Over the past week I have been on a work placement with a local company to me called Elephant and Feather. They are a quirky and individual gift shop in Potton, Bedfordshire.     I have undertaken a range of tasks over a few days, which has helped me to understand a lot more about running your own business and all the elements about what is involved and what you need to know.

The first day involved working from the home office, where all the personalised prints are created, cut and framed before heading to the shop.                                                                     I was given the task to come up with some designs for age/number birthday cards, which I found quite challenging. Diving in head first to sketches is an unusual way of working for me as I am so used to undertaking lots of research before I start drawing. However I overcame this by just sketching out the first things that came to mind, and after lunch I began to put them on illustrator to get a feel for how they could look.

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My brief was for them to be funny or quirky, with use of bright colour. Imagery wasn’t a requirement, but I tried it out in a couple and I think these are the more successful designs. My aim was for the designs to be in the style of Elephant and Feather so they would be appropriate to be in the shop, and I feel the two designs with illustrations fit the brief of quirky more than just the ones with type.

On the second and third days I worked in the shop and was given a few tasks, one of which being visual merchandising. As the new stock had arrived, it was necessary to rearrange the display to fit everything in.

The above pictures show the before of the display. It was my challenge to reorder the stock whilst keeping relevant categories together. I noticed there was a lot of animal themed products so chose to focus on that as the main point of the display, as you will see in the images below.

Children’s products are very difficult to merchandise, as the display has to look appealing, however I find because of the vast range of colours and shapes it can often look messy. Overall I am pleased with how the display turned out, and I learnt a lot about things like selling points, and featuring certain products in certain spaces, which really makes them more sellable compared to when they are tucked behind other objects.

I really enjoyed the few days I spent with Elephant and Feather, and it has given me a heads up about what I want to do myself in the future. I feel confident about producing my own work, and selling my designs as prints or cards is definitely something I am considering doing. It is now down to more research and other placements to help guide me along with this.



As I did with my own colours, we came together as a group to mix up our 4 chosen colours and test how they looked against each other before printing.

group colours

This was a quicker process than when I worked on my own, as we all took a colour each to mix up and test, referring to each other for help and questions.

Printing day came around quickly, and we were happy to be printing at the beginning of the week as we were excited to see the outcome.

It took a while to set up our screens, as it is vital they are all measured accurately against the printing tables so that the repeat lines up without it being obvious where the cut line is. Once this was done it was time to apply to colour, and it has to be done 1 colour at a time, each being done in 2 stages so as not to disturb the wet print and also to allow the screen to dry in between washes.

I think we worked really well as a team for the whole day, as we were constantly being productive. This included taking it in turns to wash the screens, taping up the next screen ready for printing and drying off the print.

The colours are not quite what we thought they were going to be due to an error in scaling up the recipe, however I am still delighted with the outcome, and feel all of our hard work has paid off.


Before the weekend, I spent 2 days in the print room mixing up colours and testing them before we created the final repeat print. It took a long time for me to get my own colours right, however I was ensuring accuracy so that the print would look the best that it could.  In the future I would possibly start the colour testing a little earlier because of how long it took, especially as I want to ensure 100% precision.

It was exciting once I started testing the colours as they were how I had envisaged them whilst I was doing looking at the WGSN trend report. Colour Testing

It was important that I tested the order of the colours layering up as well, to ensure that they would work against each other and would be visible once other layers had been placed on top.

Before the design was printed, I created a digital mock up of how the outcome would potentially look in my colour way. This was a relatively quick task, as I already had the black and white version from the one I used to create the group colours. I used the eyedropper tool to get the colours from the Pantone colour palette, and placed the on the layers I thought most appropriate for each colour. I was pleased with this design and looking forward to seeing the final print in the flesh.

Below shows the comparison between the digital and printed samples.

Overall I am pleased with my own print, and happy that the colours came out how I had planned. As a S/S 18 colour trend, the design has a cool and light summery feel, and would be appropriate for a variety of applications such as bedding for interiors, or a fun summer skirt.



In order to help with advancing our group design and to help my own practise, I have been developing drawings in my sketchbook along a similar subject matter. I took inspiration from various clocks around the city, and began collaging and drawing these using various techniques in my sketchbook.

After the layering workshop with John, I took my simple pen drawings to the photocopier and began experimenting with overlaying sketchbook pages to create further depth and layering with my drawings. This has helped to produce new shapes, which is useful as it will prevent the work from looking too repetitive.

The second workshop with John was about hand drawing different types of repeat pattern, and how they work on coloured backgrounds.

The first design shows a hand drawn tile using motifs found in my sketchbook. I then traced this design and used tracing paper to place the motif in a block repeat around the page. I found this method difficult because I drew a lot of small, detailed elements, and this slowed down the process a lot compared to if I completed this task on Photoshop. This is an ideal technique for quick and simple motif sketches.

Scan 2

The second design was a spot repeat, which used simple cutting out of my motif in multiples and placing them methodically around the paper in a structured design. I found this perhaps the easiest of the 3 repeats, as it was the quickest to complete and also used very simple shapes. It also offers a lot of variety for composition of the work, as the motifs can be placed in various squares around the grid.


For the third repeat, we used the half drop method, which I prefer to block repeat as it flows the design a lot better and the overall design can look almost seamless. With this design I started to draw the motifs outside of the square guideline so as to stop the final design looking so structured. As a start I think it works well however it has given me lots of scope to carry on this method with drawings in the future and the ability to develop them further.



My own colour way for the collaboration piece is inspired by the LATAM Colour S/S 18: Youth Tonic theme. I believe it has relevant links to the imagery used in our design, and there are plenty of options for experimenting with different combinations of colour.

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Colour Palette
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Introduction to theme

I believe that by producing the design in tones of blue, green and grey, it will neutralise the busy nature of the design yet equalise the focal points by balancing the darker and lighter shades.

The blue/grey gives an industrial feel to the piece, and the layering of them lifts the heaviness of the green underneath.

However the green should act as a pop of colour against the rest of the design. It states in the colour report that the green takes on a digital quality as if from a computer screen, which reminds me of digital clock screens, linking to the imagery in the drawings.

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After looking for inspiration for how to fill out the remainder of our design, I stumbled across the designer Rachel Westhead, whose work revolves around natural forms and shapes, with clean cut and simple motifs.

Urchins by Rachel Westhead

This design consists of an arrangement of rounded forms, with the negative space filled with various marks/dots. There are similarities with this compared to our design, as we have filled most of our negative space in a similar manner. Westheads design has a larger variety of colour than our piece will have, which gives her allowance for the amount of white her piece has, as it allows the coloured spaces to become focal points in the centre of each circle. In our own design it is important that we consider placement of colours carefully, as they will overlay each other to produce further colour, which will enhance the depth of the design.

We have also taken inspiration from a post on her blog, which demonstrates a mixture of  colour and mark making.

Doodles by Rachel Westhead

This has given us ideas as to how we can go about layering our mark making and colouring around some of the dots as well.


When we started drawing onto the drafting film, we decided to fill the sheets one by one, rather than working in sections on all 4 sheets at the same time. This worked well because by separating the layers, it was easy to remove them from the drawing underneath and see where the negative space was still left.

2 out of 4 layers

It is crucial that we have as little negative space as possible on the drafting film, as after looking at past students work, if the design has too much white it ruins the vibrancy of the colours and dulls down the whole design. Although a solid print of colour seems daunting, I believe that because of the fun nature of the print, it will only enhance the features of the design.

In order not to overwhelm the design too much with clashing colours, we have opted to have large blocks of yellow colour, which will cover most of the background, and where it doesn’t, there will be elements of printed texture such as dots and stripes.

The design almost finished


Second year has now kicked in, and theres no messing around with getting straight back into the swing of things. Our first project is collaborative, and the outcome we are working towards is a 3m length repeat print.

For the initial stages of this project we were required to bring in a variety of objects ready for a session of quick drawing exercises which included continuous line drawings, timed drawings and drawing without looking at the paper. Quick tasks like these help me to focus on getting down the important pieces of information, and have made me realise the detail you can still achieve without spending hours trying to get it perfect, as the outcome still looks like the subject matter.


As a group we realised we were all wearing watches, and that the faces could make for an interesting subject matter, if we combined them with some of the other objects we had drawn. By the end of the session we had a selection of clock motifs, ready for designing the basic layout of the repeat.


Through working together as a team using trial and error, we have developed our ideas many times to ensure we have a solid design to work with. At this stage we were focusing on getting the main motifs down in order to see what space that we had left to work with.


This particular area of the task has made me realise that it is not always best to just go with your first idea, and that a lot of thought is needed to ensure that the design is smooth and refined. Working collaboratively is always a challenge but I feel we are working together really well. Each member inputs their strengths and this comes together to make our design stronger than it would be if this were an individual project. I have strength in Adobe Photoshop and Illustrator, so I manipulated our design on the computer to see how it would look in a repeat outcome.

final design.jpg

Having this design has helped us to visualise how our repeat will look, and we added a small sample of colour on photoshop to help decide how to layer the four colour limit onto drafting film. I found this a particularly time consuming task, and it was difficult to be patient with adding the colour. I was less confident with Illustrator before this task however I have forced myself to stick with it and I now feel more comfortable with using the software. It has helped me to understand that there is always more than one way of completing a task, and I will be more likely to trial other methods when approaching a similar exercise in the future.