What I Got Max for His Birthday (2017)

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Max had a birthday and I got him presents and I thought I’d show you what I got him! Almost everything is from small/independent companies/artists and he loved it all which is great!

First up (his favourite) was this cassette from Art is Hard Records, where different artists on the label covered Pavement songs.

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I also got him this single from Art is Hard, because he was obsessing a bit over Trust Fund around his birthday and noticed they had done a record for AIH’s Postcard Club. We don’t have a record player yet but I’m sure he’ll love it when we do get around to getting one!

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Next up is this postcard from Claire de Lune which I actually bought back in June/July…. I just love getting people presents, ok? I love the colours in it, thought they were very “Max” and it does now live on our studio bookshelf, so he must like it.

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Another piece of art I got him was this print from Yuk Fun that still hasn’t been framed yet… I love this so much and I think he does too? Again its pride of place on the studio bookshelf at the moment.

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I also got him a pin from Yuk Fun, because I want to inflict my love of pins onto Max and he did love this one!

 

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He’d hinted a couple of months ago that he might like an enamel mug to use in the studio as a ‘work mug’ so I found this one from Pirrip Press which is so nice I wish I bought myself one too! But they’d sold out of the other design in this range.

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As a bit of an extra little something, I also found these pushpins in a bargain bin in Waterstones that I thought would be nice for the cork board he’s nicked off me.

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After opening presents, we had a pretty chilled out day, made cat friends and drank hot chocolate.

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A couple of days later we also went to Bath and had such a nice day out (I also surprised him with a Hard Day’s Night spa treatment at Lush which he loved! Might do a separate blog post on that?)

Thanks for reading, and do check out all these amazing creative businesses I’ve mentioned!

Amy x

Filling the (not so) new house with art… (Part II)

I seem to have not blogged in over a month (oops). I got a new job and then struggled a bit to readjust my routine around it but now I’m feeling positive and excited about blogging and illustration again so you’ll hopefully be reading/seeing a lot more of me!

Continuing on with my last post about filling our new house with art, I’m now going to show you around the porch and upstairs rooms – starting with the bedroom:

This is a print I got from Dick Vincent years ago which I absolutely love! We had it in the bedroom in the flat but I think it fits so much nicer in the new house with all the exposed timbers.

That’s actually the only artwork we have in the bedroom – the room is a bit of an odd shape because it slopes on two sides and then opposite the wall in the photo is a shower and a cupboard with a toilet and sink in it…

The Studio

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One of my favourite things about the studio is having this magnetic noticeboard by my desk. I like that I can change it around if I want to but I can also have lots of art in one place without having a poke a billion nails into the wall.

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First up is this print I got recently from Annie Dornan Smith, (well Max got it for me when I told him about it, because I can’t be my own(?)). Isn’t he a sweetie.

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Another recent print is the storm in a teacup one by Stephy Draws who just set up an etsy shop – check it out! The postcards above were from her too, aren’t they beautiful!

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I’ve got this postcard on there from Lush Spa Poole that my friend Ceire got me when she went there – the first Lush shop in the world! Not sure who it’s by, sorry!

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Underneath that noticeboard is my little zine zone. I used to keep my zines in a box somewhere but the good thing about having a house is having more space and being able to keep cool things out in the open.

There is a selection including: The Printed Peanut, Tuesday Bassen (from Rope Press), Kristyna Baczynski, Thomas Colligan & Memohelen.

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Then we have the bookshelf! I love love love that we got a built in bookshelf in the studio (although we may need to invest in an extra one at some point!)

It needs a bit of reorganising as books just got a bit chucked on there when we were unpacking, but it makes me really happy.

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This print is a postcard I got from Andsmile studio quite a few years ago now, needs reframing, I think.

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This is one of Max’s zines from his fave, Mogu Takahashi.

There are some more prints on the shelves that I got Max for his birthday but there’ll be another post about what I got him for his birthday soon.

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When we moved in I snuck one of Max’s old paintings that I love on this little nook, he hates it now but I don’t think he can be bothered to move it, haha.

The Porch

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This print I got especially for the new house when I was getting a bit fed up of looking for houses, so it makes me feel happy when I see it – not only did we manage to get a house, but a really nice one! All the effort was worth it! It’s another one by Annie Dornan Smith.

Thanks for reading, and I promise it won’t be another month before I write another post.

Amy x

 

Filling the new house with art… (Part I)

As I may have mentioned a couple of times, Max (my boyfriend) and I moved house last week and we’ve been trying to make it as cosy and homely as possible. (You can read our moving story here). And, with both of us being illustrators, we needed to get some pictures on the walls asap, and I thought I’d show you what we’ve got so far.

All of these bar two pictures were ones we brought with us from the old flat, and it’s so nice here because we don’t actually have enough pictures to fill all the picture hooks anymore! That’s the thing with renting – you can’t always bang nails into walls whenever you want. But I think we’re quite lucky with this place because there are already loads of hooks and nails everywhere, and we are allowed to put in more “to a reasonable extent”. (What is a reasonable number of pieces of art to have in the home, hmm?)

So starting with the…

Living Room

 

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This illustration is by the fab Holly St Clair, it’s a new one I bought just before we moved and I LOVE IT. The foliage in the image works well with the house plants we have in the room (but more on that when I do my house tour). You can buy this print at Family Store and definitely check out Holly’s etsy shop here.

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The next picture is one I bought from Fine Little Day on our visit to Sweden last year (2016). I love dala horses and think this minimal but bold colour palette works well with the room (and our swanky new orangey-red sofa). You can still buy the poster online here.

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This little neon riso number is from We Are Out of Office – I’ve bought quite a few prints from them in the past and they never disappoint! Also dying to get my hands on some of their pins soon!!

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One of my faves, this “Pugert Smith” drawing was actually made by my good friend Matt, who you can find on Facebook and Instagram. He perfectly combined my two loves – pugs and The Cure.

The Kitchen

Next up is the kitchen (in our old flat we had one nail in the kitchen – here we have about 7 and a Welsh dresser)…

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This is a print I picked up in the House of Illustration in London a couple of years ago (well worth a visit!). It’s by David Lemm and more info about the backstory can be found here – sounds like it was a very interesting public project around mapping (but I just saw it in the gift shop and fell a little bit in love).

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This cutie is from Ohh Deer, designed by Gemma Correll, and I think it does a good job of summing up being a millennial. Also – now we have room to actually dance around our kitchen so it’s totally apt. And goes perfectly with the duck-egg and cream kitchen cupboards.

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This is one of Max’s prints by Atelier Bingo. I think it really perks up the kitchen space and we have it above our dining table so it feels lively and uplifting (which is especially good at breakfast time when we’re both half asleep….). You can buy it here.

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And here is our Welsh dresser! It’s built in and so (obviously) came with the house and it’s so so nice having somewhere to put little pictures and ornaments and things we collect! At first I was thinking about the fact we don’t own any teacups or cake stands and so wouldn’t fill it – I was wrong! (Also – how weird is it that all of Max’s birthday cards were sea-themed!)

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I bought this card a couple of years ago for Max and it was the picture we had up on our single kitchen hook in the flat so I’m glad we can keep it on show here. It’s from the Printed Peanut and you can buy it here, and there is also an art print of a similar design here.

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This little guy is by Lydia Coventry and I think it was a one-off but you can find her other bits on her etsy shop. I love it so much. Those eyes.

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This is a print I got with a zine, both by Thomas Colligan, that I bought from Rope Press at Glug Brum in March. If you’re a creative person, definitely see if there is Glug event near you – they are invaluable! They have talks on by people in the industry and street food and art market stalls and it’s just a great evening out!

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This is another print I got from Glug Brum, this one in March 2016 I think? It’s by Print Wagon and I love it! He printed them to order out the back of his van, it was great fun! I plan to reframe it before hanging it, but for now it’s on the kitchen counter. You can buy this print here (but be sure to have a look at his other prints too – they are all so cool!)

 

That’s half the house done – keep an eye out for Part II where I’ll cover the bedroom, studio and entrance hall (oooh).

Thanks for reading,

Amy x

 

 

Wandering around the Welsh countryside (We’ve moved house!)

Hello!

Apologies for not posting for over a week, Max and I finally moved house on Monday! We’ve been so busy unpacking boxes and spending too much money in Ikea for the last six days, but everything is coming together so nicely now. (I hope to do a “house tour” blog post soon, so keep eyes peeled for that!)

This morning we went out for a walk near our new house, exploring the landscape, saying hello to the sheep, etc. I thought I’d take some photos and bring you guys along!

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Map and tea in hand, we wandered around, scampered up hills and got barked and ran at by the cutest spaniels ever.

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The views looking back were pretty incredible! (Yes, that’s a castle.)

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There were loads of interesting looking plants and flowers, definitely want to paint them!

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And I braved a walk through two sheep fields (turns out they tend to walk away from you).

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Then we reached a cow field and they’re a bit bigger and scarier, plus Max pointed out it was lunchtime (he’s on the ball, that one) so we headed back.

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And then we came home and had some lunch! I forgot to take pictures of that (-10 blogger points) but we had fried avocado, pepper vegan cheese and pesto wraps – do they have a name?

Hope you enjoyed having a look at those photos, like I said I promise lots more house-related posts really soon because we’re pretty much settled in now and it’s GREAT. Let me know if there’s anything specific you want me to talk about.

Laterz,

Amy x

August Favourites

I have compiled a list of my favourite things this month, consisting of everything from bowls to paint – hope you enjoy!

In no particular order, I’m going to start off with this bowl from TKMaxx, which I’ve already mentioned in a previous blog post because I eat my breakfast out of it every single day and it just makes me enjoy my mornings a little bit more.

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Next up is this band tee from Oro Swimming Hour and Art is Hard Records, designed by Nicholas Stevenson. I actually picked this up from a recent gig they had in Bristol, not sure if they are available to buy anywhere else but I got a large and it is the comfiest and coolest top ever.

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I also got this zine in the post recently, which was a lovely surprise because I preordered it back in May – glad it arrived before we moved! It’s full of beautifully illustrated articles on mental wellbeing and profits are going to charities and non-profit organisations like Mind, Beat and Sisters Uncut. It really is worth a read – you can purchase a copy here.

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This month has been particularly significant because I’ve gone from brunette to pink! (There is a blog post about that coming!) so I wanted to include the Bleach London Total Bleach kits and Directions White Toner and Carnation Pink dyes in my favourites as they are all amazing products. The reincarnation mask that comes with the Bleach London kits makes my hair feel so soft and healthy even though I’ve bleached it three times over the space of about a month. Would recommend – you can also buy it separately if you don’t need the bleach, which is good!

Deodorant next – I used to use the lavender and vanilla version of Salt of the Earth’s spray deodorant but recently went unscented (in all honesty, it was slightly cheaper) and I love it just as much. It’s so nice having a natural deodorant in a spray form that doesn’t contain any aluminium or other nasty things that are in standard deodorants. It’s easy to use, I find two sprays under each armpit is plenty to get me through the day and a bottle probably lasts a good 8 months.

 

I’ve also been loving Rose Jam body spray from Lush, which I managed to pick up from the new Cardiff Spa store when it opened, but I recently saw them in my local Lush (#TeamWorcester) so I think they’ve probably been rolled out to most stores, in the UK at least. Now, if you’ve read my recent blog post about my everyday Lush faves you’ll know that (Spoiler Alert) Princess Cottongrass is my super duper all-time favourite perfume from Lush. However, I think it’s important to change it up from time to time so you don’t get fed up, and August has just been particularly Rose Jammy for me.

I also treated myself to some new art materials lately. I picked up this Clairefontaine Naturel pad from my local indie art shop and it’s so nice to work on natural colour paper – sometimes white is a bit too bright and intimidating. I find I can use pretty thick layers of gouache on it too without it buckling, which is really nice.

If you follow me on my “work” Instagram you will also know I’ve been loving Winsor and Newton’s gold gouache. It’s amazing. It’s like foiling in liquid form. I got mine from Cass Art and I must admit I’m now a bit tempted by the silver…

Hope that compilation was interesting! As always, you can check out my illustration work via my website, Instagram, Twitter and Facebook.

Thanks for reading!

Amy

My Everyday Lush Products

I used to work for Lush, and therefore have owned/tried a LOT of their products. I thought I’d share with you the ones I still use on a super regular basis.

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First up, hair care:

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Since going blonde, I’ve been using Daddy-O and it is the most beautiful smelling shampoo that always gets my hair feeling clean afterwards. I used to use the Sugar Daddy-O solid conditioner before I went blonde and I do think the range works well on any hair colour. Now I’m using Jungle solid conditioner because it just gives my hair a bit more moisture and still smells amazing. And another firm favourite that I’ve been using for years and years is No Drought dry shampoo, it lasts so long and does a good job. If they bring back Mr Sandman dusting powder at Christmas though, I’d recommend trying that as a dry shampoo because who doesn’t want twilight-scented hair with a bit of sparkle in it?

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For showering, I always switch between my many tiny bottles of shower gel, currently reaching for Prince Charming, Plum Rain and, always a fave, Rose Jam. This one is only available at Christmas time or in the Rosie gift. It smells like a gorgeous sweet rose scent with a bit of lemon in there too. It shares its scent with Rose Jam bubbleroon, Rose Bombshell bath bomb, Pearl massage bar, Jason and the Argan Oil shampoo bar, Ro’s Argan body conditioner and Ro’s Argan gourmet soap.

For shaving, I use Twilight shower gel, because it’s got a really thin consistency but feels SO moisturising, I don’t know how they do it. Again, it’s only available at Christmas time (or at least, it was last year) and in the Relax gift. It shares its scent with Twilight bath bomb, Twilight perfume/body spray, Mr Sandman dusting powder and Sleepy body lotion.

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All time favourite perfume is such a toughie. It used to be Kerbside Violet, but is definitely now Princess Cottongrass, I just love it so much. It’s the perfect introvert scent IMO, smells like a wintery forest, it’s the BEST. It shares its scent with the Oxford Street exclusive bath bomb, Guardians of the Forest, and Princess dusting powder which occasionally shows up on the Lush Kitchen.

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Toothpaste is always Miles of Smiles. Toothy tabs are just an amazing invention and you should all go and try them right now. I like this flavour because it’s super minty and doesn’t make your sink go grey (we’re looking at you, Boom!).

And whenever I wear eyeliner, I always go for Independent, it’s a really nice formula and colour. Sometimes if I’m not feeling so brave, I’ll go for Quietly Motivated, which is a gorgeous brown shade.

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For hand cream, I love Love and Light. It smells AMAZING. It’s full of neroli, so makes you feel instantly happy, and the formula is really nice and moisturising without feeling greasy.

Hope that was interesting! Let me know your everyday Lush products (or other vegan and cruelty-free favourites).

Amy

 

Our moving story…

We’re about to move into our first house!

First, a little bit of backstory. Max (my boyfriend) got himself a flat around the same time we got together, in December 2014. We met at art school, and at the time I was commuting two hours a day from my parents’ house and back, so I started staying with him until June 2015 when I was officially added to the tenancy and had officially moved away from home, from Wales to England.

So, come May 2017, we were both about to hand in work for our final deadlines, and wanted to start looking to live somewhere new. We were set on Bristol, because the illustration scene there is amazing, without it being London. Because neither of us are quite ready for London.

We started looking into different areas of Bristol and decided we wanted to and could probably afford to live in Clifton/Redland area. We kept looking, with the intentions of moving in August, as we had our degree show in June, New Designers at the beginning of July, Graduation and then a two-week trip to Sweden at the end of July, into August.

The more we looked, the more we realised that we wouldn’t be able to get much for our money in Bristol itself, compared to towns just outside. We started to fall in love with Clevedon – on the Severn estuary, with sea views and only 20 minute drive into Bristol. And so much cheaper.

The time came, between New Designers and Sweden, that we could start viewing places. We found what looked like our dream flat, arranged a viewing for it for a couple of days time, and chose a couple of alright-looking places to go and see as well since we were driving an hour and a half each way anyway.

The three alright-looking places were first up, and all seemed very bleh in real life too, we were a bit disappointed but got to spend the day in Clevedon because our other viewing wasn’t until late afternoon. It is a beautiful town, would definitely recommend a visit if you can.

We had a look at our dream flat, and it was beautiful. Beautiful views, beautiful floors, beautiful everything. We loved it. The estate agent who showed us around said he had another viewing booked after us and if we wanted it we needed to go to their office in Portishead (15 min drive) ASAP and put our names down. So we did. But we didn’t think to bring passports and bank statements with us so we were told to bring them the next day. So we did. 3 hour round trip so they could photocopy our passports and bank statements. And, as soon as we got home – we got a phone call saying the other people who viewed it also showed an interest and the landlord picked them over us. Three. Hour. Drive.

So then we sulked for a bit and went off to Sweden, during which Max convinced me that moving to Wales might be a good move for us. I was previously adamant that I didn’t want to live where I grew up or anywhere to close to it. I wanted to live somewhere new and exciting. But we looked at some properties and there was such a massive difference in price, for example the two-bed top floor flat we looked at in Clevedon was £750/month. In Monmouthshire, there were quite a few houses in the £550-£650/month range that came with gardens and driveways and all sorts of good things.

And, wise as he is, he said that he’d rather live in a nice house somewhere not so cool than an alright flat somewhere cool. And I agree.

I mean, there’s still beautiful scenery in Wales.

We started arranging viewings while we were in Sweden and the first one (well, two) to come around were these semi-detached cottages that were stuck together and both happened to be up for rent at the same time. They were properly in the middle of nowhere, in a hamlet three miles from the nearest town. But they were so nice, it was hard to choose which one we like more but we chose one and applied for it. We were supposed to hear back the next day.

We didn’t.

In the meantime, another viewing came up for another cottage and we weren’t sure whether to go or not since we’d applied for somewhere else, and we started panicking about being offered the other house before we’d seen this one because this one might be nicer, and we’d already applied for the other one but what if this one was nicer, but also the other one was in the middle of nowhere, and was that going to work for us etc. But we did go and look at it and I’m glad we did because it wasn’t for us and it confirmed to me that I would definitely be happy if we got the other one.

So four days after we viewed the first cottages, we got an email from the estate agents saying the landlady had some questions regarding us being self-employed. (Oh yeah, another thing I should point out is that being a self-employed recent graduate is a nightmare for convincing people you can pay rent. Get a real job, don’t be an illustrator. … I’m kidding. Maybe?)

We answered the questions, and heard back the next day – she was willing to offer us a six-month initial tenancy if we paid that six-months rent up front. Woohoo!

It is now almost two weeks since we first viewed the house and we have completed referencing forms and handed in our months notice at the flat we’re currently in. We’ve packed around half our stuff and are very excited about having a house together (with a garden!) Hopefully referencing goes ok, and Max isn’t some kind of bankrupt ex-pirate with a criminal record and he just hasn’t told me.

I’ll just finish this post off with a list of things I’m excited about now:

  • Seeing the house again now that we know we’re going to be living in it.
  • Needing a laundry basket because we have a garden to dry clothes outside.
  • Having more space for house plants.
  • Having a separate studio room to make sure our work/life balance is good.
  • Getting a fridge freezer where the freezer section can hold more than three peas and a chip.
  • Having cupboards! Cupboards for clean bedsheets and towels! Oh, the joy.
  • Being able to eat at a table.
  • Having more space for nice rugs.
  • CHRISTMAS IN OUR NEW HOUSE.

 

And if you are in a similar situation, or just want to take something from this blog post so you know you haven’t just wasted ten minutes of your life, I think it’s to remember that, cue cliche, everything does happen for a reason. It really does.

Thanks for reading, will update you on the move when it happens! Eeep!

Amy

 

(cover illustration – www.amyvale.com@amyevale)