Tuesday 21st June 2022
Birmingham Design Festival

It has been a very long time since I used the blog section of my website - between uni, Etsy sales and a lot of fun stuff alongside, I very much fell off the wagon! However, when I went to the Birmingham Design Festival a couple of weeks ago I thought it was so good that I really wanted to share my thoughts in some way that was different and a bit more substantial than an Instagram post (which nobody seems to see these days anyway!). I only went for the Thursday of the festival so I can't comment on all of it, but what I did experience was really amazing and inspiring and I would encourage anyone with an interest in design, illustration or anything artistic to go next year! Below I've shared some thoughts about the day and what I took away from each of the talks and workshops that I went to.

The initial decision to go to the festival was a big one - anyone familiar with me on Instagram will know that I am very much a one man band - occasionally roping friends in to staple up Christmas orders or run to the postbox! But one of my goals for 2022 was to go on my first business trip, so when I found the Birmingham Design Festival on Instagram and looked back at previous years' events, I thought it would be a great idea to go. Fast forward a few months and I selected and booked my place at the talks, bought my train ticket and I was on my way. It was a very nerve wracking experience - not least because Birmingham is a big place and I've not been since before Covid - but once I got to the festival the staff were super helpful and gave me directions to my first talk and a lovely welcome pack - pictures below! I loved that the programme for the event was printed like a newspaper - what a cool idea!

After a quick look around at the sponsor stands, I headed up to my first talk - "Energy delivers more creative opportunities than talent alone" with Shaun Loynds. I absolutely loved this talk, it was a real highlight of the day for me. It was all about how the energy you take into something can really make or break it. Mostly Shaun talked about how going into a project with fresh, positive energy can really turn it around, but he also made smaller points too - about being the person in the office who offers everyone a cuppa and says good morning. I am a firm believer that kindness gets you everywhere and I think there should be a lot more of it, so the whole talk really resonated with me. I also loved seeing some of Shaun's collage and sketchbook work from across his career from art school up to the present day. There was a tight time allocation for all the talks to ensure the day flowed smoothly but I wish I could have heard more of this one! If you're interested in what was said, here are the notes I took (though I can't promise they make sense!)

The next talk I went to I took considerably fewer notes - partly because this talk was much more visual and I was focused on seeing the work on screen, and secondly because it felt quite personal to the artist and I wanted to listen to her talking about the things that have happened in her life rather than writing it down - taking notes that were specific to her wouldn't have been as useful to me. The talk was "Learning To Let Go" with Amy Victoria Marsh who creates stunning ceramics amongst many other things. The focus of her talk was about not getting lost in the NEED to create things for the point of sales, Instagram likes or anything else - we should create to be creative. I noted down a couple of things Amy said (which I will put below) as well as a couple of doodles - couldn't help myself! By this point I was feeling really creative and was just desperate to get drawing!
Next, I had lunch and wandered around the lovely campus where the event was taking place - nice even despite the rain! After lunch I headed back over to the Illustration area to see the talk "Illustration, Briefs, and the Creative Freedom Trap", by Jon Cockley from Handsome Frank. It was a really helpful look at the interaction between artist and client and I definitely learnt a lot that I can take forward - especially holding myself and my work to a higher value and not doing so much free and low priced work just to be nice!! Once again I couldn't help doodling as well as taking notes...
After this, rather than a talk, I went to a workshop. It was called "Freedom of the Press" - ironically named as a printing press, as I learned, really does not give you much artistic freedom! I spent a fantastic hour or so in the print room with some other attendees, learning how to use an old-school printing press with Richard Small from Sony. I found it completely fascinating - it is something I have always wondered about as I know the printing press played a big role in my Grandad's career, so learning to use one 70-ish years after he did (wearing his shirt!) was incredibly special. 
Finally, I headed back to the Illustration area for the final talk of the day - "Crayons and Credit Blocks" with Doaly. It was really interesting, as it opened up a whole new part of the illustration and design world for me. I also found it really encouraging that he didn't necessarily come from a strongly artistic job before becoming a successful illustrator, and it left me feeling really inspired to get on that train home and get drawing! As previously, my notes are below. (and yes, I did draw a baby elephant underneath)
I hope you have enjoyed reading this round up of the day of the event I went to and hopefully it encourages you to attend next year! I know I'm definitely going to go to as many of the days as I can next time!

If it's your kind of thing, you can still view some of the talks from the other days of the event online at this link: https://vi.to/hubs/bdf-2022/watch

Also - let me know if little blog posts is something you'd like to see more often! I used to love blogging but haven't done it for years so this feels very strange and old school.

Have a fabulous day!!

Monday 4th January 2021
Happy New Year!

Hello and happy new year! It's definitely been a bit of a strange time recently and certainly not the end to 2020 or start to 2021 that we all would have hoped for, but after a few too many days of moping on the sofa I am ready and raring for the year to start!

I decided it might be nice to add a little blog section to my website. I'll update it every couple of months or so with new products, behind the scenes and anything else that seems interesting!

I'm currently staying with my parents (again!) - I came home in the student travel window in early December and have been advised not to go back until late January, seeing as my course is all online anyway! So I am currently writing this in my childhood bedroom, where I seem to have spent a lot more of the last year or so than I expected!

Despite all the rubbish bits of 2020, I'm pretty happy with where I am with Em Jenkins Design - considering this time last year it was a vague idea that I'd discussed with a few colleagues, I think I've made decent progress! Now that I've had my first really busy period over Christmas I seem to have really kick started my sales, so hopefully I can keep building on that and turn this into a full time job when I graduate!

Here's to a better 2021!