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!
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.
If you enjoyed this blog, would you like to stay in touch? I’d love us to get to know each other better 😊 so please sign up for my newsletter. I’ll let you know when I post new blogs and when I release new collections, as well as giving you a peek behind the scenes. You’ll also get a discount voucher and become a VIP who gets special offers on a regular basis. And you can reply to any of my emails with questions or comments – I always reply!
Earlier this year I designed some custom postcards in one of my favourite projects so far. I drew custom illustrations to be used on the postcards for an amazing glamping site called Tin Can Camping. They have four Airstream and vintage caravans to stay in in a remote area in South Norfolk and it’s really worth checking out. We’ve now stayed there twice so I was incredibly excited when they asked me to do custom illustrations for a series of postcards featuring their gorgeous trailers.
It turned out that the owners really liked a thank you card I’d made for them the first time we stayed, so decided to ask me to work on the postcard designs for them. Here’s a screenshot of when they posted it on their Instagram account
The four caravans on the custom postcards
These are the four postcard designs I created together with photos of the original caravans.
This little one is the Bubble and is the first Airstream we stayed in – the same one pictured in the thank you card. It couldn’t be any cuter, could it?! That visit it rained a LOT (like torrentially) but we still had a great time snuggled up inside this cosy little trailer.
The next time we stayed we chose the Caravanner. The weather was kinder to us this time so we got to take advantage of the BBQ and fire pit more often. It was also fabulous!
This is the largest Airstream on the site, the Sovereign. I can’t even imagine towing something this size around, but I suppose roads are a bit roomier in the US!
And this is the Jewel, an aptly named vintage caravan that really stands out amongst the silver Airstreams.
Which one is your favourite? I honestly can’t decide…
It was such a fun project to work on. I love drawing, I love camping and I love these Airstreams. So I felt really lucky to have the opportunity to bring them all together to create these postcards.
If you have a custom illustration project you’d like me to work on, please get in touch 😃
These dog themed cards, a Shih Tzu card and a Labrador card are two brand new birthday designs just added to my shop. I’m going to be working on a range of pet themed cards and these are the first . What do you think?
As with most of my designs, I drew them using Procreate on my iPad. Here’s a little replay video of each one to show you the process. I use layers a lot so when things disappear and reappear that’s me hiding and showing different layers 🙂
This is the Shih Tzu drawing…
And here’s the Lab illustration.
You can see that it often takes me several attempts to get something right 😆. For example I kept adjusted the Labrador’s head as it just didn’t quite look right. I feel like it’s important to show the real process though, rather than an edited one that looks perfect but isn’t real! It’s a good job I’m an illustrator and not a sculptor using marble or some expensive medium as there would be a lot of waste 🤣
I often get people saying how lucky I am that I’m creative, but I honestly believe everyone is creative at heart. It just shows up differently for different people. And I think we should all be cultivating our creativity in one form or another, in our lives and in our businesses/careers. So this week’s blog is a guest post from the lovely Laura Oldfield of The Key To It All and it’s all about the Creative Process. I hope you enjoy it!
Five reasons why cultivating creativity should be a top priority in your small business and life
Perhaps you’ve seen this (or a version of it) before. Certainly if you’ve ever embarked upon any kind of creative project or work you’ve almost certainly experienced this process.
Or perhaps you’re considering clicking away from here, as you’re thinking “creative?! That’s not me, and anyway why is it relevant to my business and life?” As the fantastic Edward de Bono says:
“the brain is a wonderful device for allowing incoming information to organise itself into patterns. Once these patterns are formed…we use those patterns in the process known as perception. The patterns are not symmetric. The lack of symmetry gives rise both to humour and to creativity. This then is the logical need for creativity. It is the logic of self-organising patterning systems.”
Essentially, creativity is not just a wonderfully joyful experience, but rather a way of allowing our brains to organise information, in a way that leads to powerful and transformative decisions. Here’s five reasons you should cultivate it (and some ideas as to how to do so):
1. Creativity stops us pre-judging
By all means, look at the data. There is so much available to us and you would be foolish to ignore it (I recommend Google Analytics for your website as a top prioirity. Instagram Business Accounts have fantastic data you can use (but you could just as easily explore Facebook or Tiktok – we also love our Pinterest account for helping us learn more customers) www.pinterest.co.uk/thekey_toitall, and don’t forget your all important email newsletter sign-ups! Of course this data can teach you so much about the people who you serve. But it shouldn’t ever be the sole place from which you make decisions. The extraordinary thing about your business and work is you and your ideas. The data might sometimes suggest that a new idea of yours is not going to work, but let’s not forget that creativity encourages logical thought ultimately. Creativity allows us to take informed risks, that data alone would not.
2. Creativity allows us to create new ideas from old experiences
We do this by a) revisiting old systems and disrupting them; b) revisiting old ideas and adapting them and c; revisiting old beliefs and examining them. An example of this might be imagining how you might have handled a situation differently, or how another person might handle the same situation. It might be brainstorming how you want your customer to feel when your product lands in their lap, and writing a description of the process from them finding you, to making an order to receiving their purchase. These kind of imaginings can ultimately lead to some very strategic and ordered planning and processes.
3. From Creativity comes the “Creative Challenge”
The creative challenge is one of the most exciting parts of creative thinking, in both work and at home: it encourage us to ask why do we do it this way?
That question can be so powerful: why am I selling this way? Why am I on this social media? Why do I launch at particular times. It can also be used in the home. Why am I buying this? Why do I have this reaction as a parent? Why do I keep going to bed late? Thinking laterally in this way is often prompted by some responses: Because we always have Because it’s what other people do and it works Because it worked for us before Because other people like it
The creative challenge doesn’t seek to dismiss everything we have done thus far; rather it is an opportunity for lateral thinking, reflection and growth.
4. From the Creative Pause comes mindfulness
You write your to-list. You start frantically firing off emails. You end up in a Facebook thread replying about the best kinds of email marketing hosts. The Creative Pause forces us to stop and ask two things: 1) why am I doing this and; 2) are there other possibilities right now that would make this easier/ more efficient/ more joyful. Some practical methods for achieving the Creative Pause come from a) using affirmation cards; b) using a timer (google the Pomodoro Technique for more on this); stopping and naming 5 things that are a particular colour, 4 things yu can hear, 3 things you can smell etc.
It’s worth noting that the creative pause can be a massively extended moment of frustration – a feeling of stasis in your work, until one day it all “clicks”, and you realise your brain has been working hard to find creative solutions all along.
5. Creativity reminds you that you are a human who needs and deserves to be being, not just doing (and reacting).
Creativity can be found in so many ways – when you go for your morning walk and the nature inspires an idea in you; when you’re running through a process and you come up with a third step that will make all the difference; when you’re having to be resourceful and in doing so come up with an inventive and materials/ money-free solution. Switching off from “work” to carry out more traditionally “creative” activities (colouring, music, making things with your hands etc) can also be when you get the “aha” moment!
Finally, here’s 10 quick-fire ways to encourage creativity (and one myth buster).
MYTH BUSTED: Creativity isn’t just for the “talented” …or the “rebels”… or the “left/right” side of the brain. Creativity and art aren’t the same. You don’t need to “release” to be creative. It’s not all about “intuition”…or being “quirky” …or taking a scatter-gun approach.
Get rid of the drainers and attract the radiators (this can be applied to habits – your phone and doom-scrolling versus reading some amazing blogs or listening to a TED talk and to the people with whom you spend time).
Hide your phone. No, seriously. Hide it.
Free writing – google Morning Pages and thank us later.
Buy The Key Cards and Affirmations for Creatives (the latter on pre-order soon). The former is 90 energy-enhancing, inspirational prompts, tasks and affirmations so you never have to have that “where do I start” feeling again. Enjoy having your very own coach, mentor and cheerleader in your pocket. There are 20 cards in there specifically and solely designed to boost creativity (though having used all 90 they definitely all do that!)
Do something different and write a haiku (5,7,5 syllables).
Work with your energy not against it (The Key Cards massively support this) – if you’re feeling stuck and like it’s just not working then that’s ok – break up the routine and do something entirely different (and ideally not related to work – rest often triggers amazing subsequent levels of productivity).
Chuck in some scary deadlines – and see how your brain reacts – I bet you get inventive!
Collaborate collaborate collaborate – we are obsessive about this at The Key to it All – bouncing ideas around is simply the best way to develop (and it proves that nearly always community wins over competition).
Allow yourself to fail – yes in trying new things you’ll create a lot of stuff and nonsense. You’ll also create gems, even if they don’t appear to be at first.
Keep going. Yes we value rest at Team Key. But we also value you valuing yourself and showing up. Keep going – we’re rooting for you!
At The Key to it All we help incredible small business owners, creatives and freelancers plan and run their work and life in a more productive, easy and confident way, using our beautiful products for work and the home, E-Courses, community, events and workshops It is founded and run by proud multi-hyphenate and Mum of two, Laura Oldfield.