Monday, 18 November 2013

Shop Online at Clo's Line!

Today sees the launch of the online shop on the Clo's Line website! To celebrate, we're offering 15% off any orders placed by midnight on Friday 22nd November. All you have to do is use coupon code NOVEMBERLAUNCH at the checkout. Hooray!

It's been a challenge getting everything ready, but it feels like today is a good day. I was reminded of a drawing in one of my handbag sketchbooks, featuring a tea drinking bear wearing the same expression that I'm sporting today.

I like to carry a sketchbook with me at all times, just in case inspiration hits unexpectedly. This happens very rarely. Generally, I use my sketchbooks for passing boring train journeys. Like this:

Or I use them to make endless 'To-Do' lists and scribble down illegible notes about things I was supposed to remember:

But most of the time, my sketchbooks just use animals to illustrate how I'm feeling at that moment:

(This cat applies to me more frequently than most of the other characters in my sketchbooks.)

Thursday, 14 November 2013

The Creation of the Penguin Colony

Since launching my range of festive penguin goodies, I've often been asked about how a design like that has been put together. I thought I'd share my design process today.

I find that the best way to get any design going is a with good old drawing session. Although I do most of my design work on a computer these days, I always start with a pen and paper. My favourite drawing tools are a dip pen and ink, and that's exactly what I used for my initial penguin sketches. Here they are:

At this stage, I really had no idea how I wanted my final design to look. I just knew that I love penguins, and that was enough! Sometimes I don't even draw full characters; I just draw 'bodies' and 'features,' like the shapes and and beaks above. Then, once I've scanned the drawings into the computer, I can edit and arrange them with a bit more control.

I generally use Adobe Photoshop to clean up my drawings and make any adjustments to them. Then I like to use Adobe Illustrator to experiment with patterns. Here are my penguin drawings once I'd cleaned them up, imported them into Illustrator and used the 'Live-Trace' tool to convert my drawings into Vector shapes. (I prefer using Vector paths over Raster graphics for certain designs, especially if I might be using a variety of scales in different versions. Raster graphics use pixels of colour but Vector graphics don't; they use mathematical expressions to define their shapes. This means that that you can zoom far into them, or scale them right up, without any loss in quality.)
I then decided to try layering up my penguins, as if they were in a crowded colony:

I liked the monochrome look of my penguins, but I found the round shapes of their tummies a bit distracting. I decided to try adding extra black shapes to define their flippers and add more character, and tried a few versions with and without their tummies. I use a Wacom tablet and pen to draw with on the computer, which offers you amazing control. It's like drawing with a  real pen!

I felt like this was making progress! The next step was to try building a repeating pattern:

This design was experimenting with a 'half-drop' repeat. This means that the repeat box travels horizontally by the full width, and half-way down, creating a zig-zag effect. This can help to disguise the repeat in a pattern!

At this stage, I was happy with the way the pattern was looking, but felt like it needed something extra to make it more special and quirky. This was the answer:

I created one character wearing a festive hat, and tried to 'hide' him in the pattern, a bit like 'Where's Wally?'

And bingo! My design was complete. It took a bit of re-shuffling to make the repeat work (with so many characters, I had to be very careful that they were all overlapping in the right order when I repeated them!) Once this design was finalised, it was easy to create alternative layouts and placements with individual characters:

A lot of the concepts weren't used in the end, but I definitely got a lot of mileage out of one set of penguin drawings! 

Monday, 11 November 2013

On Friday night I exhibited at The Flat Cat Gallery Christmas open evening in Lauder. It was a fantastic launch for the Clo's Line products! There was wine, there was chocolate, and there was festive cheer aplenty! I received some amazing feedback on my penguin paper and cards, and sold a good selection of items too. It was really interesting to see what the popular items were! 

In the cards arena, this one was definitely tops:

All of my cards have some cheeky characters printed on the inside too, which was a nice surprise for anyone looking at the samples! This is the inside of the card shown above:

I also made some gift tag packs to sell alongside the cards and wrap. I cut them by hand using my trusty label punch and added some lovely red and white bakers twine. I also added a card header to my packs to finish them off. By the end of the evening, I had completely sold out! I've already started making some more packs in preparation for the next craft fair.

I even heard some amazing ideas from some of my customers about how they intended to personalize their cards after buying them. I'm putting together a craft tutorial to upload onto here so that anyone can try it! All that you'll need is a black felt pen and some fun ideas... 
Check back in a few days to see our ideas! x

Tuesday, 5 November 2013

It's been a busy old week at Clo's Line HQ preparing for the first product launch! There's been printing, assembling, pricing and packaging galore, along with keeping the website and Facebook pages up to date with all the latest developments. I couldn't resist a bit of Instagramming action too!

It feels very early to be getting so festive, but I have to admit that I'm rather enjoying it!
I also had a fantastic photo shoot with the lovely Mairi Helena Photography on Sunday. You can check out her beautiful website here:
We've been good friends since high school so it was great fun to collaborate on a project! She's captured some stunning shots of the Christmas range in action. Here are some of my favourites...

I can't wait to start selling on Friday! Clo's Line will be exhibiting at the Flat Cat Gallery Christmas Open Evening in Lauder, along with lots of other artists and crafters from the area too. It'll be a great event with wine, chocolates, Christmas shopping and good company. For more details, have a look at the Flat Cat Gallery website:

Saturday, 2 November 2013

Hello, and welcome to the Clo's Line blog! 

Clo's Line was first started in July 2012, when I had just finished working for a fantastic design studio in Winchester called Peagreen. During my time there, I created print designs for all sorts of products and companies such as Paperchase, Roger la Borde, H&M and Next. I loved designing these prints so much that I decided to launch my own business and create products of my own. My ambition was to combine my favourite things: designing, crafting, screenprinting and drinking tea, with my favourite subjects: colourful characters and quirky stories. I also decided that everything I made would be produced either by hand in my studio or using UK based manufacturers and printers, and I would also use the most eco-friendly materials and processes that I could find.

After a lot of hard work, late nights and copious amount of tea, Clo's Line is ready to launch! The first product range features a penguin colony, with several individuals already in a festive mood. Here's a sneak preview of the giftwrap design. Can you spot the merrymakers in the crowd??