Sunday, 23 December 2018

Last Minute Christmas Gift Ideas

Hi everyone.

If you’ve left your Christmas shopping really late and I mean Christmas Eve kind of late, there is no need to panic. My new online Etsy shop MJL Digital Designs is finally up and running and has some great printable items that you can download instantly, print out as many times as you like and then give as gifts.

I’ve designed everything in the shop myself using original artwork and there will be lots more new and exciting products coming in 2019. It’s taken me rather longer than I’d anticipated to set up the shop but I hope you agree that the wait has been worth it.

I’ve picked out three items that I think would make great gifts, not just for Christmas but for other times of year as well. Just click on the image to be taken the shop to make a purchase. Your download should be with you as soon as your payment is made.

The first item I’ve chosen is one of my 2019 ‘Year At A Glance’ calendars that would look great on a wall or on a desk. You can print it out in different sizes and all you need to do is add is a matching frame for a really affordable and unusual gift. I love the artwork that I used for this design. It comes from a really pretty digikit by DaisyTrail called Woodland Walk which has beautiful hand-painted images of woodland creatures in a watercolour style.

The second item is a piece of digital wall art with a design that would be perfect (or should that be purrrrfect) for a cat lover’s gift or anyone of a “certain age” who fondly remembers that saggy, baggy Children’s TV favourite Bagpuss. The quotation is probably quite appropriate at this time of year, too!

My final selection is another calendar and I’ve gone for a gardening theme this time. Again, the artwork is hand-painted (not by me I hasten to add) and although there is a pink wheelbarrow, most of the other colours in the design, including the hessian style background, would make this calendar an ideal gift for a male recipient.

Don’t forget, all the items in my shop are printable downloads only there is never any waiting for a physical product to be shipped and of course, that means no postage costs to pay either. And in the unlikely event that you have any problems downloading or printing your purchase, then please feel free to contact me at any time, even on Christmas Day!

So all that remains for me to do, having hopefully helped with your last minute gift dilemmas, is to wish you all a very happy and joyful Christmas, wherever you are and whatever you will be doing.

See you on the Other Side!

Sunday, 1 July 2018

New Etsy Shop Opening Soon

Hi everyone.

As usual, it’s been a while, but here I am at last. The summer is never my best time of year as I’m not a fan of the heat but this year I have tried completely reversing my sleep pattern and getting up around 6am so that I can work when it is much cooler. I think it has helped quite a bit although I’m not sure how long I’ll be able to keep it up!

Summer can be a good time for making those “behind the scenes” decisions though and one of the ones I made recently was to close down my digital wall art shop on Etsy. Sales have not been great but it was mainly because I have some exciting plans for a new Etsy shop and I wanted to clear the decks, as it were.

My new shop will still be stocking digital downloads or “printables” as they are often called but they won’t just be wall art this time. I’m planning on offering digital craft supplies such as toppers, embellishments, card fronts, background papers etc that I have designed myself, as well as stationery including party invitations, calendars, notepaper and greetings cards. All of these will be available to download instantly and print out (as many times as you like) in the comfort of your own home on the medium of your choice. It will be a new challenge for me but one that I’m really looking forward to.

To whet your appetite for what is to come, here are three of my designs that I hope will be on sale in my new Etsy shop very soon.

The first one is a sheet of embellishments that are intended for use in craft projects such as greetings cards, scrapbooking or home d├ęcor. The artwork is based on some photos I took of the roses in my back garden when I first acquired a digital camera several years ago and which I have used many times on various projects.

To put together the images, I created a heart digital punch in CraftArtist 2 Professional  from a CC vector graphic and used it to punch out of a small section of different photos. Then it was just a matter of playing around with a few different colours, blends and effects to make each embellishment different from the next.

The party invitation below is my second design and it will be available in a 5x7 format with two designs to an A4 sheet. Although many of the printable party invitations available on Etsy are customisable, there are some that you fill in yourself such as this one. I love the artwork which is from a digikit called On Trend by the American company Crate Paper. It has a mixture of pretty, contemporary and vintage elements which is the perfect combination as far as I’m concerned. I used a template for the text that I designed for a previous invitation, so all I had to do was copy/paste the text and then put the new artwork around it.

My third design is a piece of A4 wall art which would look great in a frame. I actually created this in an 8x8 orientation originally as that was the format I was using for my previous Etsy shop. This time round, I’ve decided to offer A4 wall art instead as I think it is probably more “user-friendly”, although obviously I’d be happy to offer a square layout if the customer wanted it.

The lovely pink flamingo comes from a really great graphics website that I discovered recently called The Hungry JPEG. They do some fantastic graphics at really affordable prices and all their products come complete with a very workable and free commercial license.

The rest of the design elements are from one of my favourite DaisyTrail digikits called Butterfly Paradise. It is one of the very first digikits I ever bought (I now have over 200!) and I always enjoy going back to it as the artwork is so bright and colourful to work with.

To keep up to speed on when my new Etsy shop is open for business, do keep an eye on my social media links as I'll be posting regular updates there.

In the meantime, enjoy the summer and stay cool!

STOP PRESS!! My Etsy shop is now open and I'd be delighted if you could pay it a visit. Here is the link:

Saturday, 31 March 2018

Make It In Design Winter School

Hi everyone.

I started my last blog post by saying that I couldn't believe it was almost Christmas and now I'm starting this blog post by saying that I can't believe it's almost Easter! Somehow, nearly four months have gone by since I lasted posted and I can only apologise for my lack of contact.

Although it is officially spring in my part of the world, even though we don't yet have the weather to prove it, I am going to blog about Winter School today. As part of my New Year Resolution (remember those?) to commit more wholeheartedly to my designing career, I enrolled on the Make It In Design Winter School. This took place for four weeks during January and according to the blurb is "an exciting global online design event that gives you experience working to Autumn/Winter 2018/19 trend briefs, helps build your portfolio and connect with other designers and gives you the opportunity to get your work published."

There were several reasons why I decided to enrol in Winter School this year and one of them was because Make It In Design is one of the leading global organisations for providing courses and information on surface pattern design which is an aspect of designing that I am keen to learn more about and develop further skills in.

Surface Pattern Designs On Mobile Phone Cases

Unfortunately, the experience of Winter School was not quite as good for me as I was hoping it would be. A lot of this was due to the technical and administrative problems I encountered which were very off-putting. However, as a result of the complaint I made regarding some of these issues at the beginning of the course, I was given a free place on both the Intermediate and the Advanced tracks, even though I had only signed up for the Beginner track.

The other problem I encountered which I felt put me at a bit of a disadvantage was that I am currently not using any of the "industry-standard" computer graphics software programs such as Photoshop or Adobe Illustrator. Because I came to designing via crafting, I have been managing quite well, at least until now, with crafting based programs such as CraftArtist Professional 2. However, not having the programs that most of the other course participants were using probably didn't help.

My Design For Beginner Brief 1: Neutral Art

Anyway, despite all of the above problems, I did eventually manage to produce designs for the two trend briefs for the Beginner track and the two trend briefs for the Intermediate track. (I didn't attempt any of the Advanced track briefs in the end). I also enjoyed interacting with some of the other course participants in the Winter School Facebook group and being inspired by their amazing work. And I did learn quite a lot more about surface pattern design and other aspects of art and design which was very helpful.

My Design For Beginner Brief 2: Autumn Equinox

My Design For Intermediate Brief 1: Bright Blooms

My Design For Intermediate Brief 2: Kabuki's Kingdom

It was also really useful to see my designs, alongside those of all the other participants, in the online Winter School Galleries and to feel that despite my inexperience and lack of technical expertise, my work did not look at all out of place. You can view all the 2018 Winter School Galleries here.

I definitely feel that I have raised my skill levels in surface pattern design, which was one of the main reasons I signed up for Winter School, so I don't have any regrets about doing it, even if it did turn out to be a lot more stressful and therefore a lot less enjoyable than I would have liked. So, onwards and upwards.

Happy designing and Happy Easter.

And I promise to be back before Bonfire Night!