Introducing Wildflowers Collection

I launched my newest collection on Friday – Wildflowers!

In the run up to Top Drawer in January I was advised to design a new range to launch at the event, so in the autumn last year I started to think about what my next collection would be. Wildflowers have been one of the collections on my to-do list for a while and I felt most excited and inspired about them.

During the Christmas rush I spent some time thinking about the collection, what type of products would the range includes, and learning more about wildflowers and choosing the ones I was going to paint. I used my Observer’s book of Wildflowers and RHS website for research.

I finally managed to find time to start painting and designing the range in December. I painted about 20 wildflowers and whittled it down to my best 12 for my first design of the range – British Wildflowers print.

I also designed four patterns from my wildflower illustrations. When I decided that I wanted to make patterns, I was stumped about where to start with so many wildflower illustrations in front of me! I had a brainwave and used my research to base my patterns on wildflowers that are mostly found in summer, spring, shady woodlands, and meadows. I found these groups of wildflowers actually work really well!

The product in this Wildflowers collection I am most proud of is Wildflowers Set of 6 Postcards.

It was SO hard to narrow down my wildflower paintings to 6 favourites but I eventually got there with my kind partner’s help. I wanted my postcard set to have a Victorian botanical vibe so I went for a very dark grey background with contrasting white text for plant name, which I feel works really well with my colourful wildflowers. I also decided to go for a different-than-usual paper stock for the set – ‘acquerello’ laid paper that is gorgeously cream and textured with fine-lined markings. It was a risky move and I was so happy when I saw it in print for the first time – it was exactly what I imagined it to be! Yay!

The new collection was received really well in Top Drawer and most of the new products received a lot of orders!

I am glad I pushed myself to do the patterns, which I always find myself in the deep end designing, and also trying a new paper stock for the postcard and notebook sets. I want to be more adventurous in the manufacturing area of my business (where I outsource primarily) rather than sticking with the usual cards and prints – which sold really well, but I feel like my vision is bigger than this: I want to see my illustrations on everything, from functional wares to textiles! I am a tactile person so that reflects my ambition.

Thank you for reading, I think it’s clear that I am fond of my new collection and I hope you love it too!

Welcome 2020 and the Top Drawer Event

I hope you all had a lovely holiday season and a great start to the New Year.

2020 already! Where did last year go? 2019 flew by as I continued to develop my art practice and grow my business and in a blink, it was gone. So, welcome 2020, I am excited to see what it brings.

I love having my online shop and, even though they are very tiring, I love market days too, especially because I get to meet lots of the lovely people who support my business.

Markets and fairs are such a good way for makers to showcase their work. When I am at these events, I am often reminded of the Just a Card Campaign, which was set up by artist and designer, Sarah Hamilton. The campaign aims to encourage people to support artists, designers and small, independent businesses, by reinforcing the message that all purchases, even ‘just a card’, does make a difference. So, while I can’t buy all the goodies that I come across, buying something small, like a card, really helps creators.

Being able to support myself as an artist and maintain my practice through income generated from my illustrations, can be very challenging. Whilst I would really love to sit and make art all day, the reality is that, like makers of any kind, I must keep finding new ways to sell my work in order to make a living!

So last year, with the hope of increasing my wholesale business, I applied for a stand at the January 2020 Top Drawer event – ‘the UK’s leading lifestyle trade show for design-led brands’ – and I was excited to be accepted into their ‘Spotted’ location in this month’s show.

There was a lot of behind-the-scenes work to get ready for the show, as well as developing my new Spring / Summer 2020 designs (more of that next month) so I was grateful to have the support of my fiancé, Aneurin, especially with the technical side of getting the wholesale catalogue ready and preparing the stand plan.

The show, held in London, is a regular, bi-annual event where buyers and retailers from all over the country can come and have a look at makers of all types: It is a five day event – two days to set up your stand and three days for the actual show, meeting, greeting and networking.

It was very nerve-racking and exciting. Being quite a shy person, it certainly stretched my communication skills. We had a British Sign Language interpreter with us, which helped. I managed to say ‘hello’ to everyone who passed by and learnt a few things about networking along the way. We aimed to be easily accessible, clear about the range of illustrations available and take orders quickly and efficiently. Adding SKU codes underneath every product on the stand, with a clipboard stacked with printed order forms, a calculator and a card reader at the ready, led to some very positive remarks on our organisational skills!

The show went very well, far beyond my expectations. I met lots of independent retailers and gained EIGHT new stockists. One of them was the Royal Horticultural Society, which is one of my dream stockists. I couldn’t believe my eyes when I received an email from them placing an order! Happy, happy dance! It is a great start to 2020 for Katrina Sophia!

Whilst there wasn’t much time to have a look around at all the other exhibits, I did come across some fantastic new-to-me artists. Do go and look them up:

Both Emilia and Alice are now on list for items as we do up the house.

It was an exhausting five days. Luckily, we were glad to be able to enjoy some home comforts by staying with my mum in London! Thanks Mum!

A big shout out to my fiancé, for his outstanding support both before, during and after the show. I am looking out for something special for him for Valentine’s Day!

And lastly, but not least, as 2020 begins its sprint, a massive ‘THANK YOU’ to all of you who have supported and continue to support my creative business, from reading my blog to buying a card to commissioning art works.

You keep me doing a happy dance! Follow the link to a fun little video from the Just a Card Campaign

A Taste of Christmas Cards

I’ve launched a brand new Christmas card collection! It’s called A Taste of Christmas.

If you are a small business owner like me you will understand how we all have to start thinking about Christmas in the middle of summer and launch in the autumn to make the most of the festive season, and coming up with Christmassy ideas while the sun is still shining can be difficult! Luckily I came up with the rough idea of my new collection earlier this year while it was still chilly in spring and I have thought about it for months. A few weeks ago I felt ready and jumped in and started planning.

I knew I wanted to do a food-related Christmas card collection because I wanted to evoke a warm festive feeling, and the foods we eat in the festive period give me that warm fuzzy feeling instantly. There are also scents that give me that feeling – oranges, mince pies, cinnamons, fir spruce, vanilla, and so on.

I ended up with three different designs around this food / scent theme and these are Winter Fruits, Seasonal Scents, and Holiday Treats. I absolutely love each of them, especially Winter Fruits because it was the first design I created for the collection. When I create a collection It’s always the first design I am most proud of and I think it is down to the special moment of realisation where the design process is underway and going in the direction I hoped for.

I hope you will agree that my new cards radiate the festive feeling we get run up to Christmas and that all these three designs make a lovely collection.

Can you tell how excited I am for Christmas?!

University Of Leicester Botanic Garden

I can’t believe I didn’t visit the University of Leicester Botanic Garden sooner! It is free entry and really beautiful. There are 6 or 7 greenhouses but you can only visit three of them: the desert house – which is my favourite of all! – the tropical house, and the alpine house. The greenhouses are a tad small, not that I am complaining, but the botanic garden itself is pretty big with some water features and sculptures. It took me about two hours to really take in everything they have got to offer.

The desert house is my favourite to visit because once you go in it’s like you are in a totally different place, and the colours in there are stunning – think green, blue, peach, and ochre together! I think it gave me the push I needed to start painting greenhouses. If you have read my previous post about finding my inspiration in greenhouses, you will know that I had been thinking about adding some kind of greenhouse collection to my shop! The cacti and succulents in the desert house were also lovely and well looked after.

Naturally it was very warm in the tropical house, and the alpine house was a little bare in comparison to the others but it was still a lovely place to look around and write down some names of potential plants for my garden.

Finding Inspiration In Greenhouses

If you follow me on Instagram, you will know that I’ve been painting greenhouses! As a plant lover, I naturally enjoy visiting greenhouses and last year I decided that I want to create more greenhouse paintings for my shop. So I’ve made efforts to visit more, and most recently made a day trip to the University of Leicester Botanic Garden to visit theirs!

I collected all the best greenhouse photos I have taken and picked one to paint. It was daunting to get started and I procrastinated because I wasn’t confident I would be able to pull it off, but a few weeks ago I sat down at my painting table, ignored the Fear, and got finally started. Looking back I wish I had just got stuck in instead of putting it off for so long!

The end result two days later was a confusion. It was a mixture of:

Did I paint it?
I like it but I don’t like it either.
I beat my Fear?
This is not my style?
Wow, I really painted a scene!

After getting some feedback from my partner and Instagram followers, I came around and now I feel that it is a lovely piece. Because of popular demand I decided to get it printed, so it is now available as A4 and A3 prints!

Last week I painted a Cacti Scene from another of my greenhouse snaps. I had a dilemma whether to add a background or not… and I haven’t decided yet! Here’s hoping that I continue to push Fear aside and paint more greenhouses. I am excited to see how this collection will grow.