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A good strong cup of….

This morning, I made a full plunger of coffee, thinking, “two cups should have the desired effect”.

As I went to pour my second mug, the pathetic dribble that splashed around the bottom announced that I had in fact already HAD my second cup, and the little clock on my computer screen is screaming, ITS MIDDAY! GO AND WASH YOUR FACE!

Its midday, its Friday already, and 2019! what the! what happened to that Y2K bug everyone was going on about almost 20 years ago….

coffee mug by kylie matheson
Gorgeous wee mug by Dunedin Artist, Kylie Matheson, gifted to me by my father. Now, sadly void of coffee. (Seafood icon design concepts in progress in the background)
Whoah up a minute. Two things I need to remind myself here

Be Present

Currently, I’m putting together a book written by my dear friend and motivational speaker, Michael Conway.

Mikey was born with Spinabifida, but as he claims, it wasn’t born with him. It doesn’t define him, and he’s easily the most positive person I know, despite difficulties he faces on a daily basis. (Check out https://www.facebook.com/adventureswithspinabifida/ )

As I was composing one of the pages in his book this morning, a sentence jumped out at me:

You can’t change the past, so accept it. You don’t know where the future will take you, you only know right now!!

A timely reminder echoing Eckhart Tolle’s The Power of Now and the words at Matthew 6.34.

Right now, I’m good. Full of (coffee) beans, and ticking off what I wanted to achieve, even if its not as fast as the high expectations of myself demanded.

Be organised

I’ve found that planning out my weeks has been the best way to counteract feelings of overwhelm, something that would render me feeling powerless and incompetent in the past.

free wall planner insta

A diary is a great tool, but this year I’ve created a wall planner. I used something similar last year, and it helped to stay on track to achieving goals (and not forget important events!)

I’d love to share it with you, if ya reckon it might come in handy. I’ve set it up nice and big at A1 size, 594 x 841mm, so you won’t need elves to write in the boxes for you. Your local print shop should do you a deal, and if you’re on a tight budget, ask for black and white plan printing.

Click this link to claim yours:  —–>  http://eepurl.com/gdKCVH
and lets smash 2019!

Aroha nui, Tui.

Top 9 artworks of 2018

A new year whispers promise of new beginnings, change or at the very least a resetting of the clock.

Or maybe that’s just me.

2018 has been monumental, with extreme highs and lows, making creativity feel like a chore many days and yet if it didn’t happen, an itch would begin creep into my fingertips, through my arms and into my mind until sitting down with a blank piece of paper seemed the only reprieve from insanity.

What I’ve learnt this year is that everyone deals with a complex mind, and everyone needs an outlet. Getting that gunk out from your head and into sport, art, music or conversation seems like it should be as natural as breathing out. If we only breathe in, we’d eventually pop.

At the end of 2017 I was burnt out from trying to be an inauthentic version of myself. I didn’t know what I wanted, so logic assumed “Just do what you think people expect of you”. Unfortunately, what I thought they expected of me was more than what I could physically offer, and not sustainable long term.

In November 2017 I found myself lying on the bed in the spare room of my best friends house (thank heavens for her), unable to do much except breathe. I focused on my breath, my body, and trying to fix whatever was wrong with me that couldn’t just be happy.

Then, I gave up on trying to fix it, realizing that was exactly what i’d been trying to do this whole time, and clearly my plan for myself wasn’t working. I rediscovered the meaning of faith, and handed it all over to a power higher than my own (whatever you perceive that to be).

In January of this year, I breathed out. I let go of my marriage, my job, a lifestyle that wasn’t working, and people in my life whom I needed to, simply because they were, well, heavy. I stopped trying to please everyone, and although it wasn’t pleasant, the repercussions weren’t as bad as my nightmares had convinced me they would be.

I made the decision to become self employed, moved to the other end of the South Island, and trusted that no matter what, 2018 was going to be ok.

It’s been more than ok, wonderful infact. Its never perfect, but like Sheryl Crow crooned in the 90’s, No one said it was going to be easy.

Working for myself is a whole other ball game, but now I’ve tasted it I wouldn’t change a thing. In a world evolving towards a wave of freelancers and online entrepreneurs, i’m excited to see what 2019 has in store not only for myself, but humanity in general.

To sign off on this year, i’d like to share with you my favourite 9 creations for 2018.
Happy new year 😁

Kowhai Floral Illustration
Inspired by the Maori proverb: “Poipoia te kākano kia puāwai” Nurture the seed and it will blossom
White Cherry Port
An illustration commissioned by Suncrest orchard for their white cherry port
Lindis Pass - Mackenzie Country NZ
Lindis Pass – Mackenzie Country NZ, painted from a photo taken during my move from Central Otago to the top of the south Island this year
Bateman Motorsport
A pencil drawing commissioned by Richard Bateman of his Mitsubishi Evo 9
Rebel the Staffy
Pastel portrait of a friend I made this year, Reb the staffy. Always down for pats and a piece of ya lunch
Apa ki te Ao
Progressive iwi, Nga Apa ki te Ra To created a whanau resource to help them feel more confident with their culture
Riverton Rocks
Digital illustration looking at Stewart Island from the coast along towards Howell’s Point, Riverton NZ.
Polymer Clay Jewellery
Discovering sculpture in a small way with polymer clay
Illustration from Tapuae O Uenuku
An illustration from the book titled: The footsteps of Uenuku, detailing the origins of Mount Tapuae O Uenuku, a Marlborough Landmark

Why do only some small businesses survive?

What I have learnt from a decade of working with small businesses

In over ten years as a graphic designer, I’ve worked with hundreds of small businesses. Some have stood the test of time, and others flopped within the first couple of years. I started noticing a trend with the ones who kept coming back to me, year after year, with stories of their success.

The secret is hidden in the stories. The businesses that stayed afloat, kept their loyal customers coming back, and sky-rocketing their turnover all had a pretty incredible story to tell.

They had built their empire from nothing.
They had undergone a tragedy which made them determined to be more.
They had risen as a female in a male dominated industry.
They had been let down by previous business partners and decided to go out on their own. They were a single parent.
They had started fresh after a marriage failure.

They all had a the same great down to earth kiwi humility despite their achievements, and they shared it with their customers. They let their customers get to know them, and that was the secret.

When your customer knows you, they start to trust you, and when you trust someone, paying their invoice stops being a bill, and rather becomes an exchange of good energy.

You don’t have to survive a tragedy to be successful in business. Your life story is equally dramatic and adventurous and made you who you are today. The difference is whether you choose to share it with your clients and how you choose to do so.

We can get caught up in thinking that being a professional means we can’t be personal. I like to think we can be both.

The most rewarding part of my work is helping clients translate their stories it into a strong brand and visual marketing materials. Never discredit the value of who you are, because there is no one quite like you.

small business

Before you hire a graphic designer, do this:

3 steps that will save you time and frustration

Hiring a graphic designer is exciting, because it means you’re at a stage in your business where you are ready to translate your ideas into marketable products.

Before you do, however, here are 3 practices that will save you time and frustration.

hiring a designer key one

Stop.  That’s right, to move forward, stop for a moment and sit with your idea. All successful clients that I’ve worked with have had their “ah ha” moment, during a moment of solitude, peace or vacation. It’s hard to be inspired when you are juggling 2 teenagers, employees, a renovation and what you are making for dinner.
Whether you mediate, walk in nature or visit the beach, take at least an hour out for yourself, with a pad and pen to note down anything that comes to mind about your project. Think about what you want your designer to achieve for you. Write down your values and ethics, your ideal customer, what defines a good design for you.

hiring a graphic designer key two

Know what you like. Take the time to research existing brands, but don’t labor over it. 2 or 3 examples to show your designer is plenty. Look up your competitors, and other brands, what you think works and what doesn’t. It will save you time and money if your designer can know from the beginning that you don’t like floral lace patterns, but love abstract watercolor and geometric shapes.

hiring a graphic designer key three

Be open minded, and ask for two concepts. If your budget and deadline allows, ask your designer to present you with two variations on your concept. You will be able to compare side by side, and will generally favor one over the other or, you will be able to point out the elements you like from each, for your designer to move forward and refine it.