Book Reviews





My top tips for impressive sketch notes

This week, I moved my playful interest in sketch notes into a professional context, and I "officially" became and artist in residence at a conference. To tell you the truth, I was very nervous, but as I got into it I was picking up little tricks and lessons the whole time. My first sketch-sheet is miles apart in technique from my last at the same event, so it's a very quick learning curve! I thought I would share some of my top tips here to help anyone else looking to start sketch noting, for fun or for work!

But first:

What are sketch notes?

Sketch notes are a way of visually depicting any kind of notes (meetings, speakers, lesson notes...) Usually they are hand-drawn, with a mixture of caricatures, icons and typography, as well as quotes, facts and figures. They can be any size, for yourself or for display, and often very interesting to look at as well as to read!

Holiday/May Reading List

I'm off to Japan really soon, and to be honest, I'm not expecting to read a WHOLE lot on this trip because ... well, because I'll be in fricken Japan! BUT, that said, I have got a loooooong flight to entertain myself on (- especially if I can't sleep) So here is what I'm taking with me, and what I'm hoping to read through May:


My Home Workspace

I don't know about you, but I love having a nose around people's studios, desks and workspaces! Perhaps it's just my nosy nature, but I like to see whether I'm the only person who believes in "organised chaos" in a workspace or not?! Ha...

Recently, I had a good clear out/tidy up of the space around where I work. I'm not lucky enough to have a studio - we don't even have space for a desk(!) so often I work on the sofa, on the floor, or on the coffee table. Craft supplies are crammed into a cupboard, pens and pencils are unceremoniously stuffed into numerous pouches and left anywhere they end up... It's not a designer's dream, but I make the most of it!

After a spring clean of my supplies and tools, I took a couple of photos of how I left things. Mostly because I get so much joy from seeing other people's workspace shares, and I thought I would contribute my own; but also because I want to show that you can still be creative no mater where or how you work :)


April Reading List

While my review template is going through a bit of a update, I thought I would share my current reading list!

I've been taking a break from the dark depths of horror and ghost stories, and breaking outside of my comfort zone with a bit of romance, a bit of non-fiction and a little bit of sci-fi!

I've also held myself back from requesting any ARCs (advance reader copies, for the un-bookish crowd!) as I know I haven't sorted out my review format and it would be a bit unfair. So my list this month is "older" titles. I have to admit I feel a bit out of the loop 3 months into an ARC ban. I hope I can stride back soon!

So, here's what I've got planned for April. What will you be reading?!


We're going to Japan! Custom chibis by Mabel Low

Yep, you read that right - My boyfriend and I are off to the land of Hello Kitty, masterful sushi and crazy anime; JAPAN! I really can't wait, and although I still have so much to do before we go, I wanted to start sharing my excitement!

Japan has been on both of our "life goals" list for as long as we can remember. My love of Japanese culture started with Final Fantasy on the Playstation, and has evolved through anime, manga, kawaii stationery, minimalist design principles and a love for veggie ramen over the years. Sheff (my other half) has loved martial arts films, samurai, the Buddhist way of life, Godzilla, anime and arcade games (Katamari anyone?!) forever. So Japan is absolutely the place we had to go!

When we booked our flights, I wanted to mark the occasion of our dream becoming a reality - so I decided to contact model artist Mabel Low to commission custom chibis of me and Sheff!


7 things I worry about as a designer

I've been a professional designer for 8 years. I LOVE it, and I can't imagine doing anything else. But nothing comes without its challenges, and no matter how experienced you are, how old you get or how much positive validation you receive, creative professions can often lead you to doubt yourself, worry and stress about things.  It's almost a natural order and and inevitable result of constantly putting your inner thoughts and feelings down as interpretations to be judged.

Working in a subjective career is one of the most stressful and most gratifying things to do. The anticipation of showing a client a new concept brings a buzz, and when they love it it's the greatest feeling in the world. However, criticisms come hand in hand with design and having a tough skin, a diplomatic mind and an ability for empathy with the client under pressure can be very good personal qualities to have. 

On top of that, creative people can be some of the most self critical people I know! I am no exception. So today I thought I would share with you some of the worries I still have after 8 years as a designer, and how I cope/live with/quell them. Perhaps it will help some newbies to the career feel like they're doing OK, and older ones to know they're not alone. If you manage to keep a 100% positive outlook on your design career, please write about it and share how! haha 

2016 Goals for Mab is Mab

2015 was very quiet on the blog towards the end of the year. I took a break from it, read some (a lot) of books without giving myself the pressure of reviewing them, thought about the kind of content I wanted to share on the blog in future and, actually, whether I wanted to keep going at all.

I've decided there's a definite YES to the question of continuing, but I have to admit I was feeling a bit demotivated by the end of last year. There were a mixture of reasons behind this, many of them life-related: work, personal pressures, general "doing other things", deadlines etc etc. Reading once again became my "switch off and escape for an hour" and I didn't want it to be another thing to tick off the list. So, I haven't posted a review in a while, and I think it's done me a lot of good. It's also given me a lot of space to think properly about what I want to do here! Which leads me to my goals for 2016...