On Mondays, Miss 12 and I go to the library for an hour and a half when Miss 13 is at dancing class. It’s a great time for me to write a blog post or catch up on emails and for her to get some home work done. It’s hard work though.
You see, Miss 12 is an avid reader and the library is her preferred venue of choice, even over staying at home with dad or going to the shops. The hard work comes in getting her do actually do homework so she can peruse the books on the shelves and slip away into her utopia. Tonight she is making up all kinds of excuses to not do the homework and I am interrupted every couple of minutes with the following:
We’ve been here for 15 minutes.
It’s hard work for me to keep replying to her to just get it done, and it’s hard work for her because of all of the above. Because more than anything she wants to look at the books.
It’s hard work because I want to try and get some work done and am helping her, trying to battle the excuses.
There are so many things in life that are just plain hard work. Hell - getting out of bed some days is hard work! Parenting is hard work. Deciding what to have for dinner is hard work. Being in a relationship is hard work. Going to work at a job (part time or full time) is hard work and working for yourself at home is hard work.
I’ll say it again. Working from home is hard work.
Now to add a little bit of ‘Choose your own Adventure’ (another throwback to my 80’s life – Google it younger readers – they were great books). You either completely comprhend that line because you work for yourself from home and you need not read any further, or you don’t work from home.
I often hear people say or imply that I don’t have a real job, or because I work from home I have an easier gig than everyone else in life who leaves the house to work.
Let’s bring this back to stationery – ish.
I love what I do. And I mean LOVE! (They say if you love what you do you don’t work a day in your life – which I believe) But it really gets me when people don’t think I work as hard as them because I work for myself from home.
I created my dream job, and it came from passion, love and HARD WORK. Hours and hours cold calling and emailing people, getting quotes and sourcing suppliers, often until the early hours of the morning while my husband is snoozing away. All while battling with small kids, getting my design qualifications and diploma and working an out of the home part time job (until the accountant told me my business was financially viable and I could leave my part time job – one of the best days of my life by the way).
Working from home can be flexible and I may be able to grab a coffee and chat for half and hour or help at the school here and there. However, when the out of home worker gets home, and their kids are tucked in and asleep and they are relaxing (brain switched off not thinking about what your next business move will be) on the couch with their significant other, I am making up that time I took earlier in the day.
I know (and am extremely grateful) that I have the luxury of getting a load of washing on during the day, or preparing dinner early in the day, and that these luxuries came of hard work.
And to the “real job” commenters, I say this – I have a fully fledged studio at the back of my house, that I get up and go to daily, shut the door and because I love what I do, I often don’t come out of my studio until the kids come home from school – most days with washing still in the machine.
Please note – this is not to say that one type of work is harder than the other, I just want to say that working for yourself – from home is a “real job” and doesn’t mean you don’t work hard. ALL work is hard work. Whether it be outside the home or inside the home, paid or unpaid.
Otherwise we wouldn’t call it work, we’d call it play.
I remember the exact moment I told my little brother that Santa wasn’t real. (I know - I am a terrible human. Don’t judge me.)
It was a really, really hot day in the midst of the summer holidays, amongst a constant stream of Sunny Boys, Zooper Doopers, freshly cut grass and parents leaving you at home alone all day while they worked. We were doing that thing were you jump in the pool then get out and lie on the hot concrete until you get warm, and then jump back in the pool again. Hashtag eightieslife. Hashtag simplertimes.
We were in one of the concrete and warm up breaks (possibly without sunscreen, DEFINITLEY without rashies and hats. In fact, I don’t think rashies were even invented, or if they were they were, they were only for die hard surfies who lived down on the coast and certainly not those who lived in North Central country Victoria) and I was possibly feeling hard done by or ganged up against by my siblings so I used the one superpower I had as a 12ish year old big sister. The conversation went like this.
Me: “You know how Inspector Gadget it a cartoon and not real?”
Me: “Well you know that Santa is the same”
Sweet little innocent brother: “Santa’s not a cartoon.”
Meanest big sister ever: “No, he’s not a cartoon, but he’s not real either.”
End of conversation. And in one swoop I have devastated my little 8ish year old brother, destroyed his childhood and that was the end of Christmas for him forever more. And we still talk about that moment to this day, and he still hates me for it, and I still have guilt that will never leave me.)
Sometimes, things aren’t always what they seem.
Santa Claus, ‘Can do no wrong' big sisters, timeshare offers, the size of objects in your rear vision mirror, instagram photos….. you get the idea.
Now lets bring this back to stationery.
Foiling is so on trend in the stationery world it is ridiculous! Lets not beat around the bush, having a foiled finish on your invitation suite can be expensive. There's a reason for that. There foils and there are foils. There's the real Santa Claus, and the fake Santa Claus.
I am definitely NOT a foiling expert by any means, but I do know the difference between the two main types of foiling so let me enlighten you.
There’s toner reactive foil (or TRF) and there’s foil stamping.
TRF is a cheaper option that even crafters at home can do if they want to. There are products on the market that are readily available so you can foil to your hearts content. TRF uses foil that will react to toner (just like a laser printer would use), heat and pressure and it works best on coated or very smooth papers. As the name suggests, it “fuses” to the toner with heat and pressure.
The results when using TRF can be inconsistent and the quality is much poorer than foil stamping. I use TRF for my samples, small tags and cupcake toppers when the order is not very large.
I never recommend TRF to my clients for their invitation suites or larger areas of foil.
I much prefer the quality of foil stamping and I use this most of the time when you see foil featured on my products. I cannot do it in my studio, so I outsource it to a printer who specialises in foil stamping.
Foil stamping uses a metal plate with a raised and reversed image of your design (these can be made of several different metals). The plate is heated and then run through a press (there are several types of press that can do this). A thin roll of foil goes between the heated plate and the paper and the pressure from the press makes it all fuse together leaving behind a stunning foiled image that is evenly and completely covered in foil.
Foil stamping will work on so many more types of paper and cardstock too, enabling you to have a higher quality, thicker cardstock.
I guess that’s my little educational piece for the moment, which seems much more helpful than the whole Santa thing.
I was out walking today and saw some little toadstools and that little bunch of fungi bought back a memory from when my kids were smaller.
Side note - I sometimes wonder why “mommy blogging” wasn’t invented back then. I have plenty to say on my kids toddlerhood/early childhood. But then again, they were the dial up days and I had zero time to wait for that wretched screech noise to take over my ears whilst I waited for the internet to connect, How things have changed in 10 years.
Back to the story. When the toadstools used to pop up we often would see them and say “Look! the fairies are setting up a village – it must be time for someone to loose a tooth”. And as luck would have it the kids were always close to loosing a tooth or someone they knew had lost a tooth that day.
They would stop and wonder and look desperately around the toadstool patch to spy any sign of glitter or fairy’s fluttering that they could find. It took a good 5 minutes or so to realize that fairies don’t flutter when kids are around, that’s why the tooth fairy only comes at night and we would walk on.
To the contrary, on a recent trip to a well known large chain toy store (against my religion* - but we had a voucher to use) I was somewhat saddened to see that almost 100% of the toys and items for sale there (from gift wrap, to new baby furniture, to 1000’s of toy lines) featured a licenced character. Even the ones that encourage imaginative play were licenced (brands such as Lego included, along with art smocks, crayons and pencils and even themed easels.)
Not quite sure when this had happened – the take over of licenced products and the en masse licenced marketing that we as consumers are almost driven to buy through having no other choice. Rant over…..that’s a whole other post.
Now lets bring this back to stationery.
Those who know me personally know that I much prefer imagination and originality over licenced themes any day when it comes to kids play and kids parties. I know I know….it is hard to resist when you’re child has their heart set on a certain character. And because of that, I often get asked to do licenced invitations and stationery.
When I am asked, I have a standard line in reply.
“I do not hold a licence to print X, however I can use colours and fonts which will imply X theme”.
There a few of reasons for this.
So you certainly can ask, but you will hear my standard line delivered in return. I am hoping this post explains a little as to why I have the standard line. Let it be known though, I have created some beautiful pieces for licenced themed parties without having to use specific characters or titles. See below.
So I guess I’ll leave you with this.
As the late Muhammad Ali is known to have said, “The man who has no imagination has no wings”.
*religion – so you know I have no affiliation with any particular religion – just using this term to make a point.
Another side note - I am not 100% sure which spelling of 'Licence' is correct for Australia so please spellcheckers and grammar nerds out there, please feel free to correct me.
Some examples of work I have done which imply certain licences - however without using characters directly.
I went to a function recently where there was some serious negotiation happening around if and when to hold the next function.
VERY long story short, it was obvious, after many opinions and ideas, that it was going to be how the chairperson wanted it and no negotiation was going to be entered into. Regardless of how the mere members of the debate felt or what they wanted.
Life is full of negotiations.
Toddler tantrum negotiation - “if you stop I’ll….blah blah blah, or conversely, if you don’t stop I’ll – insert consequence here.
Tween/Teen I want X negotiation - “if you get me this I’ll - insert bargaining tool they are prepared to do here – more often than not in our house it is wash the dishes for a week, or keep my room clean (Yeah right! Mum’s know that one will never happen Do they even realize they just bought them selves a “no” using that one?)
Work negotiation – “Can you work Friday so I can take child A to the doctor and then I can work Tuesday for you…..”
You get the idea.
Now let’s bring this back to stationery.
I often get asked to negotiate on the cost of custom designs.
Sometimes yes, the price can be amended through a little negotiation and scaling down some of the requirements to meet a specific budget.
But most the time…and I think I can speak for most Graphics Designers here…no.
As a professional, tertiary educated qualified graphic designer, one thing I don’t negotiate on is the fee I charge (which compared to some is relatively inexpensive) for custom artwork and design.
Expertise costs money. You get an electrician to fix your electrical stuff, you get a plumber to fix your plumbing, you go to a shoe store to get fitted correctly for shoes, you go to a graphic designer to get something designed.
“But I could do it myself – how hard could it be?” I hear you saying. Yes maybe you could do some of it yourself, but there must have been a reason for contacting an expert in the field in the first instance.
Graphic design is more than opening Microsoft Word or Publisher and typing words and inserting a clip art. It involves a whole lot of elements and principles to get the look right. While every designer has a different they all use the same elements and principles of design. The knowledge and expertise to produce a finished item (using the right tools), takes time. And by time I mean sometimes hours in front of the computer, or paints or pencils.
When I do get approached to negotiate on price I find myself thinking, and have even questioned out loud to some, “would you go to work for two to three hours and not get paid?”
You would say “No, that’s not negotiable”. And you would be right.
A little look behind the scenes of the design process. A lot of thought and hours to get what looks like a simple little turtle.
I got up early yesterday to go out and get bread. One of our Little Misses had a friend sleepover and we were out of bread for their breakfast. So rather than sleeping in, I did the good mother thing and walk around to the bakery to get the bread so they could have toast.
When I stepped out the front door - right there opposite our house.....and I mean RIGHT THERE OPPOSITE our house....was the most surreal thing I have seen ever I think..... A MASSIVE hot air balloon. Just floating. Kind of slowly. It landed right at the end of our street. The things you see when you wake up early. I stood there and watched it land and thought to myself "I never realised you could balloon from here".
Turns out you can't balloon from there. The balloon was off course. Like WAY off course. I found out later that one of the other balloons it had been travelling with was off course too and went out into the bay only to be rescued by a civilian boat. Was on the news and all.
Funny that. The balloons were slightly off course but they ended up landing safely in the end. A bit like life sometimes really.
So the reason I was looking forward to the sleep in was because I often get up early. Like 5.00am early. I try to get an hour or so in before the rest of my family wakes up. Sometimes I walk, sometimes I fold washing or iron or some other quiet sort of house work, but more often than not I work. Cant help it. Love what you do and all that.
I love that quiet early hour or so. It seems as if it's a secret world that only a few enjoy while the rest of the world sleeps. And getting things done makes me feel organised. I love feeling organised.
Now let's bring this back to stationery.
It's a great idea to get onto your event stationery organised early. Especially if you want custom design. More often than not there are a few drafts back and forth and then it takes a little time to order in the stock. The earlier you get onto it, the more time we can take to get it right for you. And you feel organised.
Many times people contact me to see if I can "fit them in" by "fit them in" I mean there's a party in a only a couple of weeks that they need invites AND decor for. Most of the time I try to get the order done, but occasionally I need to say "sorry...no can do - if only you had contacted me earlier"
So how early is early? As a guide, incase you are wondering, hand out your invites about four weeks in advance if it is a party you are hosting, and then eight - twelve weeks before the date of your wedding is the ideal time to send out your wedding invites.
That is the sending out part.
So they (the invites) need to be in your hot little hands a few days earlier than that.
Then add on the three to four weeks a custom order can take.
I am hoping that handy hint helps you feel a little more organised.
Now I am off to bed early so I can get up early in the morning.
My name is Emma, and I design and make stationery.
That's who I am. I own it. It's me. And I am not afraid to say it just like an Alcoholic owns their alcoholism in an AA meeting. You may be thinking the two can't compare, and maybe they can't, however there are some similarities I've noticed along the way.
And by along the way, I mean referencing my faded memories of being a kid sitting in the back of AA meetings (mum had no babysitter and I guess we all just went along - there were other AA kids too hanging out through the meetings) in rooms filled with cigarette smoke (it was the 80's and that was normal) and cups of tea, coffee and teddy bear biscuits.
I ALWAYS remember that one line. "My name is (insert first name only) and I am an Alcoholic". Owning that statement trying to get back in touch with their authentic selves. I guess trying to get in touch with your authentic self is like peeling layers of an onion. Peeling back emotions like hurt, anger, shame or whatever emotion that got you out of your self (or forget your authentic self) in the first instance. And shedding a lot of tears (c'mon admit it - there is no known cure for tears when peeling an onion. I think I have tried them all - including swimming goggles).
It took guts and a whole lot of realisation for those words to come out of the speakers mouths. I didn't know it at the time, but I know it now. The amount of layers that person had to peel back to get to that point to admit that that's who they were and to love themselves enough to find their real self again.
Now let's bring this back to stationery.
There's a LOT of self doubt in being a creative person. As there is in the life of the alcoholic. With all this doubt and uncertainty I guess you lose yourself along the way and start to become what you think others want. I guess that could be part of the reason that a person drinks in the first instance.
So many times self doubt has been in my mind, thinking am I good enough? What do people think of me and my work? Should I keep going? Should I quit? But I love it. Is love enough?
Then there are the highs of "OMG look what I have created - it's amazing". I guess not unlike the 'pink cloud effect' an alcoholic goes through when they are a short time into sobriety. That feeling of everything is under control and I totally have this self employed creative business nailed. I am excelling at life. Just try and stop me.
Then the self doubt can come back in an instant, just one comment (darn social media) or one slightly unhappy customer and the process of starting over with new projects and trying to diversify into areas which are not being true to your authentic self and trying to see if this is where you really fit.
All I know is that the people in AA are trying their hardest to discover their real authentic selves. And similarly, I have recently been peeling the layers (or call it a mid life crisis - whatever) on my stationery journey and it has all come back to simplicity. I love stationery. I love paper. I love good design. I model my business on these loves.
"Keep it simple", "Love what you do", "The grass is greener where you water it", "Be brave" and all the other similar cliches have been resonating through my mind - and through it I seem to have reached a point of clarity and ownership. A point where it is not important what others think but I need to stay me and keep doing what I am doing with passion. Be my true authentic self in business (oh alright and at home too). Sobering really.
My name is Emma and I make and design stationery. Simple.
And as they say at the end of their speech in AA, thanks for listening.
Side note - I am not an alcoholic but did read a book recently called 'Mrs D is Going Without' (Written by - Lotta Dan) on beating alcoholism from which I could relate to many words in all facets of life. Her blog is called livingwithoutalcohol.blogspot.com.au and you can read it here. If you or someone you know has a problem with alcohol, this blog has many helpful hints and links.
Wowsers. It's been was while between blog posts!
Bob Dylan sang it best in 1964. The times they are a-changin'.
It as definitely a simpler time back then. I wasn't alive, but I just know. Even 15 years ago life was simpler. Slower even I guess.
My kids are growing up faster than I like to think about. As with every stage in parent hood, a whole lot of new challenges present themselves as the kids get older.
Every body says enjoy the kids when they are little. However you are so busy getting through nappies, bottles, bath times and feeding times and whether or not you're doing motherhood right - that you forget to stop and smell the roses and enjoy that simpler time. They just needed lots of cuddles, to colour with them, or to kiss their cut knee better.
Now it seems they only need you for a taxi, cash and to not embarrass them (which I feel like I do an excellent job of - completely on purpose of course). I read a blog lately (one of my faves The Bear and the Whale - read it here) that mentioned grieving the 'at home stage' and I didn't realise until I read it that that is exactly what I have been doing for a while now. Don't get me wrong - I am insanely proud of my girls and who they are becoming, but geez it is mentally tough some days. I often find myself yearning for that time when things were simpler and a teddy bear biscuit whilst watching playshool was enough.
Things are so busy. All the time. I mean ALL. THE. TIME. Racing over here and just ducking in there.
"Quick kids get in the car we are late".
"Hurry up or you'll miss the bus".
"Why didn't you give me the note last night?"
"OMG now I am late for work".
"No you can't have - insert current teen fad that any one child wants to purchase/download/attempt".
"I'll get to that in 5 minutes".
"I'll only be 5 minutes".
"It will only take 5 minutes".
"I'm on my way, I'm running 5 minutes late".
Well there just isn't enough 5 minutes in the day.
The kids are getting older, life is getting faster and I'm no sure it will change anytime soon. It seems in 5 minutes, I'll turn around and the kids will be moving out, getting married, having babies themselves.
Now lets bring this back to stationery.
More and more clients are asking for digital files they can download themselves to print at home. I guess that is simpler. Just download what you need instead of going from shop to shop trying to find the right thing and paying a small fortune in the process. At the click of the button, and much much faster (not even 5 minutes), you can download a file, type up some words, print off and send something out. All from your own home.
I guess you could even (and this kills me....it really does) download, and then use an app (OMG it hurts to even say this) to create a digital invite, that you screen shot and email, or message or whatever to all your guests. (i think I may have just shed a tear).
I'm not sure how much longer actual paper stationery that you send via snail mail will be required by you guys (let's hope it is not in my career's lifespan), but I have to move with the times and offer digital paper solutions.
So I have three new designs that offer just that. Digital paper formatted to size - ready to just download, type your words over and the print or email to your guests. Look at and buy it here.
Yup Bob, (or Sandhi Thom - "I wish I was a punk rocker" - if you're a 1990's/2000's baby) I guess the times are a-changin'' and one day (like in about 5 minutes) there will be no more running to the letterbox and experiencing the joy of receiving a beautifully crafted paper invitation.
Well I guess it's been a while since my last post! Happy New Year and all that I guess? Even though it is February.
My youngest said to me last night "Mum, did you know that we [meaning her age group] are the first generation to have iPads and all the other all the 'i' things?" I laughed and said "Yes, well I guess that's true"
These two little muchkins I created roll their eyes at me every time I try to do something or show them something on their iPads. Like I can't do it quick enough. (Yes they have iPad's but only because the school implemented a iPad program a couple of years back).
I can vaguely remember mum and/or dad asking me to set the video recorder timer if we were going out and they wanted something recorded to watch later. (What a great invention! You can fast forward through the ads of 'A Country Practice' and save time!) Scary thing is, that eye roll was coming from me back then too.....History Repeats they say.
I was in high school when I even first heard the word internet. Year 12 graphics class to be exact. We all wondered how it could even be possible that you could look up anything, from anywhere the word over....instantly. Back then in high school, it was a select few nerds who stayed in at lunch times and after school to 'muck around' on those ancient Apple Macs (those box square type things - remember?) doing computer nerdy stuff. I was too busy working on my tan at the local pool to really notice. Places to go and people to see and all that.
Oh how I ENVY THOSE NERDS now. They are probably the ones who I am constantly holding for (on the telephone - one of those new 'i' things that my daughter refers to - and it has the internet - amazing really - anyway...). They are the ones who put their call centre phones on mute and say/gesture to the person next to them that they are on the phone to an absolute idiot who grew up in the eighties and has not yet caught on. Hell she doesn't even know about servers, or DNS, or routing or anything!!
This year I am so focussed on my little business that I can't comprehend it! I have lots of new ideas and plans.
But today my friends, I am just plain angry. Whilst I had an awesome tan in high school, I know NOTHING about the 'i' stuff, or the whole cyber stratosphere for that matter.
This makes me angry.
I am angry that my little business, which relies on email enquiries (because people don't call anymore) is suffering because my email is not working.
I am angry because my technological expertise doesn't stretch too far beyond how to write a blog and send an email so I cannot fix it.
I am angry because the people who do know what to do have had me on hold for about 40 minutes. (making those gestures and comments to their colleagues about some other eighties kids they are currently helping I am sure)
BUT....turning positives into negatives..... I am also grateful a little too.
Grateful that this little lapse in technological difficulties is giving me time to concentrate on some marketing plans.
Grateful that I can clean out my studio (an ongoing process that I rarely have time for).
Grateful that I have the time while on hold to sit and design some new cards and write a blog post.
So happy new year folks. And rest assured, when my email is working again, there will be no stopping this eighties kid in her little business creating stationery (you know, that stuff people used to use the postal service for to deliver to those odd shaped boxes out the front of most homes) once more.
They say (I don't know who "They" is, but a lot of quotes sure do come from "They") that imitation is the sincerest form of flattery.
It starts young. A sibling repeating everything the other says until the other one gets fed up and yells "Muuummmmm.......She's copying me". Then the cheeky sibling says all so quiet, but just loud enough for the other, and mum, to overhear "She's copying me". And then it goes on...."what?" "what?", "Stop it" Stop It"....you get the idea.
Then it's folders up between you and your desk mate so they can't see your work. Somehow, magically they still can see and copy your answers, and end up with a better mark. After all your hard work.
Then in high school, you are asked to complete an assignment, with factual information. I for one remember sitting there with the encyclopaedia Britannica (These days I think you just copy and paste from Google) and a Thesaurus trying to replace some of the words so it looked like my own work. Then, when there was blatant copying, just sticking in the good old footnote. Thinking back, I am sure the teachers would have had a good giggle at some of the words plucked from the Thesaurus and inserted into year 9 homework.
You can choose your friends but not your family. It's an age old saying that rings true more often than not.
When I was a young innocent pre-teen I wished and wished and wished for a "normal family". Of course I know now that there is no such thing.
At the time I wished this (somewhere in the late 1980's I guess), my ideal "normal family" was one that sat at the table every night for dinner and discussed important things (I am sure we sat at the table - but sometimes it was under duress with mum at her wits end trying to get us to eat a new meal she had made that we were uncertain of - and other times, it was just dinner on our laps in front of the TV). Brothers didn't fart in your face then walk away and laugh leaving you with a stench so bad a jumper over your face didn't even mask it. And sisters that didn't steal clothes and insist they were cooler than you. I guess I wanted a family modelled from some TV show which shoved a certain ideal down our faces.
STATIONERY | DESIGN