In the new year, I am so excited to be asked to be a guest teacher in The Journey Within: A Year of Handmade Art Journals with book maker, Kiala Givehand and 16 other artists.
I am interested to apply my Plant Ally oracle card style in a mixed media art journal. My word of the year (2016) is JUICY and this feels like a delicious opportunity.
The class starts on January 1st and goes on for the entire year. Each month, Kiala will teach you how to make your own handmade art journal, give you prompts, tips, and techniques for filling the pages, and bring in guest artists to share their take on the themes and prompts, and to share their art journaling process. To kick off this amazing course, Kiala has created a book for December and asked each guest artist to give her a challenge to complete during the month.
As you may be aware, I love to create and make oracle cards that are inspired by nature. I often use the cards to gain insight and tap into my own intuitive wisdom. I decided to use one of my cards as a theme for the challenge. Here’s what I asked Kiala to do:
I invite you to work with the Plant Ally Card Bugle which is all about setting Intentions. Read the description on the back of the card with 2016 in mind. On a piece of paper I invite you to write all the intentions and inspirations you have for 2016 (a kind of riff and flow of consciousness). Cut the piece of paper into shapes (possibly a flower or plant ) and use it as a collage on your art journal page. Add any colour and embellishments.
What about you? Are you ready to take the challenge?
Join us for this amazing adventure and have your most creative year yet. CLICK HERE to learn more and sign up for the class. Oh! And if you decide to try the challenge I gave Kiala, leave a comment with a link to your blog or to the page you completed so I can see your beautiful interpretation.
Onwards and upwards my friends.
When I collaborate with clients to create their unique and authentic websites, the process of thought-provoking questions can sometimes lead into a whole new journey of self discovery. Almost as if the permission to express their tastes and ‘wouldn’t it be great if I…’ leads to a time of unsettling uncertainty. Sometimes they have become so caught up in the formulas and comparisons of how their website should/ought to look that they lose themselves in the process.
Can you relate?
I hear a familiar story time and time again… “Oh the website I have (whether off-the-peg or hired a professional to do) just isn’t me. There is something missing and I can’t quite put my finger on it.”
Although the self discovery is a fabulous experience in itself ;), it can often create indecisiveness and a temporary hiatus along the website collaborative journey and delay a launch.
So I would like to share with you today, one way that I have effectively used to prepare myself for my own website build.
It may help you too.
It is an indirect way to focus and access key information on what you like/dislike for your own online home. A way to step back and look through a different lens…but one which is rich in truths about what you really want.
I love to explore independent cafes. Last summer, I spent a week in Southern Ireland. During that time, I was particularly aware of new experiences. This was facilitated by a daily journal where I would often write a few notes here and there whilst sitting in a cafe.
I noticed that my overall cafe experience was influenced by the type of surroundings I was in at the time. So I started to pay attention.
How did I feel about a cafe? What did I like/dislike?
I was struck by one cafe/restaurant in particular, named Ard Bia at Nimmos in Galway. In fact, I would say it is my favourite cafe ever. I would visit it weekly if it was based in London. You see, it has a look and feel that I relish and helps me feel at home and closely connected to joy.
But not my actual home….more a place that feels like the essence of me. Your home is a personal and intimate space that you share mostly with your family, but a cafe is more an extension of your home. A place you would be delighted to visit alone with a laptop, meet friends, or have a family gathering. It’s a place that leaves me topped up in a delicious way..but something more than simple nourishment: an experience, a story.
It is not just any cafe…it’s my own soul cafe.
What do I love about my soul cafe?
I love the rustic white walls, earthy tones, quirky explosions of colour, recycled and slightly worn-out furniture, stone or wooden floors, an eclectic mix of pots/pans and plates, passionate and friendly down-to-earth staff, a obvious sensitivity to the planet, the smell of home baked bread and apple pies, the smell of the coffee and locally sourced produce creating simple dishes with complex flavours…I could go on.
A slow pace and a feeling of being and not doing, not wanting to rush the experience, as every moment is a delicious nourishing bite that satisfies the appetite of my soul…The homemade gifts that reveal more of their craft.…their story. The feeling that I freely want to purchase and take a part of them home with me.
What people say about Ard Bia:
It’s not just me…
“…one can see the alchemy of the mind and spirit is possible here. There is something about the motley jumble of old kitchen tables, clerk desks and bentwood chairs that screams sanctuary. A place apart. By being yourself and ‘making it’ you are planting a seed in that persons soul that they too can ‘make it’ if they stick to their own true nature. You are mirroring back to them all that they can achieve…
…There are places in the world where one feels safe in this world, cosseted, nourished and nurtured. Places where one’s thoughts come easier and with a brighter, deeper, more enlightened quality. They are like cocoons, alembic chambers that help ease our troubles, stepping-stones on our path from darkness to light. Unfortunately, such places are as rare as truffles, but this just adds to their potency… ” Manchàn Magan
I aspire to and desire that my website feels like that…like my own independent soul cafe!
What about you?
You are a human being with all kinds of quirks and paradoxes…perfectly imperfect…just like the rest of us…with a particular taste of what you like and don’t like. Yet you may not have given it a huge amount of thought, let alone with regards to a website overhaul.
So, I invite you to spend time at your favourite cafes, take a journal, take a camera and mindfully connect in. These are the places you would love to go to anyway. They light you up for their own sake. Make the experiences your very own business dates.
It may also be interesting to visit a place that does not stir your soul and establish why that might be?
There is enough of a detachment (from your website) to explore effortlessly, but also enough of a connection to your taste and what you really want. Breadcrumbs of clues to make up your own unique story and visual for your online home.
Perhaps you will discover that you love the familiarity of a cafe chain which is, again, important information that perhaps you do like to follow formulas and create a website similar to your peers. Who knows? Just trust and be honest with yourself.
Make this great fun and a revealing experience and adventure! Go on…have a go;)
Over to you
I would love to hear about your own cafe discoveries and what that might mean for your website.
If you like my quirky take on things and would love to outsource or have a collaborative buddy to help you with your next website creation, then I would be delighted to assist you. My services can be found here, so feel free to connect with me.
You are a year or more into your business and know that you want a new website: perhaps a total brand overhaul?
You feel kinda stuck as to how that should look: What logo? What colours? What theme?
If you are anything like my clients (and me), you love the idea of evolution and transformation. It can feel stifling when faced with the challenge to visually brand you and your business…so soon! You want to be able to try things on for size, see how they fit and feel and then iterate over time.
Can you relate?
I like helping people, like you, get past the glitch of what to look for. An effective re-frame is to become a Living Brand. Instead of stalling at logo design and over-designed themes, think about the visual narrative that can weave throughout a website and brand to convey the story of you and your business. The essence of what you want your audience to connect with.
We all love picture books!!
Picture your very own unique illustrations, peppered throughout a website and social media that can convey a perfectly imperfect digital storybook of you.
I would like to introduce you to one of my clients. Her name is Lisa Barber from Roots and Wings . She is a perfect example of a Living Brand. She allows herself to be part of a wonderful journey of transformation as she crafts her niche. It is through keeping open to possibilities that she now has the most wonderful living narrative running through her new website and brand.
Lisa hired me at the beginning of January to create the website of her dreams and to perfectly compliment the nature of her work and its context. I think we have done an amazing job! Take a look here. Lisa has a strong background in sales & marketing, and also a definite love of the countryside and her kitchen: her home!
Her kitchen has become the venue for her workshops. Not only is it decorated in Farrow & Ball colours (which I love!) but also amongst sumptuous textures, comfy cushions, cups of tea, pheasants, characterful cats, wellies, flowers and beautiful views of the countryside. It is an ideal home in the countryside: a place to retreat to when you need some time out to think about your business.
What better ingredients for a website story!!!!
So, we set to work. After questionnaires, chats, Pinterest board sharing, I developed a strong sense of Lisa’s taste and the feeling she wanted to evoke with her website.
We deliberately moved away from her original graphic logo (on right here) which limited the style and the story she wanted to tell. She had a new story about The Kitchen Table Workshops and so much more… A simple and beautiful structure for her WordPress website was required showcasing the elegant colours she adores and connects with (helped by some wonderful samples in the post).
It is our intention to convey the story of the kitchen table, the cute cat and the visiting pheasant..We even crafted a 404 page that captured the embarrassment that may occur if a client opened a door to one of her spare rooms (we all have a door we hide stuff behind, don’t we). Mugs of tea, cake and sense of fun were portrayed with the occasional glimpse of wellies, or a favourite fluffy toy.
As well as her business, this is her life and she wants to share some of that with you, on her website, so that you can get a sense of what working with her can be like. To feel you are on a retreat, to gain business nourishment within a delightful country home setting.
Through working with Lisa, I have fallen in love with her idea and the visual story of her business. I hope you can see this too when you take a look around.
It takes courage to invest in your business brand
When it comes to investing in your business, there is nothing worse than paying thousands of pounds on a re-brand, only to feel afterwards that the brand is not quite you. There is something missing. Maybe it was created based on what you think the client expects to see, or what your peers are doing, or rigid formulas applied that are not resonant with you.
We are connecting more and more with the vulnerability of being human and this can make all the difference when a prospective client finds your online home…We look for those written words that we can connect to. Perhaps we can also visually connect and enhance our written words in a way that shows our authenticity and uniqueness: our quirks?
Sure it takes courage to invest in your business, as we fear we may get it wrong.
But, there can also be a visual dance connecting and uniting your brand and unravelling from your website to flow into your social media. Breadcrumbs of clues on each page. A cohesive story of your tastes and interests right now… A visual narrative that sits within a robust and well-functioning, yet simple, website.
Your needs may change over time, but that’s okay as the evolution and story of you will inevitably change too. Stay open to it…
and there is me
I am passionate about what I do and care deeply that my clients are taken care of… unsticking them from complex arrangements between previous website designers, hosting companies and a plethora of muddling obstacles that make things confusing. I even have my own hosting company now to make sure my clients are okay behind the scenes.
As much as possible, I aim to make every website as accessible to edit as possible: A Living Brand! But, I am also available for ongoing maintenance packages and iterations too. You only need to ask…
Over to you
So, dive in and fall in love with Lisa and her business. The look and feel of her website helps you to connect the dots and decide if you are a good fit for each other…Enjoy. We would love to know what you think.
If you or someone you know are thinking about having a website redesign and you like what you see here, then perhaps drop me a line and we can begin a collaborative conversation.
I really enjoyed taking part in Susannah Conway’s August Break 2014. So much so, that I could not help joining her again with December Reflections 2014. I find the process of taking photographs very relaxing and great fun which keeps my imagination primed… I hope you like what I came up with…
Hello, This month I am spending the month taking a daily photograph as part of Susannah Conway ‘s The August Break 2014 challenge, so I thought I would put them up here for you to see. I love to have new creative challenges and photography is one where I normally just point and shoot randomly…. The daily email prompts will hopefully up-skill me a bit…:0) Do join me, it’ll be fun! Till next time, Lisa xx