Branded Christmas, bar stops and decorative twinkle

It's that time of year again, when I get to design something festive and fun whilst watching Elf/Love Actually. For my Christmas cards I decided to use the Kraft card material my printer offers for inspiration - using big type, vintage deers and a homemade print that sat inside the cards and as the pattern for my wrapping paper (yes, this year I got over-excited and made matching wrapping paper too). It's been a busy few months but it's good to take time out to do something indulgently creative, I hope the recipients appreciate the festive-icon pattern before they rip through the paper to get to the goodies... (who can blame them really). 

Alongside this I've been doing the usual torturous journey through Cheltenham to get presents in bulk. We had a pit-stop at the new bar/restaurant, Aqua Vitae, which was needed. A drink was had in the beautifully decorated bar that sat around a small kitchen (for snack food only I think...), and we ordered a couple of said snacks. They were delicious, and better than expected for somewhere that had only just opened. Pizza slices, beef skewers...perfect, easy pick-me-up food.

I've also been keeping my apartment festively decorated (mostly with lights - no tree), and have loved my advent calendar gift. I'm actually more excited about this than daily chocolate (and that says a lot). 

Merry Christmas one and all...

Gloucester Brewery's 'Tank', the perfect choice for Beer/Cheese lovers

An impromptu 'jolly' to Gloucester Docks gave the perfect opportunity to visit Tank, the new offering from the Gloucester Brewery. This is an experience for ale lovers to taste a variety of beers in 1/3 pint sizes, delivered in a mini wooden crate. 

Whilst we sat outside to make the most of the sunshine in what is a very nice spot, ordering at the bar meant I could take in the industrial decor (oh I love a bit of 'industrial' decor...). Hanging light bulbs, exposed brickwork and rough wood inside meant it's appealing night or day. 

Feeling a bit peckish, we ordered the 'Five Meats' and 'Five Cheese' Charcuterie boards. £8 for each board seemed quite good, especially as you could choose from a nice variety of options. The 'choosing' didn't stop there, with our five 1/3 beers for £6. This also seemed quite reasonable and the menu made it easy with recommendations with what ales suited your food choices. 

And of course, the branding - spot on. The circular logo looked pretty great on the windows, though I'm unsure of the random blue signage. The dark decor and the primarily black website works better to showcase the white logo and strong 'TANK' typeface. They haven't scrimped on the important pieces like the wooden menu holders either, which work perfectly alongside the mini wooden crates.

All in all, a tasty attribute to the ever-growing Gloucester Docks. 

Christmas Cards and wrapping in a festive black and blue theme

The thing I love most about Christmas (and no it isn't because of the presents, or big bearded man coming down my chimney) is that I have the chance to be as creative as I like - taking inspiration from sources like Pinterest and Instagram. Effectively 'branding Christmas'. 

This years theme was none other than black and blue, with chevrons, black bows and hints of blue. All to tie in with the branding of our sister company, designbytic. Christmas cards were designed using my own Instagram photographs, taking at festive times of the year. Using a gold calligraphy style font over the top and a chevron print inside. These were posted out in a black envelope (again very designbytic) and sealed with a matching blue sticker.

My wrapping also had to tie in with this theme - but this time with the introduction of crepe bows, black and blue ribbons and illustrated gift tags (using the new fiftythree app on my Ipad) - against brown kraft paper.

It doesn't stop there, some Christmas cupcakes are to come - being lovingly baked by the fair hands of Cupcakes & Bakes (branded by us). Keep your eyes peeled for these, housed in chevron patterned cases and wrapped in branded blue ribbon (of course).

A London foodie adventure

This weekend saw the reunion with my former colleague, Jen, in her new hometown - London! Not being a big city girl (I always feel like 'Babe Pig in the City'), I usually feel a bit apprehensive. However, not only did I figure out the tube (ok someone too pity and figured it out for me), but we went to lots of inspirational food/design places... 

On Friday night we ventured up to Madison restaurant for cocktails overlooking St Pauls Cathedral. This was followed closely by dinner of Chicken Poussin with truffle frites and half a lobster with fries, and for dessert chocolate brownie and eton mess (lots of 'nom noms').

On Saturday we went to Spitalfields market, where I could indulge my new jewellery obsession (especially as everything was such good value) and buy a crocheted elephant for my soon-to-be godson, Barnaby. We had breakfast at Leon, which was delicious and packaged beautifully.

We then took full advantage of the tube and headed over to Borough market which was busy (but for good reason). There were so many amazing 'ready-to-eat' stalls - from paella, to cheese pastries or gourmet burgers. As you ventured in there were whole sections dedicated to wine and olive stalls, colourful fruit and vegetables...and cakes, brownies and cookie stalls (where I purchased a cheesecake brownie - a combination of perfection). The energetic stall holders and the beautiful branding of the market itself - made for an inspirational spot. 

We then walked off the cheesecake brownie along Southbank. I loved the busy atmosphere and all the places Jen took me to. The girl did good :-) 

Sunshine & Smut


Whilst writing about my sunshine filled adventures, the rain pours outside. Typical. When it has actually been sunny - Lola and I have been making the most of it - admiring the fields full of yellow and the bright blue skies. Having lived in the Cotswolds for well over a year now, the changing seasons still never fail to inspire my Instagram photographs. Post-walk I have been relaxing on our new sofa and armchair, which I love! Retro green with dark wooden legs, decorated in vintage floral cushions and crochet throws. 

I have also been trying to get into my new book 'Smut' by Alan Bennett. I say 'trying' because he usually writes screenplays and this is evident in his writing. You wouldn't say it is easy to follow but the lead character in one of the stories (there are two) is called Mrs Donaldson (I am Miss Donaldson), which, along with the lovely front cover encouraged me to buy it. There are some um...shocking moments? The title probably gives this away... 

Another exciting 'adventure' has been getting my agency website live. I previously wrote about how The Ink Closet isn't best placed to showcase my Cotswold based brand and marketing work - so Design by Tic was created. If you follow me on Facebook and Twitter you'll have seen the website went live last week and I'm really pleased with it. Take a look, any thoughts/feedback would be appreciated...

An introduction to 'Design by Tic'


Things have been a little quiet on the blog front recently - mostly because I have been so busy outside of the online world...well, that's only kind of true.

In the background I have been buidling another website. Not to replace but as an extension of it. Over time I have realised has become very blog/wedding based and no longer the ideal place to showcase my brand and marketing work - which actually I spend a lot of my time doing! If I'm not working in-house at agencies I am usually doing my own client work, or wedding invitations. Of course will still be in full flow, doing what it does best - appealing to brides-to-be and sharing crafty ideas and snippets of my life on the blog.

It's a blooming busy time (apologies to family and friends who have unfortunately come second to this) but I'm really pleased to announce that the website will be ready to share with you at the beginning of May. For now, just a little peek at the design agency that shall be know as...'Design by Tic'. I look forward to sharing more, but until then follow @designbytic on twitter for the latest updates...

A wedding fair reveal...

You may have heard me mention it on Facebook, Twitter etc (just a few times)... but on the 23rd of March, Cupcakes & Bakes and I are sharing a stand at the Cotswold Style Wedding Fair in Cheltenham. Find out more about it here

Of course, a big part of this is drawing the bride-to-be's attention to our table in what is bound to be quite a competitive space. It's important we stand out - and whilst I love the vintage 'floral' theme in my house I feel we might need something else at a wedding fair. So, our theme colours are white, purple and blue (brand colours) - and the style will be 'chic' craft - with a reappearance of the paper pom poms, white paper bunting and some elegant gypsophila in white jugs - hopefully it will be quite an elegant look...

To push our marketing at this event I have also designed us both some 'mini-leaflets' to take along. Consistent in style as we're sharing the same table, but relevant to each of us - this fold out leaflet reveals pictures of our products gradually - giving the recipient a bit more information about us along the way. Printed on vintage gesso paper and cut by me to save costs, it should round things off nicely and be something the brides can take away with them. See my step-by-step pictures below...



My oldest friends will tell you, that I have always been a book worm. From Jacqueline Wilson's 'Tracy Beaker' when I was younger, to 'The Casual Vacancy' and any Nancy Mitford book now I'm a bit older and wiser. I am always nudging my man towards a good book and dragging him around our local bookshop, Borzoi Books in Stow on the Wold to no avail. 

Since being a designer, my love of books and good design have combined for a great admiration of book covers (it actually pains me to see someone with a Kindle). If you follow me on Instagram you will sometimes see my latest read propped up against the red paper bag from Borzoi or held up against the backdrop off my holiday destination. 

I have collected together some of my favourite book covers. If you would also like to share your appreciation for a beautiful book cover then Instagram it, and #alwaysjudgeabookbyitscover 

An exciting open evening at 'Shop in the Loft'

We were recently asked to do some signage for our client, Shruti, for their new gift shop. As a designer, there's nothing better than seeing your artwork in a setting you love so this was an exciting prospect. 

Shop in the Loft, recently had it's open day at the top of The Lavender Bakehouse in Chalford and stocked lots of exciting things (I loved the Dachshund inspired doorstop and mugs, which reminded me of puppy Lola!). It was great to support them on their opening and see my artwork in person. There are some pictures below but make sure to take a visit for some cake and shopping all in one stunning venue - click here to see how to get there.

The best kind of photo shoot is the one that involves cupcakes...

A treat of an opportunity recently fell onto our plates with Cupcakes & Bakes. After creating the logo, stationery and packaging - the next step was to design a website (which is currently in the works!) - and for that we needed some photography to show off the cupcake creations.

So last weekend we baked, iced, prepped the studio and clicked away to get as many shots as was acceptable before eating the 'stars of the show'. Below are some of the results for you to enjoy, keep tuned to see them showcased on their very own website...!

Sweet branding inspiration for Cakes & Coffee

I'm a designer with a sweet tooth - so this branding for 'Cakes & Coffee' really hit the mark with me. Designed by Empatia - this slick and elegant branding showcases both sides of the business with a simple complimentary colour switch (pink and beige). I love the images of the cakes too. It's easy with a business like this to make the branding sickly sweet, but I think they keep the brand in check. 

Sweeeet ice-cream packaging design.

I came across this packaging for an ice cream shop called 'Stellina' based in New York. The girl in me loves the truly indulgent pink but also the typography that pays homage to the retro 'trailer cafes' from the mid 90's.

I really have a love for some retail design from over the pond. I don't know if I have an eye for it now but I keep seeing beautiful cafe fronts, cupcake packaging, restaurant interiors - usually based in San Francisco or New York.

A designer will usually be able to answer that indulgent question 'What would your dream project be?' with something. Whilst I'm sure a majority of answers would be big brands such as 'Nike', 'Coca Cola', 'Apple', mine would simply be - a cute cafe/cakeshop/icecream shop in need of a rebrand...