Tuesday 29 January 2013

Catfish: February, Printable Freestanding Calendar

Hello, I'm a little behind with blogging, sorry. We've been very busy packing up our home and my studio. I'm pretty worried I might not have internet for a few days so i thought I'd better get the February calendar up now! This months cutie is a charming Catfish. Most cats don't like water but this feline mermaid can't get enough of it (not really though, she's made of paper and will most likely full apart). The steps are laid out below and are very easy.

Download the 'Catfish' calendar here... 

1. You don't need much to make the Catfish,  just some thick paper/card, a ruler, scissors and double sided tape or glue. Firstly download and print out the design.
2. Use the back edge of the scissors and a ruler, score along the grey fold lines. Be careful not to score through the ears and remember to score the tail so it folds!

4. Using a small sharp pair of scissors cut along the black dotted line. Go slowly when cutting around the ears, finns and tail, these are a little tricky.

5. Once you've cut the Catfish out fold along the scored grey lines.

 6. Put double sided tape or glue on the top side of each flap. Stick the flaps to the body, so the flaps stick behind the adjacent part of the body.

7. Stand on your desk and enjoy

Thursday 17 January 2013


This is a tiny post just to keep this blog up and running really. A week on Wednesday our dog Castro, Scott and myself up sticks and move house. It's all happened rather fast and we're both feeling pretty wobbly about it. Our little grey villa is the sweetest of homes and our landlord is a gem, which makes the decision to move that much harder. But things change, our landlord wants to put the house on the market and neither of us much felt like moving in winter or living through open homes.
Our very pretty little grey villa, that we're leaving behind.

We literally looked at one place, only a five minute walk up the road on the sunny side of the street. If you know Dunedin at all you'll know that the extra sun is worth a lot come winter. It's an older, bigger place with stunning arts and crafts fittings. There's room for us to have a large shared office for grown up design business and a room each for our own personal work (mine will be a drawing and packaging room and Scotts will be for toy making). I'm letting go of my beautiful studio in town, it's so pretty and I'm very sad to say goodbye but really it's just a storage and packaging space. I'm much happier working from home and it's going to make life much easier having everything in one place.
Little zine mock up... not the actual front cover.

I've been on somewhat of a creative high lately. I know this won't last so I'm working as hard as I can to get as much out of it as possible. I finished my first zine last weekend (see my mini mock up to work out pagination) and am half way through my second. In true zine style I'm planning to publish under a hinden name and just let them go have their own space away from the pressures of 'Dear Colleen'. Anyway I have boxes to go pack. I might be a little quiet on all fronts until the moving is all done. But please check in next week as I have a couple of free valentines day printables coming (don't worry nothing too lovey dovey).

On a side note, I'm really keen to hear if there is anything people would be interested in me writing about in the future. I mostly just use this blog to share pockets of my life but would love to add more value to people who are good enough to read it.
Super happy Castro, killing a toy snake in his hairy bed!

Also here's a picture of Castro for Sue. Not quite a post but hope this covers it.

Tuesday 8 January 2013

Hello 2013

So here we are in 2013, it's still fresh and perfect with a hint of that new baby smell (talcum that is not poop). It's exciting to feel like there's a clean slate even if it is only psychological.

This time of year is always full of blog posts expressing goals for the year ahead. I have enjoyed reading many of them and can see the benefit to sharing a list publicly. Some how that adds accountability. I'm way to GenX to go all out with life goals, I'm much happier seeing where a mix of good luck and working hard can take me. However I though I would create a list of things that would be *rad to do at some point in the near future.

1. Bring back the word 'rad', maybe accompany it with 'dude'. I've already started to accomplish this see above. If you feel like doing me a favor slip it into a sentence this week. For example: take sip of coffee look up and smile at barrister "thanks dude this coffee is rad". Don't worry if it's a woman, women love being called dude. Fact.
Rad Tee by jacvanek.com

2. Try to mostly create cool shit. This is always an aim but in this case I mean it across the board. I want to make my social media, blog, notes to customers, interesting, funny or educational where ever possible. It's very easy as a small business to be overly wrapped up in my own work and this can result in me spamming followers who have been good enough to surport me. I would really hate to think people are rolling their eyes at my twitter stream "not a link to that damn lemons print again!".

3. Fix wholesale. My business for a few simple reasons just doesn't work for wholesale (selling to bricks and mortar shops). I hate letting good people down and I waste more time than I would like feeling stressed and upset about it. I want to sell in shops, particularly the lovely shops that let me stock with them but I need to find a way of making it work or I need to except defeat.

4. Teach. What feels like a life time ago I used to be a graphic design lecturer. I loved it, it was the best job I have ever had. I really would love to do some lecturing work again. Although I'm not really doing anything about it, just kind of blindly hoping the universe will drop an opportunity in my lap. Come on universe do your stuff.

5. Design and paint a wall mural other than for myself. Please someone let me loose in your cafe or shop.

6. Finally and most importantly visit my family and friends in the UK. As soon as I possibly can.

I hope I can achieve at least a handful of these and hopefully some extra ones. If getting pretty sick at the end of last year has taught me anything, it's that plans are fairly useless. So mostly I hope for good health and happiness for myself and for all of you.

Sunday 6 January 2013

Repeat Patterns

This is just a tiny little post about making repeat patterns. I've been meaning to teach myself offset pattern making forever and finally found some YouTube and blog tutorials this weekend. It has been such great fun that I though some of you might enjoy having a go yourselves. I have linked to the guides I used here: Illustrator, Photoshop, Paper. The links are for both digitally and hand making patterns. My style of work means that I end up doing a mix of both, usually drawing out the elements by hand and manipulating them no my computer. 

One of my aims this year is to share more information about my work precesses, providing folks find it interesting enough to read. Below I'm showing a few of the steps I took to create a design which uses a repeat pattern.

1. The first step for me is usually coming up with an idea but in this case I decided to draw up the Grumpy Cat Christmas card I had already thought of so I jumped straight into the hands on stuff. My designs start life as crappy little thumbnail drawings, as shown below. Sometimes these are in sketchbooks but more often than not they are on napkins, receipts or the back of my hand.
2. Only a small percentage of my thumbnails get drawn up. It's funny how many ideas that seem great in a light bulb moment turn out to be utter nonsense. I have two drawing styles one is semi cartoony and one is more sleek illustration. The semi cartoony slightly crappy style is much more naturally how I like to draw and I opted for this route for Grumpy Cat mark 2. Below you can see the pattern elements as well as the main illustration (I've cut them up so they fit on the scanner).
 3. Once the images are scanned in I play with colour and placement before offsetting the design and turning it into a pattern. One thing I picked up at art school is that patterns for fabrics and wrapping paper should work which ever way they are rotated. This is why some of the cats faces are side ways and upside down.
4. Here's the pattern being used as part of the background within the finished illustration.
5. And here are a couple of other patterns I made over the weekend. I kind of want this one as a dress. Might have to join Spoonflower and learn how to sew to make that a reality. 
6. I think this one still needs work, it's made from the fruit and veg illustration I did for the Seasons Eatings calendar.
Making patterns is fun. I think I'll be making a few more and hopefully will get better the more I do. I highly recommend giving it a go.