Hop Hop Hippo!!!

Hello there!

It has been BUSY up here at Frog & Pencil HQ, hence the lack of posts of late but in the coming weeks I have quite a few exciting things to write about, so you should see a rise in my blogging.

A few days after we launched the Frog & Pencil website a lovely little gem of an e-mail pinged its way into my inbox. My first, official web enquiry for a commission. Both Lewie and I were ecstatic…I was hopping around the lounge with excitement because a real live human being wanted me to make something for them and Lew was jumping around, proud that the web contact form works and was successful! Needless to say, we were rather happy.

The very wonderful S is pregnant with her first child and wanted to announce their joyous news with a card to send to family and friends. She had seen my work on Facebook and liked my style, so after checking out my website she got in touch. S was looking for an illustration that had a pink mummy hippo, a grey daddy hippo and a baby hippo popping out behind them, with the line ‘We would like to introduce you to someone’ alongside them. And on the back she envisioned ‘Delivery expected August 2016’. I instantly thought this sounded ADORABLE and such a sweet idea; a nice alternative to sharing the news on social media. This commission was just my cup of tea and I was delighted to create a card for S and her Husband.

We chatted a while about any additional embellishment such as a garland, however, it was decided to keep the design pretty simple with a little decoration to compliment the hippos.

I absolutely loved working on this commission, it was a really fun project and it also helped me to figure out what my packaging style would become too. It’s been a couple of weeks since I posted all the goodies to S and her Husband, which thankfully arrived safe and sound. Along with the final cards, I included envelopes, a thank you card, my business card and the original painting which I believe will be perfect hung up in the nursery. I’m proud to say that they’re thrilled with their hippo card and I was very chuffed to receive some brilliant feedback.

Commission Feedback

Here you have it folks, Frog & Pencil’s first commission…enjoy the hippo gallery!

Walking my first parcel to the Post Office, I was overcome with pride and I can’t wait to create more designs to make future clients smile.

As you can see, I don’t just illustrate loveliness for weddings; I’ve actually just finished a Christening Invitation (which will be posted on here next week). If you, like S, enjoy what I do and have a special announcement or want to mark a particular occasion, get in touch, I’d love to chat to you! E-mail me here… hello@frogandpencil.com

Wishing S and her Husband all the best for the future with their mini hippo of joy. A massive thank you for asking me to make your card and also for supporting an independent small business.

I hope you’re all having a marvellous Wednesday and not getting too soggy, I’m off to get ready for my first Wedding Fair…more on that later!

Cx

Frog & Pencil has Landed!

Hello there!

Bust out your best little Froggy dance because it’s now official!  After months of preparation and a whole lot of love and dedication, Frog & Pencil has launched.

I am incredibly honoured to introduce to you, my lovely website, www.frogandpencil.com

To say that i’m completely chuffed would be an understatement; i’m over the moon with the end result and so happy that I can now share it with the world. From the get go, Lewie and I wanted to create a site that was clean, professional, user/mobile friendly, and to be the best platform to showcase my work and I believe we’ve ticked every box.

It’s taken us a few months but since the beginning of the year, we have lived and breathed frogandpencil.com and I’ve thoroughly enjoyed the whole process. Yes, there were quite a few hurdles in our path, but throw in a handful of profanities with a hell of a lot of grit and we jumped over every single one! There were plenty of highlights too, the best one being able to spend more time with Lew, working together and bouncing ideas off one another; I’ve loved every moment.

Watching Lew work his coding magic has been a pleasure, I didn’t think I could be more proud of my husband but after this project I have a higher respect for what he does for a living. Thank you Lew for bringing life to our website and for all your support and belief; I love you Bear 🙂 (by the way…if you’re into computer languages, my clever hubby write’s a blog about his random coding journeys, check it out here…Bear and Hammer).

Soppy bit over, I promise.

Every launch deserves to be celebrated! Well, last Saturday we threw a party at Frog & Pencil HQ and invited a few close friends and family. We cracked open some bubbly and hired the amazing Pandora’s Kitchen to cater our special event. We indulged on BBQ Pulled Pork with all the trimmings, followed by Salted Caramel Brownies, it was delicious. If you’re ever in Norwich, stop by their friendly cafe and say hello to Jeff and the gals, you’re in for a treat!

Check out the Frog & Pencil Launch gallery below for a peek into the evening.

It was a lovely, relaxed night and I’m so happy that we did something to mark this important moment in my life. Anything’s possible if you set your mind to it, right?

Please do hop on over to the website and browse the pages. More importantly, if you know someone with a special occasion coming up, direct them to frogandpencil.com or share, share, share; I’d very much appreciate it.

The Frog & Pencil future is bright and I’m excited to see where we leap to; I hope you stick around for the journey.

Love what you do.

Cx

It’s All Hotting Up…

Hello there!

Things have been getting rather busy over here at Frog & Pencil HQ which is why I haven’t had a chance to publish anything recently. I’ve bitten the bullet and set an official date to launch this little business and go live with the website…and it’s only a couple of weeks away, eeek! My saint of a husband and I have been getting our hustle on to make sure we have everything we need for the website (between you and I, it’s looking really good!).

It’s been an exciting, albeit sometimes frustrating process and I love that we can work together on it. Now, I have zero coding knowledge, that’s Lew’s department but I can bring my design eye to the table and it’s a dandy collaboration. As I said before, he’s a saint and has patiently listened, applied all the changes and minute pixel tweaks that I want to make, there have been plenty! He’s also learnt that when I say ‘I don’t hate it’ to a particular element, that means we need to modify it. I’m in complete awe of his skills! Lew’s never said ‘No, we can’t do that’, he will always find a solution and I adore him even more for it.

The website is starting to come together and I’m hyped to be popping on all the final content shortly. Watch this space…it’ll be up and running in no time!

Alongside all those shenanigans, I’ve been finalising the designs that I want to display on the site. Everything has now been sent to the printers and I’m excited to see the final results. Once these are through, I will attempt to take some kick ass ‘I want to hire her’ photographs ready to use on the website. I’m keeping my fingers crossed for some good weather so that I have lovely light to work with. It could result in me busting out an epic sunshine dance or two.

This week I completed my Lovebirds Wedding Invitation. This is the first design that will be a part of my Ready to Write collection. Ready to Write’s are a budget friendly option for couples who like my style but funds are tight. These will be a simple invite with a lovely image on the front and you write on the back, filling in the blank spaces. I created a pair of Lovebirds and I’m thrilled with how they’ve turned out…I think they are my best illustrations to date and I hope that others will love them too.

 

The future plan for Ready to Write Invitations is to extend the collection with other designs and to include a Save the Date, RSVP and a Thank You card. But to kick things off with, I think these guys are pretty damn delightful.

In the pipeline for the upcoming week I’ll be writing website content, planning the Frog & Pencil launch party (gotta celebrate this moment!), making an appointment with the bank and hopefully start photographing my work.

Not long now; it’s feeling so real I could burst!

Have a brilliant weekend.

Love what you do.

Cx

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

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