I try to blog once a month but I skipped July because we headed over on a much needed holiday to Marbella in Spain which we all thoroughly enjoyed.
Our accommodation, location, food, company ticked all the boxes, but my favourite thing about the holiday was the sunshine and brightness. When we arrived home to Ireland I really noticed how the light was down a few notches, like someone had turned down a dimmer switch.
Ah well, I wasn't able to take home the sunshine but I did take home some design inspiration which I came across in Old Town Marbella. We went there for a meal one night and I spent a good while walking around the shops and took some photographs.
You can see the Rock of Gibraltar from the beach in Marbella and next stop is Africa, so it is not surprising that there is a certain Moroccan/North African influence in some of the designs you see.
Some of the shop displays were an assault to my creative senses most memorable being the fabric patterns in this shop which they used to make all sorts of products from clothes, pj's, shoes, bags etc. The colours and patterns were truly beautiful and initially wanted to buy everything but in the end I settled for taking a few photos.
Then there was the scarf shop which was like an aladdin's cave, even the vintage display cabinets were hand painted beautifully.
Roll on Summer 2018 where I hope to give myself more time to buy a few of these gorgeous things!
For the past few months I've been taking part in the Lilla Rogers Make Art That Sells Bootcamp which I am absolutely loving! Each month we receive an assignment to design something for the art licensing market which could be anything from abstract backpacks to floral journal covers. This month we had to design a mug with an historical twist.
Ellis Island New York
The first week we were told to research, study photographs and sketch the people who arrived in Ellis Island New York, the place where emigrants from all over the world landed with hopes and dreams for a new life in the promised land of the United States.
It was interesting to learn about Ellis Island especially since so many Irish people arrived there and made America their home. However, looking at the old photographs and the people's faces (in particular their eyes) made me quite sad. Each and every person had left loved one's behind in their native countries, in a lot of cases they would never see their families again.
I felt this assignment would be challenging because I thought to myself, who would want to drink out of a mug with sad faces on it?
Hair styles of Ellis Island
I was surprised when we found out that the Main Assignment was to design a mug focussing on the hairstyles of Ellis Island! This could be the actual hairstyles, what they wore on their heads, or your own interpretation using your own style.
I looked at more photos and kept coming back to the hats of the time and started to focus generally on Edwardian fashion. I thought about the ships arriving at Ellis Island and then I thought about the Titanic and how it never made it to New York on it's maiden voyage from Cork. How nice would it be to design a tea mug with little Edwardian ladies, the type of passengers that would have been drinking tea in 1st or 2nd class on the Titanic?
And so I began my design using watercolour. I painted my ladies and also painted a ladies antique fob watch to add as an element in the design.
I am really delighted with the result! See my product 'mock-up' below :-))
Today is the 2nd May and I'm so delighted we can now say it's officially summertime in Ireland! Happily the weather has decided to fly it's summer wings also.
This morning I made the most of the glorious weather and sat outside having a cup of tea in the sunshine soaking up the gorgeous sights and sounds in my garden. I live on a country lane in Wicklow and love listening to the birds, enjoying the country smells and watching my dogs snoozing in the sun.
My garden is more of a shrubby garden and is quite easy maintenance. We haven't planted a huge amount of bedding plants and get most of our colour from the flowering shrubs and bulb plants we have scattered around.
After my cup of tea this morning I grabbed a basket and foraged around the garden for any colour I could find to use as inspiration for my designs and patterns. I wasn't that hopeful at first, but arrived back inside with what I consider the prettiest bounty of cuttings I've ever assembled. I intend putting this little project to good use with my paint brushes and look forward to sharing my results with you!
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At last I've got down to blogging after a busy few weeks. I have started an online Lilla Rogers 'Make Art That Sells' Bootcamp which runs over five months with one assignment project to do per month. The reason I'm doing this Bootcamp is:
In March we had to design a Badass Backpack! The stipulations were that it had to be abstract and based on doodles and freestyle artwork from Week 1, before we knew anything about the backpack assignment.
'Abstract' art is outside of my comfort zone but I soon discovered that all the doodles and scribbles I have been drawing on every drawable surface since I was a child did not go wasted. This abstract thing came very naturally and I was very pleased with the final result! I learnt that there are other aspects to my creativity that I hadn't considered as potentially viable for my business.
I'm really looking forward to the April assignment so please keep an eye out for my upcoming blog posts if you want to see some brand new work and maybe something a little bit different!
My Badass Backpack Design...I hope you like it!!
If you'd like to see the March Bootcamp gallery of all the awesome designs created last month click on the link HERE
Showcase Ireland is Ireland's Creative Expo, a place where the best of Irish creativity gather to showcase their wares to the trade. This January Hairy Fruit Art headed off to the RDS Dublin with enthusiasm and gusto! Here's my story...
Overall it was much easier preparing for the show this year because I had done it once before and this saved me a lot of time. In the run up, every spare moment was taken up designing my leaflets and putting together paperwork, creating stand mockups on the computer, making up shelves for my greetings cards, and so on. I was really looking forward to meeting existing and new buyers, fellow designers, along with the many other fantastic people you tend to meet at such an event.
Last year's Showcase was my first ever experience at a trade fair and it went without a hitch. Ahem, I have to admit, this year there were a lot more heart attacks along the way. But what is a story without a little conflict?!
The first heart attack came about because I nearly didn't get into Showcase (a long story but suffice it to say I got there at the last minute). In fact, so relieved was I to get a last minute cancellation that one or two 'wee' things got overlooked by me, principally not properly checking out my stand in advance.
When I arrived to set up my stand I noticed I had two (not three) walls which brings me to Heart Attack No.2. However, since I brought my kitchen dresser and luckily only needed to hang things from two walls it actually worked out fine, even to my advantage, because people walking past could see right through into my stand. Also my stand was right beside the restaurant entrance so many people got to see it passing to and fro.
Heart Attack No.3 was when I realised I had a 'soft shell' not a 'hard shell' stand which basically means you cannot screw anything into the walls. I was in a position to organise some panels to be added at a cost of €60 +VAT a pop x 4 which was going to add a whole lot of extra expense. This is where the hubbie comes in.
I've said it before and I'll say it again, my husband is a wizard with a screwdriver and pretty much every tool in the box. I knew he was my No.1 best chance of putting this stand together right. After many headaches he was able to pull the rabbit out of the hat and hang my prints perfectly which was a true miracle. He made up a wooden structure allowing my prints to hang. I had no fingernails left but my stand looked great! Let's just say lessons were learnt!!
stand and deliver
I was very pleased with the standard of buyers who visited my stand this year, and the orders and the feedback I received about my designs both during and after the show. There was a noticeable increase of interest in my greetings cards this year which is a collection I intend to develop and expand over the coming year. A few buyers also gave me great suggestions of designs I should add to my collection, valuable tips about things they know there is a demand for. Where else would you get such wonderful advice from the horse's mouth?
If you are a designer contemplating taking the first step into a trade fair it's a big consideration. You have a choice of either jumping into the car with lots of samples and travel the country selling your wares which is great if you have the time, or you can set up a stand in Showcase and have people come and visit you there. You will never meet these people anywhere else and all in one place, or get the real feedback you need from the people that count. That is what I love about Showcase.
everybody needs good neighbours
A blog post about Showcase must include something about your neighbours. It is the people at your neighbouring stands that enhance your experience and keep you going when the feet are aching and the clock is ticking backwards! This year I had the privilege of meeting some very experienced exhibitors who passed on lots of advice and stories which were invaluable. They were also fantastic company. Photos: John O'Brien Irish Turf/Peat Incense Co. from Nenagh Co. Tipperary selling little Irish cottages that burn turf inside bringing the smell of turf into your home and out the little chimney (brilliant!); Veronica Molloy of Crossogue Preserves, Ireland's premier jam/preserve maker from Thurles in Co. Tipperary, basically Ireland's very own Mrs Beeton; the lovely and talented Amy Sherwin of Popzle based in my hometown of Greystones, designer of the most superb 3D interactive activity cards; last but not least is me at my stand looking sheepish baa!
My thanks to The Design and Crafts Council of Ireland, Local Enterprise Wicklow, and everyone who visited my stand at Showcase Ireland 2017. Here's to a creative and busy year ahead!