I’ve always loved drawing flowers and the very first cards I designed featured some of my flower doodles. My latest obsession flower-wise is Cosmos (cosmos bipinnatus for geeky folks) so I decided I’d share some of my cosmos flower illustrations with you here.
There are so many things to love about cosmos flowers. Their simplicity, their symmetry and the wide variety of colours they come in. I remember seeing them on the sides of the road as a kid in South Africa and they always just make my heart happy whenever I see them here in the UK.
My other half’s mum gifted me a few from her garden last year and this year I have at least four or five cosmos plants in pots on the terrace of my little flat.
I did a quick cosmos flower doodle a few weeks back when I first started noticing cosmos flowering…
I even turned them into a sheet of stickers which I used on my last blog post about decorating envelopes!
More cosmos illustrations
Then this week I’ve been spending a bit more time on some cosmos flower illustrations which I think I might use in my next greeting card collection.
Here’s a single cosmos flower illustration…
And here’s a row of cosmos flowers…
I think they’re especially lovely because they’re wild flowers. I really love to see flowers like cosmos, poppies, daisies and buttercups when I’m out walking or on one of my runs. Check out these wildflower drawings I did early on). It’s like a little present when you see a gorgeous flower on the side of the path. Or a field of tiny flowers catching the sunshine out of the blue 😃
Expect to see lots more flower illustrations here and on Instagram. And for them to be a big feature in my future greeting card collections!
This year I was able to go along to the London Stationery Show and I’m so glad I did. It’s a trade show for all things stationery and where a lot of retailers choose their stock for the coming year. I went along as a visitor to check it out in case I decide to exhibit there in the future, but I got a whole lot more out of it than that.
There were so many amazing products and brands there – it was very inspiring. However as a bit of a stationery addict it was sort of like torture not to be able to buy anything on the spot… I did take away a lot of pamphlets and business cards though so I can look my favourites up and buy after the fact as a consumer.
My Fave 3 Brands at the London Stationery Show
I thoroughly enjoyed looking at all the stationery tools and equipment, but it was especially inspiring to walk around and see all the fabulous paper stationery brands at the show. I was very conscious that as I wasn’t a buyer I didn’t want to waste anyone’s time. After all they’d paid a lot of money for their stands and were there to sell. But even once I’d explained why I was visiting so many of the brands were still incredibly friendly and happy to share their tips and experience for exhibiting at a trade show.
These were some of my favourite paper stationery brands. Please excuse my awful photography skills…
I was drawn to the Dodo Pad stand by the fabulous doodly illustrations on their products. Their main product is a very entertaining planner diary. It has lots of hilarious content and space for doodling as well as all the stuff you’d expect from an ordinary planner. They also do notebooks (blank, dotty, grid and ruled). All their products are made in the UK, vegan friendly, sustainable and plastic free. The lovely lady who owns the business was so friendly too and a pleasure to chat to. She even gifted me a 2022 planner which I know will brighten my days up for the rest of the year 😊
Aaruthra is a pretty stationery brand that includes journals, greeting cards and more with inspiring messages. The designer and founder Aaruthra herself was manning the stall (all the way from India!) together with another fabulous lady and the two of them couldn’t have been more inspiring and positive if they’d tried – I had a huge smile on my face after chatting to them!
Okey Dokey Design
Samantha from Okey Dokey Design was in the Launchpad section, having won a stand there. Her stand was just as lovely as her stationery and she was too! Okey Dokey Design makes pretty paper stationery products including greeting cards, writing paper, wrapping paper and more. Most of the designs are floral and so gorgeous you just want all of it! Samantha is clearly very talented and I noticed Okey Dokey Design had won at least one other award at the show too.
Live Talks at the London Stationery Show
All the speakers in the Retail Matters Live Talks at the show were brilliant. I feel like my head is bursting with all the inspiration and ideas they shared!
Martha Keith did a talk on Building a Stationery Brand: The Good, The Bad & The Pretty. She founded Martha Brook London and it was very inspiring to hear how she started and got to where she is now!
Colour Hive did a very interesting talk regarding Colour, Material and Finish Forecast: Spring Summer 2023.
Catherine Erdly of The Resilient Retail Club (which I’m a member of and love) spoke about 360 Sales Techniques for Independent Retailers. Unfortunately I missed this as the times on the board were incorrect. I did get to have an Indie Matters session with Catherine though (see below) which was incredibly useful.
Rachel Emma Waring spoke about Creative Content Strategy: Finding Your Style. This one was especially useful as I’ve been feeling a bit overwhelmed about content creation lately.
Nerrisa Pratt of Untld Project did a Mini Masterclass on PR. She made PR seem a lot less scary and gave some great tips. And she was completely hilarious and had me giggling the whole way through.
The best thing was that some of my favourite podcasters were amongst them and it was a real highlight to meet them in person – though I did have to try and remember that they didn’t know me as well as I felt like I knew them 😁 They were all so warm and friendly to chat to as well and I love them all even more now than I did before!
Indie Matters Business Advice Clinics
Catherine Erdly, Rachel Waring, Nerrisa Pratt, Therese Oertenblad and Elizabeth Stiles also provided one-to-one sessions. These were by appointment, to give advice on their various areas of expertise.
I met up with Catherine Erdly and Therese Oertenblad for a session each and got so much out of this time. Both gave me brilliant advice for my own greeting card business. And I left feeling inspired and motivated, with practical steps to take to move forward. They are both amazing and it was totally fabulous to meet them in person!
So I had an absolutely terrific time all round at the London Stationery Show! It was fabulous seeing new stationery products, meeting other paper stationery and greeting card business owners and getting great advice and wisdom from the experts at the clinics and talks. I was so excited I managed to survive the whole day on two coffees and a brownie, which isn’t like me at all! And who knows, maybe I’ll exhibit there myself in the future 😃
I have to admit that I’ve really been struggling with finding creative inspiration the last few months. I’ve had a few hard knocks this year and they really sapped my energy physically, mentally and emotionally. I just couldn’t seem to get excited about drawing, or anything much at all. And if you follow me on social media you might have wondered if I’d given up altogether. Social media is hard work for me even when things are going well so I pretty much disappeared for weeks on end 😆
I won’t bore you with the details of everything that’s gone wrong so far in 2022. I’m sure you’ve got enough of your own problems and hassles to deal with! But here’s what I’ve been doing to try and get my mojo back creatively…
Taking a break
I have a part time day job which covers the majority of my bills so am lucky that I can take it easier in my greeting card business occasionally without getting in a financial panic. The guilt makes it hard to do though! There were some days when all I was accomplishing was processing orders and I felt really ashamed of myself. Here I was in the very fortunate position of being able to do something I love and I was completely neglecting it…
I did step back regardless though. Between doing my day job and dealing with everything that was going wrong, I honestly didn’t have the energy not to. And at least feeling guilty and ashamed could be done on the sofa without any effort on my part!
I went for plenty of walks, cried a lot, whinged a lot and generally felt sorry for myself for ages. I still do sometimes! Hopefully it’s better than being in denial and then having a breakdown later on when everyone else has forgotten about it all…
I heard something on a Daily Pep podcast the other day about how when life gives you lemons you really don’t need to feel bad if you don’t want to making f**cking lemonade 🤣 – and I’ve totally taken this to heart!
Taking the time to grieve and opt out of life for a bit has helped. I can now see what I hope is the light at the end of the tunnel. And not the headlamps of another metaphorical lorry about to smack into me… 😁 I’m starting to look forward to stuff again so hopefully taking a break was the right thing to do.
Finding creative inspiration by experimenting
Another thing I’ve been doing to help me with finding creative inspiration again is experimenting. Even before all this happened I’d gotten in a bit of a rut in terms of my drawing style and card designs. I decided to try a few things that were completely different, with no pressure to fit in with the rest of my brand.
Here are a couple of the drawings I did…
It really helped. I found myself losing track of time while drawing again, which used to always be the case but hadn’t happened for a while. I’m going to keep doing this – making time for drawing whatever I feel like however I feel like!
Remembering the good stuff
Last week my favourite squeeze and I went camping together and it was fantastic. Getting back to the simple stuff like barbecuing our food, trying to stay warm in front of an open fire and going on long walks in beautiful surroundings reminded me of the things that make me happy and that there is still loads of stuff I enjoy and look forward to. I got back exhausted but feeling more inspired than I have in ages.
I’ve realised that to stay inspired I need to keep focusing on the stuff I love. Drawing what I think I should be drawing just leads to boredom or burnout. Drawing things I enjoy drawing and experimenting with new styles and techniques is how I can go about finding creative inspiration – and stay motivated.
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The customer had previously found me on Etsy and ordered a custom 21st birthday card for one of her sons. Apparently he loved it so much he decided to frame it. So when her other son was going to turn 18 she came back to me to design an 18th birthday card for him too 😊
She was a lovely customer to work for, as she sent plenty of photos and knew what outfit she’d like. A lot of people don’t give instructions until after I’ve already drawn the portrait then decide they want something different, so it was a joy to work with someone who knew exactly what she wanted.
She asked for him to be wearing a specific top from one of the photos and grey jogging bottoms, and to keep his ‘Movember’ moustache 😁
Here’s the cartoon portrait I came up with…
And if you’d like to see the replay of how I drew it then here you go…
And here’s the final card design. (Although he and his Mum said it was fine to share, I’ve blanked his name out just to be on the safe side…)
His Mum was really pleased with it and said when she gave him his card he loved it as well. She even sent me a photo of him opening his card and both of them were happy for me to share that too, so here it is!
And here’s the lovely review she wrote for me on Etsy…
It made me feel all warm and fuzzy inside 🥰
I do custom cartoon portrait cards for other birthday milestones as well. Here’s how it works:
When you place your order you can upload a photo and send some instructions at the same time. It helps if you can be specific about what type of clothing you’d like them to wear, whether or not to include their glasses or facial hair or anything else that is relevant. If you’d like to send extra photos then just let me know in the instructions too and I’ll get in touch to help you do that.
I’ll then draw the cartoon portrait, add it to the card design and send you a proof to check. If you have any changes I’ll make those and, once finalised, will print out and post the card to you. It’s an A5 size card and comes with a kraft envelope too.
Happy New Year! I’m very excited to let you know that I’ve now added children’s birthday cards to my shop. It’s been a big gap in my selection and I’m happy that this is no longer the case 😃
I had sold a few kids’ cards previously but I always felt like the designs didn’t really fit in with the style of the rest of my greeting cards. I’ve now reused some of those illustrations as well as drawn some new ones and come up with brand new designs that I think are more in keeping with my brand.
This is still a work in progress and I’ll be adding more designs along the way. At the moment just the ballet or football cards are activity related, and I’d definitely like to include more sports and hobbies for kids. So if there are any subjects that you’d like me to include in the collection, please get in touch and let me know. I’m always open to your ideas.
Age Birthday Cards
The majority of the children’s birthday cards are available for all ages from 1 to 12. I’ll have to work on some teenage friendly designs in the future 😁 and fill that gap too!
Here are a few examples of the age cards for kids…
Personalised Cards for Kids
I’ve also added a couple of personalisable options… The Triceratops card is age-less 😁 and the Tractor one is age specific. Kids love to see their own name on a card, so I’ll probably add this option to some other cards too in the future. Here are two examples…