Vintage Christmas cards & home decor twinkle

This year's Christmas card design was a thinker, I needed to create something that worked alongside our designbytic branding but also, The Ink Closet. A touch of vintage never hurts at Christmas - and so, I found a cute Dachshund/lady picture and a Santa. I illustrated a Cheltenham-inspired stamp which put my 'stamp' on it, and worked in a designbytic pattern on the inside. Gift tags were also made to tie this in with the pressies.

My Christmas groove on, I went a bit crazy with home decor. Being our first Christmas in this home it felt like the perfect opportunity to find some new bits, Homesense was the perfect spot for this. The tree was covered in mostly 'white paper' decorations with a hint of red (no tinsel allowed). I also found a cute paper sign from Homesense, which I think is a Meri Meri goodie. When it's not falling down, it looks great. 

Merry Christmas

This girl can. Feminist branding at it's best.

This week I saw an ad that stopped me in my tracks. I say tracks, I was sat cuddled up on the sofa recovering from another 'winter-comfort' meal. But after seeing this advert and hearing that old 'Missy Elliot' track, I wished I was doing something more active. Go to the gym, go for a swim, join a zumba class...either way I felt inspired (which is the point of this whole she-bang I'm sure).

'This Girl Can' is an advert made up of real women, with real bodies, really working hard and really feeling the effects (sweat, tears, jiggle...) be it through a boxing class, playing football or running down the street. During a time where feminism seems 'fashionable', this is an advert that celebrates it rather than focusuing on someone moaning that women don't need to wear make-up, or that women don't get paid enough. It is an energetic breath of fresh air that reminds me of the uplifting 'Cancer Research' adverts. Focusing on the good with a slight nod to the bad.

After seeing the advert I did some research into what this is about. It isn't directly trying to sell us something. It's trying to encourage us. To better us. In their words...

'This Girl Can is a national campaign developed by Sport England and a wide range of partnership organisations. It's a celebration of active women up and down the country who are doing their thing no matter how well they do it, how they look or even how red their face gets.'

The website itself is also a thing of beauty, the logo is slick, sporty, un-fussy, not too girly... the branding is elegant with an edgy serif typeface, tints of purple, and imagery that portrays movement and realism. For a campaign that seems pretty selfless, they haven't scrimped on the good stuff. 

Take a look at to find out more.

Mad Men-inspired vintage magazine snippets

A recent trip to our local vintage shop (literally a few minutes walk from the house, which means trouble for me) brought the discovery of some beautiful fifties magazines. A while ago I posted a similar blog, showing sneak peeks inside the first vintage magazine I'd bought - and it's taken up until now for me to find some equally as good. From fifties pin-up ladies advertising cigarettes to drool-intensifying Cadburys adverts, there was a good selection to share on Instagram. My favourite is the Butlins advert, with it's vintage-esque colours and (of course) fifties pin up. This is the only one I shall be cutting out and framing.

Another purchase from the vintage shop was a christmas-themed baby grow - perfect to dec out my recently spayed Dachshund with.

Enjoy these retro snippets...

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 :-) 

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 Cheltenham wedding fair with style

Whilst this Sunday has been made up of daffodils and mother's day dinners - last Sunday saw me taking part in my first wedding fair with Cupcakes & Bakes

It was lovely to share a stand during what turned out to be quite a daunting task, for moral support and company throughout the day. Saying that - we both made an effort to get around and meet other suppliers. Everyone was lovely, in particular Laura Power and Penelope Gibson who were on the stands either side of us, and Glow Love Lights who I met on my walk around. I also saw a friendly face in Stefanie Trower who I had worked with on a photo shoot before.

The Cotswold Style wedding fair took place at the town hall in Cheltenham, which in itself is a stunning venue. This meant plenty of room for a stage to showcase the wedding dresses in regular catwalk shows, and a huge variety of suppliers. It was therefore important to stand out, and we were quite pleased with the results of our white crafty chic wedding fair stand. Paper pom poms, white crates and flowers decorated our display of wedding stationery examples, cupcake displays and websites showcased on our laptop/Ipad. 

In particular, and whilst I don't wish to blow my own trumpet (too much), our mini-leaflets went down a treat. The gesso paper stock made it look like quality pieces that people wanted to touch, unfold and (hopefully) keep. It was also a great ice-breaker and bridged the gap between a business card and our websites. I think a few first-timer tips may be in order...

1. Think about the overall look of your stand - choose a theme and stick to it. Remember you'll need something that ties in with your offering but makes you stand out in a competitive space.

2. Create different 'levels'. Paper pom poms that hung at the bottom of the table, and boxes/crates on the top created different levels to catch the eye. 

3. Be brave, get up and around and introduce yourself to other suppliers. Who knows who you'll work with in the future...

4. Ipads/small laptops are perfect to showcase your digital offering. 

5. Bring pick up pieces, be it business cards or mini-leaflets. It was a useful way to introduce yourself without seeming too forward.

Now I don't pretend to be a pro but hopefully these thoughts help some other first-timers, and here are some pictures from the event itself...

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...

A visual forecast of what's real in 2014

Yes, I am writing a blog about another blog. But after finding this forecast on the blog over at I can't stop thinking about it. Keeping a grasp on what's 'on trend' as everything flashes by at super speed can be tricky, so what better time to get to grips than the beginning of the new year - get it in your head now whilst it's relevant. 

With that in mind, I found this nice infographic style piece that predicts the top visual trends for 2014 - and it covers a nice spectrum of things. 

What stands out to me from this infographic, is something I've been thinking for a while - that the realistic imagery is the way forward. I am a big fan of Instagram and it's clear that this is having an effect on what people are used to seeing and therefore WANT to see. Clients are also increasingly fed up of 'stocky' images and have been for some time now - why can't designers (some, not all) catch up with this? Yes we want to get emotion and personality across but does it always have to be done with a large helping of cheese? One major problem is that stock libraries make it very difficult to find these lovely realistic/Instagram inspired images without charging you the earth. And you usually have to sift through a large collection of blonde models in 90's clothes with big smiles, to find what you're looking for in the first place.

So why is this 'Instagram-inspired' imagery so popular? Because it feels real. Because you see it and feel like whatever it's advertising is there warts and all, that you can trust the picture - and the product behind it. No it's not right for every project. But one thing I promise to steer clear of without fail are blondes in 90's clothes with big smiles...

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.

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. 

The Ink Closet features in September's Vogue

Well I did speak whisperings of 'Vogue' to those who follow me on Twitter. But finally the time has arrived to reveal that The Ink Closet features in Vogue's AW13 Magazine, within their 'Wedding Wish List'. 

Having always been an admirer of the brand, the magazine and everything it entails - I jumped at the chance to showcase our wedding offerings within their biggest edition of the year. Inside it reads,

"The Ink Closet is home to vintage-inspired wedding stationery and kitsch personalised prints. Based in the Cotswolds the designer, Katie Donaldson, lovingly creates beautiful invitation templates or designs by request at fantastic prices." 

If you've bought a copy and enjoy picking out your Autumn Winter outfits, flash a look our way...