More paper cutting

Here are some more papercuts, with more detail than the hedgehog, which I am very pleased with. I think they have the perfect amount of details and create a sort of characterised version of the animal, although this needs a little more work. I also like the use of fineliner to add small details like the eyes, and the claws on the owl.

The one thing that was said at the interim was to change my colours, to brighter, unnatural colours, as my current ones are quite dark and lots of browns, which could be boring and unattractive to buyers.

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From watercolour to paper cutting

Below is an photo of a sample I created using digital stitch and watercolours, stitching first and painting second – after a failed first attempt of doing it the other way around (which can be seen in the second image while still on the machine). Painting first equals hours of attempting to line the machine up with the painted design! I was very pleased with the outcome of this sample compared to my first attempt, and I like how the water colour creates a fur-like pattern on the body.However, I have found that I haven’t really been enjoying using watercolours with simple lines over the top to add detail,even though that is what I was inspired by in the first instance. I decided to try another method, paper cutting, which I have enjoyed much more, and after our interim meeting with Design Group UK, it was clear that these designs were much preferred to the watercolours.

This hedgehog is the first paper cutting design I did, and I am pleased with it, especially since I painted the papers myself. However, future designs need to include more detail so they don’t seem so childlike.

Branding

On Wednesday, we had a talk from Sian, one of our course tutors, about branding. Sian has her own business, Sian Elin, which sells designs for interiors as well as prints and cards; with a Scandinavian theme running throughout.

As Sian runs her business, she is the perfect person to talk to us about branding! Getting branding right is essential, as it helps the brand stand out to people, and communicates visually what the brand stands for and sells. A brand should be derived from who you are, who you want to be and who people perceive you to be, meaning that you should aim for what your business will be in the future, and the kind of customers you aim to sell to. For example, if you began selling your products for a relatively cheap price and then later increased your prices because your business had become more successful, you may lose those loyal original customers who were used to paying the lower price.

Marketing, the process of teaching consumers why they should choose your product, is also important, and you should be clear and consistent in what you are selling; i.e. prices, promotion, style, source materials and finishes. What your brand will be known for is an important thing to consider, and even packaging and product photography should represent your brand.

At the end of the session, Sian asked us to think about some questions regarding our personal branding. Following are the questions and my answers:

1. What do you want to stand for?

I want to stand for using environmentally friendly techniques/methods, like using recycled papers and being ethical in my practices.

2. What do you want to be known for?

Paper cutting using my own painted and sourced papers, creating delicate yet playful motifs and patterns.

3. Who do you want to appeal to?

Women over 35 who enjoy design and are quirky and like something a bit different.

4. What does your colour palette say about you?

That my products are middle to high end, similar to Cath Kidston.

5. What does your theme say about you?

That I care about nature and the environment, and my designs are quite playful.

6. Are you fun or serious?

Fun!

7. How old is your customer?

35-55

8. Who is your favourite brand? Why?

Oliver Bonas, because their style is simple yet classy and expensive looking. They are playful yet on trend, and they are the price point that I aim to be.

9. How do you stand out from the crowd?

By using my own painted papers, rather than just plain coloured bought papers cut with shapes that are unique to my style.

Starting your own business

In professional practice on Wednesday, Richard Morris talked to us about all the things you need to think about before starting your own business. This included things like overheads, market research and pricing. He told us that 72% of businesses have zero employees, meaning that they’re managed and run entirely by a single person, which I can believe as I know quite a few people (including my own mum) that have a business run only by themselves. Keeping a record of everything you do and spend is very important as a business owner, so you know how much time and money you have put into it, which helps to calculate pricing. Also, it is important to not undersell yourself, especially when you first set up the business, as you want to set prices that will reflect the business and quality in the future, after a few years. At this point, I do not want to set up my own business after graduation, but it was useful to know, as I may want to in the future, possibly after a few years of employment.

Workshops so far

So far this term, I have only been to stitch workshops, as this is what I enjoy the most and my theme and style is more geared towards using stitch; particularly free machine embroidery, which I think I am quite good at now!

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Free machine hare

I stitched this hare in the first workshop of the term, taken from a drawing I had done. I did a couple of them, but this is the best one. I like how where I’ve sewn the lines a few times, it isn’t exactly in the same place, giving it a sketchy feel. I also like the quite subtle colours on the white fabric, as it feels sophisticated.

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Appliqué conkers, with thread from the bobbin as decoration

I really like the simplicity of this sample, and I think the glitter in the bobbin thread adds just enough detail to make it interesting and attractive (although the photo doesn’t do it much justice). However, I’m not sure that it fits in with the style I am trying to make for this theme.

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Free machine squirrel sewn on paper

This sample was an experiment to see if free machine embroidery works on paper. I painted the background colour beforehand onto watercolour paper (300 gsm) and lightly drew my design. It was somewhat successful, but if you make a mistake when sewing on paper it’s obvious if you unpick the thread as there’s a big hole in the paper! I will find a fabric that can take the paint well and not bleed too much for future samples. However, the image itself works well, better than my drawing, but if I were to do it again I would vary the weight of the line so make the image more sophisticated.

Mood Boards

Below are my four mood boards for the Design Group UK brief, for which my theme is woodland.

theme board
Theme

My theme for the brief is woodland, which is quite a broad theme, but this means that I will be able to experiment with lots of imagery and choose my best work. The background photo is one that I took myself on my visit to Fforest Fawr (so are the mushrooms!). I’ve included quite a few animals because I think they will be my focus for my designs, with foliage etc as additional background imagery. I’ve also included a few watercolour images as I’m hoping to go down that route with my work, so you can see where I’m aiming to be by the end of the brief. I’m pleased with this board as I think it explains my theme and intentions quite well.

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Colour

For my colours, I have chosen to go with autumnal hues. I chose images that I felt ¬†represented my colour choices and tried to take the colours from the images. I added grey to the majority of the colours to give them more depth and sophistication, as they were quite bright and child like to begin with – not my target market! The colours that have longer chips are my most important colours, and it’s visually pleasing to be able to see them. I also included some of my own photos in this board (the mushroom and stump).

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Customer

My customer, the ultimate receiver of the cards I’ll be designing, is a 35-60 year old woman who lives in a rural area, enjoys gardening and going on country walks with her dog. She also often enjoys meeting up with friends for coffee or cocktails. She holidays to The Maldives, and country retreats in the UK, where she reads crime novels. She cares about the appearance of her house inside and out, keeps a few chickens and regularly buys interiors and gardening magazines.

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Competitors

Cath Kidston – a designer who’s target market is the same as mine, and is very popular across that group. The colours are very sophisticated but simple, and the imagery detailed, but not realistic. The designs have a vintage feel to them, and I think that is to do with the colours, because they are pale. Also because the designs themselves have details that are older – for example the baskets on the hot air balloons are not what you’d see nowadays.

Carol Robinson – an independent artist who creates mostly watercolour designs for cards as well as art pieces and prints. I really like this particular style of using watercolours, with a wash of colour in a rough shape with a line drawing on top – this is the kind of thing I imagined when I first decided I wanted to use watercolours. I think it’s quite striking because it is so simple.

John Lewis – they have a very varied range but I wanted to include a high street shop, who are slightly more upmarket. These cards are a less traditional way of using watercolours but they work equally well and are a bit more modern, which may be appealing to some of my target market. On the card featuring the blue tit, it looks like paper cutting might have been used, which I might experiment with.

Erin Brown – another independent artist who creates designs for cards and prints, with two main styles of watercolour painting which I’ve featured in my mood board. I prefer the more colourful and less traditional paintings, as I like her use of colour in the background and how it looks nicely messy; but I think my customer would prefer the traditional painting.

Library Refresher

Yesterday in our professional practice session, Martha Lee, the librarian for CSAD, reminded us of ways to research and access information and images.

She showed us how to search effectively to get better results by using “and” and “or” which narrow down results. She also reminded us of how to access databases, and gave us some useful names of image databases which could be really helpful, such as the V&A and The British Library. Another useful site is Fame, a database of lots of companies and their contact details.

This refresher was really helpful as it reminded me of all the resources that are available to me, which will be very helpful.