Saturday, 31 December 2016

2016 reflections

I know I know...3 posts in just as many days...I'd like to say that this is me starting a new years blogging resolution early but, in actual fact, I'm just trying to put off all of the packing I have to do.

Obviously a New Years eve reflective blog post is mandatory... this is, after all, the LAST DAY of a very tumultuous here it is...apparently people are trying to remember 2016 for the good parts and so 'best 9' is a proper thing now, so I thought I'd jump on this trend and give you a few of my own: 

Firstly my best 9 Textile Candy/illustration/work posts of 2016

Some of my best 9 photos with friends-such a happy year.

Finally this #bestnine collection represents my favourite moments/memories from the year. Top to bottom and Left to right: taken from my Italian road trip in Florence, sunshine picnic in the park with my lovely Brussels family, my first ever website- probably one of my proudest moments, my friend Charlotte's wedding(her love story completely fills me with hope for the future), me at the top of one of the Alps in Switzerland, a country walk with my siblings when I moved back home, screen printing my own products for my Christmas stall, my Brussels birthday celebrations back in February, and finally another shot taken on my Italian roadtrip in Venice.

2016 was a year that many people will be happy to see the back of; there seemed to be so much trauma, sadness and tragedy. From the deaths of some of our famous favourites to multiple terrorist attacks, from zika virus outbreaks to political debate and turmoil, 2016 is definitely a year that will be remembered. 

Oddly I have actually had the best year of my life! Here's a few of the reasons I have loved 2016:

- While living in Belgium I made some of the closest friends I have ever had- thank you to my little family there who made living abroad so easy and filled my life with so much joy!

- I have travelled around Europe a lot more and visited: Berlin, Paris, Amsterdam, Bruges, Prague, Budapest, Stockholm, St Moritz, Naples, Rome, Venice, Florence

- I have crossed some things off my bucket list- climb a volcano, go to Italy, save some money, live abroad for longer than 6 months.

- I committed to starting a business and created(all by myself) my first proper website

In preparation for writing this New Year's Eve post I looked at what I had written last year and it turns out I had actually listed some New Years resolutions for 2016 on my's a screenshot of them...surprisingly I actually did the majority of them!

SO.....time to set some NEW new years resolutions, I'm gonna keep them fairly doable once again:

-learn a new language...more than partially...

- save 5-10k so that in 2018 I can either put down a deposit on a house, spend it on travelling, or set up a business(setting 2018's resolutions already haha!)

-carry on visiting new places

-learn to cook/bake

- keep creating new work

-read more, watch tv less

- write my business plan

- live a healthier lifestyle- eat well and stay active!

As I already mentioned, in 2016 I got the chance to travel a lot more and it made me realise what a spectacular world we live in. It's been amazing to see areas of both natural and man-made beauty and experience other cultures, foods and traditions. I think my top 3 moments have been: being on top of the alps in Switzerland, seeing an opera performance in Rome and going to colourful Burano island. There's the cliche saying, which I embarassingly love, "travel is the only thing you buy that will make you richer."
Some of the cities I've been fortunate enough to visit this year: Amsterdam, Prague, Bruges, Rome, Budapest, Venice, Burano island, Stockholm and St Moritz(top to bottom and left to right).

Although I've had a great year personally, I have also felt a huge deal of sadness about the state of the world. One of the things I really despaired of was the lack of toleration we showed towards one another after Brexit and the Presidential campaign. Politics in 2016 has driven an even greater wedge into already existing divisions and the name-calling and hostility(on both sides)shown following these elections has been horrible to witness. I am not a politician, I know enough about politics to form my own opinions but not enough to patronize anyone else about theirs. This may be my political naivety speaking but, in the grand scheme of things, surely the way we treat each other matters far more than political opinion!Hopefully in 2017 we all make an effort to be more open-minded, understanding and patient with each other- I know that I definitely will!

I will be ending 2016 with hope, both for my own life in 2017 and for our lovely little earth. I have hope that we will avoid destroying it more in 2017 than we did in 2016. Hope that our governments will learn from history and stop making the same mistakes and hope that the new US government will stop using Syria as their own personal battleground to fight with Russia. I have hope that Theresa May will negotiate a good Brexit deal and will do so before things turn sour, and that the outcome of the different European elections set for 2017 will increase the security and stability of Europe. 

One more thing I have hope for is that the world will stop focusing on gender and sexuality above people and personality. I understand the need for equality and inclusion but 2016's hyped up political correctness seemed to only cause animosity and over-sensitivity. The media pushed feminism with tags like #supportyourlocalgirlgang meant for good but, in an attempt to reach gender equality, we surpassed it and ended with what seems like an anti-male mafia. 2016 saw a lot of real issues losing their impact after being softened by social media.  We turn problems into 'trending hashtags' to 'join in on the conversation' and we put opaque flags over our profile photos to show 'solidarity' with countries that have experienced terrorism, completely selective of the countries that are deserving of this. Why did we do this- because in 2016 it's 'on trend' to appear to be humanitarian. I know the new year is meant to be a time of celebration, where we all get fairly drunk and have fireworks and champagne but I think it's important for people to understand the gravity of what actually happened in 2016. While the world appeared to be having a meltdown the mainstream media chose to focus on our favourite stars and cultural figures that died(I've tried to keep this list to one person/month to avoid us feel down).

Other famous figures lost in 2016 include: Victoria Wood, Alan Rickman, Terry Wogan and Bill Cunningham.

Yes these are all sad but what about the countless other lives that have been lost this year- are they less deserving of a headline? Terrorism,once again, has been a consistency of the year. We witnessed attacks in Brussels, Nice and Germany but these had a small loss of life in comparison to the death toll in Iraq and Syria where suicide bombings and beheadings are now commonplace.

When blogging I often try and avoid talking about real issues as they aren't popular and I usually get less page views/followers- shallow, I know, but that's the nature of the (blogging) beast. One of my resolutions for 2017 is to include more posts of depth as I have noticed this year that the mainstream news has refrained from showing us anything that might induce fear or panic. I will of course still be doing trend posts and writing about print design/fashion, but I'm going to try and provide more articles of substance too

I've been thinking a lot recently about why I started this blog, why I continue posting and where I see it going in the future. I  always wanted to use it to show people how interesting fashion/design history can be and how it is reactive to the economy, politics and social culture- I have somewhat abandoned this in 2016. Reading through my comments and messages I've received about the blog I seem to have quite a wide audience with some readers wanting the print/fashion trendboards as a resource to aid with research whereas others prefer the more personal, deeper articles and I'm quite keen to keep these two groups of followers. I would love any suggestions people have of what material they like most on my blog and what they would like to see more of so that I can do my best to provide content that people actually want to read.

Anyway....I don't want to leave this post on a depressing note about the state of the world so here are a few things I found hilarious about this backwards, illogical and completely ironic year! 2016 was a year that confused the Instagramming public so much that #quittinginstagram became the most common Instagram hashtag...

...2016 was such an illogical year the the British public were overruled on the name Boaty Mcboatface, but not on their decision to leave the EU....ha!!!

The past year saw global politics spiraling into disaster, everything escalated so quickly that we all felt the need to be still, so still that the mannequin challenge really took off. 

In times of trauma we all need escapism....some people have chosen to escape by dressing up as creepy clowns......others by changing their persona completely through various celebrity endorsed snapchat filters...if the global news is getting you down you can now change your face to be: a dog, a bunny, a deer, a strawberry, a piece of toast, or whoever else's face you would like to swap with...

....but we've made it out the other end ...just about....

yeah apparently this is an actual real website....

I'll be completely honest in saying that I usually spend New Year's Eve, as does most of the U.K, getting pretty drunk in a, usually overpriced, nightclub.... this year I'm opting out and staying at home. Next year I will be relocating AGAIN, and no matter how many times you leave your family it doesn't get any easier. I want to welcome in the new year with some of the people I'm close to.....I only hope that my parents will stay awake until midnight....failing that I will spend tonight celebrating with our little westie and a glass of bubbly!

My hot New Years eve date ;)

I have a few things to look forward to already next year: my volunteering trip to Ghana, my new job in Switzerland and several of my close friends are getting married!Hopefully 2017 will be even better than 2016!

I hope you all have a lovely New Year's eve celebrating!

Tuesday, 27 December 2016

Relocation time once again!

I ended my last post with "I have no post Ghana plans at all and I'm actually quite fine with that".....I need to retract that statement as things have already changed. I am now moving to Switzerland.

Summary of my relocations so far: Heysham- London - Dusseldorf(Germany) - Brussels(Belgium) - Briefly back to Heysham - Accra(Ghana) - Basel(Switzerland).

When I returned to the UK at the beginning of November one of my main fears was that my life was about to become incredibly dull so, in true Becky style, I fired a haphazard prayer up to the big man requesting an interesting life.....hilariously enough I have got exactly what I wished for but now have 2 weeks to pack all of my worldly possessions into boxes to relocate to Switzerland the day after I return from Ghana. Challenging to say the least.

So...why am I relocating AGAIN? I have been offered a job- a 9-5pm in fashion retail, as a graphic/print designer.....I am fully aware that this post is completely contradictory to those previously written. As the famous Robbie Burns- who I like to pretend is my distant relative- once said: 

"the best laid schemes o' mice an' men, gang aft a-gley"
(in other words all my greatest plans have gone to shit hahaha)

... this seems to be the story of my life. I had planned a life of independancy and self funded success as a wildly creative, incredibly humanitarian, bohemian frequenting festivals in my beautifully decorated van boutique, owner of a thriving creative business where I would spend all of my days creating artworks and prints and getting gloriously rich from it*breathe*.... Yeah, yeah I know it's an overly romanticised borderline impossible idea... but I'm a bit of an idealist so, in my head, this idea was completely credible and definitely beat working a 9-5 in Belgium. What I did not anticipate is that starting a business is actually quite difficult and I am not remotely ready/prepared to start something like a mobile boutique. I still want to, and I am vehemently interested in setting up a sustainable and ethical illustration/printed fashion business ...but I should probably figure out how to go about it before quitting stability and stepping into the unknown! Basically I have chickened out a little bit, apparently you also need something called money to set up a business- who knew!

To set the scene a little here... I knew I wanted to quit my job in Belgium back in March and I started looking for other jobs, I had a few interviews for various places, got extremely annoyed with the recruitment process and promptly gave up looking. I managed to hold out until August and then handed my notice in despite having no job offers - I couldn't spend my life doing something I didn't enjoy just for monetary reasons(ironic seeing as my main reason for applying for a new job is for money). One of the companies I had interviewed for back in July was Tally Weijl- to those of you based outside of mainland Europe this is a young brand similar to New look and is sold as a concession in Lipsy and Next. At the time of my first interview the company was moving it's head offices from Paris to Switzerland so a few jobs were opening up. I had initially been recruited for a Graphic design role and this then became a shape design role, which I was asked to interview separately for and so another interview project was needed. 

First Project- Shape design

Second project- Shape design with technical files

Having little to no shape design experience I obviously didn't get the position, this didn't come as a surprise to me. I was, however, surprised to have got down to the last two candidates...Anyway, at the end of November, I was contacted by the company again saying they had another Graphic design role they wanted me to apply for and they weren't going to advertise it until I had I did. After having spoken to the company about numerous different positions, I didn't really have high hopes of getting the job....I did a project for them(with only 2 days to work on it) and they got back to me within a day offering me the position. So as of March 2017 I will be the new Graphic designer at Tally Weijl based in Basel, Switzerland. YAY!

Third(and final) project

Despite my idealistic 'tex can' van plan not quite working out, I am looking forward to the adventure of living in another different country. It has actually come with perfect timing- as always! If I had been offered the job when I applied on the 2 previous occasions I would not have been able to do any personal design work; I wouldn't have been able to do the Christmas card designs or the new artworks for the market stall and I wouldn't have had the opportunity to volunteer in Ghana. As part of the job negotiations I have made sure I am still able to do the volunteer project, which is absolutely amazing! Obviously I am a little disappointed in myself for not being able to start a business right now, but I strongly believe in there being "a time for everything"(Ecclesiastes 3:1-8). In my experience, the longer something takes to come to fruition, the more longevity it has. So I am willing to wait to start my business; to keep trying out my own designs to see if people like them, to spend time learning and engaging with my audience until I am ready, confident and credible enough to turn it into something successful. American businessman and motivational speaker, Farrah Gray, once said "build your own dreams, or someone else will hire you to build theirs", I have decided that I don't mind helping build someone else's dreams- as long as they pay me well and I can set up my own business on the side.  After all....

In my previous 'plan' post I said:

" I don't think it's ever going to be the right time to try and start up your own business and I don't think you ever feel like you have enough finances to get going, but I would rather try it out now when I have little to risk"

I tried, I opened myself up to the idea of setting up a business alone and it didn't fail, I have just had to mark it as 'pending'. The artworks and products all sold, people loved the Christmas cards and the illustrations so I've got a bit more confidence in myself and in my ability to create something commercial and unique. This being said, it made me realise that I have absolutely no idea how to set up a business, I don't know where to get my products manufactured and I don't know what products I even want to create, on top of this I also have no money. I know that in the same blog post I also mocked myself about how I always say, "the timing hasn't been right"or "I don't have enough savings" or "I don't know where to make a start"  these aren't things that should hold you back from starting a business......but not having any idea how to start a business or what to sell is.

Many of you will remember the recent post where I laid out my plans to go to Ghana and volunteer with Global mamas, I've referred to it often enough in this post haha ( .....I now have less than 3 weeks before I embark on this adventure and I am underprepared to say the least. Having never been to this part of Africa before, I've only ever been to Egypt, I have no idea what to pack. I have yet to finalise my Visa, I still have 2 vaccinations to get before leaving along with my malaria prescription. There is so much to do that I haven't really had time to get properly excited about it.

I know I seem like a bit of a sellout by complaining about the fashion industry, quitting it, boasting about my new plan and then taking a new job effectively doing the same thing, BUT this time I'm going to use it as a springboard...hopefully. I'm going to save money and research starting a new business properly, attempt to make a business plan and learn all I can from the new company I'll be working for. 

So there's my up to date plan for 2017....If anyone who reads this little old blog of mine has any advice for moving to Switzerland/hotpsots to visit/ nice little eateries there I would love to hear about them!!!I would also really appreciate any information people can give me on places to visit in/around Ghana as I will be there for 6 weeks and will have free weekends to explore!

I'm hopefully going to do one more post before the New year, a summary of my year type post so you will all be hearing from me soon :) x

A little life update...

Hey lovely blog followers- a very Merry Christmas to you all!

 I thought i'd give you an update on how living at home is treating me....the prospect of moving home aged 25, after years of living on my own, was something I found extremely daunting. I was worried that I would feel like a failure having given up a "good"fashion job, like I would lose my independency by living with my parents and that having no job would mean I completely lacked direction which would end in me spiralling into a depressive state(drama queen that I am). I am happy to say that, after living back at home for almost 2 months, none of the above has happened. I think it was quite well timed actually as I've almost been able to treat it like an extended Christmas holiday.

I have really loved spending time with my family, not doing anything in particular...just being around them. I had such an amazing and fortunate upbringing thanks to my lovely parents and they have created an environment of safety and chaotic peace(anyone who has visited my family home can vouch for this). My family home is completely real- no pretences and no facades. We get annoyed with each other, we cuddle, we shout and we laugh and there's something really soothing about being in an environment where you are completely known and understood. While I've been away from home I have taken all of this for granted, communication with my family has been lax-partially because talking to those at home when you're away makes you more homesick. This seems to be quite an emotive little paragraph so while I'm at it I'm going to give a little shout-out out to my parents- Mama and Papa Burns, without whom I would basically be screwed.


Anyway enough of the festive induced emotion and back to my little life update....

In my first week at home I tried working part time in a bar, adamant that I had to earn some money and this was the easiest way I could figure out how to do that. I lasted for 10 whole hrs, in which I was given only two ten minute breaks, and then I quit. Some of you may think that I gave up too soon, which is a fair point but I don't like feeling like my life is going backwards. I did the whole waitressing thing from the age of 16-22 and I just couldn't justify quitting a well paid job in Brussels to be a waitress. I have complete respect for anyone who can do bar work full time but it was definitely not for me.

Instead, with the encouragement of my amazing parents, I decided to design a range of Christmas cards(I've included photos of them below). I actually really enjoyed creating them and seeing rough artworks turned into final products and they actually sold really well- particularly the animals! It's the first time I've sold anything to people outside my family and friendship groups and it gives you a certain type of satisfaction knowing that people are buying things from you because they love the products and not just because they love and support you!
textile candy, Christmas cards,, Merry Christmas, handmade Christmas cards, Christmas illustration, Christmas animal, Christmas penguin, fairy lights bear, polar bear illustration, fox with coffee, Christmas fox, winter warmer illustration, Christmas deer, Christmas turkey, illustration, hand drawn, joy to the world, jingle all the way, merry & bright, baby it's cold outside

As anyone who knows me will be aware, I'm a bit of a gypsy and love to travel- in fact I get a little bit fidgety if I stay in one place for too long. When I made the decision to quit C&A and life in Belgium, I knew I would need a weekend getaway to ease me back in to life in little old Lancaster so my friend and I booked a trip to St Moritz(Switzerland) as part of her hen party/wedding preparations! It was AMAZING! We were staying in a small village called Celerina, just 5 minutes from St Moritz and I can honestly say it was the most beautiful and peaceful weekend I have ever had. It was just before the busy ski season so most shops and restaurants were closed making it extremely quiet. The scenery there was absolutely breathtaking, there's something about untouched white snow and blue sky that makes your heart feel so happy! We went to the top of an alp and made snow angels(because I'm mature like that), flagged down a train at a teeny tiny request stop, got lost in a Swiss alp pine forest and had the most amazing food in a local restaurant while it snowed was basically like being in a film.! Obviously I took a lot of photos so I'll share a few of them here...

Post Alpine adventure I signed up to have a stall at a local Christmas market in the building where I have my studio which was also pretty successful!I was so ridiculously nervous at first with the standard "what if no-one likes/buys anything", "what if it's a waste of time" type doubts that I was actually physically shaking with nerves but I took myself into a corner and gave myself a fairly strict talking to and returned to the stall. I got some really great feedback about the artworks I had and sold quite a few of them, I've also had some follow up artwork requests which is great! Prior to the stall, I managed, quite miraculously, to find a local screenprinter where I got some of my designs exposed onto screens so that I could print some tote bags I had bought on ebay. I was even able to print the bags myself, which I absolutely loved. There's something about printing your own products that gives you so much more fulfilment than sending designs to a distant factory.  Here are a few photos of the stall and artworks!

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Here are some of the new artworks I created for the tote bags and framed illustrations. All of my illustrations(including the Christmas cards) are hand drawn and then digitally cleaned up/re-coloured. When sitting on the stall and talking to customers it came to light that a lot of people don't realise that all of the artworks are my own and completely hand drawn, so I'm trying to make a point of letting people know in future!

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As well as the new artworks, I re-coloured two images I'd worked on a while ago. I've been trying to start adding a bit more colour to my artworks as I have a tendency to leave them all black and white. The good thing about digitally re-colouring images is that I can always alter the colours depending on what the customer wants.

Textile candy,, textile candy blog, zentangle illustrations, girl drinking coffee, tea girl, mermaid in bath, mermaid illustration, mermaid tattoo, mermaid artwork

In other news....I am starting to look forward to my travels to Ghana a bit more now as they are only 3 weeks away. I have started getting my vaccinations and there is nothing like being treated as human pincushion to make you realise what you're embarking on. I haven't really had chance to get excited yet because of how busy I was in the lead up to the stall and Christmas celebrations etc but I'm hoping the excitement will kick in over the next few days.I'm also now completely penniless- who knew vaccinations could cost almost as much as the flights!

I've also put my plans of a mobile van boutique on hold until I figure a few things out, so this is something I will probably look into more post Ghana. I'm trying out a new lifestyle(which my mum hates) where I don't plan, I just go with it. It seems to be working out okay, I've always claimed to be the type of person who is on a non plan I actually am, I have no post Ghana plans at all and I'm actually quite fine with that.

I'll post again soon x