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.


Sunday 6 August 2017

Venturing Into Pattern and Colour

It's tine to reopen my shop, but I want there to be something new. Over the past year at university, I've been truly inspired to test the boundaries of my personal style, because after 2-3 years of doing virtually the same thing, I am bored.

Making the decision to switch courses from Graphic Design to Illustration triggered a (slow and tentative) change in the way I view myself and my work. I feel more comfortable identifying as an art student, somehow. Graphics always seemed like visuals were used as tools, the skill was decision making, whereas on my illustration course the visuals matter a lot more, they're valued and developed lovingly.

I want to make beautiful things. I want them to have a purpose, but definitely be beautiful and a pleasure to own. Scrolling Instagram is becoming a dangerous game as so often I get the restless itch of wanting to jump up and make a ceramic bowl (glazed to perfection), create vibrant patterns on canvas, weave an intricate wall hanging with big fluffy bits and paint fancy ladies with pastel gouache.

Before, I'd stare in awe, but now I'm thinking... why can't I do that? Nothing is holding me back. I finally want to learn all of the things. If I'd been this open in 2014, maybe I would have continued on my foundation course for more than 3 days and never applied to do Graphic Design. Oh well, it's better late than never. Better in third year when I get to write my own projects and still have access to the university's equipment, than after uni when there would be a lot more in my way.

So last week I decided to give some pattern making a go. Colour is something I adore but have very little skill in, so working with abstract marks and shapes has helped take the focus off my usual form & lettering, and onto how to create an appealing colour piece. 

Probably the BEST THING I HAVE EVER LEARNED at uni, and that arguably is completely worth the estimated £21k I've already spent in fees, is how to change colours with adjustment layers in Photoshop. All these marks were made with black ink, and edited digitally. It blew my fucking mind. I used to select the areas and fill them with colour. You would not believe the pixelation. I'm living in a new world. I bet you all knew how to do it too.

This was a really quick post, I just wanted to shout from the rooftops that I'm excited to learn and try new things. I hope you guys like what I make next!


Wednesday 19 July 2017

What I ate: Feta & spinach puffs and Halloumi Kebabs

The second I got back to my uni house in Leeds (well, after laying on the floor panting. It’s far too hot to drag a suitcase up hills) I planned out my meals for the week. Knowing all the good food waiting in my future is a good way to raise my spirits and makes me feel at home!

During the summer I really like having a load of pre made salads/mixes/bites in the fridge to pick at during the day and put together for meals. Usually that involves a big pork pie that I segment out for each meal, but I’m trying to cut down on pork pies again. However, that pastry taste and texture would be missed, so I thought why not make something else of my own.

I’m not trying to convince you that feta and spinach puffs are a direct vegetarian alternative to pork pies, but they hit the spot in similar enough ways. Pastry & feta: filling, caramelised onion: sweetness. 

And another element I like to keep in the fridge is leftover kebabs. Not the scary kind from takeaways, the chopped up, seasoned and grilled kind. I decided to keep the meatless theme and go for halloumi, bell pepper and onion, which would top salads nicely & add some substance!

Together, these took about an hour. Read on for the recipes!

Leftover Kebabs:

  • 1 pack of Hallouimi 
  • 1 Bell pepper 
  • 1 small-medium onion
  • [extra ideas: 1 courgette, diced chicken/lamb] 
  • Black pepper/fajita seasoning/a marinade of your choice
  • Kebab sticks - wilkos do packs of 4 metal ones for like £2!

1. Chop your ingredients into similar sized squares and apply to the kebab, alternating each ingredient. You want the ingredients to flavour each other. They can touch, but don’t pack them too tight or they won’t cook well in the middle. Once done, sprinkle seasoning (to taste) over each kebab, covering each side evenly.

2. You can either barbecue or grill your kebabs. I rested mine on the edges of a foil lined baking tray, so the kebabs were suspended. Some of the halloumi is likely to get soft and fall off, so if the tray is lined it will still cook nicely and be edible!

3. Grill until the tips blacken, take out to turn, and repeat until you’re satisfied everything is cooked. Be particularly careful if adding meat by chopping off a piece to make sure the centre is cooked. 

4. Store in tupperware the fridge and use to top salads/add to pasta dishes that week!


  • Pre-made puff pastry 
  • 1 bag of spinach 
  • 1 pack of feta 
  • 1 onion 
  • 1-2 garlic cloves 
  • (nutmeg)
  • black pepper
  • (lemon juice)

1. You don’t have to do this step, but I wanted caramelised onions in the parcels. Chop your onion in half, and then into thin [5mm] strips. Fry with oil or butter on a medium heat, and cover with a lid for up to 10 minutes, stir, add a small spoonful of sugar, then stir and cover again. Keep checking on them until they’re soft and browned. Remove from the heat and put to the side. 

2. You can use the same pan for the spinach mix. Crush the garlic and fry it off in the pan. Add the bag of spinach, maybe a little at a time until they wilt down and free up space. Add black pepper and a little nutmeg (to taste). When completely wilted, remove from the heat and stir in the roughly chopped/crumbled spinach. Add a little lemon juice to taste. 

3. Pre heat the oven. 

4. Flour a clean surface and roll out the puff pastry slightly with a floured rolling pin. Cut into fairly large squares of 3-4 inches. Mine were all slightly different sizes which resulted in different shaped parcels! Only the proper squares will fold diagonally into nice triangles, but you can fold more rectangular pieces in half.

5. When the mixture has mostly cooled, spoon it onto one half of each pastry piece, leaving room around the edges to seal. Consider how each piece will need to fold. You can easily nudge the mixture around if you go wrong though! I ended up mixing the caramelised onion into the spinach & feta, however It would be nice to spoon the onion on top of the filling, creating layered flavour. 

6. With your fingers and lukewarm water, rub a little water along the edges of the pastry. Fold each pastry down the middle, over the filling. To seal, use a fork to press the top pastry layer into the bottom, creating a nice edging. To decorate you can poke little holes in the top or place a slice of onion.

7. Bake for 20 minutes, making sure to check them periodically. Remove when golden on the edges and top.

8. When cooled, place in tupperware or wrap individually in foil.

I hoped you liked the post! I'm going to make an effort to do more of these "What I ate" posts as I do get a lot of messages asking for recipes of the things I make & show on Instastories. Do let me know if you make these & how you get on!! 


Sunday 8 January 2017

How To: Mushroom Risotto

If you're not making risotto this winter, get on it quick! It's one of the most wonderful, wholesome, filling and versatile dishes you could put on your weekly meal plan. Today I'm sharing a mushroom risotto, the classic, but of course if you don't like mushrooms just leave them out!

So, what do I love about risotto? All of the above, plus it's cheesy, creamy and a fab way to use up all the leftover veg in your fridge! Does anyone else usually have 1/4 of a broccoli, a few leaves of spinach and 3 string beans left in their veg draw at the end of the week? Just chop 'em up and throw them in a risotto with the last of your cheese. Sorted.


  • Arborio rice - This is the only rice you are allowed to use, it puffs up and goes all creamy, trust me! It's been available in every supermarket I've tried, and £1 from Morrisons!
  • 1 stock cube - Vegetable or chicken
  • 1 glass of white wine {optional}
  • 1 onion
  • A tub of mushrooms - They shrink!
  • Greens - Here I've used chopped string beans and spinach
  • 1 or 2 cloves of garlic
  • Olive oil (or butter)
  • Cheese - How much is up to you, however for this recipe I used 2/3 of the brie you see above, with some left for topping. Parmesan is also a favourite, and blue cheese if you're up for it! Just combine them all if you're anything like me...


Heat up some olive oil/butter (start small, you can add later - mushrooms soak it up!) and fry off your onions and mushrooms together, on a low heat. When the onions are golden and the mushrooms have shrunk down, add the garlic and fry that off for a few minutes too. 

Rinse your rice (it's just good practice) drain and add it to the hot pan, mixing it in with the veg. After 2-3 minutes add the glass of wine and let that sizzle until the rice soaks most of it up. Make up your stock following the instructions on the box. I really don't bother with exact amounts, I keep adding hot water until the rice is done anyway! Start adding stock to the pan, one small pour at a time. Wait until the rice has soaked it up, then add in more. You need to keep stirring to ensure no rice sticks to the pan, believe me, it happens quickly! Add in your greens along with the last bit of water so it gets to boil a little.

Once all the stock has been added and the rice is fully puffed (taste test to check!), mix in the chopped brie (etc). Let this melt as you stir. Season with pepper and you're done! Serve quickly with a bit more cheese to melt on top and enjoy!!

I usually make far too much risotto for one portion, so put the rest into containers for lunches over the next few days and freeze some for a later date. If you don't hide it away, you'll definitely be back for more - it's SO GOOD!!

I'm constantly making risotto and it's nearly always different, depending on what's in the fridge. There are so many ways to make an amazing concoction, so I'd love to bring out a little recipe zine, to share ideas? Would anyone be interested? Recipe book/food illustration is where my heart is at, it's about time I give it a go, right?!


Thursday 5 January 2017

Where Did My Confidence Go?

I want to write and blog, but I don't know what to write and blog. You know? Well, I didn't used to know. I used to have unlimited things to talk (moan) about on the internet, but now I just have a complete compulsion to keep everything to myself. A voice that says no one cares anyway? Growing up and realising I don't actually matter, at all, to anyone, was traumatic, to say the least.

This is sarcasm.

I read the Georgia Nicolson series as a teen and it undoubtably had a major influence on my life outlook. Very insular, you'll know what I'm talking about if you've read them. Secondary school was horrible, riddled with people who enjoyed nothing more than to pick at me for everything I did, especially what I shared on the internet in The Early Years (Tumblr). The only way I toughened myself up to get through it was to believe that they were only picking on me because I was very interesting and they were very not at all. This helped a lot. It was a fun few years being a human shield of confidence. However, once this all stopped I kind of had a very belated breakdown. After college, away from anyone who had anything against me, I developed a horrible, constant expectancy that in the street, on my timeline, sitting on the other side of the coffee shop that I couldn't see to because of my poor eyesight, was a group of people who were laughing at me. I began to hold myself back from doing things just in case they came out and attacked me for it. I absolutely would not put myself out there, so obviously my ~online career~ had a ceiling. Because that's how it works, right? You share more, people connect more, they share it, everything grows organically? Well I knew what I wanted to do, I wanted to keep an online diary about running a small biz (&life) going, I wanted to give Youtube a go, but the idea of these things caused so much anxiety and worry that I just absolutely would not try. I even started to hold back on the shop side of things, the thing that made me happiest and actually proud. I worried about selling at craft fairs, pitching my products to retailers, expanding in any way whatsoever, in case it was presumptuous, I was being silly, getting too big for my boots, etc.

So these ghost people that I had imagined were there, ready and waiting for me to try something that would fail so they could laugh at it, started holding back everything that might have been if I had just tried. And I know it might have worked because I love sharing, nothing brings me more joy than being open and finding out everything about another person, and vis versa. I believe that if you have a true passion, you'll be able to make anything work! And I've had so many requests for me to start Youtube, or a podcast, but I've batted every one away. Just over two years ago I finally persuaded myself to get snapchat, and really quickly started pseudo vlogging, but these days I can hardly bring myself to do even that, for a different reason.

After essentially freezing my career, my hobby, I've watched it slowly, but predictably, fade. It is downhill. Going. On a roll, down a negative gradient. As has my motivation because of this weird, ridiculous unwillingness to try.

And God, I feel terrible, because I still get messages, requests for interviews, saying how well I'm doing and asking for advice. I'm not doing well! I'm doing pretty horribly, to be honest. I haven't been doing well since August 2014, before I left for uni. And even before then. I was probably only doing well in 2013. I definitely have the complex where I would be upset if I got a B in a test I was working to get an A on. It doesn't matter that a B is good, I know within myself what my dreams are, my goals, my capabilities, and how much or little I'm working towards them. I'm not happy now because although I'm still working every day at what I do, I used to and should be working on another level. I could still be if it wasn't for the horrible insecurity that hovers like a squishy but solid and black wall above me, not letting me through the trap door to the next level of the doll house game I could be in if life was actually a video game.

How do I explain what I'm feeling? Why it's an issue?

  • I feel as though I can't design new products because they're not good enough, which comes from a general and quickly spreading, overall insecurity. I even tried collaborating for a few months because I was so insecure about my work. Totally loosing sense of what I wanted.
  • I feel the decline in the success of my business, whatever area it may be, is un motivating. Obviously that's a cycle and is a side effect. Everyone goes through this, it needs pushing through.
  • I feel intensely uncomfortable with putting myself out there, trying. When I do, usually I feel happy. But I rarely do. It's too much of a block to start. That's why this post is completely unstructured. I'm just getting it all out, capturing this short burst of motivation. 
  • I feel embarrassed and even more insecure in my abilities because it seems a lot of people haven't noticed. I assume most people have. But the messages make it worse. I'm sorry if you've said something kind and this makes you feel bad but I just can't take the compliments if I don't consider them true..

All this has affected me at uni, too. I don't know how to talk to people anymore. I haven't been a very smooth socialiser since school, really, but it's just pathetic now. I don't have confidence in who I am, so I stay silent a lot of the time. I hate it!! People must meet me and think I don't care, or that I'm really boring. I just don't know how to present myself, why would they care to talk to me?

Positivity. Let's think positively. I've considered that maybe this is an internal journey and I'm currently on the cusp of the sort after and long awaited realisation that nobody cares so do whatever the hell you want. But I think it's more along the lines of nobody cares so don't do anything, or they'll care but in a bad way and it will be terrible. Oh my god, I'm so ridiculous?

This post is like really, really crap self therapy. How do I end it..

I need to find myself, to try everything that I want to do. Because I do WANT to do it. I have the thoughts, I still have dreams. I need to try things, set goals for myself again. I need a plan, I need to meet these plans and feel proud again. I had a plan from Year 11 until uni, but I'd forgot to plan what happened once I got to uni, so completely spiralled into uncertainty. Anyway, positivity. Brains are so complicated, self worth and efficacy are hard to keep when you're capable of being your worst enemy. So what's the answer, just get over it?

I think that's all I have to say. I kind of hope no one reads this, but then again I want to share it. Happy 2017, make it lovely. Don't let others bring you down.

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