Wednesday, 29 May 2013

Inspirational Resource: Creative Sketchbook

Creative Sketchbook is an inspirational blog featuring artists, designers, illustrators, photographers and more, the list is endless. Behind the blog is creative art teacher Gemma Robinson who started this blog earlier last year. She wanted to share her creative finds, inspire her readers and to introduce new & upcoming designers as well as artists from the past. There is also an inspiring bookshelf with lovely books Gemma has recommended to read, whether its for the illustrations or as a reference book. Then down the side of the blog's page is a list of all the artists and designers she has featured, making it easier for the reader to find. I really enjoy reading this blog as it always inspires me and amazes me with what creative ideas people have. It's also nice to see some lovely art pieces from the past too.

Tuesday, 28 May 2013

Calke Abbey

Calke Abbey based in Ticknall, Derbyshire belongs to the National Trust.  The National Trust is an organization that helps protects historical houses, gardens, natural reserves, forests and more.  They are then open to the public to visit, enjoy and experience our British history.  You can become a member like myself which is based on a yearly fee.

'With peeling paintwork and overgrown courtyards, Calke Abbey tells the story of the dramatic decline of a country house estate. The house and stables are little restored, with many abandoned areas vividly portraying a period in the 20th century when numerous country houses did not survive to tell their story.
Discover the tales of an eccentric family who amassed a vast collection of hidden treasures. Visit the beautiful, yet faded, walled gardens and explore the orangery, auricula theatre and the kitchen gardens. Escape into the ancient and fragile habitats of Calke Park and its National Nature Reserve.'

*Quoted from the National Trust website.

Below I have shared many photographs showing the decay, textures, colours, unusual objects and more.  I was really inspired by the countless number of items throughout the house, I'm hoping to perhaps bring some into future projects.  The gardens are also worth having a look around especially over the next coming months when all the flowers bloom and growth from the vegetable patch.

Note:- Some photographs can be dark due to not being allowed to use flash photography due to the rooms not being use to light for such a long period of time.

Thursday, 23 May 2013


I came across these beautiful flowers when I went on a little trip to Calke Abbey the other week.  They are called Primulas, although from some background research there are loads of different species of these particular flowers, so I'm quite sure which species these are.  I couldn't believe how many colours there, but I do believe these would have been cultivated.

Wednesday, 22 May 2013

Reign Repeats: create perfect repeat patterns in Adobe Illustrator

My fellow surface pattern designer Majo has organised an online E-course called 'Reign Repeats: create perfect repeat patterns in Adobe Illustrator' via Skillshare which launches on Friday 7th June.  You can enroll for just $30. 

Below is an outline of the E-course:

'I've partnered with the awesome team of Skillshare to teach Reign Repeats: create perfect repeat patterns in Adobe Illustrator. The class is for surface pattern designers, graphic designers, illustrators, artists, crafters and anyone else who is interested in pattern design using Adobe Illustrator.

You'll submerge in the wonderful world of patterns, and learn how to use the basic Illustrator tools to bring to life your ideas. You'll learn how to create a repeat, both the old-school way and using Illustrator CS6 new Pattern Tool. At the end of the class you'll be able to create your own designs for you to use however you want; for example, to sell your own fabric on Spoonflower. To help you get started with this, you'll create a repeat for a Spoonflower contest as part of the final project.

I'll explain you how to get your hand-drawn sketches vectorised (even if you don't have a scanner), how to apply colour and then easily re-colour your design to create new colour ways, the different types of repeats and how to make them, and how to solve most of the common problems that arise when using Illustrator. I'll also teach you how to prepare perfect files for you to get your best results on Spoonflower.

At the end of the class, I'll choose the top 15 designs and will showcase them on my blog and Facebook page. For a week I'll ask my readers to vote for their favourite designs and the top 3voted will receive some fab prizes donated by Spoonflower.

This course will be packed with lots of useful info, helpful resources, and inspirational interviews from great designers that have come to reign repeats. If you can't wait to get your ideas on to fabric or any other printed surface, don't miss the class… enroll now!'

*I have also included a button on the right hand side of my blog which takes you straight to the E-course too (half way down the page).

Thursday, 16 May 2013

Lilla Rogers Book Review

Lilla Rogers has had an amazing career as an artist, teacher and agent.  As an agent, Lilla represents almost 40 artists across the globe.  Lilla wrote this book to help other creatives in their career and to show the increasing options for creative people.

I thoroughly enjoyed reading Lilla Roger's new book 'I just like to make things.'  I enjoyed it so much I found it very difficult to put down and even though I've read the whole book already I will still re-read it when ever I need to.

The book starts with Lilla's story which is very inspiring.  Then there are 5 chapters, each chapter building up to which could be the next stage of your career.  From having fun with your art, getting great at your art, to real-life strategies and getting to know the marketplace that could work for you. Then last but not least what's next for you.  There are interviews with Lilla's artists who she represents on how they work, handle, stay inspired and more.  Lilla really involves you in the book itself, like there are sections in the book where Lilla has asked you questions and there are spaces to write down your answers.

The book is presented as though it is one of Lilla Rogers sketchbooks.  Each page is beautifully presented, colourful and illustrative. There are images of Lilla's own work,  her studio and the artists work she represents as an agent, which I think works well as Lilla is sharing with you what is involved in her creative world.  Also that you can do it too.

The book is written very well in a sense that Lilla is talking to you whilst you're reading.  I felt as though she knew me as an artist/designer. Particularly when she mentioned "I know you know how fun it is to buy things-and then come home and you get to sort them."  Everything that is written is very clear, understanding and straightforward.  Each section is crystal clear, which are all linked well one after the other.  Lilla puts herself in the book a fair amount which works very well, she brings in her humor too and I felt as though I started to know her as a person.

Another way Lilla involves you in the book is by including several activities Lilla has suggested to help inspire you, motivate you and help you find the things that you like eg colours, texture, pattern, shapes, themes etc. 

Lilla explains licensing, getting to know the marketplace that would suit you.  This is a bonus as it's something a lot of creative people are unsure about particularly on how to get their work out there in the creative industry, what companies to contact and what art works best for certain companies and products.  In this section there are also interviews with several companies on what they look for in an artist and their work of art.

I have found this book very useful in different ways.  I feel I can always refer back to it to inspire and show me that I can become who I want to be.  It's a very positive book, it can help build your confidence in your work and keep you motivated to keep going and to not give up.  I am glad I brought this book, definitely worth every penny.  I'd recommend the book to any creative artist, illustrator, designer, maker etc who wants to make their career successful, profitable and exciting.

Wednesday, 15 May 2013

How to start a productive day as a freelancer

  • Clear your work space
  • Have a shower
  • Get dressed as though you're going out to work
  • Perhaps drive around the block or a 5 minutes drive as though you're travelin to work
  • Have a hot drink in your favourite mug
  • Have a good breakfast
  • Reply to emails
  • Perhaps read some blog post to help you feel inspired
  • Write a to-do-list (put in order of importance for that day)
  • Set out different tasks for that day instead of the same task alday
  • Write down your thoughts to get them off your chest
  • Perhaps take a walk
  • 30 minutes exercise
If there is anything else you'd like to add, feel free to comment below :) 

Friday, 10 May 2013

Polly Rowan

It's Follow Friday!

Polly Rowan is a textile designer from London currently studying a degree in Textiles for Fashion and Interiors at Bath School of Art. Polly's work is very abstract, colourful and quirky. Polly enjoys working traditionally and digitally.

You can find Polly on Facebook and follow her on twitter @arowantree. You can also read her inspirational blog.

Have you always wanted to be a textile designer?
Growing up I always wanted to be an “artist” or an illustrator of some sort as I’ve always loved drawing. My passion for textiles and interiors grew when I discovered screen printing at the age of 14, and Elle Decoration magazine!
How have you got to where you are now?
After finishing my A levels, I went on to do an Art Foundation at Wimbledon College of Art where I specialised in textiles. Although I love London, I wanted to go somewhere a bit smaller for University, so I moved to Bath and now I am in my third year of my degree in Textiles for Fashion and Interiors.
What's your next step?

I am moving back to London in June and will look for a job in textile design. I would love to expand my Etsy store and work on my own projects as well.
What inspires you?
Colour and pattern around me, and Scandinavian design. Reading magazines and blogs play a big part in inspiring me.
What motivates you?
Talking to my fellow textile course mates and working through ideas with others always motivates me. Seeing what other designers are doing and how they got to where they are helps - we all need a bit of competition! I am always more motivated when the sun is shining too!
How do you start a new project/design?
I will have an idea at the most random times. I read a quote a while ago (I can’t remember who said it!) that the best ideas come when walking, and I think that this is true! I will then go and take loads of first hand photographs, and start drawing and painting from the most inspirational ones. I also spend time on Pinterest and ideas grow from what I am pinning.
What do you enjoy most about design?
It’s so satisfying to have a finished design that you know is completely new. I love the drawing aspect of it, and always try to keep a hand-drawn or printed element to my designs, even if they are digital. The best designs often come from mistakes, which I like.
Do you have a favourite design that you have created?
I always like what I am currently working on the best, as I feel like I’m always improving from project to project. However I still love the felt feathers that I created last year for an exhibition.
Do you have any of your designs on products?
I have made a few cushions and notebooks in the past. And more recently I have printed my designs onto ceramic tiles, which is really exciting to see my designs on a shiny new surface! I produce a lot of wallpaper too.
What is your typical day like?
It depends what stage of the project I am at as to what I am doing. At the moment I get to university at 9:30am and do some digital work on the Macs as I am currently visualising my prints within interior spaces. I love doing drawing or sketchbook work in the studios we have at Bath School of Art and Design as they are really inspirational, busy spaces overlooking the beautiful city. I am organising my designs to be printed digitally on fabric and wallpaper at the moment, and doing some screen printing as well. I work until about 8pm at uni, then head home to relax with dinner with my flatmates, or go out with friends. I do yoga once a week as well which helps me wind down.
What medias do you like to use?
I usually paint with acrylics as you can layer the colours so easily. I like a mixture of collage, pen, ink, and paint though. I really enjoyed printing with potatoes during the last project as they gave such a gorgeous hand printed effect!
What do you hope that 2013 will bring for you?
I am hoping that it will be a bit of an adventure as so many changes are happening! I would love to gain some experience in a design studio and do more networking when I move to London to meet other creative people.
Do you get a lot of support from family and friends?
Definitely, two of my flatmates are textile students and we always help each other out when we’re stressed! My family are very helpful; my mum even drove 2 hours to Bath this weekend to help me buy materials for my degree show! And my boyfriend is the most positive and supportive boyfriend I could ask for!
Where would you like to see yourself in 5 years time?
I would love to be living in London, either working for a studio whose style I love, or working for myself.
Do you have a favourite illustrator, designer etc?
I love the work of the designers for Finnish design company Marimekko, and Debbie Powell and Josef Frank are favourite designers of mine.
Favourite blog?
Print and Pattern blog is the first blog I started reading and I still love scrolling through it to discover new print designers. I love Here Comes the Sun as a lifestyle blog, and More Design Please for original bits and pieces of design. I could go on forever considering I subscribe to about 60 blogs!
Favourite design book?
I loved reading through Pattern by Orla Kiely, as she goes into such detail about how she got to where she is, and the design process. I really admire what she’s done!
Thank you for your time Polly, I really appreciate it. If you'd like a feature and interview on this blog, please contact me via email:

Friday, 3 May 2013

Priscilla Griscti

It's Follow Friday!

Priscilla Griscti is an artist based in Malta.  It was Pricilla's illustrations I first discovered when surfing the internet.  They are very unique, with great detail and beautiful colours.  The hand-drawn approach on each work of art she creates is ecstatic. Priscilla also creates drawings paintings, collages, design and photography.

You can find Priscilla on Facebook, Behance and twitter @ainhoarts.

Have you always wanted to be an artist?

I have been drawing from as far back as I can remember, my parents say that I had a good hand at drawing even before I myself can recall. However, personally, I became firmly convinced of art being my passion when I was around 7 years old. I remember with clarity that it was a line drawing of a horse, quite simple to look at, but quite a challenging for a 7 year old to accomplish. I remember not knowing how it started, but I do remember its progression and its completion with absolute accuracy. I can recount its creation in acute detail, but more importantly I can still vividly feel the emotions and feelings that ran through me during its making. It started off with a rigid line in pencil, dragged firmly across the paper with great precision as though I were incising into a hard material. Without being concerned with its final representation, yet controlling it with absolute confidence, I freed my mind of all thoughts and my pencil began to travel as though being driven by a higher source. From start to finish, I had not once taken the pencil off the paper. It resulted in a flowing and continuous line that began from point A, of which its end had once again reached its point of departure. As though taking a full circle of perfection and moulding it into the desired image that I had concealed in my mind, I found myself at the end of what had initially appeared to me as an impossible journey, feeling as though I had somehow been magically driven there. This overwhelming feeling was in fact my first recollection of strong inspiration and that was when I knew with complete certainty that art would be something I will always love doing.

How have you got to where you are now?

I would say through relentless productivity and determination, and with the real encouragement and support given to me by my parents and by people who admire my art. By being artistically productive and by striving towards being relentlessly innovative, opportunities just came to me naturally without my need to go in search for them.

What inspires you?

Life inspires me, which creates an endlessly infinite number of things that are open to my inspiration. The concept of Love inspires me, as does Spirituality, Philosophy, Psychology and even Science. I am inspired by people and nature, and everything in between. Once you recognise that there is love in all of creation, then there is nothing that doesn't inspire you. Even scenes of tragedy carry their own beauty, and once you see beauty in the harshness of life, there is little left to be uninspired by. That being said, I am deeply intrigued by anything in nature or in art that carries a ''a mystery of the unknown''. I fall in love with people, concepts, ideas or creations that are able to transport me into a world that I am unfamiliar with. And what is truly amazing is that every living thing carries this mystery.

What motivates you?

Spirituality is the driving force behind my inspiration. The same internal energy that moves my being is the same motivator behind my creation. Drawing comes as naturally to me as it is for one to breathe, it is immensely personal and is a necessity for my growth as an individual.

How do you start a new project?

I always carry a sketchbook or a moleskine around with me. Even if I am going out in the evening, I make sure to carry a small A5 sized sketchbook with me in my hand bag, in case I ever feel the urge to sketch something or jot down an idea that comes to mind. Inspiration finds you when you are working and it finds you in the most awkward and unlikely of places, so it is always useful to have a pen and a paper with you at all times. Once you start sketching it becomes easier to create and more natural to become inspired. Productivity suddenly becomes a relentless addiction, beautiful in its own way. I find myself sketching on bus stops as I am waiting for the bus, or moments before meeting someone, or even around people when the conversation goes silent. With a sketchbook I feel like no matter where I am I can never be bored, because by sketching I am allowed the freedom of my imagination. Through constant sketching and branching of different ideas, a new project comes to me very naturally because I can view the flow of my subconscious outlined through the progression of my drawings, that further leads me to the creation of the larger artworks.

What do you enjoy most about being an artist?

For me, being an artist is not only when I create, but it is a way of life. It changes the way you look at life, how you deal with people, it is a way to learn how live in an honest way and it teaches you how to be true to yourself and to others. Art is a source that continuously gives a great abundance of infinite love. Given that I, as the artist, am honest with myself and that which I wish to create, then I am constantly being given back love in return. Art has helped me understand myself in ways so profound that I doubt I could have ever reached through any other source. This has made me grow to such an extent spiritually, that it makes me yearn to continue growing and maturing as a person and as an artist. The amazing part is that through creating, my artworks pave the way to the right direction in my life, like arrows guiding me. The act of creation immerses me into a realm of pure submission to the work, allows the mind to cease thinking, in order to enter into a meditative state of pure focus and letting go. It is one of the most sublime feelings, which is indescribable.

What is your typical day like?

Every morning as I wake up, at the very moment as I open my eyes, I feel overwhelmed with immense gratitude for being alive and everything around me seems to glisten with beauty. The first thing I do is stretch and then take my dogs out for a walk in a beautiful garden very near my house, often carrying a fruit with me in a way that makes me feel closer to nature. After the walk I sit in the garden and meditate for a short 5 minutes before starting my day. When I get home I go straight to my studio and start drawing or painting whilst simultaneously listening to classical music. If I am not in my studio generally I am in Malta's beautiful capital city (Valletta) doing daily errands, again walking in awe of the Baroque architecture and meeting people from and outside the city. If I've spent the whole day in Valletta (whereby I would have still found time to sketch on my Moleskine), I still retire to my studio to continue working on an unfinished painting. At the end of the day I generally meet my boyfriend where we get into this profound discussion about the cosmos or some other philosophical question that can never really truly have an answer. Very often we look back at the artwork I have created that same day and we discuss different ideas that are brought to mind as we contemplate over it. At the end of the day I very often stay with my family and we watch a foreign language film together. When I go out on weekends I always try to go to various cultural activities, and try to be as varied as possible; be it art exhibitions, theatre events, musical performances, live concerts, jazz festivals, stand-up comedy shows, local feasts and the like. Such places where there is an abundance of art or culture keeps me very much grounded in that which I love.

What medias do you like to use?

Every distinct medium carries its own unique characteristics that make it unlike any other. This is why relentless productivity and experimentation is absolutely vital, because the artist must master the potentials and limits of each medium, in order to know which one to pick up to achieve the best desired expression. I tend to fall in love with every given medium, because each one carries a certain singularity that none of the other mediums can achieve with such eloquence. Each medium has its own language, but alternatively, that does not mean that one needs to know the language in order to understand the message someone is trying to say.

I work in various media including pencils, inks, pastels, charcoals, oils and acrylics, I also work in collage and photo-montage, I sculpt in clay and take photographs amongst many other things. Perhaps it is a result of being self-taught, but I never put restrictions on what I should or shouldn't use, or the means of how it takes me to get to the final expression. I never limit myself to any one medium or style because ultimately it is not what you use to create that is important, but the message behind it and how powerfully you express it. One does not need an extensive vocabulary in order to write good poetry. Hence, the medium is generally rendered useless because my concern is the ''soul'' and strength of expression beyond the image. Many times the medium is obliterated, because I have photographs that look like drawings in charcoal, I have works in pastels that look like they have been painted in oils, and I have pencil drawings that are akin to photographs.

What do you hope that 2013 will bring for you?

In September of this year I will be holding another solo exhibition of my artworks at a beautiful Palazzo in Mdina, Malta, and I hope that as with my past exhibitions it will be received positively and with success. Presently I am also discussing the possibilities of having my artworks exhibited in prominent galleries in Paris and Dubai, whilst at the same time discussing other noteworthy locations in Malta. I hope that 2013 will first and foremost allow me to produce artworks that will be profoundly strong and will be able to create an impact on the viewers and hit them to their innermost emotional core, and with that positive opportunities will follow.

Do you get a lot of support from family and friends?

My family has always supported me in Art since I was a little girl. They always thoroughly encouraged me to follow my dreams, to be free, and to carry on in the line that I wished to be heading and for this I am eternally grateful. I had support from many of my friends who believed in me from the very beginning, and who continuously give me words of appreciation. Of course there were many others that disliked the idea of me being an artist, but somehow with time I eventually gained their respect and admiration, which at times was both surprising and fulfilling.

Where would you like to see yourself in 5 years time?

My immediate wish is to have my works exhibited in a prominent gallery in New York, Paris or London. In 5 years time I would like to continue exhibiting in major galleries and museums both in Europe and internationally. In the future I hope to see my works alongside the top artists. The reason being is that I wish for my artworks to continue to be seen by others in the future when I am long gone, hopefully being able to evoke emotions in them regardless of the age they were created in.

Thank you for your time Priscilla, I really appreciate it.

If you'd like a feature and interview on this blog, please don't hesitate to contact me via email:

Thursday, 2 May 2013

Beautiful geo ceramics by Erin Lightfoot

Erin Lightfoot is an artist and designer based in Australia.  Erin creates beautifully crafted ceramics which are inspired by Art Deco and Bauhaus movement.  She explores different geometry shapes to create wonderful designs with delightful colours that are chosen attentively. Each ceramic piece is an limited edition.  Each ceramic piece is carefully created, designed, formed, polished and glaze from start to finish by Erin herself.  Erin also has an online store.

*All images are subject to copyright
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