Monday, 15 July 2013

Freelancer Life: Stay Positive

I kind of like to treat this blog a little like an open diary.. Where I just down idea's that basically anyone can read, and hopefully take something from if they need to. As a freelancer, staying positive is definitely one of those old chestnuts that I need reminding how to do every so often.

I always kind of assumed drawing for a living would be pretty much all happy days of drawing lovely things & getting paid for it. And really, for the most part, it kinda is. But I was never prepared for the emotional side of things. Tears, jealously, cabin fever, frustration & dare I say it.. Boredom. I'm hoping to write a series of posts on these.. But for now I want to share a few simple steps I use this keep my head up when I'm feeling a little down.

THINK GOOD: This sounds totally corny but remember compliments! Write them down! Whilst you're at it, write down what you've accomplished so far. You might not be where you want to be yet in your business, but everyone tends to forget even the smallest good things sometimes. It's good to be reminded of what you've succeeded so far (however small!) You'll be surprised how much that can perk you up when you're feeling low.

FEEL GOOD: Don't be afraid to take a break. It could be a half hour walk, a trip out for a cup of tea & a slice of cake, or it could be a few days being a slob in your PJ's. It is so important to recharge. I'm my own worst enemy for this. I tend to sit at my desk all day, eat at my desk, I essentially live here some days. It can terrible for your mood, your body (posture!) and your health, particularly if you're not in the greatest of moods to start with. Taking a break means coming back to a project with new eyes & a fresh outlook.

MAKE GOOD: This probably sounds really superficial but this really works for me so I'm throwing it in there. PRETTIFY YOUR LIFE! As an illustrator I'm a very visual person and my surroundings are so important to my mood. I don't have too much spare money to be spending on DIY projects (unfortunately!) so Pinterest has become my salvation. Put washi tape on EVERYTHING. Thrift some old furniture & repaint it. Make a mini terrarium. Grow some succulents (I've heard they're totally hipster and cool rn ;)  There are some great DIY & craft idea's you can check out here.

DO GOOD & GOOD STUFF HAPPENS: I'm talking about karma. Even if it's not a thing - I'm a firm believer in.. I can't believe I of all people am going to say this.. The power of positive thought *cringe* Even if it's a little bit forced, even if you feel a little bit stabby inside. Just switch it off (I visualize a switch, for reals, it works for me) Negativity does you NO GOOD. It saps your energy, kicks you in the face & gives you spots (ok I made those last two up)

If all else fails.. Go eat cake. No brainer.

Steph xo

Wednesday, 17 April 2013

YOU! Yes, you.. I need your help.

Before we go any further.. It's ok, I'm not asking for money / jewels / bail / organs (yet)

But I do need something from you. Just one teeny thing. Or maybe two teeny things, depending on how generous you're feeling.

I need to know what you do on the internet (insert creepy face)

Yeah. That's a bit broad & strange so let me try and explain. I need to know the brilliant, awesome, mundane strange & pretty disturbing things you do on the internet (that last point though - please don't tell me something that will make me need to call the police.. I don't need that kind of responsibility) Also bear in mind it will most likely be reproduced in some way; so if you don't want something personal broadcasting, either keep schtum or consider sending me it as anon (don't worry I'm great at keeping secrets)

Some of my examples:

1. I google words to make sure they're spelt right so I don't embarrass myself too much on twitter.
2. At 25, I still spend a ridiculous amount of time googling cute celebrities. I AM NOT ASHAMED.

OK, I'm a bit ashamed.

The only catch, I'm not telling you what it's for just yet. This is for two reasons.. I want to develop a mystical, magical sense of mystery which will have you enthralled & excited (/sarcasm) & secondly this project is still in the early stages.. It's evolving all over the place so I would rather wait until I have something more concrete before the reveal.

How do you help?
• Comment on here OR
• Tweet me @stephysayshello OR
• Email me stephsayshello[at]

I will of course, credit you in whatever the final outcome is (I'm hoping it'll be something great)
I'm not paying you, mind ;)

Thank you kind people of the internet.

Steph xo

Sunday, 7 April 2013

An open letter to myself (& anyone else who ever contemplated giving up on a creative career)

You know whats really really hard? Life.

Also learning to do really awesome cursive writing, taxes & adding odd numbers. But mainly life. As a child you're always told by adults just how tough it gets & you think "that's just something adults say" and in a way it is. Because you know what is totally awesome in equal measure? Also life. I've hit 25 (that was some months ago I'll be honest) & I'm being hit with these crushing truths every day. Living is expensive. Why is BREAD suddenly so expensive? Council tax is a total bitch (I've become one of those quietly seething British people, "The bins haven't been emptied again! What is it I'm PAYING FOR?!")

But the hardest thing? Trying to carve a creative career out for yourself in the midst of a really, really shit recession.

I'm going to admit, I don't really know what I'm doing. I often feel like I'm bodging through life - I am the poster girl for the phrase "flying by the seat of your pants" My tax return is half "I can do this!" & half blind panic. I make a lot of spelling mistakes. If you ask, I can't tell you how to improve a piece of work. I can say "Oooh, that's so nice!" & really mean it.

So for anyone like me, who feels a bit lost, a bit like quitting (but you're not a quitter). For the people who don't know where to go next, or who feel a little bit like they're drowning in a sea of other peoples awesome (ew, that sounded a bit gross) Lets work out some ground rules ok? Something that I (and maybe you) can come back to and read when we feel a bit low & everything's a bit quiet.

• Send that email now. Don't wait until you've got "perfect" work samples. Perfect will never happen. Whilst we're on striving for perfection, read Kim's article on that here.

• Plan & send that promo out to art directors & potential clients this week.

• Talk / vent to someone (hell, talk to me) There are so many people in this position and it's good to vent.

• Go on Pinterest. Pinterest is great. Look at some kittens. Then discover a really great artist & feel inspired.

• Remember your life, is yours. Although there are parts you can't immediately change, there are some parts you can. If you aren't happy, SORT IT.

• Learn a new skill.

• Having a serious work lull? Hone your old skills. Work on your cursive. Finally figure out how the hell to draw hands. Learn to knit.

• Don't compare yourself to other artists. You are both at different points on your path. Unless you're at the same point on the path. Then really just don't think about it. Secretly give them the stink eye, have a cup of tea & move on.

• Remember your life will be full of the most hysterical highs & much, much much more hysterical lows. Remember how you cry in the bath & convince yourself you're shit? Totally fine (this ones definitely for me. I have no idea if you've cried in the bath)

• You're not shit. No one is. Well some people are. So basically, don't be shit.

• I think part of success is down to sheer luck. Don't get me wrong you need to work hard and y'know, actually have some talent. But I honestly believe luck plays it's part. Feeling forever unlucky? Just remember - if that's the case, odds are that you can't be unlucky forever right?! RIGHT??

• And whilst we're talking about odds.. Why quit? If you quit you'll never make it, will you? I don't nuffin' about maths but that's not good odds.

• Just think about how sweet life will be WHEN you DO make it.

If all else fails, watch this. If you've already seen it, watch it again.
I originally found out about this brilliance from Ben O'Brien

Steph xo
P.S. Sorry for any spelling / grammar errors, I did my best!

Monday, 25 March 2013

New Goodies

Hello & Happy Monday to you all!

I don't always post about my Etsy things on here but I have finally moved into the world of selling original art as well as prints so I thought I would share them with you. These are purely typographical pieces (my current favourite!) I hope you like them.

 I've started a mini series called "We go together like.. " Whats your favourite combo? Mines probably tea & biscuits. Although I'm ashamed to admit just how much I love mustard & tomato ketchup mixed together!

Do you have an Etsy shop? Please share!
Steph xo

Sunday, 24 March 2013

Salts Mill, Saltaire

I'm finally in possession of my lovely DSLR again so I thought I'd take the chance to snap a few photos of one of my all time favourite places on earth, Salt Mill. Salts Mill is a converted grade II listed mill (no way) housing art galleries (mainly featuring my all time favourite, David Hockey) lovely shops (including an arts materials shop & an out-of-this-world-good book shop) & delicious eateries. It could honestly only be better if they sold cupcakes & had resident cats to pet (although I'm pretty sure any place could be improved by those two things)

My favourite part to poke around is the 1853 Gallery (the name coming from the date in which the mill was built) It has some incredible pieces by David Hockey including his photo montages, which honestly got me into loving photography when I was younger. The place is filled with giant vases of lilies & they play the nicest classical music. It's a bit nice.

Honestly though, if you're ever in the area, or even just Yorkshire in general.. Please visit - you won' regret it. The village itself, Saltaire has lots of vintage shops & bakeries that are well worth a look. Oh, and there's always Shipley Glen Tramway & Robert's Park 

To sum up: Yorkshire rules.

| The Salts Diner amazing neon sign (amazing food too)

| L: The 1853 Gallery & R: The Bookshop

Friday, 8 March 2013

I Love You, Pinterest | February Board

1. Brad Woodard
2. Jayde Cardinalli
3. Tatsuro Kiuchi
4. Peyton & Bryne, London
5. Helen Dardik
6. Junzo Terada
7. Mizuki Goto

Hello! Can you believe it's March already? We seem to be flying through the year so far. That right there is my excuse for being a little behind with my Pinterest favourites - definitely not that I forgot or anything. No.

Anyway, for February I picked the word "Happy" in a attempt to lift my mood. I have to say it worked.. This task I've set myself is kinda fun, I've discovered some really beautiful art so far.

Have you discovered any new artists recently?

Steph xo

Sunday, 24 February 2013


After illustrating professionally for a bit now I STILL find it completely strange that companies use my work and the general public actually buys it (hopefully!) Ha. Still it's a really nice feeling to stumble upon this in M&S:

I wanted to show you the original but I can't find it anyway here's a different colour way instead

 So if you live in the UK you should TOTALLY go buy it. A steal at a £1 as well.. I may or may not have bought one (seriously why did I do that?)

Steph xo

Friday, 22 February 2013

Magic Rabbit

I made an animation! It's the clunkiest thing ever (I did it frame by frame in Photoshop) but it moves!

What do you guys think?! I'm secretly quite proud of it.

Steph xo

Monday, 18 February 2013

Drawing People

One of my new years resolutions was to develop my drawing further.. I really want to get back into the habit of drawing everyday (for me) I really want to be able to draw people - I am TERRIBLE at drawing people. Don't even get me started on hair do's and hands. People I've drawn tend to look like they've been in a horrific accident. Unfortunately I've never been asked to draw somebody who is recovering from a head on collision so my frighteningly-bad-people-drawing skills have been wasted. Shame.

SO I've set myself a couple of little briefs to try and help develop my skills. Starting with children 'cos they're easier. Some important points I have unearthed from drawing people:

- I really need to start being a bit more patient with myself.
- Stop swearing and threatening to "chop my own hands off because they're useless pieces of ham" (those words did actually leave my mouth. I'm sorry) when things don't go quite right straight away.
- Stop drawing the same handful of people because it's easy.
- Drawing glasses and freckles and big hair quiffs are FUN.

Here's my first attempt (not ever btw)

Also for a bit of fun, and so you can see my process.. Here it is animated (and I use that word lightly.. I've never "animated" before.. apart from a chicken illustration at Uni.. But I've chosen to block that painful memory out) I'm sorry this is all squished.. I've just rejigged my blog & it's stretching everything - I'm in the process of fixing it!

Have you got any tips for drawing people? I've love to know if you have any tricks for drawings hands.

Steph xo

Sunday, 27 January 2013

I Love You, Pinterest.

I'm always on the look out for new sources of inspiration, discovering new artists / illustrators as well as just finding delicious things to look at - So I can safely say I've fallen head over for Pinterest. As usual I'm late to the party actually blogging about it BUT I really think that Pinterest is starting to pick up speed in being one of the best places to organize all the cute of the internet, for me anyway. The ease of use & layout is really good (I can't be the only one who find sites like Tumblr a little cumbersome to use?) Plus, as Pinterest is getting more and more well known sites are adding buttons to allow you to directly pin from their site (Etsy & Folksy, for example.. I have a "board" with my Etsy & Folksy products on, which has driven traffic to my shops.. Free promotion, right there!)

As one of my New Years Resolutions was to get back into being generally more creative 100% of the time.. I decided to create a new Pinterest board each month, each with a different theme & I'll share it on here, too. I'm a little obsessed with pastel colours at the moment so that's the theme for January's board!

Links for the above images:
1, 2, 3, 4, 5, 6, 7

I've tried my best to find the original links to the image I've used but some were very hard to find. If any of the images are yours, or you know who they belong too, please do let me know so I can credit them / you properly!

Do you have Pinterest? What do you think of it? My boards are here. Please feel free to share your boards - I love sneaking peeks at what inspires other people.

Steph xo

Monday, 21 January 2013

2013 Resolutions

Happy (snowy) 2013! I'm a little late with wishing everyone a Happy New Year and / or writing up a generic New Years Resolutions post - for no other reason than I'm massively disorganized and a little lazy (no point in pretending otherwise) I know everyone writes one of these but I suppose it's for my own posterity as much as anything. I'm totally determined to keep some resolutions this year!
1. Read more books - I used to be a total book worm & I really want to get back into it. I've invested in a kindle & I'm already onto my second book of the new year. I've completely fallen in love with Mary Roach's books and writing style. Any book recommendations you have would be appreciated

2. Buy a new piece of art each month - This one is definitely my favourite. I own nowhere NEAR enough art & it is basically the best excuse I've ever had to buy more. Awesome.

3. Be kinder to myself - I am my own worst enemy quite a lot of the time & I know I'm far too tough on myself. I'm not one for getting overly personal on here (I suddenly become very aware that literally anyone can read this and I get a bit freaked out) but I suffer from a quite badly from phobia (a proper phobia, not a "omgz I'm like totes phobic of..." phobia) A proper, full-on, panic attack, restrictive phobia that is totally NOT COOL and I have decided that 2013 is the year that I try and overcome and get help. Does anyone else have any tips on helping anxiety or phobias? It would be very welcome!

4. Be more positive - So, while I'm on a personal roll - 2012 wasn't the greatest for me work wise. Towards the end of the year I got a little bit depressed about it and took a bit of a break in the last month to recharge (which ended up with a good thing - I was down with flu for a week and a half!) So this year I'm forgetting my worries as it has literally, got me nowhere. No money? At least I've got a roof over my head and I can (just about) afford to heat the flat, I've got a good computer, a phone & wifi. I also have a blender so I can live on amazing homemade soup. Life is good, right? YES QUITE.

5. Take my camera out more - I really need to get back to taking it wherever I go like I used to - I've become a bit too reliant on my phone & Instagram. It's definitely time to get back to my camera & flickr!

Do you make New Years Resolutions? Do you keep them?! I'm going to see how long I can keep these for!

Steph xo