Saturday, 16 June 2018

Leeds Arts University Degree Show 2018

Next month I'll be graduating from Illustration at Leeds Arts University. Omg. I've been to the degree show each year, and wanted to continue the tradition of blog posting my personal highlights. This year I've tried to show the breadth of style on my course, as I know so many younger students may be interested in considering studying at LAU. Once I've managed to gather my thoughts I hope to write a few reflective posts about my three years here, so look out for that, but for now here are some pretty pictures!


Sunday, 18 March 2018

2018 Vibes

Included: Alice Catherine & Lizzy Hadfield, Image sourced from Pinterest


Since moving to Leeds for university, I've somehow lost my love and confidence for dressing. Wearing the same rotation of jeans, jumpers and trainers daily has decreased my self confidence and left me bored and unexpressed. In my gap year I got a job at Urban Outfitters for a couple of reasons, including the fact I had a load of great outfits but absolutely no reason to leave the house, and it was depressing. I'm not joking.  I get a lot of confidence out of looking my best (so shoot me) meaning this stagnation has sapped a lot of who I am out of the way I present and hold myself in public. Don't get me wrong, denim and jumpers are a crucial part of my wardrobe, but they'll be less for hiding from now on.

In 2018 I hope to invest in key, statement, wearable pieces that transform bland outfits into ones that have personality, and help me be myself. You don't have to be as eccentric as the lady who only wears the colour green to say this. Find the boots that make you strut the way you've always wanted to strut and the funky undershirt that allows you to wear deep plunge necklines without fear.

A sub goal is to reduce impulse buys and curate a wardrobe of investment pieces that feel me.

Included: Images sourced from Pinterest, Sighh greetings card, Photo by Joy Felicity Jane, Illustration by Josefina Schargorodsky


I have witnessed a distinct development in my personality over the last 3 years, since leaving college. My social anxiety became horrendous, slowly improved, disappeared, gradually crept up, hit me like a fucking train, ebbed away with infrequent jabs and now finally... it doesn't feel like a problem any more. I have gained so much empathy and interest in those around me instead of shutting *everyone* out, expecting them to have bad intentions and hate me anyway. I have listened to activists on social media and truly opened my eyes and changed my opinions and become more critical of what I see, as well as open minded. However, I've also lost some of the key attributes of my old self that I valued. My huge passion and determination to achieve my goals and my self assured knowledge of what I wanted and getting rid of what and who didn't match it. My independent self. 

I took that brilliant Myers Briggs test (would recommend) before uni and was an INTJ, but had changed into another (which I've forgotten) by 2nd year. A key symptom, I realised, was that I couldn't make decisions. From choosing my projects at uni to what to eat in a restaurant, I didn't trust my own judgement and flitted between options wasting time until someone helped. I became almost mute in social situations because I didn't think I had a valid input, or I'd get it wrong. I'd also changed from a Ravenclaw to a Hufflepuff on Pottermore. I just didn't sign up for this as a side effect of fixing the parts of myself I didn't like. 

However, 6-9 months ago I realised all of this, and since then I have seen improvements. I guess this is all part of growing up and developing an identity and personality. Transforming from a naive teenager into an increasingly aware small adult as been difficult and confusing. But as mentioned, I think I'm coming out the other side now.  

In 2018 I hope to I want to live life for me, not the acceptance of others. I am in the process of accepting that what other people think of me is not always under control, and not always my fault. Other people's behaviour doesn't make me a bad person. All I can do is go through life with good intentions. I want to have faith that I will gravitate towards people who are genuine and supportive, with morals aligned to mine. I want to give my all to people who won't throw it back, but if they do, I don't want to take it personally. I want to be my own happy bubble that floats around, bumping into other people's bubbles and sticking to the good ones. 

If my only excuse is fear of what others will think, I want to go ahead and do the thing anyway.

In 2018 I also want to make a consistent effort to stay connected to my friends and family. Whenever I go home or have a long phone call with one of my sisters I leave feeling full of love. I'm so glad that we've grown up and hit the stage where we can be friends rather than arch enemies. I would willingly share makeup with both of them, now. My friends from home are really special. We've always been able to go long periods without talking and stay just as close, but I really want to be in more regular contact now. I want to be involved in their lives real-time rather than catching up on what's happened every 6 months over coffee.


2018 is going to be a big year for every area of my work life as I graduate this summer. I'll then be thrust into the world once more, ready to be 100% and completely in control of my life. Can't wait. Literally can't fucking wait.

However before I'm thrust from the system, I want to experiment with everything I hope to do freelance work for after graduation. I went to uni to become more confident in specific areas and I don't think I've actually achieved that. I really need to venture into something other than product design - my big comfy comfort blanket.

Importantly, I need to get more on top of the business side of my business. Have my accounts up to date, as well as important dates updated in my calendar. And get the most out of my accountant, who costs a lot. The truth is it's been incredibly challenging to even keep my head above the water over the past (almost) three years of university, balancing a business on my own. I've had to neglect it in order to focus on my degree, so the general mechanics are rusty and ignored, but I'm determined to resuscitate the shop and brand after graduation. I worked so hard to build Sighh up - and I see it as the backbone of my career.

In 2018 I want to develop and establish my brand. Illustrator, foodie and friend. Taking on jobs and putting things out there that represent what I want to be and do.


Friday, 2 February 2018

Easy Miso Courgette and Fried Rice

If you're weaning yourself off eating so much meat, you might be finding it difficult to find that extra thing to put on your plate... to make it a 'meal'. A lot of life long meat eaters probably have the 'meat, veg, carb' mindset, so taking one part away can leave a hole that you itch to fill.

During Vegetarianuary I had to think up ways to stop me missing that significant element of a meal that meat has always been. I found that eating veggie for a prolonged period forced me to change how I viewed a meal - it doesn't have to follow the formula of 1/3 meat, 1/3 veg and 1/3 carb. But sometimes you want that extra element, and there is a lot you can do for replacements.

Yes this courgette could be chicken, but it's very good as not chicken. It adds the 'main' element to a meal like this which is what you might be missing, and the miso topping is incredibly flavourful and filling. I first tried it with aubergine at a really fancy Japanese restaurant and couldn't stop thinking about it. Determined to make my own I ventured to the shops only to find no aubergines in sight. Luckily, it's just as nice with courgettes, and as they tend to come in packs of three I've had this meal all week, haha!


1 Courgette or Aubergine
3+ tbsp of Miso Paste 
Soy sauce
Chopped Spring onion

Brown miso paste is preferable as it's a lot stronger, but if you use white miso just add in more soy sauce. Honey and powdered ginger (to taste) would work really nicely as extra ingredients.

Half the courgette lengthways, then cut a hash all along the flesh to give space for the topping to sink in later. Grill for 30 minutes, or until well done. In the meantime mix up the topping ingredients, leaving the spring onion out for garnishing. When the courgette is done, spread a thick layer on top and grill for a further 10 minutes. Sprinkle the chopped spring onion.

Cooked rice of choice
1/2 medium white onion
1/2 bell pepper
1-2 chopped garlic
1/2 finely chopped fresh chilli or powder to taste
1 egg
1-2 chopped spring onion
2 tsp (or to taste) soy sauce
1 tsp sesame oil

Fried rice is a really really simple, easy meal that everyone should know how to do. But until this summer, at the ripe age of 21, I did not, and I assume some of you won't either. I like to use microwave bags of rice for this but if you cook it yourself it will be miles cheaper. Sesame oil is an optional extra but v nice. This can make one or two portions depending on how much rice you add.

Chop the onion into decent chunks, and the same with the bell pepper. Fry them on a high heat with your chosen oil. Chop the garlic and pepper and add them in, then once everything looks browned add the cooked rice. Stir in the soy sauce until everything is coated, then move everything to one side and crack in the egg. Move quickly because the egg will harden fast. Scramble it into little chunks, then once it's all cooked mix it into the rice. Don't mix raw egg into the rice, you want the scrambled texture. Mix in half the chopped spring onion before serving, then top with the rest.

I'm so happy about this dish. It's very straightforward and I know it will be a great meat-free pick me up when I want tasty, tangy food. If you make it, please let me know! :) I really enjoy food content and sharing meal ideas! 


Sunday, 31 December 2017

Accomplishments of 2017

Inspired by Adam J. Kurtz' tweet asking people to share and celebrate their top accomplishments of 2017, I've had a little look back on my own milestones of the year.

I like the concept of the new year and the potential it inspires. I try to use that weird week between Christmas and NYE to reflect and plan. Planning makes me happy, because I always have aspirations brewing, ready to be written down in whatever notebook I've picked up this month. Reflecting is hard, though. I'm the kind of person who really doesn't like to look back. I'm always upset or embarrassed by the past, so when I first saw that tweet I closed it without much hope. 

The negatives tend to stand out to me. I finished 2nd year with a 1% drop in my grade, made less money with my business than the previous year, had a shit living situation until summer and have recently dealt with quite a lot of negativity. So I in general I focus on moving forward.

However, I had a scroll through my camera roll and realised there were things that didn't deserve to be dismissed. I've had a lot of happy moments this year, I've done multiple new things that I've been terrified of and put off for years (see 1, 2 & 7!). So here we go:


Thursday, 21 September 2017

My YCN Submissions 2017


This summer I found out I had been commended for the two YCN projects I entered and was absolutely gobsmacked! During A levels I visited student awards exhibitions in London, staring adoringly at all the amazing entries, and hoping that one day I could be as good as them, so to receive recognition from one of the same made my little self very happy indeed. It really proved to me that the projects you enjoy working on usually turn out the best, too.

Instead of one flat out winner for each project, YCN chooses a number of commended entries that their judges, as well as members of the companies who set the briefs, have decided worked best. I think this is a wonderful way to run a student competition, as not only do more people get to feel like hot shit, but you also get to see lots of different, successful interpretations of the briefs you entered!

I thought I would write a bit about the projects themselves and the awards ceremony, as I know a lot of the people who follow me are design students themselves, and may be entering next year!

To my knowledge, YCN is an educational initiative that runs courses and events for creatives. It also hosts a Student Awards every year where companies (often very big companies) set a brief each for design students and recent graduates across the UK to enter. The briefs are suitable for Graphic Design, Illustration, Creative Advertising, Vis Com and really students of any commercial focused design course to enter.

As part of second year Illustration, we had to enter student competitions on our own, and collaboratively. I entered other, smaller, competitions too. There were so many projects that I was interested in, but as it's my first year studying as an illustrator, after switching from graphic design, I chose briefs that allowed me to focus on my new practice.


Friday, 15 September 2017

Advice On Settling Into Your University Room + Room Tour

When it came to September 2015, I was less than the squishiest marshmallow. I was liquid marshmallow, melted by fear and terror and worry. I was terrified liquid marshmallow, running down the street and into the drains. It was a difficult time because as much as I was very worried about moving to university, I was also extremely eager to set up a new life in my city of choice, Leeds. I was ready to combine all the information I had gathered about the world and cooking and become not only a Higher Education student but also an Adult who flew from the nest and set up their own, fully functioning nest.

Setting up a comfortable bedroom was a crucial part in my settling into university life, and that has continued to be the case every year. Note that my emotional stability increases at the exact rate that you add cushions and nice mugs. A lot of people will be the same, I'm sure.

This post is going to be a little walk around my room, while I explain why it is the way it is and how it's designed to help me settle into the groove.


Saturday, 26 August 2017

A Trip to Somerset and London

This week I spent a fab 5 days with my best pally from uni, Meg. It's so interesting to go home with uni friends and see where they grew up, because unlike the people from your hometown who you've probably known since you were at least 12, the folks you meet at uni have secret pasts you know nothing about. It was lovely to see where Meg grew up, went to the pub and walked around for 19 years.

If you keep up with my Instastories, you'll have seen how sweet farmy Somerset was! This post is more a collection of photos from our Lyme Regis and London days.


On day 2, Meg and I arrived in Lyme Regis to be met with a typically grey sky - it is England, after all. I mean, does anyone expect to sunbathe? The optimistic among us pack jumpers and wetsuits. But anyway, our trip wasn't for the beach, it was for coffee, catch ups and a wander around the seaside streets.

Very quickly we spotted this *incredible* pink house with blue doors and had to take advantage. It was a good day to wear a yellow bag and purple shirt.

Bag: Topshop | Jeans: Urban Outfitters BDG | Top: Pull & Bear


Our trip to London for day 3&4 revolved around Hella Jongerius' "Breathing Colour" exhibition at the Design Museum. It was probably one of the best art exhibitions I've been to, purely because every piece was properly explained. I am not one for interpretive art. I'm too uptight. I want to know things were made for a specific purpose or I get bothered about how people have the time to make the Art and how and why they even thought of it. Yeah, I'm that kind of person.

The exhibition was all about how light effects colour, how colour isn't static. My favourite piece is above. The sculptures were painted one colour, but with a carefully placed lamp, the shadows created make them look like colour palettes.

That evening we attended a talk that coincided with the exhibition, which I really enjoyed. Three designers who worked with colour in product design & architecture were interviewed, and it focused on how to open up clients to working with colour, why people are scared of colour and gender/social issues surrounding colour. Colour.

I was very affected by the exhibition. I now see the world in swatches.

An appreciation collage of the foods we ate in London. From left to right:

  • Falafel King on Portobello Road. We walked in for lunch and couldn't locate the menu until we saw that sign on the wall saying "falafel £7". They only do falafel wraps, and let me tell you, they don't need to bother with anything else. I've never had such good falafel. We both went for the wrap with houmous and a pickled pepper, which was delish. Ohhh and they give you free lemonade!
  • Bone Daddies, Soho. I'm going to keep this short because it's painful. We ended up catching three taxis to find one that was open, because I was so determined to try ramen. Sadly, I fucking hated the ramen. It's been a long time since I have been physically unable to eat something, but I was genuinely getting nauseous and had to breathe deeply into my glass of water while Megan slurped the noodles happily and said she didn't know what I thought was so wrong with it. Regardless, the sesame cucumber was fantastic. I might just not be a ramen kind of person.
  • Temple of Seitan, Hackney. You can't go to London and not hunt out a vegan restaurant. I'm fascinated with meat alternatives and how they compare, and this place has been all over my Insta feed for months. We both went for the *fillet burger with *bacon, *cheese, *mayo and lettuce with a side of chips. To Meg's surprise the chips tasted like normal chips. Yes, chips are vegan. The burger was bloody good, however I did take out the cheese because it tasted exactly like quavers (I like quavers, just not in burgers). After posting this photo on IG everyone was recommending the mac & cheese, so that must be good too! The seitan is their meat alternative of choice, and is a great texture, just like quorn. 

For the night we stayed in an Airbnb, which I would highly recommend using if you're looking to do city trips! We got a room in the quirkiest house on Portobello Road. Everything looked like a theatre prop. The location was great for getting to the design museum and finding food, too.

If you're interested in signing up and staying in someone's home rather than a hotel (£££) I have a link for money off your first trip! *click this*

Jumpsuit: Pull & Bear | Bag: Topshop | Belt: Urban Outfitters

I hope you enjoyed the little photo diary! I should probably get on with the more helpful studenty/arty blog posts but this kind of life update is my favourite procrastination.

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