Monday, 14 December 2015

Catch up: Brussels lockdown and business aspirations

Things have been a little crazy for me recently. As anyone who reads this blog or knows me will be aware, in August this year I moved to Brussels. This past month Brussels has been more than a little hectic. The terror threat level was raised to 4 and the military moved in. Brussels was put on a lockdown. The presence of that many armed soldiers alarmed me as London is also on a level 4 threat but there is never an obvious military presence there. It seems like the protocol here is to hold off on increasing the threat level until absolutely necessary, whereas in London it is used more as a precaution.

Unfortunately none of these photos are mine as my phone containing all of my photos has recently been stolen. All photographs were found on Google.

The tag #Brusselslockdown became an internet sensation with people posting photos of cats to baffle the terrorists hiding out in the city. As interesting and upbeat a response as this was, it didn't make me feel any better about the fact that the people responsible for the Paris attacks were being arrested quite literally a few streets from my house. 

Photographs all found on google.

Oddly enough, the lockdown didn't interfere too much with my standard weekend routine of staying in bed, snuggling and drawing. As the lockdown on schools and transportation continued into the week I felt it was best to work from home on the Monday. I had completely forgotten how much I love doing this and it really made me miss freelancing. I think it's safe to say that, if you're creative by nature, an office environment is not where you are most productive. In bed with cushions, coffee and Christmas movies, however, is the best place to design Christmas fair-isle prints.

Some of the Fair-isle prints I worked on from my bed office during the lockdown week

I did have some photos I wanted to upload in this 'catch up' post of things I have been working on and photos of the numerous army trucks that have been stationed in the city but, in a recent alcohol incident, my phone was stolen/lost. The alcohol incident being that I consumed too much alcohol and left my phone on a table where someone then stole it(Belgian beer is sneaky like that- 3 glasses and I'm done). 

My lovely little phone has now been gone for a week and I feel like I have had a limb amputated. I find it remarkable how dependent I am on something so materialistic. This small object had literally become an extension of my hand, I am now experiencing a technological version of phantom limb syndrome.... I keep reaching for my phone to check the time; scroll through instagram; look at my blog statistics, do some pinterest research- only to find that the phone isn't there. I miss that heavy reassuring feeling in my pocket. I miss having a distraction in awkward situations. I miss instagram. For the past two Sundays I have been at a complete loss about what to do in the evenings as I no longer have tinder. 

One thing I am noticing in the absence of an iphone is that I am filling the void with actual substance. Where I would normally be scrolling through other people's lives and doing 'pinterest research', I am now making plans, writing more, and working on illustrations. I am actually really enjoying not have a piece of tech constantly strapped to my hand, but I still can't wait to get my replacement next week. 

A few Christmas character illustrations I have been working on
Prints of mine that have recently been in stores. Top row images are designs in C&A, bottom row: George at ASDA, George at ASDA, Marks and Spencers, George at ASDA, F&F at Tesco.

As mentioned earlier I have been missing freelancing quite a lot recently, not just working to more creative briefs but also being able to manage my own time and set my own deadlines. I find working in an office environment extremely difficult for so many reasons: 

- Firstly I am not a 9-5 person, I start waking up and properly engaging my brain around 11.30am(just in time for lunch which has to be taken between set times in the work canteen). Working from home I can start and finish whenever I choose and eat whenever I want to which is usually around 3.30pm, not between 12-2pm....

- I find creativity comes naturally to me in the evenings, post 6pm usually which doesn't really work well when you're working 9-5 in a creative job role. I can be tired and not in a creative mood all day until I get home and then suddenly my brain kicks into action, very inconvenient.

- In office's there seems to be a great deal of micro managing and other people trying to order your workload for you, I like to organise my work into an order that will enhance my creativity and increase my productivity levels....more often than not, my workload organisation makes little sense to everyone else, which is where micro-managing can occur.

Jason Fried's TedTalk explains this problem perfectly.

I know at some stage I want to set up my own business. I don't know exactly when and I also need to clarify what the start-up will involve, but it's definitely on the cards. Anyway this past week I have not been able to get the idea of starting up my own creative business out of my I'm taking some action towards this goal. I've started a business plan sketch book where I can keep all of my ideas from website layouts to garment tags, logo designs to pricing sheets and everything in between. Hopefully by doing this I will be able to de-muddle my head and move towards creating a professional business plan. I am really keen to create a strong brand identity to start me off and then, with any luck, the business plan will fall together.

As a step towards this I have re-designed my logo and created an intricate design that can also be simplified for price tags and clothing labels. I am actually(for once) really happy with it. I wanted the logo to reflect me as well as the business I intend to pursue so, as odd as it sounds, I chose a font based on this. I am short(5ft) and fairly rounded and so I chose a font to reflect that. I am aware that sounds like an awful joke, but that is the genuine reason for the font choice.

As it's all quite new to me I would love feedback on the logo design and any advice/tips anyone has for creative start up businesses. I want to focus quite a few blog posts on start-ups and maybe do a few case studies on ones I think have worked well.

Brand logo on the left, simplified tag logo/stamp on the right

I have also changed my blog layout(again!)so that it compliments the new logo. I've simplified the template and added a new black and white pattern to the background. One day I want to find the time to sit and create a stylised background print that will become the brands signature print. Maybe I'll tackle this when I create a website. No doubt the blog layout will change several more times before I find one I can truly commit to.....finding a blog template is a little bit like dating ;)

Next on my business 'to do' list is to secure a domain name and create a website....which will hopefully happen near the beginning of next year. Firstly I have to do some research into what I want the website to look like and what information I want to include. Hopefully when I get my new phone I can post some photos of my business plan sketch book and give you all an insight into my ideas.

Ciao for now x

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