Saturday, 16 September 2017

A Mum Who Draws #1

"Then it dawned on me. Have I been sort of hiding?! Have I been waiting for a 'better day?' "

April Showers

I'm sitting in the front porch at a little table that I'm renovating. It belonged to my grandma and is covered in sheets of paper with my daughter is drawings on. It is raining outside. True 'Manchester' drizzle. My little girl is standing at the top of the drive in the rain. But, despite my best efforts to advise her that we should wait for a 'better' day, she's not perturbed.

"Come and buy a drawing!" She calls. "Drawings for sale. They're one of a kind!" 
I think we have a natural sales woman here!

My heart is bursting with pride at her guts and natural enthusiasm. She is only 6 and so brave to put herself out there! Would I do it?! Am I trying as hard as she is?

The one problem is that she hasn't made a sale...yet. Charlotte's showed up but where are her customers? It's Good Friday. People are lying in. People are tired. It's raining...many factors are at play.

On reflection, what a good example of the pit falls of business.

If you're struggling to maintain a steady flow of customers maybe it's because the conditions aren't right? And also if they don't know you're there how are you going to sell to them?

So, after about 20 minutes and hearing "I'm getting FRUSTRATED now," from the top of our drive I felt it was time to gently explain that maybe there was a reason. That it wasn't that people didn't LIKE what she was selling. Actually there WAS no one there to like them.

I suggested that when it was nicer weather we would set out a stall at the top of the drive with a nice table cloth and some bunting and we would tell the neighbours we know well.

Light bulb moment! There are some (common sense) but actionable points I can follow in my own work.

Firstly, be more VISIBLE.

Secondly, make your work more ATTRACTIVE - i.e. know your target market.

And thirdly, and perhaps most importantly - MARKETING/ADVERTISING.

Then it dawned on me. Have I been sort of hiding?! Have I been waiting for a "better day?"

I couldn't have asked for a more vivid illustration of how it sometimes feels to be carving out a living as an artist than what my gorgeous daughter was showing me. The childlike optimism of creating. The knowledge that you have something important and special to contribute and that you're part of a larger, creative community.

Sometimes it feels like you are standing out in the rain shouting 'Buy my work. You won't regret it!' Whilst you and your work become steadily soggier! ;)

Now, this isn't intended to be a rant or a moaning post. I don't want you to feel sorry for me, or yourself (if you're on your creative journey) I think it's just a really good example of not giving up and made me question why, as adults, can we be so fearful?

So thank you beautiful daughter for giving me a wakeup call, a reminder to get my welly boots and waterproof on. To slip the illustrations into a water proof pocket and stand there anyway!

I guess you never know who will walk by?

I've recently set up a facebook group called Create, Make & Shine, for women wanting to reconnect with their creative roots. I will be teaching and offering free and paid resources and group programs there. It's a supportive space, where women are exploring the possibilities around their creativity and creative careers. We would love to see you there!

Fi x

p.s. We quickly got inside to avoid the worsening rain. Charlotte was fine after a cuddle and a hot chocolate and, of course, we are going for round two when the weather improves/we send flyers to the neighbours! :) We'll keep you updated!

(All content copyright Fiona Meakin 2017. This is an excerpt from my blog series 'A Mum Who Draws.')

Monday, 4 April 2016

Make It in Design - Module 1 2016

It's been AGES since I posted. It has been a busy time and I decided to take some time to develop my portfolio, invest in my professional development and generally get a bit organised.

I have just finished ABSPD Module 1, in which I have begun the journey of developing my characters and illustrations into surface pattern designs. The course is simply a MUST if you are considering a career in design. I can't recommend it highly enough. I will write in more detail later, but for now here is my piece for the typography competition that was open to module 1 alumni.

I create character-led illustrations primarily for the greeting card and children's markets so my quirky character I drew for this piece compliments my style. I learnt how to layer up my work and create pattern repeats using Photoshop.

Here's a link to the Make It In Design website 

Friday, 1 May 2015

National Stationery Week 27th April - 3rd May 2015

In celebration of National Stationery Week, I am re-posting a blog post from a little while back, on the importance of traditional means of communication. In case you didn't know, the national event is on until the 3rd of May. Why not send a letter, card or postcard using traditional 'snail mail' instead of a text or tweet?

Here is a sneak peek at one of my latest card designs available at the Fi&Me shop


Last Saturday morning a postcard addressed to my 2 year daughter fluttered onto our door mat. It was from her Aunty and Uncle (or Aunty and Ankle as she calls them!) How exciting!

Although not addressed to me, this card was right up my street – the star of the postcard being a teddy bear in various locations around Cornwall (check out my Monkey Tour blog post). This image whisked me back to my childhood, remembering that Lucy always used to like sending these kinds of postcards to her school friends.

During her holiday, Lucy and I have been in regular text-message contact, but what could have been said in a text message was lovingly and carefully written onto paper instead and this is what is so important.

What’s more, it gave my daughter an exciting surprise. It was probably only the 3rd piece of mail addressed solely to her. She has had an introduction to the importance of written social communication!

I hoard my old cards, postcards and letters, because they are so special to me and this is why I began creating my own greetings cards originally.
It is also why at Fi & Me we choose to leave our greetings cards blank inside because quite frankly, the more white space the better, think how much (or how little) you could say? It’s up to you and that’s the beauty.

Having said that, I am not against verse in cards at all. Many greetings card manufacturers and designers choose to include verse, because sometimes you just don’t have time to spend penning a mini work of Shakespeare in a 125mm x 125mm space! Sometimes you just can’t find the right words to say and that’s what’s great about buying a card where someone has already taken the time to do it for you.

An interesting resource that is available in association with the Greeting Card Association (GCA) is a project they have set up in conjunction with the Royal Mail. Worth checking out, especially if you are a teacher. It’s designed for 5 – 11 year olds and encourages key English skills, nurtures knowledge of other beliefs and cultures and compliments the art and design curriculum.

And this brilliant timeline illustrates just how important cards are for ‘communicating knowledge over distance or time.’

In conclusion, in whatever form they come in, I think greetings cards are like chicken soup, good for the soul!

For more images you can visit my website

Thursday, 9 April 2015

Fabby Doodle Drawing Workshops

This is just a really quick post to let you know about my business Fabby Doodle where I run art, craft and drawing workshops.
I have spruced up the website so just wanted to post the link on here.

As always I welcome constructive feedback, and would also love to know if there's anything I can help you with drawing-wise :)

Have a great day,

Fi x

Thursday, 2 April 2015

Fall In Love With Your Process...

I'm in the really early stages of creating a new body of work and thought I'd share a glimpse at what I'm doing. I'm not sure which direction I'm going in with these yet but having fun creating and approaching my work from a slightly different angle.

There I was busily drawing cats ( because it just felt right) and all of a sudden these little faces started appearing.
They are inspired by my children Charlotte and Fern. I'm also returning to pencil (I had sort if forgotten about pencil but I think I'm falling in love again) and really enjoying it!
It's the small things folks...the small things! ;)
Hope you like this little sneak peek and I'll update the blog with my progress as it happens.

Have a lovely day :)

Fi x

Sunday, 29 March 2015

Find The Essence!

Cute cat brooch by Lucy for fi&me

"Rooted in drawing is the desire to create..."

If, like me, you are on a creative journey, you might want to ponder this question? Is being creative essentially about finding the essence of what you love to do?
For me the drive to create has always been found in drawing.
Whatever medium I use to craft and create this is where I always return. For the most part, it feels like home. But it can feel, on occasion, a slightly scary place because it is exposing. What if I'm found out?  That my human characters aren't perfectly figurative, that proportions might be out? That really I'm not THAT good!
Aaargh! See how quickly self-doubt can escalate! Ha! (Quickly beats those 'mind monkeys' off with a stick!)

I truly believe that practicing, and more importantly, enjoying the process of honing a skill is the key to being successful at it, regardless of the end result.
When Lucy and I started to attend craft fairs with our vintage inspired business Fi&Me we were exploring how far we could take our creativity. We were having fun and using a whole cohort of techniques that we had been taught over the years from various wonderful people in our lives, family members, teachers and crafts people whose work we admire.
 It was fun! For example, I love to make soft toys based on my designs and inspired by mid-century design. I learnt to crochet, make basic origami and stitch felt embroideries of my Babushka Doll illustrations. But gradually over the 5 years that our little collective has existed we always came back to one thing...drawing.
Rooted in drawing is the desire to create. On a personal level drawing helps me test out my design idea before I commit. This can apply to all art forms, not just art and craft. Last week, for example, I happened to turn on the TV to see Andrew Marr (himself an accomplished draftsman) interviewing  Sir Anthony Sher. It was fascinating to hear him talk about how he uses drawing when developing a character, in drawing he discovers more about them;
 “I do portaits,” actor Sir Antony Sher told the BBC’s Andrew Marr. “I often find that I’m discovering how a character feels by drawing them.”
If I had to choose one aspect of my practice and I could only do that forever, it would be drawing. No contest. But why choose? Drawing has the power to enhance many inter-related art forms.
What is your favourite medium? It might be needle point or collage, or water colour might be the easiest thing to warm up with and get your creative juices flowing?
 I think a lot of what puts people off is that the image they may see and want to create is at odds with what spills out onto the paper with the first doodles/paint sketches.
Learning to be ok with this is the key I believe. Believe it or not, quite often what I think I will draw and what I actually draw are very different but I've learnt to be ok with that and then all of a sudden you might find you have created your own style anyway!
:) x

Tuesday, 18 February 2014

Doodles With Daddy #1

Doodles With Daddy...#1

So, officially, in our household I'm the artist. But hang on a minute, how dare I covet that title! My other half has over 20 years experience in print, graphics editing and retouching. Granted, he doesn't tend to draw anymore but that's not to say he can't or never did.
For a lot of people drawing is something they used to do as children, reserved for a place in the past. Who has time to draw (unless you're lucky and it's your job) with the busy constraints of life today?
Our 5 year old daughter gets a lot of enjoyment out of drawing and over the last few months i have seen that this drive in her has rekindled my partner's passion for doodling.

It's joyful to watch the two of them giggling away over funny faces, or a particular challenge that Daddy has set. Perhaps as a professional artist I am in some ways less spontaneous when it comes to picking something to draw, a bit more safe! Paul's choices are inspired...pantomime baddies, fruit with funny faces and my favourite...zombies!

by Charlotte and her dad!

Scary subject matter is not out of bounds and quite rightly. It  is somehow made more comical and less worrying for a little one who might be wondering what's lurking under the bed at bed times. If she's worried what better way to confront the fear than by drawing a funny picture of it?

by Charlotte, age 5