Hello, it’s been a while

Ella Johnston still life (c) ellasplace.co.ukMy first post of 2018, sorry it’s taken me so long. Although I’ve been quiet on the blog front I’ve been busy everywhere else; undertaking illustration commissions, preparing for up-coming exhibitions, making craft how-to videos, growing my print and stationery business, continuing my work with Uni-ball and Dannells and working on an exciting new publication for Dunlin Press. I’ve been working like a beast.

Ella Johnston Illustrator photo: Martin Bewick
Hello!

The break has actually been a good thing as it’s given me some space to think about Ella’s Place. From the very start I wanted this to provide a genuine insights into a creative life; my work in progress, they way I work, what inspires me, what I do, my processes, plus my passions and penchants. A step away from the blog has made me think about the best ways I can get back to that original concept.

Ella Johnston Illustration Workspace (c) Ella Johnston
My drawing board!

So many blogs are product focused and I do want to show you stuff that I like and things that make me go ‘ooh’. But I don’t want to simply do product placements – I want to inspire you, make you smile, let you know what I am up to and hopefully give you some practical tips, advice and insights into illustration, craft, up-cycling, veggie food, mindfulness and living an all-round fun, balanced, creative, happy life. I’m working on it. Pimped up POSCA pots (c) Ella Johnston

Monday Moodboard: Handwriting

Brush Lettering Monday MoodboardThis week’s Monday Moodboard celebrates handwriting.

Handwriting is a passion of mine and ever since I got my first calligraphy set at nine years old, I’ve been perfecting my ‘i’s, ‘f’s and ‘r’s.  This has paid off as my handwriting is something I am consistently complemented on and I’ve often been commissioned for feature illustration (see below). Handwriting Boots Health and Beauty, October 2010During the summer I attended a lot of AW/Christmas 2016 retail shows and at least half of them featured live calligraphy sessions. I’ve also noticed that some of my favourite illustrators are running brush script and calligraphy workshops all over the country. It seems in the world of digital, the tactile, fluid quality of hand-scripted or brush type is still something to be treasured.
A initial 20With this in mind, I thought I’d do some pieces of my own. You can buy my initial prints at my Not On The High Street shop.

C initial 20
Monogramed Notebooks with Posca Pens ellasplace.co.uk
Banner display ellasplace.co.uk

 

Drawing of the week: Badger

Badger Illustration Ella Johnston

This week I’ve drawn a badger.

I’ve been experimenting with woodland creature drawings with watercolour and ink over the past couple of months and I must admit I’ve had so much fun illustrating this charming animals.

Badger print from Not On The High Street ellasplace.co.uk

Actually I’m quite drawn to my woodland folk so I’ve made some of the drawings into prints. My hare, badger and fox prints are now available on my Not On The High Street shop.
Fox print Ella Johnston

Hare print Not On The High Street ellasplace.co.uk

Drawing of the week: A rainbow unicorn!

Unicorn Print Ella Johnston. Available on Not On The High Street.

I know. Me? A rainbow unicorn? Drawing of the week? Yes, yes and yes.

The unicorn is a very special drawing for me as it meant doing something out of my comfort zone and taking a bold step.

Last month I visited the Not On The High Street partner day – it’s a great event for all the sellers on the site to come together learn from each other while also getting insights and advice from the NOTHS team. One of the services they offered was a clinic looking at my shop and evaluating all my products. To be honest this was a big deal for me – after creating the illustration, designing the products, shooting them, writing the products and marketing them, sometimes criticism, however useful, constructive and helpful, can be hard to take. But I have resolved this year to take the advice, learn from any criticism and act on it and most of all not to take things personally. So I made use of this years clinic for my shop.

Actually I received very little criticism. I was on trend, my products and photography were really good and I got the word ‘beautiful’ a lot (always good). I just needed to work on my SEO and put some of my products into a more lifestyle setting. After all that stealing myself it was one of the most positive experiences I’ve ever had.

Unicorn Print Ella Johnston. Available on Not On The High Street. God, this is getting to be a long story, sorry.

Anyway I asked the women running the clinic if there was anything I could do to improve my offering, anything my style could be suited too, anything new I could try. “A unicorn” they said, “Create a range with a unicorn.”

Okay.

But I don’t do girly stuff. I don’t do fanciful stuff.

Why don’t I?

Why don’t I try something I’ve not explored before?

So I set about answering this brief. I wanted to do it with enthusiasm, integrity, honesty and love, like I do with all of my illustrations. After lots of visual research, I got really excited about this new challenge and set myself seven days to create the illo then get it onto a print and get it into the shop.

I picked up my watercolour paints and fine nib black pens and went to work. Dr B was quite surprised, he envisaged a mythical, goth type creation instead he got a handsome steed with a rainbow mane – a girly unicorn!

Unicorn Print Ella Johnston. Available on Not On The High Street. So here is the unicorn print. I’m immensely proud of it as it represents more than a drawing but is a symbol of my journey as an illustrator and as a person, leaping into the unknown and trying something new. I’m hanging this bad boy in my office now to show me why it’s so important to keep striving. You can buy my print on Not On The High Street. 
Unicorn Print Ella Johnston. Available on Not On The High Street.

Make a Mindfulness Gift Box

Little box of mindfulness (c) Ella Johnston ellasplace.co.uk
Is there someone in your life that would benefit from practicing a little mindfulness? This box of tricks could be the perfect gift for them.

The concept of ‘mindfulness’ is everywhere now and has been for a while. For anyone who’s feeling a bit cynical about the term, I can understand, but I think it’s worth exploring.
Poska Pens pimped-up notebooks (c) Ella Johnston ellasplace.co.uk
Being mindful works for me. After years and years of throwing myself into my work and very little else, stepping back and becoming more aware of being in the present moment and enjoying the here and now has transformed who I am and how I am. It’s also freed me up to be more creative and be better to myself and the people around me.

Poska Pens pimped-up notebooks (c) Ella Johnston ellasplace.co.uk
As someone who loves to work and thrives on being busy I really had to learn to be mindful. I mean really learn. At the start I needed it to be ‘project mindfulness’ (I know). So I made myself a mindfulness kit: candles to light in the evening or while I was having a bath to change the mood and unwind; a (personalised) notebook to write thoughts and observations in (and for doodles and sketches); soothing, properly nice hot beverages that I would enjoy sitting down to drink but wouldn’t be full of caffeine (I love tea pigs chamomile tea); colour therapy pages so I could absorb myself into making something pretty that wasn’t my work.
Poska Pens pimped-up notebooks (c) Ella Johnston ellasplace.co.uk
In those early days I really appreciated this ‘mindfulness kit’ but, regardless of whether you subscribe to the concept or not, it also makes a great gift in itself. I put together a personalised gift box for new mums, friends who are working hard with an all-consuming project or a busy period at work and mates who simply need someone to tell them “I’m rooting for you.” I’ll sometimes swap the tea for hot chocolate for sweet-toothed friends and change the message on the notebook for something a little more rude for certain mates of mine who share my love of curse words (have I not told you that yet?). I’ve also been known to slip in a favourite book to read, which may not totally embody the mindfulness thing but is nice to have nonetheless. The box itself is just a shoe box covered in my scandi leaf paper. I’ve designed the colour therapy/colouring in sheets myself which you can download next week so watch this space. You can find out how to pimp up your candle votives here