56 // We Won an Award!

So I’m a lil bit late posting this on here but last year I got approached by Cineworld to redesign their gifting range – everything from giftcards, to the wallets, carriers, promo posters and in cinema stands. It’s been out in the world since Christmas 2017 and this year I was also commissioned to extend the suite of designs to span across their giftboxes as well. All the assets we created needed to be generic enough to apply to the whole year but also to work alongside some seasonal or themed assets, so the span of work needed to be flexible and interchangeable while still working successfully either way.

For the initial gifting range work I brought Olly (who I worked with at Ogilvy) on board to work on the project with me because we work really well together. And we came up with the idea of using the giftcards to give people something meaningful – giftcards can so often feel impersonal. So we created a series of compliment cards with references based in the movies. As far as I know they’ve been successfully doing their job. Back in April, Olly suggested we enter the work into the Hermes Awards. We did, and we won a Gold award for the work. It was really cool to have our idea recognised for being a great idea, because it is. It also means one of my 30 before 30 has a tick next to it.

55 // BADASS.GAL Feature

Short and sweet for you today. The lovely folk at The Young Creative Council launched a project called Badass.gal for International Women’s Day to celebrate young female creatives that are already going above and beyond. Everyday they feature a different lady from the industry on their platform and today they’ve got me on there.

It says on the badass.gal website ‘At the YCC, we’re passionate about helping bridge the gap between industry and education. And we’re fortunate enough to meet and work with some of the most talented female creatives who will no doubt be the industry’s future leaders. This platform is a place to celebrate the amazing work they’re already doing.’

Visit the website to check out all the other badass.gals, to nominate people you know and to champion all those creative ladies who are being total badasses.

54 // Kitchen Adventures Pt 1

This story begins back in February when I booked an appointment for Mikee, my mum and myself to go to Ikea to design a kitchen. If you follow me on Instagram you know what we’ve been going through, and I’ve had a lot of lovely people following on my Instagram Story updates about the kitchen. So I thought I’d do a blog post to actually cover how we started, how it’s all gone and what we did.

We’ve been living in our flat for three years and while we love our flat, it is a bit of a fixer-upper. We live in a one bedroom ex-council flat in Zone 2 with a tiny balcony overlooking allotments. We’re about a twenty minute walk past the docks from Canada Water and a five minute walk from the river. The flat we have has good sized rooms, lots of light on one side of the building and about 5 million unnecessary cupboards which I seriously consider renting out sometimes because they’re bigger than Harry Potter’s cupboard under the stairs. Most of it hasn’t been updated since it was built so it’s in need of some TLC.

Which brings us to the kitchen. The kitchen was a good kitchen, liveable in but not very well designed or practical. The first day we were here we cleaned the cupboard tops which were grimy as, and I left a dirty hand print on the wall by accident just to remind us of how gross it was. The floor, the cupboards, the countertop were all different shades of wood, the backsplash was make to look like fake tiles, we had ONE tiny drawer, the cupboard doors were falling off because the actual units were from when the flat was first built. And when we first moved we had been left a washing machine which was useful but I’m fairly certain it was from the 1980s and it flooded our kitchen after we’d only been here about 4 months – resulting in us ripping up the laminate leaving some very old gross marbled vinyl tiles. Fast forward three years when we’d done bits and bobs over the years to try and make it better but we just really needed to redo the whole thing.

I’m not sure what the tipping point was, maybe it was my mum going ‘you need to redo your kitchen’ for the 100th time. But I booked that appointment and so off we went, not even sure if we could afford it knowing the chain reaction it would set off – by doing the kitchen we’ll need to do the floor, if we do the floor we want the floor to go through the whole flat and so on.

Anyway, we designed the kitchen with the help of Ikea. Having lived here for so long already we knew exactly what would work to make layout much more useful. And the price came to £2,600 ish. We noticed you could pay on finance over 3 years at 0% interest, making the kitchen about £75 a month which is affordable for us. We’d also been saving up to go to New York (we hadn’t saved up much but just enough to book flights), and decided to use the money to get half of the floor and any DIY bits and pieces we might need, as well as to pay people who came and helped us on the things we couldn’t do ourselves. Cue Friday April 13th and our new kitchen was destined to arrive.

THIS. Was our old kitchen. So nice, as you can see.

WEEK 1

The Sunday before the kitchen was due to arrive we decided to start our process by moving everything into the living room and taking all the old cupboards down. It took us a day to get the majority of the units and worktop out. As well as to get the ugly vinly floor tiles up which were stuck down with mastic that just gets stronger over time, so it was really forking strong. We basically did this so we could assess the damage which was probably just as bad as we were expecting.

The wall behind the sink was covered in black mould because the sealant had aged so much that it no longer worked and moisture had gotten in. We found a lot of mouse poo. We discovered that under the corner of the counter a bunch of old tiles from a previous kitchen renovation had been dumped there (just why?!) The vinyl tiles only went up to the units. The walls behind the cupboards hadn’t been sealed or painted – they were just plasterboard attached to brick. We discovered how thick our internal walls are which is not very thick – three layers of plasterboard. Some of the plasterboard had gotten so old that it just fell away from the wall when we pulled stuff out. It just wasn’t great.

Once we had everything out we started by PVAing the walls to seal them. We removed the door frame and any skirting that we could. We painted the ceiling. I filled in holes with mortar and polyfila. Mikee and I sanded and peeled away the mouldy top layer of the plasterboard. My mum and I wallpapered and painted the walls green. And Mikee and I got the floor down just as the new kitchen showed up – kudos to the guys who brought everything up the stairs as everything was rather heavy.

That weekend we had help from Rupert (a family member) to get the plumbing started. We took out the old radiator, we got a line in to connect to the new dishwasher, the washing machine and to plumb in the fridge and we also shortened the gas pipe a little. We painted some more and started building units while trying to figure out how on earth we were going to fix the units to the wall as our walls were so thin and our stud finder was saying everywhere had wires in the wall. Stressful.

I think that’s enough for this post! Check back later for the next leg of the journey toward a much, much, much better kitchen.

53 // On Kindness

So it’s 10pm and I have set myself the challenge of writing something short and something speedy. It’s one of the things I struggle with – if you read my blog you already know how much I can go on – so hopefully this exercise will make that better.

I asked a friend what I should write about and she suggested kindness – which seemed like a good idea. We can all benefit from life just being a little more nice. Even the smallest thing can mean the world to someone else’s day.

I don’t know if this was necessarily a kind act but I do remember having a conversation with a man on my way to university once. I was riding the DLR and looking through a book my mum had bought me. He noticed it (it was a book on sketchbooks) and started a conversation with me about it. I explained what I was studying, he said he was a life coach. He helps people figure out their life purpose and I asked him how he coaches people. He explained to me in the simplest terms he could that he asked people three questions that go something like this. 1: ‘What’s something that bothers you about the world?’, 2: ‘What can you do to help fix the thing that bothers you?’ and 3. ‘How can you start doing that?’.

It was probably the most impactful and meaningful conversation I’ve had with a stranger. It really got me thinking about the important things we can do with our lives, and reminded me that we all have more impact on each other than we think. It also made me realise that to get full satisfaction in our own lives the best thing we can do is to be there for others, even if in the smallest way.

We can all really benefit from showing a bit more kindness and compassion to each other. To pay it forward sometimes. It’s proven that being kind can offer physical and mental health benefits for not only the people involved in that act, but can also positively impact anyone witnessing any act of kindness. We all get a little oxytocin release in that process and that in turn reduces our stress and improves our immune systems. Now I’m down for that.

52 // 30 Before 30

I turned 29 last month and much like Pheobe Buffay there are some things I want to achieve before I turn 30 next year, some just because they will be pushing me forward, some for fun and some because I feel I really should have done them by now hah. And they happen to mostly fit into the themes of the mood boards that I did at the start of this year. I’ve already made a start on some and I started a bullet journal which I’m hoping will help me keep track of getting these things achieved.

 

TRAVEL

  • Visit Sabine in Munich
  • Visit New York (this might just have to be booked).
  • Girly weekend.
  • Last festival of my 20s. (I think we’re going to book tickets for All Points East).
  • Go on a hike.

 

WORK

  • Launch Kireli (I’m sorting this out at the moment)
  • Start a retirement fund.
  • Enter awards for work.
  • Go to one exhibition a month. (Already been to 3 in the last month).
  • Mentor someone & be mentored.
  • Learn about investing money. (I’ve ordered a book called Tim Hale’s smarter investing).
  • Make something to sell online for passive income.
  • Self portrait challenge.
  • Teach a class OR do a talk.
  • Pitch for business.

 

FOR FUN

  • Hot air balloon ride.
  • Do a handstand again.
  • Learn to properly hula hoop.
  • Cook 5 friends a 3 course meal from scratch. (I’ll do this when our new kitchen is finished).
  • Stand on a moving skateboard for longer than 10 seconds.

 

PERSONAL DEVELOPMENT

  • Do up our flat. (We’re currently doing the kitchen)
  • Treat yourself regularly.
  • Read 5 books minimum. (So far on my list I have Catcher in the Rye, Murder on the Orient Express, The Handmaids Tale, His Dark Materials, Hitchhikers Guide to the Galaxy, When Breath Becomes Air and Lolita).
  • Figure out my style.
  • Make more videos.
  • Blog once a week.
  • Start learning to drive again.
  • Say yes to doing things.
  • Pay it forward.
  • Turn 30 somewhere really special.

 

51 // Paris, Paintings and Pastries

So last month my mum and I took a little trip to Paris as her belated Christmas present, it’s a nice way to extend the that grateful feeling you have during the festive season. We went just before my birthday and it was a nice way to relax a little as I’ve been working pretty hard and right now me and Mikee are redoing our kitchen which is a bit intense. Anyway – here’s my guide to what we got up to.

HOW WE GOT THERE:

My mum and I took the Eurostar. It took two tubes from where I live in London and then the 2.5hr trail from St Pancras. Once we got off the train we walked 25mins to the Airbbnb we were staying in.


HOW WE GOT AROUND:

WALKING – We walked a lot, got achey legs and backs as you do and had very grateful end of the days when we took our shoes off.

METRO – We used the Metro a good amount, I’m not sure the ticket we bought was that helpful for us because of how much we walked but it definitely helped us get around. We got the Paris Visite Pass for 3 days which cost €26.65 and then a day pass for one day on the last day. Single trips on the Metro cost €1.90, I think I’d probably just get the single passes if I were to go back.

BOAT – We had a little river cruise the first day, my mum had been advised to do it by a friend. It cost €14 per person and they took you from Pont Neuf up to the Paris’ Statue of Liberty and back down the Seine.


AIRBNB

We stayed in a lovely Airbnb in Montmatre. It was smaller than the impression the pictures gave but still very nice to spend time in and had a lovely view. It was a nice area, very artsy, lots of local places to buy fresh baguettes and cheese and lots of stuff going on around. It was super close to the three metro stations. I literally picked it because I remembered when we did Secret Cinema Moulin Rouge last year it was set in old fashioned Montmatre and it was the only name I knew when researching.

If you can’t be bothered to read all of this the video can be your TL:DR fix.

DAY ONE : ARRIVAL & PORTRAITS

My mum came to London first and then we went to get the Eurostar, leaving Mikee to look after three little doggies. It was a little bit like going through airport security in the train station, just you’re allowed liquids which was very handy. The train was relatively boring. I don’t think you’re under the ocean for that long really because of how fast the train is going, you don’t even really notice the change in pressure. Anyway, when we arrived in Paris we walked to our Airbnb. Our host was away so his friend met us and we had a very smooth check in. My phone doesn’t work in other countries for some reason, so I had to download Offline Google Maps to navigate us around.

When we were settled we took a little walk outside and walked up the hill towards Sacre Coeur, which we only saw from a short distance away as we stumbled upon Place Du Tertre and we were approached by a little old man with a clipboard who started drawing me and said we could take it or leave it if we didn’t like it. We weren’t entirely sure but being polite we stayed and my mum and a bunch of other people stood around when he started drawing me. Then another artist came over and started drawing my mum. My mum’s portrait was really nice, mine was a bit questionable but my mum paid the asking price for both.

If we were to go back I would be more adamant to say no thank you or ask for examples of work before agreeing to stand there. If I wanted a portrait I’d walk around a bit more and find an artist I liked the style of. I also read if you don’t want to pay what they ask for leave the drawing and walk away and the price might come down. I think the drawings can be anything from €35 to €80 with €60 being an average.

We walked a bit more, admired the view and I practiced my poor French by ordering us a baguette and we got some cheese and pasta to have as our dinner. The bread and cheese were amazing. Standard.

DAY TWO : CATACOMBS, WALKING AND BOAT TOUR

On our second day we got up early and made our way to the Paris Catacombs. A few friends had advised going and having read the queues were a bit mad we thought we’d do it first. Apparently the day and time we went the queues were an ‘average’ wait time… and we waited for 3 hours.

Now, online you can purchase skip the queue type tickets which are about €70-80, which to me is madness. Though there looks like there are some for about €30 per person.  Definitely pay it on a day when it’s freezing and raining or roasting to the point you’d be burnt to a crisp and become a part of the museum by the time you get in there. Otherwise – if you’re happy to queue, take some snacks, maybe a book and maybe a small fold out chair and you’re sorted for the next few hours, and the ticket price is only €13 if you are happy to wait.

Only 200 people are allowed in there at the same time so that’s why the queue can be super slow but it’s definitely worth it. You’re probably only in there for an hour, but despite the obvious morbid nature of being there it’s incredible to try and comprehend just how old the tunnels are and how many peoples bones are down there. The ossuary that contains the bones is only takes up 1/800th of the tunnels that run underneath Paris and the ossuary contains 6million peoples remains from mass graves. You have no idea who they were, and at time by the way the bones are arranged you could forget they were even bones at all and just think it to be a pebble wall. I would definitely take the time to go to this if you visit. You can see buildings, gardens and take river cruises all over the world but it’s only a one off where you might be able to see something like this.

After we were done in the catacombs we walked. We walked through a flea market that was bit like a boot sale, we walked up to the Palais du Luxembourg and through the gardens there where a sausage dog was playing with a labrador and it was the cutest thing. We stopped for a bite to eat because we were getting hangry. Then we walked up to where the Notre Dame sits, had a look at the outside as the queue was again super long and walked around the building. We walked past people enjoying themselves with friends sitting next to the Seine. And we found ourselves in a little shop next to the river that was built into the wall, I got myself a little ring, a portable bamboo cup and a Paris postcard.

As we found ourselves next to the river my mum suggested we do a river cruise, so we rushed over to the only boat point we could see and had a little trip up and down the the Seine which was nice. It was probably the closest we got to the Eiffel tower.

DAY THREE : THE LOUVRE, WATER LILIES & PASTRIES

We decided to go to the Louvre on the third day. It was lovely and sunny out so it was a shame to be indoors but the building was amazing and we got to see lots of cool stuff. Before we got in I wanted to take some photos outside and while I was doing that a woman approached my mum with a clipboard saying ‘it’s for the deaf’ my mum signed and another woman came up to me getting a bit too into my personal space. I signed but then it came to a column that said ‘Amount’ I said I had no money on me and my mum offered to pay €5 for me and her. Another lady came over and they were asking for change for a 20 and the latest lady put her clipboard over my mums purse and tried to nab some money, luckily I was watching and stopped her. They walked off pretty fast after that and we were a little bit shaken but after that London me took over – otherwise it was very clear people will take advantage of you. I was still quite angry about it in the evening and it took me a while to get to sleep that evening and I never really get angry about anything.

Moral of the story, don’t talk to random people who come up to you with clipboards or who stand too close to you. They’re there to mug you.

Anyway, after another queue of about 30mins to get through security into the Louvre we made it in and bought our ticket which I think was around €19. We went around looking at the French Sculptures, decorative arts, the Greeks, the Egyptians and Napoleons quarters which were actually really interesting to look at. We skipped the Mona Lisa because we’ve seen the picture before and quite frankly she isn’t that interesting. Though it did get me thinking about what it would be like to have someone create your portrait and that become one of the most famous portraits in the world with people going to see it for hundreds of years after. As the creator that would be amazing, as the subject, would it be flattering? Would it be embarrassing?

Anyway, we walked down to Musée de l’Orangerie which is a lot smaller where they hold Monet’s Water Lilies among other paintings by very famous artists. This is very dumb of me but I never realised that the Water Lilies were a series of paintings, there are about 250 paintings that he did and in the gallery they had about 8 of them. They were huge, the colours in them were so vivid and rich. They were rather beautiful to see in real life, and luckily with the Eurostar ticket the entry into the museum was 2 for 1, costing us about €10 to get in. This was definitely worth the visit.

Afterwards I was dying to get some macaroons and some pastries because cake is my life. So we went to Pierre Hermé and I got two boxes of macaroons. One for while we were still in Paris and the other to give to Mikee as a present. They weren’t cheap that’s for sure but they were definitely worth the cost. You could tell the ingredients were high quality, they were delicious and completely delicate. Then we went to Angelina’s and picked up an eclair, one famous praline mont-blanc and a pear jelly pastry. The classic eclair was probably my favourite, could definitely have eaten about ten of those, an the pear one was my second favourite. It had pear jelly on the outside, and was filled with a chantilly cream and pear chunk filling with a hard pastry base with nuts on the outside.

DAY FOUR : L’AURORE & JEU DU PAUME

We’d booked a scented candle making workshop through Airbnb Experiences at L’Aurore which was super fun. Justine, the owner, talked us through the manufacture of perfumes and the history of perfumery. We learned that leather was the first scent to be made, to fragrance leather clothing so it didn’t smell bad. It can take a long time to train in perfume making and you have to take the same career path as someone studying pharmaceuticals. We also learned that natural fragrances can change year to year depending on the crop yield so the creators will hold back batches from previous years to blend together to create an average in the smell – the same thing happens with Champagne. Also many floral scents are man-made, think sweet peas and lily of the valley. Iris can be made naturally but the scent is taken from the root of the flower, say whaaat. And rose has hints of citrus/lemon in it.

She made us really delicious tea and provided some typical French pastries. Then with Justine’s guidance five of us worked together to blend the fragrance for the candles we’d be making. First blending the synthetic ingredients together, then the natural, then mixing those two together to come up with a citrus, cedar and cinnamon scent. We then mixed that in with our wax and placed a wick in the candle and waited for it to solidify.

Mum and I bought some wax melts from her at the end of the workshop and she advised us where we could get food. It was a really great experience, so nice to have a little keepsake at home that we made and she also had a super cute dog called Pins in the back.

After we’d had some food, mum and I decided to try and go to The Grand Palace, which looked like it several really cool exhibitions on, but they were having a special ticketed event so we couldn’t get in. So we walked to Jeu Du Paume, which is a photography museum that sits opposite the Orangerie museum, and has the same entrance deal on. We saw the work of Raoul Hausmann who was important to the Berlin Dada movement. He had very different stages of work and I quite liked the early stuff.

Then we saw the work of Susan Meiselas, who documented a lot of conflict in Nicaragua. The images spanned from early days in New York and photos of a friendship group growing up. To her conflict documentary. To a more recent series on domestic violence. Again, pretty morbid stuff but some of the photos were incredible. So also worth a visit. Though it’s worth noting that while they’re all in the same vicinity, The Louvre, the Orangerie Museum and Jeu Du Paume are all closed on different days.

Fun trivia fact: Jeu Du Paume was in Sex and the City in the last season. It’s were the Russian has his exhibition.

LAST DAY

On our last day we left our Airbnb, dropped our luggage off into storage lockers at Gare Du Nord and went to do one final bit of exploring. We went to Centre Pompidou but the queue again was massive so we skipped that and just looked in some shops, I found a cute one called Bobart where I got me and Mikee some lose leaf tea, a box of pencils and a little orange bracelet to remember the trip. I also bought myself a summer dress from another shop.

We went back to the station, collected our luggage and went through to the Eurostar waiting area. We got some food and I bought Mikee a fancy Easter egg from Le Chocolat by Alaine Ducasse with my leftover euros. It was definitely worth the money: super rich chocolate, layered with praline, more chocolate, praline, and then more chocolate again. It took us a week and a half to eat haha. Finally we got on the train again and made our way back home.

Now I think I would go back to Paris but it wouldn’t be top of my list of places to visit as I feel we have very similar things in London. It would be nice to go for a long weekend at the end of the summer maybe. I appreciated the art and the architecture, I loved that people were just chilling by the Seine in the evening even though it was mid-March. The Catacombs were amazing. But I’d be more savvy next time: be aware of what to look out for so people don’t take advantage. I’d want to eat more food and go and see more galleries and exhibitions but hopefully with less queuing at some point. That being said, with the terror attacks France has had over the last few years it was reassuring to see the security everywhere and knowing that those queues were for everyones safety. I’m not sure if it was the atmosphere there or just seeing lots of art but I also left feeling rather philosophical and thinky, maybe I’m just weird. I think our next trip will be to Scotland, that’s where mum said she fancies going.

If you want to visit Paris I hope you’ve found this a useful guide (if you even got this far). I know I ramble on, I mainly do these posts for me to remember what we did and if it helps other people that’s a plus. Au Revoir for now.

50 // Wes Anderson Isle Of Dogs

Hope everyone is well and that anyone reading this had a lovely Easter. It’s been a busy month, I finished up at The Body Shop, I’ve worked on another project for Cineworld and I went to Paris with my mum, turned 29 and had a pretty amusing long weekend with friends, family and lots of cake.

I’ll do a Paris post next week but really wanted to get this one up incase anyone wants to go to to the Wes Anderson Isle of Dogs pop-up exhibition on The Strand. Mikee and I went on Easter Monday and we really delighted to discover it was a dog friendly exhibition (as long as you can carry them) so we could take our little Pig along to meet her pupper counter-parts and not leave her at home. Thankfully a lot of people were very happy to see her little face in the space, I just wish it could happen more often.

For those who don’t know anything about this, Wes Anderson, film-maker extraordinaire, has a new film out now called Isle of Dogs. I’ll put the trailer below. I have absolutely loved all of his films, Mikee and I binge watched all of them a few years ago and in the past I’ve even tried making the pastries from The Grand Budapest Hotel (which are delicious). We haven’t seen the film yet but description according to Wiki is as follows: Set in a dystopian near-future Japan, the film follows a young boy who goes in search of his dog after the whole species is banished to an island due to an illness outbreak.  

When you enter the exhibition you’re greeted by a full scale Ramen bar where you can get drinks and noodles, unfortunately when we went they were all sold out as they only make a couple of hundred bowls a day but luckily for us we were stuffed from lunch anyway. The ramen recipes have been created by the head chef at Engawa in Soho so should we fancy some tasty food that will remind us of the movie perhaps we can visit the restaurant.

After entering the main space you go through to the main exhibition, where you can see the sets, the puppets and hear some of the film score by Alexandre Desplat. There are 17 sets and over 40 puppets that were used in the movie that you can see, all of them hand made, and the detail is incredible on every single little thing. I even watched a how they made it video and they had to make the dogs hair move for each frame so it looks natural. And after having spent 12 hours at university making a simple 1 minute animation out of square pieces of paper moving around, I can only imagine how time consuming it must have been to work on the film and how precise each element would have to be in that process. We were given a leaflet at the start of the tour that said that the film took over 400 days to animate and it was largely filmed at 3Mills Studio in East London.

Once we were done looking around we stopped and had a little something at the Noodle Bar, Mikee had an Asahi and I got some sake just to round off the Easter weekend, although probably not the best idea to drink that before I had circuit training in the evening when we finally got home. Piggy enjoyed herself, she got lots of attention, we got to see some amazing creative work – I really want to go and see the film now, I think having seen only a fraction of the work that’s gone into it I’ll appreciate so much more how much time and effort went into the making of it.

If anyone wants to go the exhibition is on till Sunday the 8th of April which means you’ve got 3 more days to go, it’s at The Store, 180 The Strand, and is open from 11am – 7pm every day. Last entry at 6.30pm. It’s completely free to visit, there’s no booking – if it’s busy just queue and you’ll get in pretty fast. You can take photos and post on social – it’s all good promo for the film AND most importantly you can take a dog inside if you can carry them around. If you have the time and can make it I would highly recommend going… Now to find a dog friendly viewing so we can take Pig to the cinema.

49 // WORK UPDATE

So I did no work updates last year, tut, tut. Mostly because I was just doing the work, and because I was a bit overwhelmed with everything that I was trying to deal with. But it is important to me to share this stuff, I want to make the time to recognise what I’ve actually achieved. I want to be able to look back myself in the future and remember these things, and the blog feels like the easiest way to do that. I’m back in London now, and already back on the madness of the merry go round of work, exercise, friends, food, Netflix and sleep, but I want to take a look at what have I actually been up to.

THAMES & HUDSON FOR THE V&A

Well, I started off last year by illustrating another book for Thames & Hudson. I went in, got briefed and collected the Art Deco colouring book I had illustrated. I then spent a month working on a creative workbook on wallpaper patterns. The idea being you could colour in some patterns, complete the repeat and also design your own creations. I got a copy of this one a few months ago and the hard work paid off. The book looks great, the intricate drawings of some of the most famous patterns look incredible printed. 

SAGITTA

I also spent the whole year working on Sagitta which has come to mean such a lot to me and it’s such a privilege to work on. The reason Sagitta was started was to inspire people to take care of their own health through preventing sickness. The products they make are there to stop you from getting ill in the first place and the tips and advice that we share on the website are there to stop any problems you might come across happening or from getting worse. The idea is to enable people to live their best lives without any major health issues. I spent the whole of last year working on a healthy habit each week for the blog, trying things and seeing if they stick. Some definitely have and my life is better for it, working on this brand is working its own magic on me. Which just leaves me to believe in the idea behind it even more. I can’t wait to see what we come up with in the future.

RAWKIN VEGAN & MIA LAAKSO

My favourite projects are always branding projects. I really love thinking about the creativity behind a new name, and thinking about building the best looking and most relevant identity I can and trying to see how that can work as part of a strategic vision for how they come across to the world. I had the pleasure of working on Rawkin Vegan, which is initially looking to start out by creating incredible vegan burgers for the world to try – which I can’t wait to see become a reality. I was really proud of this work as everything has knit together to create something super inline with the brand and there’s so much to build on there. I also got to work on some branding for Mia Laakso, a sustainable textiles brand (though the name may change) but I’m absolutely loving where the logo design for this is at the moment as well.

CINEWORLD

One of the biggest projects of the year that I had was being commissioned by Cineworld to concept and design their gifting range. I brought Olly who I worked with at Ogilvy onboard to work with me as a creative team, and while it was quite a beast of a project I feel like we absolutely smashed it – both pushing each other to work better. It went on for a lot longer than we initially expected but Cineworld took on an idea that both of us believed in. We had to come up with the creative idea, all the designs, copy, artwork etc for the gift card range and surrounding promotional pieces – the wallets, the carriers, the posters and stands all just in time for Christmas but with a whole year of assets planned out and created. It was a bit of a knackering process but I’m pretty proud of what we’ve achieved.

BUZZFEED FOR TESCO & WORTH IT UK

Antonia, the lovely art director at Buzzfeed, brought me in to photograph a post for Tesco where people spoke about their family traditions at Christmas. She briefed me the initial concept and we both worked to push the idea and art direction further and worked like an absolute dream team during the shoot days. It was so much fun working with her: we went to uni together and we’re totally on the same wavelength. It was so much fun shooting and I got some really wonderful portraits as well as great feedback from the client.

Antonia also recommended me for an illustration brief for Buzzfeed Worth It UK. It was a very random, quick brief but it’s really cool to see that something I’ve drawn is on a video that’s had over 1.5M views. I’m also currently wrapping up another quick illustration brief for another video project for them. 

THE BODY SHOP

Early in the year I freelanced at The Body Shop and had the pleasure of working on Christmas concepts with the team. It was mad to see that something I thought up, had been photographed by Rankin. And when the time came, I got to see that poster front and centre of the stores I visited. I’ve spent the last two months of the year working there on one of the biggest product launches of next year, absolutely knackering but very exciting. I’m currently back there for another fun stint with the lovely team. 

CATH COLLINS

I’ve worked with the Cath Collins team again to create their Christmas catalogue for the second year running, alongside some promotional material for the brand. I’m so excited to continue working on this and can’t wait to see where we can take the brand as I really believe that there’s something special to the fragrances they offer and believe that the people I’m working with have got a great vision under their hats. 

GOOD.LOOP

I also helped out on Good.Loop. Amy – a brilliant girl who I worked with at Ogilvy started working on a project to use advertising for good. You watch an advert for 15 seconds and a brand donates money on your behalf to a charity of your selection. We have been working on an array of designs & ideas for digital ads to catch peoples eyes, testing & refining these to see what people engage with the most. We’ve also been testing the video player designs and it’s been really interesting to work with a team of people who really believe that advertising can have a positive impact. I’m excited to do more of this this year. This one was one of my favourites. 

FIRST STORY

I also continued to work with the lovely charity First Story. These guys were the first people to ever give me a freelance job on the side setting me on course for this journey. I had the pleasure of working on their annual report and also did one or two book cover designs for their Anthologies that they produce with the students they get involved with.

GENERAL ASSEMBLY

My friend Clementine teaches for General Assembly in London and she connected me to a lovely designer called Susi in New York who was looking for help producing illustrative assets for the brand. She has definitely provided the most thorough briefs I’ve ever come across which made my job extremely easy.

KIRELI

I’ve also been working on the branding for my own studio which I really, really, really want to get started this year. I’ve worked in some places where I’ve felt the names have been a little questionable… So I’ve tried to put a lot of thought into the one I’ve picked. I wanted it to sound nice when you say it but not necessarily be a recognisable word, and I also wanted it to be memorable. So after playing around with some meaningful things I’ve decided to name it after my mum: taking inspiration from her first name and middle name. She’s someone who has given me the absolute best start in life she could, despite having the troubles of trying to keep everything afloat on her own. She taught me the value of hard work, supported me in everything I’ve done even if she not been 100% sure about it – like doing art instead of triple science. She inspires me to do good by people: She’s a carer for the elderly and I admire her so much for her empathy, compassion, good humour and integrity when she’s doing the work she does even when it’s so hard. She’s given me life in several senses of the word, so I want to be able to continue her legacy and the values she instilled in me – in my studio. Because without her, I wouldn’t exist and I wouldn’t be doing the work I’m doing. 

I also was lucky enough to be interviewed by a lovely girl called Megan for her blog where she’s doing a series of interviews with creative women. That’s it pretty much for last year. I know roughly what I’m up to till May, working with clients old and new and loving that everyone I’m working with is aspiring to do something positive in the world. Whether it’s by doing something small that leaves an impression on people that makes them feel good, or by trying to do something to change it a little for the better. I’m excited to see what 2018 has to offer.

48 // LAKE GARDA & VERONA

So this is extremely late but here’s what we did in Italy when I went with my mum in May. We stayed in Garda, Lake Garda for 3 days and then Verona for 2 days. I accidentally deleted all my photos off my camera so all I have are my photos from my phone, which is why this has taken so long. I just booked a trip for us to go to Paris as neither of us have been, I’ll make sure I don’t delete my photos then.

HOW WE GOT THERE:

We flew with Easy Jet to Verona, from Gatwick. I met my mum at Gatwick, getting the train from London, and her from Eastbourne. Our Airbnb host picked us up from Verona and drove us to Lake Garda. We got a coach back to Verona.


 

HOW WE GOT AROUND:

WALKING – As usual our legs were a reliable mode of transport.

COACH/BUSES – We got a day pass for the bus so we could go from Garda to Malcesine (roughly 45mins) and Riva Del Garda (roughly an hour from Malcesine) and then back, the bus pass costs about €10. We got the coach from Garda to Verona for €10 which took an hour and a half.

BIKE – We cycled from Garda to Bardolino and back.

CAR – Our lovely Airbnb host in Garda picked us up from the airport and drove us to Garda, in the car it takes about 40 mins.

FERRY – We visited Sirmione via the ferry with a return ticket about €20, it took about 20mins to cross to get there on the fast service, and about an hour to get back on the slow service.

AEROBUS – On the last day we got the airport shuttle bus from Verona train station to the airport €6.


 

AIRBNB’S

We stayed in two Airbnb’s, one in Garda and one in Verona. The Airbnb in Garda was lovely. Camilla our host was super kind and picked us up from Verona airport and drove us to Garda for the check in. The apartment was on the top floor of an old building which used to be her family home. They’d renovated it and turned it into two airbnb flats. We were really close to the bus station, and really close to the lakefront, and some super markets so we could have enough food at our base.

In Verona we stayed in the city centre where it was easy to walk around. The Airbnb was very modern, comfortable and in an old historical building. We were so close to everything it was amazing, but we were also on a quiet street so we didn’t have much noise from outside. We must have been right next to a music academy as we could hear people practicing which was such a lovely thing to listen to while getting ready for the day.


 

DAY ONE : LAKE WANDERING & DINNER

We arrived in Garda in the afternoon, once we were settled and all checked in with our lovely airbnb host we went to the supermarket and bought some food and giggled at the penis shaped bottles of limoncello. We went for a wander to go and see the lake, the weather was perfect for springtime – clear, sunny, not too cold and only a slight breeze coming off the lake, the water was super still and super clear and it was just a really pretty evening. We got some gelato, and we just had a little walk for about an hour before settling for some Italian food and wine from Il Giardino Delle Rane.

DAY TWO : MALCESINE & RIVA DEL GARDA

The weather was a bit crappy on the second day but that didn’t stop our plans for exploring. We got the bus from Garda up the lake to Malcesine. We wanted to see the market so mum wanted to get herself a new bag. I also got a pretty mint green faux leather bag, and we got matching wooden sunglasses. Mum managed to find herself a sign that said ‘Warning Entering Woman Cave’ which absolutely tickled her. We explored the Castello Scaligero (the castle) in Malcesine, which had some pretty spectacular views. We could also have got a cable car from there up to the top of a mountain which would have been incredible however my mum flatly refused to even entertain the idea. Once we’d explored there we got the coach up to Riva Del Garda at the top of the lake. The architecture in that part of the lake is really quite different from the southern parts of the lake and have a more Austrian influence. It had started raining pretty heavily by the time we got there, we walked up to the lake front, I took some photos as the weather had created a pretty beautiful atmosphere around the lake within the sides of the mountains, and we went and had some respite from the rain by grabbing some pizza and having dinner before getting the coach back and chilling out in our airbnb.

DAY THREE : BARDOLINO & CLIMBING LA ROCCA

The weather this day again wasn’t fantastic but at least it didn’t start off raining. We wandered around Garda a little, exploring the shops and seeing what was on offer. We stalked a family of ducklings who had a little blonde duckling in amongst the rest of the brown ones. They were super cute!! We had some lunch from a tiny cute Italian place before deciding to hop on the bikes our airbnb had provided and cycle down to Bardolino which was the next town down from Garda. It was a really nice gentle bike ride and we had some more gelato in Bardolino before heading back. Now there’s a little mountain next to Garda called La Rocca. I’d said to mum it would be amazing if we could climb a mountain while we were there, and she thought the idea was ridiculous and so I figured there would be none of that. But, as fate would have it, we stumbled across the pathway that led to the top of La Rocca… And we decided to walk up it a bit, only partially up the mountain you’re met with some amazing views. Mum wasn’t sure if we would make it the whole way, but we persisted for an hour and a half and managed to get to the top for the sunset, before we decided to hurry down so we didn’t have to navigate a rocky path in the dark.

DAY FOUR : SIRMIONE

We decided to explore Sirmione and see the lake from the peninsula. We took the ferry over and had a wander around the historical centre. The South of the lake is a lot flatter than the mountainous North part of the lake in Riva, but Sirmione was still rather hilly with lots of ups and downs. We unfortunately went on a day when everything was closed, but there are Roman ruins right at the tip of the point which would have been amazing to explore. There is also Scaliger Castle which is built in the water, again it would have been amazing to explore but we just had to marvel at it from the outside. We did however see a natural hot spring on the edge of the lake, explored the town, we saw pugs in prams and I fed a bird out of my hand. We had some bruschetta and we got to try some of the best gelato while there. Once we got back to Garda we had another little walk around the waterfront, stalking the little ducklings again – mum even managed to feed a duck out of her hand. And we returned to the same restaurant from the first night, it had started raining but we had a farewell meal while watching the sun set over the lake while the sad sky dispersed

DAY FIVE : VERONA EXPLORING

On day five we set off for Verona on the bus. It was very easy to get on, and get off at the correct stop – right outside the arena in Verona. We walked about fifteen minutes to get to the next airbnb and checked in to the lovely building and pretty much set out as soon as we could. We walked around the outskirt of the historical centre and it started thundering and raining so we went to the Natural History Museum and it was pretty much just me and mum inside so we got to see everything without any issues. They had some incredible things inside.

Once we left it had started to get sunny. We saw some archeological places, and we found Juliet’s Balcony – my mum joined in with everyone who touched her boob for some good luck, I felt weird about groping a statue so didn’t. It was amazing to see the love letters stuffed in the cracks of the wall, and oddly the messages on love on chewing gums all over the place too. It was very touristy (especially with the shop there selling rather tacky items) and a bit weird but also kind of nice to see.

We also saw some incredible crypts of a family who clearly wanted to be remembered, and saw the set up of concert happening in honour of European music. They had a flag for the European Union draped over the side of the rail, and we listening to a violinist practicing for the performance later on. I think it would have been an incredible concert to attend. Mum and I sat and had a couple of drinks at a cafe in the square nearby, and then went and had dinner in a typical Veronese restaurant. I can’t remember what I ate but I definitely had chocolate salami for dessert for the first time since my colleague made it about six years ago.

DAY SIX : THE ARENA & FLYING HOME

We didn’t have that much time to kill on the last day but we managed to explore the Arena. It was incredible to think that these spaces were built such a long time ago and have seen thousands of people through the doors for so many different reasons, while still remaining to be these stunning structures. Currently it’s used for open air opera, they were setting up for the opening of the season when we were there in early May, but it must be such an amazing spectacle to see a performance there. We had a little wander around some shops, I got myself a jacket and a dress, and then we proceeded to make our way home – stopping to get some last gelato with our luggage before finding the bus to the airport.

I really enjoyed the trip to Italy with my mum. I think if the weather had have been less rainy it would have been better but it was still enjoyable, and lovely to spend time with her exploring a new place and seeing new things. I’d probably recommend going to Lake Como over Lake Garda, just because it is a bit smaller, but both are stunning places where you’re going to fund delicious gelato and Italian food.

I’m excited to see what Paris has to offer us in March although I’m going to go with no expectations as I’m finding it to be the best way to approach seeing a place.