Monday, April 29, 2013

Impressive Ladies

A few weeks back I had the privilege of meeting Jana, a highly energetic and super enthusiastic woman  and founder of Ladies Who Impress. The idea behind LWI is that there are some pretty impressive women out there who juggle a multitude of responsibilities, have a huge range of interests and are generally pretty damn inspiring.

As a self identified polymath and someone who cringes at the gender limiting term 'Renaissance Man' - I really admire Jana for what she's done and was all too happy to offer my design services to getting her Twitter page branded to match her website. Jana is an incredible impressive lady herself, having come up with the concept and design for her own site. I wanted to keep true to what she'd made - carrying the look and feel over into her twitter page.

I'm very pleased with the end result but more importantly, so is Jana.

I've also designed my own Twitter header and background and just recently updated my Facebook page design. If you'd like a custom Social Media design you can contact me through my website.

Thursday, April 25, 2013


There's this nifty collective blog I follow called 'Doodler's Anonymous'. I don't identify as a doodler, per se, but I do enjoy doodling now and then. So when I saw their contest to doodle your ride I decided to do a little something.

Jonnie Rocket is a lovely red bike my partner gave me for Christmas. He's very shiny and here I've 'fancied' him up. I'm really enjoying playing with the Art Nouveau style, as you can probably tell.

I've also been working on my idea for a comic/blog around growing up in Inglewood and living by the river. Yesterday I rode my Blue Bullet (my bike that resides in Canada) all along the bike path, taking photos and jotting down ideas for different stories.

I love having outlets for my creativity. It's brilliant to have so many available to me and as I develop my design skills further it's fun to see the new ways I can get creative.

Seriously - if you love making beautiful things, be it visual, written or performed - just go do it. Life is too unpredictable to waste.

Monday, April 22, 2013

A million things!

I have so many things to write about!

1. I have my new computer!
I decided I needed new equipment when the latest apple operating system wouldn't download on my laptop. But I had to bide my time for multiple reasons. I planned it all out so that as of this morning, not only do I have a gorgeous new MacBook pro (Named Mutsu), but I also have the Adobe Creative Cloud, Drawscribe and an iPad. I'm seriously chuffed to finally have CS6 - something I've been lucky enough to use where I'm currently working an a part-time in-house designer - for my own personal use.

I'm really super duper excited about using Drawscribe, which I've been coveting since I finished Vector Basic Training by Von Glistchka.

2. I've got a new art idea!
I just happen to be on a visit to Canada as a surprise for my best friend's birthday. Before I arrived my mum informed me about an art project that the city has organised involving stories about the river. The initial information I got about it was extremely vague and it wasn'
t until Saturday, when I went to the project meet-up, that I really found out what it was all about. It was awesome and exciting and - most importantly - inspiring.

The deal is, Calgary is doing a series of art projects along the river and they wrangled a bunch of people from Inglewood, the community where I was born and raised, to share their stories about living along the Bow river. For those of you who know nothing about Calgary, Inglewood is the city's oldest neighbourhood. For those of you in the UK, this means that there are buildings over 100 years old. Yes, I know that's not 'old' by your standards but we're a colony, dammit. So that's super old for Alberta.

Anyhoo - I was born in and have lived in a house in Inglewood for 21 years. Needless to say, I have loads of stories about growing up here, being one block from the river, a short walk to a wild land park, bird sanctuary and fish hatchery and a few minutes from the zoo. It is also considered 'inner-city' because it takes about ten minutes to get to the heart of downtown.

This is an amazing, magical community and despite all my travels it is my favourite place in the world. So I've decided I'm going to write down some of my stories but not only that - I'm going to illustrate them too! Like little graphic novel-type-comic-esque blog entries. Coming soon!

3. Wreck City
If you live in Calgary you need to go see Wreck City! The deal is there are a bunch of houses on 7th and 5th Ave N.W. (Behind the Sunnyside Train station) that are set for demolition. The developer partnered with a bunch of local artists to turn the houses into an art 'gallery'. Essentially, the houses are being torn down anyway so until that happens they have been taken over for painting, sculpting, drawing and re-constructing.

I spent two hours there on Sunday and it was absolutely amazing. For those of you who don't live in Calgary - here are some photos.

Monday, April 15, 2013

You can get stuff with my designs on them!

A few weeks back I posted this picture on my Facebook Page.
It was met with a bevy of comments - mostly along the lines of how cool it would be printed on a phone cover, notebook, black t-shirt or as a sticker. I immediately went to TheBloggess to find out who she used for her store since she's absolutely bonkers and therefore I trust her decisions. 

She uses Zazzle - which looked like it would be super simple to set up. 

It wasn't.

Zazzle doesn't offer templates for their stuff. Like, one I could download to make sure my design fit and would look good on the huge variety of products they offer. So I had to bash away at it by doing niggly little changes to my designs to make them fit. I also decided that the zebra, as brilliant as it is, needed a background to go along with it. 

Like this background here that I did do design. This one on the notebook you can purchase through Zazzle. Yes, that's right. You can have your very own Psychedelic Zebra Design because my store is SORTED and now live! 

Or maybe a Zebra isn't your thing? Well I've put a few other designs on there too - and not just as notebooks! I've got a bunch of phone cases available! 

You can check out my entire store to see all of the stuff I've got available at the moment. I am taking requests so if there's a product you don't see that you'd like to see one of my designs on - let me know through my Facebook page or send me a tweet

I'm also taking design requests. If there's something specific you'd like to see me design - maybe you prefer lemurs to zebras or you think circles would be more fun than squares and rectangles - I aim to please!

Thursday, April 11, 2013

Shoes - from concept to finished project

The creative process for my dancing shoes, from concept to finished product:
This was a sketch I did on the flight home
from seeing family over Christmas.
At this point I didn't have the shoes yet -
just a rough idea of what I wanted to do when I did. 
The shoes arrived and I now had a canvas to work with! 

I alway do an initial sketch onto the canvas.
Sometimes, once I begin to paint, the ideas will change.
In this case my initial sketch didn't include
the sweeping lines at the bottom. 

The background done I could begin to think
about what colour I wanted my faery to be. 
This design wasn't in any of my original plans.
I knew I needed something on the inside of the right shoe
but it wasn't until I was working on the background
that I decided on this Art Nouveau style flower. 

I completely finished the right shoe before moving onto the left.
Sometimes I work more closely on both at the same time
but in this case I didn't have a final concept of what I wanted
the left shoe to look like. Finishing the right one first gave
me a lot of ideas for the left one. 

You can see from my initial sketches that my ideas changed a lot.

The finished product!
All laced up and ready for dancing! 

I'm really pleased with how they turned out.
I'm super excited to break them in with some public dancing! 

If you'd like a totally custom pair of knee high shoes
for only £80 you can order them through my website.
My shoe designs are done with the wearer in mind.
Let me capture your personality with a 100% unique pair of shoes!

Monday, April 8, 2013

To be a polymath

I've got a beef. Not a big beef, just a little niggling, I-keep-thinking-about-it-and-want-to-get-it-off-my-chest beef.

I love to learn and I love trying new things. My skill levels vary across a multitude of areas - but all things which interest me or have interested me at some point.

At the moment I'm studying British Sign Language and Psychology - because I've wanted to learn sign language since I was about fourteen and because I read psychology text books for fun so I figured I may as well keep reading them and work towards a qualification at the same time.

I've also done a lot of different jobs. I've been the CEO of a not for profit organisation that I set up because I saw a clear gap in support for GBLQQTTI youth living in Calgary.

I've worked in administrative roles, done project management, and been a fundraiser. During all this time I've expressed my creative side in various ways. I sculpt, paint, and draw. I make costumes. I paint custom shoes. I've also been employed as an animator and gone on to do some animations as personal projects.

Since moving to London I've begun flexing my design muscles and this year I am officially a professional graphic designer, working as an artworker on the comms team at a charity and doing freelance logo design, among other things.

I am a writer and have been since I was physically capable of it. I've written several young adult novels and most recently wrote my very first non-fiction book. I learn by doing and decided I'd do my own layout and formatting of this book to build on my design skills and because it's something else I can add to my super fantastic list of life accomplishments.

Now here's my beef:
I tend to get called a 'Jack of All Trades'. That's fine, but the unspoken second half of that phrase is 'Master of None', which implies a certain failing on the part of the individual. Like, sure, you do a lot of stuff but you're not particularly good at anything.

This is a beef for me because I get told I shouldn't showcase so much of what I do. That I should only put one or two things out there. But all these things show the diversity of my skill, the flexibility of my style and the variety of ideas I have. It's also not to say I haven't mastered anything. The Miscellaneous Youth Network is a thriving organisation. I don't feel the need to still be involved or to set up another not for profit. I did it, successfully.

Sometimes it's not about reaching mastery. There's nothing wrong with dabbling just for the sake of trying something out. Or I have gotten the foundation in place so I can spend the rest of my life mastering it because some things change and grow so much and so fast that learning is constant. For example, my ongoing creative projects all feed into my design work - and anyone in the design industry will tell you it's always growing and changing. I am improving every day and I wouldn't have the flexibility that I have if I didn't explore multiple mediums.

I'm going to be 28 soon. As someone under thirty I realise I'm still considered utterly youthful and inexperienced. I know I have a lot to learn - but not because I'm young - because life is full of constant discovery. There is so much to do and learn and life is shorter than we realise. I want to be eighty and still have a lot to learn and still have the passion and drive to go do it.

Call me a Jack of all Trades if you like, but for me life would be utterly boring if I only got better at doing one thing. I like to think I'm a master of life and if life is about growing and doing and experiencing - then I figure I'm doing pretty damn good. 

All that being said, this past week I finished painting this spiffy pair of shoes:

Finished laying out the first draft of my book:

handed in my first psychology assignment three weeks early,
and completed four more briefs for my current clients.

Thursday, April 4, 2013

Another pair of spiffy shoes

I have been working on a pair of shoes for my personal collection. I try to do myself a new pair of canvas shoes every year. For several years now I've wanted to get a pair of knee high ones because A) They're really neat looking and B) Just think of all the surface I get to paint!

I'm pleased to say that I managed to secure a pair recently and for the last few weeks I've been working on an Art Nouveau design inspired by my love of dancing in public.

They're still a work in progress simply because all that extra surface area really does require a lot of work - but here is Shoe 1, completed! Next shots will be of the lacing and *finger's crossed* the second shoe all done!
Actually a bit of Shoe 2, as well. 

The inside. 
The outside! 

Monday, April 1, 2013

London, um... Greenwich Journal

When I first moved to London over three yeas ago every week was an adventure in discovery. I saw iconic buildings, discovered incredible artwork and visited museums I'd always wanted to see weekly. Even when I started working I still managed to find time to explore and go to new places whenever family or friends came to visit.

Three years in and I've gotten into a routine and, I'm begrudged to admit it, turned into a Londoner in as much that I don't go to a lot of the 'touristy' attractions. I still explore and often visit places which I fell in love with upon first sight. I like going back to museums I've already seen and I manage to take in West End shows and eat out at world famous restaurants every so often. But the momentum has definitely faltered.

So this weekend was particularly fun as I ticked off two more things from my Ultimate Life List of Everything I Ever Want to Accomplish: I took a boat on the Thames and I went to Greenwich!

This March has been particularly harsh by UK standards. As a Canadian I'm used to Spring being a brutal and unpredictable season - but I know that Londoners definitely do not expect the amount of snow or bitterly cold days that we've been experiencing on month. So when the sun comes out, it is cause for rejoicing! This was the reason for the trip to Greenwich, as it's a lovely place for a day trip and the journey is as enjoyable as the destination.

But I shan't ramble on any more. Instead I'll let the photos (And captions) speak for themselves.
First of all - I've discovered the glory of panorama on my phone. 

Tate Modern and the Shard -
Tate Modern is one of those museums I keep going
back to, because it's so damn interesting. 

Sun! Glorious Sun!
And the beautiful Tower Bridge.
I have always been delighted by the particular
shade of blue they used to paint it. 
The Cutty Sark -
The prime attraction when you first
get off the ferry at Greenwich.
In its heyday this was the world's fastest tea trading clipper ship. 
A classic touristy shot - just because.