Thoughts On Blogging

A lovely maker whose posts and content I love recently surveyed her Instagram audience about blogging, and more specifically about how to find things to blog about. Her question got me thinking because I used to ask myself the same question – I sometimes still do! – and after sharing my experience with her I realised that it would actually make a good blog post, so here we are!

How do you find things to talk about?

This question used to really bug me. I was reading so many blog posts that were either interesting, informative, beautiful or all three that it sometimes felt like I would never be able to write anything good in comparison. I also felt that I was joining the game too late: people had already written about such and such topics, and they’d probably done it way better than I would ever do. And then one day I read somewhere a sentence that went roughly like this (I’m paraphrasing): everything has already been done but nobody will ever do it like you would.

That sentence was a massive eye-opener. I realised that what I liked about all those amazing articles was that they reflected the author’s experience, their opinion, and that they were written in a style that was truly personal to them. I also came to realise that I liked reading articles that answer questions I ask myself and articles about things that I am curious about, like how other artists work, what their favourite art materials are, how people live in other countries, … those kinds of things.

How I find things to talk about

I can’t second guess what I think people would like to read about – well I could give it a try but there’s no guarantee that I would get it right –  whereas starting with what I’m interested in and what I want to share is a lot easier! And I figured that if I’m interested in a topic surely someone else, somewhere, must be too.

To find things to talk about I ask myself ‘what would I like to read about?’ and ‘what do I have to say on the subject?’ and then I start writing.

The behind the scenes of how I write my blog posts

Keeping track of my ideas

I usually prefer paper for most things but I had to face a tough fact: too many of my ideas were getting lost or forgotten because they were jotted down in various notebooks or on loose sheets of paper.

So now I use Google doc to write down every single blog post idea I have. Sometimes it takes the form of just a sentence and sometimes it’s a whole paragraph. Sometimes it becomes a post and sometimes it doesn’t.

I also like my lists to be very clean so that I can see at a glance what’s left to do (I’m the kinda girl who has a colour code for her daily to-do list based on whether the item is personal or for work and depending on its level of urgency you see). An electronic document gives me the flexibility to delete old or ticked items so that I only see the ideas that haven’t been used yet.

How I organise my Google doc for blog posts

My Google doc – which I used to write this post – is divided into three sections:

  • The rough ideas at the top: usually some sort of title or one line summarising the idea. I recently started adding dates next to the ideas because I find it interesting to see when I’m interested in what topics.
  • The blog posts in progress in the middle: I sometimes have several posts in progress at the same time, this enables me to chose what topic to write about depending on the mood.
  • A ‘completed posts’ bucket at the end: for some reason sometimes I like to keep a copy of my blog posts. When I do, I pop them in the ‘Published Posts’ section at the end of the document.

Another way to ‘write’ blog posts: dictating

I heard that some people use their mobiles devices to dictate their posts in Notes or in an email and then use AirDrop or email themselves for further editing. That sounds like a good idea to me because talking is sometimes more natural than writing and you might be less tempted to endlessly rephrase your sentences.

I tried it and and it sort of works, sort of doesn’t. I don’t know if it’s because of my French accent but the voice tool tends to change quite a few of the words that I say and it is sometimes almost more difficult to go through the whole text again in order to correct the mistakes than it is to write from scratch. That’s me though and I would suggest that you give it a try to see if it’s for you or not.

About writing faster

In the past few months I have also become quicker at writing my blog posts. I used to have a big complex because I am not a native English-speaker so I’m prone to making mistakes or to phrase things in a way that is not very natural in English. It took me a while (and some reading) to finally accept that this is who I am and that spending countless hours trying to write the perfect sentence is not really a good use of my time.

So what’s my technique for writing faster?

Well, first I start by writing everything I have in mind, everything that I want to say on the subject without worrying about how well it is phrased. Then I focus on the form: I edit my sentences and organise my paragraphs; by that point I don’t have to worry about the content anymore because it’s already all there. And finally, I stop editing when I consider that the post is good enough – note: not perfect, but good enough so that it communicates what I want to say. Working in this way saves me a great deal of time!


I hope this helps. Don’t hesitate to share your own tips and techniques for writing blog posts and other online content as I’d love to know!

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A Summer Of Learning

Hi everyone!

Since a lot of people (and therefore clients) are taking things a bit more slowly and/or are going on holidays things have slowed down a bit in the studio. This led to asking myself how I could make the best use of that time.

The answer came pretty quickly: learning! And experimenting. And working on those personal projects that pop into my mind when I’m busy and that I have to leave on the back burner for a while before I can finally get to them.

You know how some children go to summer camps? Well I decided to have my own creative summer camp.


What I’ve been up to in a nutshell

So far I have taken two different courses, have participated in one illustration competition, I have produced at least four new pieces for my portfolio and am in the process of working on another two, I am working on a new zine, have been using paint more, I have been practising freehand drawing (i.e. drawing without tracing the lines in pencil first) and I have been playing with linocut. Phew!

‘Tell me more, Tell me more’

Courses

I am exploring the Make Art That Sells courses at the moment. I took my first course with them in October last year after seeing how some of their students presented their artwork on Instagram and thinking ‘Wow! I want to be able to do that too!’ I loved Lilla Rogers’s teaching style and the online community so much that when their next sale came up I purchased a bundle of courses. Some of them are live (e.g. Illustrating Children’s Books), some of them are assignment-based (e.g. Bootcamp) and some of them are self-paced (e.g. Hot Market For Your Art – Part A and B). Most of the MATS courses are more art-based (understand: learn about the industry while you create art in your own style through assignments for specific markets) and now they also have a couple of more businessy ones like Portfolio Review Live and MBA (Money BadAss), which started on Monday (13/08/2018) and that I am also taking.

This is not an affiliated post by the way (I am not getting paid to talk about them) but since I love their courses I thought I would mention them in case you want to try them too. Since I took my first course with them about 9 months ago, I have seen my style grow tremendously together with my level of confidence, my presentation and generally, my knowledge of the industry.

CAMILLE_MEDINA_STATIONERY

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Examples of pieces I created as part of the MATS courses

Personal projects

I am currently working on a couple of new pieces for my portfolio and at the same time I’m working on a new zine, which I’m really excited about and can’t wait to share with you! The only thing is… I can’t tell you more about it for now (sorry!) but watch this space and if you don’t already, follow me on Instagram (@camillesland) as I might leak some sneak peeks in my stories.

Art experimentation

Analogue textures

I loooove using actual materials to make things and although I also love the flexibility of Photoshop I would like to keep bringing in analogue elements and textures into my artwork. It isn’t usually something I can do in five minutes in a corner of my desk. It takes time, and space, and it can get quite dirty so it requires dedicating proper time for it. But it’s also so much fun!

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The biscuit bases I painted for the ‘Winter Holidays’ piece shown above (yum!)

‘Brave drawing’

Usually, I first sketch my illustrations in pencil before tracing over them either directly or using my light table. This too takes time and sometimes I lose the spontaneity and ‘freshness’ of the lines in the tracing process. So I decided to experiment drawing directly in ballpoint pen for a bit and see what happened. When you draw with a medium you can’t erase you are bound to make mistakes, some of your lines are likely to come out wonky, but after a while you stop caring so much – or at least I did. I drew like that for about 3 hours, up to the point that I actually bruised my thumb nail. I had a lot of fun and by not being precious about my drawings I gained in confidence over the session. I will definitely try that again!

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One of six pages from my three-hour freehand drawing session

Linocut

In line with using more analogue elements and textures, and bringing more spontaneity to my artwork I decided to experiment with lino cutting. I had never done linocut before so I’m a total beginner. I think it’s the perfect response to my current need to work with my hands, sculpt and do illustration. I love the simplicity, roughness and very DIY aspect and I’d been wanting to try it for a while.

Linocut-stamps_Camille-Medina

My first homemade stamps,yay!

The more I play with it, the more ideas I have and it makes me feel excited and happy in ways that even I find weird. I would almost describe it as the same kind of excitement you get when you start dating someone you really like and with whom you click.

Strange.


How about you? How’s your summer so far? What are you up to? Do you have a hobby that gives you butterflies and makes you feel very excited whenever you do it?

Five Ways To Nurture Your Relationship When Both You And Your Partner Are Workaholics

When I started my business I had this idea that since I was my own boss and able to choose my hours I would end up working a nice 9 to 5 and use the rest of the time doing whatever else I wanted. I was wrong.

When I moved in with my boyfriend after five years of a distance relationship where we saw each other one weekend a month or every other month – most of which we spent juggling activities with friends and trying to spend quality time just for the two of us – I felt a sense of relief and thought of all the time that we would now be able to spend with each other. I was wrong again.

You see, both my boyfriend and I are entrepreneurs. I run my illustration business from a home studio while he develops video games for the studio he and his friends created, from an office not too far from where we live. Both of us are very invested in our respective business and both of us work a lot. In short, we are a workaholic couple.

I’m not glorifying the fact that we seem to be busy all the time, not even close. In fact working so much can endanger a relationship and we have to make sure that we nurture ours on a regular basis.

With this post I want to share a few tips that workaholic couples like us can use to nurture their relationship and stay close to each other even when work do them part.

#1 Create your own rituals

Rituals_web

When I moved in with my boyfriend it quickly became obvious that our life together was going to be very different from what I had imagined and as things started to get a bit tense between the two of us (mostly on my end I must admit) we sat down together one morning to brainstorm ways we could get things sweet again. We came up with two ideas that we’ve been keeping up to this date: date night once a week and our weekend breakfasts together. Sometimes plans do change but when that happens we make sure that we reschedule straight away: this is our special time and it is important to us. Create your own rituals.

#2 Be a team

Team_web

Do things that help you bond and make you feel that you can count on each other. Cook together, go to the gym together (one of our top favourite bonding activities!), when you do the house chores do them together at the same time, take a class together, etc. It doesn’t have to be complicated, expensive or fancy. Just do one activity (or more) where you can be a team.

#3 Take time off (together)

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I’m not talking about going on an expensive long holiday somewhere far away (although if you can afford it and can make the time go for it!). You don’t even have to be away from home at all. What matters is that you use that time to do things together, ideally things that take you out of your usual routine. For example, my boyfriend and I rarely take holidays but we both had a big birthday coming up so we decided to treat ourselves and after saving for a year we went on a cruise to see the Northern lights in the north of Norway. Over the course of that trip we explored the ports of call, took silly photos, had our own private jokes, we talked for hours about the books we were reading at the time, shared our opinions on various topics, … Take time off and share moments together.

#4 Turn off your devices

Device-off_web

One of the highlights of our cruise to Norway for me is that for the twelve days we spent on the cruise ship we didn’t have the internet. If you’re like me you probably spend a great deal of time on it. I love the internet, it’s a great source of information! It is also a great source of distraction. And since you already don’t spend much time with each other you might as well make that time count. So be in the moment. Turn off your devices and share, connect and be there in real life.

#5 Pay attention to detail

Details_web

Good attention to detail is often praised as a good professional skill to have. It shows that you care. It is also a great skill to have and to practice in your relationship. It can be little things like complimenting your partner on their looks before they leave home in the morning or wearing the perfume you know they love. Or it can be a little bit more advanced like noticing a frown on your partner’s face and taking the time to discuss what’s making them feel concerned. I love leaving my boyfriend little drawings on sticky notes that I place somewhere he’ll find them when I go to bed before he gets back home. Show that you care. Pay attention to detail.

There are lots of ways you can nurture your relationship when you’re a workaholic couple. These are the top five that my boyfriend and I use on a regular basis and that have brought us closer even though we spend a lot of time working.

What do you do to nurture your relationship? Please share in the comments below as I’d love to know!

Bye Bye Bootcamp

Camille-Medina_Bootcamp-Artwork

Hi everyone!

As some of you might know already, at the end of last year I enrolled in the Make Art That Sells (MATS for short) Bootcamp class. As a result I spent the first five months of this year creating artwork for the course in my spare time. MATS Bootcamp 2018 ended a couple of weeks ago and I thought now would be a good time to look back and share the artwork I produced.

JANUARY

Mini assignment: the contents of our bag

Big assignment: a book cover showing the contents of a famous person’s bag. I was assigned Tina Fey.

JAN_Book-cover_Camille-Medina

FEBRUARY

Mini: tea-related ‘stuff’ (from tea cups to tea leaves, anything and everything ‘tea’)

Assignment: cover for a journal around the theme of tea leaf-reading

Tea-Leaf-Reading3_Camille-Medina

MARCH

Mini: Victorian hats

Victorian-Hats_Camille-Medina

Assignment: portrait of a suffragette for a magazine

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APRIL

Mini: sewing supplies

Assignment: tray and other accessories for the home décor market

Sewing-Bonanza_Camille-Medina

MAY

Mini: random objects from Lilla Rogers’s collection

May_Mini_Camille-Medina

Assignment: one page of a graphic novel (reusing some or all of the elements drawn for the mini assignment)

May_Assignment_Camille-Medina

Voilà!

Bank Holiday Weekend Friends

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Elmer Day 2018

When I was a little girl I had an Elmer book which was one of my favourite books in the whole world. Elmer is colourful. Elmer is fun. Elmer is kind…

Elmer taught me that it was okay to be different, something that I only really understood much, much later.

So Elmer is one of my all-time heroes even after all this time.

This is why when I heard that Elmer Day was coming, I HAD TO draw and paint him.

ACS_0033

Happy Elmer Day everyone!

There Is No One Else On Earth Like You

I remember how not that long ago I was obsessing over finding my style as an artist. It was always at the back of my head. Not only that but I was seeing so much great artwork online that I wanted to be like those artists that I felt were more successful than me (note the contradiction here: I wanted to find my style / I wanted to be like other artists).

I spent a lot of time looking at every piece of artwork I was creating and asking myself ‘Is this my style? Is this unique? Is this innovative?’

These questions were putting me under quite a lot of self-inflicted stress and often I felt like I didn’t know who I was as an artist.

In my personal life something similar was happening. When I became a freelance illustrator I was faced with the fact that I didn’t have to dress according to a specific dress code and where I should have felt freedom I felt confusion instead. I had been dressing for other people for so long that I didn’t know how to dress like me anymore. In fact I didn’t know what ‘me’ would wear.

So I didn’t know who I was as an artist and I didn’t know who I was as a person.

In a way this could have been overcome fairly quickly if I hadn’t been so darn stubborn about focusing on what I felt I should do instead of focusing on what I wanted to do.

One baby step at a time I progressively let go of the shoulds, both in my art career and in my personal life. I opened up to what I liked, what was making me happy, what was making me laugh and little by little I started doing more of that until it snowballed.

My art started becoming more like me when I started becoming more like me.

Recently I read that “all art is autobiographical” and I believe it is true.

About being unique and having a unique style, the title for today’s post is borrowed from Dale Carnegie’s How to Stop Worrying and Start Living. In that book (which I really recommend reading by the way) I read a quote that really struck me. It said: “[…] let’s not waste a second worrying because we are not like other people. You are something new in the world. Never before since the beginning of time, has there ever been anybody like you; and never again throughout all the ages to come will there ever be anybody exactly like you again.”

Man, this quote feels good every time I read it!

So much time spent worrying about wanting to have a unique style and here it is, and it had been there all along:

“You are something new in the world.”

So if you ever wonder what your artistic style is and how to find it, my advice to you is: make lots of art, draw the things that you want to draw, be yourself and it will soon become obvious to you what your style is.

Same if you wonder who you are as a person. Do things that make you happy, do things that make you laugh, do things that make you feel excited and you will soon find out who you are.

As long as you are not imitating somebody else and that you are being you, then you are unique and so is your artistic voice – yes I said voice. Because your style might be similar to someone else’s (and as long as you are not copying that’s okay by the way!) but your voice, well your voice is your own take on whatever you’re doing.

I will leave you with two things:

1) A quote from Kung Fu Panda 3 (this film franchise is full of pearls of wisdom!) where Po says: “Your real strength comes from being the best you you can be. Who are you? What are you good at? What makes you, you?”

2) I made this ‘What makes me me’ illustration a few months ago and I thought that it would be fun to fill in the boxes again every year or so to see what changes and what stays the same. 

© Camille Medina 2017

You can download and print a version of this illustration with empty boxes here.

(For personal use only, no commercial use. If you’d like to use this for commercial/non-personal use, contact me here.)

Have a lovely day and enjoy being yourself in life and in your art!


Notes

CARNEGIE, D.,  ‘Find Yourself and Be Yourself: Remember There Is No One Else on Earth Like You’, How to Stop Worrying and Start Living. London: Vermilion – an imprint of Ebury Publishing, 1998, pp.168-176.