Monday, June 27th, 2016
The Royal Academy of Arts’ Summer Exhibition 2016 is one of my most favourite exhibitions in the world. Why? Because I support the idea of giving every artist in the world the opportunity to showcase their work.
I have to say it was quite overwhelming and I could visit the Summer Exhibition 2016 again and again. This year’s theme was all about artist duos. The Royal Academy of Arts received over 12,000 entries from which 1,240 artworks are now displayed in Burlington House. I was told that the selection of artworks takes place anonymously which is a fantastic idea. It’s not the name which brings you hanging on the wall, it’s the originality, the craziness of your idea and the talent as an artist. The Summer Exhibition is an independent exhibition and has been running for 248 years now.
“One of the founding principles of the Royal Academy of Arts was to mount an annual exhibition open to all artists of distinguished merit to finance the training of young artists in the Royal Academy Schools. The Summer Exhibition has been held every year without interruption since 1769 and continues to play a significant part in raising funds to finance the current students of the RA Schools. The RA Schools is the longest established art school in the UK and offers the only free three-year postgraduate programme in Europe.”*
Nearly all artworks of the exhibition can be purchased. I don’t want to go into detail of any artworks of the exhibition because visiting the Summer Exhibition 2016 is a must to explore new and established artists. If I had the necessary change I’d definitely buy one of the artworks.
Will you go and visit the Summer Exhibition 2016 at the Royal Academy of Arts this year?
*From Royal Academy of Arts’ Press Release
Monday, June 20th, 2016
Or maybe they found me? I was very happy when Ben from Old English Company got in touch with me. Old English Company has some really cool stationery. Their focus is on witty captions and minimalist illustrations. I immediately laid eyes on the bear wall hanging and I can proudly say it’s now hanging amongst my collection which I’ll share with you soon. I also had the chance to find out more about Old English Company. Get to know the man behind the company and read the inspiring interview with Ben below.
Old English Company is the brain child of myself, Ben Treanor. I studied design at Leeds Metropolitan and then went on to work for a small design agency. Working my way up I became head designer for Waterstones, the leading high street book store chain in the UK. While there I worked on various projects, including the designing of their own brand stationery (greeting cards, notepads etc). It was this that sparked an interest of designing stationery and homeware to sell. I illustrated a small range of cards and sold these online. While my designs became more and more popular I realised it was time to leave my day job to pursue Old English Company full time. Since then we’ve relocated studios 3-4 times (if you count my bedroom being the first studio space). Currently we’re a team of 4, and based in the beautiful historic town of Stamford, my home town.
A day at the studio will normally consist of getting all of the orders made and packed, ready to be sent out the door. I’ll then try to have an hour or so designing/illustrating, however we’re very busy around any seasonal holiday (Christmas, Father’s Day, Valentine’s) and any upcoming trade shows, so this effects how much time I’m able to spend on illustrating new ideas.
It’s hard to know exactly where my inspiration comes from. I love to look at old vintage signs with bold typography and will often go to our local antique shops (Stamford has a lot of them!) to see what I can find. Also hand lettering, anything hand lettered and monochrome will always catch my eye.
Old English Company is always growing. Over the past year we’ve been exhibiting at more and more trade shows, and have found ourselves stocked in various stockists including Urban Outfitters and Oliver Bonas as a result. We’re looking at exhibiting at trade shows in America, as we’d love to have more stockists on that side of the pond. I also want to look at increasing the range of stationery and homeware products that we produce.
Staying creative can be difficult at times. I think if you speak to most designers / illustrators you’ll hear that they will often have design slumps, when ideas just don’t seem to materialise. I find it important to persevere through these slumps. Having a sketchpad and pencil to hand always seems to help!
Do you love Old English Company as much as I do? Then you’re lucky! I’m giving away two Old English Company coasters (2 surprise coasters).
Monday, June 13th, 2016
Facebook groups are a thing nowadays, in case you haven’t heard. Therefore, I have put together 6 Facebook groups you need to join. Why are they so popular? It’s quite simple. In the digital world we get penetrated by brands and advertising. Every social channel provides a huge potential to reach a certain target market. It’s great – as a marketer – but it can be annoying for a consumer. Facebook groups though became little isolated islands where it’s not easy as a brand to invade. These groups have strict rules and overall exist to help each other. It’s definitely a great idea! Without further ado, let me introduce you to a couple of Facebook groups I really like.
I have mentioned this Facebook group before on my blog and as far as I can remember it’s the first group I joined and follow regularly. It’s quite big now, with over 12,000 members, but I find it still valuable. If you’ve started your own business or if you’re thinking about going freelance this is the perfect group for you. Everyone is really friendly and helpful in this group and you might even find a new customer for your own business.
Avocado Social Media Hub
This Facebook group was founded by Alison, the owner of the social media agency Avocado Social. She wanted to create a hub where people can share what they’ve discovered on social channels, what’s new in the digital world and also in order to answer any questions people might have about the massive world of social media. I definitely recommend joining this little personal social media hub.
Instagram Marketing Mastermind
I might have mentioned this Facebook group before on my blog as well because it’s part of a newsletter workshop about Instagram. I have tried quite a few free Instagram courses and I found this one from Alex Tobey was the best. When you have signed up you also get the chance to join the Instagram Marketing Mastermind Facebook group. If you have any question about Instagram you can be sure it’ll be answered by the community. I’m Instagram addicted so this group is perfect for me and maybe for you, too.
I know Lu, who started this community, through the networking events I’ve been visiting regularly in London. She did a great job by creating a place where female founders can get together, ask for help and offer support. I have met a couple of people through her Facebook group and I think it’s so valuable. Again, if you’re a freelancer or a startup Blooming Founders is a fantastic community to join.
If you’re a blogger and a reader of my blog it’s very likely you will enjoy this Facebook group. Creative bloggers was founded by Lauren and it all started on Twitter first. But because Facebook groups are such an intimate environment it’s a great move to have this community of like-minded creatives on here as well. I like to keep up with all things creative and the group is an awesome and easy way to do that.
I’m getting even more specific but if you live in London AND you’re a blogger the London Bloggers Facebook group is a cool place to be. Every now and then people post free workshops in there or collaboration opportunities for your blog. It was founded by Elle who is a fitness blogger in London. It’s fantastic for making new friends and for arranging a meet up with other bloggers in this group.
Are you a member of any interesting Facebook groups I should know about?
Monday, June 6th, 2016
I was very fortunate to meet Kate of Isla Apothecary a few weeks ago at the bloggers’ workshop organised by Makers & Friends. She was one of the makers who used the pop-up concept to test and sell her products. I immediately loved the idea behind her new brand as well as the design of the bottles and tubes. Kate and I went for a coffee a few days after and I had the chance to get to know her a little better. I was very inspired by our conversation and I wanted to give you the chance to get to know her as well. Therefore, I asked her a few questions about Isla Apothecary and Kate’s own creativity. I think this interview is truly inspiring and I hope you will love it, too.
Tell me a little bit about Isla Apothecary.
Isla Apothecary is an expression of my positive experiences with conscious and botanical led self-care and skincare and my take on both of those. I draw on the principles of aromatherapy, olfaction, a dedication to beautiful, natural remedies, and my belief in the power of the skin to heal and thrive with the assistance of nature uninterrupted.
I handcraft everything in the product range in small batches and I have two primary concerns when I create a product; that I use the finest raw and natural, and where possible organic and wild crafted ingredients for their therapeutic action, and that the end product smells good; but of course the last bit is totally subjective.
Why did you start Isla?
How I spend my days is important to me. Time was passing me by and for much of it, I felt increasingly disconnected, disheartened, and disoriented in what I was doing.
I got to a point where I struggled to justify always feeling that way so I started to address that discomfort. Part of my process included placing greater emphasis on exploring new things and spending time on things I already enjoyed and were relatable to me i.e. experimenting with natural ingredients and alternative therapies. By doing that I started to feel more enriched and looking back, I think it gave me confidence to believe that feeling good about what I do isn’t out of reach.
In the summer of 2014, I started to sense I was edging closer towards some semblance of what Isla was to become. I was also entering a period where I was trying out a more holistic approach to living and that actually extended to my career choices. Suddenly, the question of ‘why can’t I add the things that really make me tick in to my every day?’ wasn’t yielding any worthwhile answers.
Around this time though, I was very close to pursuing a career in law, having just finished a law conversion course but I struggled to see myself in that world even though I was (and still am) fascinated by the subject. Isla Apothecary wasn’t a business idea per se and nor was it borne out of a business plan, but all of these factors I describe strengthened my resolve to move forward with it. It is simply reflections of my life, experience, habits, desires, lifestyle choices; and finally feeling inspired and encouraged by all of the above. They came together in their own time and timing is everything.
What are the biggest challenges of having your own business?
My day-to-day consists of me tempering strategy with creativity and unavoidable administrative tasks. Naturally, there are aspects that I favour over others and I am still learning to put equal effort in to all of them.
But probably the biggest challenge I have is switching off. I love what I do, however it is constant and it’s as if I run out of time a lot! So my mind churns with to-do’s, ideas, deadlines and that’s tricky to curb. Being aware of that though is helping me to work harder at being more present in other areas of my life.
In our conversation you mentioned you never thought you were creative. Can you tell me why you thought that & what changed your mind?
I always thought I was just more the academic type and therefore not creative, as if being academic and creative are incompatible. I loved and still love learning; studying and researching new subjects! I just had lots of interests and passions that seemed to be congealing with not much coming out of them. I suppose Isla Apothecary represents my readiness to cross over from theory into practice with a wider application in mind, and that’s when I realised that I was capable of my own version of creativity.
For me, creativity is also a conduit to freedom and vice versa. Freedom of expression. They say that there’s an art and a science to aromatherapy and what I like about that is that whilst there is this huge frame of reference, there is a lot of freedom to play around. It works for me. I’m not into hard and fast rules.
How do you stay creative?
Caring about what I do keeps my creativity switched on I think; and to sort of answer the question above in another way, doing what I get a lot of joy out of is a big factor in that. I always wanted to find, or be able to create and do what I loved. It is something that Steve Jobs said, which really spoke to me – “you have to find what you love.” You may not know what you love and that’s fine! Being open and trying new things is a great place to start. I digress! Determination to grow, progress and push ahead (especially when I make mistakes, there are many) means learning the lessons and moving on quickly, and trying new things; and that spurs creativity, if only by accident.
I tend to say ‘yes’ to trying new things out for the business and I try to get out there as much as possible. You never know when and how you can be inspired.
Travel seems to renew my sense of curiosity and I like to imbue that in the brand. I wish I could do more of it! I’m going to India in January on an Aromatherapy tour of Kerala and Tamil Nadu, which combines the educational, the hands-on and the travel and I can’t wait! I hope it’s the beginning of many more trips like it.
What are your thoughts about this interview?
Sunday, May 29th, 2016
This year I finally made it to the Clerkenwell Design Week 2016 again. I wanted to go every year but because I worked in a full-time job which wasn’t design related I struggled to convince my employer to let me visit the festival. Well, this year I’m my own boss and I decided to spend a day at Clerkenwell Design Week 2016.
I started with a press breakfast on Tuesday where we were shown around the streets to get an overview of all the shows in Clerkenwell. There was so much to see! Then I met up with a group of design bloggers who were invited by We Blog Design to visit some selected designers and talk about their new collections.
I thought I mention here the other design bloggers if you fancy following them.
So where have I been & what have I discovered? We started our tour at Arper, an Italian design company with a Scandinavian touch, creating furniture for offices and homes. It was great to hear a little bit about the story behind the company. It only exists for a bit longer than a decade but is doing really well. Then we went to Clerkenwell’s St James Church (I had no idea it’s so much more than a church) and this was the highlight of the tour, in my opinion. Tom Dixon’s work is just stunning. He has chosen an amazing venue to showcase his work (see last picture below; he created the chandelier which stays there forever as far as I know). Have a look at Twitter to see the great installation HakFolly by Hakwood & FleaFolly Architects. The tour was followed by a visit at Vitra Showroom, the Sensorium Installation and the Sto Werkstatt. Last stop: The House of Detention. I met the designer of Off The Rails Design and I can’t wait to introduce her properly on my blog soon.
Phew! So many designers and places to discover. It was great! Thanks to We Blog Design for organising a little tour for us!
Have you been to Clerkenwell Design Week this year?
Wednesday, May 18th, 2016
As you know, I’ve been working as a freelancer since beginning of this year. It’s about time I introduce you to two of my favourite clients. They’re exciting start-ups and I really enjoy working with them. I’ve also discovered a few other things since my last round-up. This is a fairly new category on my blog where I introduce you to some interesting and useful events, brands, tools, etc. Let me know what you think!
A couple of weeks ago I tried Sofar Sounds for the first time. It’s not exactly new but they’re still growing. I LOVE the concept. Every month you can choose from a couple of gigs in different countries, different cities and different districts of the city. I live in London and chose Shoreditch as the place to be. You don’t know anything else, who’s playing or what the venue looks like. There are two options though: it’s either a little hidden public place like a café or someone’s private home. You can bring your own booze and snacks. I only tried it once but it was absolutely amazing. Such a great vibe! I’ve listened to three different artists and although all three of them were so different I liked them all. Sofar Sounds exists all over the world. It’s a great intimate experience!
Have you heard of these guys? DishNextDoor was/is my first client – the Airbnb of food. I do their Instagram and Twitter account mainly. The concept is simple. People who love cooking at home and people who value a home-cooked meal for a good price get together. Anyone can sign up as a hobby chef. You basically cook for others who can pick up your dishes at your doorstep. I haven’t signed up as a cook yet but I have tried a dish of one of their local cooks in London. It was absolutely delicious. I love the whole concept. What do you think?
If you sign up use this referral code which gives us both a £10 credit when you order your first meal. Yay!
May I introduce you to another client of mine? I mentioned a few times on my blog that I’m such a fan of networking. I basically found the perfect app for me. Howdy let’s you attend events and get to know the attendees. You simply sign up with your LinkedIn account. Then you can decide if you want to introduce yourself to an attendee – a little bit like Tinder. I love their simplicity and taste of design. Over time, the app will learn what events you like the most and make recommendations accordingly. I’m sure it’s going to be big! I also take care of their Instagram and Twitter account.
Paperchase – Project Craft
Last but not least, I recently attended a Paperchase event. They introduced a new project across the country which is called ‘Project Craft’. You can buy all the necessary tools to get crafty at Paperchase but finally you can also get crafty at the shops themselves. I tried the DIY Stationery workshop and I totally got into it. It looked a little bit like this. Pretty cool idea and something people will love I’m sure.
Tuesday, May 10th, 2016
Yay! Here’s a new category on my blog: art inspiration. I realised I’m spending quite a bit of time on Pinterest and I love to collect different art works there. Recently I’m absolutely into collages. The principle sounds quite easy: you cut out some images and put them together. Believe me I tried it but creating a collage just once doesn’t do it. It is truly an art form. What artist come up with is stunning. I particularly love the ones which are minimalist and include shapes. It’s not easy to use negative space to your advantage.
My interest for collages started with The Jealous Curator’s book Collage. It’s such an inspiration. When I love a book it takes me ages to finish it because I want it to last forever (I know I could go through it again but it’s not the same). Collages are still quite scary to me. I was thinking I should interview collage artists to figure out how they start. What magazines are they using? How do they come up with an idea? Where do they get their inspiration from?
Find all the collages in this post on my Pinterest board as well as many more. As mentioned earlier, I update it regularly if you want to follow along.
Have you ever tried collage yourself? Do you know any interesting collage artists I should check out?
Wednesday, May 4th, 2016
This is a blog post I wanted to write forever. I love journals and I’m sure you have seen some of my journals here or on my social media channels. So it’s time for a great selection of journals now. I searched all the corners in my flat to get all my journals together. I only chose the ones I really like and are worth showing on my blog. Not all of them are used yet but I kind of like the feeling of having an empty journal where I can put all my thoughts and ideas in it. It can also be scary though because I always have the feeling this is going to be special and I don’t want to screw it up.
In my childhood I had a few journals where I ripped out pages because I thought it looks ugly. I ended up with an ugly journal at the end. I never want to do this again. So I think a lot how I want to use my journal before I start. I still end up not using it at all if I’m not convinced of its purpose. Let me now introduce you to the great selection of journals and tell you what I’m using it for or what my plans are with them. After all, I have nine journals to fill!!This is a great collection of journals! I need to share mine soon as well! Shared via @foundsomepaper Click To Tweet
This Paperchase journal is super new and I got it from a bloggers event at their shop in London recently. I will tell you more in another blog post but they’re planning some really cool craft workshops everyone can attend.
Ah, Tiger! I love this Danish shop. I always end up buying half of the shop. That’s probably why I try to avoid it… They have a lot of craft and art materials.
Cordello Home is a recent discovery. Although their focus is on home design they do have a stationery collection and I love it. You will see that you can do a lot with the shape of a heart. They’re so creative! PS: There will be an interview with them on my blog soon.
Wednesday, April 27th, 2016
Since I’m a freelancer I go to even more networking events. So it happened that I met the lovely Elina from Coco’s Liberty one day and heard all about her jewellery startup. I wanted to know how she started, where she gets her inspiration from and what it looks like to have to manage your own brand. Please let me introduce you to Coco’s Liberty – fierce minimal Scandi chic jewellery paired with a London edge.
I have always been into jewellery – I find jewellery super exciting because the right accessories can totally make an outfit from simple to stunning.
When I quit my lawyer job from one day to the other because it hit me that I don’t want this to be the rest of my Life – I applied to study jewellery design at Central Saint Martins, and while currently on a break from my studies, I started with Coco’s Liberty because more and more people asked me where I got my jewellery from, so I figured I could turn my passion for jewellery into also selling my jewellery.
I get a lot of inspiration from every day surroundings like industrial things like screws or even toothpicks. I find every day things can look very interesting and usually I transform something I see immediately and imagine how it could look as jewellery in my head. After I have an initial idea – I try to come up with matching items, a whole collection – usually that works best when I sit at my workbench and just start creating the pieces.
I really like the freedom to do whatever I want with the business and the flexibility around it. I don’t have to justify ideas and plans to any bosses. I also like the freedom around it: I’m a total night owl – so I love working at night-time when every body is asleep. Running your own business comes with tons of challenges I’ve never thought about before – but when you find the solution, you can be super proud of yourself.
Be passionate about your own business and never give up! There will be hard times, esp. in the beginning but if you are passionate about your own business eventually the people will follow.
Not one day is the same to be honest. From Mondays to Wednesdays I alway have a lot of office work, which can be anything from invoicing to dealing with press/magazines and our stockists and everything around that. But it might be that I’m a lot of the time in Hatton Garden for example to source gemstones and materials. Currently I’m also planning the next Look Book shoot; thinking about which photographer, which model, when it should be done etc…
I also try to deal with customers and their orders directly because I love to see what they order and like to hear their feedback. Most of the times I don’t end up making the items any more, but we do have a lovely Coco’s Liberty goldsmiths team who are making the jewellery pieces.
I usually only sit down at the workbench these days to make bespoke customer pieces like engagement rings which mostly is on Fridays or when I design the new collection. I usually end up being at my studio a lot during the weekends because I have a bit of quite time then to sit at the workbench and create new ideas.
Last week I was in Germany to launch my new upcoming collection to the German market, so this week was completely different again. But that’s the beauty of being independent and running your own business – not one day is the same.
If you want to meet Elina and get a feel for her jewellery she’ll be at The London Artisan on Sunday, 15th May. I’ll probably pop by as well.
I love Elina’s little studio where she makes her jewellery. Find below a few behind-the-scenes pictures of the Coco’s Liberty studio!
What do you think about Coco’s Liberty?
Monday, April 18th, 2016
For a long time I wasn’t sure if I should participate in #The100DayProject but I see announcements everywhere and there’s one blogger who kept talking about it, my good friend Natasha from Graphique Fantastique. She also wrote a blog post about it mentioning her project from last year where she focused on triangles #100daysoftriangles (sooooo loved it).
It was really hard to ignore this project and I finally gave in. I’m going to participate! Let me quickly explain what the project is about. Starting tomorrow, 19th April 2016, people create something every day for 100 days based on their own topic and share it on Instagram. Have a look at the hashtag #the100dayproject and see what others are planning to do. Natasha just decided to do #100daysofgraphique and I’m excited to follow her journey.
You probably think it’s really hard to do something every day for 100 days and it probably is, I won’t deny it. But it’s also a great opportunity to get creative. A lot of people are with you and there’s a community you can connect with. Just do it!
Do you remember my art journal? I’m going to draw into my art journal every day for 100 days. I might not share a picture on Instagram every day (I know it’s against the rules but I don’t want to spam my account for 100 days). I think the most important part here is to do something every day. And I want to prove I’m going to do that by sharing my progress on Snapchat every day. It might be that I just have 5 minutes time during the day but I’m definitely going to draw into my art journal every day for 100 days. I call the hashtag #100daysofdoing.
The project starts tomorrow. Are you participating?