As well as doing our plastic-free Lent experiment, I also spent March taking part in #MarchMeetTheMaker on Instagram - an opportunity to share a bit more about myself and my brand. The full set of posts is on my Instagram feed, but I thought I'd add a few days on here, just for posterity.
Day one of #MarchMeetTheMaker: You
Today’s prompt is to write something about little old me, so… hello! If you don’t already know me, I’m Jules and I’m a hand-lettering artist and designer. I sell cards, wall art and whatnot under the name Now Then, Sunshine! and I hail from sometimes-sunny (currently very snowy) Yorkshire. I also have two small humans / crumb-generators to try and keep alive, so my life is pretty full at the moment – and my desk is rarely this tidy! I like long walks up big hills, laughing until my tummy hurts, random acts of kindness and endless cups of tea.
Day two of #MarchMeetTheMaker: Where
Leeds has been my home for almost 20 years, but a bit of my heart will always remain in Sheffield, one of the most brilliant places on earth. So instead of choosing between the two, I'm simply going to say that my 'where' is Yorkshire: the mothership to these two most excellent cities.
It's pretty snowy here at the moment and my wellies have holes in them (my trainers have taken a bit of a battering), but it's been a brilliant week of fun, frolicking and building snowmen in God's Own County.
Day three of #MarchMeetTheMaker: How you started
I used to be (and occasionally still am) a copywriter. I love playing with words, weaving them together in interesting, engaging ways that are pleasing to read. But by the end of my second maternity leave, I found that my brain had been so battered by sleep deprivation and my mind was so full of nappies and nursery rhymes and toddlers and too much laundry that the words had simply stopped coming. Attempting to write creatively felt like staring into a thick fog; like trying to find meaning in a world of blank nothingness. Going back to work made me feel completely terrified.
Then right at the end of my maternity leave, my best friend bought me some calligraphy pens for my birthday. They sat on my desk for a long time while I felt too daunted to do anything with them, then one day I picked them up and had a go. I was instantly hooked. My creative writing block was instantly unblocked by a creative writing of a different kind. I started playing with words all over again, enjoying weaving them together in interesting, engaging ways... but this time on the page, instead of in a Word document. And it felt so right.
I was crap at first, obviously. But after these pens came brushpens, then watercolours, then calligraphy pens and I started making cards, wall art and all sorts of stuff. I set up my business, Now Then, Sunshine! and it’s been growing steadily over the last year and a bit. It’s never really occurred to me until now how much my children’s sleep-stealing changed my life, but I’m so glad it did.
Day four of #MarchMeetTheMaker: Favourite thing to make
My favourite thing to make is things like this! Lovely quotes, cool words, stuff that just fits together nicely. Few things make me happier than sitting at my desk, designing layouts, then making them look beautiful with paint. I’m honestly in my element. This painting was for a tropical mail swap I did recently, coming soon to my Etsy shop!
Day five of #MarchMeetTheMaker: Photography
Here’s a shot of my amateur little setup. It’s basically on my (temporarily cleared) desk, in front of the window for lots of natural light, with white mount-board balanced behind it to bounce extra light and soften shadows. I try to show the materials I’ve used alongside the piece I’m photographing to add interest and tell a bit more of a story - and all flat-lay shots are done on my iPhone because they don’t need much depth of field. Anything fancier requiring more depth is done on my DSLR, but these shots are few and far between these days because it adds a few more steps to the process!
Day six of #MarchMeetTheMaker: Workspace
My husband and I both work from home and we share a studio, which most people think is madness, but it works (apart from he never makes the bloody tea). My desk is currently covered in Mother’s Day cards and is usually a lot more cluttered; the organised bit is my paint shelf because if I can’t find a colour then I go slightly insane. There’s also a washi tape tower, photos of my wee ones and my Granny and Grandad’s old radio, which I had converted to digital a few years ago and is almost always playing 6 Music. I like being here - it makes me very happy!
Day nine of #MarchMeetTheMaker: How it's made
How it's made consists mainly me sitting and painting at my desk, then scanning, digitising, printing and tea-drinking (see this post from last month about how I create things from start to finish). I use a waterbrush a lot of the time for blending, which is always very satisfying. And sitting here, painting, creating, making, whatever... is one of my favourite things to do in the world.
Day 10 of #MarchMeetTheMaker: Time to relax
There's not time for much relaxation when you have two children under five, you run your own business and you're in the process of buying and renovating a house, so the this prompt threw me a bit. But actually, painting IS how I relax, even though it sounds weird because that's what I do for a lot of my job. Yesterday, on Mother's Day, I took myself off for half an hour to paint this and it was a such a gift to get away from the chaos to sit quietly and create.
Day 11 of #MarchMeetTheMaker: Branding
Now Then, Sunshine! was born at the end of 2016, when I decided to try and turn my scribbles into a business. I very nearly chose ‘Suddenly, Something’ for my business name, but we were laughing about something in the pub one night and my husband said jokingly “now then, sunshine!” and it just felt right. A proper good Sheffield phrase. My branding happened after lots of doodling – it could do with a bit of an update, but there always seems to be something more pressing to do. (And please don’t get me started on the ridiculous, haphazard sticker-removal in this photo – I used to be so systematic, but now I’m clearly just all over the place!)
Day 16 of #MarchMeetTheMaker: Helper
My helper is also known as my husband. He's the eyes I run everything past, the brain I pick, the smile that keeps me going and the arms that support me when I'm ready to drop. Now Then, Sunshine! wouldn't exist without him and I'm grateful for him every day. This Audrey Hepburn quote sums it up pretty perfectly and is now available as a card and A5 / A4 quote in my Etsy Shop.
Day 19 of #MarchMeetTheMaker: Can't live without
What can I not live without? Tea. This heavenly drink of the gods is what gets me out of bed in the morning. It gently cajoles me to my desk when the kids are deposited at school / childcare, then it nudges me to do a morning’s work, before providing the perfect excuse for a break. It’s the ideal accompaniment for natters with friends and the solution to all life’s woes (that, and gin). In short, my day is built around tea (strong, white, no sugar) and I really do believe that it solves everything. I painted this card ages ago and never listed it, but a friend has just come round, seen it, bought it and told me to list it right away. So it's now in my Etsy shop!
Day 20 of #MarchMeetTheMaker: Tools and materials
I get through a lot of paint, brushes and paper in this business of mine! I painted this quote this morning for the first day of spring – I can’t wait to get outside, stretch my legs and feel like winter is finally over. This is available now as a print in my Etsy shop.
Day 31 of #MarchMeetTheMaker: Creative Friends
It's the last day of #MarchMeetTheMaker and today it's about creative friends. I've made some wonderful friends online through communities like Just A Card and Handmade Hour. God knows what being a maker was like before the internet (a very lonely existence, most likely) so thank goodness for modern technology and the connections it brings. These name cards were part of things I sent in a recent mini mail swap I did with Hatchling Makes, The Treasured and Load of Old Bobbins: some very excellent ladies and fabulously creative souls. High fives all round!