Wednesday, 15 October 2014

5 places I will never tire of travelling to

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Hello everybody!

You might be wondering where I've been hiding recently (all 2 of you who read my blog...) but rest assured I've been beavering away behind the scenes producing something exciting...

Drum roll...

...I've just launched my new series of  prints, called 'Paper Cities and Places' and my online print shop !

They're high quality reproductions of my original paper-cut artwork which is inspired by my love of Scandinavian modern minimal design and, of course, my love of these awesome cities and places.

So here they are, all 5 of my favourite places, which I hope you will share your love of with me!

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Sometimes, when you're a freelancer working for yourself, little things like this mean so much.  Like when you click the button to make a new website go live, or send a client their new designs or work, or see your new prints come off the press at the printers - there's nothing like that feeling. Hmm actually there is, it's like when you receive your order in a restaurant and the food surpasses your vision. It's exciting.

When I left full time work and started on the journey of being self employed and making this new little brand called Angie B Studio there was a huge part of me that wondered if I'd ever be able to do this. There was a huge part of me that gave me a whack around the head and told me I was an idiot. There is still a huge part of me that wonders every morning, but I saw this quote recently and it really meant something to me and kind of summed up why I started all this back in the early beginning...and why I keep going.

'There is no passion to be found playing small – in settling for a life that is less than the one you are capable of living' - Nelson Mandela.

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There are many reasons why I love these 5 places, but here a quick few to inspire you to visit if you haven't yet ...

1.  New York ::  I never had a particular interest to visit New York, I thought it would be too big, too packed, too busy, but it really exceeded my expectations and was nothing like the idea I had in my mind. It blew me away.

2.  London ::  Now, some might think London is similar to New York, but you'd be so wrong, that's like saying Chocolate Ice Cream is like Lemon Sorbet.  London is a completely different character, it's urban, it's diverse, it's grungy, but that's what's so great about it - it's so full of history.

3.  Paris ::  The real city of love - Paris has a delicate, sophisticated sense and style to it, it makes you walk with such a spring in your step - like you're in love while chomping on a baguette.

4.  Syndey::  It's a city that has such an amazing sense of optimism, innovation and of forward movement, Sydney-siders know where they're going - if not usually straight to the beach after work! ...oh gee wiz take me back to that beautiful city!

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5.  St Ives::  St Ives may not be a city, but it's a very special place to me.  It's somewhere that always sparks a creative period in my work and I can really see why, in years gone by, it has always been a colony for creatives. The Tate Modern and the Barbara Hepworth Gallery there are so inspiring.

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So there it is - I'm sure I'll add some more cities as I've been getting lots of requests, have a look through my shop which is now open full of prints and cards and lots more! - come and say hello!

Thank you to everyone who has supported me in this project so far and especially to the creative @mistersullivan ( who not only loaned his new home and painted floorboards to my photo shoot for the prints, but also his very talented camera skills which far surpass my instagram ones! Thank you.

Thursday, 2 October 2014

3 tips on designing your business or wedding stationery

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/ new business cards to give to my friendliest friends and new clients /
So you're a new business, and need a business cards to give to new customers or clients to make them see how awesome you are...

Or,'re getting married, and need some fancy cards to pop in the mail for your friends and family?

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/ loved designing these cards for a special couple, choosing recycled material cards for that ethereal look! /
Whatever your printed needs may be, help is at hand! Here are my 3 tips to getting some awesome printed stationery for whatever your printed needs may be! AND 10% if you do!

{This post isn't sponsored by the way folks, I mention quite a bit and I just wanted to explain that I'm just sharing this because have helped me get my business moving forward so much over the last 4 years I would not have got here without them, so thanks to them I'm now passing this on to you!}

1. Visit
They make uploading and ordering cards a cinch! ( They have heaps of templates to choose from and this rather nifty little 'design in screen' gadget that makes setting up your business cards easy peasy if you don't have a designer to help you. The paper they print on is also superior quality and feels ace...(the feel of paper is so important, right?)

2.  Contact a designer
If you'd rather a custom personalised design, and a little more help, then grab a designer, someone friendly like me (or someone else, there are heaps of talented ones out there and they will always provide a no obligation quote), and tell them all the lovely inspiration you have! 

3.  Get the right file format
I do all the fancy designery stuff and digitise your design and then send it to you in what's called PDF file that the nice people at can print from. They like PDF files because a PDF file can show the right colours (CMYK) and any bleed and crop marks that they'll need for your design.  If you don't have a PDF file a JPEG file set up as CMYK colours will do nicely also.

Don't worry if that all sounds like gobboldygook! If getting business or personal stationery is holding you up from getting things produced and moving forward I can help you get back on track!

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a selection of some pops of pink in this little montage of recent work, creations and my new spotty shirt from Boden which makes me feel like a candy bar.
Plus if you share by Retweeting this post on Twitter, I'll give you 10% off my business card or wedding stationery services throughout October! (contact me on to let me know when you've done it!)

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And here's a 10% off code to use with the lovely print folk at if you do want to get designing yourself! >> click here 

Whatever your printing needs, I'm always happy to advise or point you in the direction of someone who can!

Cheerio for now, I'm off in search of biscuits.

PS: Say hello if you liked this blog post at

Tuesday, 9 September 2014

5 Tips for instant happiness

Hello webby chums! Sorry for the radio silence of late, but I've rooted up Angie B Studio and moved to a brand new pad!

Apart from the continual unpacking (if I see another box it will be far too soon!) Mr B and I are really loving our new home together.

I had a lot of time to reflect recently on the last 6 months and I am constantly amazed at life's little surpirses. This time last year I would never have imagined my life the way it is now and for that I am pretty speechless and incredibly grateful (I'm never speechless - those who know me will agree!)

So I thought I'd have a little fun blog post now that I'm back in the saddle -  I hope you enjoy my little tips for 5 little moments of happiness!

1.  The task at hand always seems like a big hairy mammoth - but all it takes is for you to start. Start anywhere you like, but just start. You might not be able to see the way, or have the right tools right now, but once you start it will all become clearer. Trust me.

I love this quote and always think of it when I have a big task ahead of me....

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2.  Put on some bright new clothes!

I've been a mahuuuussive fan of Boden's brightly coloured clothes and prints for years and they never cease to cheer me up and put a spring in my step. They're got the craziest most beautiful Autumn and Winter Range of clothes which I can't wait to wear and splash in puddles wearing (embrace your inner big kid!).

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3.  Clear out your make up bag and put on a new face! Hannah Maggs has launched 'Maggs London' an adorable make up bag collection to pop in your favourite lippy - the patterns are fun and stylish and could even double as a cute clutch! Hannah, her son Grayson and husband Stef will always put a smile on your face in their YouTube weekly videos about their family life too.

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4. A walk in the park!

I'm very lucky to live in a beautiful town called Cheltenham, which is just on the tip of the Cotswolds. I often take where I live for granted, and sometimes have a good moan about it (the annoying one-way system!), but with all the beautiful parks here and outdoor space, you can't not help but smile. Sure I do miss Perth, Western Australia (which is my all time favourite home), but Cheltenham is a very close second :)

Cheltenham was also recently voted the best place to raise a family in the UK.

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5.  Attend a wedding! Or get married! Make the effort to attend celebrations with family and friends - they always bring a smile to your face, and your Uncle Joe will always make you crease up with his drunken dance moves. I love designing wedding stationery for happy couples because a little part of me gets all excited and giddy happy too... !

PS - and finally, always look up towards the sky, take a deep breath and take in all that blue. Because we all have so much to be grateful for.


Tuesday, 12 August 2014

Designing custom stationery and announcements

I love designing stationery; from Wedding 'Save the Date's, to Custom Birth Announcements for tiny new arrivals - there's always heaps of happy occasions to design stationery for! (It's also really great to receive in the post!)

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Left to right ::

1 - It was also my niece's first birthday - I can't beleive it, she'll be a teenager in no time at all!

2 - I ate far too much chocolate this weekend. Now I'm on grapes and water.

3 - I got a few new notebooks for myself, because I make a LOT of notes. And lists.

4 - And here's the start of a new Save the Date design, in action for my wedding invite custom collection.

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And there's two new tiny people who've got a pair of really proud mums and dads who want to announce the birth of their little ones to the world with these custom designed birth announcement posters - going up in their new nursery's soon.

Tuesday, 5 August 2014

logo design made simple

Everybody's got a logo these days. Whether you've got a small business, a blog or even an Etsy shop, a logo makes your idea real, and starts to tell people what your brand is all about, beginning to market your product to new customers and audiences for the first time. It's exciting.

Your logo is the start of your brand story. So start putting it on everything; business cards, labels, bags, buttons, social media - even coffee cups!

Here's five new logos I recently conjured up for some new brands, businesses and blogs...
Which one is your favourite?

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Apart from creating logos, I've also been eating lots, as you can tell from my recent instagram snaps >

It's been a busy few weeks, but you can catch up with my daily sketching adventures over on Instagram here. I love Instagram because it's so much quicker to upload something quickly, while keeping your followers up to date with what's happening in your life - Like, what you're eating for dinner!

If you are thinking of starting a business or a blog, or need a fresh new look for the one you have, let me know! I make the whole process really simple, and it's much more gentle on your purse than you'd imagine. {Email me here and say hello!}

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1 ::  Birth Announcement I created for a new little handsome boy.
2 ::  The Mr and me - a photo at Bill's food, Bath.
3 ::  More food at Bill's...I'm excited that the Cheltenham branch will open in September!
4 ::  Awesome Merchandise sent me some print and paper samples. They were ace.
5 ::  Breakfast at Anderson's Cafe.
6 ::  Birthday cupcakes for Matt, Pirate themed (of course ;)
7 ::  A mid afternoon sketch.
8 ::  My to-do list reaches page 2, and my motivation dwindles...

That's all folks, speak soon

Monday, 14 July 2014

Cheltenham loves coffee

Cheltenham has a lot of coffee lovers...

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Grab a coffee map in the Angie B Studio Print Shop

As some of you many know, I live in this beautiful town in the UK called Cheltenham. It's a Spa town, so it's got heaps of old Regency buildings, nice parks, and pretty gardens. It's pretty cool. We're just missing a Wagamamas and a Bills food, and we'd be on parr with Brighton and Bath (just without the beach).  We also have a LOT of coffee shops and cafes. Yes Siree, the Cheltonion likes nothing more than to enjoy a nice slosh of coffee and a slice of cake, while sat outside on a sunny day.

Those who know me will also know I am a big fan of Coffee and I have frequented many of the best around the globe. I also worked in some of the most awesome coffee houses in Australia as, during my time spent there, I trained as a Barista and learned all about coffee beans and how to get the best grind.  

So I combined my two loves, coffee & drawing and came up with this illustrated coffee map of Cheltenham. It's perfect for you to navigate your next coffee adventure from, or to try out some place new (we all get stuck in that coffee rut, right?)

I launched my new online shop this week, with this print as my first edition. It's certainly a popular one, so snap it up for you or your coffee loving friends (I've made a limited edition run, so there's only a few in existance) - and it hangs perfectly in your kitchen or office!
Angie B Studio Shop

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Coming up with the new branding design for the site was a lot of fun and so was producing all the matching stationery with the new logo - I think I was inspired by all the Regency buildings and sandstone hues in Cheltenham, what do you think? Here's a peek of it all >

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That's all from the studio today, I'm off to fuel up at one of my favourite coffee stops..... what's yours?


Wednesday, 9 July 2014

Studio songs

It's that time again, after a long day in the studio I like to turn up the radio and do a little dance around the kitchen while nobody's looking. My favourite song this week is MAGIC! Rude - it's a great song that was recently number one in my beloved Australia. When I found this acoustic live version the band did on Bondi Beach, I knew it was perfect to share in this long overdue Studio Songs post!

Now join me for a little jig around the kitchen!

Tuesday, 1 July 2014

Race for Life 2014 - and other weekly updates

Woooosh! Gosh, where the heck did June go? I'm sure it was May a moment ago.

So, things have been busy, and my blogging dedication has slipped. I'm ticking so many things off on my to-do list and sketching so fast my pencil could almost be a light sabre. There's even a cold cup of tea in my kitchen I made an hour ago that haven't had a chance to drink yet! Don't worry though, it's all been great, I've had a really productive month - there are exciting things happening at Angie B Studio!

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Pic 1 //
June was taken up with last minute training for the Race for Life with my best chum, Sarah. We first ran the Race for Life together in 2009, and this year we were both able to take part again (in between 2009 and now a lot has happened; Sarah has had Twins and I've moved to Australia and come back again, bust my kneecap, then my foot and my achilles tendon went twice!)  But it just goes to show that you can get 'fit again' all it takes is a little dedication. Sarah and I went out for a run twice a week and slowly but surely we got faster and ran further - it's amazing seeing and feeling yourself improve. After all my feet injuries (I now have chronic nerve damage in my foot) I never thought I'd run again.

We both ran the race in our best time yet, I was so proud of her, and I was so grateful and thankful that I could run again. Even when it was hurting and I was tired (which it was!) I kept going because to be able to run is such an amazing gift that anyone who's ever had an illness or injury and not been able to do stuff like walk, run, or jump, really makes you appreciate it a whole lot more.

I also think about both my Nan's when I run the Race for Life, both passed away with cancer when I was young, and both were taken away far too soon. I sometimes wonder what they'd say about things or what life lessons they'd have for me, now I'm an adult. I'm sure that they'd both tell me to go after my dreams, and to never gift up. People close to us may be gone, but they are never forgotten. (My sponsorship page is still active until the end of June so you can still donate to my Race for Life page.)

Pic 2 // 
The second picture is a portrait sketch of a Blogger and Vlogger I met on Twitter, Natasha, who has a blog called The Milk Stand where she shares her life and activities with her gorgeous little son Max (as well as beauty and lifestyle tips too). She also makes videos about their days, and is a real joy to watch - I'm sure that other Mums with little ones would really enjoy her video diaries - she's just one of those really ace people you can watch!

Pic 3 and 4 // 
A little wedding invitation set I've illustrated and designed for a really lovely couple, Jessie and Steve, they recently saw some of my illustrations and I was delighted to work with them on this lovely (literally!) project. I wish I was going to the wedding, it sounds like it's going to be such an amazing day!

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Above :: I've also been finishing off a project for the Cheltenham Coffee Map!

As you know, I have became quite a 'coffee' guru in Cheltenham (people know I love my coffee and only the best will do!) So I always get asked 'where's a good place for coffee near...' etc, so I sketched this coffee map (so people never get lost when in need of caffine) for fun and then people loved it so much I've now produced it as a limited edition print. I can't wait to send it to coffee lovers in Cheltenham and beyond!

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And last but not least, a little Pimms illustration I recently did for a food magazine.
And, Pimms because it's Wimbledon;  Pimms, because it's Summer;  Pimms, because it's a nice thirst quenching treat after you've run a race! ..and Pimms, because it's such a pretty drink, that is so easy to make and everybody loves it because it's so British!

And on that note, I'm off to pour myself a glass - Clink Clink!!



Thursday, 19 June 2014

Anna Bond of Rifle Paper Co. at Creative Mornings

I've been a fan of Anna Bond's work ever since I started blogging and I discovered her beautiful stationery and wedding invitation line online.

Anna Bond, for those of you who don't know, is the the founder and creative director of Rifle Paper Co, a stand-out success stationery company from the US that have been stocked in high end stores such as Anthropoligie.

Anna hand paints each design and her style is distinctive and quirky.

Anna recently gave a great talk at the Creative Mornings series interviews - and, by the power of the internet and Youtube you can watch the inspiring talk and behind the scenes insight into how Rifle Paper Co started right here.

I truely believe that Anna and Rifle Paper Co have really paved the way for hand illustrator artists like me, and made the authentic line cool and trendy again. So I have nothing but thanks and love for this awesome lady who's hard work and dedication to her stationery line and the creative goods industry, has really paid off and spread handlettered love around the world.

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I'm even more excited that Anthropologie now has a new store in Bath, UK - which is just down the road from me and I cannot wait to gooooo!

Wednesday, 18 June 2014

Zoe Sugg's book Girl Online

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As a blogger, I really champion other bloggers and vloggers and people who are putting great things out there on the internet. And Zoe Sugg is no exception, really doing such amazing things in the internet landscape, I'm so thrilled that she's got her first book deal. Especially as she has announced her main character will have issues with anxiety and panic attacks, something I can empathise with on a very personal level...

I've always been an avid 'internetter', from the early days back in 1997 I was one of the first kids in my class to go 'online' and use email. I would email this other boy in my class who was a bit of a geek too.

I remember the days of ICQ, MSN messenger, when Google first popped up in stead of Yahoo and Alta Vista, I even had a website, a fan page dedicated to the TV show Friends. Yes I was a geek  - but I was a geek and I found comfort in computers because I used to suffer from Panic Attacks and Anxiety would always hold me back from hanging out with friends.

Now that I'm over 30 I look back on those days and really try not to remember the bad times. My school days were not a perky time. Anxiety or Panic Attacks weren't really talked about a lot in those days either, we didn't have the internet (only a few of us geeks!) we couldn't google symptoms and doctors didn't really understand it either.

So because I kept getting panic attacks in Lectures at University, I dropped out.

I've never really talked about this before, but I feel like if it had been talked about more when I was a teenager, I probably would have sought help or advice in a much better way. Instead I hid myself away.

So now I'm a 30 year old woman and, for those who know me would probably think that I would be the last person on earth to have gone through this because I'm always so chipper and chirpy and talk to anyone and stand up in front of crowds of people and chatter away. But I want to talk about it because it's important - it's important for the next generation that we are open and honest and share our experiences good and bad.

I'm proud that despite everything I made it here today, I own my own successful business and I've got the most amazing friends, offline and online. I got through it so, so can you :)

But sure I still get anxious, worry and have the odd attack of panic where I want to run out of a room or just hide myself away but i'm totally ok with that because that's me and that's who I am, and as you get older you really care less what people think.

I'm especially grateful and proud of Zoe Sugg (AKA Zoella) because she too suffers anxiety attacks which have in the past held her back, she has such a strong following of young teenage fans and is able to send such a positive message to them through her videos. I think this is awesome and I cannot thank her enough - I wish I had a 'Zoella' figure to look up to when I was younger and going through what I did.

Her new book, Girl Online, will cover all these topics and she has hinted that her heroine will have these feelings too.

Well done and congratulations on your first book deal - I've done a little sketch up of your new book especially for the occasion in true Angie B style (i.e everyone in my drawings wears the Coco Chanel Le Breton coveted stripe! hehe) :)

Tuesday, 10 June 2014

Afternoon Coffee Guests - with Lyndsey James Photography

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Time for an afternoon cuppa and a biccie - so sit back and have a little read of this inspiring interview; the 3rd part in the Afternoon Coffee Guest series (here's part I and part II if you missed them), to fire up your inspiration and give you some top tips to getting started in your creative career.

Today I've pulled aside Lyndsey James of Photocraft and Lyndsey James Photography to share with us how she started as a photographer and her unique business concept teaching designers, makers and sellers how to take awesome shots of their products.

Over to you Lyndsey!

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Lyndsey James Photography

1. How old were you when you first started to take photography seriously and consider it as a career option?

I left school at 16 to study photography at college, I couldn’t wait to get away I really didn’t like school at all. My dad wasn’t too happy at first, I remember him saying ‘Photography? How are you going to make a living out of that?’ Sadly my dad passed away before my career really took off.

These days I am a commercial photographer, which means I shoot products, people and places for businesses to make their brand stand out in a crowd. I choose to only work with independent businesses and love to photograph both food, and makers in their studios.

2. What made you take the leap from 9 to 5 to self employment?

There wasn’t really a leap for me, self employment was always the plan. I come from a family of entrepreneurs and grew up above a village shop. After I graduated I would sell my photos in an art gallery and used a rather dull 9-5 to pay for the gallery space rental.

I would spend my weekdays in the office job and my weekends at the gallery. Despite diving into the unknown and giving up a regular salary I have loved every second of the freedom I gained.

3. What one piece of advice would you give anyone who's sitting at their office job feeling like a drone who wants to make a go of working for themselves?

Being self employed isn’t for everyone. If you think 9-5 is full time (it isn’t) or if you like security, then stay put, no one pays you when you are sick or need a holiday so there is nothing wrong with pursuing a new project and making some extra cash alongside a secure job.

That was my sensible answer. If however like me you LOVE an adventure, run! run and don’t look back. Life is too short to hate Mondays.

4. What has been your favourite project that you've worked on with your business so far?

I’m not just a commercial photographer I have always had at least one other project on the go at the same time.

I owned a city centre coffee shop which was a lot of fun for a year before we sold it on. I also owned a lovely little gift shop once which was a lot of fun buying for, we sold photo albums, journals and all paper products, but the most exciting project is my Photocraft® brand.

In the past 6 months has grown so rapidly and we now have a team of 5 us working on it. We sell product photography courses online and have designers & makers from all around the world signing up to learn with Photocraft®. I get to work with some amazing small business owners and it is very rewarding seeing them go from being scared of a camera to taking product photos that I would be proud of.

I also speak at various craft/business events on the subject of how great product photography will boost your brand and have made guest appearances around Europe at events for Etsy, Folksy, Triumph and Enterprise Nation.

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Photocraft® - A Photography School for designers, makers and sellers

5. How old were you when you first took a photograph that you thought was better than alright? And what was it of? 

My first commercial shot as a student was pretty good, we had to replicate an advertising shot from a magazine and I chose Pears soap because the lighting was a challenge. It was all film back then and I was shooting on a 5x4” field camera so had no idea what the outcome would be, I remember I could only afford 5 sheets of film too!

I think with photography you are always learning though, too many people take a lucky shot and think they are a pro, but while digital editing has allowed some really bad photographers to become pros it is now going the other way. On high end shoots my images will now be wirelessly transmitted to my client as I shoot and have to all be perfect. I love that kind of pressure because I know not many
people would!

Even in my role as a photography ‘expert’ though I still don’t consider myself top of my game and still look up to those who are more experienced, despite having over a decade of experience myself. My expert knowledge lies in the power of commercial photography and my ability to explain a technical subject to technophobes, while making it fun and creative.

6. Who's your inspiration (who do you think is like, totally cool)?

I absolutely love the author Seth Godin, I read his books on marketing and other business rifts and rants over and over. I think he is super cool and is on the same wavelength, and so I adopt a lot of his ideas. Here come the noisemakers!

7. Do you have any favourite blogs or websites you regularly read?

Seth’s blog and Sweet Paul which is just full of scrummy crafts and food and lots of lovely photography...and this lovely lady who designed my engagement ring, I love her blog...


Thanks Lydnsey for giving us a super awesome insight into how you grew your photography business - as always, these Afternoon Coffee Guest interviews fill me with renewed inspiration.

{Psssst! Lyndsey has offered a great discount coupon code for readers to get 10% off her online courses > use 'angieb' (thoughtout july, august and september) and start taking those amazing photos you've always wanted - great for bloggers too!! }

Further info::
Lyndsey James is a freelance commercial photographer and the founder of the Photocraft®  photography school for designers, makers & sellers.

Her popular Product Photography 5 week online course has students from around the world signing up to learn new skills for their creative businesses. They also host shorter 1 day online workshops, free photography webinars and live classes around the UK.

Check her out - she's social!  Website // Twitter // Facebook
For more information on Photocraft courses visit ::

Monday, 9 June 2014

Desk tour - my creative space

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I had a little spring clean on the weekend  - tidy desk makes a tidy mind, right? (or something along those lines!)

So here's a little corner of my studio where my desk sits. It's usually full of bits of paper, pencil rubbings and empty cups of coffee (don't worry, they're well out of shot!)

I love looking at other people's creative spaces, so you can be a fly on the wall of my studio for today! (until it gets messy again!) - I uploaded a video giving a tour of all the bits and bobs.

Other than clearing up all my crap from my desk - Here's a few other things I got up to last week from my Instagram.

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Left to right

2 - My new coffee machine makes a damn good cup!

3 - Beautiful Peonies in the window, loving the sunshine.

4 - Some birthday pressies from my Mum - check out the flouro pineapple scarf, isn't it lush!

5 - New prints ready for their first print run!

6 - Quick photo opportunity in St Ives.

7 - Sewing on photographs, at the ETSY Craft Party - first time I've sewed anything in years!

8 - A quick photo op in the photo booth at the Craft Party.

9 - Second training run in the park for Race for Life - it's at the end of June so better get cracking!

Enjoy your weeks!


Thursday, 5 June 2014

Beach sketches - St Ives

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I spent a few short, sunny, sea-air-filled few days in St Ives this week for my birthday. It was fan-flipping-tastic!

Here's a few sketches I did on Porthminster Beach - just one of the beautiful bays in St Ives.

I turned 34 this year, which isn't so bad, but I may have to know where the nearest loos are more than I did 10 years ago #bladdercontrol!


Tuesday, 27 May 2014

Afternoon coffee guests - with Bex Smith of Ampersand Commodities

It's that time of the week again that I have a lovely guest over for a coffee chat about their creative business - and I grill them with a Q&A and then treat them to a digestive biscuit.

Today's coffee guest is none other than Cheltenham's very own reigning queen of craft, Bex Smith! <-- Owner of 'By The Yard', Cheltenham's independent makers' emporium, and creative knitter, knotter, stringer and threader at Ampersand Commodities creative jewellery brand.

Phew! This is one busy lady - >

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Browse Ampersand Commodities necklaces on Etsy

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1. When was the Ampersand Commodities brand born?

Ampersand Commodities was born about 2 months ago now. Me and my best pal used to run a partnership called StuffedNonsense but we decided to disband it after we both got other more important commitments. I opened By The Yard and El (my business partner) had a baby. I knew that I still wanted to continue making things and decided now was the perfect opportunity to bring Ampersand Commodities to life. Now, two months down the line I sell four current jewelry ranges from my etsy shop (and other stockists around the UK, including my own bircks and mortar shop By The Yard): Knitted&Knotted, Warp&Weft, Stitched&Strung and Found&Wound.

2. What made you take the leap from 9 to 5 to self employment?

It really was a now or never moment really. I was offered the great opportunity to open up a bricks and mortar shop (my ultimate ambition!) and I could only do that by taking the full time plunge. The good thing about running By The Yard is that I can work on Ampersand Commodities during shop hours! At the end of the day: there's no point having dreams unless you're going to try and achieve them.

3. What one piece of advice would you give anyone who's sitting at their office job feeling like a drone who wants to make a go of working for themselves?

DO IT! You don't have to jump all the way in a become full time self employed. With websites like Etsy, not on the high street etc etc its now easier than ever to do stuff on the side of the 9-5. If you don't try it you'll never know if it would have worked. Have confidence in yourself and take the plunge.  Be prepared to learn quickly. I've been in the handmade scene for almost 8 years now and every day is a learning curve. Develop a tough skin, not everyone will appreciate or understand what you're trying to do. Don't waste time getting upset about.

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4. What has been your favourite project that you've worked on with By the Yard or Ampersand Commodities so far?

I'm currently helping to organize (and host!) this years etsy party for the Gloucestershire area, I'm really enjoying it! Its lead me to discover lots and lots of local talent. I was also lucky enough to get accepted to sell at last years Renegade London with Ampersand Commodities. It was the biggest craft fair I've ever done AND it was with my own work (as opposed to StuffedNonsense partnership).

5. How old were you when you first started making stuff and what was the first thing you made?

Oh my days...I think I came out making things! When I was little I would always be making something. I can remember getting rewards for good school reports in the form of crafty bits (paints etc etc) I can remember being taught how to use a sewing machine sat on my Nan's knee whilst making a bridesmaid dress for me for my aunties wedding. In one shape or another I've always been making things...whether it was growing veg with my Gramps or drawing pictures at the dinning table.

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Browse Knitted&Knotted necklaces on Etsy

6. Who is your inspiration (who do you think is totally cool)?

I'm a prolific people watcher so i'm always inspired by people i see out and about. I'm really inspired by people that make things with their own hands! So running By The Yard is a daily dose of inspiration for me. I love the work of Karen Barbe her needlework is just dreamy and i'm also partial to an odd instagram stalk of people like Little Green Shed, Davina Drummond and Ariel Alasko....and a load more!

7.  Do you have any favourite blogs or websites you regularly read?

I do love a good browse of Print and Pattern, the Design Files and Decor8.


Thank you Bex for giving us an insight into your creative process - ! Now you can have your biscuit.

I sure do love Bex's colourful knits and stitches, don't you?!  Her shop is amazing too, have you been? If you're in the area you must seek her out at By The Yard Cheltenham!  Or if you fancy some crafty action yourself don't forget to pop along to the ETSY Craft Party on 6th June --->> buy your tickets here!!

Follow her on Twitter // Shop at her ETSY store


Friday, 23 May 2014

Studio thoughts and songs

 photo mystudiodesk_zps2b57a60a.jpg When you're a freelancer, self-employed or own your own business, you often forget about Bank Holidays and stuff. Mainly because you no longer have set working hours, or days, everything gets fuzzed together, work and life; your work becomes your life in many ways.

And the main reason why Bank Holidays are weird when you're a freelancer is that you don't get paid any different if you do any work on it. We don't give ourselves a day off or get double-pay for example.

Sometimes I can be working late into the evening - at the moment it's quite nice to be working at my desk at dusk as the sun sets later in the evening.  This was my desk last night - a glimpse of the wall in my studio where I stick up things I like and find from other artists and illustrators, and little mementos from my travels (including the odd post it note to remind me to hoover!)

This week has flown by, but I've enjoyed listening to lots of new songs to keep me company while sketching away at my desk; The new Coldplay Album, Ghost Stories of course, but also this song from a great up and coming band, El Born with a track called Kangaroo (video and song below.)

(Animated by Indie Venture "Right Side Up" Story by Ian Keteku

One half of the El Born duo is Si Connelly, a fellow Cheltenham'er who just so happens to be the most talented singer/songwriter to come out of this little town (like me, he survived this town!).

In my early twenties I met Si gigging at a local acoustic night where I had taken my acoustic guitar to sing a few songs (when I was in my early twenties I did think I could be a rockstar... like I think everybody gets in their early twenties! Thankfully I realised rockstardom was not meant to be ;)

So anyway, my terrible singing aside, I met Si and was instantly captivated by his songwriting skills, passion for music, and incredible voice - he just had that 'something' - a bit of musical magic perhaps - and above all he was a really nice, down to earth and humble guy who helped me to set up my mic and guitar for my 'set'.

I'm proud to see that, 14 years later (thankfully I stopped singing) but Si kept on, and he's now producing the most amazing tracks with another incredibly talented musician Hils Granger, and together they make up the band El Born. They've even had a hat dip from Coldplay themselves.

El Born are coming to Cheltenham on 30th May playing at Subtone - and you must come!!!! For more info click here for ticket information.

And buy the song here before it hits the big-time!


Thursday, 22 May 2014

London in two days

I love London, it's huge and there's always something to do.

A few things I enjoyed doing in London on a recent two day trip...
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// Hopping on and off Tubes; popping out in a new area each time, the little independent shops, cafes, sights and touristy attractions.  

// Popping over to see the Queen at Buckingham Palace - I'd never been and must say it's HUGE! 

// Munching on lovely food, burgers, big brunches, breakfasts and enjoying the taste of some awesome coffee.

// Browsing in some of my favourite shops, Antropologie, Liberty, Paperchase, Lululemon Athletica, Zara Homeware, the big Topshop and many more!

And I definitely got a work out running up and down the many many many Tube station staircases!

London really enlivens the senses in more ways than one, and it's such a diverse place - anything goes!

What do you love doing in London? Can you recommend your favourite eateries?


Wednesday, 21 May 2014

New Twitter profile template

When Twitter launched their new profile design earlier this year, I thought - Yikes!

I don't like change, so stuck with the old one for as long as possible. Sure, Twitter kept asking me if I wanted to 'turn on' the new version, but I resisted, imagining that stars might collide and the earth might be turned upside-down if I pressed 'Ok.'  

But after seeing some other Tweeter's pages, which looked pretty cool, I forced myself to be brave and take the plunge.

But alas, I first needed to re-design and upload the different sized header images - argh! - which are different to the old Twitter profile sizes. Doomph.

So this, ladies and gents, is why I figured it out and I thought I would share it with you and help you out so you can come and join me in new Twitter land! Below are the easy steps and a free Twitter image template that you can use as a starting point.

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The secret of the new profile design below....
first of all, I opened a blank Photoshop file
> File > New > Blank File

Then, type in the name you want to call the file, then in the dimensions I tapped in width = 1500 Pixels and height = 500 pixels. Then in the next box 'Resolution' make sure the setting is at 300dpi (sometimes it defaults to 72dpi, but making sure it's 300dpi will make your image nice and clear and not pixilated).

The new 'BIG' header image is 1500 x 500 pixels BUT, it will almost always crop about 50 pixels from the top and bottom when you upload - this is to take into consideration different screen sizes and the mobile site version (confused? yep, they don't make it simple, do they!) So basically to cut a long story short, just make sure you don't put anything important right at the top or bottom and just stick to the general centre of the image and you should be fine.

(If you're on a BIG monitor and increase your screen size, Twitter will probably show 'all' of your image - but not many people view Twitter on a mahussive monitor.)

Equally, avoid putting anything important on the bottom left of the image - because this is where your 'profile' picture sits so it just blocks anything that's there.

So, back to Photoshop, you should now have a BIG WHITE SPACE. Now what to do with it?

Well, you can just drag and drop a photo from your album that you like, or add some text, or drop in your company logo etc etc.  I dropped in my logo and a few images from my sketchbook from recent projects. I wanted to make it look 'Sketchbooky' so I put a filter over the images (but you don't have to do this).

Just play around dropping in various images until you find something you like (You click >File > Place and select an image if you can't drag and drop from your laptop.)

Once you're happy with the image click Save, and drop down the file format and select JPG and hit Ok.  Et voila, you're done.

Now, for the smaller 'square' profile picture, you need to follow the same steps but set up a New Blank File and make sure you start with the dimensions as 400 pixels by 400 pixels. Both files are designed separately and uploaded in Twitter settings, separately.

Yeah, you DID IT!  Now go and upload that bad boy and let me know when you have so I can have a look!

Let me know if you have any questions or need any help!


Must see Sydney

Following on in my travel postcards series, today we're stopping off in Sydney on Angie B Airways!

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Sydney is undoubtedly one of my favourite cities in the world. What's so great about Sydney? Surrounded by water, beautiful scenic harbour, heaps of beaches and coves, amazing food, coffee and the city shopping is bananas.

Also, the beauty of all New South Wales is all around you within driving distance. 

Head up to the northern beaches to an area called Avalon to escape the hustle and bustle of the city beaches, or hop on the ferry for a 20 minute beautiful journey through Sydney harbour waters to Manly, a trendy area where the surf break is off the scale.

The thing that will always make me laugh about Sydney is hopping on the Manly ferry at rush hour after work and seeing city workers in their suits holding onto their surfboards eager for an after work surf. Now, that's the life, right?!

This print is part of my new travel series and will be available to buy online soon.


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Tuesday, 20 May 2014

New York

It's up to you, New York, Neeeewww YoooOoooork!
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Who else loves NYC?

(NYC has Shake Shack, after all.)

Where's your favourite neighbourhood in New York?

Monday, 19 May 2014

Coldplay - ghost stories

Way back in between 1999 and 2000 I bought a small EP 'The Blue Room' CD by an unknown band called Coldplay.

14 years or so later, today Coldplay release their 6th studio album and have not only sold quite a few g'zillion albums since, but are one of the biggest bands in the world.

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So, as you can imagine, today I am very excited to get their new album, Ghost Stories.

I'm also excited to watch the Coldplay TV Special tonight on SkyArts where the band have pre-recorded a special concert of their new material.

I feel like I've grown up with Chris, Johnny, Will and Guy - each of their albums and songs pinpoint a moment in my life, and when I hear that song it takes me right back there.

Here's the new track listing - but remember when the album ends, stick around for the hidden track.



Friday, 16 May 2014

Illustration friday

Can you believe it's Friday already?

And, gee wiz, get a load of the sunshine that's popped in for the coming weekend!

Spring has definitely sprung! it's a balmy 23 degrees out there currently.

What have I  been up to this week?  Well, I'm glad you asked, because I sometimes forget too, so here's a quick recap!

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1// Greetings card design 2// The Cheltenham Coffee Map (available soon to buy!)  3// logo design process 4// Illustration for Tigerprint.

I also had the pleasure of meeting some great local creative business owners this week - check out my interview with Floss and Mischief's trendy needleworker, Genevieve, in my new 'Afternoon Coffee Chats' feature > here.

Have a good weekend! See you bright and early on Monday morning.


Wednesday, 14 May 2014

Afternoon coffee guests

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I've got this new little segment I've started for the blog called 'afternoon coffee guests' - where I'll be having a guest over to introduce to you all, answer some questions and to have a bit of coffee and fun while we're at it!

Sound good, doesn't it! Well, check this out, this afternoon's coffee guest is a really rather stylish cross-stitcher Genevieve from the awesome makery of Floss & Mischief.

Come and join us for some creative chatter, tips and advice!

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Genevieve Brading (owner, maker and chief stitcher at Floss & Mischief) has made needlework trendy again with her modern designs, colours and unique style.

1. How old were you when you first started cross-stitching and what was the first thing you made?

I’m guessing I was about 6 years old. I was always dabbling with crafts growing-up and was given a cross-stitch kit for kids. It was of a big ladybird and used massive plastic canvas and chunky wool. Maybe my love of cross-stitch critters started way before 2011, because I stitched it all diligently.

2. When was the Floss and Mischief brand born?

It was late 2011 and I’d been arguing with my boyfriend about taxidermy – he wanted to fill the house with very on-trend stuffed and mounted insects, but I put my foot down as it’s just too creepy. As a peace offering I designed and stitched some cross-stitch beetles for him.  Today, my needlework business still rocks the taxidermy trend, and we’ve also got exciting new stitching products in the pipeline. In case you’re wondering, I still argue with my boyfriend about taxidermy.
Check out more taxidermy cross-stitching on the website:

3. What made you take the leap from 9 to 5 to self employment?

It felt like the right time to do it. I was designing my own patterns, I wanted to be my own boss, we were house-hunting in the countryside and I knew I’d have to quit my London job when we relocated. It was the kick up the backside I needed to try (scary) self-employment. I’ve never looked back.

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4. What one piece of advice would you give anyone who's sitting at their office job feeling like a drone who wants to make a go of working for themselves?

Stop thinking about it and just start doing it, if only on the side. You don’t need all the answers (no-one has them all); learn as you go. But the sooner you get going, the sooner you’ll grow your own venture and escape the office job. I wish I’d done it sooner.

5. What has been your favourite project that you've worked on with Floss and Mischief so far?

Flip, I’ve worked on some amazing projects and couldn’t narrow it down. If anything, I’m most excited about what’s to come! I’m bursting with ideas and new products to try, which make me want to do a happy dance. I’m especially pleased with my new Thread Art collection, as I’ve always been fascinated by old black and white photos and finally found an excuse to use them in my work. It’s a joy to combine two things you love, like old photos and embroidery, and to call it work.

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Thread Art link

6. Who's your inspiration (who do you think is totally cool)?

I think Tina Roth Eisenberg, aka swissmiss, is dynamite. I love her attitude, her energy, how she sees a gap and does something about it: like inspiring you over breakfast (CreativeMornings), helping you to prioritise workloads (TeuxDeux app), providing co-working space (Studiomates) and raising the bar for temporary tattoos (Tattly). Have a gander at her talk on “taking your personal projects seriously” at (second video on the page)

7. Do you have any favourite blogs or websites you regularly read?

In terms of stitching blogs, I like how &Stitches make embroidery accessible and Mr X Stitch for showcasing stitchers who push the boundaries. I find it really useful to read about people and businesses from other industries though; I often end up being inspired and learning new stuff. For example, I’m totally in awe of Pinch of Yum and how they talk so candidly about their blog income. Are you that brave?


Woohoo! Thank you Genevieve for being on the creative hot seat this week - how groovy was that insight into the world of Floss & Mischief?! Check out the coolest cross stitching kits by clicking these here links // Shop // // Follow on Twitter //

They'll be more creative afternoon coffee guests next week (and if you want to join me for some creative afternoon coffee chats, send me an email and we'll see about having you over - but only if you bring the coffee;)


Monday, 12 May 2014

Boden Autumn Winter 2014 Launch

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Anyone who knows me will know how much I love colourful clothes and stripey tops - and nobody does colours and stripes as awesomely as Boden.

I was lucky enough to pop along to the amazing launch day of their Autumn Winter 2014 range and was knocked out by how amazing all the new designs were! Wow, we are all going to look so awesome this Autumn / Winter!

The Boden team are so fantastic and talented, and just have such unique style and vision. Creative Director, Justine Tabak has been with the company almost from the start and her vision is so colourful, fun, cheeky and a big adventure for the senses.

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On the Tube on the way home I couldn't help but sketch some Boden inspired ladies with some fun patterns and stripes...

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So, a Boden Autumn and Winter will see a cheerful clash of colours, textures and patterns - pops of pink, turquoise, mushy pea colours, sky blues, and that all important Boden Yellow (mustardy colour).

The patterns at Boden are some of the most fun you'll see - they've got printed tops and shirts with birds, squirrels, London guards, hearts, spots, stripes, glitter... you name it!

You can't not wear Boden clothes and not smile. I dare you to try :)

I have so many favourite pieces from the new range, but there's some lovely snug jumpers and raglans with the cutest patterns on - and there's also the classic Breton stripes with a really trendy sparkly collar!

Three cheers for Boden! We ♡ you.

Shake Shack burgers in London

A couple of days in London are well spent, especially where Shake Shack burgers are involved.

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I had my first Shake Shack burger in New York some 3 or 4 years ago. I remember it well, and I hadn't touched a burger for about 8 years previously.

But my friend, Emma assured me that Shake Shack burgers were flipping incredible and of a much different class to the old burger we had become accustomed to in the UK.

Sure enough, one evening she dragged me to the little Shack Shack Burger cafe in Madison Square park. It looked so pretty, everybody sat outside on a spring evening, twinkling fairy lights over the tops of the tables attached to trees and a HUGE queue we had to wait in for ever. But it was sure worth the wait. And from the first bite my love affair with Shake Burgers was made.

Now, back in the UK, we didn't have Shake Shacks until recently. Last year one opened up in Covent Garden, so every once in a while, when I make the trip to London for business or pleasure, I make sure I make a stop by Shake Shack especially. I once travelled half way around london in the biggest traffic jam ever, just to get one!

So when I spent a fantastic couple of days in London last week I introduced my boyfriend, Matt to one. I don't think he believed me when I told him how good they were, but the silence as he munched his way through one said it all!

The crinkle chips are really flipping special too! (Especially dunked in some of their really nice tomato sauce.)