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Hanna-Mae Illustration

Illustrator & eco clothing designer

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Monthly tutorial: Spring decorations

This month I’m showing you how to make your own spring decorations. These clay butterflies are super easy to make and would make a lovely handmade gift for someone.

You will need:

  • Polymer clay in two or more colours (such as Fimo or Premo)*
  • Thin ribbon or embroidery thread
  • A small rolling pin (or even a pencil will do!)
  •  Something to make holes (such as a large safety pin)
  • A cookie cutter

* A more eco-friendly alternative to polymer clay is air-dry clay. I’ve noticed it now even comes in different colours, take a look at hobbycraft’s selection here: link

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Step 1

Take a chunk of each of your coloured clays and warm them between your hands until pliable. Roll your clay into a sausage shape and twist, working the clay until you get a marbled effect.

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Step 2

Roll your clay out evenly using your rolling pin and place your cookie cutter over the clay, before pressing down firmly.

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Step 3

Carefully pull away the excess clay (save this, you can use it to make unique beads!)

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Step 4

Poke a hole in the top of your shape (depending on your shape you may need two) and thread some colourful embroidery thread or ribbon through and knot the ends.

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Monthly Review: Making Handmade Books

Last week I showed you some ways to use up your leftover wrapping paper from Christmas, including how to make a boring notebook look a little more interesting by covering it with paper. It got me thinking about how over the years I’ve liked to create my own books and folders to suit my needs (in fact I’ve only just recycled the planner I constructed two years ago; I made it to suit everything I needed, including a to-do section,a shopping list section,a notes section,an emergency contacts section,a day-by-day plan section, and even an inspiration section for when I was low and in need of focus). As someone who loves to work things out and create my own patterns (it’s the asperger’s in me! I love to construct/deconstruct things!) I’ve spent many hours working out measurements for folders,books and boxes. However, sometimes a little inspiration is useful in creating new designs, and for those who aren’t sure where to begin it’s good to have some step-by-step instructions along with lots of visuals. In my second year of university we had an exceptionally brief workshop on bookmaking, which actually set me off on the joy of creating my own books and folders. In the workshop a book was recommended and that’s the book I’ll be reviewing today: Making Handmade Books, by Alisa Golden.

Full title: Making Handmade Books 100+ Bindings, Structures & Forms

Author: Alisa Golden

Price: £9 – £20

Where to buy: Waterstones, BookDepository, Amazon, Ebay

Brief description: Step-by-step instructions along with a generous helping of visuals showing you how to create many different books, wallets, folders and more.

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The Good

For me the best feature of this book is the use of images. I benefit greatly from being shown visually what to do in addition to just being told/given written instructions so this book is great for both text-based learners as well as more visual learners. However, not every single step is shown, just ones that the author deems most in need of extra explanation.

The second thing I like about this book is the layout. Each project is divided clearly, with a bold title for each. Each step is also clearly numbered and diagrams are labelled. I feel this approach is very useful for those who struggle to follow instructions, as it allows you to break your project up into smaller bits, allowing you to focus on one step at a time.

Another thing I like about this book is that you get more than you may have initially expected. You learn not only how to construct some interesting books/folders etc but you also find yourself discovering some unique artists. As someone who enjoys learning, I read the ‘Artist’s Bio’s’ section with curiosity. I feel this would also be useful for art and design students who may wish to research the artists further.

Continuing with the topic of ‘extras’ this book is full of them! In addition to the bio’s the book also includes several pages dedicated to ‘Ideas & Concepts’, complete with inspiring images and stories of interesting collaborations.

The not-so-good

Whilst the book provides lots of information and numbered steps to guide you through each stage of your project, some designs are particularly difficult. The majority would be too complex for children, which is why I feel this book is aimed at adults and older teenagers. This is a foray into the world of serious bookmaking as an art form, rather than a weekend project to occupy children. I admit that some of the designs put me off as it was evident that a lot of time and concentration would be needed and the diagrams themselves were very complex (for example the ‘Tetra-Tetra Flexagon’).

The only other potentially negative point is the need for specific tools for some of the projects. For example, linen tape, awl, certain boards.

Conclusion

Personally, I would recommend this book to anyone who has a serious interest in bookmaking. I think it’s best suited to adults and older teenagers, particularly those on design courses or who have a love for making and creativity. I find myself revisiting this book on regular occasions and for myself it has been worth every penny. The price is reasonable and it can be found easily.

 

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Tis the season…to get creative

Here in sunny Wales it’s been raining for over a week! Although soggy strolls with my dog and taking refuge in coffee shops have been welcome excursions out of the house I’ve been enjoying finishing off my Christmas card design. I’m happy with the finished product and am eagerly awaiting the arrival of my order from the printers.

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Final card design, water mixable oils.
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Edited design 1 (pre-made digital background)
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Edited design 2 (pre-made digital overlay/text)

I feel it was worth taking time over the colour palette as it all ties together nicely. If you missed last months tutorial: ‘Developing your ideas’ you can read about how to tie all your ideas together: link

As my old neighbour (‘old’ as in from my previous home) has been so kind to me this year I decided I would also get a mug printed using my design and give it to her as a Christmas gift.

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Now that I’ve got my Christmas cards sorted I’m focusing on a sewing project for my best friend’s nephew. I finally have an excuse to use up the stash of felt sheets I’ve been hanging on to for a while and am working on hand-sewing a personalised pouch (with lion pocket on the front) filled with wild animal finger puppets.  So far I’ve finished an elephant, a panda, and a tiger. As a long-term vegan I feel it’s important to know all about what I’m using; where the material/food/cosmetics etc I’m using are sourced and the process behind creating them. As some of you may know vegans generally avoid using any animal-related products, one being wool. It’s up to each individual what they choose to avoid/use but I believe in the importance of making informed decisions. You can read all about wool and the ethical issues behind it in my up-front guide here (click to view) : ‘Loom knitting for beginners and your guide to ethical knitting’

Although I’ll be using my own cards this year I have purchased a special one from a talented individual for the owners of a gorgeous little cockapoo who my own dog is in love with! The likeness is uncanny and if you’re looking for some unique dog-inspired art or cards for that dog lover in your life then MindfulDogCo is the shop for you! Run by the talented Imogen who’s based in Southampton, you can find her online shop here: link

 

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Christmas card from MindfulDogCo

Christmas is such a wonderful excuse to get creative, from card making to baking and making your own gifts. Next week I’ll be showing you how to use your leftover wrapping paper and turn it into something beautiful!

 

Happy creating!

Monthly tutorial: Developing your ideas

This month I’ll be guiding you through how to develop your ideas. For me, this part of the creative process is just as important as the creating itself, as it’s the pre-planning that forms a solid foundation for my work. So let’s get stuck in…

‘Where do I begin?’

If you’re working towards a brief (if you’re studying art/design at GCSE onwards this word will become familiar to you and you’ll hear it often) then you have a good starting point. Read it carefully and make bullet-points or highlight exactly what it is you need to fulfil. Are you designing a Christmas card? A design for packaging? Does the brief state what style/feel they want? The more information you have the easier it is to generate ideas. Starting a self-led project from scratch can be difficult because every decision you make has to be your own and a successful design isn’t usually created by just picking up your paintbrush straight away without any blueprints. If you don’t have a brief, set yourself one. Write down briefly what you want to create, who/what it’s for and what sort of style you want. For example, I’m creating a Christmas card design, it’s for my family and friends, and I’d like it to convey warmth and cosiness and be in a cute illustration style.

‘What next?’

Now you’ve got your basics you need to build on this. Your task is to convey your meaning successfully. It can help to make some notes (I like to do colourful spider diagrams) to get any ideas in your head down. Let’s use my brief as an example. It’s for Christmas so I’d write down all the things I associate with Christmas, for example: holly, mistletoe,family get togethers, gifts, snow, stars etc. Do the same for the other important messages behind your intended design, in this case ‘warmth and cosiness’, which made me think of things like: blankets, thick coats/jumpers, fireplace, hot drinks etc. You’ll have quite a bit to work with by the end of this idea outpouring, so you need to narrow it down and decide which elements you think will work well together or excite you most.

Next steps…

Once you’ve decided what you’d like to include it’s time to pull the pieces together. How are you going to put these elements together in a way that’s natural and pleasing to the eye? It can help to do a bit of research at this point, see what other artists have done, and how they’ve gone about positioning things. If you’re designing a greeting card it can be really useful to browse card selections in shops. Bear in mind the message you want to communicate and work around this. For me, I wanted my design to be ‘soft’, which means soft, rounded shapes that curve and flow, rather than sharp edges. This is why I chose to position my chosen features (poinsettias, mistletoe etc) in a circular wreath and made my character rounded. Collecting images and making a small inspiration board to refer back to can be really helpful. When designing my Christmas card I collected a few photos of poinsettias and hedgehogs and worked from these, remembering my desire for ‘softness’.

 

 

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I like to do rough sketches of each element I plan on using before bringing them all together. I knew I wanted to include a hot drink in my design so I sketched a couple of versions of this until I found a version I was happy with. I like to make notes next to my sketches, for example, I wanted my hedgehog to be more rounded, so I wrote a note to remind myself ’rounder’. It’s ok for your rough work to be messy, no one will see this stage, this is your chance to get all your ideas down and play around to see what works.

Colour!

When you’re happy with your sketches and have decided the layout of your design it’s time to think about colour. Some colours work harmoniously and this is what will be most pleasing to the eye. Have a think about what sort of message you’re intending to send with this design, do you want it to feel cold and wintery for example? (in which case you’d consider cool colours) or warm an cosy? (in which case you’d consider warmer colours). For my design I wanted warmth but also to continue the feeling of ‘softness’. For this reason I chose not only warmer colours but quite muted versions of these colours. By this I mean I didn’t choose just orange, I chose a more burnt orange. A lot of the colours I chose I had to mix with colours such as burnt umber, burnt sienna and ochre to get that muted tone. I’m a huge fan of building yourself a collection of paint sample cards for use in your art/design planning. Get a file and get in to the habit of picking up some sample cards/booklets any time you find yourself in or passing a DIY/home shop. You can also just pay a visit to one when you have your colours already in mind. If you know you want cool colours, go and pick up sample cards just of these. You can do this for each project. I then hold colours I think I want to use next to each other and decide which appear most harmonious. When you’ve chosen, stick them to your rough sketches so you have a guide of what goes where. As you can see below, I’ve assigned colours to various parts of my character.

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Starting your final design

Before starting your final design it’s useful to work out sizing and most of the time I like to have a complete rough version with everything in place. Once you know where everything is going and how large it needs to be, it’s time to select your paper and begin. You can read about selecting the right paper in my guide: ‘Choosing the right sketchbook‘.  I chose to use fine grain heavyweight paper as I wanted a hint of texture as well as a paper that could hold oils well. Once you’ve transferred your design, you can begin adding colour. What medium you use is up to you but it’s essential to use paper that can handle your medium (see my mentioned guide, above, to read more about this).

As you can see on my rough pages, I’ve mixed my colours and tested them next to the samples before applying them to my piece. It’s a good idea to have some scrap paper nearby to test your colours on, particularly as they can appear different on your palette than on your paper. Some colours can dry lighter, some darker.

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I’ll be revealing my own complete design next month and kicking off December with some unique, creative gift ideas for you!

Happy creating!

‘Allow yourself room for your ideas to blossom, take root, and grow’

Welcome to the third week of the New Year! I’m glad to say that so far I’m keeping up with my resolutions, and finding them quite rewarding. The wonderful thing about pledging to do a ‘deed a day’ is that there’s mutual benefit. Studies have shown that people who help other people report feelings of satisfaction and gratitude. There’s also proof that doing good benefits your mental health. Win-win! To read more about the science behind this, and get even more inspiration to help others, take a look at this interesting article from goodnet.org (link) which brings me to my second resolution – to be aware of what I Put in my body, physically and mentally. In a previous post I mentioned the book Touching Peace by Thich Nhat Hanh, in which he explains the importance of maintaining ‘a proper diet for our consciousness, refraining from ingesting toxic intellectual and spiritual food’. I realised that by starting my day by reading of all the sadness in the world in the newspaper, and then flicking on the news channel to also view it, I was starting my day with thoughts of what I was seeing and hearing – violence, death, crime. In common with other people who suffer from anxiety, I find mornings to be one of the most difficult times of the day. Research has shown that cortisol levels (the fight or flight hormone) is at its highest during this time. By ingesting negativity I was feeding this anxiety, which is why I made the decision to instead fill my morning with craft and creative journaling. This has definitely given my sewing projects a boost! And I’ve started work on a St Dwynwen’s day (Think Welsh Valentine’s Day) inspired skirt.

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As with all my clothing this is entirely hand sewn, and made using upcycled material and vintage broderie anglaise found in my local market. The material is fantastic quality, and of course this piece will be one of a kind due to limited material. Next month I’ll be bringing you a tutorial on how to make your own basic children’s skirt, which is so easy it’s even suitable for beginners. If you feel the need to get crafty in the meantime, there are plenty of tutorials from the past couple of years to choose from:

Last week I was excited to drop off my piece at Y Galeri Caerffili (website) ready for the Winter Exhibition. It’s uplifting to see how the small town of Caerphilly has evolved over the years to now have a real presence of creativity. Next month I’ll be bringing you a review of the visitor centre/art gallery, and hopefully inspiring you to visit for yourselves. If you’re interested in seeing this year’s Winter Exhibition, which showcases the work of 72 shortlisted artists, the gallery is open from 10am – 5pm Tuesday – Saturday. The exhibition will run until 2nd February. You can even participate by nominating your favourite work for the Visitor’s Choice Award.
Although I’ve found my focus more craft-based than art-based lately I’m occasionally dipping in to an autobiographical piece that I started late last year. I’m taking my time and enjoying the process of creating. I found a wonderful quote by producer Carlton Cuse that I feel really expresses the creative process: ‘The creative process is not like a situation where you get struck by a single lightning bolt. You have ongoing discoveries, and there’s ongoing creative revelations […] along the way you must allow yourself room for your ideas to blossom, take root, and grow’. As I paint I feel different things, ideas come to me, and the piece almost always evolves from what I originally envisioned. I like to think that’s what puts ‘soul’ in to a piece.

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Spring has sprung!

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The days are getting longer, the daffodils are in bloom, and each morning I’m greeted with the sound of a blackbird singing his heart out. It can only mean one thing…spring has sprung! I’ve been celebrating the changing of seasons by capturing the beauty of nature by collecting and pressing interesting leaves and flowers (non-protected species of course) to use in a craft I’ve been wanting to try for quite some time: paper making.

I have a family member who adores card making, and her birthday is coming up in April. I’m always looking for something meaningful that reaches further than just being a mass-produced item, so, in support of recycling and hand made crafts, I’ve decided to make a mini paper stack for her to use in her own craft, with petals and leaves from my mini adventures set in. I’ve been taking photographs of the beauty I’ve witnessed along the way, to share my experience with her, which I’ll put in a miniature handmade album (tutorial to make your own coming later this year!)

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Whilst on the subject of unique and handmade gifts, I’d also like to introduce you to a talented crafter who works with stained glass. Wanting something beautiful to brighten someone’s day I came across Joy’s Folksy shop and found a gorgeous one-of-a-kind sun catcher. I recommend taking a look at the stunning items in her shop. It was so difficult to choose just one!

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Joy’s Folksy shop: link

Joy’s website: link

As my readers will know I’m often working on multiple creative projects, and one I’ve been working on for a good half a year is soon to be revealed! At the beginning of the year I promised to produce a collection of spring/summer eco wear by April, and now April is just around the corner. On the 1st I’ll be posting the first images of my hand-sewn children’s clothing, made almost entirely from recycled/upcycled material. I promise lots of colour, pattern, and of course uniqueness. And just for my blog readers, here’s a little sneak peak of what to expect…

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How do you turn frustration into something productive? How do you share an experience with someone when the moments gone?

Until the end of 2017 I’ll be working on a mini-project (project ‘Speedy Sketch’) where I’ll be documenting the health-related side of my life through quick illustrations. Moments spent in hospital, doctor, and clinic waiting rooms will be put to use to capture my surroundings, and at the end of the year I’ll curate an online exhibition, to share with my readers little glimpses of what I’ve seen along the way.

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nextmonth

1st April – the big eco clothing reveal!

7th April – Easter Inspiration, including alternative (and further-reaching) gift ideas

15th April – Monthly tutorial: The second of 2017’s new content addition: vegan recipes. This one will be how to make a healthier, delicious alternative to Easter eggs for those wanting something a little more nutritious or different; Vegan bunny-shaped savoury oat cakes (and how to present them)

23rd April – The previously promised Graphitint pencils review

A confession…

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I have a confession…one that may surprise those who have never met me…I struggle to eat. What most people would find appealing, and indeed class as ‘every day’ foods; noodles, toasties, curry, spaghetti, you name it, I probably don’t eat it. But in the interest of my health, which determines how much energy I have to work on what I love – art & design – I’m embarking on a quest (yes, this challenge feels so monumental that I feel justified in labelling it in such a way!) to challenge the compulsion that finds me reaching for the exact same foods every day.

I’m inviting you, my readers, to follow me on my journey to discover and create nourishing vegan recipes to support both body and mind. Veganism and vegetarianism has always been an influencing factor in my life, fuelling my interest in creating eco-friendly clothing, and using our natural world as inspiration for a great deal of my artwork. In next month’s ‘tutorial’ spot, I’ll be bringing you the first recipe instalment – vegan sushi. In the mean-time, here’s a list of some inspiring and useful vegan-related sites:

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Vegan Huggs – A blog packed with recipes, reviews, and more!

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Wear Your Voice – A website I’ve mentioned before where a passion for art meets a passion for animals, with truly unique illustrations printed on to t-shirts.

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Vegan Supermarket Finds UK – A super useful facebook group run by vegans, for vegans, where you can share your surprising vegan finds, as well as get some great tips on where to find all manner of vegan goodies!

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In the interest of keeping myself distracted whilst re-building my strength, I’ve been revisiting a seascape I began last year, yet lost the motivation for. Well the itch is back! and I’ve been compelled to dip in here and there. The tones of blue in the sea are proving to be a source of intrigue, as they’re not as straight-forward as they may seem; in order to achieve one elusive tone, I found myself cautiously mixing phtalo blue, cobalt, a tiny dot of ivory black, and an atom of yellow ochre, before deciding to substitute the black for burnt umber.

The relationship between colours and how they combine fascinates me! Explaining to those who don’t practise art that a blue can contain  brown, black, and even ochre, feels as though I’m revealing some clandestine key.

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Whilst my home studio is a base for all my inspiration and tools – my pattern folder, old art/craft magazines, art postcards etc, over the years I’ve grown fond of inhabiting a quiet corner of a library – a haven from home. This week I’ve been squirrelling away in the reference section (often good for exquisitely illustrated nature books) trying out Derwent Inktense pencils and making notes for next month’s review.

Costing £29.99 in the Range (£40.75 on Derwent’s website) for a tin of 24, it;s understandable you’d want to ‘try before you buy’, which is where I’ve done the work for you! Look out for the full review next month, which as always will be straight to the point and up-front.

 

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Finally, I want to tell you about the Winter Exhibition at Y Galeri Caerffili, which is displaying a whole range of styles and mediums, and at which my piece ‘One For Sorrow’ is currently on show. The exhibition will run all this month and directions can be found on their facebook page: Y Galeri Caerffili facebook. If you can’t make it in person, you’ll find some images of the artwork on display on their page and on the website.

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‘One For Sorrow’, graphite & oils, Hanna-Mae Williams

 

Monthly tutorial: Inspiration board

First tutorial of the year!

via Daily Prompt: Year

 

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To kick off 2017’s series of tutorials I’m going to show you how to make an inspiration board. They’re so versatile as they can be adapted to any size and decorated in any way you can imagine! They’re perfect for displaying your stash of art postcards, ACEO’s, or any other bits and pieces of inspiration that need a home.

 

materials

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» Light-weight wood board (mdf)

» Wadding (available from craft/fabric stores)

» Cotton material (less ‘busy’/patterned is best)

» Complimentary/matching ribbon

» Complimentary brads or buttons

» Complimentary/matching thick paper/thin card

» All-purpose glue

» Fabric scissors or craft knife

» Cotton thread to match your fabric

» Standard thin sewing needle

» Double-sided sticky tape

instructions

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Begin by cutting your card/paper to roughly the same size as your pre-cut board.

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Use PVA glue mixed with a very small amount of water and spread a thin layer over your board.

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Smooth out any air bubbles by gently pressing/wiping over with a clean piece of kitchen towel.

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Put your board to one side to let the glue dry, and place your chosen material DESIGN FACING DOWN, and place your wadding (cut to size) on top as central as you can, before carefully flipping it over the right way.

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Evenly space your ribbon, trimming off excess, laying three diagonal one way, and then 3 diagonal the other way on top.

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Carefully pin to the material/wadding, and sew (through the material, wadding, and ribbon) with a few stitches.

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Stick your brads through all the layers, and fasten (if using buttons, attach at previous step) and place this wadding/fabric FACE DOWN.

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Retrieve your board. Use your all-purpose glue to roughly cover the board.

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Place your board, with your paper/card FACING UP, onto your wadding/fabric. Try to get it as central as possible. Press down a few times.

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Once your wadding/material is stuck to your board (all-purpose glue tends to set fast) it’s time to tackle the over-hanging material. Put a strip of double-sided sticky tape across the top of your board, and fold the material over.

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Trim any excess ribbon.

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Now to neaten the corners; put a strip of double-sided sticky tape just beyond the edge of the board, and fold the excess material towards the board, over the sticky tape, to form a neat right-angle.

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Repeat the past 3 steps on the opposite side of your board, until you have this:

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Now it’s just a case of folding over the remaining edges.

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Use small amounts of glue to secure any flapping edges, then move on to your ribbons.

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Let your board dry fully before using.

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There’s just one thing left to do…fill with your favourite things!

First glimpse of my Eco wear and some photographic inspiration

A couple of weeks ago I posted a review of Heidi Adnum’s book ‘Taking great photos’ and have been experimenting with putting the techniques to the test. After owning my digital camera for a few years now, I’ve finally (on Heidi’s instruction) actually read the manual! Such an obvious tip, yet one that’s so often over-looked.

I was amazed at just what my camera could do, so decided to play around with the settings to take photos of my handmade clothing for the ‘Eco wear‘ section of my website. Oddly enough, I found myself drawn to the accidental ‘romantic’ effect that occurred when I set my camera to shoot in cloudy conditions. I liked the soft, sepia feel.

 

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Before doing my own shoot I decided to browse the web to get some inspiration from other designers and see how they go about displaying their items. I came across some really creative examples that also showed their work clearly. Here are some of my favourites:

augblog1 Leiladelle – I love the simple but endearing use of paintbrushes here. It adds a sort of playfulness to the image without taking too much attention from the skirt. In her shop she uses models, intriguing backgrounds, and cute props.

 

 

 

 

augblog2 Indigenous Revival – I was drawn to this image because of the use of lighting. The flare adds a sensual softness to the image. In her shop you’ll find natural and neutral backgrounds.

 

 

 

 

 

augblog3 Piel De Lobo – Aside from the fact that this Folksy shop contains real works of art (such as unique prints) I love the way the photographer has made use of a more ‘industrial’ style background to add a certain ‘feel’ that compliments the style of clothing.

 

 

 

 

augblog4 Rooby Lane – The use of a neutral background in the majority of the images in this shop gives it a professional edge, and importantly allows the clothing to speak for itself (something which is so important with the amazing and often detailed patterns you’ll find in this shop)

 

 

 

augblog5 Ellie Ellie ltd – This is just one example of the clever use of props to add just enough interest to a photo. All of the photographs in this shop look professional, with clever use of minimalistic elements.

 

 

 

 

augblog6 Ninety5Prints – I included this shop as it perfectly demonstrated something mentioned in Heidi Adnum’s book – making use of natural, neutral backgrounds and opting for wooden coat hangers. Small details that make a huge difference. The fact that the majority of tops in this shop are displayed in this similar way also demonstrates another thing mentioned by Adnum : consistency. This can help people to identify your brand.

 

augblog7 From Rags To Bags – The odd one out! Yes, not clothing, but I couldn’t not include this one. I love the feel this rustic-looking chair adds to the image. A wonderful example of how carefully chosen props can communicate and give a certain undertone.

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