Loving Lately - Mini Prints

This new size and shape of print is my newest and favourite thing to design and play with. Just 10cm x 10cm (about 4x4 inches) in size, including a crisp white border...they are printed on Kodak Lustre photo paper...not too glossy, not too matte...just right for photos and illustrations :) I call them Mini Prints!

It started when I came back from NYC, with a little collection of photos that showed some of my favourite "less touristy" pieces of the city. I had these printed for myself and then thought as a set of nine they looked sweet grouped together too...so I popped them in the store.

What to do with mini prints?!

What to do with mini prints?!

The more I thought about it, the more uses I had for them. Mostly I stick them places (aka desk monitor) with washi tape which is a removable tape found in craft/stationery stores like Spotlight, Riot, Organise My, Kikki K etc). Then I noticed little photo/menu stands (these gold ones are from Kikki K) around the place that were great for swapping the photos out for others in the set...perching on shelves or workspaces. The small size of the prints means magnets can easily keep them stuck on the fridge. AND they can be slipped into cards, books or attached to presents as gift cards :)

Now I've started looking into which of my prints can be miniaturised...because who doesn't love things in miniature...it's one of my weaknesses. Above is the Book Cover Mini Prints set of nine...the detail of watercolour and hand illustration shows up really well even though they're tiny prints :)

I used to print and hand-cut these Peonies & Linen Mini Prints (some with watercolour lettering, others just peonies from Chancery Lane nestled in linen) but now that I've discovered square photo printing with white borders, someone else can do the cutting for me, yay! I also love that they come in retro polaroid style designs.

Here is one of the original sets that are now longer hand cut (happy dance!) You could bundle them up with a shipping tag to give to someone like I did with Sophie. The "Courage, Dear Heart" collection from wandering in and around the Southern Highlands of New South Wales is still one of my all-time favourites :)

Anyway, just wanted to share my thought process behind them and some newer mini print collections. I hope you love them as much as I do!

Curious Treasures with Jacqui Lynch

My conversation with artist and designer, Jacqui Lynch, was one of those pockets where time just disappears for awhile! Creator of the colouring book "Curious Treasures", Jacqui shared where she finds inspiration for the unique designs found on these pages. Think geology formations, seed pods, fruit slices, fantastical inventions and underwater treasures. For anyone seeking an alternative to the mass produced and often repeated themes in the world of colouring, this is the book for you.  (See also the Spring issue of the Bendigo Magazine for more of the interview)

Images supplied by Jacqui Lynch

Images supplied by Jacqui Lynch

On the inspiration for...

A lot of Jacqui's inspiration comes from patterns in nature.  From the sections that make up a beetle to the colours and crevices in rock surfaces....all the way to the other-worldly spheres of space. It's important to take the time to notice repeating patterns, to hone in on the smallest of details, to appreciate the ordinary and the amazing in everything around us...and this is where inspiration can be found.

Jacqui also specialises in fine art, and her work in landscapes, water-scapes, space-scapes and the abstract also sparks ideas when it comes to the pages of her book. She also loves to zero in on things that can't be seen by the naked eye by using a microscope, and finds the details of functional design (plants/beetles etc) are visually appealing. In a way, nature and the patterns to the abstract found within it, is what she thrives on.

On the role of colouring and creativity in her life, and the idea for a book...

Jacqui confesses that she was an avid colourer when she was small, often competing with her sisters for the colouring competitions that appeared in the local paper. Then there were the 72+ tins of Derwent pencils that every kid has coveted at some stage of growing up. (Bloggers note: I was always in awe that my cousin had the double decker tin...I had the 24 set and I dropped them one day and half of them rolled under the fridge. Absolute devastation and rivers of tears followed. A Derwent set was everything!)

With these memories fresh in her mind, and already being an accomplished fine artist herself, Jacqui's fourteen year old daughter also helped contribute to and refine the idea. Often colouring together, searching for new colouring books, and with a joint appreciation of Derwents...Jacqui realised that there was a market for unique quality designs to colour for people of all ages.  

A quick Google or browse of YouTube reinforces the epic popularity of adult colouring books for the purposes of creative expression and mindfulness. But, with huge popularity comes mass produced books, and copying/repeating and pirating of designs is common. Jacqui realised, based on her shared experiences with her daughter, that things like heavier single sided pages and unusual designs like seed pods and geology formations would help her stand out from the crowd. Also an understanding of a designers mind vs. a colourers mind....exploring outside the lines vs. staying inside the lines, added an extra dimension to the project.

Images supplied by Jacqui Lynch

Images supplied by Jacqui Lynch

On the making of, and what she learned...

Jacqui discovered many things along the way. That digital designing with vectors (unlimited upsizing) helped with tweaking composition and designs along the way.  It also meant she was able to supersize her designs as part of a local street festival which saw "floor to ceiling" size pages stuck to store windows near Bob Boutique. Throw in a bucket of crayons and passers-by found themselves participating in a huge communal colouring project. 

Then, designing a book for herself as opposed to her clients (Jacqui also runs a graphic and book design company) also introduces a new perspective of moments like the anxiety before going to print for the first time! 

Also, there are unique design considerations when it comes to colouring books. The inclusion of borders means each page feels more like an individual piece of artwork. That open spaces need to be closed....every single line of them. Paper weights contribute to postage categories. Ratios of colours and spaces, patterns and whitespace...these are all considerations.  Then, what about alternating colours being applied to spaces that are numbered odd vs. even? The list goes on!

Images supplied by Jacqui Lynch

Images supplied by Jacqui Lynch

On her favourite designs?

Fruit slices and seed pods!

On future designs?

Butterflies, insects and moths...from a scientific angle.

On her most popular designs?

The geology ones are really popular as they're so different.

Where can we find her?

Jacqui sells individual pages to print and colour in her online store, along with canvas art of finished and coloured designs. Her book is also available in her online store, and locally at Bob Boutique in Williamson Street. Also, Facebook! Need help with designing your own book? She does that too :)

Curious about this site? You can subscribe using the links below or visit my store :)

Curious about this site? You can subscribe using the links below or visit my store :)

Nest Design Studio with Bel

For the Spring issue of Bendigo Magazine I had a chat over coffee with designer and author Belinda (aka Bel) from Nest Design Studio about her first book, Beautiful Babies' Rooms. If I had to pin down what it was about design for kids that I love so much, it would be the chance to play with colours, patterns and finishes (hello glitter!) that you wouldn't normally see in grown-up design. I love anything playful and different...and to find a local designer with her own book about all of the above...I was drawn to Bel's world where she works her magic with all of the above every day.

Source: Nest Design Studio

Source: Nest Design Studio

On getting started in interior design for nurseries and kid's rooms...

Having already been a qualified interior designer for over fifteen years, Bel was on maternity leave with her first child and was putting together ideas for her own nursery...as you'd find most Mums doing. Then she started blogging (writing) about it, and readers started asking her for advice. Fast forward about six years, and she's giving her advice and styling expertise professionally to families across the world for over 300 rooms and counting. It's not uncommon to spot her work in magazines (see also: House & Garden's Top 50 Rooms of 2015 List)...and she also provides imagery for branding and social media campaigns. Oh - and then there's her book! :)

On what the book is about...

The book is a closer look at the design components of each nursery she has chosen to include, focusing on why the pieces were chosen and how they were brought together to complete a cohesive individual look. It's just as important for the space to allow her smallest clients to dream and grow, as it is for the parents to include pieces that are meaningful to the family as a whole. The books also gives advice in areas such as how to style shelving (aka shelfies), how to choose a designer, and how to lay out a gallery wall.  The clients amongst these pages are all Australian based, and the book took about 3 months to put together.

Source: Nest Design Studio

Source: Nest Design Studio

On her clients and readers...

The book and her design services are helpful to her regional clients as they don't always have the access to metro stores and services. She loves that every client has something that is meaningful to them...like a song from their wedding, a family saying, pets or heirlooms...and learning all about these pieces of the family is what often gives cues for a design theme to set the tone for the space. Bel understands this first hand, as she has incorporated wooden pieces from the family farm into her own nurseries.

On her favourite story...

She loves discovering the different backgrounds of the families she works with. One client played for an Italian soccer team and had Italian royalty in their background. The aspects of this heritage that formed part of her final design, and the heartwarming response from the family seeing nods to past and present is what she loves most at the end of the day.

On her signature style...

It's about gaining insight into the family and what is meaningful to them, reflecting on those finds, and creating a room that is timeless. Rooms can be "on trend" but not just for the trends sake. Weaving together threads from these different sources is what makes her rooms both fresh, unique and nostalgic for the family.

Source: Nest Design Studio

Source: Nest Design Studio

On design inspiration...

Pinterest! Not just for bringing together potential design boards, but cataloguing her finds along the way helps with sourcing items when the time comes. She has a 2000 piece cushion library! What about in the days before Pinterest? You'd be amazed what you can do with Excel when collecting/tracking designs...but we both agree Pinterest is pretty much the best invention ever :)

On the services she provides...

Bel is available for consultations or design kits (design boards, shopping lists, styling notes and floorplans). Or the client can engage her for the full design from start to finish including on-site consultations, ordering, installing, liaising with trades and styling right through until the finished product.

On what's next...

Now that she's written about nursery design, the next book will focus on kid's rooms. The best part about designing for families is the constant evolving of the spaces...tweaking existing designs or dreaming up new ones for babies that are now ready for their big kid room. But a sibling is following along behind ready for their own take on the nursery...it's always changing!

On where to find her book...

Locally, Organise My (in Bath Lane) and Gathered (in View Street) are both stockists. Her website, Nest Design Studio has more stockist details, including an online store, as does her local publisher Of The World Books.

Click to visit store.

Click to visit store.

I Have a Worry by Tanya Balcke

For the Spring Issue of the Bendigo Magazine, I got to sit down with Tanya Balcke, writer and illustrator of the popular children's book I Have a Worry ...and navigator of the self publishing world! Her book struck a chord with me...as I love whimsical illustrations, a story with a practical message for kids, and someone who has the gumption to decide they're going to write and illustrate....AND publish their own book. Plus, she has a pretty cool name ;)

Photo supplied by Tanya Balcke

Photo supplied by Tanya Balcke

On the inspiration for...

I Have a Worry was inspired by many young children I have taught as a Primary School Teacher. As our lives become busier and move so fast, many children feel pressure from friendships, education and family. This book was written to start the conversations with children about anxiety and hopefully, empower children to address their worries. I Have a Worry was written to help build a child’s skill set when considering a worry. The little purple worry allows the children to think about their problem using a concrete tool. They are then able to ‘give’ this worry to someone else for some time, empowering the child as to whether they will allow the worry to control them or not. The feelings in this book have been shared by the children I have worked with over time.  These are their descriptions of how some worries make them feel.

On the process of writing...

Term 1 school holidays 2015 – I was extremely selfish and spent most of the 2 weeks at my kitchen table illustrating with water colours. I sat down and wrote the story quite quickly, the words just tumbled out and sounded right. I didn’t do too much to the text after the first write, which is quite unusual.  The voice of the story is very naturally how I speak to my children at school, and most of the book is what the children have told me over time so I had no reason to change it.

The hardest part was becoming a self-publisher, as I was independently scanning my paintings into my computer, loading them into a graphics program and compiling it myself, with extremely limited knowledge. Then, sourcing a company that I felt understood the integrity of my story, who could print it and cared about quality. This process took me on a life lesson, learning patience from setbacks, and persistence to believe in the message of my book.

The time frame from what I thought was a finished book, ended up being about 5 months of back and forth emails to my printer who keep pushing me to ‘make it better’. I was very fortunate to find a printer who was patient and expected the best. It was the 48th time I sent my book through that I received the ‘thumbs up’ from them!

Photo supplied by Tanya Balcke

Photo supplied by Tanya Balcke

On the illustrations...

I would not call myself an artist at all. I am a person who has liked drawing and ‘playing’ with arty things all of my life. To be honest, the illustrations happened due to my inexperience in this world of publishing, and I just felt it was easier if I drew them myself. After I drew the first few, I tested them on my three boys, just casually asking them what they thought. Their response was ‘Yeah, they’re cool Mum,’ which to me meant ‘If the boys were happy, I’m happy.’  I do like the idea that the children are connecting with the simplistic nature of the illustrations.

On the best part...

I don’t think I can narrow it down to one...

  • The personal messages I am receiving daily from parents and children who have received a copy of I Have a Worry and have taken the time to let me know that they have gained something from it, be it, connectedness with each other, the children opening up about their stresses and fears, the recognition that it’s okay to have worries and lots of people do.
  • Showing my three boys that aiming high and following a dream can actually be successful, and that ‘having-a-go’ is the main part of this journey.
  • The incredible support my family and friends have shown me through this experience. When I had my book launch late last year, I honestly thought a few people may turn up. It was truly heart-warming to see so many friends, colleagues and supporters attend on an incredibly wet and cold night to celebrate this book with me.
Photo supplied by Tanya Balcke

Photo supplied by Tanya Balcke

On what's next...

Super excited about my next two projects that are underway.

  • I Have a Worry Colouring-In Book – currently being printed and should be here and ready to go in about 1 month. This book wasn’t in my original plans, but I have received so much feedback from customers that they would love something like this, that I had to listen and make one. I have made sure that I have made it very personal for the children, as it is quite reflective and encourages children the think and reflect a little deeper about their feelings. The whole original story is there, and also pages of mindfulness and relaxation. It has been designed to complement the original story really well. After they have read the original book, the children can personalize their own copy through the colouring-in book.
  • My Pet Worry – This book is developing really well, and will be available shortly. This book encourages children to take what they learnt through the first book, and think a little more about their worries and developing strategies when dealing with them. My Pet Worry has a very strong voice when speaking about the different sizes of worries. Hopefully, the story will leave the understanding that it’s okay to have small, or large worries, they are all normal. We just need to deal with them differently. As a self-publisher, I am funding each new book with the proceeds from the previous one. My Pet Worry will be sent to print as soon as we can raise the funds through the sale of the other two books.
Photo supplied by Tanya Balcke

Photo supplied by Tanya Balcke

On her favourite thing about living in Bendigo...

Bendigo is a wonderful place to live and raise a family. We have incredible schools, wonderful sporting clubs and organisations, terrific shopping and a community feel that is welcoming and appreciative. There are so many opportunities for success and joy. My favourite thing about Bendigo is the Easter weekend. It brings everyone together in a relaxed way that celebrates our community, with the Dragon Mile and the Easter Parade.

Where can I get these books and support Tanya?

Dymocks, Spring Gully Post Office, Education Plus Bendigo, Strath Village Newsagency and Bookstore, Eaglehawk Post Office and online here.

Ballerina Illustration

In which I share my own ballet illustration: softly textured ink tutu folds and ballet shoes with pencil detail and shading....and remember my first Mum-Made tutu in Calesthentics class...probably where the obsession began.

8 x 10 illustration available as a print in store here.

8 x 10 illustration available as a print in store here.

I've been a little obsessed with ballet since forever.  I trace it back to my Calisthenics class (it sounds like something Scientology related but I swear it was a dance thing back in the day...maybe for kids like me who were clearly never going to make it in ballet!) I have a vivid memory of rocking up and everyone was wearing these soft flowy skirts that accentuated their dance moves...and I was tugging on a skirt Mum sewed out of a stiff old curtain over my little leotard. Bless her, she probably knew I wasn't going to stick with it and didn't want to waste money on the fancy skirts everyone else was wearing. Let's just say this curtain had no flowing capability...in hindsight it would've probably made an excellent tutu. But in my head, though I noticed the differences between the rest of the class and myself...I was miles away in my own little ballerina fantasy, galloping around the hall in my curtain. Fast forward many years, and I dragged that fantasy all the way to NYC where I sat spellbound watching the American Ballet perform The Nutcracker. In between then and now, I just pinned my favourite ballet photgraphy and watched every ballet/dance documentary and movie ever made....

From my pins.

From my pins.

Lately, I've been teaching myself how to draw using online tutorials and just messing around with a tablet and the Apple Pencil. I don't know why I left it this long, I loved lettering by hand...and used it as a kind of therapy to self medicate my panic attacks. The soothing comfort of tracing predictable shapes of letters, and then shading them with pencil...it was kind've a little refuge against the storm. Now, figuring out the shapes and pencil strokes that make the things in my head, like this ballerina, come to life on a canvas is my absolute new favourite thing to do. And don't get me started on the colouring stage...just as soothing as the lettering...who knew those mindful colouring book people were onto something. 

So yeah, something different to my usual quotes, maps and buildings. Hope you like it! She'll come in more colours in the future, but I'm off to find something new to draw now :) If you'd like to get a print you'll find it in my store here: Ballerina Illustration