Wednesday 30 December 2015

2015 in review ❤

Hello chums, I know that in my last post I mentioned that the next one would probably be Star Wars themed... but as you can see, this is not the case. Since 2015 is now drawing to a close, I thought I'd keep up the annual tradition of taking a look back at the year gone by and writing a little bit about it. 

rest assured I WILL definitely blog about Star Wars in the New Year. I'm going to see 'The Force Awakens' for the third time next week (yes, really) so I'll make time to write about my love for all things Star Wars then instead.

so, on with the post. 2015 was a funny old year, as always there were some highs and lows along with plenty of laughter and tears. But then isn't every year like that?!

this is usually the point where I launch into a list of bullet points highlighting some of the ups and downs of the year... and you know what, I'd hate to disappoint so here you go!

this year I...
  • spent two weeks in Larnaca, Cyprus with my lovely parents back in February. It was a really nice trip and it was also the first time I'd been back to Cyprus since I was a child. I got to visit a beautiful 9th Century BC church (read about it HERE) all while enjoying the balmy Cypriot weather.  
  • was officially diagnosed with Aspergers. After 10 years battling with ongoing depression and anxiety I finally got some answers this year when my therapist suggested that I might have Aspergers. This kicked off a spate of written, audio and visual tests that culminated in a 3 hour interview in August where I received my diagnosis from a clinical psychiatrist and consultant psychologist from the UK. It's been fascinating learning about it all and why I'm the way I am. 
  • got discharged from the local Mental Health Service. I originally started treatment back in February 2014 and I'm happy to announce that I was discharged in November of this year. I know that things won't be easy without the regular help of the service, but I'll do my best to get on with things by myself.  I'm hoping regular walks to the Glen will help.
  • saw a great increase in online sales. In 2015 I really pushed myself to promote my work online, especially via Instagram, and eventually it started to pay off because I've had a definite boost in international sales this year. To put it into perspective, this time last year I got 5 orders in the whole of December, whereas this year I've had 111 orders since December 1st. 
  • became a Godmother to a super sweet little girl. Back in September, Hayley one of my best friends from my college days kindly asked me to be Godmother to her youngest daughter Imogen. Obviously I said I'd be totally honoured and the Christening day was so lovely (read about it HERE if you like). I'm so grateful to Hayley for letting me be a part of her children's lives, I really love the afternoons I get to spend with her and her lovely girls. 
  • dressed up as a 50's style Ghostbuster and spent the day walking around town on Halloween in my customized costume. Yeah I know, I'll never grow up, but this year I literally did not care what people thought of me, and I rather enjoyed my day as a Ghostbuster, I'm sure I'll crack out the outfit again when the new Ghostbusters movie comes out in 2016. 
  • read 101 books. This year I managed to complete my Goodreads challenge to read 100 books, next year I'm thinking I might try and push myself to 120, but we'll have to wait and see. It's hard to say what my favourite book of 2015 was, maybe 'The Library at Mount Char' by Scott Hawkins, it was bizarre but brilliant, with an interesting mythology and some brutal characters + well written. 
  • reached over 15k followers on Pinterest alone. I'm constantly striving to expand my online audience, it might sound petty and pointless to you if you're not big into the whole social media thing, but I definitely see an increase in sales when I get more followers online so It's worth the work and upkeep. This year my total reach went beyond 21,000 for all of my profiles combined, so fingers crossed that 2016 brings lots more new customers and sales (yes please!).  
  • went on local radio and talked about my Art and Aspergers. Yes it might seem odd, but in October I was invited onto the 'Women Today' program on Manx Radio, it was a live show and over the course of an hour I spoke about my artwork, what inspires me and explained a bit about my recent Aspergers diagnosis. It was a lot of fun, a bit nerve-wracking opening up about mental health on live radio but a great experience regardless. 
  • still didn't get a new job. I lost my job at the library in May 2014, and I've yet to get another job. I applied to another library but I never got an interview. And to be honest, other than that I haven't even really tried! At first it panicked me, I was starting to struggle financially, but now that the year is nearly over I'm not as down about it all as I probably should be. Yes I have no stable income BUT I get to spend every day doing what I love and that might be a naive viewpoint but It's more positive than getting all 'doom and gloom' about the situation. You never really know what's around the corner, who's to say I won't find a great job in 2016? Or maybe I won't, maybe I'll just continue working for myself instead. Who knows. 

 I can't really think of any more bullet points. But art and design wise, it's been a busy year. In 2015 I produced 100% girly and feminine work because I don't see why I should pretend that I want to design stuff for boys (newsflash, I don't). I added more new members to the 'Candy Doll Club' + developed brand new sticker, patch and pin designs and patterns to expand the Candy Doll Club as a brand. Feedback has been really positive and I love getting messages from customers sharing snaps of their new Girl Gang goodies. So yeah, I think I'm getting there, it might be rather slow progress but it is progress nonetheless. Here's a look at 12 of the new Candy Doll additions from 2015.

as always, it's also been a year of selfies! (For my views on why I think selfies can be super positive, check out this post HERE) Wherever I went on my travels, I made time to snap a pic of my face (I like to remind my Instagram followers that I'm a real life actual person, not just a machine mindlessly churning out girly illustrations) and like I've said before, I don't get many days where I feel good about myself so on the occasions when I look in the mirror and don't burst into tears, I like to take a photo to remind myself that I too can look like a mostly normal human being from time to time! So here are a few of 2015's selfies...

so that was 2015. Books, dressing up, Larnaca, Coventry, Dublin, Cork, France, Andorra, shopping, painting, packaging orders, good friends, great family, medical stuff, psychiatric stuff, airplane rides, boat journeys from hell, road trips, floods, good times and not so good ones. All in all, not a terrible year.

come on 2016, you can do better, I KNOW you can, don't let me down!

I don't have any plans for New Years Eve tomorrow night, my friends are all busy I think. I'm not sure whether or not to make an effort and leave the house, or just lock myself in my room and sleep through the midnight countdown etc. NYE isn't a great night for me to be without plans, I tend to go a bit loopy, I've no idea why but NYE just has that effect on me. It's like everything that's happened in the year comes crashing down on me and It's a bit of an emotional overload that I can't always deal with.  

I'm a bit scared to be honest, but hopefully this year I'll handle things a bit better than I did last year.

thanks for visiting, see you next year...

Thursday 24 December 2015

Merry Coolmas ♥

Hello my lovelies, Happy Xmas Eve to you wherever you may be + whatever you might be up to this evening.

If you celebrate Christmas then i'm sure you'll be spending Christmas Eve doing something festive or just relaxing with family and/or friends.

As has become tradition in recent years, I decided to have a go at a festive themed illustration. I only just finished it today, hence the Xmas Eve blog post. It's not as overtly Christmassy as some of my past designs, but here it is anyway...
She's a bit of a cool chick, hence the blog title. I drew the hair aaaaages ago, but I couldn't think of anything to go with it so I figured a christmas jumper + kilt style skirt might work. + the pattern in the background was 100% made just for this piece. I tried plain snowflakes but it didn't look right so I made more work for myself and came up with this simple little pattern instead.

There's a surprising amount of detail in this one, the Jumper has a woven fabric texture and the stripes on the skirt took quite a while to do. The hair always takes forever to edit as well, believe it or not but it's the most time consuming part of any Candy Doll illustration.

She's got a little bit of attitude to go with her ironic festive jumper + green ombre tipped ends, she's too 'cool' for Christmas. I don't know maybe she's just not that into the holiday season or something. You'd have to ask her yourself.

If she's not really feeling it this year, then she's not the only one.

This year I've been really struggling to get into the Christmas spirit. I'm not sure why as i'm usually the kind of person who starts playing Christmas music and wearing festive jumpers non-stop from December 1st onwards. But this year it just never happened, I kept waiting for the Christmas buzz to hit, but it never did. This isn't the first time this has happened, a few years ago I was going through a rough patch and I barely celebrated at all. I refused to put up any decorations or wrap any gifts. It wasn't a great time but I thought I was past all that now. 

Apparently not. This year there's been no excitement for Christmas; for Star Wars, yes, i've been excited like you would not believe, but for Christmas... no such luck. 

decorations in the Strand shopping centre in town
 Before you start having a go at me about being ungrateful etc, i'll just stop you there because no, that's not at all what I mean.

I just think there's a lot of pressure at Christmas time to be terribly cheery and happy and FESTIVE! It's a time when you're supposed to be merry and bright, spending days with those closest to you and doing all the typical christmassy things. In the UK that usually involves copious amounts of alcohol, chocolate and cheesy television. But my family isn't really like that, i'm not sure if it's because both myself and my dad have Aspergers but we've just never been the sort of family that sits around watching TV together for hours on end. In fact we don't spend much time together at all, but that's fine, that's just how we are.

my Christmas themed vintage troll brooch
Take today for example. I've spent the entire day in my room drawing and editing + reading and listening to the 'Star Wars: The Force Awakens' score on repeat. The only times i've left my room were to get a cup of tea and walk up to check the post. My dad spent the morning in the garden before spending the afternoon watching TV by himself. And my mum... well i'm not really sure but it probably involved coffee and facebook. But like I said, that's just us, regardless of the time of year. 

I don't usually feel any pressure to get my family in one room and spend time together, I love my parents more than anything but at Christmas time I feel like there's something wrong with me for not wanting to do what 'normal' families do during the holidays. 

the christmas tree in town
Usually I don't give any of this a second thought as it's so normal, but at Christmas it seems to become all the more apparent and I know it shouldn't bother me in the slightest, but it DOES, so I get all conflicted, should I make more of an effort or not? Most years it's the former, I go all out, christmas music blaring from my room, decorations everywhere, trips out to fairs, family shopping excursions and the like. This year it's the latter I think. 

decorations in Coventry City Centre
I'm just not feeling it for some reason. It may as well be any other day of the year. Don't get me wrong, I might not be running around singing carols and throwing glitter, but I still LOVE getting presents for people, choosing gifts and wrapping them up. But this year i've been struggling finacially and it's gotten me kind of down because I can't afford to buy my friends and family the sorts of gifts I want to. It's silly I know, and gifts aren't the be all and end all of the festive season but still.

It's a daft thing to get low about but my mum arranged all of our xmas gifts earlier and it upset me to see the tiny pile of gifts they each have from me. All I can think is that next year I have to get a job so that I can give them a better Christmas. 

she'll read this and come and tell me to stop being a daft sod, but I can't help but feel guilty. My family all do so much for me, it upsets me that I can't treat them to heaps of lovely things.

my 'christmas' outfit
and on that note I have NO idea what my original point was. I went off on a tangent there somewhere, so it's probably best if I call it a day. 

thanks for reading, I'll try and get another post in before 2016 starts, it will probably be Star Wars themed, so i'm just warning you now...

Merry Christmas to YOU

Monday 14 December 2015

Xmas Wish List 2015 ★

hello darlings, yes it's almost that time of year again, it really is beginning to look a lot like Christmas. So here's a post featuring some of the delectable treats that i'd love to find under the Christmas tree this year.

As per usual, there's a mix of reasonable (aka affordable) gifts along with some more unattainable (aka super expensive) ones because it's Christmas and I'm allowed to dream! I've also included some of my favourite arty online sellers because Christmas is the perfect time to support small businesses.

You might see something and think 'ooh that's perfect for...' but let me tell you, ALL of the things on the list are perfect for me, I'm just saying!

So Santa Baby if you're reading this, please take note! Because this year I've been an awful good girl...

1. a retro style enamel pin from Hand Over Your Fairy Cakes

I love love LOVE the work of Hand Over Your Fairy Cakes, aka Sally. She always uses lots of fun and bright colours in her work (and we all know how I feel about anything bright and colourful!) and her designs are so cute, I love everything she creates.

I've been lusting after one of her kitschy cute enamel pins for a while now and if you think you'd like one too, you can find them HERE along with all sorts of other cute bits n' bobs!

EDIT: ok so after I started writing this post I actually kind of TREATED myself to the roller skate pin anyway... so I should probably take this one off the list but I'm NOT going to because Sally's work is just so nice. My blog, my rules. On with the list.

2. a Boy Tears cup from Sugar Luxe Shop

if you're a regular reader then you'll know by now that i'm ALL ABOUT the whole Girl Gang and Girl Power thing (you only have to look at my artwork to be able to see it) so this year I would LOVE to add one of these brilliant cups or mugs to my life. I mean, what else am I supposed to drink all the fresh boy tears out of?!

cups and mugs + LOADS of other Girl Gang goodies available HERE

3. A pair of 'my little biker' boots in black from Minna Parikka 

you only need to look at these boots to be able to see why I might want them so badly! Despite using every shade of the rainbow in my work, I rarely dress in any other colour than black or dark blue/red so these boots are PERFECT for me as they combine my love of candy coloured embroidery AND comfortable, functional boots. + you know they'd match my Girl Gang vest perfectly.

They're a little on the pricey side, but you can find them HERE

4. A cute zipper pouch from Danny Brito

I'm a big fan of Danny Brito's work (his instagram feed is always very colourful) and I just love these little handmade zipper pouches! I'd really like one for my handbag, or you know, several... for every handbag.

Anyway, there are loads of different designs to choose from + his shop is filled with other brilliant stuff, available HERE

5. a set of Literary Paper Dolls from Waterstones

yeah, yeah I know... I'm a big geek! But so what. Last year I had a few Poe inspired items on the wish list so it seems only fair that I add something similar this year. This set has 16 different authors including Edgar Allan Poe, Jane Austen and William Shakespeare.  I keep seeing these in my local Waterstones and I REALLY want them!

Why? well because I LOVE paper dolls and I LOVE books so obviously I'm going to want these. Available HERE

6. A Bernie Dexter Paris Dress 

I really really really REALLY like this dress. I saw it in the Summer in Cork, Ireland and I really REGRET not getting it when I had the chance, or at least trying it on. It goes against my every instinct to wrap myself up in black from head to toe but It's just so pretty and I wannnnnnnt it!

you can find it HERE along with dozens of other dreamy dresses.

7. A Chameleon necklace from Hello Dodo

This is another one of those things I've been longing to get. I really like Hello Dodo's bright and vibrant designs but I always end up coming back to the 'George the Chameleon' necklace because LOOK AT IT!   

 He would totally match every outfit as well. The ideal accessory, available HERE

8. an Ampersand Colouring Book from Tim Easley

 I'm not really a huge fan of all these 'adult colouring books' floating around at the moment. As someone who basically 'colours in' for a living, they just don't really appeal to me. But if there's two things I love it's typography and a nice bold outline.

Luckily the two are combined to perfection in Tim Easley's magical Ampersand Colouring Book, featuring 32 brilliant original illustrations to colour in! I've been a fan of Tim's work for years and I have several of his stickers and cards dotted about on my 'walls of stuff' but I think he's really done a cracking job on this new colouring book, and I for one would LOVE to colour it in!

if you like colouring stuff in as well, the book is available to order HERE

9. a cute retro style brooch from Luxulite

if you've ever seen any of my outfit post then you'll know that I have a penchant for 50's style flared skirts and vintage tailoring. Well I've been lusting after a Luxulite brooch of my very own for a looooong time now and I recently found out that Katy, the mastermind behind Luxulite, is originally a Manxie as well which has made my love for her pretty brooches grow even more ardent!

red is my favourite colour so one of her classic 'cherry' brooches would make the perfect addition to any outfit! available right HERE

and last but my no means least...

10. a Ghostbusters Firehouse from Lego 

were you honestly expecting anything less? I already have the car so it makes sense that I should have the Firehouse HQ as well. Sure it's going to retail at about £300 but COME ON...
I neeeeeed it, I really, really do!

If I were still a kid (and lets face it, I pretty much am) this would be at the TOP of my wish list to Santa!I don't need to tell you how much I LOVE Ghostbusters! And I definitely LOVE Lego, so I really do genuinely NEED to own this. It takes 4634 pieces of Lego to build one of these, and that is a challenge I'll gladly rise to. As soon as possible really...

so if anyone *cough, mum, cough* wants to be super sweet and generous and buy this for me, it's available for Pre-Order HERE

so there you have it, another year, another list of random stuff I 'probably' won't wake up to on Christmas morning (but who knows?!)

what's at the top of your Xmas Wish List this year???

personally I'm hoping for some new books, pyjamas, maybe some chocolates! You know... if I don't end up with anything off this list ^_^

so until next time, thanks for stopping by, see you again soon (hopefully).

Friday 11 December 2015

Pins and Patches ♥

 hello darlings, if you follow me on ANY of my social media accounts, then you'll probably have already seen my latest products. I've been posting them ALL the time because I'm just SO excited about them!

 first up I'm super thrilled to announce my first ever pin release. I know I designed the Troll pin for Pin Club last month, but this is MY first pin release by myself, so here it is...

Yes OF COURSE it's a Girl Gang themed pin! How could it not be?! The 100% Fresh Boy Tears design is one that I never get tired of, and other people seem to like it too! so I knew it would be perfect for my first proper pin design.

The pins arrived while I was away in Coventry earlier this week, so I've only had them since Tuesday morning. I am so pleased with how they turned out though. I was extremely nervous about getting them, even though I'd signed off on the proof before manufacture, you never know if they'll turn out exactly as you want them to or not. But these are even better than I'd hoped for!

This is how they measure up next to the Rainbow Troll Pins (obviously I wear them both together) and I think they complement each other rather well. I was in 'Lush' in Coventry on Tuesday afternoon and one of the staff said that he liked my pins, so I was VERY chuffed to tell him I'd designed them both myself. 

 The detail in the 'Boy Tears' pins is fantastic, the stripes in the straw and the text came out perfectly and I love the shade of blue for the carton. It's lighter than I thought it would be but it's almost a 'Tiffany' blue, it's so pretty. They're just really brilliant okay! I know I shouldn't rave about them too much but they're super lovely quality and the design looks great pinned to a jacket or bag.

the pins are made of soft enamel on black metal, they measure 30mm and come with a metal butterfly clutch fastening on the back. 

Each pin comes on a Candy Doll Club backing card sealed in a little cello bag and each card is numbered on the back + every pin comes with free stickers and candy. You can't ask for much more than that can you?!

This pin design is limited to only 100 pieces (and they're selling fast!) so if you think you'd rather like to own one, they're available to order HERE and HERE

and now onto the OTHER new product I've just released!

remember last month when I launched my brand new Girl Gang patches (see HERE) well I'm happy to announce that I launched another new set of patches last week on Tuesday evening, right before I left for my trip to Coventry.

This time the patches feature my 100% Fresh Boy Tears x Fries Before Guys design because every girl knows that food is waaaay more important that boys! I already have circle stickers with this design but I've wanted to get patches of it made for ages, so I changed up the design a bit and here we are, Girl Gang Patches 2.0.

The colours on these ones turned out a little differently than how I'd expected, or how the first set of patches looked, but I suppose that's my own fault for not double checking the colour proof properly. + you can't really see it in the photos but there are pale pink polka dots all over the 'white space' of the patch.

 the blue on the merrowed edge is super vibrant and bright so I can't really complain about the rest of the colours. They also match quite well with my first set of 'Girl Fighter' patches (which was the idea, obviously). AND they match the new Boy Tears pins as well! You know you want the whole set...

I left for my trip early on the morning of the 2nd, and the patches only arrived the afternoon before. I decided to bring some away with me so that if anyone wanted to order any, I could still post them during my holiday. However... I underestimated how popular they might be so I only brought 20 away with me and unfortunately I had sold out by the 5th!!!

It's due in part to the fact that on Wednesday afternoon, Depop selected the patches for it's 'Explore' feature, where chosen items from all over the world get featured on a page where every Depop user can see them! I left the house for Heysham at 7am on the 2nd, and by the time we reached Coventry around 5:30pm, I'd sold 12 patches. Which was certainly a nice surprise, but I immediately realised that I should have brought more away with me.

If you'd like to treat yourself or someone else to a pair of Girl Gang patches, I have a special offer on over HERE

or you can buy singles right HERE or HERE 

Those of you that keep up with me on social media might be aware that I had a rather more eventful sailing over from the Isle of Man to Heysham than usual! if you're interested in what happened, you can read the full story HERE. and if the link doesn't work for you, then I guess you just won't ever know the tale...

and on that note I think I'll say goodbye!

sorry for all the product pushing but I'm always so excited to share my new products with you all!

bye for now

Saturday 5 December 2015

Christmas Calling ♥

hello dearhearts, I'm currently away in Coventry on a little holiday to visit my family before Christmas. We're a little later across than usual this year and unfortunately the weather has decided to turn particularly vile for the time of year. If you live in the UK then chances are you've already experienced the delightful barrage of wind and rain we've been getting this week, along with a possible side of severe flooding and coastal damage, as Storm Desmond batters the country.

back on the Island, there has been some of the worst flood damage the island has ever seen, I hope that all my friends and family back home stay safe through these storms!

anyway, on with post I suppose...

There are now only 20 days until Xmas 2015, and I stupidly just remembered that I STILL haven't shared this years Christmas card designs with you all!

this is yet further proof that I am a forgetful eejit and I know that I've probably left it too late but I'm going to show you the cards anyway.

2015 Christmas Card Designs
So this year, instead of Christmas candy Sugar Skulls, I went for something a little more kitsch, so we have festive flamingo cards + Christmas cactus cards! Because if you can't be a little wacky and unusual at Christmas time, when can you?!

Christmas Cactus on pink polka dots
each design was created specifically for the cards, they were both ideas that I'd been playing around with for a while. I knew that I wanted to draw a Cactus and a Flamingo, it wasn't until I started adding Christmas stuff that I realised they'd probably make cute cards.

Festive Flamingo on blue stripes
they're very bright and vibrant, the designs are happy and although admittedly not very traditional, still plenty festive and fun. As per usual I've been sending them out as my own personal Xmas cards to family and friends, but they're available to buy via my Etsy and Depop shops, should you take a fancy to them yourselves.

the back of the cards
The cards are A6 sized (105x148mm) 100% professionally printed in the UK on 300gsm trucard, a lovely sturdy card stock with a light satin coating on the outside while the inside is blank and left uncoated, making it easier for you to write your own message in a fancy gold gel pen, felt-tip, fountain pen or a biro, whichever you prefer! + each card comes safely sealed in a cello bag, with a kraft paper envelope.

As if the cards aren't Christmassy enough, I also have some super cute Christmas glitter brooches available! there are 6 festive shades of glitter fabric + 3 cute charms to choose from

Christmas Glitter Brooches
These brooches are super sparkly but the best thing about them is that the glitter fabric DOES NOT SHED GLITTER!!! Which is perfect because if you're anything like me then you're one of those people that somehow ends up with glitter everywhere! Well, that won't happen with one of these. You can show your appreciation for all things festive AND sparkly without finding glitter embedded on your cheeks and eyelids three days later. All brooches are available to buy HERE

sparkly and fun
You're probably wondering why I'm bothering to offer any of these things if I'm away on holiday... BUT although it's true that the brooches won't ship until December 10th, I brought a big stack of the Christmas cards away with me so I will happily post them out to you while I'm in England.

aren't I considerate?!

Also, if you're in the UK then you might know that today is Small Business Saturday, which for those of you unfamiliar with it... "Small Business Saturday UK is a grass-roots campaign which exists to support, promote and inspire small businesses, on the first Saturday in December, and beyond"

 that means that today is the PERFECT day to go out (or stay in) and support a Small British Business. Regardless of where you live, there will be plenty of local or national businesses that you can support in person or online.

If you want a suggestion, then allow me to present my own Etsy Shop as a possible candidate for your generous patronage, in an utterly shameless plug ^_^

I'm also giving away a free Sugar Skull circle sticker with EVERY order placed today in my Etsy and Depop shops

anyway on that note I'll shut up for now.

so until next time, cheerio!