On creative block, not being good enough, and not giving up.

‘I used to be a papercutting artist.’

‘I was a self-employed creative, but I’m taking a break while I decide on a new direction.’

‘I worked as an artist, but…’

No matter how I try and phrase it, it doesn’t sound right. What is all this ‘used to be’, this ‘was’?

What do I mean, I’m ‘taking a break’?

I’ve never taken a break. I don’t take breaks. My brain never stops. I have always been creative. It runs in my blood, from my grandparents to my beautiful daughter, there’s a creative root that’s grown and flourished and blossomed throughout my life – whether it’s painting from my imagination as a toddler, working as an arts co-ordinator to support young people with disabilities, writing articles for national magazines as a journalist, or creating bespoke keepsake papercuts for great clients.

I’ve never not created.

But suddenly that blossom has withered away. My petals have fallen.

Trying to get my head round the concept of taking a break from my creativity, or even – heaven forbid – actually stopping papercutting… Well, it’s difficult.

For a few weeks, I haven’t created much at all. It seems to have started a while back, perhaps triggered by some rather nasty personal insults which caused me to question myself a little too much (apparently, I’m “just a mum who cuts holes in paper in her daughter’s bedroom” – the things people say when they have a keyboard to hide behind). I’ve been going through the motions. I’ve posted out Etsy orders in between being mum and caring for my family during the Easter holidays. Commissions have taken a back seat while I wrestle with ‘just not feeling it’ – thank you to those understanding customers. I’ve spent time with family, time alone, time online trying to breathe new life into my creativity with the support of a network of amazing fellow business owners. I’ve spent time exercising, meditating, reading… But very little time at my cutting mat.

The feeling of not creating is a very strange one indeed. I’ve come to realise that the minutiae of running a creative business (and the vast amount of non-creative time that involves) has started to overcome me. Keeping up with the admin, marketing, accounts, social media, getting my product photography just so, setting out plans for the future… But wait a minute. When did I last sit with a pencil and just draw? When did I last go for a walk in nature and not check my iPhone for Etsy stats or Instagram likes? When did I last spend an evening with my family without responding to client enquiries or updating product listings in my online stores?

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It’s Spring – time to gather up my petals and start blooming again.

I’ve come to realise that what I’ve been experiencing isn’t creative block. It’s creative overload. Surrounded by highly talented peers who are consistently coming up with bestsellers and new concepts; constantly seeing apparently perfect, organised lives and brilliant businesses on social media… I won’t be the first creative person to tell you that my ideas don’t feel original, that I can’t come up with anything new, that people must be bored of what I do, that I feel like I’ve no sense of direction, that I’m just not good enough. But all of these thoughts have whirred around my head in recent months.

Ah, self doubt. How I loathe you.

I wish I knew how to quit you.

And it’s been so hard, so hard when everyone else seems to be doing great, and when working alone (when I usually really value my solitude) can make me feel like the loneliest person on the planet. Not physically alone, but also alone with those isolating, almost self-indulgent thoughts.

I’ve reached out. I’ve spoken to other creatives, to friends, to people who follow me on social media. I know I’m not alone – in every sense of the word.

From my best friend: “You’re such a talented person. Taking some you time is maybe what you need.”

From a brilliantly creative online friend: “You may find you don’t need a massive break,  just time to remember how to be you again. You are a papercut artist, that’s what you do.”

Who is this ‘you’ that they speak of? I’m not sure who she is… I am my business and my business is me, and if I never have another decent creative idea ever again OH MY GOSH THIS IS THE WORST FEELING EVER!

And yet another wonderful original creative talent: “You are more than capable. Please don’t think you’re on your own with this, you’re not, at all.”

Of course, when you’re in the mire of creative numbness, feeling like you’ll never have an original idea ever again (while simultaneously beating yourself up about having such narcissistic thoughts when there are so many more important things going on in the world), these loving, supportive words bounce off your psyche like raindrops on a leaf-laden forest floor. Just not in such a beautiful way.

Because, when you keep telling yourself the same thing over and over, sometimes you start to believe it. Even when, deep down, you know it’s not the truth.

When you’re used to always being creative, creative block is a very scary feeling. None of my ideas feel like mine, you tell yourself. I will never be able to create anything ever again – you’re convinced. What if I never have any more ideas ever again!? My brain is empty. Literally empty. And this sketch looks too much like this other artist’s work. And I can’t do this design because everyone is doing this style and I don’t want to look like I’m jumping on some sort of bandwagon. And I can’t even put my pencil to paper as I’ve talked myself out of having any sort of talent or four years’ worth of happy, satisfied customers. That never really happened, did it? Face it, you’re just not good enough.

And so it continues, round and round. The nasty cycle.

Weirdly, all I’ve wanted to do since this murky creative fog descended is to write. Which is what I used to do – and do well – before my daughter was born. In a cruel twist of post-baby nose-diving self-confidence, I gave that up (not good enough! Are you spotting a theme here?) to pursue papercutting, which I loved (love). So perhaps I do still have a little creative ember burning away inside of me. Maybe I just need to find that spark to light it up again.

At times like this, I seek advice everywhere. I want to know what my favourite thinkers and influencers think about creative block, about self care, about keeping going and trying new things. The brilliant Austin Kleon quips: “You can’t find your voice if you don’t use it” and (pertinently, for me) “You have to remember that your work is something you do, not who you are.” Phew. Well that’s a relief.

Meanwhile, my beloved Elizabeth Gilbert tells me: “Done is better than good,” and “Perfectionists often decide in advance that the end product is never going to be satisfactory, so they don’t even bother trying to be creative in the first place.”

Elizabeth? Is that you? Actually inside my mind??

I could read every opinion and every theory about the situation, continue my procrastination and prolong my fear of getting wrong the commissions that a few of my wonderful (and patient, and understanding) clients are waiting for. But I still wouldn’t find the answer. Why? Because only I have the answer. And I know, through all my denial, dilly-dallying, self doubt, lack of confidence, anxieties over my abilities, that the answer is very, very simple. Too simple.

Do the thing.

Draw the sketch. Create the piece. Cut the paper. DO THE THING.

Actually doing the work, getting my ideas down (preferably free of my own judgement and self-criticism) is the only way I can get past this block. To rediscover my love of the process, to reignite my passion for the craft. It is truly the only way.

So that is what I’m going to do.

One pencil line, one scalpel cut at a time.

I’ll see you on the other side. Who knows what may happen…?

Words and images © Melissa Holmes :: HolmesMadePapercuts

Spring update

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March already! Yikes. Life continues at a hectic pace here at HM HQ. New designs, more commissions and new products seem to be appearing left, right and centre! To match the blooming daffs and blossoming crocuses, I am going through a wonderful period of creativity and productivity – it’s fab! Alongside that, my little girl is really flourishing and showing me more and more of her creative side everyday, which is just wonderful! At four and a half, she’s quite the little artist, and I’m proud that she sees that as a viable job option for her future! I must share some with you, being a super-proud mum and all…

She has been helping with some order packing too… Sticking on stickers and my return address labels. Well, I have been kinda busy!

It's a good job I get on with the folks at my village Post Office!

So, what’s new? Well, I recently had my first small exhibition through in beautiful Harrogate at the stunning RHS Gardens, Harlow Carr. “Let’s Get Creative” saw a host of designers and makers come together to showcase their work and also do demonstrations of their craft, in a bid to encourage others to take up new crafts for the new year.

Papercutting demonstration by Melissa Holmes at RHS Gardens Harlow Carr, February 2015.

In preparation for the event, I was asked to put together Beginner’s Papercutting Sets. These feature everything you need to get started with the wonderful hobby of papercutting, including a couple of Holmes-made templates, spare papers, the same tools and materials I use, and of course a hints and tips sheet which condenses more than three years of my self-taught knowledge and experience! Feedback on the kits has been great so far; you can get yours here!

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I’m absolutely thrilled to say that my work will be exhibited and for sale again at RHS Gardens Harlow Carr from March 17th until April 12th 2015, with a selection of originals, prints, cards and other products available.

Which leads me nicely on to those ‘other products’. 2015 is very much a year of new things for me here at Holmes-made, and I’m delighted to share with you these new products, which first went on sale in January and have been really popular. I have introduced a range of notebooks featuring some of my favourite designs, including my very popular ‘Creative Minds’ piece, which is a new original completed in January. These notebooks are perfect for doodles, daydreams, and dull stuff like shopping lists. I’ve also had two sizes of mugs printed with my ever-popular rainbow hearts design… Just to give you that extra boost with your morning cuppa!

Just some of the new items available from Holmes-made

And finally, I’ve also been working on more beautiful fabricy pieces, including extending my flora and fauna range with three new originals featuring British birds (pictured below are my robin and blue tit prints). I’m still working on this range, with more flowers and creatures to come, all featuring gorgeous fabric infills which, much like my tiny colour infills have in the past, are becoming something of a trademark to my work!

I think that pretty much covers it… For now! More mug and notebook designs are on their way, along with more new original pieces that I’m so excited to complete.

I hope you like what you see. Thanks as always for your support of my business!

Melissa x

PS – I’m very excited to be hosting my first ever papercutting WORKSHOP in early May! Further details of this will be announced in early April… Please keep your eyes on my social media for more info.

Breathless with gratitude.

As I approach my fourth year of papercutting, I look back over the wild ride of the past three years since I first picked up a scalpel and “had a go”.

Gosh, it’s been a while since my last post, and a lot has been going on!! But as we approach Christmas and I take a quick breather from the commissions I’m working on which will be gifted on the 25th, I want to take a brief look back over this year.

From having the privilege of completing lots of beautiful personalised commissions to creating a number of new print designs, to launching my own website and online shop and taking part in the Small Business Saturday national bus tour, 2014 has really been a busy year for me!!

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Me with a local councillor and local small business owners in York City Centre as part of Small Business Saturday celebrations. Image courtesy of York City Council. https://www.flickr.com/photos/yorkcouncil/15795905416/in/set-72157649344248052/

In a few days’ time it’ll be exactly three years since I first picked up a scalpel to create a papercut. It was something that would change my life completely. I could never have imagined that within a few of months of starting I would have enough work to keep me going for three years!! The enquiries have continued, the gratitude-filled feedback from my customers just gets more and more heartwarming, and I’m forging links with clients and other businesses which are so supportive and beneficial to both me and my little company… And to others I hope!!

MAKE TODAY MARVELLOUS

A key element of what I do is about spreading joy. It’s one of my main reasons for doing what I do. Whether it’s a personalised family tree cut, a colourful print with a motivational quote or a charitable action (such as contributing a raffle prize to a DEC appeal fundraiser, or helping to raise £750 for Cancer Research UK), I want to use my skill and my reach to help create change. From my clients’ wonderful feedback, I know I am doing that. And it means so much – *so much* – that I am able to do that. I’ve made people I’ve never even met cry with the happy memories that feature in their bespoke commissions. I’ve helped others celebrate birthdays, marriages, civil partnerships, christenings, anniversaries and retirements through my work. My work has been used by my clients to mark a turning point in their lives, a new start, a chance to “Make Today Marvellous” and begin every day with a fresh start and a positive mindset as they glance at my work on their walls.

Do you know how amazing that feels? Can you possibly comprehend the feeling I get when a valued customer (who really doesn’t know me from Adam) opens their heart to me, spills out their soul and explains their motivation for buying an original, ordering a print or commissioning a piece? And so many of them do it – it’s something I could never have anticipated when I first started out three years ago.

And I am so grateful for it. So grateful.

You really are.

NOT ALL PLAIN SAILING

It sounds like 2014 has been a great year for me, and it has in so many respects. But, after a rocky start, I had a breakdown in March and hit rock bottom with my depression. Bad things were going on, work fell to the wayside and life felt incredibly tough. I didn’t open up about it on my blog, on my Facebook page or anywhere really. A tight-knit circle of online friends became my life raft; people to cling to when I felt I was drowning in my emotions, unable to function on the most basic of levels and really struggling to maintain the facade of the happy, joy-making artist. Simply getting by as a mummy, making it to preschool drop-offs or doing the weekly shop, was like dragging myself through wet cement.

This was my third or fourth bout of severe depression. It wasn’t until I posted a pic on my Instagram (a crumpled up tissue with a caption about anxiety and how it had such a control over my life) that I realised I was ok to talk about it. That by opening up a little, I was helping heal myself and also – amazingly – helping others. The tragic loss of Robin Williams saw many more people open up. I began to see a counsellor, I went to group sessions to discuss self-esteem and valuing yourself… Two proper breaks away, with sunshine, beaches and facing my fears and anxieties head on (I can’t tell you the terror I felt at the most basic everyday activities) have helped a lot. The support of friends and loved ones has helped a lot. Opening up about it (a little) to my social media followers helped a lot.

Feeling the love (and the fun!) with some of my online support network in real life in November 2014; an activity that I couldn't have even contemplated earlier in the year. Pictured with fellow small business owners and party types SoFire Creations, Emma Boyes Papercutting Artist, Sarah Travis Artist and Illustrator, Dolly Dearlove and halfpinthome

Feeling the love (and the fun!) with some of my online support network in real life in November 2014; an activity that I couldn’t have even contemplated earlier in the year. Pictured with fellow small business owners and arty types SoFire Creations, Emma Boyes Papercutting Artist, Sarah Travis Artist and Illustrator, Dolly Dearlove and halfpinthome

But mostly, it was down to me. I have had some serious revelations this year about my almost-lifelong struggle with depression and anxiety, and I am so proud of myself for turning it around. It’s taken a huge shift in thinking, in behaviour and in me, but I’m starting to find myself again, feel comfortable in my own skin and – quite simply – to love myself again. Cripes… Don’t I sound mega-cheesy?? But it’s how I feel.

PICK A PART THAT LOOKS GOOD

All of that is for another blog post really, but I wanted to share a little of it with you because it’s true we all have our struggles, our battles and our demons; and in this highly edited, Instagram-filtered, rose-tinted online life, it can be very easy to take things at face value and think everyone has it better than you; that everyone else’s life is more fun-filled, vibrant, picture-perfect and just ruddy perfect than your own. It’s not.

A real-life moment of pure joy; walking the dog with my daughter in Summer... No filters required.

A real-life moment of pure joy; walking the dog with my daughter in Summer… No filters required.

And it’s this that inspires me. Creating my art (although it can cause me a lot of headaches at times) makes other people happy, and it makes me happy too. I want to live my life authentically, to be true to myself and to create a life I love and that my family loves. These are my goals. I am so privileged to do what I do, and I certainly don’t take it for granted.

FULL STEAM AHEAD

2015 will be an exciting year for me. I’m already setting goals and making plans – something I’ve never really done before (being an expert at bumbling along!!). I have some interesting events coming up which will require a lot of work but could lead to great things, I’m going to be introducing new products and spreading my wings a little, and I’m going to focus more on taking care of myself and my family, as well as keeping my wonderful clients happy.

And although I guess I’ll always live with depression and anxiety, I’m now better equipped with the tools to cope with the bad patches and knockbacks. As a thank you for your support this year, I’m running a little giveaway over on my Facebook page, and will continue to run offers and reward customer loyalty with discount codes in 2015.

Here’s to a wonderful Christmas and New Year for all of my friends, family, customers and supporters. Let’s make 2015 marvellous.

Make Today Marvellous

Inspired by this post?? Want to share your own goals for 2015, or your own milestones of 2014? Feel free to leave a comment!!

Don’t forget I have commission slots available from May 2015 onwards, so if you’d like to commission a special piece, please drop me a line.

WORKSPACE WEDNESDAY :: KIM ANDERSON ARTIST

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Brighton-based artist and illustrator Kim Anderson is known for her bright, bold and whimsical creations, filled with sparkle and love. Hallmarks of her style include the use of beautiful papers, the application of inks and paints in jewel-like colours and the build-up of stunning texture.

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As well as glorious original art works, which she sells via her Etsy shop (keep an eye on her Facebook page for announcements of sale times, as originals sell out in seconds!), Kim’s work is also available to buy in a number of different formats. Her card ranges, which are licensed by the likes of Woodmansterne and Phoenix Trading, have been shortlisted in the finals of the prestigious Henries Awards, the highest accolade for design talent within the UK card industry. Her work is also reproduced in the UK, Europe and US as wall art, tea towels, gift wrap, wallpaper and even embroidery kits, plus she’s been featured in publications like Homemaker. Not only is Kim extraordinarily talented, she’s also a rather wonderful human being, with a rather gorgeous workspace. Here’s the lowdown…

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Tell us about your workspace.

I live in a Victorian flat and the lounge is very big and so my workspace is situated in a corner of this room. I love it because we have huge windows with wonderful views.

What about the furniture in your workspace?

I have a large desk from Ikea which is always clean and white for my work. I love my vintage-style pots – I find them at boot fairs and use them to store my pens and tools. I also have a lovely upcycled wooden wine case from Baxter & Snow which is perfect for all my inks, washi tapes and glitters. And a fab pink suede swivel chair which I love!

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And decoration?

Twinkly – very important! 🙂 I have some rice lights which hang by my desk, they give a soft white glow. I also have lots of art work on the walls from my favourite artists.

What does your workspace mean to you? (escape, professional place, special place, your own space?)

All of the above! 🙂 I love my space and time flies when I sit here and create.

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Do you have any rituals or habits when it comes to your workspace and your working day? 

I need everywhere to be tidy as I my work is so intricate, small and clean. I can’t focus if my home is not tidy. I love to not rush but to instead enjoy the process no matter how long one of my designs takes… If I feel stressed or rushed I believe my trees are not as magical and precious. I often have David Attenborough on the TV, I find his nature documentaries very soothing to listen to. And frequent cups of green mint tea are needed.

What are your likes and dislikes when it comes to your studio?

I love my huge clean white desk from Ikea, it’s perfect for my art. I love working from home too. Least favourite is… I don’t think I have one to be honest!

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That’s good! So do you have any plans for the future of your work area?

Not at the moment, maybe in the future if we move I shall have a different studio set up. But for now, I feel lucky in our home and where my workspace is.

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To find out more about Kim’s work and for links to all her social networking sites, check out www.kimandersonart.co.uk

GET INVOLVED!! Don’t forget, if you’re a creative and you’d like to get involved with Workspace Wednesday to show holmesmadepapercuts blog readers your corner of the world, get in touch!

© Melissa Holmes / Holmesmadepapercuts. All images © Kim Anderson Artist & Illustrator.

WORKSPACE WEDNESDAY :: Laciepaperie

This week’s Workspace Wednesday features the wonderful work of Laciepaperie – otherwise known as Saffa Barkhordar. When she’s not at her office-based day job, Saffa works from a studio at home, creating intricate papercut designs inspired by the patterns of Victorian lace and nature. Here, she shares some behind the scenes info about her workspace and approach to work. You can find further info on Laciepaperie in the links section at the end of this post. And don’t forget, if you’re a creative and you’d like to get involved with Workspace Wednesday to show holmesmadepapercut blog readers your corner of the world, get in touch!

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Tell us about your workspace.

My workspace is set in a little spare room of a house we are renting. It mainly consists of an Ikea desk in front of a window. Before that, I used to do my art work on the kitchen table but that was quite impractical so I’m really enjoying the extra space! I share the studio with my boyfriend Henry, who is a painter and uses the other side of the room. We’ve both been using the space for about seven months but will leave in a couple of months so I’m cherishing using it. It’s the first time I’ve ever had a studio space to do my papercutting and drawing in.

Workspace collage

How have you chosen to furnish your workspace?

I have a plain Ikea desk which is home to my cutting mat and equipment for papercutting and drawing. I don’t currently have any storage units, just lots of boxes under my desk containing my paper and materials. It’s not ideal but it’ll do for now!

And what about decoration?

Because it’s a rented place, I haven’t been able to put things on the walls but have instead placed meaningful objects around my desk. One of my favourite things is a self-portrait of my boyfriend Henry, which he painted. I also have loads of pencil cases and collections of paper everywhere. It’s quite a minimal space but has everything there for me to do my art work.

desk with boyf

What does your workspace mean to you? 

I love it. It’s wonderful to have a place to make my work in. It has natural light, so is very practical. I work part-time and feel lucky to have some time to make my art each week. My papercutting work is an escape from work and the ‘daily grind’. Last year, I was working two jobs and had no time to make anything so I feel lucky at the moment.

Do you have any rituals when it comes to your workspace?

If I have a day off from my regular job, I get up quite early (about 6am) slowly gain consciousness and bumble into my studio. After several cups of tea I tend to put Radio 4 on or some music and get started working on drawing or papercutting. I can spend several hours at a time working solidly on a piece – it is very absorbing. I tend to work in a creative mess – there are usually lots of different projects going on and lots of paper everywhere. I find papercutting quite relaxing and it helps me to let go of my worries, I can just focus on it and nothing else. It’s probably the time I feel most happy and free.

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What’s your one must-have tool in your workspace – the thing you use most of that you wouldn’t be able to do your job without?

All I need is some paper, a scalpel, a pencil and rubber.

What’s your favourite thing about your workspace? And least favourite?

I love my workspace as it’s quiet and all mine; no one else is using my table so I can leave out work and materials. My least favourite thing about it is that it’s quite small, the printer I have is right next to the table so it’s a bit cramped. I’d also love to have somewhere to put all my paper; some good storage to free up the space around the desk. But I’m so grateful at the moment to have a studio space that these things don’t feel that important really.

On that note – any plans for the future when it comes to your workspace?

As we are moving quite soon I don’t know what will happen, whether I’ll have a workspace in the future. I might end up on the kitchen table again! But I hope I can still rent somewhere with a space to make my work in, that would be ideal. I’ll keep going with my art no matter what. Determination is everything!

Check out more of Saffa’s work here:

https://www.etsy.com/uk/shop/laciepaperie

http://laciepaperie.blogspot.co.uk/

http://instagram.com/laciepaperie

Get involved!

Don’t forget, if you’re a creative type and fancy showing off your workspace, get in touch!

WORKSPACE WEDNESDAY :: holmesmadepapercuts

What better way to kick off a new series of weekly (ish) peeks into creative workspaces than to start with my own space, right here at Holmes-made?

A special focus on a creative workspace – this week, I look at my little studio, from where I design and cut all my paper cuts, do all my admin and sort all my packaging.

A special focus on a creative workspace – this week, I look at my little studio, from where I design and cut all my papercuts, do all my admin and sort all my packaging.

Tell us about your workspace.

I set this workspace up in January 2014. Prior to this – for two years – I was working at the kitchen table, with work, packaging materials and paper stored in different areas all over the house. A new year meant I needed a new start. Deciding to ‘relocate’ to an unused corner of my daughter’s bedroom meant that I could have an area to call mine, where I could leave things out permanently (although not work and tools – those are stored on top of my daughter’s wardrobe where she can’t reach them!) and where I could feel inspired and motivated to create. In short, I needed to start taking myself (and my business) more seriously, so we had a family trip to Ikea and my workspace was born.

How have you chosen to furnish your workspace?

I’m very space-limited so a simple desk, storage drawers and chair is all I can stretch to. However, with accessories and clever storage, I’ve managed to work around my limited space to create a studio area tailored to my needs.

My desk is made up of legs, a cupboard unit and table top from Ikea. I chose smooth, plain white as a useful background for taking product photographs. I also bought a little shelf/drawer unit with brackets from the same Ikea range (they don’t sell mine anymore, but this is the closest). I then carried out a little Ikea hack with some brackets to suspend the drawer unit above the desk, thus giving me more surface space to work on which is vital for larger cuts, as well as an extra space for photography when needed (I pin a backdrop to the wall… It’s oh-so-glamorous!).

Seating is really important to me as I spend so long sitting while papercutting – again I chose a comfy desk chair from Ikea which gives me great back support and manoeuvrability.

Lighting is also super important. The fairy lights help give a warm glow on a miserable day, I also have a couple of ambient lamps to give a cosy feel plus I have my magnifying daylight lamp which I can move around and which I have on all the time. It saves my eyes from getting super tired and serves as a useful iPhone-platform for overhead shots!!

Smal but perfectly formed, my well-planned workspace means I have everything I need close by, plus it serves to give me a daily dose of inspiration.

Smal but perfectly formed, my well-planned workspace means I have everything I need close by, plus it serves to give me a daily dose of inspiration.

The storage I have is very limited. I’m not going to lie – I have packaging materials in my loft and airing cupboard, my giant A3 frame boxes and envelopes are stored in my wardrobe, plus there are a lot of papers in the sideboard in the lounge. My old barn door (which I use as a photo backdrop) is kept outside the house. Not practical! My A3 scanner and printer lives under my desk, and I keep more envelopes, packing materials and my Lightcase on top of the printer. Vertical living at its finest!! I store stickers, tissue paper, business cards, greetings cards and Drop and Go forms in an Ikea drawer unit. On top of that live my iPod dock/radio, along with a bunch of files, binders and magazine boxes (for envelopes, order forms, postage receipts and so on). One “leg” of my desk is home to a two-shelf cupboard where I store papers and prints in concertina box files. I’ve had to think cleverly of how to get the most from the small space I have, while at the same time being able to access everything I need quickly.

Three small wooden boxes contain everything I need to keep at hand for packing and posting, while a cupboard which serves as a table 'leg' holds essentials like paper, prints, baking boards and my arm warmers!

Three small wooden boxes contain everything I need to keep at hand for packing and posting, while a cupboard which serves as a table ‘leg’ holds essentials like paper, prints, baking boards and my arm warmers!

The over-desk drawers and shelf are super handy for keeping tapes, papers, tools and postal bits and bobs to hand; for example I have three little wooden boxes filled with washi tape, rubber stamps and ink pads, and all the elements needed for postage including my thank you notes, bakers twine and Signed For stickers. Everything I need to access on a daily basis is within reach of my desk, which is a vast improvement on how I used to work, and makes my working life a heck of a lot easier!

Oh and an additional plus-point – my daughter can’t reach the drawers above my desk, so they’re quite good for storing sweets and chocolate essential papercutting artist snacks.

And what about decoration?

Two words: Inspo wall!! Since I was at school I’ve had a bunch of postcards I’ve dragged with me to uni and into office booths and workspaces; just to give my working day a little boost. These include examples of my favourite art works like my Frida Kahlo postcards picked up when I saw an exhibition of her work at Tate Modern (she’s one of my favourite artists), Miffy and Hello Kitty postcards bought in France, some long-loved “quote” postcards (my favourite reads: “I want to be what I was when I wanted to be what I am now” which holds huge resonance for me), a sweet beat-up “Love Is” mirror from a thrift store in Glasgow and some lovely creations by my daughter which make me smile. There are also a few photos; some of me in happy times and some of my daughter, some hand-scrawled notes to myself (including “Only Love Today”, one of my favourite mantras from the amazing Handsfree Mama) and inspiring cards from the likes of Lucky Dip Club and Bread & Jam.

A snippet of some of the wonderfully inspiring things I've chosen to surround myself with.

A snippet of some of the wonderfully inspiring things I’ve chosen to surround myself with.

Accessorise those arty bits with handmade beauties from Two-10 design (a hand-carved wooden block), Katie Daisy (my “let go” canvas), Veronica Dearly (my amazing wall planner), TFLittlefootDesigns (two strings of pretty bunting) and Marna Lunt Textile Artist (my fantastic hand-embroidered hoop) and you get my little corner of heaven.

Oh, and add a plant or two and some flowers – usually sunflowers because they’re really significant to me. I need a bit of nature in my life, especially if it’s super-colourful.

What does your workspace mean to you?

Having my own studio space makes me feel more professional, like I can take myself more seriously now. Yes it’s just a corner of my daughter’s room, but it’s my corner. My inspiration wall is a key part of it – I love fairy lights, I love being surrounded by pretty things and goodies I have collected over many years such as my postcards, wall art and ornaments. I guess my workspace really reflects me and my work – vibrant colour, quirky, bold… Of course, it’s not like I can invite people up to my studio for a tour (unless they want to contend with Lego on the floor!) but I really feel lucky to have my very own space.

Do you have any rituals when it comes to your workspace?

After the school run is done, I come up and stick the radio on, put my fairy lights on if it’s dreary outside and make sure I have a glass of water to hand before I start working. I tend to always work with the radio on for company (Radio 2 or 6Music; Radio 4 late at night because I love The Shipping Forecast – yes, weird). So the radio goes on. And if I get sick of the radio, I’ve got my very old iPod for my entire collection of music – sometimes I require a bit of old school trance to kickstart my working day!

I always clear my desk off before starting a new piece; I like to start completely fresh. So the polish and duster come out and any tiny bits of paper I may have missed in my daily wipe down get hoovered up. Depending on what I’m working on and how busy I am the carpet (a nightmarish thick pile) gets hoovered anything from daily to once a week! I would probably drive myself potty if I attempted to hoover daily while working on an A3 leaf tree… those tiny leaves get everywhere!!

Every season I have a bit of a makeover, so I might change accessories around – change my pen pot and plant pot colours for example, or take a few pics down and put a few new ones up. Just to keep it fresh and happy in hopes that filters down to my work!

What’s your favourite thing about your workspace? And least favourite?

Favourite is the whole thing. Can I say that? Well, my inspo wall. I just love it. It’s so me. I just wish I had a bigger space to spread out more of the things I want to put up!! Least favourite thing: storage.

On that note – any plans for the future when it comes to your workspace?

I would love to have a dedicated workspace big enough to have a packing table, storage for all of my packaging like postal tubes and boxes, with a proper plan chest for storing prints and large pieces of work. And a special photography area where I could keep my camera, tripod, lighting and backdrops set up permanently. The best thing would be to have a door with a lock on, so I could leave all my work and tools out and just close the door on it at the end of each day, rather than having to pack everything away so my daughter doesn’t damage or play with anything! A purpose-built garden office would just be wonderful, or somewhere with character where I could display my work on walls and even take part in open studios. But since we’re currently in a two-bed rental property, I guess I’ll have to keep dreaming!! I do love my workspace though; it suits me and my business (and the current size of my business!) down to the ground.

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GET INVOLVED

Would you like to take part in a future Workspace Wednesday? It’s a great opportunity to showcase your work and workspace, plus share some behind the scenes stuff with potential customers and social networking fans. If you fancy getting involved and are able to answer a few questions and supply some high quality photos, please drop me a line using the contact form on my website! I will of course include links to your online shop and social media.

Business is Thriving

I’ve been a very busy bee recently, and June was no exception. I actually had one of my most successful months ever, and that was no doubt in part to a great market night I took part in on Facebook, as well as some new print designs that I made available in my shop. To check them out, go visit!

I was thrilled that my success got a mention in Create & Thrive’s “Small Successes” blog – what a lovely achievement. And it’s all thanks to my wonderful customers!I got a mention on Create and Thrive - yeay!

Create & Thrive, set up by Australian jeweller Jess Van Den, is a gorgeous website which provides a helpful advice platform for its thriving community of readers – mostly creative business types, just like me. Covering everything from product photography to running social media, Create & Thrive is a great place to go if you’re looking for a little business inspiration or support.  They even run a monthly book club and have a host of resources to help business owners – well – create and thrive!