Monday, 5 March 2012

A Guest On Monday - Carrie Dennison

Todays Guest on Monday is the wonderful and inspirational Carrie Dennison from Press For Design. I first Carrie about a year ago at various business networking events and we have become really good friends. She has designed some flyers and postcards for me. Click here to see just how fab they are!

Carrie is actually the person who gave me the initial idea for my birthday party this year - a 1980s extravaganza! (Don't forget about our fantastic party boxes if you've got a party coming up. We have parties for young, young at heart, jubilee, baby showers and loads more)

Anyway here's what Carrie has to say!

"Hello, I'm Carrie, a freelance web and graphic designer and printmaker, based in County Durham, north east England.  I set up as a freelancer just six months ago in September 2011, offering affordable web and graphic design for sole traders and small businesses and also offering my original lino print artwork for sale.  I met the lovely Maxine whilst I was setting up my business and we have since become good friends, and I was thrilled to be asked to write a guest post for her blog.

As a freelance web and graphic designer I am often asked to come up with new and creative ideas in a short space of time.  Sometimes this is an easy process, the ideas flow freely and I can get on with the brief effortlessly, it will feel just like playing.  But, sometimes the ideas just want to stay hidden and won't come out to play.  So how do I get the ideas flowing when I have a deadline looming and a brief to fulfil?  These are my top 5 ways to "get creative" - and hopefully you will find them useful too.

1. Doodling
Always top of my list - in fact, always going on.  I can't tell you how many sketchbooks I own, seriously, I've lost count.  There's one for every handbag, one for the bedside table, one for the coffee table, one on the mantlepiece in the kitchen, and of course dozens of them in my studio.  Doodling lets the mind wind down, the hand loosen up, and eventually the two work together to create a piece of art.  For example, in the picture below, making random swirls on the page and colouring them in led to swirls that I filled in with paisley designs, which in turn led to the paisley design background on the sunflowers design.

2. Take photographs
This is what mobile phones with cameras were invented for.  Well, in my mind at least.  As a Twitter addict I take photographs of everything with my mobile phone when I'm out and tweet a lot of them: beautiful views, quirky things I see, textures in walls and pavements, flowers, the coffee and cake I'm enjoying, and last week, even a giant purple kangaroo (yes, really).  Some of these make their way into my artwork, some into my journals, some are just fun and spark off other ideas.

3. Keep a journal
I combine journalling with my mobile phone pictures to create a record of fun days, almost like a scrapbook.  I have a great little gadget called a PoGo Digital Photo Printer which prints out 3" x 2" stickers straight from my mobile phone, which I can then stick into my journal, and write about.  Bus tickets, entry tickets, receipts, leaflets, concert tickets, they all go into the journal too.  Getting thoughts down on paper can spark off new ideas, and the finished journals are wonderful reminders of happy moments.

4. Get messy
This is a fun technique that really lets the brain relax and therefore gets ideas flowing.  Take some cardboard (old cereal packets are great for this) and cut up into postcard sizes (6" x 4" is good).  Then get out your old magazines, brochures, leaflets, etc., rip them up and glue the pieces down onto the cardboard randomly.  I use PVA glue for this.  Then, get out some paints, acrylics are great, and just smoosh over the top with random colours.  I then journal on top of mine, add a few more layers of ripped magazines, and add some more colour.  In the photo below you can see the process happening on the left, and on the right is the finished piece.  I actually made eight of these, from one Friday through to the next Friday, with each day having a different colour theme, and was really pleased with the result.  You can see the whole collection in my etsy shop.  Once you've made your postcards, do write a note to someone special and send them a smile through the post :)

5. Go on a workshop
Workshops are a wonderful way to get creative.  I love to try out all different types, and have attended workshops on jewellery making, felt making, knitting, making decorative household items, watercolour, amongst others.  Below are just a few of the items I've created whilst learning about new techniques on workshops.  You meet like-minded people, bounce ideas off each other, and generally have a good laugh and a chat, as well as coming out with a finished piece and lots of new ideas at the end of the day.  I love workshops so much that I even teach my own on eraser carving, which is a form of printmaking.  Come on over to my carving blog to find out more.

So, those are my top five ways of getting creative - I'd love to hear about yours, so please let me know about them in the comments section.  A lot of these activities are great for doing with kids too, so maybe some fun ideas to think about for the next holidays - who can doodle the best monster, a journal of a trip to the beach, postcards for nana and grandad made using scraps of leaflets picked up at the zoo/aquarium/local theatre, etc.  Have fun!"

So that's Carrie - please pop along to Carrie's website and see her fantastic portfolio of work! You can chat to Carrie on Twitter @pressfordesign pop across and say hi to her.

Well that's all folks. Don't forget if you want to be my Guest on Monday then email me and let me know!

Keep smiling my friends




  1. Hi Maxine and Carrie!

    Love the creative tips!!

    One thing I am trying to do is limit myself to just one set of colours or one set of stamps and try to create something with them. Its a bit like being in a workshop where you have a small amount of stash to play with.

    I get overwhelmed when faced with loads of stuff ;)



  2. Hi Jill,

    Thanks for commenting and getting involved! I will make sure Carrie sees your comments. I am the least creative person ever! Carrie does all my creativity for me. You should see her stuff. She is AMAZING!



Welcome to Life's A Celebration's Blog. We box up all kinds of parties for all kinds of celebrations. Pop across and see us at