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Taking stock :: #1

Stack of grey knitted blankets

The idea for this post comes from the lovely Pip over at Meet me at Mikes. Actually I don’t know Pip at all but anyone who creates such gorgeous blankets and also wears clogs has to be lovely in my books. I saw her taking stock post last week and thought it would be a nice segue back into blogging land and out of silence. I’ve been wrestling with many things lately (not literally) so the last few weeks have been really exhausting. I hate it when I’m even too tired to blog. So here goes:

Making : A quilt that defies all my quilting logic
Cooking : So much soup – winter is finally here
Drinking : Stockholm blend tea from the Tea Centre
Reading: The Happiness Project and Steal Like an Artist
Wanting: A chunky knit blanket
Looking: Forward to some time off
Playing: Handball with my little one
Deciding: Whether I should paint a wall with Idea Paint
Wishing: The weeds would remove themselves from the garden
Enjoying: The cold morning cycle commutes to work
Waiting: For my new iMac to arrive
Liking: The new clear glass in our entryway
Wondering: Where the time has gone
Loving: That uni semester is over for 4 weeks
Pondering: A weekend away with my 3 best girlfriends
Considering: Teaching myself how to crochet so I can make these kitchen cloths
Watching: Lost in Austen – again
Hoping: To start on some new pattern designs
Marvelling: At how much my boys have grown in the last six months
Needing: An overlocker
Smelling: Frangipani
Wearing: My red funkis clogs
Following: Tractor Girl’s surface design posts
Noticing: How much my jolly monkey has improved in maths
Knowing: I need to let go sometimes and that’s OK
Thinking: Of planning a road trip to country Victoria with my boys
Feeling: Relieved that I made it to the end of semester
Admiring: My dear friend Brandi who always helps me gain perspective
Sorting: Through the clutter in the study in preparation for new carpet
Buying: New garage doors
Getting: Ready to redesign my blog using this theme
Bookmarking: Wood block stamps
Disliking: Really bad Canberra drivers
Opening: Pomegranates to make an autumn salad
Giggling: At the boys’ really bad jokes
Feeling: Optimistic after a really bad week
Snacking: On home made ANZAC biscuits
Coveting: This ring from The Silver Forge
Wishing: It were that easy
Helping: A beautiful friend in a difficult situation
Hearing: The wonderful sound of my little one trying to find the perfect Lego piece

The Soft gray image is via Pinterest and it really just makes me want to curl up and be kind to myself.

June 7, 2014 \ sharing \ 1 comment

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Lest We Forget

Close up of a poppy

With proud thanksgiving, a mother for her children
England mourns for her dead across the sea,
Flesh of her flesh they were, spirit of her spirit,
Fallen in the cause of the free.

Solemn the drums thrill: Death august and royal
Sings sorrow up into immortal spheres,
There is music in the midst of desolation
And glory that shines upon our tears.

They went with songs to the battle, they were young,
Straight of limb, true of eyes, steady and aglow,
They were staunch to the end against odds uncounted,
They fell with their faces to the foe.

They shall grow not old, as we that are left grow old:
Age shall not weary them, nor the years condemn
At the going down of the sun and in the morning
We will remember them.

They mingle not with their laughing comrades again,
They sit no more at familiar tables of home,
They have no lot in our labour of the daytime,
They sleep beyond England’s foam.

But where our desires and hopes profound,
Felt as a well-spring that is hidden from sight,
To the innermost heart of their own land they are known
As the stars are known to the night.

As the stars shall be bright when we are dust,
Moving in marches upon the heavenly plain,
As the stars that are starry in the time of our darkness,
To the end, to the end, they remain.

For the Fallen by Laurence Binyon

Image source: Poppy Crimson Red Flowers Blazing Bright Floral Closeup Vivid Bold Cabin Rustic Lodge Photograph from SimplyLodge Etsy store

April 25, 2013 \ sharing \ 0 comments - be the first

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Remembering :: my mother

A poster about loss

It is exactly one year ago that my mother passed away. I know grief is a strange beast but somehow I thought I would be more accepting at the one year anniversary.

I’m not.

I’ve been told time heals all wounds.

It doesn’t.

All time gives you is the ability to adapt – it’s like sitting in the one position for too long and you adjust your body to find comfort. The pain doesn’t really disappear – it’s still there and I’ve learned to accommodate it.

This semester we’ve been challenged to produce two design outcomes that focus on an event from which you a strong emotional response. I thought it would be very hard, cathartic maybe, but very hard to return to the hour on the other side of the world when I heard the news. The first outcome had to be a poster and this is my final design. When I think back on those first few months after losing Mum I found myself explaining it to friends that I felt as if my North Star had disappeared over the horizon and I had no direction. The compass is also a nod to my mother’s seafaring heritage and one of our favourite quilt block patterns.

My second outcome is in production and if you’ve ever seen ‘Prosperos Books’ you may get and inkling of what it’s about.

October 5, 2012 \ sharing \ 3 comments

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Thinking about :: swimming

Bubble in a tiled swimming pool

Well as most of you know (because I haven’t let you forget) – I’ll be taking part in the MS 24 Hour Mega Swim this weekend. It’s still not too late to make a donation towards my efforts.

The effort of training which also coincides with many assignments due has meant I haven’t been blogging as much as I would like. Trust me I would much prefer to be here than trying to conceive a 15 second video promo for a fictitious TV station. Can someone please tell me what this has to do with graphic design? Am I sounding at all cynical? Yes, I thought so. Remind me, why am I doing this again?

Anyway – there is a very faint light at the end of my assignment tunnel so I hope to back here in earnest soon because I have a bunch on stuff I want to share with you.

Have a lovely weekend and think of me doing lap after lap after lap after… you get the idea.

Image: Bubble reflections 4 from stock.xchng

May 18, 2012 \ sharing \ 4 comments

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It’s just a question of price

Dollar sign on hessian

What is it worth? This has been a persistent question for me lately as I’ve had to place a price on my services. There quite a lot on this topic some helpful and some not so much. Since I’m new at this I went in search of some answers and found two great resources that may also help you. The first one is Brandi’s FREE (yes really) ebook An Artists Guide to Pricing. This small and to the point handbook really gets you thinking about what you’re worth and the biggest lesson of all – underpricing your work hurts everyone. The second book was Logo Design Love,  I realise it’s a book about designing logos but it also has an entire chapter devoted to pricing design. While neither books give you a figure they both offer lessons learned from experienced artisans and designers.

So why have I been pondering this? Well recently I feel I may have lost work because I’m pricing myself at exactly what I’m worth. What a shocking discovery to make! So in order to understand what is going on in the minds of my clients, without actually asking them, I decided to do two things; break down in time how long it takes me to achieve a blog design from Photoshop to cutup and the final product and see what my competitors are charging for the same service. So here’s my estimate for a standard website assuming a 7 hour day at modest $60 per hour.

  • Design mockup in Photoshop – takes me anywhere from 2 – 5 days, so let’s say it takes me 3 days on average – $1260
  • To cutup my design to HTML, CSS and PHP for WordPress takes me anywhere from 2 – 7 days depending on the complexity of the design and functionality.  So let’s say on average it take me 4 days – $1680
  • The recommendation from my university professor is to add 15% to the final quote since things always take longer than you think and you have to be profitable – $441

Total = $3381

So based on that what I’m currently quoting, a starting price of $1200, is almost a third of what I’m ‘worth’.

What are others doing? I went onto Etsy since I am also selling my pre-made blog designs there and offering custom work. The prices for a custom site design range from USD $180 to $800. So unless I can churn out a design and cutup in 3 hours or be willing to work $3.67 an hour I cannot compete with someone selling the same service at $180. The bigger question is, should I be trying to?

I think your price says a lot about how you value your experience and abilities. What do you think when you see a product that’s too cheap to be believed? My first reaction is, it can’t be any good which is closely followed by they can’t be very experienced. For my part I’m going to resolve to always quote what I am worth.

I know many of you have had similar experiences and I would love for you to share them. What is your approach? Have you come across obstacles with pricing and what your clients expect?

Dollar Sign in Stencil Design by Room 29 Etsy store

April 16, 2012 \ sharing \ 9 comments

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Does ego = success?

In the last few weeks I have found myself saying, out loud I might add, that I wish I had a bigger ego. That’s not really what I mean but I’ve just noticed some people out there seem to gain success by nothing more than over self promotion.

One of the things I love about blogging is getting to know other bloggers, reading their blogs and watching their journey. A few years ago I embarked on a project that was started by a fellow blogger – I’m not going to name names here as I don’t think that’s fair and this is, after all, just my soap box moment. Anyway in the process of this journey I met some awesome people and I continued to follow the blogger that started it all and then I started noticing things. Suddenly she was everywhere, and I mean everywhere I looked. She’s started another blog, a personal site, a new business and a collaboration and along the way started advising others on all manner of topics. She was definitely garnering success (if that’s what monetary gain is) and I wished her well. Somewhere in all that, though, her ego seems to have taken over and that’s what I mean when asking the question does ego equal success? Actually I think it’s the opposite, I think her ego has actually got in the way and now she comes across as slightly superior and condescending. I’ve been watching it build slowly and my breaking point was last week when I read a tweet from her that just made me mad, which is very usual for me (the getting mad bit not the reading of tweets). I hope, for her sake, that she doesn’t lose any more of her valuable audience since they are the reason for her success.

I think an ego (kept in check) definitely helps because it can turn emotional energy into action. You may be truly inspired but what do you do with that energy? Act on it or let it simmer?

To be honest I could probably do with a healthier dose of ego. I definitely have faith in my abilities but I too often dwell on how much I don’t know instead of how much I know. To quote the movie Valiant – ‘ You need to be yay high and you’re not even hey high’. So what to do? Well I think, for me, I need to heart myself a little more, step outside my comfort zone and engage in some shameless self promotion and ask you my friends to keep me in check if my ego gets a little out of control.

P.S. It won’t surprise you then that I’m enjoying the Marketing for Introverts e-course from Brand Camp

January 20, 2012 \ sharing \ 6 comments

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Taking a break

Hey friends – how have you been? I’ve been a little silent lately and have decided after a some soul searching to take a break from blogging. I won’t be gone indefinitely but I think I need to step back and find my groove. I seem to have lost it over the last couple of months and in the process I seem to have lost a little bit of myself. It’s so easy to caught up in what’s going on around me professionally and creatively that I find myself running from one thing to another without taking stock to assess – does this ever happen to you?

I’ve been toiling away on a design for my business – Crimson Pear. I’d spent quite a bit of time on it, I’d started cutting it up and coding and then one afternoon I decided it just didn’t please me and if my design is not going to please me then there’s something wrong. The advice from my Jolly Monkey was ‘well Mummy why don’t you look at the pieces you don’t like and change those first’ – he’s eight – when did he get so wise? So I’m going to do just that. I really hope you’ll be here when I get back and I’m sure I won’t be away for too long. We’ve got 3 weeks until we leave for Denmark and then 3 weeks there but who knows, maybe a week is all I need. You know where to find me – leave a comment, a tweet or send me an email. Be safe and see you soon.

p.s. my ‘be back soon sign’ was crafted by me using clipart from Pugly Pixel

September 4, 2011 \ sharing \ 3 comments

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In the swim

Hey friends – if you hadn’t guessed already I’m at it again. I’m talking of the MS Australia 24 Hour Mega Swim which takes place next weekend. This has been one reason for my blogging silence of late. Between swim training and university assignment deadlines I feel my blog has become a little neglected. That will change post June 10 which is my last exam and then I’m taking a leave of absence for a semester.

Enough about me… back to the swim. I know I talked about doing it last year but I don’t think I expressed how important the cause is to me. In January this year some of my boarding school friends got together for a day of too much food and reminiscing. Some of us travelled far (the 3500km from Darwin) and some of not so much. We haven’t managed to be in the same place for many years so it was such a special day. I love those friendships that stand the test of time, with people who still want to be with you even though they knew you as a surly teenager. Among our friends is someone who was diagnosed with Multiple Sclerosis in her early twenties and the disease is taking it’s toll on her and despite this she still has that sparkle in her eye, two gorgeous kids, beautiful husband and a strong faith. I know she would not want my pity so if I can swim for 3 hours to help her then that’s not a very big sacrifice from me. The money raised from sponsorship goes to help people living with Multiple Sclerosis. If you feel anyway inclined to sponsor me you can do so on my Mega Swim page. Wish me luck!

Image via flickr – Swim Training 14 by Michael Lokner

May 29, 2011 \ sharing \ 1 comment

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Back from a short break

Hey friends… sorry for my absence, did you miss me? I’ve had a very emotionally charged week that has left me feeling exhausted, confused and just plain angry. I’m hoping to get back on track next week.

About my photo – the high point of my week was visiting my parents house with the boys. They live in Braidwood, a gorgeous heritage listed village just an hour from us. The boys and I went out for morning tea at this awesome mud brick building complete with loft, raked ceilings and large picture windows (and lots of smurfs). Misty rain was falling and the autumn colours were in their glory and it was very cosy inside with sofas and lots of books. It was very serene, which is just what I needed and being with my little men made me realise what is important.

April 30, 2011 \ sharing \ 1 comment

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Is handmade creative?

Yes that is me on the cover of this fictitious magazine. This is my next Uni assignment and it’s still a work in progress so feel free to critique if you are so inclined. This assignment has been a little frustrating due to lack of feedback from our lecturer (turns out she’s been overseas for 2 weeks). In a moment of exasperation last week I wrote a long and frank email to the course co-ordinator to seek his guidance. He recommended I call him, which I did, and he spent a good 20 minutes going over every detail of my previous weeks work. Through the course of the conversation I had tell him the focus of my magazine and I said it’s for creative businesses. To which he replied – ‘not creative really more handmade’. Wait, is there a difference? This comment has really irked me since. Does this mean that people who knit, quilt, scrapbook and build are not creative? My mother used to say she was creative not artistic and I do see the difference in her case. She would argue she could follow a pattern but couldn’t make one up herself. My mother to me is the epitome of creative in all her handmade endeavours. Is this university elitism or is it just semantics? What’s your thoughts on this?

September 16, 2010 \ sharing \ 5 comments

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