Very very excited that the range of Baby Shark books that I designed for Centum Books Ltd. have been recognised as a finalist in the Licensing Awards 2020 for the Best Licensed written, listening or learning range category. The award ceremony is being held online this year and obviously my work is in very good company with stiff competition. Looking forward to seeing how it does and whether I can add ‘award winner’ to my CV in future.
Catching up with myself into 2020
Wow, I have realised how negligent I have been at updating this blog section of my website while updating my online portfolios during a quiet period during the lockdown. This weirdly apocalyptic year has been quite an emotional whirlwind for me personally and I know there are so many people out there probably going through similar or worse experiences than I have.
2019 was thankfully a busy year for me, I was up to my eyeballs designing mostly Baby Shark books, activities and games for my usual client and I was in my element, enjoying the challenge of learning new formats and loving every minute of it.
In January 2020 my whole world was overturned completely when my father passed away unexpectedly after emergency surgery in Bulawayo, Zimbabwe. I had no choice, but to take a couple of months away from work and my family to spend time in the house that I grew up in, while getting my mother back onto her feet and I just managed to get back to the UK as the whole world shut down – of course, my suitcase with all my gifts for my family and my summer wardrobe remained behind in Johannesburg after my layover there and I am waiting with eager anticipation to see whether I will ever see it again…. maybe in 2021 apparently! I hope my shorts still fit…
(Update edit: it took 6 months, but my suitcase did come back mostly intact! Easter eggs in September rock!)
Thank goodness I have been given more work during this lockdown period to keep busy with and have been happily designing annuals for a new brand. I honestly do hope that work keeps coming in this year and that the world comes right for everyone.
Like most people, I have also been spending time thinking of alternate sideline ideas during this lockdown period. I have so many ideas rolling around in my head – I may get back into illustrating and create my own children’s book in the near future. I may even consider doing a degree to diversify in a different direction as well. In the meantime, while I procrastinate during my mid-life crisis year of turning the big 5-zero, I may just share some of my own kid’s work here to keep this blog ticking over… my daughter is a pretty dynamic artist who has just finished her second year of animation at Portsmouth University with an interest in pre-production and my son, whose A Levels were cancelled, is off to Solent University in September to study TV Production with an interest in post-production. If I keep procrastinating long enough, maybe they will both start a dynamic pre/post production agency to support their mum who supports them creatively from the sidelines.
The past couple of years in hindsight
Nothing beats walking into the local high street bookstore and seeing a variety of books you designed for sale on the shelves – or receiving your own complimentary copy in the post.
2016 was a lot busier than I anticipated and I loved every minute of it.
During 2015, after walking into what I had hoped (at the time) was a full-time job after 10 years sitting at home working as a home-based freelancer, I thought I knew where I was going. Within a month at the job, working as a brand licensing designer (which ended up being a 6 month contract trial period) I was made redundant (for the second time ever). A non-fiction illustrated books imprint within the publishing company took over my 6 month contract and towards the end of 2015, I found myself back on the freelance wagon again.
I am grateful for the experience I was given out there in the big wide real world of publishing, it was really good for me to be in an in-house environment and I am grateful for the fact that I ended up with new-found confidence knowing that even though it wasn’t for long, that I am actually employable in the industry, my skills haven’t stagnated from sitting at home and I gained a couple of new clients in the process. In fact, becoming a busy freelancer again with a solid list of dedicated clients and a regular stream of work, is more beneficial financially than taking on a full-time salary that a senior designer is likely to earn in the industry – even if I do happen to squeeze in a few more hours into a day in the process.
From the end of 2015 and throughout 2016, I have been constantly busy. My old children’s book publisher client gave me freelance work immediately, my contract employer called on me for a few big projects and I progressively gathered a couple of new clients over the year. I even had to turn down a 3 month freelance/contract position for another big publishing house in London because of the amount of anticipated projects I had in the pipeline.
In total, I sent 21 books to print in one year (including three 300pp co-edition US and UK versions of concise encyclopedias)! Go me!
I was also commissioned for a charity job to design and paint a mural on a 22m long outer wall for a local Scout hut – when the weather improves, I will be out there this year finishing it off… and hopefully it will give me something else to blog about.
Getting in touch with my entrepreneurial spirit
Well, after finally catching up with my web redesign in the little free time that I have, I have also recently taken the plunge and eventually organised my business cards – especially in anticipation for the London Book Fair next week.
Absolutely stoked with the quality of them and I highly recommend Stationery Direct Ltd. for their online service, which was professional, reasonably priced and very speedy.
Well, time to start blogging I guess… watch this space.