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

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

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