SO where do I gather inspiration from for new cards, collections and products? Honestly? Everywhere. Whether it's the great countryside I live in, Pinterest, magazines, T.V programmes, existing products, my old collections the list goes on. Inspiration can strike at any moment - the spread the love tractor popped into my head just before I went to sleep and I had to get out of bed and write it down so I didn't forget!
The best thing to do is get ideas down, so they're not just floating around in your head, get a Pinterest board going of all the imagery, thoughts and ideas you like. Transfer that into a sketch book, whether you print out the images and go from there or just get drawing it really is getting started. Once you have started there's no going back.
Really go to town with your sketchbooks, I love this stage in designing a collection. Treat it how you would at University/School. Find out facts, research. If you're looking at flowers, when do they bloom? Where can you find them? Are they native to a country? Make it a real project!
A page from last years summer collection sketchbook - get your ideas down.
Painting to printers and editing
One of the most asked questions I get over on Instagram is how do I get my paintings into printing format. It really is as simple as scanning my paintings in with a flat-bed scanner. The one I use isn't an expensive one, I think it was around £60 from Currys-PC world and takes up little space!
From there I put the scanned files into Photoshop, Photoshop has a monthly fee of £9.99 a month, but it's definitely worth getting. It can be a little daunting to begin with, you can either pay for a course which will cover everything or do what I did (and continue to do) which is Youtube and Google every question I have surrounding it.
When I say editing, not a lot reallyyyyyy goes on, I take away the paper in the background, any smudges I may have made whilst painting, and then resize and position onto the card or print templates I have ready. Once saved as PDFs they can be sent to the printers and they come back to me as cards ready to be sent out to you lovely lot!
All of these things (editing, printing etc) I have learnt through trial and error. I've tried different printers out, I've made mistakes (my first cards I ever printed were horrendous!) and you really have to go through it so you learn.
It's really tempting to ask other small businesses for their suppliers and printers, however that's skipping a vital step of your own small business journey. When it comes to finding printers use the words - custom and bespoke in Google search. So it could be 'Custom notepads' and then go through and work out what kind of thing you are after. Note things like minimum orders, lead times, whether they have an eco policy. Dedicate a day or afternoon to really researching and finding what works for you. A lot of printers do sample packs, order them, get a feel for their papers.
When that first perfect print reaches your door you can be safe in the knowledge that you got yourself there, you didn't cut any corners. That success is all yours!
When you get the right suppliers you will know it's all your own doing!
I hope these pointers have helped a little! All I can say is keep at it, don't give up, learn through your mistakes and it will all work out in the end!