Friday, 1 September 2017

hello September, hello NEW WEBSITE! ☀️

Yup, after a full on Summer of work and fun times, September is here and I have something mighty exciting to share with you all! You might remember my post last year about working with wonderful Angharad at Cardigan Studio to create a beautiful new website for Hello Sunshine, well we got our heads together again this year and hello-sunshine.co.uk has been pimped!

I am over the moon with how fresh, simple and down right beautiful it looks! Working with Angharad is always a joy and her one-to-one service was a brilliant way to manage time and cost to work through exactly what I needed.


We’ve switched to a shiny new Squarespace template, which I think looks really fresh and shows off my branding really nicely - thank you as always Twin Pines Creative for your graphic design skills, I'm still in LOVE with my logo and branding!

As well as links through to my shop and blog you can now find a shiny NEW gallery space dedicated to my illustration work. This is something I've never integrated into my website before and I am SO happy to now have this little spot to share and show off Sunshine Portraits.


There is also a lovely new LOOKBOOK section on the site too, which is the perfect place to showcase the wonderful photography and images of my work that Holly Booth creates for me. Another wonderful, magical human bean I love to work with!



Using lots of the new imagery created earlier this year with Holly, Angharad and I also updated the ABOUT, STOCKISTS and CONTACT pages so everything looks super Sunshiney and bright!

One of the biggest things I wanted to add to the new site was a specific section where stockists can view all of the pieces I offer for wholesale. I'm still trying to figure out how best to make this work for me but the password protected shop and functionality that Angharad has set up for me is PERFECT! 



It was BRILLIANT to be able to book Angharad's time by the day to help me make the updates, not only did the flexibility allow us to get things done quickly but the way she explained and talked me through everything has helped build my confidence so I can maintain parts of the website myself too. Working together like this saved me a lot of time & effort, which as a small business owner is invaluable!

If you ever need any help with website wizardry, big or small, I totally recommend getting in touch with Angharad, you can also find out more about her one-to-one service over at www.cardigan.studio/121.


As you can probably tell, I'm very happy and excitable about this website pimping project and I hope you love the new look too! Please do pop over, have a tinker and explore the website, if you have any thoughts, comments, feedback to throw my way afterwards please do! I'd love to know what you think and it's always good to know things work and sit right with my customers too.

Ooh and I just have one more thing to shout about! To celebrate the shiny new look of the website and start of a brand new month I'm offering 25% off EVERYTHING in my Sunshine Shop until midnight Sunday 3rd September. YAY! So you can enjoy playing with the new website AND treat yourself to some bargainous Sunshine if you're tempted. DOUBLE YAY!


Just fill your basket over at hello-sunshine.co.uk and make sure you add the discount code SHINYNEW when you checkout and you'll get 25% off. If you spend over £10 you also get free UK postage too!



Thank you so much for popping over to read my blog, I hope you have a very HAPPY FRIDAY and here's wishing you a splendid September too!

☀︎

Saturday, 5 August 2017

Cambridge dates for your diary.

That's right, I have some lovely dates for your diary and first up is Saturday 12th August. Yup! This time next week I'll be packing my bags full of Sunshine and heading to the beautiful St Andrews' St Baptist Church in Cambridge. There you'll find lots of other talented makers from all over East Anglia, selling their beautiful wares at the Cambridge Made Summer Fair.


Don't just take my word for it though, you can find out more about the day itself over on the Cambridge Made event page on Facebook and the lovely Stephanie from The Trove Cambridge has written a great write up about what to expect too. (You can read the full article here.)

Meet and chat with the Cambridge Made crew as you browse the stalls in the cool and lovely St Andrews Street Baptist church, just a stone’s throw from the Grand Arcade and Cambridge’s shopping centre and historical sights. Home–made cakes, beverages and light meals are available in the on–site Livingstones cafe. 
- Stephanie Freeman, The Trove Cambridge

photo credit : The Trove Cambridge

Next up is another very exciting Cambridge date on Saturday 30th September, when Claireabellemakes and I will be hosting our THIRD Photowalk! YAY! We still can't get over how well our Spring walk turned out and we're so excited about plotting a new route and more fun and games for you all! Make sure you RSVP to our little Facebook event (here) to let us know you're coming and don't forget it's open to EVERYONE and completely free so bring your friends, your family and even the pooch!

photo credit : A Rosie Life

What's even more exciting, especially for the foodies out there, is that the walk falls on the same day as the next foodPark Night Market! DOUBLE YAY! We're planning on heading to fill our faces and indulge in the delights Cambridge's finest food vans will have to offer after the walk. You can buy tickets to foodPark for just £4 each (here) and keep your peepers peeled for the line up announcement! 

Here's the line up from July's Night Market in #fattybumbumdrawsvans style... fingers crossed you'll see Septembers line up in a similar guise! EXCITING!


☀︎

Thursday, 13 July 2017

Sharing Sunshine ☀︎

Well hello July, where did you come from? I'm sure I'm not the only one saying it but this year is flying by isn't it? It's been a little while since I checked in on the blog, mainly because I haven't felt like writing much lately and to be honest I still don't fancy writing a lot (sorry!)

However, I would LOVE to share some of my recent Sunshine commissions with you all as I have been a busy bee over the past couple of months and I believe it's now safe to share these lovely portraits with you all.

Now I bloody love a good wedding, and I adore drawing people as part of their big day celebrations! Whether it's for invitations, a gift from the bride to the groom or a surprise from one of the guests for the happy couple - I enjoy wedding portraits so much and I have been lucky enough to create the following Sunshine for some beautiful couples...





You may have spotted a couple of fur babies in the portraits above and it's always an added bonus when I get to draw pets in any portrait so I am thrilled to have been asked to draw these beautiful creatures and their human beans too recently...





Now this next ones a bit different, definitely no fur babies or pets but still brilliant to draw and a lovely gift for someone who loves their motor...

 Family portraits are always a joy to draw too, capturing everyone's favourite hobbies, toys and even outfits makes me feel like I get to know the people I'm doodling, even if I never meet or speak to them. I realise that sounds a bit creepy but I hope you know what I mean...






I also had some lovely requests for leaving presents recently and these two totally gave me the warm and fuzzies! A scenic keepsake for someone leaving Cambridge and a special portrait from year 11's to their head of year as a fairwell gift...



So I think that brings us up to date with Sunshine portraits I'm actually allowed to share with you right now, I hope you've enjoyed the peek. I often forget what I've drawn for lovely folk so it's nice for me to take a bit of time to reflect and look back on them all together too.

In other Sunshine news, I've been trying to keep up with the little #100daysofSunshines project I started back in June. I started it to try and get to grips with using my new iPad and pencil for drawing and it's been a lot of fun so far! There are only a couple more weeks to go and if you've been following along over on Facebook, I do hope you've been enjoying seeing the random iPad doodles pop up.

This is one of my favourites from the collection so far and brings back some fun memories of some of the adventures we've been on so far this year... 


You can see the rest of the project doodles here... do let me know if you have a favourite too! 

☀︎

Sunday, 7 May 2017

Cambridge Creatives SPRING Photowalk

Two weeks ago Claireabellemakes and I hosted our second photowalk in Cambridge and quite simply, it blew our minds! Our first photowalk was so much fun (I wrote about it here) and even though it rained, 15-20 colourfully dressed lovelies explored Cambridge with us and snapped plenty of photos along the way.


THIS TIME though over 70 people (SEVENTY PEOPLE!!) travelled from all over to join us for our Spring time wander. It was INCREDIBLE! Even after having a fortnight to digest it I still can't get my tiny, excitable mind around it all!

The Spring gang! Photo credit : Miss Sue Flay

This time, we planned a longer route, brought balloons, surprises and popped in extra treat stops for the day. Everyone had a goodie bag, including an updated map, some little treats from me and Claire and a beautiful name badge each, made by wonderful Kate of Daphne Rosa Flowers. Claire had also arranged for Cambridge Satchel Company to loan us a selection of their gorgeous bags for the day!



Map designed by ME!

There were plenty of smiles and the sun shone on us all day, right through to the picnic end - we were so lucky! A healthy dose of wisteria hysteria struck quite early on and there was plenty of boomerang and instagram fun to be had....


There were photos being snapped of bikes, balloons, colourful doors, flowers, satchels, gelato (Oh the Gelato!) and smiling faces everywhere! It was WONDERFUL!


Yummy gelato : Photo credit Em Makes and Bakes

I won't waffle much about it all as I think everyone's photos do more justice than my words ever could! So here's a selection of some more snaps from the #CambridgeCreativesPhotowalk hashtag, which is bursting with all the fun of the day - make sure you pop over and have a proper gander through them all!

Photo credit : A Rosie Life

My first shot of the day... I didn't take many more!

Wisteria Hysteria & Florence : Photo credit Claireabellemakes

Cambridge Satchel beauty : Photo credit Ha Online

Going through the 400 odd photos on the hashtag whilst creating this post is making me feel all the warm and fuzzies again. We couldn't have imagined of hoped for a more magical day! I'd like to thank each and every person who came along (IRL or followed on IG), who took photos, liked, commented, shared and just had fun with us! It was THE BEST and we couldn't have done it without you!


I also want to say a HUGE thank you to Claire too, I can't imagine living here without having met her now and am so unbelievably grateful and honoured to have been part of planning something so fun and inclusive in my new hometown. 

Can we do it again soon please?

☀︎

Wednesday, 29 March 2017

The story behind the Sunshines

Back in November I did my very first live Sunshine portrait pop-up at the Handmade Nottingham Winter Market. It was both exciting and terrifying but I loved it - so much so that I did a second pop up at their Spring Market last weekend!

Whilst I was doodling lovely customers at the Winter Market someone asked me "When did you start doing these?" My first response was, "This is my first time!" but that was quickly followed by me explaining that the 'live' part was my first time and that the watercolour process is fairly new, then a lot more waffle about how I've been drawing forever and have done portrait commissions since the beginning of Hello Sunshine. I fear I may have just spewed a load of nonsense over that poor, lovely customer but it made me think a lot about how my Sunshines started and I have wanted to write a blog post about ever since.


After the Winter Fair a lot happened though; Christmas, engagement excitement, new yearness, holidays, launching new products, and well... LIFE! The idea for this post has remained on my to do list since November though and I think it's important for me to remember how far I've come with this part of my business, after all, I realised when I looked back that I have been drawing my Sunshine portraits in the same style for TEN YEARS now!


I can't quite believe it, ten whole years, crikey! That's a pretty long time, right? I came to thinking that I should be proud of that too. My style has developed along the way but looking back, my portraits have always kept to the same simple, no facial feature style and people have continued to commission them from me, something I am constantly grateful for!


BUT... WHERE DID IT ALL START?

I can't tell you exactly where I was when I drew what would become my very first Sunshine but I can tell you I wasn't at home. I was on my travels after uni and feeling very homesick, I had brought a notebook and pencils/pens with me and started to draw to distract myself during a storm. After a few mindless scribbles I started to draw friends and family from back home but kept getting frustrated because as soon as I added a nose or mouth to faces they looked rubbish! However, I soon realised that I didn't actually need to add those features in to make them resemble my loved ones - I can't tell you how I did it, (I still can't tell you how I do it) but somehow, with just two black dots as eyes, it worked!


When I returned from my travels I scanned in and neatened up all of my scruffy drawings and gave them all to my friends as presents. I thought nothing of it at the time because I'd missed everyone so much and at the end of the day I was just giving them some heartfelt scribbles.


Over time though people started asking me to draw their significant others and I also started to draw and gift portraits as wedding presents to my friends. When I launched Hello Sunshine I was getting enough requests for portraits that it made me realise I could offer them as a part of my business (alongside the jewellery). Even though illustration wasn't the primary focus of Hello Sunshine to start with, I steadily built up a portfolio of work which didn't just include my friends and family.


Even today I'm still surprised and delighted by people I have never met before asking me to draw them, their loved ones and their pets. It's one of the best feelings in the world! Realising that my portraits, something with such a personal beginning, appeal to other people enough to make it part of my business is incredible! It's also my most favourite part of Hello Sunshine... but shhhh! Don't tell the jewellery.


WHY ARE THEY CALLED SUNSHINES?

I never really liked the word 'caricature' and although I referred to them as caricatures for a long while, it never felt right. I would call them 'Hello Sunshine doodles' but that always seemed a bit long winded so it often became 'Sunshine doodles' and after a while I referred to them as just 'Sunshines'.

Maybe it was out of laziness, maybe it was just something I'd always had in my head but never put my finger on it, either way I LOVE that they are called Sunshines now. The fact other people call them Sunshines now too not only makes me happy (the word Sunshine is such a cheerful word anyway) but it also banishes everything terrible I associate with the word caricature - no enlarged noses, sticky out ears or gigantic teeth! And that translates quite LITERALLY too because my portrait style is so simple.



HOW ARE THEY CREATED?

As my Sunshines started life as doodles of friends in a tattered notebook, I had to scan them in to then be able to print and pass them on as gifts. At the time I didn't have a clue how Photoshop or Illustrator really worked, I'd learnt a bit at Uni but basically had to teach myself. So I would scan in each sketch to keep a copy, then outline my sketch in pen, re-scan and spend hours in Photoshop trying to figure out how to neaten it all up and add some colour.


The results were... sketchy! It worked but I was never really happy with them until I learnt more about Illustrator and a good friend of mine (April Towriess) showed me how to create vectors of my line drawings. From then on my sunshines started to look neater and I was much happier with how I could colour them in layers.


For digital commissions the process is much the same today, thankfully I can use Photoshop and Illustrator much more competently now but I still learn something new each time I create a portrait which I LOVE about it all. I thought it might be useful to share the process, not only to share it with you guys but to also remind myself how much goes in to each Sunshine portrait because I often forget.

It's not a perfect process and there are elements I intend to work on (the recent addition of my iPad Pro & Pencil will certainly help!) but from start to finish here is what generally goes in to every digital Sunshine commission I create:

ORDERING / ADMIN
First up I get to chat to lovely customers! Orders are placed or emails and quotes are arranged, then lots of photos and information about who and what I need to draw are sent over and discussed.

SKETCHING
I get my sketchbook, pencils (and a brew) ready and start drawing - my favourite bit! Drawing from photos can often be quite hard so I like to ask for a lot to look at whilst sketching and knowing a few things about the kind of person I'm drawing can also help A LOT. It means I can capture more of their personality in the way they're standing/sitting or in the clothes they are wearing and even in the objects that surround them.


SCANNING & PHOTOSHOPPING
Once the sketch is complete I scan it all in. Depending on what's in the Sunshine, depends on how many pages I have to scan. I often draw backgrounds on one page, objects for hobbies and interests on another and the lovely people or pets on another page. When they're all scanned in I use photoshop to edit, tidy and layer them together.

A BIT MORE ADMIN & AMENDS
The completed sketch is emailed over and I request specific feedback for any amends that may need to be made. After a round of amends and a couple of emails, the sketch is approved and it's ready for the digitalisation!

PEN, INK & MORE SCANNING
I print off the sketch in its finished form and outline the whole thing in my favourite ink pen. It's then scanned back in and tidied up again in Photoshop to leave a crisp black and white line drawing. I then open the pen version in Illustrator and trace around the outlines to create a super smooth, black and white vector.


COLOURING
Working back from photographs and emails I add colour, pattern and texture to the Sunshine. This is the bit where I often learn something new, whether it's creating a new pattern, learning about a new tool or just working out how to make grass look like grass with a simple texture.

MORE ADMIN & AMENDS
As with the sketch, the colour version is then sent to the customer for review and any colour changes are made at this stage. After a couple more emails the final Sunshine is signed off. YAY!


FINAL FILE & PRINT
Once everyone is happy, the final digital file is prepared and a high resolution jpg is sent on to the customer. An A4 print of the digital illustration is also printed, packed and posted ready to be framed or gifted to the happy recipient.

VOILA! That is how I create my digital Sunshine portraits.


I will point out again that I know this is a long winded process and one that can be sped up with new tools/software (especially if I didn't use a track pad to do everything!!!) BUT it's a process I love and feel more connected to. If I just created everything on my iPad I'd miss the pencil to paper part, I'd miss the satisfaction of going over something in pen when it's all agreed. OK, I wouldn't miss the scanner tantrums and bodge ups but it's all part of the process and what makes each Sunshine special - to me and the customer.


WHY ARE LIVE SUNSHINE PORTRAITS DIFFERENT?

As you can imagine, being able to offer everything above at an event just isn't possible but a couple of years ago when Rhea, who runs Handmade Nottingham, asked me if I could somehow speed my portraits up and offer sketches it got me thinking. Actually, that's a lie, it scared me and I didn't think anyone would pay for just a sketch so I kinda shied away from it, until I started the INKtober challenge last October. I started playing with ink pens and watercolours, something I hadn't used for yonks but I loved it and mentioned to Rhea that I might have found a way to produce super quick portraits - if I practiced!


So... I practiced and timed myself and practiced a bit more! Eventually I felt happy that I could offer 10 minute watercolour portraits if I just did head and shoulder shots and used ink pens and watercolour paints. Rhea was happy to give it a shot and booked me to do Pop Up Sunshine Portraits at the Handmade Nottingham Winter Fair in November 2016. The rest, as they say, is history! It went really well and as I mentioned at the start of this post I have conquered the initial fear and can now say that I LOVE IT and can't wait to do more events this year!



Hopefully that explains where the live Sunshines have come from recently and why they have to be different. I mean they are totally the same style but it's a completely new process, a process that allows a quicker, more affordable and unique experience and piece of original artwork for people at events... and a process I'm falling in love with!


WHAT ABOUT WATERCOLOUR SUNSHINE COMMISSIONS?

At the moment I only offer watercolour style portraits at events or do personal ones as I keep practicing. I absolutely LOVE creating them in this format but it's not possible to offer commissions over email with the same service/cost as I do at events.


If you look back at the digital process you'll see that there's a helluvalot lot of admin time, a lot of this would work out the same with watercolour Sunshines if they were done over email. After initial emails, photo organising and agreeing what would be drawn, plus costs for P&P, then adding in studio time and actually getting to the post office, it would take so much longer. Compare this to being set up at an event and spending ten minutes drawing a lovely customer exactly as he/she is in front me and then letting them walk away with the finished portrait ten minutes later - I'm hoping you can see the difference.


I would REALLY like to work out a way I can offer watercolour portraits over email and through online shops though. I just need to figure out how, set some rules/guidelines and work out a fair price for everyone. If you have any suggestions or advice I'd love to hear your thoughts!

It's not often I talk in detail about my portraits, the processes I use or... well... we all know how little I blog in general! So it's been good to spend some time writing this down and I hope you've found the read interesting as well as insightful and dare I say it... enjoyable?!


Thank you so much for getting this far and I hope you have a nice brew to reward yourself with after the epic read! I'm off to rest my fingers and pop t'kettle on... all this typing makes me thirsty.

HAPPY HUMPDAY LOVELIES!

☀︎