Saturday, 31 August 2013

I wish I thought of that #1: Harriet Curtis Designs

Tropical Frog by Harriet Curtis

OH my god I am busy magee right now, one week after coming up with a very basic blogging schedule and i'm already off it! I started my new job on Tuesday and got thrown into the deep end by taking 18 girls ten pin bowling (with two other new members of staff). Initially I was terrified with the idea of being responsible for all these girls but it all managed to go rather smoothly (i.e. no one died.) One of our other  responsibilities as members of staff is to try and get the kids off their iPads and laptops so I'll looking forward to setting up some craft activities with the younger ones. I love an excuse to do a silly little art project that I wouldn't be able to get away with if I wasn't working at a school! I'm still job hunting too so drawing has taken a bit of a back seat once again, although I should have some new stuff posted soon!

In the mean time, here's: 'I wish I thought of that', a monthly feature where I chat with artists and illustrators that I admire and who I am also extremely jealous of! My artistic jealousy inspires me to try harder to create my own style and hopefully it will inspire the odd person who reads this too.

First up is the amazingly talented Harriet Curtis! Let me tell you how I stumbled across her work - I was lucky enough to live right next to Greenwich Market when I lived in London. I walked through it daily on the way to work, university and to see friends etc... It's great in many ways, they have amazing food and antique markets, along with a big general one that can have anything from shoes, to clothes, to craft, to palm reading. After a while though, I found myself getting a little used to walking through this place, I dandered through it once a day (usually more) and as a student I didn't want be tempted into buying things! So the market became a bit of a blur to me. One day however, I was walking through with a friend and Harriet's stall automatically caught my eye, I asker her if we could stop and have a look, I'm very glad we did!

It's been a while since I've seen some truly original artwork at the market and even on Etsy (whilst I love Etsy, sometimes there's only so many moustaches and Owls I can handle), Harriet's work is vibrant and unique and I wish I held the same natural talent she has for watercolours. My personal favourite is her 'Bright Orchid' print which you can see on this cushion here:

Bright Orchid Print on Cushion

I messaged Harriet while ago and asked her a few questions, here's what she had to say:

First off, tell us a bit about yourself!

I am a Textiles Print Designer with a BA for Textile Print from Winchester School of Art. I am currently working from a lovely studio bursting with creativity, called 'The Papered Parlour' in South London. 

In November of last year I decided that I wanted to create my own brand, so I started up 'Harriet Curtis Designs'. Up until this point I had worked for two very different designers. This gave me an important insight into how a business can be run, but also enforced my conviction that I wanted to create my own designs and label. 

Nature is obviously a big part of your brand, is there anything or anyone else who inspires your work?

I draw and paint from the natural world because the colours and unusual organic shapes are so inspiring. Kew Gardens was particularly helpful in this regard as it has a wonderful collection of exotic plants and flowers. My ideas, however, are not solely restricted to nature as I find interesting palettes and forms in all areas of life. 

London is such an exciting city that it would be hard not to be inspired by the soaring landscape and culture around me. The Royal Academy's Summer Exhibition is always an unexpected mix of work from around the UK. I particularly liked Grayson Perry's tapestries, as creating a narrative in art has always been important in my designs. My Tropical Collection focuses more on motif than narrative, but I still find interesting stories inform my work. 

The design company 'House of Hackney' illustrates how you can create ranges of both quirky narrative-based prints of animals 'up to no good', alongside beautiful painted plant repeats. This combination of different ideas that still contain a strong 'brand-aesthetic' is something I hope to achieve in my own work.

Tropical Toucan

What do you have in store for the future of Harriet Curtis Designs?

In the future I want to create more large-scale botanical designs, (like my tropical botanical print) as I find the scale very effective for interior products like curtains. I want to expand my range of products with an emphasis on home accessories, as I have always been excited by interior design. 

I also hope to set up an online shop for my products, as well as selling at more markets in London. I have a stand at Greenwich Market, which has been a great way of creating public awareness for my new brand. Spitafields and Covent Garden Market would also be good places to start selling my products. 

 Finally, What tips would you have for any aspiring artists or illustrators out there?

I think it is important for any aspiring illustrators or artists to get themselves known to the public as soon as possible. This could be through social media like 'Facebook' and blog sites, through to markets and exhibitions. Promotion of your brand will expand your customer pool, as well as interest new whole sellers and investors. 

I would also say it is important to keep up to date with the latest trends by looking at blog sites like 'Print and Pattern', magazines, newspapers, films, music, shops etc. It is not only informing you on what's the current 'flavour of the month' but could also give you new ideas for designs.

Finally 'perseverance' is a word you have to remember when embarking on a career in this industry. Nothing worth doing  is ever simple and easy. For every low point, however, there is a high, and nothing beats the feeling you get when you make your first sale!

Aubergine Fabric
(I bloody love aubergines!)

Wonderful stuff right?! Thanks so much to Harriet for chatting to me and for all the great tips she gave too. If this lady doesn't go far I will eat my hat!

Check out her website here!
and her facebook pagehere!

Hope everyone's had a great week!


Tuesday, 27 August 2013

Back to School

So after graduating university I've decided to go back to my old high school! Working there will definitely be interesting. I'll be working at the boarding department that I myself boarded at for two years, so it will definitely be a little strange to be going back there as a member of staff. The thing is...  I had the most fun when I was breaking the rules there (dorm raids were my favourites!) and I'm a bit worried that I'll end up rooting for them when they break the rules too!
It will have to be silent rooting, under the disguise as sternness, I don't want to be getting into any trouble myself and when I think about it, I'm sure I'll get a little cranky when they don't shut up and go to bed!

In other news I have been drawing, not quite as much what with packing/job applying but at the moment my camera's out of battery and my chargers some where in the midst of my suitcases! I thought I'd take a  leaf out of Paiges blog and do a little back to school post! Stationary shopping before school starts was my favourite thing to do, so here's some pretty things from Etsy:

Pencil Holder from Less and More

Linen Pencil case from Hello Violeta

Mini Notebook from Wit and Whistle
Leather Canvas Backpack from DuDu Leather

Science Chalkboard Notebook from Newton and the Apple

Thursday, 22 August 2013

Trees again

I haven't had an awful lot of time to draw lately as I've been spending a lot of time looking and applying for jobs so this has all that I've had the chance to do really. I've also been trying out some sketches for a children's book that my friends writing, it's been quite difficult but it's good that I have a good excuse to push my self into drawing things that I would usually shy away from (by that I mean people, I'm terrible at drawing people.) I'll post more about this next week though.

I actually don't really like this drawing of the turtle playing in the leaves. Don't get me wrong I like the idea of it, it's just the execution of the idea I have a problem with. I wasn't going to post it but then I thought, why not be honest? I know I'm not exactly Da Vinci here but sometimes my little drawings can be particularly underwhelming.

One of my best friends is coming over tomorrow so today my day shall be full of tidying up and food shopping. I'm going to be a nice little hostess and make her some sweet potato soup, I haven't seen her for bloody ages so I can't wait to catch up with her! I should really get packing this weekend actually, as I'll be moving to Belfast on Tuesday! I'm pretty excited, yesterday, when I was handing out C.Vs there, I bumped into another one of my besties who was with a friend of hers so we got some coffee and chatted for a bit (well they chatted, I felt a bit ill for some reason - but I'm fine now!) This is what I've missed the most about Belfast when I've been in London, sure it doesn't quite have the culture or the awesome museums but it is nice and small. You could never just bump into a friend whilst in London (actually I did actually bump into a relative once!) and I'm really happy that it'll be much easier to see them now!

So what are your weekend plans sexy reader? I am very nosey and would love to hear them!

Monday, 19 August 2013

Drawing Challenge: Trees

I'm worried that last 'o' looks like an 'e' I'M NOT THAT BAD AT SPELLING I PROMISE.
So as you can see my challenges are just so damned complicated (they aren't) but when all you draw are silly animals, drawing pretty much anything else can a bit daunting.

I thought I'd do trees this week because they're are just great aren't they? That and the other day I was really bored so I just parked myself at my desk with a pen and paper and told myself to just draw SOMETHING... So I drew some trees. There are loads of different kinds of trees in Greenwich park and I regret not taking some pictures whilst I was there because some of them were so cool! I ended up using the ones around here in Ballyclare as a reference instead.

Poor guy!

Of course I had to incorporate a penguin in to my drawing challenge again, I just can't get enough of these guys. I'm glad I did though because I really like the drawing above.

I didn't paint or draw as much as I would have liked this weekend as it was really busy but also really fun and exhausting. After going to a friends BBQ a small group of us took a trip to the Mourne Mountains, I wish I had some photo's but rather annoyingly, I forgot my camera! But to be honest, it's probably for the best as we didn't get to the top of any of the mountains! In our defence, one of the guys was an hour late and we had to make sure we got back down in time for the bus... It was still loads of fun though and now we've reminded ourselves what it's like up there we'll be better prepared next time.

Hope everyone had a great weekend!

Friday, 16 August 2013

Penguins under the influence

What started out as a nice little plan to incorporate some floraly goodness in to some drawings turned into an idea involving some messed up penguins. I think it happened because I thought their bellies looked a little trippy and I kinda just ran with it...

It all started innocently enough...
Then BAM he's gone off the rails!

I think I might make this in to a little comic strip (I've been thinking... GANGSTA PENGUINS) or something, it's something I've been thinking about trying for a while since Will mentioned I should give it a go but i'm going to focus on that another time. In the mean time I've been drawing manatees:

I'm very aware that I spelt 'woah' wrong, but apart from that blunder it was fun to do some silly drawings again. I love Malcom the Moustached Manatee... I love any fat animal.

In other news, I'm actually letting myself do something this weekend! (I'm trying to be good and make sure what little bit of money I have spreads out over the month!) So I'm off to a birthday BBQ and to a trip to the Mourne mountains which I'm excited about, hopefully I'll get some good pictures!

Hope you enjoy your weekend,


Thursday, 15 August 2013

Ramblings: Confessions of a secret Twihard

So the other night I watched Twilight breaking dawn part 2,  got totes emosh and preceded to watch part one straight afterwards. The day after I tried and failed to watch part 2 again and my obvious reaction is to have a look around for the first Twilight  to watch. I'm also reading breaking dawn by Stephanie Meyer.

But why? What the hell is wrong with me? I'm pro choice, of the feminist way, I'm not sure if I could ever promise anyone that I will love them for ever and the thought of an eternal life sounds scary and boring to me. Whilst I believe in the possibility of the existence of a divine creator, I don't associate myself with any religion... When my best friend told me that she wished her boyfriend at the time was more like Edward Cullen I  disagreed with her massively because personally I think Edward is boring, lacks a sense of humour and is incredibly controlling (Whilst we're on the subject I think Jacob is just plain annoying). 

So you know...  SHOULDN'T I BE SMARTER THAN THIS?!?* Pretty much all my views on life go against message that comes along with the Twilight Saga.

Always love a mean girls reference
Why then, do I feel the incesent need to have this series in my life? 

I think that the main reason why is because I tend to go through Twilight phases when I'm going through a break up. And as luck would have it i'm going through one now (kinda/sorta it's a bit complicated but long story short I'm in Northern Ireland he's in London and neither of us are going to be moving to each others country any time soon). Despite the flaws I think Twilight has, I always feel the need to imerse myself in that world when I experience any form of heart break. I think this is because I'm going through a time where i'm very confused about what I want and Twilight is about two people who are so damned certain about what they want romantically it ocasionally (or you know, regularly) drives them to the brink of insanity.

I think another reason why I go a bit nuts over it is  because falling out of love with someone or coming to the realisation that, realistically, you don't have a future with someone you truly love has so far been one of the worst feelings I've ever felt (I realise this mean's i'm very lucky and I fully expect to feel much worse in years to come). You meet this amazing person, have such wonderful times with them and then suddenly, completely out of nowhere you realise you don't feel the same way any more and it is SHIT. Especially when the person you're with literally hasn't done anything wrong. Sometimes you just can't help the way you feel and you need to be honest about it.

So for me the Twilight world is the perfect antidote to those confusing feelings. Those vampires stay in love for an infinite amount of time. They find their true mate (whilst staying celibate till they find them!) and apparently are so unchanging in their nature that they stay in love with that person for ever. Even the Werewolves are in the whole serial monogomy game with their ability to imprint. Which is all fine and dandy until a couple of them imprint on babies (Stephanie Meyer herself could try justifying this to me but it is just. Plain. Weird.). So when I feel the many shitty and confusing feelings that occur post break up I feel the need for those crazy vampire lovers.

And god dammit I'll probably read and watch them all again next time.

*update** A silly post about Twilight sparked the need to draw silly things about twilight... And Manatees:

Manatee Edward

We should probably get back to school FOR ETERNITY.

What get's you through a break-up? The more embarrassing the better!

* I realise that's a little offensive to Twilight fans (and myself) and I realise that liking twilight does not necessarily mean that you're stupid... At least I really hope it doesn't.

Tuesday, 13 August 2013


A completely unrelated picture of my dogs bum.

I'm sure few will notice but the lovely Kotryna at Kotryna Bass Designs (check out her blog here!) designed me an awsome new blogger template. I've been wanting to do this for ages and so when I found myself with a little extra cash (hello birthday money) the first place I went to was Kotryna's etsy shop. She did an amazing job don't you think??

My template isn't the only part of my blog that's getting a face lift. I'm gonna start doing a couple of regular features to keep me inspired now that I'm back at home.

At the start every month I'll be sharing some chat's I've had with some amazing illustrators and artists in a feature called "I Wish I Thought of That". It's people who make me think " dammit! I wish I thought of that" that make me want to create my own original style of drawing so it will be fun to see what inspires them too!

Then every week I'll be setting myself some drawing challenges and documenting them here on my blog. I thought it would be a good way to get myself out of my comfort zone and improve my illustration skills.

Only two so far but I think that will be enough for now because to be quite honest there's nothing else that I'd like to do. I mean there are options out there like outfit posts (that I love to read by the way) and all that jazz... but I want to do stuff that's important to me and I definitely don't want to be a regurgitation of other blogs out there.  So that's it for now, there will be some other posts in between about day to day stuff and maybe I'll think of other features later on. I'm excited to see how it all goes!


Monday, 12 August 2013

Drawing Challenge: Flowers

I'm not particularly into flowers, sure some of them are pretty and smell nice but a part from that I tend to not think that much of them. Ocasionally though, I find myself thinking that they'd make a nice background or could just brighten a picture up. The think is I am pretty terrible at drawing them. I can do very basic little ones  but any time I've tried to do anything more complicated, I've give up easily in frustration.

So I decided this should be my first challenge! It started out very basically with me mainly just playing with coulour, as you can see in the picture above. I then took some inspiration from the flowers pictured below that are outside my mum's front door and coupled that with this photo of mayo from mellowmayo that I found in Company magazine (check her blog out here  - try not to drool over her outfits too much!). I loved the pink and grey matched together so I thought I'd try that with my flowers.

I then went to visit my Grandma and Grandpa and took advantage of the flowers in their garden. I got a lovely picture of a rose, I loved the colour of it so I thought I'd try and keep as true to the picture as possiple but with my own spin. As you can see, drawing doesn't come as naturally to me as it would to other people but I want to use that to my advantage so I can figure out my own style.

So there you go, I've got a lot to improve on, but it's a start! I ended up trying to incorporate some floraly goodness into one of my animal drawings:

I'll be posting some more floral inspired illustrations soon!

Monday, 5 August 2013

Leaving London

View of central London via Peckham

After four years, I left London  for good last Tuesday (in the living sort of sense, i will obviously be going back to visit!) and I must say I'm feeling an array of mixed feelings. In a lot of ways i'm excited about the future as in September I will be living and working at my old boarding department. This is a great opportunity for many reasons: 1. I get free rent, bills and food, 2. I will not be working full time there so I will have time to work another job and save up money for travelling, 3. I will finally have some work experience in something other than retail and 4. This means I will be living in Belfast where most of my friends live so seeing them will be much easier.

On the other hand I met some cool people in London who I will miss dearly, leaving my boyfriend was especially hard (I was an absolute MESS at the airport). I didn't always live in the nicest places but I was never too far from some beautiful parts of the city and I have some lovely memories with an awesome backdrop because of that place. In my last year there, I lived right in the middle of Greenwich where I was around the corner from a giant boat, amazing architecture and a beautiful park...all right by the Thames! I was very lucky to live there and coming back to a little village in Northern Ireland will take a bit of getting used too!

I've always had a love/hate relationship with London. I've met the odd horrible person, felt overwhelmed by the sheer size of this place and been through some seriously stressful living and financial situations. I also felt myself really missing my friends from home quite a lot.

That said, I've had some really interesting experiences. Such as working for an events company where I got to work at the natural history museum, the science museum and the craziest wedding I will ever experience (they pumped "woodland smell" into the venue) ... I even accidently hit david blunkett on the head with a plate! I've had lovely days wondering around the city and once broke into Greenwich park to watch the fireworks go off all around London on bonfire night. And lastly... I don't mean to get too cheesy here but London was the place where I fell in love for the first time... and the second time! I couldn't imagine a better city to fall in love in. (Vomit)

Now that I look back on it all, I realise that the negative experiences I had are ones that I would have experienced in any other city and the positive experiences I've had couldn't have happened in any other city. However, I'm ready to move on and the best way for me to do this is to move back home where I can save money so I can finally do some proper travelling. This has been something I've been itching to do for years and as sad as I am to leave I'm excited to get the ball rolling...

Till next time,

This flower shop was right outside my door when I lived in Greenwich