Some Things That Happened in April – a studio update

As much as I hate to admit it, April felt quite unproductive compared to the busy month I had in March. Maybe it was the visit from my parents, the days spent celebrating Henry’s birthday, or the spontaneous appearance of some warm summer weather, but they days that I had booked off work to focus on my illustration seemed to pass much more often paddling in the sea than sat at my desk, (no, I’m definitely not complaining.) I had hoped that I’d be able to set aside some time to work on a few more products for my Etsy shop this month; Unfortunately, however the greetings cards I’ve been working on were put on the back burner as other work became a priority.

However, the reason I wanted to start writing these monthly updates in the first place was to remind myself that even when I feel like I’m not achieving anything, that doesn’t mean I’m actually not achieving anything. So instead of wallowing in self pity at the things I haven’t done yet, here is a few bits that I did get done in April.

Illustration Updates;

Releasing My Earring Collection on Etsy;

After weeks of redesigning the packaging, taking product photos, and just general faffing, my latest collection of earrings have finally made their way onto Etsy.

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As well as actually making the earrings, a top priority for me before these new earrings went on sale was to find the the perfect, plastic free alternative to the scraps of bubble wrap that I was previously using, which obviously lead to countless hours of researching. The jewellery boxes I finally settled on are from the Tiny Box Company and are entirely recyclable; even the squishy padding inside to protect the earring sets is a recycled eco-fibre, making this option much kinder to the planet. I also decided to splash out on getting a rubber stamp with my logo on it so the jewellery boxes can be personalised (and also because who doesn’t want a stamp with their name on it?) This, I’ve also decided, can be used to stamp all my orders that go out, and probably everything else that’s sitting on my desk at the time.

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So, if you’re a fan of smiley-face-adorned objects or pastel colours then I definitely recommend a visit to my Etsy here where you can take a peek at the new one-of-a-kind designs while I still have stock left.

 

Noodle Bros Logo Design;

This logo design is something you might also remember from last months studio update, as I was mid-way through developing a colour palette when that post was uploaded, in time for it to finally be finished off at the beginning of April. After the initial sketches were sent off, the client very quickly narrowed the ideas down to those following, and from there, I was free to play around with colours that I thought would be appropriate.

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In the end, we stuck to a blue colour palette, with a very bright yellow noodles to contrast the darker background, and I was really pleased with the results. I mentioned before that I don’t often take on this kind of project, and I don’t really advertise that I offer logo designs, but it was nice to experiment a bit with the iPad that I bought myself for Christmas, and to work on a concept that is really different to what I normally create.

 

Still working on a children’s book project;

This is yet another project that has been a work-in-progress for a while now, but I finally managed to make a breakthrough in getting a big chunk of it done. I’ve been sketching and changing layouts and editing text placement since about October, but I finally have drafts for every single one of the double page spreads, and I even managed to squeeze in time to paint a spread too.

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I’ve never ever painted the sea before, or waves, or a stormy sky, so to throw it all into one painting, scatter in some litter, and try to make it look good… needless to say it was a bit of a challenge. My opinions of how it turned out; not the best and not the worst. I did find it very tricky and if I were to do it again, there’s a lot I would do differently, but I’m very proud of myself for finishing, and also for only crying about it once, which is a pretty big achievement if you ask me.   

Life Updates;

So that’s it for artwork; it’s considerably less than all I managed to achieve in March, but I’m learning to accept that I can’t do everything all at once and that’s ok. I also have some very exciting projects in the works for May, and a million new product ideas for my little online shop, so I don’t think I’ll be running out of things to share any time soon.

I also made a lot of time for my own personal life this month. My parent’s and youngest brother made the long journey down to Falmouth for a few lovely, rainy days of sitting inside and wondering what to do in the bad weather. We did try and brave St Michael’s Mount in the wind, but the closest we got was admiring it from a local cafe with a bowl of chips, before opting instead for pottery painting at Star Glazers Cafe in Falmouth.

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Obviously, as soon as my family headed back to Hertfordshire, the sunshine appeared and all I wanted to do was be outside. Me and Henry took our first dip in the sea this year (yes, obviously wearing wetsuits, we’re not insane), and we had our first BBQ on the beach – all very significant events in our very boring adult lives.

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I hope you enjoyed this slightly quieter studio update, and if you’d like to be notified when I post again, don’t forget to follow (via the button at the bottom of this page.)

Lots of Love,

Nyassa

Some Things I Got Up to in March – a studio update

Things I have learnt this year so far;

1. I’m not good at blogging.

2. …

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.

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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?

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Untitled_Artwork-4.jpgDesigning 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!)

Noodle Bros

 

19. Dream CollaborationWorking 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;  

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Untitled_Artwork-1General 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

Nyassa

 

An Ode to 2018

After months of procrastination, and a severe lack of motivation I’ve finally written another blog post, and this one is an ode to 2018.

Last year was a pretty big year for me, because it was the year I graduated from uni, and left education and start being a real, full-time adult. Post-Uni-Life has felt a little bit like running a race except everyone around me seems to have had a head start and I have no idea where the finish line is. As someone that hates running it’s been pretty hard to watch everyone ahead of me reaching all their big milestones while I feel absolutely exhausted and like I’m going nowhere. On a more positive note there are probably people running the race behind me who feel like I’ve had a head start but it’s not always easy to remind yourself of that.

So with 2018 practically over (and in reality 2019 will probably have begun before I get round to posting this) I decided to remind myself of all the things I did achieve this year.

Some things that happened that were really good in 2018;

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  • I went to New York and took my portfolio to big scary art directors and travelled around a big scary city and ate a lot of food.
  • I’ve been lucky enough to visit a lot of other amazing places that I’ve never been before (and a few places I had been before.)
  • I graduated with a 2:1 and I got a certificate, and a chocolate coin and I shook Dawn French’s hand!
  • I moved in with my boyfriend and my bestfriend (and her boyfriend) and we now live in a really cute house full of plants that overlooks the river and has a view of the most beautiful sunrises that I’ve ever seen (because now I have to get up for work in time to see the sunrise.)
  • after doubting my artistic ability for so long this year I started to actually feel PROUD of the work I was doing, which lead to me doing a lot of work that I was really happy with.
  • I learnt how to do a lot of new things, including making earrings which sold out twice and I reached 100 sales on Etsy, which might not seem like a lot to some people but I was very proud.
  • I got to come home for Christmas and spend the last week of the year with my family and my lovely pup.

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So all in all it sounds like I had a pretty good year right? Well in the interest in keeping social media “Real”, and not just acting like my life is just endless highlights, I’ll tell you a bit about the things that also weren’t so fab in 2018, but I hope will be different next year.

 

Some things that sucked;

  • sometimes I am just stressed – although instagram, the true highlight reel of our lives, can make it look like everyone is all fine and dandy all the time, it’s 100% because we choose to only share the highlights. I’m certainly guilty of keeping drawings that I’m not happy with, ripped up sketchbook pages, or tears (and trust me there were a lot of those this year) to myself. This probably isn’t something that is ever going to change, but I’m definitely going to start making an effort to remind myself that there is no point comparing my “everyday life” to the “everyday life” that I think everyone else is living.
  • Loneliness – I haven’t made a whole load of friends since leaving uni, and as I spend a lot of time at home making art, I don’t see a lot of people, and in the latter half of the year this is something I felt particularly rubbish about, but definitely something I’m going to put a lot of effort into changing in 2019.
  • I miss my family – 2018 was the 6th (!!!) year of me living away from home, and maybe you’d think after all this time I wouldn’t find it so difficult, and yes, I’m definitely more used to it now, but sometimes I still find it a bit rubbish. I’d love to be able to hop on the train and be at my parents house on the other side but unfortunately a whole load of land and sea has been sitting between us.
  • I thought I could do a lot more than I could – possibly my worst trait is thinking that I can do a lot more than I can. My to-do lists are renowned for being impossible even for a super human to achieve, let alone little old me trying to squeeze everything in after an 8 hour shift at work. This has resulted in countless tearful evenings wondering why I haven’t been able to complete my to-do list that is longer than my entire body.

So in light of all the good things, and the not so good things that made up 2018, I should probably set out some intentions for this year too. I would like to let you all know that sometime in December I sat down to plan what I wanted the coming year to look like, and set myself some goals. After letting myself put up with bucketloads of stress, and pressure from myself to “achieve everything”, the first thing I wrote down was this;

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After I wrote this I continued to write a list of about 50 goals that I wanted to achieve, all in the next five minutes of course, so I guess that just goes to show why I think I might need to stop putting so much pressure on myself in the first place. Needless to say I scrapped that overwhelming list and set myself some things that might actually be a bit more achievable.

  • learn to drive (I guess now I’ve written it down I really do have to stop putting it off)
  • take a class in something fun
  • stop overwatering my plants (do you think this counts as an unrealistic goal?)
  • start setting aside time to do things that aren’t work, like maybe read a book or something
  • stop buying so many snacks!!! (my actual goal is to stop buying snacks packaged in plastic and start making snacks instead but it doesn’t have quite the same ring to it.)
  • stop biting my nails PLEASE

you might notice that I didn’t put down a whole load of illustration goals. I do have a few; I want to release a collection of stationary, and finish a story book I’ve been working on, and I’d like to actually do some of the projects that have been on my ideas list since the dawn of time. But most importantly I want to stop putting so much pressure on myself to achieve everything all at once. Illustration is a long game and it’s easy to see successful people living their best life and forget that we all started out doing rubbish jobs “for exposure” whilst waiting tables or stacking shelves. (If you’re a successful illustrator who didn’t do this please teach me your ways.)

I’m not really much of a believer in the “New Year, New Me” rubbish, because really a new year is just another day, but there are definitely things I would like to try and do, (or in some cases… not do anymore) and a new year is a good excuse to remind yourself of where you’re going, and how you’re going to get there. Hopefully the things I’ve set out to achieve this year won’t turn out to be “unrealistic goals” but I suppose if they are then that’s ok too, I’ve gotta keep something for my 2020 list of resolutions right?

Lots of Love

Nyassa

 

Behind the Scenes – Making My Earring Collection

Blog post three and I’m finally going to talk about something art related.

If you follow me on any other social media platform you’ll probably already know that recently I decided to make a tiny collection of clay earrings to put up for sale on Etsy. This was very exciting and the first twelve pairs I made sold out in less than four days, something I was not anticipating at all. Since then, I’ve sold a whole other batch, and although to a lot of people this probably won’t seem like very much of an achievement I spent a lot of time trying to create something perfect, and it meant a lot to me to get so much positive feedback from friends and the lovely people who follow me. So, I wanted to write a little post about how I went about starting this little project so that in a hundred years time when I’ve finally had another bright idea I might actually remember how to carry it out.

Now the first thing that I’d like to mention, as a disclaimer, is that I never liked clay. I have many  painful memories of being given lumps of gritty, already-partially-dried clay that made my hands itch at school and being asked to then produce something ridiculous like a perfectly formed vase when all I could muster was a very lopsided pinch-pot. This lead to my very stubborn opinion that “I can’t do it.”

Now, you’re probably now wondering why I’ve just graduated with an illustration degree and focused most of my third year working on children’s book plans and illustrated maps, and now suddenly I’ve decided to make a batch of earrings, using clay, which I don’t like?

Although I loved my degree there was something I didn’t really love about having to do all my work to achieve a grade. The last year especially had me constantly rushing to meet a deadline and overwhelmed by the feeling of not being able to work quickly enough (gosh, that’s a bit deep for a silly post about how I made some earrings) and the immediate feeling upon graduating was that all I wanted to do for a while was make something entirely different. I also definitely didn’t want to be making anything for deadlines. (If anyone is looking to hire me I would just like to let you know now that I’ve moved past this feeling, I’ve made my earrings, and I am very capable of meeting deadlines.)

I began with a pack of fimo modelling clay and a few sketches of planets with smiley faces.

To be honest I actually began with wondering what the hell I was going to use to make earrings but that doesn’t nearly dramatic enough for a blog post. I went for fimo clay, partly because it was £2.50 in my local art shop and partly because I don’t have any space for a massive kiln in my bedroom and I probably couldn’t justify buying one just to glaze a handful of earrings for a post-uni -mid-life-crisis.

Once I’d decided on the clay, I also had to get some tools. In the art shop the lovely lady behind the till had recommended a beautiful modelling set complete with dinky little plastic knives and one of those sticks with a wire hoop on the end. If you know anything about clay you’d probably tell me these are 100% necessary for making anything worthwhile but considering I didn’t actually know how to use these tools I instead visited a beach cafe and took some of the free wooden cutlery. At least I know that’s not a chunk of plastic that’s going to ruin the planet if I decide never to use it again.

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Once I’d drawn a few ideas, I cut out some paper stencils and traced the shapes onto a lump of clay that I’d rolled out to be about half a centimetre thick. I had thought it would be simple. It wasn’t.

I tell myself that it was because I was trying to make something that was far too small and fiddly but facing the facts it’s probably because I was trying to make something perfect in a medium that for years I’d told myself I didn’t like. Not really surprising it didn’t quite go to plan. I spent hours and hours trying to smooth out tiny little shapes and get circles perfectly round only to pick each earring off the table and have it flop in my fingers. I ended up shaping each earring on pieces of baking parchment and letting it dry before trying to move it anywhere. Thank goodness lopsided and handmade has come into fashion because my little earrings probably wouldn’t stand a chance if everyone was expecting a perfectly identical pair.

I very quickly realised that a lot of the process of this little project simply involved waiting about, and it took just about 24 hours for the earrings to set and harden enough for me to be able to continue working on them. One thing I noticed was that it was virtually impossible to get the perfectly smooth edges to the earrings while I was shaping them. Luckily, I had some sandpaper lying around that had somehow ended up in our stuff during the move out of our student accommodation (i definitely don’t mean that I saw it in a draw, thought “that might be useful at some point” and put it in a box.) I also found that sanding the surfaces gently made the paint stick better when I started painting them, so probably an all round useful step to include.

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Generally when I start working on an illustration project I plan the colour palettes that I want to use in photoshop. This always looks like a child has found my laptop and dried to colour something in for me but no, it’s just me. I then try and recreate the colours that I’ve picked out digitally, and around 1.87% of the time it turns out looking how I expected it to look. I used acrylic paint because that’s what I had lying around at home, though a quick google search did tell me this probably was the best option anyway. It is a completely different feel to painting on paper, and I found it took me much longer to blend the colours and get the gradients I can normally get from paper but in the end I managed it, and there was another period of waiting for things to dry. Untitled-1 Processed with VSCO with m5 preset

The next step was varnishing, and this is where I had a little bit of a mishap (because I really hadn’t thought about what I was doing.) I laid all the earrings out on another sheet of baking paper, and painted what I thought was a thin layer of varnish over the top of each of them, with the intention of turning them over and painting the other side when this was dry. However when it came to turning the earrings over I found that the varnish had stuck the earrings to the paper and when I peeled them off, the paint peeled off the back in clumps, leaving me with an earring that was painted and varnished on one side, and patchy on the reverse. Luckily it was all salvageable and after a few days of re-painting in a terrible grump I was back on track and all the earrings turned out looking ok despite the mishap.

The final step in the actual making of the product involved putting them all together. I ummed and ahhed over whether the earrings should be on a hoop or a hook, and eventually settled on the hook, which turned out to be the wrong choice. It was pretty fiddly to join the the earring piece to the hook with only a tiny little jewellery link from a box that I ended up spilling on the floor at least a dozen times. This was definitely a part of the process where steady hands were needed, and on the first go I clamped down too hard on the earring and snapped it, but with a little practice I managed and I finally had my little pairs of earrings all neatly made and ready to wear!

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You’re probably assuming that this is where the post ends, with a nice “and all the earrings were sold and lived happily ever after” but I had a few steps left so bear with me.

If you’re buying any little gift, especially off a site like Etsy it will come packaged, even if the packaging is minimal. As a person who likes drawing nice things, I always want my packaging to look… well… nice, so naturally the next step was to work out what the best (and of course prettiest) way of packaging the earrings for posting would be. My main goal was to package the earrings as minimally as possible, and without plastic, which immediately ruled out what would have been my go-to; bubble-wrap.

So here were my three ideas;

A jewellery box or pouch – these can be bought from eco-craft.com, a wholesale site dealing in eco friendly packaging for small businesses. The best thing about this option was that it looked like I would be able to carry it out with absolutely no need for plastic, and I would probably be able to decorate the box with a personalised stamp or hand drawn decorations. However there were a few cons. Although the boxes are actually priced very reasonably, it would cost more than I had budgeted to spend on packaging, and that would mean having to put the cost of post & packaging up when listing it on Etsy. Not to mention that putting the earrings in a box, and then in an envelope, would mean a bigger parcel, and overall a bigger cost on postage and just seemed a little unnecessary. Also, I was a little concerned about the idea of having my earrings rattling around in a box, no matter how well padded with tissue paper.

Wrapping the earring sets in fabric – this second idea would probably have worked out the safest for the earrings, however there were also a few issues with this one that meant I ruled it out fairly quickly. Firstly, I thought it could look a little tacky. If I had the facilities at home to screen print fabric with a funky pattern then this had the potential to look absolutely adorable, as well as completely pad out the earrings to protect them. However, as I don’t have the space or any screen printing knowledge, I would be limited to using scraps of whatever I could find, and if this happened to be fabric that was old or a bit tired, then overall the package of earrings would probably end up not looking particularly nice. Not to mention I didn’t actually have any clue where I’d be able to source scraps of material of any kind.

Lastly, using backing cards and wrapping these with tissue paper – this was the idea that I eventually settled on. Having a piece of backing card that the earrings could be attached to meant there was something to hold the earrings flat as they were packaged and posted, and it also provided a much easier shape to be wrapped in tissue. The backing card could also be designed to reflect the design of the earrings, so the two could compliment each other, and it could have the name of the earring set printed on, as well as details like my website (because you can never have too much self-promotion.) But most importantly, the backing card could just be an element that looked pretty. Wrapping the earrings in tissue, I hoped, would keep them well protected in the post (more on this in a moment) and also, it looked adorable; each earring set was already gift wrapped so even if it wasn’t intended as a gift, the customer could still feel like they were receiving one.

So settling on the last idea for postage and packaging, I needed to design the backing card for each of the earring sets. I didn’t want anything that would stand out too much, or detract attention from the earrings, so I decided that a basic pattern for each earring set, in different colours would work well. By pattern I mean I drew out a rectangle shape, used a brush pen to draw some repeated shapes at random across this, and hoped for the best. I also used my brush pen to hand letter a title for each of the earring sets, and I added my little logo at the bottom.

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The last thing that needed to be done before I uploaded the listings to Etsy was to photograph the earrings so that people would have an idea of what they were actually buying. Luckily my lovely boyfriend is a photographer, so where I would photograph everything on the automatic setting, he sets up entire studio shoots in our study and makes it look actually a little bit professional. This is also the cause of most of our arguments. I won’t bore you with exactly how we took the photos, mostly because I have no clue, but I will summarise the experience with this lovely quote from Henry; “my least favourite part of our relationship is when you ask me to help with your product photography.” He’s a real charmer.

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I put the earrings up and was so lucky to get a lot of love and support for them, but before I end this post I would like to mention one last mishap. Unfortunately the packaging I had settled on was not entirely fool-proof and one set of earrings did break on their way to their new home. Although I had firmly believed that a good amount of tissue would keep the earrings padded enough, I couldn’t risk any other pairs being broken as it would be just too time consuming (not to mention costly) to have to remake the pairs if any more had been damaged. Luckily a local business in Penryn offered up their unused scraps of bubble wrap for me to package the earrings. Although this is certainly not the plastic free option I was after, it does give me a bit more time to work on a packaging idea that is absolutely safe, as well as preventing their scraps from ending up in landfill. In the next batch of earrings I make, I’d also like to include a note letting customers know that if they don’t want to throw their piece of bubble wrap in the bin I’d be happy for them to send it back for me to re-use!

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so there we go, a lot process was spent “leaving things to dry” and the rest of it was spent panicking about the earrings getting damaged at every step, and also wondering why I wasn’t doing “actual work” to expand my portfolio. Despite that, I’m really glad I made these. It was nice to do something different, nice to have a break, and really nice to receive the love from my friends and all the people who bought a pair (or two!). I’m now mid way through making my third batch, hopefully in time for Christmas; I might have even added some wintery designs… If you have any ideas for earrings you’d like to see, or if you just want to say hi you can find me on instagram (please follow me I really love the attention.) or if you’d like to see what else I have available on my Etsy you can find it here (please buy my things, I love being able to pay rent.)

Lots of Love

Nyassa

 

big thank you to Henry for helping me take photos even though I am an awful creative director.

 

 

 

The Ideal Plants for First-Time Plant Parents

Well here we are, blog post two! I actually stuck with it. I think I deserve some kind of medal!

In my last (and first) post, I said that I wanted this blog to be mainly “art things”, so naturally I’m not going to talk about art work at all in this post. Instead I’m going to talk about my other great love; house plants.

Yes, I know, there is really nothing more cliche these days than a plant-loving-millennial but I honestly can’t help it, I actually think I have a problem. (The problem being my dwindling bank balance as my entire income is spent on purchasing pretty plant pots for my ever growing plant family.) Now, I’m not about to claim that I am a great, or even remotely good plant mum; I have no time worrying about if I’ve over or underwater and I don’t have a bedroom that provides good natural light to all of it’s corner. However I have perfected the art of finding plants that will tolerate a fair amount of abuse so this carefully curated list is full of hassle-free plants is perfect for anyone looking to jazz up their room a little bit, as well as some – hopefully helpful – advice on how to make sure they don’t all die the minute you bring them through your front door.

Firstly, the Spider Plant – In my opinion, the spider plant takes the spot of easiest plant to care for that I have ever owned. Perfect for first time plant parents. A lovely friend of mine kindly donated a teeny tiny baby spider plant to me last year, and despite a traumatic start to life, (with a 9 hour coach journey spent in a backpack), this babe has not. stopped. growing. They don’t need overly sunny spots, they hardly ever need repotting and you can water them as and when you remember, though the general rule of thumb with all plants is to let the soil dry before you water again. They also grow baby spiderettes which can be left to dangle as mine are, or repotted by cutting them from the stem and sticking them in some soil – really, it’s that easy.

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Common Ivy – Although you’re probably thinking that this is definitely an out door plant that’s not suitable for growing it a pot plant these plants surprisingly a ridiculous easy plant to care for. Last year I had my Ivy hanging from the ceiling, however now, fearing the wrath of our landlord, he’s sitting on top of the DVD cabinet alongside his pals BB-8 and Chewbacca (courtesy of Henry and Rhianna). Similarly to the Spider Plant they are amazing because they’re not fussy. When you look up Ivy Care most websites say that they prefer moist soil but will tolerate dry soil, which I take to mean you can just water them as and when you remember and they probably won’t die. The only thing to watch out for would be their tendency to cling to walls, which looks very edgy but is not edgy when you’re scrubbing dirty marks off your bedroom wall at the end of your tenancy.

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Aloe Vera – When cared for correctly they are the perfect funky statement piece for your room with all the additional health benefits that you could want from a house plant. The gel inside their leaves can be used for anything from making face masks to treating sunburn. Some people even drink it in smoothies, though I’m really not sure about that.
However… I do not have a good track record with Aloe Veras. The first Aloe Vera plant that I owned had the same traumatic start as the Spider Plant and It took a lot of coaxing, a lot of plant food, and a lot of moving him about to the prime sunny spots of my remarkably un-sunny student room, for it to somewhat recover. And then I stood on it. Though I suppose, despite having lost almost half it’s leaves, and the rest looking ominously squashed it has pulled through. Just.
The second Aloe I own was bought as a fully grown plant and it insists on permanently looking it’s worst; Nothing I can do can stop this poor babes’ leaves from falling off. I read that Aloe Vera’s need to be watered deeply, however this caused root rot in both of mine, which was fixed by taking them out their soil, cutting off any gross looking roots, repotting, and PRAYING that it will recover. I also read to keep them out of direct sunlight, however when I do this the leaves droop and especially the larger of the two flops over like a rag doll so it seems to me like you just can’t win. However, most people seem fairly successful in their aloe rearing, so if you’d like to risk it then they’re certainly the ideal plant to have.

          _IMG6310salty aloe

Spathiphyllum (or Peace Lily) – I bought an incredibly overpriced one from the Eden Project on a trip last year. Mine has had a few up’s and down’s since then, probably due to me accidentally keeping it in bright, direct sunlight, which you’re not supposed to do, but since moving house it has been slowly recovering. One of the best things about Peace Lily’s is they “tell” you if there’s something wrong; if their leaves are drooping, they need watering; if they’re not producing flowers, it’s because they’re not getting enough sunlight; if the leaves start turning brown and dull, it’s had too much sun. I personally like to keep my plants in pretty pots, and not the plastic ones with holes in the bottom, meaning draining can sometimes be an issue, however a tip I’ve picked up that works for most plants is to add a generous layer of pebbles at the bottom of the pot, underneath the soil; if you accidentally over water then it will drain here and the roots won’t get damp and rot.

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String of Hearts – most succulents give up the will to live the minute I get my hands on them, so managing to keep this one alive and actually thriving seems to me, a bit of a miracle. Thankfully this plant seems almost as tolerant as the spider plant or ivy, and despite it’s shady home on our shelves the only affect this seems to have had is darker green leaves rather than the highly instagrammable silver colouring that they can have. As with most house plants, the biggest danger is overwatering, so I try to water in tiny dribbles at a time to avoid the treacherous soggy bottom.

_IMG6242Yucca Elephantipes (Spineless Yucca) – This plant was a true “love at first sight” purchase and although as a plant parent you’re not supposed to have favourites, this babe is definitely mine.
Native to areas around the Caribbean, they’re practically drought-proof and ideal if you’re likely to forget to water it. They prefer bright light and will thrive best outside, but mine has been subjected to living in a corner of our living room and it seems to be doing alright. One thing I would watch out for is their deceptively spiky leaves; I’ve seen a lot of blogs suggesting wearing safety goggles while handling this plant, and while I that might be going a little too far, they are a nightmare to repot.

 

_IMG6362Ficus Elastica (or Rubber Plant) – The Ficus plant is probably the most “sensible” member of the family, and they
seem to be incredibly “on-trend” at the moment, cropping up on every other blogger’s instagram. I bought mine from Sainsbury’s, partly for the lovely big leaves, but mostly because I liked the pot that has since become too small and been donated to another plant. Although this blog post is about plants that are easy to care for, I’d be tempted to place this one in the slightly more temperamental category as they are one of those plants that need “plenty of light but not too much” (honestly, what does that even mean??) and need to be watered different amounts at different times of the year. This is obviously a bit of a faff to keep track of, but generally it’s safe to assume that you need to water it once a week in the summer, and once every two to three weeks in the winter. There are a few other tips recommended for keeping a Ficus looking healthy, including wiping off their leaves with a damp cloth to stop those big ol’ leaves from collecting dust. Also, keeping them in a pot that is slightly too big encourages them to grow, if you’re hoping for a full on rubber tree!

Pothos – also known as the Devil’s Ivy are yet another plant that has the ability to survive the water-when-you-remember kind of plant parent and a strong contender with the Spider Plant for the top spot of “plants you can’t kill.” They can tolerate anything from bright to dull light, however it is best to keep them out of direct sunlight as this can cause sunburn/yellowing leaves. There are several variations, most featuring variegated leaves, (though mine is not that exciting) and they’re easily propagated by cutting off a vine a sticking it in some water to root. What’s more, they look great in a hanging basket or on a nice shelf – perfect for instagram.

          Pothos    Monstera

Finally, the Monsteras Obliqua – this is the newest member of my plant family, so really I can’t comment yet on how easy they are to care for because I haven’t been given enough time to kill this one off yet. However I wanted to include in because I love it’s funky leaves and I would recommend it purely based on how edgy it looks.
If you’ve been on any social media platform recently you probably know how popular the swiss cheese plant has become and this smaller version certainly satisfies my love of dangling plants. From what I read, they need moist but not soggy soil and bright but indirect sunlight (to me that just sounds like a plant that’s trying to be difficult.) However it is redeemed by being the kind of plant that indicates when something is not right, for example yellowing leaves can mean it has been overwatered, and brown tipped leaves indicate that the air is too dry and they need to be misted.

So there we have it, a brief (or perhaps not so much) introduction to my plant family, and hopefully some helpful advice on how to not be a plant-killer. If you know of any tips that I haven’t mentioned let me know in the comments, or better yet if you think of any other easy-care plants that I need to invest in I’d love to know that too!

Lots of Love

Nyassa

The photographs featured on this post were very kindly taken by Henry, the rather reluctant other parent to my plants. Thanks you for letting me fill our room with leaves!

Hoppin’ on the Blogging Bandwagon

Well. Here we are, it was fairly inevitable, but I appear to have hopped onto the blogging bandwagon. This is probably going to start out very rambley because I’m a bit out of practice with this writing lark, but if you’re interested in what I’ve been up to, or what life as a twenty-something year old freelance illustrator is like, (probably not very exciting), then this is the blog for you.

This blog is a little bit to celebrate the fact that I have finished uni and now I am well and truly an adult (ha, what a joke!), but also a lot because I like the sound of my own voice(/keyboard). This week actually seemed like a pretty good time to start writing because I have just moved out of my student house and into another equally questionably home. I can’t believe I have spent an entire three years carefully curating a perfect collection of houseplants for my little uni bedroom, and now I’ve had to up and move all 20 to a new home. Not to mention all the outdoor plants, and Rhianna’s equally extensive plant family.

Regardless, it’s been a pretty big change because I’ve moved in with my boyfriend (gross!) and while some of you might think that’s all cute and fun, I have only just realised how many socks he owns, and with this realisation has come the horrifying truth that he will probably leave Every. Single. One. Of. Them on the floor before he notices the mess he has made or decides to do his washing. I am also living with Rhianna; my University-Best-Pal and her boyfriend so thankfully someone else will be there to defuse any arguments about where dirty laundry belongs.

socks

So what exactly is this blog going to be about? Probably quite a lot of things but I’m not organised enough to have thought too much about it. I’m an illustrator, a self confessed plant fanatic, I love dogs and I drink a lot of coffee, so those things will probably feature here quite a lot. I mostly want to talk about “Art Things”, because I run a very tiny Etsy Shop, and I like painting pictures. I love seeing other artists process work and behind the scenes, so it would be cool to share my own too. I also I recently decided to start eating more plants and less dairy (I’m basically Vegan), and while I’m succeeding at the no-dairy bit, I think I’ve just replaced it with carbs rather than plants. Nevertheless, I guess chatting about changing up what I eat, and trying to live a more sustainable life might also be interesting. Probably. I mean it interests me and that’s all that matters right?

I’m really excited to share a bit more about what I get up to, rather than only having the short snippets oversharing I already do on instagram, though realistically I’m probably writing to an audience of three (Rhianna, Henry, and probably my mum.) I hope we can all hang out again soon but in the mean time come find me on my Instagram or Twitter, (or both if you’re feeling generous.)

Lots of Love
Nyassa

        new houseThe View