This week I want to share with you where I get my inspiration from, for all my designs and illustrations.

Its not just a case of waking up and sitting at my computer or sketch book and thinking ‘Mm, what shall I do today?’ I would never get anywhere if it were! Everything is planned. From projects I set myself, courses I’m doing, social media posts, replies to emails and phone calls and of course what I’m designing. Planning is KEY in running your own business, to move it forward, to make it earn you a living and progress, otherwise its really just a hobby.

I spend a lot of time studying and researching from different types of resources before I embark on design collections. Here’s a few key areas that I look at:

*    Trend reports – These help me create designs and collections 6-12 months ahead that suppliers and retailers will also be looking at. There are various resources from WGSN, Porter & Brawn, Trend bible, Pantone and more. So many more, so its worth spending some time looking at all of the trend forecasting companies and following the ones which forecast in the area you want to design for – homewares, fashion, stationery, kids, etc

*   The high street – A great reason to go shopping (if you need one!). Look at what trends are currently out there, which ones are no longer out there, which retailers are selling products that feature the key characters and how long have they run for. Some trends are seasonal, some are micro trends and others last a good 12 months. Who remembers the owl, sloths, llamas, red pick up truck, mushrooms/toadstools character trends over the last few years? Which of these would you say were micro trends, seasonal trends or more? This really helps you to develop your skill as a designer by recognising the different trends. Its an important skill and if you don’t practice it you will lose it.

*   Your own ideas – Don’t underestimate your own ideas about what you want to illustration. If its not a trend or already out there on the high street then its unique and that in itself means your work will stand out from the crowd because nobody has seen anything else like it.

I will continually be looking in all these areas and making notes, sketches of what I want to design and schedule it in. Because designing is my business so its important to make time for that – although it is easy to be ‘busy’ with all the other sides of the business, what I call the ‘back office’ work (accounts, filing, emailing, etc).

I’ll start with my idea, create my initial design and then add co-ordinates to sit with it. In addition to this I add a few mock-ups on where I see this design working (a bedding set, kitchen textiles, wrapping paper) and pull it all together to make my final Collection. Some Collections take longer than others to create depending on the theme I’m working on but that doesn’t mean its worth less. That’s not how it works.

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