Sunday 16 September 2018

Studio Life: August 2018

August was a big month for Sighh & I. I moved into the new Newcastle city centre flat with my boyfriend and excitedly put together my own designated studio (aka second bedroom, once the bed and chest of draws were negotiated away). Jack took a week off work to sort the place out, which helped as everything I ordered seemed to arrive on a different day. This all happening at the same time as the largest sale I've had in years was something to navigate, as was dragging sacks of envelopes through the cardboard strewn corridors of our flat... but it was all finished in just over a week. And then graduate life really began! Well, partly. August has felt like a battle between me being so excited to start my new life and genuinely incredibly happy, while also definitely procrastinating and doing things very slowly, in summer mode. Anyway, here's what I did, according to my overflowing camera roll...

I'm going to save all the little details for a Studio Tour (woo!) but there's a photo of the utter tip it started, and now my BEAUTIFUL packing area (curtesy of that I'm using for stock storage and packing, separate from my work desk which is in front of the window. You can see it's a little sparse right now, so I can't wait to fill it up with new products over the next few months!

Once the #BigAssSighhSale was over, my focus was on the Valencia collection. After squatting at my boyfriend's for six weeks, and working out of coffee shops because he'd cancelled the wifi in some kind of fuck-the-man episode, I was SO ready to work in my new space. This very much included spreading out the prints and paint swatches on the big dining room table to see the colours for what they really were (without the dingy yellow hue of a flat with tiny windows).

I had a big stack of original Lino prints I made right up until the day we were ejected from the print studio, in a sweet A5 size, however after entering the Slow Down Studio Instagram competition and reworking one of the designs a little bit I wanted to make something bigger. I worked on another digital adaptation of one of the photos (see process here!) and then signed up to Northern Print to get access to screen printing facilities.

They asked me to bring my first project to the induction, and because I'm an idiot I brought the files for an A2, six colour, half tone print. It had been a long while since I'd screen printed so a few of the important details slipped my mind. Such as how difficult that would be. I really wanted the texture I'd created digitally in my prints, so tried to achieve this with a halftone. I turned the bottom image into a bitmap, which basically turns the image greyscale then into little black dots, and the black dots expose to print the image. However none of them exposed but the brown triangle, because it turns out you can't do that to an image with loads of colours. Anyway, it didn't work, and feeling like the studio member from hell I cleaned off my screen and went home to figure out a new plan. But not before I spent an extortionate amount of money on paints because I thought you paid by the pot you filled, not that you had to buy the pot of every colour you used. I didn't even like their paint!! It was too thin!! That's the worst part.

While I pulled myself together from my first failed print attempt, I shared my friend Sara's table at a little summer craft fair on the outskirts of town. I'm not exactly experienced with selling at craft fairs, I've only done one other which was Renegade London, but as that was SO full on that I comfortably know the basics now. After annoying a Tesco's worker with a request for £30 in £1s and 50ps, and rushing to the location (40 minutes late) carrying our crates of wares, Sara and I ended up with a pretty sweet looking stall and it was a nice, chilled day. Honestly, I'm not too eager to do such a small fair again, it was more a fun thing to do with a friend, but chatting to browsers and getting feedback from totally new people is always interesting! I may do some around Christmas time, we'll see..!

I'd previewed my four new Cards of Kindness at the fair, then had to get them online ready for GCSE & A level results day! I setup my usual peachy backdrop on my desk in front of the window, balancing a camera in one hand and reflective foam board in the other, and took some clean shots for the website.

This launch got me excited to get back on track with the shop and produce more giftware, but I still wanted to get the prints up as they've been so long in the making.

To kickstart getting the Valencia prints online, and improve the website in general, I bought a lightbox and range of reflectors (instead of white foam board) for better product photography. The aim is to improve photo lighting enough so that editing is as un-time-consuming as possible, however it came with a whole host of camera settings issues that threw that plan off for a couple of days until I could figure it out. After a visit from my pal Ellie, who just got back from photographing a summer camp in America, I was armed with a list of various numbers and the exposure triangle. 

Now, I could take white photos for the website. HOWEVER, I wanted that sweet sweet lifestyle shot, and for that I needed a shelf. Admittedly, this may have been me procrastinating even further, but I really wanted shots of the prints framed on a little shelf, and I had to figure out how to attach it to a wall. After a week of promises from a handyman, I bought a drill. And then after my refusal to use it and the efforts of both Jack and our landlord, the shelf was up. But it's worth it though, right?

So the A5 prints were ready to launch, but I still wanted to make larger options. I'd figured out that block colour printing is actually very lovely, so the half tone was unnecessary. I scanned in some of my lino prints, traced the shapes in black and then printed to both A3 (as a practice) and A2 size.

During a trip back to Leeds to photograph my favourite spots in the city (post here!), I popped into uni and snuck a look at the screen printing and linoprinting equipment so I knew what to buy for my next go!

And then commenced a fierce week of back and forth between the print studio, art shop and coffees at Pret. 

I bought little tubes of acrylic to colour match my lino prints. I ended up buying large primary colours + white, then a couple of conveniently close minis which just needed a bit of mixing. Side note: I have found a new love for mixing pots of paint.

And the finished results...!

And that's where August finished! Prints ready, lightbox photos agogo. It's mid September now and a lot has happened that I can't wait to document properly, but that will be the next post.

I hope I can get the knack of this vlog-style monthly round up post down. I've always loved the idea of keeping a diary, but I'm consistently bad at keeping it up. If you want the BTS to be a thing, pls let me know! Also, the name... I was thinking Sighh Life, Sighh Studio life, Sighh in the Studio, or in an effort to maintain me and the shop as two entities, Studio Life. What d'ya think?


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