I mentioned on here I was taking part in March Meet The Maker Month! It was a very successful project and I thoroughly enjoyed having to think about what inspires me to fill my Instagram posts for the month. I thought I would include a couple of my favourite ones and the captions that went along with them, especially as for a few I designed some little pieces.
Here are five of my favourite maker moments...
It's worth taking part in these sorts of projects because social media can help connect you with so many talented people! There's a lot of networking to be done online now, not everyone sees how important social media is to your personal and professional lives. I am only just realising now how much of an impact it can have on my career and future.
I've met some great people and even collaborated through the use of social media! It's how I communicate with friends overseas and now how I show people exactly what I can do.
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A little round up of the year so far seemed like a good idea, especially as we are officially a quarter of the way through! Can you believe it. Where does the time go?
Well I must admit it's been beyond busy for me, I haven't blogged as much as I'd like too but hopefully the exciting stuff happening will give me more to write about and things will settle into a good routine.
I wrote a list of 10 things I wanted to do this year, and ever the anti-procrastinator, I've made quite the dent already. It wasn't until i looked back on it this week I realised just what I've been able to accomplish in 3 short months! Here's a look at what I've already ticked off my list!
1. Firstly, I ticked off Amsterdam with the sister, which I vlogged and wrote about on here. Was a great first trip of the year and another mark on my twenty countries in my twenties challenge. Another two this year please!
2. Secondly, I got my very own pupper Chewie! who is doing very well by the way, I do plan on filming his antics and taking some more photos to write a little more about him on here when I get chance. But he is fitting into the family perfectly and loves everyone!
3. I've finally moved out of my flat and back into my parents after a year of living on my own, this is so I can travel some more but most importantly save to buy a house, which is already on my 2019 goals list. It may not be ideal but I want to plan for the future, and if I can see a bit more of the world whilst seeing a bit more of the family too it's not bad at all!
4. I'll be booking my flights to Australia this week, all going to plan that is! I'll be jetting off on the 14th April for 2 weeks, watch this space for an update on that. I've already done a little holiday shopping so hopefully I can show you what I will be packing for that adventure.
5. Growing my blog was on the list as well as investing in some better kit! Already I have upgraded my camera from the action camera that cost just £80 to my Sony ILCE 5000 (i can actually put lenses on this and it has a flip up screen for filming my vlogs which will be key moving forward). I've also invested in a fancy Manfrotto Action Tripod (which I have a vlog going up about) and completed a Video Marketing: Content Creation course at Media City. I've got the means now it's just about focusing on creating my content, which i can't wait to get stuck into already my next video I think shows massive improvement.
6. A little more freelancing / artwork was also talked about as I love designing my cards and illustrations so much. Good News! I've recently completed two web design freelance projects and a personalised illustration, these were for multiple clients I've been working with outside of my office job. They're going to build up my portfolio and I've got testimonials to add to my website! Not only that but I gave myself a total re-brand, that was desperately needed, so my own site got a little makeover.
I can't believe I've already touched on 6 of my 10 goals for the year! I'm sure there's plenty more I will do this year but having this list has really helped focus me. It's been alot of late nights but the time invested is paying off and that's what matters. As usual I've got about 4 posts written up to go out over the next week because I do need to get into the swing of things with this posting stuff but I promise that I'm going to get better!
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This week I was lucky to get sent on a Video Marketing: Content Creation Course in Media City, to learn about filming, recording, interviewing and shooting professional looking videos (it’s also led to me spending £60 on a tripod for my new camera, but that’s another story).
The course itself was over two days, and I have to admit I learned so much that I think will be very helpful in my career. Alice & I decided to make a little video of our time on the course, putting what we had learnt into practice. Creating content about creating content, it's amazing the simple things you wouldn't think about when filming that can make all the difference. This video should be going live on my channel as soon as I can get it sorted, the footage was so much fun to shoot and edit.
On our arrival, we signed in and were given a brief description of what the two days would entail (a lot of information to take in). Then after some video guidance, we were sent out to film some footage, for us to work on over the two days. This was pretty funny especially as it was freezing and particularly windy, but we decided to go film outside.
The concept of our first video was Alice getting onto a tram, telling a story was what we had been told to do. We had been given a few key things to consider when filming and already only two hours into the course, my whole approach to filming had shifted. It's hard to write as a lot of it is taught through doing so the video will give a much better insight into what we learnt.
The key lessons learnt on our first day though included, shooting scenes multiple times, from multiple angles, capturing the same shot in at least 4 different ways. This can feel tedious but it makes such a difference in the editing stages, seamlessly stitching multiple approaches together is more engaging that one long continuous shot. This means shooting a person, you switch to a close up of them, maybe focus in on a detail of clothing and even follow them on a journey. It was drilled into us that the editing should also be done in the camera, the more work you put in when filming, the less you have to fix in the video editing stages, you want to minimise the work after. That is why lighting, sound, steadiness and other factors should all be considered. Shooting a scene outside during the day, with no traffic and using a tripod will obviously require less editing, than if you shot the same scene when there are cars driving past and you're holding the camera in your hands.
We got to handle an interview, using microphones and sound equipment that improved the quality. This is something I have never experienced, but again the key points of shooting people in this set up involved the rule of thirds (this applies to their position in the frame, on screen). I think the best part about the course was that we got so hands on at an early stage, because the best way to learn I believe is to get stuck in yourself. Practical makes perfect!
On the second day we decided to film the course, this way we could put our skills from the first day to the test. We started from the beginning of the day with the journey into Manchester
Today's the day I got my new travelling pal delivered in the office. Over the last couple of weeks I've been investing all my time and money into new kit. I want to step up my photography and filming game, because I wouldn't be a graphic designer if I weren’t a perfectionist. In this day and age the world of technology (and just in general) is constantly changing. This evolution means you need to be able to move with the times, so lately I've noticed that lugging around a camera, laptop, Ipad, tripod & multiple other bits & pieces is turning into a nightmare. I’ve been buying better kit to take with me when I travel, whether that be with work or for pleasure.
What better for if I ever need to do some backpacking? A backpack of course!
I've got a couple of backpacks (mostly from topshop or river island), but they're not really built to be practical. The one I did buy for climbing peaks is pretty small and so it’s fine for a day with the action camera, some food and water but not much else.
I've wanted a new bag for quite some time, but I think in my line of work buying a fancy expensive handbag just isn't really me anymore. Although I will forever love Kate Spade, I think I needed to look for something more suitable. The ideal being something fashionable, quirky (as I can be a bit of a hipster), that would fit my laptop in and enough stuff for an overnight stay. I’m not too fussed on it being waterproof, because I have cases for all my camera stuff, and if it’s absolutely pouring down I probably won’t be outside filming or working anyway.
With that all being taken into account, here she is...
Meet Olive (named after my favourite red head Emma Stone in Easy A) my Fjallraven Kanken. I’ve been lusting after one of these for 6 months now! They’re perfectly sized for travelling and I’ve seen plenty of people carrying them around Manchester. At around £70 for the classic, they’re definitely not cheap. It’s an investment for me though because I know I’m going to use it a lot! It also helps that I grabbed this particular one on SALE, for just £40.
The colour is burnt orange (not my first choice but in person it’s pretty amazing), it’s perfect for the summer months. This colour was the only one on SALE, I had a choice pay double the price to choose or take a risk with this one. I love a bargain and if anything it made me be a little bold, rather than sticking with a darker fabric. Summer is the perfect excuse to brighten up your wardrobe so I don’t see why I shouldn’t try out some new looks.
I'm off to Australia in just 2 weeks - that's the plan anyway. (I'm only booking the flights in a couple of days so it’s a bit last minute). I'll be staying with friends from my Trek America & hopefully get to stop off in Adelaide and Perth. I always try to travel light so I want to take just a carry on suitcase and my backpack, since I only really need my filming kit & clothing. This will be the ultimate test for her, so we shall see how she holds up, but I may get in a hike before then if the weather permits. For now I am just excited to pack her up and set off. There’s a lot more to come over the next month, wish me luck!
*Update the Australia trip is now on hold until October, because of a little Chewie incident (which I have written a post on). Take a look at my Birthday in... post to see where I'm headed next now!
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Branding is a key part of identity in modern society; we buy into the idea that some brands are better than others. It's how people like Nike get us to spend so much on trainers. However, in graphic design the world of branding extends from big corporations right down to small business & freelancers.
As a designer your brand is meant to reflect your personality and style of work, it’s more professional to have branding and shows people a little of what you can do, before they even get into your portfolio. I've dipped in and out of my own branding but never really stuck to anything. This year I decided with all the success of my work online last year, setting my website up, starting the blog, selling cards and everything else, having a brand that spreads across my social media was key. I wanted something that would connect all the profiles and distinguish me from the competition, which I could proudly use to make my mark.
Now the hard part was coming up with the idea. I'm useless at this, I see a lot of people with characters designed to look like them, and it’s cute but not quite my style. I specialize in Graphic Design so branding should really be a skill I possess. I think a logo that is something minimal you can stamp or print on the edge of all your work is much more affective, that way no matter how big or small it should look good on media in print or digital. With that in mind I knew I needed not to overthink the concept, so I got an idea from Danny.
My name is Aby (pronounced A-bee), I always go by this over Abygail. I sometimes joke with Danny that we met on Bumble because of my name. My mum purposely spelt it this way rather than Abby or Abbie. Anyway, it’s unique so I thought something simple like an illustration or vector of a bumblebee could be quite cute. This wasn't working in all my initial sketches so I decided to dissect the design a little further.
From the bee I tried using the stripes and writing my name simple ABEE, but again I couldn't quite get it how I wanted. I wanted to get across this concept of uniqueness, so I took something that would be different on every single insect, the wing pattern. Taking the simple shapes and adding in my own lines, I then coloured the inside sections before removing the outline. The placement of the wings creates a Capital A shape, in a very simple pattern. It’s mad when people ask me about being a designer because this is the sort of thinking processes that happen, people will just see a logo, but I see the hours of carefully thought out design decisions made. This logo connects to me in a very subtle but intricate manner and that’s why I love it so much.
My usual colours are often my favourite blues and greens, because I am a very natural and outdoorsy person. To reflect the bee imagery that was involved I chose two colours - Gold & Honey, which are very appropriate indeed. For the finishing touches, I added in my Adobe Pencil hand rendered typography (similar to that found on my Thortful cards). This mixes my digital and hand drawn elements, creating a logo that best reflects me. It also adds a personality to it by using my handwriting, so it doesn’t feel corporate at all.
Put simply, I’m colourful, very busy (bee), who likes graphic design and illustration. My name is how I want people to know me, I’m a person not a company, it’s fitting and hopefully it’ll prove popular moving forward in my career.
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I've been doing this blogging thing for a few months now. I want to get more into it and make it a more regular part of my life. I've been blogging weekly, love taking photos or filming, but until now I hadn't really invested into doing it. This week I bought myself a brand new piece of kit, my new baby if you will! I figure that if you want to motivate yourself at the gym, you buy new trainers. If you want to work on your design skills, you take a course. If I want to make better blog footage, I needed a better camera (because the next step is learning more about the blog making process).
I've actually got a course coming up that is sure to help me improve my filming skills, but more on that next week. I'm super excited to get this baby out the box and it will be getting tested over the next few weekends, so I'm hoping to film the dogs and try and take some nature shots to see what it can do. I'm not looking to make blogging my career, but I do love creating content, so I want to produce better quality content! This is for me to look back on when I'm old, to share experiences with my friends and family and to inspire me to create something every day (no matter how small).
I'm super proud of the things I've worked on so far, as it’s a learning experience but I really want to challenge myself. As I learn more, I know my skills will grow and as this happens you'll be able to see the change in my blog / vlog content. With plans in the pipeline to travel, the only thing I am really missing is the kit to capture it. I really need to get in front of the camera a little more if I am trying to engage an audience, but that's not something I've quite mastered yet. For now I am happy staying behind the lens.
I could go into the technical specs of this camera but if you look up the Sony ICLE 5000, I'm sure people with more knowledge than me can help you out. I based my decision for this camera on a couple of things (I did research, read reviews but not going to lie price played a factor)…
BELOW ARE SOME SHOTS FROM MY NEW CAMERA
I was never going to invest a £1000 because it’s not my career, it’s more of a hobby that I’m trying out. It will be useful though photographing my work, when I’m on holiday or at my next gig. A camera is a good piece of kit to have, my mobile phone takes some decent pictures don’t get me wrong, but it’s not quite the same. Now I have my gear all I need is a mountain to climb or a city to explore, let's see how this goes...
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How did we get to March? Already?
The one good thing is it's finally Meet the Maker month. This is a little online thing I'm getting involved in, so everyday of March you give a little bit of information about yourself. Your'e given little hints to guide the posts each day beginning with 'You', then 'Where' and these start off simple but then get a little more interesting. Above is my 'Where' piece, I love that everyone will interpret this a different way (a lot like INKTOBER).
The idea is you give people an insight into who you are, what you do, which for me is great as a graphic designer. I am always posting bits and bobs to promote my design, and in general sharing my life, whether that be photography from traveling, a daily doodle or even pictures of my family & friends. As a daily instagrammer, the idea of posting everyday doesn't phase me at all. In fact, this kinda makes it easier because my posts have a purpose this month.
If you want to learn more check out Joanne who is responsible for this challenge!
There are lots of people getting involved and I love these kinds of projects, it encourages you to be creative especially when some days the captions are 'Can't live without' or 'Boomerang'. There's a great opportunity to find fellow creatives and even collaborate, but it's also just a bit of fun. If you want to check it out, head over to my instagram @aby_bradley to see my posts or search #MarchMeetTheMaker online.
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With Mothers Day coming up this weekend I thought it would be nice to write a little post (earlier than usual) about greetings cards. I have designed my mum her own card this year (it’s what I do), because for me cards in the shops don’t necessarily always capture my sense of humour. It’s a lot more satisfying to come up with the idea myself and put it into print, than to buy something I am not 100% happy with.
This is why I started my own Thortful page. I always say I picked up a pencil at age 3 and never really put it down. My doodles although sometimes odd and a bit funny, always went down well with family and friends. This made me decide to try and branch out a bit.
I wrote a little post about my card designs a while back but I have created a whole bunch of new things since then. You can check my Thortful page out HERE.
I wanted to share with you some of my biggest sellers and some new stuff too! It’s good to get your design out there, even if only one person buys it.
Here’s a couple of series I have so far…
Read Between the Lines
Look closely at these, they're not quite what they appear to be.
Things are Coming
Couples who watch Game of Thrones together, stay together.
Everybody loves a bit of movie cheese.
For those magical occasions, when a love potion isn't available.
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Over the last few years I've been very lucky to travel a little bit (not nearly as much as I'd like). My recent trips to Trek America and Amsterdam are on here but I've been writing up some posts from my travel days before this blog. I’ve been to Gran Canaria, Germany, Dublin, New York and all over the Untied Kingdom. Each trip is unique and I'm a bit of a collector.
Every trip I bring back something for myself. The dilemma is I hate souvenir shops though and the tacky gifts that come with them. This means I often collect things some people would throw away. I have plane tickets, concert tickets, polaroids taken in each place and local currency I had leftover. Most recently I started buying iron on patches, which are quickly becoming my new obsession when travelling!
My mum always asks for a magnet, so I have for the last 5 years been picking up one from every destination for her to put on the fridge back home. This can be challenging as I refuse to buy an ugly one, so I have to often search high and low when I do any shopping. Here’s her collection (or I should say my collection) so far…
I recently put together a pin board, with a scratch map my friend bought me a couple of years ago. Around the outside are a handful of polaroids, tickets from all sorts of places, business cards and other bits I pick up whenever I go or do anything. I like to have something to remind me of where I've been, what I've seen. Don't get me wrong I take photos too (sometimes way too many) but having a memento is much cooler. I don’t know when this started, it feels like something I have always done, I can buy prints from holidays or I can fill a frame with all the bits and pieces. They’re definitely talking points when I have people over because each item usually comes with a funny anecdote or reminds me of a story.
I'm also one of the few people who still print photos. Don't get me wrong if you're reading this then you know I am social media mad, I love Instagram most because I'm a very obsessed with aesthetics. There's just something about scrapbooks that I can't help but love. In Gran Canaria for example we went to a little market, where I picked up a locally made photo album, it's not the most practical but the album itself is a souvenir and I love the feel of it. I think I have this thing for handmade stuff, anything physical just has so much more appeal than a download or JPEG (which is funny because I work mostly in digital).
This is just a little insight how I collect my memories. I wonder if anyone else does the same? Or perhaps you prefer to not have anything weighing you down? I know people who go and live completely in the moment, which I do some days (at least one day while I’m in another country or city I spend most hours off my phone) but people share so much of themselves now, it’s hard not too. I get caught up in creating something to share with people, so when my friends and family want to hear about it they have a visual aid too.
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I’ve returned from Amsterdam, and I already miss it. However, I’ve been reunited with Danny & Chewie so it’s not all bad. For the most part it was cold, DAMn cold (get it). I went with my sister Lara for 4 days, our first holiday together, it was bound to be interesting. I’ve spent the few days since returning editing my action camera footage, which is available on my youtube channel HERE. I’ve also been resting because I managed to damage some muscles in my foot, and no it wasn’t because I fell over after a few too many space cakes. It was actually a result of my stubbornness. I prefer to walk everywhere (whenever possible) rather than pay for taxis or public transport. There are two reasons for this, the first is it saves money obviously, the second you see parts of the city that you would otherwise miss and it makes me feel more like a local.
Danny drove us to the airport but the morning wasn’t uneventful. We got stuck behind a seven vehicle accident and then got delayed for over an hour, it didn’t dampen our spirits though. On arrival the first challenge we faced was getting the train to our hotel. I work these things out before I travel, so I knew where we were going. The hotel was just a ten minute walk away from Sloterdijk station, and a 30 minute walk into the city. We stayed at the lovely XO Hotel Park West.
Ahead of this trip I used GetYourGuide.com to book a few activities, it was my first time using them and I downloaded the app so I could access my tickets electronically. They were excellent, I didn’t have any problems and it just made organising stuff so much easier.
Our first day I had booked us to do Europes Highest Swing on top of the A’DAM Lookout. Now I’m used to cold weather (I live in England, the North West to be exact) but it was chilly in Amsterdam with the average temperature being 0. We walked up towards the waterfront and from there took a ferry boat across towards the lookout. Up at the top the views were absolutely stunning, it had gone dark so the city was lit up like a christmas tree. I never get tired of this no matter what city I am in, climbing up to the top of a building and looking out is such a humbling experience. The swing now was quite daunting, we got strapped in and it began to lift us into the air. Then the mechanics kicked in and it swung out over the edge. It was a similar sensation to being on a rollercoaster, those sickening butterflies mixed in with adrenaline, although I think this was a little more terrifying. I would recommend giving it a go, as long as you’re not scared of heights.
We walked through the red light district, took in the peculiar sights, stopped for a couple of milkshakes at the popular Bulldog Palace before calling it a night. My phone died so the walk back was an interesting one, navigating a city I didn’t know in the middle of the night, we managed to make it back though.
Our second day started with crepes, banana and Nutella! A delicious breakfast for what was sure to be a long day. We had a couple more activities booked, so took a leisurely walk in their direction. Stopping to take plenty of photographs, both on my polaroid and film some action footage (although I’m investing in an exciting new piece of kit soon, watch this space). We found The Powerzone where we played a pirate themed, glow in the dark mini golf 12 hole course and ended up spending an hour bowling, we had a laugh particularly as neither of us were very skilled in these. In the evening we had booked the Ice Bar Amsterdam, so we found a cute little square filled with coffee shops and chilled out for a couple of hours.
The Ice Bar was ace, the experience is well put together. You get a selection of coins, to exchange for free drinks in the two bars. The first bar served cocktails which we didn’t resist, my Amsterdamned was juicy. Then a bell rings, a little pirate themed video plays and you’re whisked off to put on gloves and coats before the arctic adventure begins. Now, I thought the 0 degrees was cold outside but down in the bar it was -9.4 degrees! Here your drinks are limited to Heineken or a shot (rum was my choice) because it’s too cold to keep anything else. We posed, drank but once my fingers went numb it was time to leave. A hot shower back at the hotel and I began to thaw out nicely.
Day three was a little more artsy. The Moco Museum had a Banksy exhibit on and so being a graphic designer I couldn’t miss it. We stopped for bagels and hot chocolates before stepping out into the sunshine. In the few days of walking, I realised I’d seen more bikes than I had seen in my entire life, or would see outside of Amsterdam, it’s mad! We stopped by the tourist spots outside the Rijksmuseum, including the I AMSTERDAM sign for another photoshoot, some frites and a little bit of sun. The pictures from the Moco do it more justice than I can, I love galleries and the artwork was thought provoking and in some parts trippy. We spent the rest of the day eating, shopping and relaxing. Another evening of coffee shops (they’ve all got awesome signage) and milkshakes, before we knew it, it was time to head back and pack for our early flight home. I’d love to head back to Amsterdam and explore more of the museums, I also like cities I can walk around all day without getting bored. It just had a chilled, cool vibe (for more than one reason).
I picked up a couple of souvenirs this trip, I’ve gotten into patches and my sister pointed out this ace Amsterdam one (it’ll make a perfect addition to my denim jacket, I’ve ordered a few for places I’ve already been too). My mum only ever wants a magnet, so I got this pretty ace one from the A’DAM giftshop, then Danny my boyfriend (who doesn’t want anything) I got this beanie for, knowing I’d probably end up stealing it. I picked up some cute tees in this store called Coolcat and a few sweet treats (mostly because the chocolate packaging in Amsterdam was insane).
At this moment I am already looking at my next adventure, all going to play in six weeks I will be flying to Australia, then I am hoping to book a Trek America in for March of next year and I would love to fit in a trip somewhere later this year. A weekend in Italy or Croatia sounds ideal right now, I’ve paid my last months rent and so next month I have a lot of opportunities to consider with moving home. I want to start saving but I also know that I won’t get this chance to travel again so I want to make the most of it before I have any real responsibility in my life. You only get to experience your twenties once.
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Aby, 24. Northerner.