& COLLABORATE SERIES: THE YOGA ROOM

 

 

This is the first in my new series of posts, since re-branding to & Create, dedicated to talking in a bit more detail about what goes on behind the scenes of a project, and how collaboration really does deliver the best results. Working with like-minded female founders is such a privilege, and truly one of my favourite parts of my job. I am excited to be able to share this branding project with you in the first of this mini series, & Collaborate. Enjoy!

Last October, Jess from Mac & Moore reached out to me and asked me to collaborate with herself, Nat (the other half of Mac & Moore), and Founder Angie on a re-branding and re-positioning project for The Yoga Room in Deptford, London. Mac & Moore are a plug-in marketing duo for startups who I have had the pleasure of working with closely for the past year or so.

We worked closely with Angie, the Founder of The Yoga Room (previously Vinyoga) who has created such an amazing community space in the heart of Deptford. The Yoga Room has already become so much more than a yoga studio, an integral part of Deptford’s community.

As an avid yogi myself, this was a bit of a dream project for me! It would be an understatement to say that I was excited to work on a project within the wellness and health sector. Being a part of building something that is doing such good for people’s mental and physical wellbeing has been a bit of a work highlight of mine so far. Seeing the branding come to life in a physical space and all of the hard work from myself, Mac & Moore and particularly Angie put in, was well worth the wait.

A bit about the branding…

What may look like from the outset like quite a simple brand identity, takes so much work behind the scenes to get to the stage you are seeing it at now. Six initial concepts got narrowed down to one final route, which was then developed, tweaked and built out into the final identity design. A huge (and arguably the most important) part of what I do when designing a new identity for a business is rooted in the initial research and development of the first concepts. You can see this from the inspiration behind the logo, which is drawn from the idea of a circle as a device to represent unity, wholeness, community, the self, centredness, and the idea of a central point of the community. The Y is also an abstract yoga pose.  

A brand, I believe, is so much more than what you initially see on the outside. It is how it makes you feel too. I wanted to create an identity that reflects The Yoga Room’s core message and values and also creates a feeling of community and togetherness, and helps people to feel as if they are part of something when being there.

I built the identity out onto a number of touch-points, including: the physical space, merchandise and printed materials to help bring the brand to life.

Seeing the result of all of this work behind the scenes finally be bought to life via some amazing photography (shot by the brilliant Vivian Birch photography in July) really helps to bring the vision Angie, myself, and Mac & Moore had for The Yoga Room to life. These kinds of projects are really what drives me to do what I do, and why I love it so much. Seeing a Founder’s vision being realised and being part of making that happen is so rewarding.

Good luck to Angie and The Yoga Room, it’s been a pleasure working with you - Namaste!

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BEGGARSTAFFS - EXHIBITION

Back in May I visited the Beggarstaffs exhibition at the Fitzwilliam museum in Cambridge. ‘Beggarstaffs’ was the pseudonym used by two painters, William Nicholson and James Pryde, when they formed an artistic partnership in the 1890s. The pair rejected their conventional art training and opted for a more graphic, collage technique, which was revolutionary for the time. Both artists went their separate ways later in their careers to pursue painting. The progression from graphic posters to painting was interesting to me as it seemed like a ‘backwards’ progression compared with other artists. Their graphic posters seemed to me, way ahead of their time compared with other 19th century artists who stuck to traditional painting methods rather than graphic design. 

 
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This was, without a doubt, one of my favourite exhibitions I’ve been to in a while. I loved the pairs’ use of simple, bold colours and typography to create their posters. Their work stood out to me as not differing hugely from current prints and illustration styles that are popular today. Their collage technique of cutting and pasting gave real texture and depth to the work which I loved. And the simplicity of the posters’ appearance really juxtaposed with the care, time and attention that must have gone into these prints. 


What I found really interesting was their movement from graphic design into painting. As someone who’s early education was in Fine Art  before moving onto Graphic Design at degree level, I have a huge love and appreciation of both disciplines. Seeing the paintings alongside more graphic posters really sparked inspiration in me to get my paints out again and experiment with more hands-on approaches. Their hand-drawn typography was so well crafted, yet kept that simplicity and urgency that just can’t be replicated digitally. 


I have definitely been inspired by this exhibition and have made it a goal to myself to spend an hour a week working in a sketchbook, with no computer on and just being creative and experimenting with different printing or drawing techniques. It is a free exhibition, so anyone in the area with a love of painting, design, typography or illustration, I would hugely recommend giving it a visit, and you will undoubtedly leave feeling inspired. 

A Beggarstaffs poster advertising Cinderella at Drury Lane, 1895. Photograph: Robert Auton/Victoria and Albert Museum, L

A Beggarstaffs poster advertising Cinderella at Drury Lane, 1895. Photograph: Robert Auton/Victoria and Albert Museum, L

The Beggarstaff Brothers, 'Kassama' Corn Flour, 1894 © Desmond Banks / © Victoria and Albert Museum, London

The Beggarstaff Brothers, 'Kassama' Corn Flour, 1894 © Desmond Banks / © Victoria and Albert Museum, London

 
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6 months in & goal setting

 
 
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So, I actually started writing this post at the beginning on January, with the full intention of posting it then when all of the new year goal setting had started; but if I’m completely honest, I felt a bit overwhelmed with the ‘must set huge massive goals for myself’ notion, that I got halfway through and never actually finished it. I feel like January is such a strange time of year and I kind of wanted to get settled into it before really deciding what my goals for this year and beyond would be. This is all so new to me still so I have now realised that although it is good to think big and have ambitious goals, smaller goals are okay too. 

So now, I felt was an apt time to finally post this, as I’m feeling more settled into the year and also it is my six month “anniversary” since registering as self-employed! 

I’m not going to lie, I already feel as if I’m in 2020 and have just skipped 2019 all together. The latter part of 2018 was such a busy time and honestly, everything from May onwards has been such a blur. 2018 was probably one of the biggest year of my life so far. Graduating from uni, winning a design award with two of my pals, turning 21 and going freelance - it’s been a pretty big year. It’s also been a hard year, lots of steep learning curves and lots of stress. I would not change a thing about it though.

Having had some time now to reflect on last year (and also fill in my amazing journal from Project Love!), I have been thinking about where I want to be both in my life and in work this time in another year. I do find it difficult to visualise where I would like to be in a years time. So many unexpected things have happened this year, I feel as if I can’t possibly imagine what could have changed again in another year. I just hope to be lucky enough to carry on doing what I love and helping other people whilst doing it - I  just love the community and supportive network this job provides. 

Whilst filling in my Project Love journal and setting goals for this year, I noticed the same things coming up over and over again. When I found myself writing the same things down over again, I started to feel like I should have bigger or ‘better’ goals for myself and that I should be thinking of more profound and “out there” aims for this year. But then I realised that my goals both in life and in work are actually quite simple, and the fact that I was writing a lot of the same things down must mean that they are the things that I really want out of life. 

I thought that I would share a few of my aims for the rest of this year (because then maybe if I share them, I am more likely to do them!?) 

1. To keep learning 

Despite being glad to have finished my degree, and A-Levels and GCSE’s and basically constantly being tested from the ripe old age of 4, I actually love learning. I always secretly loved a planner full of homework at school, or having a long essay to write and think I will miss the structure of that a little bit. Whilst a lot of people were dreading having to write their dissertations, I enjoyed doing it and was a little bit sad that that was the last essay I would ever have to write. 

For this reason, I have made it not just my new year, but life resolution to keep on learning. Here are some of the ways that I plan on doing this: 

  • Listening to podcasts - an absolute favourite pastime of mine at the moment. I love just getting lost in a good podcast. Don’t get me wrong, I love reading but at the moment with so much going on, I find it much easier to get through lots of podcasts than I do to read a book. I find them so motivational, and if I’m ever feeling in a slump (both creative or otherwise) I know I can count on a podcast to pick me back up again.

Some of my favourites: She can. She did. with Fiona Grayson (of course!), Ctrl Alt Delete with Emma Gannon, Starting the Conversation with Alice Benham, The Deliciously Ella podcast, Happy Place with Fearne Cotton, and Grow with Soul with Kayte Ferris. There are so so many more that I LOVE but it would take up the whole page!

  • Reading the news - because knowing what’s going on in the world is always a good thing.

  • Read more - I LOVE reading and always forget how much I do when I’m having a bit of a dry reading patch, but I want to try and read a book every couple of months throughout this year. Whether it’s a good old fashioned story, or a motivational business book, I definitely want to up my book count for this year. 

Some of the best books that I’ve read recently: 

Fiction

Eleanor Oliphant is Completely Fine by Gail Honeyman

Three Things about Elise by Joanna Canon

Non-fiction 

Big Magic by Elizabeth Gilbert 

Rising Strong by Brene Brown 

Playing Big by Tara Mohr 

  • To do more courses - I have done a few online courses on FutureLearn and Skillshare over the years and have found them so so useful and informative. I really like expanding my skillset, especially being in a creative job, so I find these such easy and accessible ways to add to this. If I’m ever having a quieter patch work-wise I want to make sure that I make the most of my time by getting better at things and keep learning new skills in order to make my work better. 

2. To meet new people and go to new places 

I have met some brilliant and really inspiring people in the past year which has been invaluable in helping me to find my feet since going freelance. One of the main reasons I love being a designer is because it is all about people and helping them to grow their businesses, and am excited for this year and continuing to meet new people and work with new clients.

One thing I have learnt so far is that sometimes it is the most random and unexpected opportunities that often lead to some of the most interesting and exciting projects. I can’t wait this year to meet some new people and embark on new adventures both in life and in work. I think this kind of comes under the ‘keep learning’ goal as well, as there is so much to be learnt from other people, especially those more experienced than me. As part of meeting new people this year, I would love to collaborate with other creatives on projects. Being freelance can be lonely at times and would love to skill share more and work alongside some other creative businesses.

As well as meeting new people, I can’t wait to hopefully go to some new places this year too. I love travelling and having new experiences so am going to make it a goal this year to go to plenty of new places, again, both in life and work. I also find travelling a huge source of design inspiration too, I love both Scandinavian and Italian design and always have my eyes peeled when on holiday for beautiful lettering, street signs and anything else I can drawn inspiration from.

3. To stay creative 

It is so so important to me to ensure that I always stay creative. I really believe that, for me, my best work comes from a place where I am constantly inspired by what’s going on around me, whether that’s my immediate environment, or what’s going on on a larger-scale. Part of the reason that I became a designer was so that I could express my creativity and (hopefully) make a job out of it. Ironically, I didn’t take this path to be sat at a desk all day, although this is the reality of it sometimes, so I think that it’s really important to keep sourcing new inspiration from the people, places and things around me so that I don’t ever get stuck in a rut of creative block for too long. 

Ways I stay creative:

I have found that the best ways for me to stay creative when I might be feeling in a bit of a slump are: 

  • Go for a walk. Literally being in the world around us almost instantly sparks me with new inspiration. You literally never know what you might see or hear that gives you an idea. 

  • Read a book. My shelves in my flat are literally bursting with design books that I’ve collated over the last few years. At uni, whenever we would have lectures/talks from designers or agencies, if they had a book, I would buy it. Sometimes I’d literally be on amazon in the lecture hall ordering their book with next day delivery. This never fails to bring inspiration when its dwindling. 

  • Do something completely different. Sometimes this is the best option for me. Staring at a screen all day when you are not feeling inspired definitely isn’t the best way forward, so sometimes I just have to accept that it is no longer productive and take a step away from the Mac. Often my best ideas will come randomly at 3 in the morning, or when I’m in the shower, or taking the bin out. 

I hope that helped somewhat, and I just wanted to share some of the things that I’ve found useful over the past six months, as well as some of the goals that I have for this year and beyond. I also, however, think that it’s important not to be too strict with these goals, as so much can change in such a short space of time, and I always want to be open to that fact (but with some kind of vague idea of the general direction I’m going in!) 


Happy New Year, Happy Valentine’s Day, Happy Easter and Happy 18th of February! 


M x 

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FAVOURITE SUMMER READ (TWICE!)

THE MULTI-HYPHEN METHOD BY EMMA GANNON

 What struck me most about this wonderful book was how much I felt it resonated with both the present me and, I imagine, my future self. I have always loved turning my hand to lots of things at one time, always had lots of hobbies that seemed completely random and irrelevant. And always felt as if I wasn’t a very concise person, that I couldn’t really describe what I liked or what I wanted to do because I wanted to do lots of things, and I have almost always seen this as a bad thing. I’ve always thought it meant that I was indecisive or not very good at one thing. Reading this book, however, has given a name to an insecurity that I am sure many of us have about being interested in multiple things. Whether it be jobs, hobbies or interests, Emma Gannon tells us that this is okay. It disrupts the norm that you are destined to be one thing and one thing only; to have one job for the rest of your life; and to fit under an umbrella of what society approves of as a “normal job.” 

The book tells us that to be a multi-hyphenate is not to be less of a person, but actually that being a “jack of all trades” makes you more rounded both in your career and as an individual. You are more than your job title. For me, this book put into words so many of the gut feelings and questions I have had about the working world and clarifies the truth that you can do or be whoever or whatever you want to be in your life and work.

While reading this book for the second time, I found myself highlighting and underlining quotes and phrases that particularly resonated with me. When I look back I have triple underlined, starred, exclamation marked (added just about every form of punctuation mark) to so many things that I know I can look back on in the future for inspiration and motivation for creating a career and life that I love.


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 5 things I’ve learned in my first month as a self-employed freelancer 


Just over a month ago (three months after my 21st birthday and just under a month after graduating) I made the decision to set up as a freelance graphic designer. It was something I’d been mulling over and kept coming back to in my head for months (probably for the whole of my third year at uni). A series of (what seemed like unfortunate at the time e.g. getting rejected for a full-time job I applied for) events led me to finally taking the plunge and just going for it. I had been planning and making contacts for a while, but the actual moment that I made it final, posted it on social media and registered with HMRC was all very quick and spur of the moment. After registering and telling everyone that this is what I would be doing, I quickly shut down my laptop, phone, and went and jumped in a 16 degree lake in Finland and thought to myself “what the hell am I doing?!” (sounds very dramatic I know but I promise it’s true!) I am now a mere month into it and I wanted to share with anyone who wants to read five things I’ve learnt so far.

1. IT IS UNPREDICTABLE

To say the least. It is actually a bit out of character that I have ended up self-employed and freelancing so early on in my career. I definitely wouldn’t say that being a risk-taker is up there with words to describe me. I’ve always been a pretty risk-averse person but also a big follower of my gut, and my gut was telling me to give it a go! Already in a month it has been a bit of a rollercoaster of emotions (currently, mostly positive which is very unexpected) and without a doubt  there will be many more. However, I think for not being a particularly risk-taking person I have surprised myself in that you just have to ride the wave of unpredictability (it’s kind of what you sign up for when you do this). Despite it’s obvious negative connotations, having a bit of unpredictability keeps it exciting and fresh and also keeps your goals and ambitions in mind when planning the (often very imminent) future. 

2. NOT EVERYBODY IS GOING TO AGREE WITH OR SUPPORT WHAT YOU’RE DOING (AND THAT’S OKAY!)

This has been a really hard lesson to learn. Probably the hardest when deciding whether or not to take the leap into self-employment. The main thing when I was considering doing this that held me back was actually what other people thought of my decision and what people would have to say about it. I guess the one thing to take from other people’s judgements or opinions is to listen to them and acknowledge their views, but in the same breath, it is not their life and their choice, it’s yours. Also, if everybody listened to every single bit of advice or every judgement or negative comment about you and your choices, nobody would ever get anything done! Going into this, I was expecting many more negative reactions than I actually got (which was really nice). Mainly because I’m so young and straight out of university, however, I was pretty overwhelmed with people’s kind responses and the positive and encouraging messages and support I received. I’d like to think that generally (in whatever you chose to do in life), people are rooting for you. And if they’re not then they are not your audience and not the people you need to talk about work with. After all, not everybody is going to understand it, and that’s okay too. 

3. THE IMPORTANCE OF SELF-CARE AND NOT REPLYING TO EMAILS IN THE MIDDLE OF THE NIGHT 

This has definitely been a top priority for me since making the huge decision to start working for myself. I am a bit of a walking contradiction really! Firstly, I love being busy and having lots of things to do and people to see; but on the other hand, I have a tendency to burn out if I over-exert myself. See my problem? I have (over a long time) been trying to work out a happy medium of when I can be busy doing what I love without letting myself slip into a decline of burn-out and anxiety. This is 100% part and parcel of being self-employed (or employed, or unemployed for that matter!) - finding that perfect work-life balance that I am guessing takes time and patience to perfect (if anyone ever does!) I suppose my most valued lesson within this is to listen to when my body is telling me to stop and to not feel guilty about taking a break. 

4. HAVING A POSITIVE AND ABUNDANT MINDSET 

Negative and limiting beliefs have been a common theme during this first month of setting up as a sole-trader. Feeling like there isn’t enough ‘space’ for you or that other people are offering the same service as you but offering it better is such an easy and repetitive thought to keep on having. Imposter Syndrome has definitely been hanging around too much this past month and is something that most people definitely feel at some point! However, thinking in a more abundant, and therefore more positive way, soon helps this unwanted friend to make a move. There is enough space for everyone to do their own thing and offer their own service. Even if it’s very similar to what somebody else is doing. Everyone can bring something unique and something new. There is plenty of space for everyone at the table.  

5. IT’S PROBABLY GOING TO BE OKAY… (PROBABLY!) 

I am a little bit of a believer in signs, karma and things happening for a reason. It is definitely a hard mindset to adopt when there doesn’t seem to be a reason that people don’t reply to your emails, or you are being rejected for new work. However, with every rejection email (or non-existent email) so far, there seems to have been a silver lining. Whether that’s a new little red dot appear in my inbox or a new avenue or lead for a potential client, bad news is so often followed by good. One of my favourite quotes of all time is “if it doesn’t open, it’s not your door,” which is such a helpful and motivational thing to repeat to yourself when those times of rejection or negativity inevitably do come up. Just remember that it probably didn’t happen for a reason, and that something better is likely just around the corner. 

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