Cards & Invitations: Paper or Paperless?

I didn't have a baby shower and the invitations for my wedding were hastily bought in a gift shop pack of ten because we basically, kind of, eloped.

There was no arduous decision-making process or hours spent hand-making or decorating envelopes upcycled from elephant poo. Or learning calligraphy.

I feel strange writing that as a self-professed lover of paper and of ephemera; a keen collector of invitations to other people's occasions.

As I approach my tenth wedding anniversary (seriously, how did that happen?!), I'm wondering what we will do to mark it, particularly as we didn't have the full-on after-party associated with the majority of weddings.

Should we have a party? If so, where? At home for just close family or the huge bash we missed out on? What will I wear? And what about our little baby boy who won't quite be one year old by the time the date rolls around?

Remembering back to bleak, bleary-eyed January nights when I sat writing 'thank yous' for the amazing gifts and cards we'd received on said birth, the idea of writing out invitations is enough to put me off. I mean, yes I could design my own and it would be a great marketing opportunity for me, but in many ways, just, zzzzz.

Then I heard about 'paperless' invitations. Those of the digital variety. Gorgeously designed just like their paper counterparts, but with no writing and even better, no postage costs!

 'Snapshot' Party invitation on Paperless Post - details visible on the reverse.  Clever.

'Snapshot' Party invitation on Paperless Post - details visible on the reverse. Clever.

So many places offer a host of digital invitation options now for every occasion, and I'm imagining the RSVP's flicking back into (dedicated?) invitation mailboxes much faster than the traditional versions. You could even request a read receipt, though I'm not sure about the etiquette on that?

There is one downside, and that's the older relatives that are not on email or social media.

My mother springs to mind; quietly eschewing the digital world as 'nonsense', while simultaneously asking me to 'ask Google' for help when the physical world cannot.

Or what if it got over-shared on social to friends you didn't want to invite? Mmm, tricky.

But I think a big tick for paperless cards and invitations is the environmental impact - although I would cherish a particularly lovely invitation and keep it in a memory box or maybe stick it in my scrapbook, most people aren't bothered and really wouldn't. I'm the only person I know who keeps a scrapbook; save for my online tribe of lovely art journalers that is.

We need to stop just thinking about the environment and the resources we use, but actually start taking action.

Now, my taste in invitations is quite... distinct, but I like this children's birthday invitation by Petit Collage on Paperless Post:

 'Superhero Trio' Children's Party Invitation, Petit Collage

'Superhero Trio' Children's Party Invitation, Petit Collage

And if you were worried about why there are envelopes designed and displayed alongside the cards - I was too - until I realised that once you hit 'send' or 'share' on your chosen design, it creates a cute little animation for the recipient of the card inside the envelope, then zooming out towards you. Nice touch.

For my own 30th birthday, I sent an email with an image I'd created, so really that was a precursor to a 'proper' e-invitation. It definitely wasn't animated, but I still put a lot of effort and love into it.

I like this 'Cocktails and Conversation' card probably because the premise of it piques my interest - light laughter and sophisticated cocktails with engaging chat. Already I'm imagining literary connotations and book deals being struck and romance set alight...

There are some variations but metallics are always a win for me.

 'Bottle Shock' Party Invitation by  Kelly Wearstler

'Bottle Shock' Party Invitation by Kelly Wearstler

This floral design has a totally different vibe but again, the matching envelope is so fun. The colours are very pretty too:

 'Woven Wildflowers' Party Invitation by Riffle Paper Co.

'Woven Wildflowers' Party Invitation by Riffle Paper Co.

Can someone please invite me to a cocktail and mimosa party?! 

Maybe e-cards and invitations could be saved in a special 'memory box' e-mail folder? That would solve the problem of preservation. It would always be right there with you, in your phone...

In Japan, once you receive a card 'its job is done' and you can happily dispose of it. Marie Kondo, famous for her book The Life-Changing Magic of Tidying Up, even suggests photographing sentimental items or 'komono' to preserve the memory while throwing away (hopefully recycling if possible) the actual item. 

I love the dreamy ice-cream illustrations on this children's party invite while this vintage-esque Flamingo scene with the matching envelope liner is sooo pretty too:

 'Flamingo Lagoon' Party Invitation by Rifle Paper Co.

'Flamingo Lagoon' Party Invitation by Rifle Paper Co.

As a fledgling designer myself, I'm always interested in other designers' work and what is selling. It's always a matter of personal taste, but I tend to be a bit left-field in my choices as a buyer, so that probably comes out in my designs too. I don't know if I'm commercial enough, but then most of the time it's about getting in front of the right people or having your work in the right places and available. People can only buy what is there and the market is crowded
 'Yahoo Cocktaoo!' card design by Rebecca Johnstone/Dainty Dora

'Yahoo Cocktaoo!' card design by Rebecca Johnstone/Dainty Dora

Handily, most sites allow you to upload your own designs so you can customise as much as you want. Ideal if you have forgotten someone's birthday until the eleventh hour and it's too late to send a traditional card through the post. Or how perfect for a less-stress way to ask your nearest and dearest to 'save the date'?

Save the Date card, Deighton, Paperless Post

And I'm already thinking ahead to Christmas - wouldn't it be nice to know your card really wasn't lost in the post and definitely arrived on time? Yes it's also nice having a real, tangible card to display on your festive mantel, but then, life. With the exception of my own seasonal offerings (below), I love this design

 'Bear-y Christmas' by Rebecca Johnstone/Dainty Dora

'Bear-y Christmas' by Rebecca Johnstone/Dainty Dora

 'I don't 'DO' Christmas...' by Rebecca Johnstone/Dainty Dora

'I don't 'DO' Christmas...' by Rebecca Johnstone/Dainty Dora

 Penguin Christmas Card by Rebecca Johnstone/Dainty Dora

Penguin Christmas Card by Rebecca Johnstone/Dainty Dora

So many choices. 

I love receiving special cards in the mail, but a digital card or invitation is just as effective and super-convenient for modern times. And you can't always trust the mail-man!

Can't wait for my tech-loving husband to open this e-card on our anniversary <3

Some places to source digital cards and invites yourself:

To commission me to design cards/invitations, contact me via my collab page.

NB. This is a sponsored post, however all views and opinions are my own and I never promote or link to any product or service that I don't genuinely love. Thank you for reading. 

Listed in the Top 100 Print & Pattern Blogs!

I was honoured and delighted to be notified yesterday that *this blog* has been listed in Feedspot's Top 100 Print & Pattern Blogs... on the planet!

"This is the most comprehensive list of best Print and Pattern blogs on the internet" Anuj Agarwal, Founder of Feedspot.

Alongside pattern and print gurus and familiar go-to sites such as Pattern Observer, Spoonflower, Make it in Design, UPPERCASE and Patternbank it feels like a very special privilege and one I'll continue to work hard to maintain. 

I even got a badge:

Top 100 Print and Pattern Blog Award Badge

Everyone loves a badge don't they? (Especially a shiny gold one!)

Meanwhile, this week I'm mainly waiting for my baby to arrive, but apart from that I've been marbling paper, art-journaling and signing up to a host of amazing Lilla Rogers courses for next year, including a brand new course on drawing faces. 

I can't wait.

And I don't think I'll be short of inspiration to keep this blog filled with great content.

Thanks for reading!

PS. There's still time to vote for my GEOMETRIC ANIMAL MOTIF cushion designs in the current Wraptious Cushion Competition...they're also available to buy for a limited time.

Wraptious Cushion Design Competition #3

I couldn't resist entering the Wraptious Cushion Competition again, this time with FIVE unique designs that also form a lovely 'GEOMETRIC' collection.

I've featured some animal 'friends' you might recognise from my design work in other guises - the Lion, the Leopard, the Polar Bear, the Penguin, and newbie, the Butterfly - all in my signature black and white sketchy-style, on geometric backgrounds.

The arctic, the jungle, the flower garden...

Meet my animal totems and their signature strengths:

The POLAR BEAR: fierce and strong yet playful too, he represents endurance, gratitude and perseverance. This guy is very friendly too - just look at that face!

The BUTTERFLY: symbolic of change, joy, hope and colour, the butterfly offers up the miracle of transformation, endurance and hope.

The PENGUIN: symbolises community and togetherness, social connection, depth of feeling, elegance and grace. I love this dapper chap!

The LEOPARD: representing power, strength and rebirth, this leopard is giving a big ROAR for confidence and courage in the face of adversity.

The LION: embodies strength, assertiveness, protection of hearth and home, co-operation and independence. 

Which animal is your favourite?

If you'd like to vote for me, then please 'LIKE' or 'SHARE' (or both!) on the Wraptious Facebook page post. (Third time lucky?)

These designs are also available to *BUY* for a limited period, which also counts as a super-big vote.

Available in THREE sizes, they're digitally printed on vegan suede with a choice of backing colours and a concealed zip. FREE UK shipping, with or without the cushion insert.

Thank you!

2018 trends: fashion, interiors, lifestyle

I love finding out about new trends and seeing story boards and colour reports...

It inspires me in all sorts of ways; not just in terms of my own creativity and design process but also the reminder that the world around us is a constant source of wonder, inspiration and beauty to be experienced and interpreted.

Earlier this month I attended a trend and branding session at The Lighthouse, Glasgow, with Fiona Chautard and a room full of local freelance creatives and entrepreneurs.

It felt like a guilty pleasure - a mid-week treat - to immerse in the intoxicating flow of new palettes, yarn stories, ideas and more.

Not surprisingly, the key take-out across all industries was the rise in the interest of craft and luxury craft: handmade and traditional techniques that take time, imbue provenance into the final product and carry the authenticity of intent and process.

Another important trend - if you can still call it that - is the need, desire and expectation (from consumers around the world) for sustainability and sustainable supply chains; something that the fashion industry particularly needs to address in sourcing raw materials and in the wake of so much 'fast & fad fashion'.

Many of the emerging stories for the coming seasons had a certain rawness and textural, tactile element, either in the fabrics or the surface decoration.

'Luxury Craft' AW 2018 trend, Fiona Chautard

There seems to be a revolt against perfectionism and polish, as though we need to get a bit more realistic and embrace small flaws of nature as beautiful; deeply connecting us to our roots in society and in the world.

Lots of the surface textures and effects are inspired by the land and by water, striations and marks influenced by nature.

"Fashion becomes a process rather than any one product", each piece telling its own story whether it's crumpled, unfinished, speckled, folded, slashed, exaggerated or oversized.

Aw 2018 trends, Fiona Chautard

Colour is very much influenced by the seventies in both fashion and interiors, with lots of mustard, ochre, camel, soft pink (yes still!), burgundy and teal. In fact teal was the take-out shade of all the many gorgeous greens. 

Teal. TEAL. Teal.

I feel it sits well with the 'Fauna/Cyanotype' report and Print Direction from Patternbank for A/W 18/19 which has inspired me with all those leafy formations morphing into abstracts.

Then there were historical references and a trend referred to as 'MASCULINE REDRAFTED' which I think we see in some iteration every season/year. It's a specific androgyny inspired by rebellion, gender fluidity, tailoring and a simplicity of surface fuss/decoration in favour of a strong, classic cut.

'URBAN FOLK' was an interesting trend, penetrating deeper into anti-tech, craft techniques such as crochet, macrame and a 'charity shop' aesthetic, with a bold palette of 'world pattern' and ethnic influences.

I love a trend like this which allows much in the way of surface decoration, experimentation and multiple, clashing influences.

'Excessive' trend for AW2018, Fiona Chautard

My favourite trend however (as a not-so-closet maximalist) has to be 'EXCESSIVE' which included words and phrases such as: riot, OTT, high-shine, psychedelic medley, wallpaper-scale, glitter, floribunda, clashing patterns, YELLOW,  ornamentation.

As a surface pattern designer, I love to go dramatic with colour and detail so this is one I intend to embrace - to the max. It reminded me of this gorgeous paint-palette which was an inspiring image from my Get Messy Art Journal group:

Get Messy Art Journal paint palette.jpg

Plus my own paint-palette experiments with mark-making (using a stone I picked up on the Cairngorms!)

Acrylic mark-making in teal

Meanwhille, small styling details such as the neck and the sleeves look like important points of focus and difference in fashion stories for the year ahead, with 'comfort as the new luxury' - a concept that will never be out of fashion in the modern era hopefully, plus 'refined glam'.

Basically, there's something for everyone.

As the once very much segmented seasonal year dissolves, and the world becomes smaller, consumers are tending (trending?) towards more investment pieces for anytime-wear which sits well with the idea of 'slow living' and quality over quantity.

Everyone has a voice and most are not afraid to use theirs to protest on issues surrounding the environment, climate change, resources and fair working conditions.

As a designer, I know I'm part of that message in the choices I make for production, packaging and materials. It's a responsibility I don't take lightly and something I want to consider more carefully as my business grows.

For now, I'm going to get my creativity on and see how I can put my own spin on the trends, colours and ideas shared throughout the presentation.

NB. Trend Report images from Fiona's presentation, in association with Textiles Scotland

*New Stockist Announcement* InCube Shop, Paisley

I'm delighted to announce that an exclusive selection of my 'pattern-bomb' prints are now for sale in the InCube Shop on Gilmour Street in Paisley.

Dainty Dora Pattern Bomb Prints, InCube Shop, Paisley
Dainty Dora Pattern Bomb Prints, InCube Shop, Paisley
Dainty Dora Pattern Bomb Prints, InCube Shop, Paisley

The InCube Shop is funded by Renfrewshire Council to support local design businesses, showcasing handmade products in a bright and spacious 'boutique' environment.

Seeing my prints alongside other designer's work in such a great location in Paisley is a dream come true (especially when I saw people stop to check out my prints featured in the window!).

Dainty Dora Pattern Bomb Prints, InCube Shop, Paisley
Dainty Dora Pattern Bomb Prints, InCube Shop, Paisley

Most of the photography featured in these prints are local Paisley scenes such as the Town Hall, Trinity Church, Anchor Mill and the Cart river.

I've also featured The Waverley - those famous red turrets always an iconic sight around Scottish waters - paired with thistles in the sky which almost look like fireworks in the way I've layered them through the clouds.

Lions and my own version of the Paisley-pattern account for the other prints, in multiple colourways so there's something for the minimalist palette as well as the colour-lovers (such as myself!)

Connecting with some of my fellow designers such as Lil of Gatekeeper ArtYvonne of Vonne Alley and Karen of Karen Hanvidge Ceramics has made the experience all the more special as a whole community of designer-makers come together to support and encourage each other and discuss 'all things Paisley'.

It's a particularly exciting time of course as all eyes focus on the title of City of Culture 2021, of which Paisley is named on the shortlist of five (winner announced December 2017).

Dainty Dora Pattern Bomb Prints, InCube Shop, Paisley

Over the coming weeks I will be launching a selection of greetings cards in time for Christmas, which will be stocked at the InCube Shop, as well as in my own online store.

I'd also like to shout-out the historic Paisley Abbey who were my very first local stockist - they have a selection of my pattern-bomb prints all featuring the Abbey but from different angles and using different surface pattern designs: lions, umbrellas and teardrops - oh my!

Dainty Dora Pattern Bomb Print, Paisley Abbey

Visit the InCube Shop in person - also a box office for The Spree in October - Monday-Saturday 10-5pm, 9B Gilmour St, Paisley PA1 1DG.

Paisley2021LogoColour

A 'Weird & Wonderful' Exotic Peacock + Tropical Birds

REBECCA JOHNSTONE
REBECCA JOHNSTONE

Two of my surface pattern designs - 'Exotic Peacock' and 'Tropical Birds' have been chosen to feature for sale as vegan-suede cushion covers on the fabulous Wraptious website, and I couldn't be more excited:

It's not the first time but this time feels even more special as the opportunity came about as part of a 'live brief' in my online pattern design course, Make it in Design, run by Rachael Taylor and her team.

The theme was 'Weird & Wonderful', which of course, is right up my street!

Immediately I had the idea to use peacock feathers and set about creating motifs in watercolour and ink. I used gold and silver pens over the top for texture and once I was happy, I played about with them digitally to create a technical repeating pattern.

I wanted the design to really 'pop' and stand out from the crowd (like a male peacock strives to do) but the original palette although striking, felt more pea-hen than peacock...

There were these options too:

'Exotic Peacock' Pattern in a different colourway
'Exotic Peacock' Pattern in a different colourway

Ultimately, I needed both designs to work together, which is why I went for the very bright, almost neon/Warhol-esque version.

For the contrasting design I used an array of tropical birds - a simple peacock head and neck with plumage, then some mischievous-looking cockatoos, some filled with other vibrant patterns against a backdrop of what I *hope* looks like bamboo.

Peacock outline, Rebecca Johnstone

It's a busy pattern with a lot to 'see', but then that's what makes it so weird and wonderful - you have to delve a bit further than just a quick glance to see the story.

Which birds are scared of each other? Who's the (pea) cock-of-the-walk? Who is up to no good?

So many elements and textures went into both designs so it's wonderful to see them professionally mocked-up and for sale.

Would you be tempted to buy any of them? What colours do you associate with summer or 'weird and wonderful'?

Each design is digitally printed on vegan suede with a choice of fibre or duck-feather filling, and backing colours plus hidden zip, available for a limited time only.

They come with or without the cushion innards, so the choice is yours.

Price includes FREE UK shipping. Just click the cushion images above to be taken to the Wraptious site.

Guess what my family and friends are getting as gifts for the foreseeable...

Pattern-Bombed Glasgow

Pattern-bombing Glasgow has been a lot of fun. After the excitement and flurry of positive feedback from the debut of my Paisley pattern-bombed prints at the start of July, I've since turned my attentions to the city in which I spent the latter half of my teens and whose gritty experiences, rich creative scene and 'mean streets' have made me the person I am today.

I give you 'pattern-bombed Glasgow' in all its eclectic glory:

Glasgow Pattern-Bombed Print, Rebecca Johnstone/Dainty Dora

Marrying my moody, black and white images with the colourful repeating patterns of my imagination, I have created my own version of the infamous Glasgow Crest/Coat of Arms, featuring:

The Tree that never grew

The Bird that never flew

The Fish that never swam

The Bell that never rang

I've chosen my primary colours (plus green) from one of the original crest images, and am proud of the bold, crisp lines that keep it sharp and fuss-free - like the city itself.

I love seeing all of the images together like this; the different coloured backgrounds and the simple black and white version, but my favourite has to be the multi-coloured version on the white background.

I started with the single motif, but then turned it into a technical repeating pattern:

Glasgow Crest/Coat of Arms repeating pattern, Rebecca Johnstone/Dainty Dora

Along with other patterns such as my 'Purple Reign' (below), I then made striking new images of familiar and much-loved scenes - do you recognise the featured places?

Glasgow Pattern-Bombed Print, Rebecca Johnstone/Dainty Dora
Glasgow Pattern-Bombed Print, Rebecca Johnstone/Dainty Dora

And there's plenty more. I'm stock-piling photographs of my city every chance I get, my camera always by my side.

The West End, the East End, the City Centre, Merchant City, Trongate, Charing Cross, the Clyde, the Kelvin. Famous buildings and derelict spaces and not so famous places and hidden corners and secret streets, all with their tale to tell. All of Glasgow's secrets to share, eventually.

I've got thistle patterns and lions and stitches and texture to pursue for the more 'tactile', mixed media vibe. How could I not with my background in textiles and fashion?

And fashion. I've not even started on that yet.

It's exciting to discover my artistic potential in this way and the endless source of inspiration that surrounds me.

Over the coming months: watch this space!

PaisleyMake Maker's Market

Today I'm proud and honoured to be exhibiting at the PaisleyMake Maker's Market in Paisley Abbey, showcasing my collection of Paisley-inspired surface pattern designs on fabric and in print.

PaisleyMake Maker's Market - Pattern Bomb Paisley Abbey

Organised by Scotland Re:Designed (SRD), the Maker's Market is part of the Sma' Shot Day festival celebrations which includes a host of other events across the town.

As a local girl with Paisley on my doorstep, it was an opportunity not to be missed!

I posted last year about my adventures 'behind the scenes at the museum', where I was able to view archival looms, fabric and weave designs at Paisley Museum and how much I wanted to design my own surface pattern concepts inspired by what I had seen.

My current collection is only the tip of the iceberg in terms of the ideas and material I have to work with, but so far I've used familiar and iconic Paisley motifs such as the floral teardrop, the Old Coat's Mill Tower and illustrative versions of the lions that were on show at key locations across the town last summer: the 'Pride of Paisley'.

PaisleyMake Maker's Market - 'Pattern Bomb' Old Coat's Mill Tower
PaisleyMake Maker's Market - Black & White Lion Print

For some of the palettes I've used colours from the designs I was able to view in the archive, which feels like another nice tie with Paisley's past and heritage.

There's plenty more work to be done, but for today, pop on down to Paisley-town and join in the celebrations. And, if you were as curious as I was...

The Sma’ (or small) Shot was a cotton thread which bound all the colourful weft threads into the warps of the world-famous Paisley Pattern shawls.

I love this! And you can say what you like about Paisley, but it's always been a colourful place stuffed with culture and commerce. Today it's going to be even more so.

The sun is shining too, but just in case, I designed a pattern called 'Paisley Umbrellas' using hand-inked motifs:

PaisleyMake Maker's Market - 'Pattern Bomb' Paisley Abbey

The PaisleyMake Marker's Market and exhibition runs from 1pm-5pm, today.