Kickstarter Campaign Update!

With just three days left to go as of this glorious Sunday morning, this first ever Kickstarter of my mine is SO close to the finishing line. There have been quite a few lessons learnt throughout the last three and a half weeks which I'm saving to share via a separate Kickstarter related post, but for now I thought I'd share a little update on what you can grab in terms of rewards if you wish to take part.

Right at the start of this campaign I told myself not to get too emotionally invested in *hopefully* getting the bags made but then as time went on I realised this was virtually impossible. I've always wanted tote bags made (and maybe if I'm super lucky one day, t-shirts!) ever since I was an early teenager so this dream of mine is at least ten years old and I've never come to close to making it happen. Tote bags alone are very expensive to get made so every last penny will be going towards having them manufactured for my shop and then I realised, why not chuck another design into the mix while I'm at it?

Now available to pledge towards is this adorable coffee design on a black fabric tote, perfect for those trips to your favourite local cafe to do some blogging or creative work. Of course, the animals design is still available and will be printed onto sky blue fabric. This one is very close to my heart as it represents love for animals as well as ethical shopping and reducing as much plastic as possible by reusing these adorable totes so if you'd like to get your hands on one and help make a small business dream come true, you can pledge here!

I'm still giving away little bundles of cuteness for anyone who wishes to pledge but doesn't quite fancy themselves a tote bag so be sure to check out the rewards list to see if anything grabs your attention and once again, a HUGE thankyou to all of you who have pledged so far and supported my first ever Kickstarter!

UPDATE! - 25/02/18

Due to reaching the £450 goal (does a crazy happy dance around the house then returns to desk) we have decided that just for a bit of fun we'd throw another design into the mix as a little stretch goal! So here it is! Happy chappy avocado will be coming to the shop if we manage to get to £500! There's still a couple of days to get involved and secure yourself a bag and thanks again to everyone who has helped to make this happen for us. We're so excited!

Lots of love,

My Top Cartoon Influences

One of my fondest childhood memories was staying with my Grandparents over a weekend and if my brother and I were lucky, our cousin would come to stay too. It was a proper little sleepover we used to have, snuggly evenings in with hot chocolates, biscuits and a heap of films. We loved Mr. Bean, The Sound of Music and Dumb and Dumber but above all we adored watching cartoons. We had a couple of videos here and there, a huge Tom & Jerry bumper set and access to Cartoon Network which my brother and I didn't have at home so it felt like a huge novelty to us. Watching these cartoons wasn't just entertainment for me, it was my first insight into the world of illustration and I quickly fell in love with certain styles. I found myself liking cartoons more if they were created in my favourite styles and sometimes it wouldn't matter if the story lines weren't so great, I just loved watching the art come to life on my screen.

Tom & Jerry

As I mentioned above, we had a big double video bumper pack thing of Tom and Jerry episodes at my Grandparents' house and we could watch them over and over again. I loved them so much that as an adult, I bought the DVD versions and watch them when I really want to chill out and draw for fun rather than work. The same short stories, Tom never managing to beat Jerry, the massive bumps the characters used to develop on their heads if they'd received a good walloping. Those were the days and also my introduction to Hanna Barbera Productions. What I also loved was the creativity behind each and every episode, the imaginative ways the producers came up with for the two characters to cause complete and utter chaos. And ya know, Tom was always my favourite.

Scooby Doo

Scooby Doo. Where do I even start with Scoody Doo. I've always been drawn to things that are spooky and scary so growing up, Scoody Doo was one of the best shows out there. The team's dynamics, especially the relationship between Scooby and Shaggy are hard not to fall in love with. You just know that someone fake is most likely behind each and every episode but does that stop you from watching and trying to work out for yourself who the bad guy is? Then out came the Scooby Doo movies where mysteries started turning out to be real life monsters and hauntings...shit just got real as they say and I have a huge collection of the DVD's proudly on my bookcase. James can't work out why I love Scooby Doo so much, but that old almost scratchy artwork that brings these characters to life is one of my favourites and is so iconic - once again the great Hanna Barbera.

Top Cat

Another classic, Top Cat! This was the first cartoon where I remember really appreciating the black outlining of the characters and how they were smooth, sometimes thick, definite markings and block colour filling them in. My favourite character from the series was Choo Choo because not only is Top Cat a wonderful animation, it has some really awesome voices involved and Choo Choo just used to tickle me everytime he said 'Hey T.C.'

Fosters Home For Imaginary Friends

Now then, this was a series I adored as soon as I saw the first episode and I remember when it first came out. Bloo is my favourite character from the show and despite being a huge asshole, he's hilarious and always up to no good. The thick black lines used within the art are one of my biggest influences ever and I remember including the creator Craig McCracken as an artist influence a few times during my sixth form days. I really love the backgrounds too, more pastel shades allowing the more solid looking outlined characters to be brought forward creating depth within the cartoon.

These are just some of my all time favourites shows from my childhood that I still watch today but I was also a huge fan of cartoons like Ed, Edd & Eddie, Powerpuff Girls and I Am Weasel! Combined together, I think cartoons have played a huge part in my creative influences and I'm so glad that they're things I am still able to watch now as a 26 year old!

Thanks for reading,

Ellis x

8 Things I Wasn't Taught At Art College

Like many creatives, I went to Sixth Form which was more or less like college to study three design based subjects and after that, I ventured off to university. If you've read my uni experience post, you'll know it didn't work out for me and I didn't stay to complete a degree and a few of the points mentioned here are some of the reasons why I just wasn't feeling it. I did however adore Sixth Form and my two years spent studying art, graphics and photography but even here I didn't learn what I find to be incredibly valuable to my  working life right now. 

1. Adobe Software
Where I'd be without Photoshop and Illustrator isn't even worth thinking about. The only chance I got during education to learn anything about Photoshop was during photography and that was literally just touching up images and altering all of the levels. We were taught nothing about layering, how to edit work you scan in, nothing about sizing or which colour setting to use for printing. Zilch. It wasn't until I was practicing in my own time that I picked up extra skills and honestly, YouTube tutorials have taught me so much more than I ever learnt at Sixth Form or university so for those of you who feel you can't do it because you haven't got a qualification, you don't need one and it's never too late to learn something new.

2. Building a Portfolio
You'd think what with trying to encourage you to get a job after studying that these educational establishments would teach you how to put a portfolio together and how to lay your work out so it's clear, not too cluttered, the artwork compliments each other based on their placements as well as content and also how to identify which of your work shows not just your strengths but your skill variety too. I wasn't taught any of this and even now my physical portfolio is tucked away behind my desk needing some much needed TLC. I've redone my portfolio a few times as I've developed as an artist and having the pages with the plastic wallets are great because you can take work out and swap it as you please.

3. Developing Your Own Style
We did a lot of recreations at Sixth Form of other artists and spent a lot of time studying other artworks rather than focussing on producing our own and developing a style. It took me years to eventually recognise a style that I had and loved to build on and even now, that style is constantly evolving as I try new things. Plus no one ever tells you that you can have more than one style, which is probably why a lot of creatives feel so restricted when it comes to artist's block, there's almost this expectation that you must stick to what you always do. Recently I've taken to art journalling and just getting my hands mucky again doing new things, which is fun and also allows you to potentially discover a new technique or material to use.

4. Approaching Agencies
Nobody tells you what sort of information to provide with these kinds of things and it can be really scary. I guess the same could be said when applying for any job really, I don't recall a time where I was ever taught how to write a good covering letter or even how to present and layout a C.V. This is something else that over time I've become a little better at and have grown in confidence (blogging sure has helped talking to new people, especially over email) but if it's your first time applying for something, get a friend or family member to proof read it and get some feedback from.

5. Marketing Yourself
Social media wasn't as big back when I first left school as it is now and it was only really Facebook that was considered useful for getting your work seen. Even still, it would have been brilliant to have been taught a little bit about how to market yourself because it can be super hard.

6. Finding & Pricing Work
Pricing work is something I think a lot of us struggle with and it really doesn't help that even today, so many people don't understand the time, effort and cost of materials that go into making art and so many of us undersell ourselves just to make a sale. I'm guilty of this and it's something I'm trying to get better at, knowing my worth and also reminding myself that this is how I make a living. I used to get a lot more emails than I do these days from people saying 'can you do this' but as soon as a price is mentioned, they're put off. I think I got over this disappointment quite quickly because my Mum is a graphic designer and artist herself so seeing her experience this over the years just made me very aware that this behaviour is just part of the job. A good tip would be to apply an hourly rate for yourself and then you can go from there, basing a price on how much time goes into it and also materials.

7. Things Don't Always Work
Experimenting with materials is something that is done a lot at art college but what I wasn't taught was to continue doing all this mucking about with new things even after education because not only is it fun, it's healthy for the creative brain and keeps the juices flowing. And, things don't always turn out to be pieces of art you're really proud of, sometimes they're just little scribbles here and there that need popping into an art journal or scrapbook to look back on or revisit at a later date.

8. Tax Returns & Accounts
The dreaded tax returns and book keeping. If you work for yourself then this is an absolute must but getting started when it comes to keeping all of your receipts and organising your earnings and expenses can be a really terrifying ordeal. No one teaches you the importance of making sure you do a tax return and keeping a record of all the income and outgoings and this is something I have leant as I've gone along and I've found that my way of organising has adapted over time and become a lot more efficient. I do paperwork at least once every fortnight which seems a little over the top when I hear of people doing theirs every 6 months but it works really well for me and reduces stress and anxiety when the time comes to fill out my tax return.

Luckily all of these points are things we can be teaching ourselves fairly easily what with the internet being at our fingertips. Granted some of them will take practice but the good news is a lack of qualification isn't going to stand in your way!

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