Archives for category: design

We have recently returned from a glorious week in Cornwall. It is definitely one of my favourite places with rocky coasts, dramatic scenery, pebbles, sea and quirky shops. This week my mum joined us for a few days at the cottage Mill Farm and created some artworks with my two daughters Izzie (age 8) and Hattie (age 5). I am so impressed with the results and can’t wait to frame them to remember our holiday. Below is my mum’s artistic story from her blog –

15-03-14- Izzy & Hattie painting72jpg15-03-14- Izzy's painting4-72 15-03-14- Hattie's painting2-7215-03-14- Hattie painting2-72 Lin Kerr: I arrived for the long weekend in Cornwall with two sheets of sturdy paper which had been rollered with gesso. 2-3 layers on the front and 2 on the back is ideal. Izzy helped gesso them and this gave her some enthusiasm for the idea of painting the cottage before we left. The sheets are masking-taped to boards and acrylics are at hand.

First we talked about all the details, counted the windows, kept running up to look behind the wall etc. Then they were each given a waterproof marker and began to draw. I left them alone for this although now and again we chatted about what we could see. Hattie asked me to draw the lock on the green door on the far right.
We used really diluted acrylic for the roof and wall. (I mixed all the colours as it wasn’t practical to let them loose with my artist quality acrylics.)

15-03-14- Izzy's painting3-72The girls cut up a gardening magazine for the grass and flowers. Izzy insisted on no flowers. We discovered that if you glue sideways with the PVA against the grain it gets wrinkled. I painted more glue over all the magazine bits to waterproof them. That evening I stuck masking tape over all the windows and doors and around the house for the next stage. I used my scalpel and the paper is so strong that you can cut and peel off the excess masking tape in situ.
15-03-14- Izzy's painting2stage 3-72We added some salt and a touch of colour to the white and painted the walls, going over the marking tape edges. We carefully peeled the masking tape off together. Then the girls helped mask the roof and edges to paint the sky. The sky was done with a cut-off bit of kitchen sponge with very watery acrylic. Dabbing it with kitchen roll created clouds. Izzy needed to add a bit of hedge on the left. We did the paintings in stages over three days.
15-03-14- Izzy's painting1-7215-03-14- Hattie's painting1-72Hattie added the yellow lichen to the roof and painted the doors green.

Some thoughts about children’s art:

  • A lot of the ‘teaching’ is talking about the subject and observing details, differences in colour etc.
  • The other major aspect is providing fabulous materials and interesting techniques as the work progresses.
  • I always start with drawing using a tool that can’t be erased. Then they just have to get on with it and can’t rub out, ending up with a sad child, and a grubby, otherwise blank sheet with a hole in it!
  • It’s important to snatch it away before it gets overworked (in the nicest possible way of course).
  • Artwork can also be made to look beautiful by taking care and being creative with the display, or by framing it at home.
  • Children really respond to having their work appreciated.

1up1down colI was asked to design a logo for a 10km run in the Oxfordshire area. Because the run is local to ‘The White Horse’, I used the beautiful, stylised shapes of the chalk horse that is engraved into the hillside as inspiration. The run will be up and down a hill so I based the logo on the profile of a hill and two people running with shapes suggested by ‘The White Horse’. The colours are contrasting with a bold, legible text. Better start training!

Concept Board for client

Concept board for client

I will backtrack as one of my best advisors, Megan Kerr, who is incidentally also my sister suggested that it would be helpful to see the processes behind designing a logo. Helen Hartstein is starting up a new company and didn’t have an enormous budget for a corporate identity. However, she recognised that it is very important to have a well designed logo that looks professional as it sets the tone for the company and will also give potential clients confidence. She gave me a clear brief and to keep the price down, I explained that I wouldn’t explore lots of different avenues but stick to the brief. Some clients give a looser brief and may want to see 3 – 4 completely different solutions but that would be a more expensive option. Other clients would want a logo designed and then ask me to design stationery (business card, letterhead, complimentary slip), a brochure, flyers as well as a website. Helen just needed the logo at this stage. Other items may follow as and when they are required. The first concept board that I emailed to Helen showed a variety of fonts, different positions of the stone and colour ideas. One of the logos has the texture of stone within the text.

Mood Board 1

Concept Board 1

Helen chose the font and wanted to explore the option of a hand drawn heart. I also looked at the text graduating in colours and showed her how the logo would look in greyscale and in black and white.

Moodboard 2

Concept Board 2

We were nearing the end of the journey. After seeing the third concept board, we finalised the colour and Helen decided to have the photographic stone as her main logo but to have the hand drawn heart as an extra icon.

Concept board 3

Concept Board 3

I supplied the final logo in various formats such as eps and jpegs to cater for its various applications. And Heartstone now has a logo!

heart logoI’ve recently completed a job for a new client. Helen Hartstein has opened her own marketing agency called Heartstone. Heartstone assists with marketing strategies, campaign management and all the marketing needs for small businesses. I used an image of a heart-shaped stone and a clean, modern font – one of my favourites. The colour scheme is greys with muted greens and purples as accent colours. I worked through a number of variations for the logo by creating concept boards until we agreed on the final one and we’re both pleased with the result. Have a look at her website – – and best wishes in your new venture, Helen.

websiteOne of my resolves this year is to increase my freelance design work. To this end, I have created a website – – although a website is merely the equivalent of a business card and has to be marketed. I decided that it was worth advertising in my local community and start spreading the word that I was working as a freelancer. I was also asked to write an article about myself although my suspicions are that this is to pad out the newsletter but one can hardly turn down a free advertorial. It was a tricky article to write as I know so many people in the village so it needed to be written personally but I also aimed to find an angle that would interest people reading a newsletter. Here is the finished piece and many thanks to my long-suffering sister for editing and advising!

Tessa Case: Graphic Designer

The Henchman loves to know more about new advertisers and we have asked Tessa Case, a graphic designer, to tell us a little about herself.

I arrived in London from Cape Town as a graphic-design graduate with £300 to my name, planning to travel and discover the art I had only ever seen in books as a student. I lived with two friends in a tiny studio flat and when we went out, we could only afford to share a coke between the three of us. But it was an adventure and for me seeing how big a Monet was or the richness of a Van Gogh when all you’ve had is A3 reproductions filled me with wonder. During that year I dabbled in secretarial work, nannying and cared for a 90 year old man – anything to keep body and soul together. Towards the end of the year I met Richard, my husband, and I never ended up returning to South Africa. It was about that time I started working as a graphic designer.

I have since designed for a number of companies with a wide variety of clients from luxurious spas to blue chip construction companies. I have also coordinated photographic shoots, most recently in a house with ten bedrooms. We had complete run of the place and rushed around discovering billiard rooms and new wings of guest rooms. The shoot involved a photographer, his assistant, a stylist, our team and the stars of the day – six children aged from 10 months to 4 years wearing pyjamas. Keeping a baby smiling with an audience of eight so you get the perfect shot is a challenge! I feel as if the pressure is off to make my own home perfect: in magazines, room scenes look idyllic but it is madness behind the camera with all the excess props chucked to the side. Photos are not real life but it was interesting to create the images and to make the sleepwear look gorgeous.

I am now also working as a freelance graphic designer and offer a range of design services including creating and reworking brands, from logos and stationery to developing complete corporate identities. I also create work for individuals, whether it’s an invitation for a special event or a commissioned art work as a gift for a loved one or a client. Have a browse through my website or contact me to see examples of my work.

When I’m not designing, I’m out enjoying the beautiful Oxfordshire countryside with children and camera in tow!

New Year2The guests have flown home, the decorations are back in the loft, the gifts have found homes except for this one – exquisitely wrapped using a black feather and a twig dipped in gold paint. A new year has begun.

I reviewed my goals from last year and was pleased that I had mostly met them. I’ve knitted my cushion and completed the woodland information panel but the biggest goal was returning to work as a designer. I started working much earlier than I had anticipated – in February 2013 rather than in September. It has been extremely rewarding and interesting although I have less time for my own creative work which means I haven’t done as much photography as I would like and nor have I created the artwork ‘Snap – a lost village’.

Other creative highlights in 2013 have been going on a monoprint course with Lin Kerr, taking on more freelance work, creating mini calendars again and challenging myself to buy nothing new for a month.

This year my creative goals are to increase my freelance graphic design business, to use my camera more often and to do a refresher camera course. I’ll also aim to visit an art gallery or ‘creative place’ once a month.


Wishing you all a joyful Christmas with moments of tranquility in the excitement of the season. I asked each family member what their challenges and memorable moments for 2013 were and this is what we all said…

R – Running the New Forest Half Marathon
Tea at the Randolph (turning 40!)

T – Returning to work as a designer
Saturday morning cycle rides, knitting again, amazing family holiday in Europe

N – Starting Year Six
Going to Osmington for three days with school

I –  Learning my 5x table
Staying at a youth hostel in Paris

H – Learning to write the letter ‘W’
Backpacking around Europe and the Eiffel Tower


Nicholas, Isabel and Harriet

calendarsIt was heartening that so many people missed the mini desk calendars that I produce. They are back… so enjoy the 2014 calendar with (mostly) Oxfordshire countryside. They make good stocking fillers, thank you gifts or to enjoy on your desk depicting the beautiful local countryside. They are approximately 95mm square and you can buy them directly from me for £4.00 (plus p+p). They are also being sold at the Vale and Downland museum at the ‘Gift to Delight Exhibition’.

10yearsA friend recently celebrated her tenth wedding anniversary and commissioned me to create an artwork as a gift for her husband. Over the years, they had collected heart-shaped pebbles and she wanted to incorporate them into a design. I used my wooden letterpress letters to hand stamp a phrase and this was printed onto high quality artpaper as a giclée. The texture of the paper, the natural colours of the stones and the text make a very pleasing piece (although this is hard to capture in the photos). After some experimenting, I chose a landscape format with the final heart in tin of course.ten yearsb

betjeman1 betjeman2 betjeman3 betjeman4 betjeman5 betjeman8

An autumn half-term jaunt with my three children turned into a delightful discovery in our backyard. We set off using a map to follow the Letcombe Brook and to enjoy the autumn season – and found a secretive little park called Betjeman Millennium Park. What a pleasure to discover the poetry trail of Sir John Betjeman who had lived in Wantage. I enjoyed the poem in blocks that can only be read if you are in the exact right position and yet the fragments are tantalising in themselves. Interestingly, I didn’t appreciate that it looked like a gravestone until I saw the photographs and wondered at the time why my daughter asked if someone had died there. The cherry on the top was seeing an enamel sign on The Sack House which reads ‘The West of England Sack Hiring Company Ltd’. The building dates back to the early 19th century and served as a depot for hiring sacks to farmers and corn merchants to transport goods. Old signs, graphics, history – and walking with my children bring me so much pleasure and what treasures to discover so unexpectedly. One day I will buy an enamel sign for my home!


Crossing the metal pipes – an added extra to our walk (not part of the recommended route!)

monoprint2 monoprint4A few years ago, I did a monoprint workshop with Lin Kerr. I loved it and longed to do it again. Fortunately Nathalie (above), managed to persuade Lin to run another workshop and I was able to attend and spend the day monoprinting in her conservatory. Not only was it wonderful to be creative in a way that is totally different from my designing job but I was also able to create some lovely textures for layering and creating artworks. Using special oil-based inks, you roll the ink on a sheet of glass. Then using a variety of techniques, create textures and imprints from found objects. I was printing feathers, sticks, coins, letters, string, stars having a ball but also at the back of my mind hoping to create textures I could use to create an artwork about The lost of village of Snap and this year’s Christmas card.


One of the techniques was as follows:
1) Roll the roller over the palette to collect a thin layer of ink.
2) Lay a texture on top of a piece of clean glass. – -e.g. the dried sticks.
3) Lay a piece of fine Chinese rice paper over this and gently but firmly roll over it.
4) The roller makes a dark impression, but the pattern gets indented onto the roller, so the next roll produces white marks. Here are some of my results using this method.

11-09-13-Tessa's monoprint72monoprint1

The image above is interesting. I was deeply affected by my recent trip to Flanders Fields and had planned to take a print of a poppy to use in some manner. The actual print was a flop as the poppy was so thin, it left no impression. However, this photograph of the poppy on the ink creates a very powerful image.

Below are the items need to do monoprinting. Visit Lin Kerr’s blog for further tips and ideas:

  • Ink: Oil-based inks which can be washed off the palette and roller with water. Available Intaglio or Lawrences.
  • Paper: Chinese Rice paper – available Guanghwa (a shop in Soho)
  • Roller: The largest diameter you can afford. It should be a medium soft roller and a minimum size is preferably 4cm X 12cm. However the ordinary Speedball soft brayer works well, but it is a little limiting because its small. Available Intaglio or Lawrences

signage6 signage3 signage5signage2As a graphic designer, signage and writing always catches my eye. One of the things I love about travelling is seeing unfamiliar signs and beautiful lettering as well as a few quirky additions to road signs which make me smile. I think that my mum’s friend Brody may have had a hand in the beautiful calligraphic signage found in Bruges. The stone carving at the Tyne Cot Cemetery is sombre and powerful and it was overwhelming to see the thousands of names carved on the Menin Gate. It is hard for us to even imagine the awfulness of The Great War: the mud, the pain, the unrelenting agony and the sheer number of those dead. We must not forget.signage7signage4

dreamgeniiI work for a small company that designs and manufacturers high-end sleepwear for pregnant mums, babies and children up to the age of 5. I am involved in all aspects of design from creating the textiles (something new for me) to designing the style of pyjamas and duvets to designing catalogues and adverts and being involved in the website.

One of the most exciting aspects of the job is choosing models, planning and overseeing the photo shoots and then having the photos to design the catalogues. We ‘shot’ Christmas in June in an amazing house with 10 bedrooms for us to pick and choose from. I found it fascinating to work with a superb photographer and a stylist as part of the team. It was hard work but most rewarding to see the photos. I also had to smile and I feel as if the pressure is off to make my own house perfect. In magazines, room scenes looks so peaceful and idyllic but it is mad behind the camera with all excess props chucked to the side. I suppose my house could look perfect if I had a resident stylist continually tweaking and adjusting fabrics and accessories. Photos are not real life! But such fun to create the images and make our products look gorgeous.

Click on the link to have a sneak preview of our new range which will be available to buy in a few weeks time –

patchyYou may have noticed I have become a little patchy about posting. The reason being is that I started this blog as a stay-at-home mum who needed an outlet and wanted to encourage myself to keep thinking creatively and to be answerable to something. If I didn’t do anything creative, then I wouldn’t be able to post anything on my ‘creative journal’.

However, I recently and quite unexpectedly returned to work in February 2013 as a part-time graphic designer and don’t have as much time for my own projects. I was planning to return to work when my youngest went to school this September and I had decided to spend January to September researching what was available and updating my CV and design portfolio. I started research feeling nervous but decided it was best to bite the bullet so typed ‘local graphic design work’ into a search engine. Up came the perfect job which sounded so interesting that I thought I had nothing to lose by applying. Instead of taking 6 months to sort out a CV and portfolio, I took 2 days and before I knew it I had secured an interview and was offered the position.

I knew I would not be a stay-at-home mum forever and I have been able to spend just over 7 years without working formally which has been so precious. The new phase of children combined with an interesting job is just as exciting! A little more about the job in my next post.

snells woodland4I was delighted to see that the Snells Woodland information sign is now mounted in location. It was good to work with such a great team on this project.