abi & Rob’s wedding invitations.

I met the brilliant Abi & Rob way back when Frog & Pencil was basically a tadpole. They came to A Most Curious Wedding Fair in 2016, spotted my stall and a few days later got in touch. They had seen my Little Bespoke Book Wedding Invitation and thought it was so original and wanted something just like it. I clicked straight away with these guys as they completely understood my work and its quirky nature. They are also getting married where we said ‘I do’, at the beautiful Chaucer Barn, so we had a lot to chat about.

When it came to choosing their bespoke illustration they decided against a portrait and wanted weird and wonderful characters (yaaaay!) and settled on Chameleons. They had been watching a Sir David Attenborough documentary on Madagascar and found a kinship with these adorable Pygmy Chameleons, it was perfect. They even used Sir David’s commentary from the clip as their quote for the Little Bespoke Book and it’s actually a rather sweet analogy for finding love. They sent me the YouTube snippet and work began.

The Chameleons were a joy to paint and I wanted to capture the male stood upon the females back like the clip explains. I’m not going to lie though…I ended up with a bunch of compositions where it looked like they were humping! You really don’t want to send that to your guests!

It has been SO hard keeping this illustration under wraps. I finished it in April 2016 and it’s probably my favourite painting to date. However, Abi & Rob aren’t tying the knot until this September, so obviously the invites had to wait a little while.

In the meantime…

Abi & Rob asked for some Save our Dates which I was more than happy to create for them. They wanted to keep these quite simple featuring their names inside a garland, the date and the venue. However, they had a cracking idea for the reverse, something to tease their guests and a little ‘nod’ to the invitations. I loved it! The tails are uncomplicated, but the colours are just luscious. I would have liked to be a fly on their friends and families walls to witness the reactions!

Abi & Rob Save our Date

As the new year drew closer I was champing at the bit to resume work on their Little Bespoke Book. For those of you who don’t know what this is, it’s essentially a 12 page wedding invitation made into a book. Couples can fill it full of details their guests are going to need to know about the big day and it’s all in one place; there’s also an opportunity to add in personal information too. What does it include I hear you holla, well, let me tell you:

The Front & Back Covers feature bespoke illustrations.
Page 2: A quote about the relationship
Page 3: The couples Love Story
Page 4: The Wedding Invitation
Page 5: A bespoke Wedding Map tied onto the page
Page 6: Local Accommodation
Page 7: RSVP which you can remove
Page 8: Important Details – such as ‘The Bar is CASH ONLY’
Page 9: Honeymoon List
Page 10: Contact Details
Page 11: A Photograph of the couple

These are details Abi & Rob chose for each page but you can include anything you like, it doesn’t have to follow this format.

When the guys sent me their word doc after Christmas, I started work on the pages, embellishing each one with elements from their main illustration as finishing touches. I was chuffed they wanted to include a Wedding Map with directions too, I love creating these and it was a good excuse to look through lots of gorgeous images of Chaucer Barn to paint from, it certainly brought back many happy memories.

When I picked the proof up from my printer I let out an audible squeak! Seeing one of my pieces come to fruition after being in my mind for almost a year was amazing. I’m particularly proud of this wedding invitation. I met with Abi, Rob & Jones for a drink to hand deliver their package and felt even prouder when I saw their faces. I’m happy to say they love them. It’s that very moment which warms my heart and reinforces why I made the leap to being self-employed, it truly is worth it.

Now these little books have happy homes, I’ll stop yapping so you can see the invites in all their glory. Enjoy.

There’s still more to come for the lovely Abi & Rob as they’ll be commissioning me to create some ‘on the day’ stationery too, so watch this space to see how the collection grows come September.

If you’re looking for an original wedding invitation that holds everything you need to share with your guests alongside giving them that ‘wow’ feeling (it also makes an awesome keepsake!) then a Little Bespoke Book Wedding Invitation might be what you’re looking for. Drop me an e-mail at hello@frogandpencil.com for all enquiries, I’d love to chat to you and hear about your wedding day.

Until next time, have a wonderful week!

Cx

Lucy & Rory’s Wedding Invitations.

Hello all,

Yippeee, I’m very excited to share one of my latest commissions with you all today; Lucy and Rory’s Wedding Invitations.

I met these two at the fab Oxnead Wedding Show and I remember us all having quite a good natter about their stationery. They contacted me a few weeks later looking for some personal invitations but with quite a quick turn around.

Lucy told me how much they both loved my portraits and asked if the illustration could feature their children too, rather than just her and Rory. I thought this was such a delightful idea to include them, it’s a whole family affair after all. They wished to personalise it further by incorporating their children’s names within the garland along with the words ‘love’ and ‘family’. It makes me so happy when couples put their own spin on a design, it truly makes it unique to them.

Overall, I created an invite for both day and evening guests and a cute RSVP card where they included a quirkily worded ‘yes’ or ‘no’ option for attending, certainly up Frog & Pencil’s street! Their package of wedding stationery goodness (including the original watercolour painting) was shipped over to them just before Christmas (what a lovely early chrimbo gift!) and it’s not too long now until their big day.

I thoroughly enjoyed creating these invitations and I get a kick out of all their personal details. I want to wish Lucy & Rory a wonderful wedding day with all their loved ones and here’s to a happy future together as Mr & Mrs.

If you would like something similar to Lucy & Rory for your lovely wedding day then hop of over to frogandpencil.com to discover more.  For all enquiries, e-mail me at hello@frogandpencil.com for a little chat about any of your papery needs; I look forward to hearing from you.

There’s a couple more post’s in the pipeline, so keep your eyes peeled for those. Until then, have a hoppin’ brilliant week.

Ciao for now,

Cx

Hoptastic Highlights: Year 1

Hello all,

As promised, here’s a wee post outlining a bunch of key moments that stand out for me from my first year of running Frog & Pencil.

HIGHLIGHT 1: WEBSITE & PESKY SEO

Ooooh boy, the website was a labour of love! I’ve spoken about it previously and I’m so proud of what Lewie & I achieved with our site; I still think it looks great today. Completing frogandpencil.com really meant that I could officially launch this little business of mine. With a year under my belt now, I have a better understanding of what I offer and create and in turn this shines a light on what my website now needs to provide. This means that there are some changes in the pipeline to make it clearer and more accessible for me to update; a big challenge for my tech guy as he’ll be putting together a swish CMS (content management system).

Hand in hand with the website is Frog & Pencil’s SEO ranking. This area is such a minefield for us, not to mention a proper headache! We read up A LOT on how to improve it and after dedicating so much time and energy into this beast, we’re seeing results. From being non-existent on google for months, we’re now on the first page for a bunch of key words. The one we’re delighted with right now is ‘ Wedding Stationery Norwich’ as we’re third in the list, wooohooo! A big ole thank you to Lew for his persistence on this one and as importantly, thank you to my Froggy Friends who link to me from their sites as a recommended supplier, it genuinely helps and I appreciate it.

The evolution of Frog & Pencil's website.

The evolution of Frog & Pencil’s website.

HIGHLIGHT 2: HELLO HIPPO COMMISSION

My first ever commission pinged into my inbox a few days after I launched. I still remember vividly jumping up and down in the lounge, exhilarated that someone wanted MY designs (and the fact that the contact form worked on the site)! It was a gem of a commission and right up my street. This couple were looking for a sweet way to announce their first pregnancy to friends and family and thought that a Frog & Pencil card featuring a Hippo Family would be a great way to do it. I loved creating this cute design and super proud that it was my first real commission. Baby was due in August, so congratulations on your new bundle and I hope you’re all enjoying family life.

hippo-family-setup

HIGHLIGHT 3: ABI & ROB

Another jump around the lounge and do a hoppy dance moment was inspired by the brilliant Abi & Rob. I met these two at A Most Curious Wedding Fair and they wanted me to create all their wedding stationery. Now, I can’t say too much at the moment as I’m still working on this commission…I promise you though, it’s going to be a cracker!

This is such a highlight for me not only because they’re my first wedding invite couple but more so in that these guys really understand what Frog & Pencil is about. This shows that there are people out there who want more quirky and personal choices, there is a place for Frog & Pencil.

I’ve thoroughly enjoyed getting to know these guys. What I really like about Abi & Rob is that they truly want to support small local businesses where they can when it comes to their big day and I praise that. It’s been a pleasure creating their wedding stationery and I can’t wait to show off their final invitation, it’s a beaut! For now you’ll have to make do with their awesome Save the Date.

Abi & Rob's Wedding Save our Date

Abi & Rob’s Wedding Save our Date

HIGHLIGHT 4: MEXICANA MADNESS

I simply cannot write a highlights post without mentioning the ‘phabulous’ collaboration I was a part of back in June. The Mexicana inspired photo shoot was such a wonderful day where I met awesome people and I’m thrilled that friendships have grown from it. I learnt a lot on that shoot, it was a real eye opener.

It was a brilliant experience to work with like-minded suppliers who have embraced the Frog & Pencil vibe. I can still remember this bundle of energy (Bigphatphotos Janie) coming towards me at the Wensum Valley Wedding Fair exclaiming how she’d seen my work online and thought I’d be perfect for this idea of hers. From that little meeting, Diego & Frida were born.

I’m all for encouraging collaborations between suppliers. It’s a fantastic way for work to develop, to push traditions and to make ace contacts in the industry. I’m always pointing couples in the direction of these guys. I know they produce creative and amazing work and most importantly, you can trust them to deliver on your special day. I look forward to more bonkers photo shoots in the future.

Mexicana Photo shoot - image credit:Bigphatphotos

Mexicana Photo shoot – image credit:Bigphatphotos

HIGHLIGHT 5: THE INDUSTRY

This ties in nicely with the collaboration highlight. I wrote in my last post how I’ve been pleasantly surprised with the Wedding Industry and how accepting it has been. I never expected to know so many wonderful local businesses after a year, the networking is starting to flourish. I honestly feel like a part of the gang and not such a newbie anymore and that means so much to me; I feel accepted. We simply didn’t know how Frog & Pencil would be perceived in the industry, it was a huge grey area but we’ve been welcomed, supported and encouraged. It feels amazing to know that in Norfolk there’s a change in the air, it’s not all about tradition.

 

HIGHLIGHT 6: OXNEAD WEDDING SHOW

I believe that exhibiting at Oxnead was a turning point for Frog & Pencil. It may have been the fact that we had some experience under our belts, or that we’d evaluated and made a new plan or that we had a whole new wedding fair set up but somewhere in that beautiful venue I found a new confidence. Perhaps it’s a combination of all the above and starting to feel accepted but I came away from that show buzzing and super positive about the future. Off the back of it I’ve had enquiries, a wedding invitation commission (to be unveiled soon!) and a handful of bridesmaid card orders. From this point, it started to feel like we’d landed on the right lily pad.

Final Frog & Pencil set up for the Oxnead Wedding Show.

Frog & Pencil’s stall at the Oxnead Wedding Show is ready to go!

HIGHLIGHT 7: EDP BRIDE WEDDING AWARDS

Holy guacamole, what a year! And the ‘water lily’ on the top was discovering that I’d made it as a finalist in the EDP Bride Wedding Awards. I was over the moon to be in this position and the pride that I felt was overwhelming. A finalist for Best Wedding Stationery Provider isn’t too shabby after being in the business just under a year. I might not have come home with an award but I am very honoured to have even been considered. And just think, I almost chickened out…it’s amazing what you can achieve when you believe and love what you do.

Frog & Pencil celebrating at the EDP Bride Wedding Awards.

Frog & Pencil celebrating at the EDP Bride Wedding Awards. Finalist for Best Wedding Stationery Provider.

HIGHLIGHT 8: SIMPLY BELIEVE

When I think back over the last 365 or so days of living and breathing Frog & Pencil, the main thing that strikes me is how I’ve evolved. I studied Illustration at University and after three pretty awful years I came away not knowing my style, who I was as an artist and I didn’t want anything to do with it. I can safely say, it left me at an all time low. I don’t know how I managed to graduate and I still get a sinking feeling in the pit of my stomach when I walk past the Art School…and I left six years ago.

Today, I’ve fallen in love with what I do. I’m passionate about what I create and I believe in what I do. I believe in me. It’s taken a while, I’m almost 33 but I’m so lucky to have found my inner Frog. I’m growing in confidence every day and I can see it evolve in my work. I feel privileged and I’m delighted that I can create work that makes people smile. How could that not be a highlight!?!

believe

Simply believe.

This year has been wonderful and after a week of being poorly/injured, tonight we’re finally going to celebrate this milestone.

Wishing you all a great weekend and I’ll be posting more Frog & Pencil goodness in the coming week.

‘Til then lovelies, chin chin!

Cx

A Froggy Catch up…

Hello you lovelies.

Holy sprouts there’s only a few days left until Christmas, I don’t know about you guys but I can’t quite believe we’re in December let alone Chrimbo. The past six weeks have been pretty wonderful and I’ve been busy and working hard at Frog & Pencil HQ and doing the odd bit of work for SeaChange Arts. There are so many posts swirling around in my head and just not enough time to write them, hence the serious lack of content recently.

So, I’ve decided to write a catch up post to give you a brief overview of what’s been happening recently and we can start afresh in January. Bust out your mince pies, your favourite festive tipple and enjoy.

Where we left off….

Following from my last post I was preparing for The Most Unusual Wedding Fair at Godwick Great Barn. This is a brilliant wedding fair for the type of couple who’s looking for something a little different, a little boho, a little festival and a little unusual; this kinda fair is my bag. This years theme was ‘Wild Bohemia’ and I had so much fun getting my stall ready. I chose a colour palette of greens, grey, rich jewel tones and metallics with the idea of creating the feeling of an autumnal forest floor.

This involved buying reindeer moss, spraying pumpkins and munchkins (how adorable is a munchkin!) in copper, gold and cream and making tiny mushrooms out of clay. I also wanted to incorporate perspex into my signage seeing as this is a trend for 2017 and my hubby and I spent an evening making wooden holders to sit the signs in. (He loves it when he comes home and I mention that I’ve had an idea!) To top it off I recycled my newly acquired paper flower skills to make a new batch to fit my colour scheme. I think it looked pretty damn special, I loved it.

On the day the weather was TERRIBLE but that didn’t stop all our lovely couples from flooding over. Godwick was packed full of excellent suppliers and it was a great experience for me. I look forward to taking part again in the new year.

Frog & Pencil's Wedding Stationery stand at TMUWF

Frog & Pencil’s stand at The Most Unusual Wedding Fair 2016 at Godwick Great Barn

I took a week off in the middle of November to recharge after the wedding fair season and I was strict when it came to work. I unplugged, enjoyed time with Lewie in York and truly relaxed. It was just what I needed and I came back feeling energised.

During the wedding fairs I ran a competition for people to win a couples watercolour portrait. This was super popular and having chosen two lovely winners I created their illustrations. It felt so good to draw and paint again after so much prep for the fairs and I was happy with the final results…so were Holly and Chloe, phew!

At this time I picked up a brilliant commission for wedding invitations (woohooo!). L&R are getting married early spring next year and wanted something quickly. I remember chatting to them at the Oxnead Wedding Show and was very excited that they got in touch. They asked to have a family portrait with a personalised garland as their main illustration and an RSVP card. I love this illustration, I think it’s such a sweet idea to include their children on the invites too. These are still to be posted to guests so no sneak peeks for now…keep your eyes peeled.

I met the fabulous Lou from Lou Lou Loves Vintage at Oxnead too and she has commissioned me to create her a new business logo. It was great visiting her home and seeing her creative space and super helpful to generate ideas. This is a work in progress but in the new year it will be ready to unveil.

Networking has been wonderful for Frog & Pencil this year and I’ve met so many amazing, like-minded suppliers who inspire me. A brief chat on Instagram led to a tasty meeting with Philippa from The Little Party Company. She makes adorable and yummy favours, treats and styling for celebrations and she wants to collaborate with me. We have talked through some ideas but I’m raring to get stuck into this properly in the new year. I have a feeling this is going to be a cracking collaboration.

Speaking of collaboration I also created a card for Victoria at The Bottom Drawer Bridal (looking for your wedding dress gals, make an appointment; you’ll love it). She wanted to give her brides thank you cards at an upcoming event and instead of buying from a generic card store asked if I could make something. Time was pretty short, so I recycled an old illustration which was perfect and made for a cute card. I hope to work with Victoria again in the future, I adore her dresses.

This deserves its own post but my bridesmaid cards have also proven really popular and I’ve been delivering them all over the place. It’s encouraging because I want to make more pieces like these; small purchases which are easily printed and restocked. The new year will see the birth of a Frog & Pencil online shop, I can’t wait!

If you’re looking for a fun way to ask your favourite gal pals to be in your bride tribe, give them one of my postcards. £2.50 each and they come with an envelope, just email hello@frogandpencil.com to enquire.

Will your be my bridesmaid cards by Frog & Pencil

Frog & Pencil’s Will You Be My Bridesmaid? postcard selection.

I’ve been saving the BEST news till last…

After umming and urring over the EDP Bride Wedding Awards I decided to enter Frog & Pencil for Best Newcomer. Having been given an encouraging little nudge, I also put myself forward for Best Stationer. I had zero expectations but thought why not just give it a go and see, what do I have to lose?

To my delight I was shortlisted in both categories! This meant a judges visit for one award and I had to send a package for the other with example of my work. Then came the big news that floored me…I made it as a finalist for Best Wedding Stationery Provider.

I literally cried for about twenty minutes in front of my laptop re-reading the e-mail. I am over the moon and still in shock to be in the running. I’m also bloody proud of what I’ve achieved in these ten short months. The competition is tight but I’m just exited to be there and to experience the big event in January. There’s a fancy awards dinner where the winners will be announced. For me, it’s a night to enjoy seeing my hubby in a tux and to celebrate the wonderful talent that’s in this county.

The icing on the cake…

Yesterday I had a call from the EDP Bride Awards Team who were happy to inform me that Frog & Pencil has been shortlisted for a judges visit for the Wedding Innovation Award. Wow! This award is for businesses or individuals who bring new and innovative ideas to the industry that benefit and move the Norfolk wedding community forward. I’m simply honoured to be considered as I’ve worked so hard to develop and create alternative wedding stationery products for couples. For all those tough moments, it now truly feels like I did the right thing and I’m on the right path.

Keep those fingers crossed :).

This brings me to the end of my catch up post and as you can see it’s been a bit of a whirlwind…scrap that, this whole year has been a whirlwind. Starting out in February the year ahead of me was a blank sheet of paper waiting for an adventure to begin. It’s been difficult and it’s been glorious and those moments by far outshine the down days.

I’ve loved every commission I’ve worked on and thoroughly enjoyed meeting my awesome couples. Thank you for putting your wedding stationery trust in my hands. Business has been a slow burner but I’ve grabbed all the opportunities thrown at me to network and I have met incredibly talented people in this industry. There is an abundance of creativity in this beautiful county so thank you to those who inspire me to be better.

There’s still a few months to go until Frog & Pencil’s first birthday so I’ll save my highlights for then. I just want to say that it feels like everything is falling into place and I couldn’t have imagined to be ending 2016 on such a high. So, this is me signing off for the year. It’s been a pleasure blogging (when I get the chance) and I hope you still enjoy the content. Lots of ideas in the 2017 pipeline, so I hope you stick around.

Wishing you all a blooming fabulous Christmas and a bright new year. Here’s to a fresh sheet of paper and I can’t wait for Frog & Pencil’s 2017 adventure!

Lots of love,

Cx

Frog & Bear celebrating at Frog & Pencil's first christmas party,

Frog & Bear celebrating at Frog & Pencil’s first christmas party and wishing you all a very merry christmas! x

 

Mr & Mrs Piggy Ready-to-Write Wedding Invitation

A Froggy Process

Hello there!

I hope you all had a wonderful bank holiday weekend and were able to grab a chance to enjoy the sunshine. I’m back at Frog & Pencil HQ after some time away and I’m feeling refreshed and ready to hop to it.

I’ve had this post stored in the depths of my brain for a while now and I finally have some current work to use to help illustrate my points and generally pretty the page up a bit. Occasionally I meet and speak with people who don’t quite realise how much time and effort goes into creating a new design and exactly what that entails. So, I’d like to share with you how I work, from initial idea through to final product; my Froggy process.

For the purpose of this post I’m going to use my new Mr & Mrs Piggy Design.

CONCEPT

Inspiration can strike at any point and I’m influenced by nature and the gorgeous colour combinations you can find all around us. I love hearing people’s stories and more often than not these turn on my creative lightbulb. If I’m working with a client, I listen to what they are envisaging, include personal touches and then sketch up some potential ideas for them to look through.

Lovely Kate contacted me via Facebook as she was looking for a wedding card for her brother-in-law and she desperately wanted something featuring pigs but couldn’t find one anywhere. I don’t usually create one-off cards however after talking with her for a while I started to picture what it could look like and I was getting quite excited about the prospect of it. I concluded that it would be a brilliant design for my next Ready-to-Write wedding invitation which I could then transform into a card for Kate (and others); a win win situation.

SKETCHING

Now, my sketches are really not the most beautiful drawings in the world but they do enable me to have what I like to call, a ‘brain dump’. I can splurge all my thoughts onto paper and tweak certain ideas before refining the good ones. It’s all about working up the right composition (including a garland with bespoke detailing), and some days are easier and quicker than others. It can either take me an hour or up to a day to get this right.

Thankfully with the pigs I already had quite a clear vision and it only required a few scribbles. With a final composition completed, I use my light box to reproduce this design onto good quality watercolour paper.

PAINTING WITH WATERCOLOUR

I love this bit…it is where I see my illustrations come to life! This is also usually the part where within a few brush strokes I decide I hate it! In almost every case I get this overwhelming feeling that it’s now utter rubbish. However, I have learnt to trust in my ability and believe that it will all come together.

When I begin to paint I already have in mind a rough sense of the colours I’ll be using for the main characters. Throughout my creative years and experimentation with style, I’ve had one constant, I’m a colourist. I love playing with different tones and making them pop.

Working with watercolour I find that you have to be patient and allow time for the paint to dry. I’m quite precise with my colours and I don’t want any unnecessary bleeds. So, with that in mind and depending on the level of detail within the design, painting my illustrations take at least six hours.

At this point, if I’m making something for a client, I will e-mail over a scanned image of the final piece so they can see how it’s progressing.

PHOTOSHOP

Ahh, my good friend Photoshop, how I have sworn at thee a million times. If we were a Facebook item our relationship status would read ‘it’s complicated’. I think it’s pretty amazing what you can do with this programme however my skills are limited but I manage fine and can navigate it with what I need to know…and youtube helps A LOT!

Additionally, I never ever want to lose the handmade touch in my work as that’s me, so I really only use Photoshop for a few things. Mainly, as a tool to tidy up my work once it’s scanned in. I always create a ‘clean’ file where I erase any pesky pixels and make sure the illustration edges are smooth; then the image can be transferred to any project with ease. Once I’ve created a Ready-to-Write wedding invitation for example, I can experiment with background colours, introduce text and brighten the illustration a smidge so that it’s print ready. This can be a bloomin’ lengthy process. To clean the image so it looks excellent digitally can take me around three hours…even more if there are lots of fiddly elements which makes me super cross-eyed. I’m sure there is a simpler option, drop me a line if you know one.

And let’s not forget my other pal InDesign, oh we do have fun! This is more of a publishing programme which is ideal for aligning and producing more text heavy design, such as the reverse of my Ready-to-Write wedding invitations. This can take me a while to work with, but I currently have a nice template in place where I can simply edit the typography; hurrah! As you can probably tell, I much prefer making the work over the digital delights.

This final design would then be sent over to my client to get their approval before it heads to my printer.

Clean file of Mr & Mrs Piggy Illustration

Clean digital file of Mr & Mrs Piggy illustration ready to be transformed into a Ready-to-Write Wedding Invitation.

PRINTING

Once I’ve had the nod from my lovely client, we are ready to print. I’ve been quite lucky and have found a local printer who’s reliable, quick and his prices are reasonable too…oh and of course the final result looks glorious! I always ask for a proof so that I can review the colours. If they’re a bit off, it’s back to my favourite friend Photoshop for a bit of tweaking. I will never send anything to a client or sell a product that I’m not 100% happy with, so this is a crucial part of the process. This too takes time. Thankfully we have a nice relationship and usually I can see a proof by the end of the day. After that, it’s around a 24 to 48 hour wait for the final prints depending on their work load.

PACKAGING & POSTAGE

With the invites hot off the press, it’s time to package and post. I like to include a handwritten thank you note and it’s finished off with a Frog & Pencil sticker before making a trip to the post office.

BUT IT DOESN’T END THERE…

Nope, the process continues on after a client has received their goodies. As a small business I need to keep up with my social media accounts and promote myself. Showing off recent work is key to drumming up new commissions. This includes taking good photographs of my illustrations and the final pieces in eye-catching and interesting compositions. We then revisit Photoshop for some more editing, cropping, resizing and brightening so they’re primed for the web. Be it for Facebook, Twitter, Instagram, my Frog & Pencil Website or this blog, it’s all important work that takes up more of your time then you’d think.

And there you have it, my Froggy process. I regularly need to remind myself of this structure for when it comes to pricing up quotes as all of these fundamental parts need to be considered so that I don’t undersell myself. It’s tricky, but I love it and I’m getting there.

On a final note, if you’re interested in purchasing my new Mr & Mrs Piggy Ready-to-Write Wedding Invitations or Congratulations Wedding Card, get in touch and say hello, I’d love to hear from you.

Until next time,

Cx

Frog & Pencil outside Not On The High Street HQ after her Pitch!

Carpe Diem; My PitchUp2016 Experience.

Hello all.

Last Saturday the day finally arrived. With a tummy full of butterflies, my hubby and I were on an early train heading to London for PitchUp2016!

Throughout the previous two weeks, it felt like I lived and breathed this pitch.  I thoroughly researched, carefully chose my products to discuss and nailed down a good structure that would tell my story, show off my products and also touch upon what makes me unique and why I would appeal to a Not On The High Street (NOTHS) customer.

I was feeling pretty confident about my 10 minute pitch and my first run-through came in at 15 minutes…bugger! Even though I have a background in marketing, editing isn’t my strong point. Thank goodness for Lewie! He listened to my spiel and section by section helped me to trim the fat until we were running at just under 9 minutes; genius!

The day before, I was champing at the bit.  I’d successfully completed several rehearsals without glancing at my notes, found a pitch perfect dress and my bags were packed and good to go by early evening.  All I needed was a quality sleep. Hah, good luck Mrs! Sometimes, I hate my brain. I am prone to bouts of insomnia and it kicked in big time, I think I managed three hours and I was NOT a happy Frog!

Luckily, I’m a positive person, so I managed to shake off the rocky nights sleep and focus.  We made it to the train and settled in for the journey, however I couldn’t get rid of my sickly feeling.

We hopped into Richmond with an hour and a half to wait.  We found a nice quiet pub, bought two orange juices and lemonades and I nearly fell off my chair when a £10 note didn’t cover it…I’ve never made a drink last so long in my life. Nonetheless it gave me time to change, calm my nerves and go through it one last time.

At 1.45pm I topped up my lippy, popped on my heels and made my way to NOTHS House.

I was greeted by friendly receptionists and headed to the 3rd floor. The room was filled with experts and suppliers; the atmosphere was buzzing! Looking around, I felt super overdressed as most people were pretty casual. As I waited, I chatted to a lovely jewellery designer Ruby. It turns out we’d already spoken via my blog and twitter, what a sweet coincidence!

As my name was called, I took a deep breath and I was set to seize the moment.

On reflection, it was a positive experience although I’m not a partner…yet! A few minutes into my pitch I felt like I was over prepared, it seemed like my presentation was a bit unexpected. I didn’t even finish what I had planned to say or ask my questions. To sum it up, she loved my products. I showed her my Little Bespoke Book, Ready-to-Write, Portraits and my Alpaca collaboration pieces (still currently top-secret) to show them what a semi-bespoke collection could look like from Frog & Pencil.

Her feedback was great.  She really enjoyed my Little Bespoke Book, especially how personal it could be and hadn’t seen anything like it before. However, her concern, like mine, was the simple fact that it’s too Bespoke for their website to handle. She liked my use of colour, admired my illustrative designs and thought that I had a great eye for detail which was all a nice little confidence boost. She believed there is a gap in their market for Ready-to-Writes and would like to see me develop those further along with my semi-bespoke collections.

She liked my portraits and suggested I speak with the Home Team and proceeded to sign me up. Thankfully, I brought loads of examples of my work, including other portrait pieces. I chatted with the Home Team who liked my designs but they already have a partner who paints people in a similar style. They suggested I come up with new ideas for designs that include my personal elements but without the garland and then to e-mail those over. This is a tough one. I believe that the garlands I paint are essentially my signature.  I’ve spent years battling to find my style and now I have it, do I want to change it?  I don’t want to discount their helpful suggestion so It’s certainly a point I need to spend some serious time considering.

Overall it was an excellent experience and I’m happy I signed up. Not only to gain their advice but I discovered so much about my business in these last few weeks and that is invaluable.  It’s also always beneficial to push yourself and wander out of your comfort zone for a while. Alongside that, it’s exciting to know that they connected with my work and it’s something that could sell on their marketplace.

Be that as it may, I wish they had given a little more input into what those minutes would be like. All we had to work from was to sign up for a ten minute pitch, bring a maximum of five products to discuss and that they shouldn’t be too big.  It’s quite an open brief. I spent a lot of time working on this and I won’t lie, there were points where I stressed myself out so much I was quite emotional. It didn’t need to get that far. Essentially, it was a casual talk about what I do and I didn’t need to prepare as much as I had.

My advice to those who are going up to pitch is this. It’s a very relaxed environment and I would treat it like a chat. Know your products/business inside out and be prepared to maybe answer questions on why you’re unique and why you would appeal to a NOTHS customer. But I certainly wouldn’t have called it a ‘Pitch’, it obviously meant something different to me. Additionally, wear something that you’re comfortable in. Even though I felt pitch ready in my outfit, being so overdressed did make me feel a little self conscious…which is stupid right!? But it happens.

I truly appreciate the time and guidance. Like I said it’s an experience I’m pleased I went through and I picked up a lot which is always priceless.

I have to remember that I’m still a newbie and everything is a learning curve. My plan now is to work on my semi-bespoke ideas and create new Ready-to-Writes to present on my return. In the meantime, I have products made and waiting to sell, so I may set up an Etsy shop or apply to sell on Folksy; stick around and we’ll see where that leads.

Thank you to NOTHS for seeing me and if you’ve signed up for future events I wish you all the best of luck!

Until next time you lovely bunch,

Cx