Things I have learnt this year so far;
1. I’m not good at blogging.
I would like to let you all know that I started this year with grand intentions; endless project ideas and a determination to actually keep updating this blog somewhat regularly. I think we can all agree that I’ve failed dismally. This is partly because I always seem to assume that the work I set myself won’t actually take as long as it does. I didn’t really think about the time I was going to need to dedicate for writing a blog, I assumed writing, photographing, editing and uploading would all only take about an hour or so and it would be a great thing in between illustration projects that would only take me a matter of days to complete.
Oh how wrong I was.
So, after three months of nothing but tumbleweed I’ve decided to try and change my tactics, and in honour of my new years resolution (see previous post!), I’m setting myself a more achievable goal. As the point of this blog in the first place was to share more about what I’m getting up to, I’m going to try and keep up a monthly-update style post, with a little summary of the projects I’ve been working on. Hopefully this means I’ll be able to share a lot more behind-the-scenes snaps which would interfere with my theme on Instagram, without the pressure of having to update a blog every week because I’m just. too. lazy.
So without further ado, what have I been up to in March?
Taking Part in March Meet the Maker; This year was the first year I took part in the #marchmeetthemaker Challenge on Instagram, and this was definitely a prime example of me thinking things are not going to take very long when in fact they are incredibly time consuming. For those of you who don’t know, it’s a challenge run by designer/illustrator, Joanne Hawker, and aims to help Makers introduce themselves and share a bit of background about their work, using prompts to discuss different aspects of their small businesses. After dragging poor Henry through countless product shoots, spending a ridiculous number of hours writing captions and trying to line all my photos up together to make sure they actually looked good next to each other (before obviously scrapping half of them because they didn’t, in fact, look good next to each other) I’m actually very proud that I made it to the end and didn’t miss a single day! I’m sure I make this sound like it was a terrible ordeal but I actually really enjoyed taking part. It’s a fantastic, creative way to spend a whole month talking about yourself, what’s not to love? Not to mention the engagement on my Instagram has been incredible – obviously very important, – and I’ve found loads of other wonderful artists and makers to follow and be inspired by. Below, I’ve included some of my favourite pics that I shared, but if you’re interested in this challenge and want to see more of what I shared you can find it allllllll over on my Instagram; @nyassahindeillustration.
Finishing off a Batch of Earrings; This month I also finished making my third batch of earrings. I actually started making these in January, but as with most things, I got so swept up with other work that these were temporarily set aside. However, they’ve now been sanded, painted, assembled and varnished and they’re pretty much ready to go on sale. I’ve even been working on better packaging for them, so my goal to be an entirely plastic free shop can finally be realised. This batch of earrings is a little different from my other two, there are no repeat designs, and there are only 6 pairs that are going to go on sale. As much as I loved the previous designs, I had so many new ideas too, and I wanted to make things that were a little bit more intricate. The reason that there are so few available is because they do take quite a long time (and a lot of effort), each earring is individually painted, which can take me up to an hour per pair. Also, I actually quite like having one-of-a-kind designs available and I think I’m going to avoid making too many copies; I think it makes each pair more personal, and will hopefully make the customers that purchase them fall more in love with them. However, if you have any opinions on this I would love for you to let me know, is there a pair that you loved, or wanted to buy and didn’t get the chance to? Or on the other hand do you think I should keep each pair of earrings completely unique?
Designing Greetings Cards; This year I set myself a goal of expanding my range of greetings cards to sell on Etsy, because the current selection is pretty dire, with only two leaf-laden options available that I’m not even sure I like anymore. Oh how I love self-doubt in my practice. So I’m currently mid-way through producing a collection and this set of cards is seaside themed. There are going to be 5 different designs, each for a different occasion, complete with fishy puns and colourful seascapes. So far, only one has been completed. I never really thought about collections of cards before, and only really worked with one-off designs, but I’ve had a great time brainstorming ideas, sketching and most importantly deciding on a colour palette. My goal is to have these finished by the end of April, and ready to go on sale for summer, but as this is a personal project, it might get pushed back depending on other work that I have going on.
Working on a Logo Commission; A client commission I’ve been working on this month is a logo design. I don’t always offer this service and generally assess whether I will be appropriate for each commission individually, primarily because I didn’t study graphic design and I don’t feel I know enough about branding. However, Anthony is a returning client, and it’s quite nice to work with people who already know your style, especially when they’re as easy to work with as he is. Anthony is a Natural History Photographer, and I worked on his previous logo for him, however this logo is for his travel blog that will fully go live when he embarks on a big old trip in June, with his travelling partner James. As mentioned previously, I’ve never studied or researched much into branding (probably not good as an illustrator…) so my process might be completely against what you’re supposed to do, but on the other hand I think most creatives take the make-it-up-as-you-go-along approach to work, so maybe I’m not that far off? I tend to begin logo projects with a Pinterest board full of imagery, that inspires the initial sketches. From those, I draw out a handful of ideas that I send off to the client for some feedback, and to make sure we’re both on the same page. Once they’ve selected a few ideas that they like, I’ll either develop further, or draw out a more finalised idea, adding in colour and focussing more on typography. I don’t start any final artwork until I know my clients going to be happy with the result, so there’s often a lot of emailing involved, but I would rather that than having to start over several times. Below are a couple of ideas for the designs and colour palettes that I’m working on at the moment; as you can probably tell, we’re not quite ready for a final outcome, but I am definitely loving the ideas (and constantly feeling hungry!)
Working on a Children’s Book Project; If you’ve been following me on Instagram you’ll probably know that this is not strictly a March project, but actually something that I’ve been working on for quite a while. In fact it was last October (ish) that two girls studyingcreative writing at Falmouth University got in touch to ask whether I wanted to work with them on a children’s book project about marine litter. Keeping the planet clean and protecting nature is something that is very important to me, and publishing a story book that educates children on topics like this is actually one of my illustration goals, so of course I was very excited to offer my help. The story tells of a sea turtle who lives on an island made of litter, and in a storm the island is destroyed. In her journey to rebuild her home she comes across several other marine creatures who have been badly affected by the rubbish in the sea, and she learns that although it was useful to her, the negative impact is far greater. After months and months of sketching and re-sketching I’m finally working on a double spread painting, which I’m not actually going to share until it’s all done because I need to keep at least some things a surprise. Instead, here’s a sneaky peek of a spread that I painted in December last year;
General Life Updates; So there we go, that’s all the work that I’ve been juggling forMarch (and most of it for February and January as well but we won’t dwell too much on that.) I did some other things too, including going on lots of adventures with Henry, and last week I took a few days break to visit my mum, which involved a lot of fun things like strolling round London and also a lot of complaining on my behalf about the very limited snack selection she had available in her kitchen. It turns out she hates cooking even more than I do.
I feel like I talk a lot about “not having time to get things done”, and you might look at the projects I’ve got on at the moment and wonder how on earth these can be taking so long. Just to provide some context for this, I work a part time job alongside my illustration (because ya gal needs to pay her rent) and believe it or not, that, and being an adult takes up a lot of time. I mean, who even has time to do their washing and clean the bathroom, not me. And don’t even get me started on having to go for a food shop. It’s also important to me to make time to see friends and get outside, because there is nothing like being in nature to inspire me to go back home and pull out my sketchbook. The most important part of being a freelancer, in my opinion, is being able to manage your time, and hopefully one day I’ll be able to dedicate many more hours to working on the projects I want to do and still manage to do life admin but that day is not today and I need a lot more practice at this big old balancing act.
Thank you for sticking round long enough to keep up with all the things I’ve been up to, and I hope you enjoyed this glimpse into how my studio time is spent. If you liked reading this post, and want me to keep up a monthly update on what I’ve been working on please let me know, and equally if you want to see more of what I actually do in day to day life as well as my studio I might try and include more of that next time (but equally I might forget to ever write a blog post ever again, who knows?!)
Lots of Love