Twenty Thirteen

February 7th, 2013

It’s ironic that in my last blog I talked about fixing things, as approximately 3 hours later my laptop imploded after a graphics card failure. So I’m late again, apologies, but I have a pretty good excuse this time! Here’s my review of Twenty Twelve, masterfully titled Twenty Thirteen.

When I last wrote in Twenty Twelve I had just started working with Lesa at I Heart Buttons. She was just setting out on her quest for button-domination and she felt it was time for a bit of a re-brand and a new site to showcase her range of button bouquets and accessories. I helped her to come up with some new logos and a website that I felt reflected the style and quality of her work, which was a bit of a learning curve for me as at this point I had only ever designed my own site and didn’t have a great deal of experience developing for others.

I Heart Buttons Logo

I’m very grateful to Lesa for trusting me with the build, and happily the site has been a massive success! Lesa’s button empire has grown considerably since we first met early last year, and the site has grown with it as the content management system behind it allows for new pages and content to be added quickly and easily. To match the site, I also designed a brochure that showcases a handful of bouquets from her range, which also proved popular with brides looking for something special for their wedding day. There’ll be more about I Heart Buttons later, but first I need to tell you about hedgehogs.

Around Easter I received an email from an author with an idea for a children’s’ book about a hedgehog who lived in an enchanted land. She was looking for someone to create a map of the enchanted land based on her description, and of course I jumped at the chance. Most of the work I do these days is basically graphic or website design but illustration is my first love and I’ll never turn down an opportunity to doodle! The author was so pleased with the finished map that she also asked me to have a go at drawing Egel, the main character of the book. I was a real challenge to capture on paper a concept originally conceived and nurtured in another persons’ mind, but it was also a lot of fun and we were both very pleased with the final illustrations.

In summer came an opportunity to further improve my web-design skills when I took a commission from hairdresser Arron O’Halloran. Arron needed a website with integrated blog where he could post style advice and inspiration for his clients, and Arrono was the result! Go take a look, book a trim, he’s very good.

Finally we’ll take a look at my first project of the new year, which takes us full-circle back to I Heart Buttons! Lesa has come up with a brilliant new idea for 2013, designed to breathe new life into the humble buttonhole and get us blokes more involved in the wedding planning process, as well as encouraging men to brighten up their boring old suit with a button-boutonnière. I was asked to develop a new site and branding for the venture, named I Heart Buttonholes, and used all of the knowledge gained since designing the original I Heart Buttons site in early 2012 to make it a site to be proud of.

Well that brings us up to date. It’s customary at this point to set a resolution for the year, but this year I don’t think I’ll bother. I’ve never liked the number thirteen you see, it’s reputation for being unlucky is a massive cliché, but whether it’s a trick of the mind (if you expect bad to happen, you’ll find a bad thing happening) or the result of a superstitious upbringing it really has brought me bad luck over the years. 2013 is the only year I’ll ever see that ends in 13, so if I’m going to have one terrible year if my life I’ve decided that this is likely to be it. If I make it to 2014, that’ll be good enough for me!

Twenty Thirteen: Prologue

January 20th, 2013

I was hoping that the Mayans were right, I was hoping that my blogging days were to be cut short by some indeterminate cataclysm. The end of the world would have been sad an’ all, but at least my terminal case of writers block would have been euthanised, and I’d be floating blissfully in the great beyond rather than wringing my stupid brain out in front of a screen. I’m not a blogger, I don’t even like the word blogger. Bloggers are extroverts and enthusiasts with a pathological need to share. Perez Hilton is a good example of a blogger, make of that what you will. I’m an introvert who cares deeply about his work but doesn’t particularly want to shout about it, and yet here I am again.

Most people of my introspective persuasion would have conceded to it by now, but my compulsive tendencies prevent me from giving up on anything unless I can convince myself that it is 100% impossible. If something breaks, I’ll either fix it or reduce it to scrap just to silence the niggling part of my brain that tells me “You should still be able to fix that thing Dave, try harder, have another go”. Consequently I’m pretty good at fixing stuff, but I also have a big box of broken components in my cupboard.

This is a pretty long winded, hyperbolic way of apologising for the lack of new content last year, but it’s also a promise to myself that I will continue to document my progress for as long as it continues. The posts might not be regular (or anything more than rambling soliloquy for that matter)  but they’ll happen eventually. Stay tuned for a quick review of 2012, I’ve got some catching up to do!

Twenty Twelve

March 11th, 2012

Hey everyone! I hope your year has been good so far. We’re about a quarter of the way into 2012 so I thought it was high time for an update, especially since the skies are brightening up and I’ll be an even lazier blogger when summer arrives to coax me from my hibernation-hollow.

Looking back to Christmas, I completed the 2011 Jenkins Marine Christmas card. I started working for these guys in my last year of university, when we were set a professional practice project and had to bag ourselves some real clients for the first time. Since then it’s become a weird but wonderful Christmas tradition to illustrate a tug or a barge or a dredger and produce a nautical yet festive illustration for their annual card. Thankfully I was brought up in a little fishing town and as a kid I used to draw the boats in the harbour, so I have plenty of experience when it comes to maritime doodles!

I also took some time out for personal work and designed a Christmas card of my own. Entitled The First Supper, it is a loving parody of The Last Supper by Leonardo da Vinci. This was also featured on Illustration Rally’s Christmas Rally, which was pretty cool.

Aside from the Christmas stuff, I’ve been doing some more work for Lesa at I Heart Buttons. She wanted a sign to promote her new shop in Ryde on the Isle of Wight, where she sells many pretty things from button bouquets to vintage Betty Boop memorabilia. I thought it would be a nice idea to combine those two things on the sign with an illustration of Betty holding a button bouquet, and we were really happy with how it turned out.

It was also nice to be able to go and see a physical manifestation of my work, happily doing its’ job on Union street outside the I Heart Buttons Shop. I’m so used to only seeing my work on a screen that it comes as a surprise whenever I encounter it somewhere else!

Until next time, thanks for reading!

Retrospective Part Four: Two Weddings And A Website

December 27th, 2011

Hi everyone, I hope you had a nice Christmas! As we’re officially languishing in the festive anticlimax zone I thought I’d take the opportunity to conclude this series of retrospectives before the rekindled excitement and increased alcohol consumption of new years eve gets in the way. After all it would seem a shame to have to revisit this old ground in a new year, when there are so many new ideas, designs and opportunities to rattle on about.

It’s September 2011 and the new website I’ve been agonising over for months is almost complete. It took a while because up until this point I had basically been cheating, using a template-based website builder to create my online presence quickly and easily without having to write any code. Consequently, I had to teach myself the basics of  HTML, CSS, Javascript and enough PHP to integrate a WordPress blog before I could begin. Quite an effort you might think, but curiosity will do that to you. I never liked having a website that I didn’t build myself because I didn’t understand how it worked or how to fix it if something got broken, not to mention the fact that I was always constrained within a boxy template of someone else’s creation.

It may have taken months, but my curiosity is satisfied, I know my new site intimately and gained a great deal of technical knowledge that can be applied to other projects in the future. If you haven’t checked out the rest of the site yet, there’s plenty to see so feel free to amble around at your leisure. There’ll be some new work in the gallery later this week, and I’m planning to add a little gift shop in the new year, stocked with prints and other illustrated shinies

Okay now a warning, the remainder of this blog is wedding related so if you’re the kind of bloke/sane woman whose brain shuts down the moment a female mentions anything even slightly matrimonial, you may want to click that little x in the top-right now. For those who are still with me, we’ve reached November and I’ve just finished a brochure for a certain Isle Of Wight Wedding Photographer called Chris Cowley. Chris wanted to showcase some of his work to prospective clients, so I came up with this clean and elegant design to match his existing website and branding. Click on the image to see more, or follow the link above if you’re in need of an excellent photographer for your wedding – I really can’t recommend him highly enough.

Following on from this in December, I was also approached by a nice lady named Lesa from I Heart Buttons. Lesa makes lovely vintage button bouquets for weddings and beautifully unique jewellery and decorations for all occasions, and she was in need of an advertisement for her company, again to harmonise with existing branding and showcase her work – I only hope that I did it justice! Make sure you check her site out, especially if you’re planning a wedding and looking for a creative, original bouquet that will last a lifetime.

So that brings us right back up to date in December 2011, armed with a few more unrealistic resolutions and ready to embark upon a new year. I’m not sure how 2011 was for you, but it certainly wasn’t my favourite of the 26.41 years I’ve experienced so far. I certainly learned a lot, tried new things and hit a few snakes and ladders along the way – but I can’t deny that 2011 has been a melancholy orbit. We’ve had tsunamis, natural and nuclear tragedies, protests, strikes and economical disasters, civil war, dead dictators and mad men running around with guns, not to mention Frankie Cocozza and the fact that Jedward are still breathing. Add to that a few sources of personal sadness, and the new year becomes a very attractive prospect. With so much room for improvement, this is a year for positivity.

My resolution is simply to make 2012 a happy year, and I plan on sticking to it.