And along comes the next behind the screen post, on the this blog’s fifth Birthday! How crazy is that?! A big thanks for all your support and particularly you lovely readers that have been here since the start. Five years of The Lovely Drawer sounds totally crazy but even crazier is writing what this post is really about.
So here’s the pretence guys. I’m not a fashion blogger. I’m not trying to be and definitely don’t have the camera charisma for it, hence the multiple verging on awkward poses you’ll bear witness to. I do however have a real love for fashion and have had a fair few people ask if I would ever do some fashion posts to see inside my wardrobe. I thought it was the kind of thing that would work well with a behind the screen post so here you have it.
The truth is I’ve always been interested in fashion and for the most part of my younger years, until about 17, I really wanted to be a fashion designer. Much of my manic drawing days growing up, were spent designing outfits with my pencils and crayons until I finally took textiles at GCSE and learnt how to sew (kind of) and started turning my designs into real life pieces. Back then I wasn’t into any of this ‘ready to wear’ lark, finding myself far more drawn to the weird and eccentric world of ‘haute couture’. I wanted to tell a whole story with the clothes I designed, very different to my present day style which leans far more into minimal and understated than crazy silhouettes and vibrant colours.
Gorgeous photos by the talented Shelby Nickel Photography
Wow! What a year! I think I said the same thing this time last year but it was meant in a slightly more positive sense. I feel like we’ve arrived at the end of 2017 by the skin of our teeth, weary and so aware of God carrying us on his shoulders. It’s been a tough one and yet I don’t want to forget how many great things have also happened this year. I know there’s a tendency for them to get lost in a sea of blows to the head but as with every year I feel compelled to look back and take stock of the last twelve months. In many ways I feel like I’ve aged three years in the space of one and I’m pretty sure it looks like it too but there were also so many blessings that can’t be ignored and making myself list them out here makes it clear that this year has been richer in highs than lows even though it may not feel like it on a day to day basis.
It has to be said that a DIY post takes a lot of thought and pre-planning. They’re definitely the most labour intensive of all the posts I work on and yet one of the most rewarding. It’s a great feeling to dream up something, then find it actually works and then see other people recreating it for themselves! I still love trying new techniques and thinking up creative solutions but over time you definitely become much more familiar with the kinds of things that work and the kinds of projects your audience love to make. Don’t get me wrong I have had my share of projects that have fallen flat on their face and just don’t work or look anything but Pinterest worthy (my side table with varnish that bled and legs that didn’t stick comes to mind) but all things considered more often than not I can make it work in the end.
It’s time for another Behind The Screen post and as promised it’s the second part to my commentary on photography. You can have a good old read of my first post about taking photos and in this one I’ll share with you how I edit them. Along with lighting it’s probably one of the things I get asked the most. As I’ve said before these posts aren’t meant to be prescriptive and I’m already aware there are quicker ways of editing photos but I’m letting you into how I do it so you can take or leave what you want and maybe learn some tricks along the way.
There’s something I really enjoy about editing my photos. It has a semi therapeutic quality, not to mention I love opening up my images, full screen and seeing them in their full glory for the first time. Occasionally there’s a disappointment but usually it’s an exciting moment of truth and I’m ready to get going on a few tweaks to really make them pop!
I’ve been looking forward to sharing this behind the screen post for a while as I frequently get asked how I take my photos. It’s been a while since my last post in the series and actually I’ve been writing this in drafts on my phone when I travel for months. The first draft dates back to January!! Even though people are very complimentary about my photos, it always makes me laugh as I still feel like such a novice. I wonder if that feeling ever wears off when you’ve taught yourself a skill. Somehow in my head it doesn’t count which is a ridiculous notion, as after all practise is how we really take hold of skills. I’m very comfortable with my way of working but at the same time would hate to have a professional looking over my shoulder taking note or asking my why I do certain things, as lots of the technicalities I don’t really know how to explain. I basically know what I do and what works. The most frequently asked question I get is how I get my photos so bright. Well part of the answer is within this post and part of it will be in my next post in the series on photo editing. I’ll let you into my little tricks of the trade that will make your photos pop!
Last time I talked about making the jump to freelance and perhaps the word jump is an understatement, at least for what it felt like at the time. In this post I’ll talk about the day to day of setting up on your own and the great bits as well as the many challenges. Hopefully I can give a realistic view of growing your own creative business. As I’ve said before, these posts are coming from my own experiences and friends in similar positions that I’ve chatted to. Just because I’ve made the jump and come out the other end unscathed doesn’t make me an expert. Having said that I don’t really know what you need to qualify as an expert on any given subject. I definitely wouldn’t say a degree or even a masters or PHD could make you an expert in any field without years of experience living out the day to day of whatever it was you studied.
Starting out on my full time freelance journey, I felt liberated and that kind of nervous excitement you get that’s mainly powered by adrenaline. I finished work on a Tuesday weirdly enough and lots of people asked if I was going to take the rest of the week off before diving in, to which my answer was ‘no, I’m just going to get on with it’. As I said previously, I’d decided on what my days would generally be looking like with a bare bones structure but it was surreal hearing my alarm go off the next morning and knowing that I was officially the boss (eek). I set off on my walk around the park on my fake commute (I’m weird I know) and realised I could just take my time if I wanted. I started noticing parts of our neighbourhood I’d never had the time to notice before and actually finding inspiration all around me. It helped that it was a super sunny Spring morning, of course.
After that little diversion into blogging last time, I’m now going to talk about my hop, skip and a jump to freelance, promise! First things first I NEVER saw myself as being a full time freelancer. Leaving uni I was very quick to tell people I wasn’t interested in going it alone and just wanted to work in house at a design studio, where I would have a steady income and somebody else to take care of the business side of things. People warned me that most creatives end up going freelance at some point but I wasn’t having any of it. Perhaps part of it was doubting I could do all of what it takes like the finance, planning, legalities, promotion etc. Sure, I could design but the rest totally freaked me out. I’m not naturally business minded and having an in house job was certainly the safe option. The same lump of money landed in my account every month, my working hours were the same everyday and once I shut down my computer at the end of the day I could check out in every way.
As I said before, blogging gave me exposure and opportunities I hadn’t even expected and it wasn’t too long before freelance requests started coming in. To begin with it was sporadic, small jobs and then more and more wedding related projects were landing on my lap. I was working my full time in house design role and doing other non-card related private commissions on the side so it didn’t interfere.
It started out fine but the more it went on the more I was completely burned out. I basically never rested and that wasn’t fun. It’s how I hear lots of creatives start they’re freelance journey and is in a way necessary to start with but isn’t sustainable. There came a point in the summer of 2013 that I started getting freelance offers from people further removed from myself. For the first time I had no link to them through mutual friends or contacts, which was exciting but I also realised something had to change if I wanted to pursue that sort of thing.
Last time I talked about how I trained in art and design and what I learnt along the way. I said that next up would be how I made the jump to freelance but when I sat down to write I realised that I couldn’t really go there without having first talked about blogging. I wouldn’t have even considered freelancing if it wasn’t for blogging and I certainly don’t think I would have had the same opportunities come my way!
I recently celebrated 3 years of blogging. This was strange because on one hand I’m wondering where the time went, and on the other it feels like I’ve always blogged. Born blogging… that’s a funny concept! I never thought I’d be ‘a blogger’ and in fact it took me a year and half to really register that’s what I was. Sounds obvious, right?!
The reason why I have a blog is really down to my Husband. When we got married in 2011 I discovered blogs for the first time. I was a bit late to the game but I started with wedding blogs and then realised there was one for everything! I was glued to them. I’ was sucked in for hours feeling drenched with inspiration. I’d been in a bit of dry patch creatively, not feeling inspired by my work at my job and having stopped drawing and craft projects outside of work. Suddenly I was so inspired I thought I might burst, I was full to the brim with ideas. So I got creative again, drawing, painting, styling for the first time, getting crafty and I loved it.
Nick told me I needed to start a blog so I had a place to put all my creative projects and inspiration. I knew that made sense but I fobbed him off many a time saying I didn’t have the time (how about all the time I spent reading blogs? Eh?). To be honest I was also a bit worried about getting immersed in that world where things become about you and this amazing ‘life is perfect’ facade. I was worried about finding my identity in it when as a Christian my identity is and should always be in Christ. So I sat on the fence for a while longer and finally went for it, whilst trying to be mindful of why I’d started in the first place. Ironically, thinking back I actually started the blog at one of the hardest points in my life, so things certainly weren’t perfect but it gave me a creative outlet that had been previously shelved.