It’s rare I do any kind of shopping guide, except for my Christmas gift guide, even though they seem to be something of a staple in the blogging world. But today I’m changing things up, because I’ve been bulking up my art supply cupboard so I’ve been doing a little bit more shopping over the past few months.

So, these are some of my favourite places to get supplies, or just to look lovingly at supplies. They’re all based in London, but where they have online stores I’ve linked those as well in case you have the good fortune of having escaped the capital.

Without further ado, and in no particular order, here we go…

 

CASSART

Cass Art is probably the place to go if you’re looking for supplies in London. They’ve got stores across the city – Islington and Soho are my most frequented – and they have a huge range covering all price points and styles.

 

THE LONDON ART SHOP

The London Art Shop does exactly what it says on the tin. It sells a little bit of everything at a fair price, in a lovely store in northwest London.

 

L. CORNELISSEN & SON

If you’re after a bit of London history with your shopping, L Cornelissen & Son has been selling high-end, hard-to-find artist’s equipment since 1855. It’s a bit pricier and more niche than the other stores on this list, but it is stunning, and who doesn’t have a treat yo self ***link*** moment every once in a while?

 

GF SMITH

GF Smith is the go to place for everything and anything paper related. If you’re looking for a soothing afternoon activity, they have a gorgeous and perfectly colour co-ordinated showroom just off Oxford street.

 

LONDON GRAPHIC CENTRE

So, this is probably my most visited art supply store in all of London. There was definitely a period when I worked closer to Covent Garden when I popped in every other week just to touch the paper. They’ve got pretty much anything you could ever want, especially if your work has a more graphic rather than fine arts (they have you guys covered too don’t worry) as their name might suggest. Plus, if you ever find yourself with a Ryman’s voucher you can spend it at LGC as well! Just as an FYI, it’s not open on bank holidays – I’ve been caught out by that a few times.

 

QUILL LONDON

Calling all letter lovers and calligraphy cats, you need to visit Quill. They have everything you could ever need in order to write a beautiful letter, and a whole load of gorgeous stationery besides. Plus, they run calligraphy workshops if you’re looking to brush up on your skills to help you make good use of all of the correspondence cards you will undoubtedly leave with.

 

PRESENT AND CORRECT

It took me a little while to visit Present and Correct, as it’s not on my normal routes, but it was well worth the trip out. Their store is the stationery heaven you would expect if you’ve ever had the good fortune of stumbling onto their Instagram feed. The only problem is that it’s very hard not to walk away with 15 kinds of paperclip that you definitely don’t need.

 

CHOOSING KEEPING

Based on Columbia road, Choosing Keeping is just as beautiful as the flower market its based next to. The next time you’re in need of a stationery fix, or you just want to ogle some stunning “desk objects” I would highly recommend you give them a visit.

 

If you have any hidden (or not so hidden) shopping gems I’d love to hear about them!

I want to be honest, this post is almost entirely an excuse for me to draw some of my favourite film characters. But this is my blog and I’ll make what I want to. So, in the same spirit as my podcast posters, I’ve done a small series of portraits of characters from four of the films I’ve watched the most.

 

I’m a bit of a serial film rewatcher, there’s just something so comforting about a rewatch, so this definitely isn’t the entire list (there are a load of romcoms that should be in here) but these are the four which came to mind first. If there are any on this list you haven’t seen, they’re all quite different, but all come highly recommended by me and the fact I’ve seen them all at least 5 times.

 

La la land

I know La La Land only came out quite recently, but that didn’t stop me pretty much putting it on repeat as soon as it was released on Netflix in the UK. I’m a sucker for a musical, and have always been, as you’ll see with one of my later picks. So, when you combine some Gene Kelly-esque magic, Ryan Gosling and Emma Stone trying to fulfil their creative dreams you’re always going to be onto a winner for me. I may or may not have cried the first time (and every other time I’ve seen it) at the scene outside Mia’s childhood home. The position of this one has certainly been boosted by the number of times I’ve listened to the sound track. If you need to put some pep in your step on your morning commute, Another Day of Sun usually does the trick for me.

 

 

Garden State

This was the film that introduced me to The Shins, which I always feel is kind of shameful til I realise I watched it in 2006 and I was 13. It’s my favourite of a whole group of films all about the ways in which we isolate ourselves, and why should reach out and actually feel. I think it was a film that came to me at just the right moment, and has continued to comfort me in those moments when I want to tap out and detach myself from everything. It’s also one of only perhaps two films I’ve watched with the director’s commentary.

 

Bedknobs & broomsticks

Bedknobs & Broomsticks was my favourite film as a child (along with Spy Kids – the first one) so I’ve been rewatching this since I was probably about 5. It’s got a wonderful mix of romance, Angela Lansbury, adventure, mild peril, magic, cockney accents and animated animals, all of the keys to a great children’s movie. Plus, it’s got some darn catchy songs – bobbin’ along anyone? I’m always torn between wanting someone to remake it to introduce it to a new generation, and my love for the 1970s (I know I’m a 90s baby but still) grain and animation which just wouldn’t translate in the same way in 2018.

Die hard

I love Die Hard. I have no shame. I love it. It is a great piece of cinema. I’ve seen all of the entire series (apart from 5) multiple times, but I’ve gone classic with this illustration with our introduction to the badass that is John Maclane and his ever-white vest in the original Die Hard. I’m not sure there’s anything more I can say, other than Yippee Kay-yay.

I’ve spent a bit of time recently talking about finding a focus for my work, a direction to grow in if you will. A big part of the reason for that new focus on, well, focus is so that I could measure my trajectory a bit better, and to feel like I’m developing. But I’m still not quite sure of the best way to measure my success as a creative.

Success is different for everyone, and so the best way to measure it is different too. But here are some of my initial thoughts around how to measure success in a creative context.

The method of measuring our success we commonly seem to turn to first is comparison – how are we doing compared to our peers? But unless you’re doing exactly the same thing as someone else, and starting in the same place, it’s very hard to find a group of peers who we can actually measure against. This is made even harder by the internet. With a whole world of other creatives out there, there’s no shortage of people you could choose as your peers, but that means the choice can be overwhelming, and even harder to make well.

More often than not, we (or at least) I pick a peer group who I see as better than me, or are more established, which is great for pushing you forward but not for accurately measuring how well you’re doing, because you might never overtake them. I’ve also ended up comparing myself to people making different work, for different reasons, with different circumstances meaning any comparisons I make are just assumptions, which, again, rarely go in my own favour.

So, comparison with others doesn’t really work.

In fact, the only person you can fairly compare yourself to is yourself. You are the only person who’s working with your specific circumstances. So why not just periodically look back at what you’ve made and see how far you’ve come. I mentioned in my recent post about sketchbooks about the importance of revisiting old work and even of revising old pieces. You could even rework the same piece every year or 6 months, and see what you can add to it that’s new. This allows you to see your progress, but it’s less about pushing you forward.

But what if you want to look forward rather than back all of the time?

That’s where goals come into play. Setting goals allows you to give yourself a challenge to work towards, which you can clearly mark as achieved. The best goals are based on something you can control and lie just out of your reach.

These goals could be quantitative or qualitative. So, they might be that you want to produce a certain number of pieces or make a set amount of money. Or, you might want to be doing a certain kind of work or have a certain skill. This gives you something to work forwards to, and something you can easily measure. But perhaps it doesn’t take into account the process of accumulated growth that happens as your progress, or the power of the process of making in the way that self-comparison does.

In the end, I think it’s clear there’s no one way of measuring creative success that works all of the time. So, perhaps, the answer is to employ a mixture. To set yourself a range of goals, whilst remembering how far you’ve come.

After all isn’t the process just as important as the outcome when you’re making things? The only way to measure that is how you feel at the end of the day.

It’s the middle of February. It’s still cold and dark outside. If you’re in London it feels like you haven’t seen any sunlight in years. The new year (and your resolutions) has just about lost its shine.

It’s time for a pep talk.

It’s time for you to remember you to just trust yourself.

You are an expert in what it is you want and need, and you can trust in that.

Take a moment to evaluate where you’re at, what you want, and then just go for it. That might mean taking some time off, or it might mean prioritising work. That might mean trying something new, or focusing in on creating depth. That might mean lying low. That might just mean you want spaghetti Bolognese for dinner.

There are so many, wonderful, people offering advice on how to progress your business, your mindfulness, your lifestyle journey, your creative work…But you have the choice whether or not you listen to them. If you’re not ready to hear it, or you have your own thing that’s working for you, have a little faith in it.

That means you don’t have to buy the latest ecourse or workshop. You don’t have to read that book that’s been recommended to you. There’s a whole army of people out there who are going to try and sell you something by making you feel like you desperately need it, like you’re not whole without it. You don’t have to play into the version of yourself they’ve created. By all means reach out and get help when you want to, expand your horizons, learn, but just make sure it’s because you want to.

The only thing you do have to do is more of whatever it is that feels right*.

It’s the middle of February and now’s the perfect time to double down on yourself.

 

* Or in my case eat more of what you like, that spaghetti Bolognese thing was totally about me.

Something I’ve really struggled with in the past, and still do to an extent, is maintaining my voice when doing client work. So, I thought I’d share the things that have really been working for me, because it’s a lot trickier than it sounds.

 

The first step is to find your voice and use it to shout about your work. It’s hard for potential clients to know about the kind of work you want to make, and are great at making, unless they’ve seen it. That means you need to find your style, or at least the style you want to be making work in right now and use it. Use it to make the work you want to make, whether or not you have a client who’s commissioning the piece or not. So, if you want to make illustrated album covers, just make a few for your favourite albums, share them, and use them as examples of your work when you reach out to potential clients.

 

If you’re really intent on maintaining your voice in client work, you’re going to have to be discerning about the clients and projects you work on. That might mean saying no to work that won’t allow you to produce work that’s either of a style or quality that you want to be making. This isn’t something you have to do all at once, or at least I’m certainly not. I’m still taking on projects that don’t quite align with the work I want to be making in the future but I’m aware of that, and am actively looking to move away from those projects.

 

Once you’ve found those clients, work out how to translate their brief into your design language. If you’ve gotten into the habit of using lots of different styles when you’re working with different clients, which I have, this might take a little bit of work. But whenever you receive a brief, take a moment (or several) to work out how you can answer in a way that stays true to your style and artistic desires whilst being what your client needs. Remember that if you’ve worked hard at the first step, the person you’re working with has probably decided to work with you because they like the work and style you’ve shown them.

 

Then make sure you present any work in the style you want to be using, and sometimes only in that style. When you’re presenting options make sure you show the approach you prefer in the best light you can – this is just good practice generally but is particularly appropriate here. If you want to reduce the risk of working outside of your style, only present works in that style. People anchor onto what they can see and what they know, so if the only work you’ve shown looks a certain way that will inform your client’s frame of reference. With this, you do have to work out when it’s appropriate and also be prepared for the occasional potential push back or requests for further variety.

 

But even with the perfect client, and those processes in place you might need to push back, so work out which battles you’re prepared to fight.

 

Maintaining your voice in client work is a constant and active process, that requires you to really know your style and be committed to using it. You might decide to pick and choose those moments or make it a central part of your practice. Personally, it’s something I’m working on making more and more present in the work I take on.