Spoonflower Contest – Bright Reptiles

After I completed my patterns and was happy for this one to be submitted, I had a mad moment of questioning whether chameleons were reptiles, but luckily they are so the last few hours were not a total waste of time.

The shape of the chameleon is quite interesting, I actually went back to using an offset kind of messy outline for this one because it was hard to define its limbs and things without using these. I think this worked well though to define the edges. It is quite hard to tell but the body is shaded and coloured with a rough skin kind of texture effect which I think looked effective to help that brightness that I was going for and helping to shape the creature too.

I think I prefer the greeny-blue background to the pink one, but I definitely think the pink has value within the patterns.

I created some bright designs to go along with the main design which I think has worked well. The fern type images are quite effective with these outlines I think, they have a different look to them with the outline, more graphic. I added a kind of water drop effect to add a texture to the leaves too which I think makes them bolder.

Professional Practice Progress and Self-Check-In

I have been steadily working towards what I know I need to do for professional practice, just looking at what my cohort have already completed and talking to my friend and housemate, Elin. I spent some time a few days ago looking through the module handbook and trying to find as much resources as I can for professional practice, honestly to not much luck.

I made myself a little list of things I would include in my last presentation of action I have already taken and things that I want to do as I did find out that essentially professional practice is an action, what do I intend to do next after uni?

This is a difficult question for me in a number of ways, first of all, my health. I have not been able to consistently do what I need to every day, one day I could feel fine and manage to even drive a good distance, but other days I could be very anxious and not leave my workroom, but work and my patterns and art has been a good outlet for me. I could focus on them for hours and then suddenly the day is nearly over and I can go to bed and try again tomorrow. However, this means I could not see myself coping well with a job right now, the isolation also does not help and I feel anxious around people, so I have started going to shops and going out more to try and get back into society and try and solve some of these issues as I want to keep the option of a job open for myself. Because of my health also, I went part-time on the course for a short time which meant my next year would be spent finishing off the course, so my next steps towards my future were not as pressing as they are right now that I am finishing the course this year. And finally, Covid-19, the graduate job market has been affected, the housing market has been affected, so these were things that I wanted to work around in my plan, and have a plan essentially that I could put into action no matter what is happening or where I end up.

So the first thing I thought about was my press pack, I have been working on my business cards and I think they are ready to go after my tutorial a few weeks ago with Suzanna. I would like to show these to someone one more time for some feedback before I send them to print because that is very final. I think I then managed to insert the kind of formula that I wanted and made quite a cohesive collection including a postcard, personal statement, CV etc. I think I will expand this to include ‘Thank you for ordering’ cards, maybe think about an email signature and continue to expand my CV and skills to go onto it and my LinkedIn profile, which I have started actively posting some of my work on.

I think I will also talk about my portfolio website that I created, I think this is important as the handbook mentions ‘exampe of professional web presence’ so I think this represents this well, as well as my LinkedIn and business Instagram page, and also covers a digital portfolio of my work which I cannot wait to put my graduate collection on too.

I also want to cover workshops I have done, I need to keep a list of these as I have taken a few since lockdown, with the University, with the careers service and also workshops and classes on Skillshare and Careercake. I have also taken a few free workshops with the General Assembly and some small businesses I have seen on various design social media sites.

I have also actively been taking part in contests, particularly the Spoonflower contests, which I think most importantly has shown me how to make things more marketable and attractive to the general public. The contests are judged by likes and it is encouraging to see a general rise in my number of likes I get per week, with my jellyfish one doing well, then my Canadian Wildlife one doing well, and currently my Ice Cream Truck design getting about forty likes today which is really great to see. I also entered an OhhDeer pillow contest and will try to do their new contest now for the box design, hopefully I think have some time!

Next I think I need to cover what actually happens next? What can I actually do with the presspacks?

So I think my main options would be:

– Further study

– My own business

– A job or internship

I have looked into further study before and it seems like the only place I can actually do a Surface Pattern Design masters is in Swansea, which may be an option next year, I do not think I could dive straight back into education now, especially after finishing so late in the summer. I would get a couple of weeks free and then have to jump straight in again, and things are very different now with the virus, I would consider doing a remote degree because I have coped well with this situation now and become very independent as a designer. I think my next step in this aspect would be to talk to the careers service to discuss my options at Cardiff Met as Textiles does not have a page dedicated to a masters but I thought past students said about doing it, so this is something I would like to find out, I did want to do the Cardiff Met Award’s Entrepreneurship extension too.

In terms of starting my business, I have created a business plan now. I think with my business ideas there is a lot going on, and I think keeping the costs down right now is important, but I have been looking at grants and bursaries for this and will continue to research these.

I have also applied for a couple of remote working jobs in the design industry, this is something I would definitely have a go at, remote working as I have said seems to suit me and I am being through a lot of work at the moment. I do struggle a little with my work-life balance and work usually takes over, but with a paid job this is something I could work on a lot better. I have also reached out and contacted a couple of design companies that I liked the look of and offered them my website link as a portfolio to have a look at.

I think finally I will add a slide that illustrates some researc into craft fairs and exhibitions in the future, this could be especially useful if I decide to go in my own business direction as it would be a good way to market myself. I think I should also include the last slide about the effect of Covid-19 on my work and my life and plans. Ultimately I think Covid-19 has shown me what is important, one main thing I would like to do next in life is move in with my boyfriend, who I know would be very supportive of my business. I think the most important thing that has come out of Covid-19 is that it is okay to be uncertain, it has been a stressful, scary year and a little break to just explore my options and create things that I like is also an option that should not be overlooked.

I think actually getting this down in writing has shown me what needs to be done still and what progress I have made, I also want to make a note for myself that there needs to be a reflective statement written for Professional Practice as well.

Spoonflower Contest – Aromatherapy

This week’s Spoonflower contest was aromatherapy, I do not know much about aromatherapy besides lavender supposedly helps with calmness and sleep, which is why I buy a lot of things with that scent. While I was researching I learnt more about the different essential oils and uses that can help with a lot of different things. I thought about what kind of smells I like, and started looking a few up, as I did not actually know what a lot of them looked like before they were put into the little oil bottles.

I started noticing quite a lot of flowers and decided maybe this was the way to go, I work with a lot of natural elements like foliage and branches and leaves, but I actually have not done too much with flowers and I do need to practice some because wildflowers are included in my graduate collection in some patterns I think. So I settled on Chamomile, Geranium and Yarrow, as I thought they were the most interesting and fun ones to do. I tried a really busy repeat where the background just wasn’t seen at all but I thought it looked way too much and busy.

So I tried a busy ish one here where there was not a huge amount of background left, but the negative space was used around each motif, and dots used to break it up a little. I also created this secondary design in the blue which was far more simple, I like this one too but I just did not feel the want to carry on creating patterns out of this and I wanted to move back on to my module work. I still feel like I could do more from my ice cream truck contest and I would like to expand this into some related themes too.

Developing my Press Pack

The first thing that I wanted to do was work on the business cards because I had a tutorial with Suzanne last week and we discussed how to improve these, I was not happy with them and I just could not figure out how to improve them. The solution ended up being simple, or rather making them more simple. I thought I needed to include a lot more on there that I think it needed, and when we cut down on this, the designs turned out a lot better.

I am much happier with this design, I was using an older pattern from my insect collection, a pink background with green leaves over the top, however I was noticing things about it that I would have liked to change, so I decided to use some motifs from a newer pattern and create a newer version of this. I like this pattern and the dots add an interesting kind of texture to it as well. The front is much more simpler, with my name clearly on the front with my small little title, we discussed removing this too but I wanted to brand myself as a surface pattern designer, as usually the business cards are used in the exhibition so its a given that this would be the same title for nearly everyone in the room, however I am thinking ahead for having potential orders on products and would like to have that title. The back again is simple and includes the key information, of my website, my email and my instagram handle, important ways to be able to contact me now.

I moved on to my CV and after chatting with Naeem in the careers service, he suggested some improvements I could make there, which included removing the photo (Some employers like them and some do not) and other things such as combining my work experience and employment and giving more detail on the skills I have described.

I also worked on a template for a postcard, which I would like to put two more patterns onto once I have created more in this style, whether this comes from my final Exposure collection, a pattern contest or even just creating them for the branding, as I think they do reflect my love of natural things well.

It is hard to tell in the actual digital images but the difference between the two drafts I created were the borders, the one had a white border around ti and the other one did not. When I printed these out I think I do prefer the one without a border, it makes for a more impactful design and bares the resemblance to my business cards as well then where my name and description are dark on the white background rectangle.

I also created a couple of templates for the personal statement to go on, which I suspect will be done a little later once I have had more time to start working on an actual pattern collection as I think I need to reflect a little in my personal statement. Again I tried a simple design similar to the business cards which I think works, but I do waste a little more room on it with my name where it is. The second design I love because of the transparency to the pattern behind, but still would make a good clear surface to write on. I also like the positioning of my name roughly as it will look more like I have signed it and I think this could be played with more when I have more of the writing down. I know this was a little different but keeping with the main pattern will tie in it nicely and allow for the layout to be changed slightly. I also thought about other documents, such as ‘Thank you for ordering’ cards, or little memos, that could carry on with these aesthetic too so it would not be the only thing like that. To be fair the CV is a little difference without the pattern, but for a more professional image I stuck to plain coloured squares and little watermark type motifs, although I think this does work because I think a pattern would make it far too busy, and I am able to add writing to the plain green box on it.

Mock Up Folder

Finally I had a go at a mock up of a folder, putting the personal statement, CV and postcard in the one side, and originally creating that little pocket on the only side for the business card, but I prefer the business card where it is now, just obviously it would be cut with better quality. I think we are supposed to add some more pattern designs into these, so I stuck them inside the little pocket instead, but I think a better way of doing this would be to add them to the background of the inside left bit and the outside of the folder too, then add a transparent box and a little welcome message instead.

Finished Cover

So this is what the final product looked like, using the same kind of pattern on the front, but this could definitely be an coordinating pattern, with a dark band and my logo holding it closed. I thought this did look good and I can definitely use this as a template in the future now for when I have more patterns and designs to choose from. This is by no means up to a professional standard, everything was printed onto plain printer paper and stuck together just to give me an idea of what I am working with. I am happy with the results and can not wait to develop this further.

Spoonflower Contest – Ice Cream Truck

I decided to start a little early on my spoonflower contest design this week, I have been sewing and making all week and my hands were hurting. The theme was ice cream truck, which was exciting and I started to collect inspiration images of ice creams and lolly pops, and I came across a tutorial for making fruit frozen into ice lollies, which I thought looked very cool, and avoided the obvious kind of branded lollies and ice creams. Although I do plan on revisiting the idea of ice cream and confectionery again because I enjoyed using the bright colours and challenging myself.

Hero Design

I created the hero design using a range of motifs of the lollies, which I created on Procreate on the Ipad using a lot of layers, and I also wanted to use the fruits as motifs too because there is quite a bit of shading and detail in them and the transparency of the ‘iced’ lollies covers up the brightness of the colour too. I also took the shape of the pips and seeds in the kiwi and watermelons and used this as a little texture detail in the background. I think these do look a little like ice cream sprinkles too, and I think that these would have worked too because I was thinking of adding ice cream, but this could definitely be another sister collection or something.

I created a couple of ice lolly secondaries basically just experimenting with different colorways and how the colours worked together, I particularly think the purple and yellow, this is a colour scheme I tried in my first year and never really revisited until now, basically anything with the yellow did turn out better than I expected, it was bold and bright.

I decided to have a go at some repeats just using the fruit motifs as like I said, they were quite bright and I wanted to try and make the most of these designs. Aain I found some nice mixes of colours such as the red and purple and the yellow and purple, and the others were focused more on phrases, ‘lemon and lime’ and ‘oranges and lemons’ are known taste combinations, I am not so sure about the others, not sure I would eat a grape and a lemon together!

Finally I created some blenders just simply using the seed idea and combining it with a lot of colourways. I think this could be used more and a lot more colour combinations used and combined, but I stopped at four to show the overall effect of it.

Lockdown Your Career Workshop

Today I attended another careers service workshop, called Lockdown your Career, which basically focused on what we could be doing now to further ourselves professionally during this time of being stuck at home. It was described as being productive rather than just binge watching Netflix, but my problem is that I am very much still in the middle of my final module. I have over a month or maybe even two left before my deadline, which by that point could leave me in a place where the world is opening up around me while I am still indoors doing my work.

I am enjoying my work at the moment, my final module based on woodland creatures is something I enjoy drawing and stitching, trying to make it as realistic or pleasing as possible at the moment. Although this really is not leaving me a lot of time to do anything else, so I am hoping that I do get some more spare time after this to work on myself in the aspects that the workshop covers.

We spoke about doing a SWOT analysis, I usually do one of these at least one a year, and did one I think at the start of this module in January, before I thought I was not going to do it this year. We were also told to consider what skills are missing, for me I believe this could be something like illustrator and in-design, because I struggled with patterns in general until this year, when I finally was able to create them on photoshop I did not look back. Illustrator does run really slowly on my laptop, but this is something I would like to have a go at and learn about more on Skillshare, because it is clearly a skill needed in the area I want to go into.

We were also told about opportunities on Methub and other websites, and how to find them. Since jobs are a worry right now, we were also told about a variety of courses that we could do to further our education and qualifications, such as a Microsoft course and other free things about at the moment. I suppose a positive on the pandemic is that is much is online right now, and so much is free as well because a lot of people are sat at home needing things to do.

I am enjoying engaging with the careers team at the moment because I think it is helping my professional practice, I want to take opportunities like this and learn more about job searching, and how to improve myself to employers. I am also working on my CV to make sure that it is good to use for actual job applications when the time comes.

LinkedIn Workshop

The Cardiff Met career service has been offering a range of workshops since lockdown started, and I always put them off because I was working on my module work so much, but this week I decided to go for it, it is almost the end of term and I do not want to miss out further.

I saw a LinkedIn workshop which I thought would be really useful because I still only feel halfway done on there building my account, and actually no idea how to use it effectively as well.

The webinar covered a range of points and examples of accounts to show the rights and wrongs of building the accounts and then how to use them to stand out and be noticed in your industry.

My profile shows a picture of myself, which is a basic need to help engagement, I also added my tagline and the kind of opportunities I am open to. I have also added a bulk of my work experience and education so it services as a CV, with links to my website which also has a CV page too. I added one of my patterns to the top header photo to show what I do, but I may change this to more updated designs as I create more as well.

The main thing I took away from it was posting, I have been meaning to start for a while after watching some Careercake videos for the Cardiff Met Award but I made a start today posting some of my recent pattern designs in the spoonflower contest, Large Birds.

I also took part in a webinar online today for Instagram Marketing, which was quite interesting, and definitely something I will look into further on Skillshare or something.

Recent Contest Entries

I just finished submitting my entry for the Spoonflower Large Birds contest, from which I also created a little collection of coordinating designs from. I also posted one last week for the Quiet Spaces category too.

I have started to notice now that my designs are getting more engagement as the weeks go on, usually each post doing better than the last which is exciting because it must mean I am refining my style and doing something right. I could go back to the start of them and notice little problems in the first couple of patterns, such as the Pastel Cafe one, was too pastely, it needed some more dark in the design to add more of a colour balance into it, which I did struggle with a little in the foliage coordinating designs from the Large Birds one, I used a lot of dark browns in the birds so the lighter blues and pinks in the actual pattern were good being lighter, but I do wish I had made some a lot darker, as I much more often than not choose a light background for my designs.

Quiet Spaces Entry

I used some similar plant pots for the Pastel Cafe design challenge weeks and weeks ago, so I took some inspiration from them and kind of repurposed them with newer techniques I have learnt on Procreate, such as easily adding pattern and shading to motifs. I originally had a wite background on this design and I think it looked better in the blue, but there is not much white at all in there and something is not quite right with the colour balance I think. I was working hard last week on my sketchbooks and I left this one a little later than usual, but overall I am happy with it as a simple repeat.

The Large Birds contest was one I thought a lot about with the content, I floated some ideas with my friends in a groupchat, penguin, peacock, eagle, all good options but I was not particularly excited about any of them. I started looking in some of the bird books we have around the house, they come in handy when spotting weird birds in the garden and for situations like this. The bird pages have facts about wingspan, sometimes having the birds flying next to other popular ones to compare sizes. This is when I noticed how big the snowy owl actually was, and looking at some of the other species I noticed they were not that much smaller either, such as the long eared and short eared owls, the tawny owls were bigger than I thought, I thought they were tiny!

Anyway, I love owls and how recognisable they are, and very attractive birds that have been on trend before, and just seem to be one of those patterns that does not go out of fashion, but I knew I wanted to go with my more graphic digital painting approach to get some texture and detail into it. I created blue and pink foliage around it because I thought about how my colour palette is usually involving a lot of greens because I use a lot of nature in my work. I actually really like the foliage secondary designs I created, but I do think they do not look like they go perfectly with the owl design by itself. I did try and correct the colour balance using some space filler dots, which I think worked out really well to add more colour in the designs.

The next contest I believe is Ice Cream Truck, so I think for that one I want to try and go really out of the box with my usual colour schemes and try something bold and bright!

Business Cards and CV Designing

I have been avoiding the business cards for so long, but I finally made a point of sitting down to design it. I went through such a lot of different drafts and things and I am at a place now where I think I could carry on being fussy or I could accept the design. I think I will try and get some opinions to see what others think of it which can help to spot obvious design problems that I may not be able to spot, being so close to it.

Business Card Drafts

You can see here I went through a few stages of placement on the card with the name, title and logo. These were the main things I needed to get on there, and then just trying to get some design elements on there such as a border and a few floral decorations. I ended up taking away the white border and adding the border on the edge of the cards which I think looks better. I kept printing them out too as a wallet print because I think these are close to the real size and I wanted to make sure the writing was clear and readable. The other main decision was the text, I used a font that I use a lot in my work for my name, and then used a clear font on the back for important contact information. So I was debating between these two fonts for the bit underneath as well that says I am a surface pattern designer and artist. I think personally I prefer the clearer font for this, it is a lot more readable and is a good size there. I think I would have to make the other font a lot bigger to get it to the same readability but I would not want to overpower my name.

So these are where I am right now, I think it may be worth asking the actual printers for advice too because they work to design business cards a lot and I think I remember seeing some offers on websites where they can check designs.

I wanted to also design my CV in a more creative way as it had not be updated for a while and was not designed in my style or anything. I also want to send it to someone in the careers department as I have not seen the adviser for over a year now as well.

So this is what my CV is up to right now as well, with some of the similar design elements from the business cards. I will probably keep the green and pink colour scheme across my presspack as it is a colour combination I enjoy using, mixing the natural with a contrasting colour, and used it in my consultancy module and will probably take some of those colours into my exposure too.

Spoonflower Contest

I chose to take part in the next Spoonflower contest, called ‘Canadian Wildlife’, so the first step was to do a little research and see what kind of animals and trees I could look at. I thought about moose, bears, they seemed a little obvious, and large animals, so I thought I would look for something smaller, which is where I came around the beaver, red fox and arctic hare. I think they worked well because they all have a slightly different colour to them, and with green forest colours I think it gives a nice little natural colour scheme.

The Hero Design submitted

I submitted this design above, using a mixture of the animals and a lot of trees and foliage as well. I was really enjoying using these animals and motifs though, so I decided to create some designs to go along with it, I think this is a good practice to do just to practice making these families of designs. If I was doing this for a full collection I would have taken more time to do some more motifs, smaller motifs and maybe add a more contrasting colour into it. But working from this one hero is a task in itself to see what different things can come from it.

So these show what I was playing with from that main design, and the repeat of it here at the bottom. While I think it is an obvious repeat, I do tend to stick to basic tile repeats for spoonflower as I want it to be easy to see in the tile when people are looking through and voting for designs. I could see this working for stationary or small giftware things like my main collection, I think this has given me some confidence in designing animal motifs that are not really realistic too as I want to be able to show some life and texture to them without them being boring and flat too.

Continuing to enter contests and take a few hours out of my week to do this regularly is helping me expand my work and practice pattern making while I am still in the mark-making stages of my collection.