Owl Sense by Miriam Darlington

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I’ve just finished reading Owl Sense by Miriam Darlington. Aside from having a gorgeously illustrated cover featuring a magical barn owl and a shower of gold foil sparks…it’s also a rich and soothing read!

I’m sometimes put off by nature books that can be a little dry and factual in their descriptions, but Miriam’s writing is full of life. Each chapter focusses on a different species of owl and her journey to viewing it in the wild. As the adventures unfold, she shares her in depth research into the habitats, biology, history and mysteries of each creature. At the start of each chapter we’re also treated to an illustration of the owl in question, including; Snowy, Barn, Tawny, Pygmy, Eagle Owls and more…

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Miriam explores our fascination with owls throughout history. She delves into folklore and literature where the owl is sometimes revered – but often times feared as a portent of death and doom. She perfectly conjures up images of dense forest and icy plains and weaves in her personal encounters with bird lovers and experts that she encounters on her quest.

But throughout, there is a steady respect for the wildness of the owl that I very much appreciated. Miriam reminds us that these magnificent creatures belong to nature. We shouldn’t make the mistake of cute-ifying them or imagining them as cuddly Potter-style pets. Nor does she shy away from climate change and how our actions as humans are endangering these precious birds. But even with its urgent messages and heavier thoughts, I found Owl Sense to be a calming book for the soul. And I loved learning more about some of my favourite animals!

Owl Sense jacket illustrations are by Talya Baldwin (owl) and Peter Fitzpatrick (tree).

 

Sibling Skill Swaps & Logo Design

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Though my brother and I both live in London, we don’t always get to hang out as much as we’d like – so when we get the chance to collaborate on a creative project and share our different skills to help each other out, it feels really special!

Mikey Parsons is a talented composer studying his final year at Trinity Laban in Greenwich. You may remember that he worked with me a couple of years back to create atmospheric, chilling soundscapes for my Shackleton Illustration project with the Drawn Chorus.

He’s especially skilled at creating music for video games and as is hoping to enter into the industry when he graduates. As such, he had asked me to design him a logo that would help to represent him across social media and beyond as he reaches out to new contacts…

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I begin most logo projects by creating a few pages of loose, quick experiments. I like to keep these playful and experiment with ideas, shapes, letters and textures to see if any interesting patterns or compositions begin to emerge.

Mikey draws lots of musical inspiration from magical games like Final Fantasy, from adventure stories such as Lord of the Rings and the Harry Potter universe. Luckily our sibling interests align, so I was able to have lots of fun playing with dragon motifs and magical emblems.

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For all of my logo and design projects, key moments are built in for the client to review and feedback on the work I’ve completed. This is important to make sure that the project develops in the right direction. Mikey selected a couple of his favourite directions from my experiments and I took these forwards to the next stage.

Owlstation_freelance logo design_2019_2We were both quite taken with a small logo mark I’d drawn, in which each letter of Mikey’s name had a symbolistic feel to it. With the lead letter ‘M’ appearing to dissolve away as if made of magic particles. I took this design into illustrator and started to refine each letter.

Throughout the process, I shared design updates with Mikey. We’d identified quite early on that he would also need a reduced version of the logo that used only his initials. This would be used for social media profile images and read better when viewed at a smaller size. I developed this version in parallel to the larger logo to make sure both felt like they belonged in the same magical family!

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I really enjoy working on logo designs for other creatives. It’s always a fun challenge to take their ideas, inspirations and personality and find a way to turn it into a beautiful logo that helps represent who they are and what they do.

Be sure to check out Mikey’s awesome music and check back for more design project posts from me in the near future!

 

 

 

 

Christmas Owl Post, tips for making sure it arrives in time!

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Despite my good intentions, most years my Christmas shopping always turns into a bit of last minute rush to get those last few presents sorted before the big day. And often my plan to order something unique and special from an Etsy shop is foiled, when I realise I’ve left it far too late for the order to be processed and delivered…

This year however, I’m going to try and get it right! And as I’ve recently had to do a fair bit of research into postal cut off dates for my own Owlstation Store, I thought it might be handy to share a couple of things I’ve learned with you…

Firstly, if your sending cards or ordering presents and want them to arrive in time for Xmas – it’s worth checking your local postal service website for details of their latest recommended postage dates. I’m in the UK and use Royal Mail who have some handy info here. If you’re sending or ordering packages internationally, make sure you find the latest postage dates for the country your sending to or ordering from.

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Secondly, If you’re ordering a gift from an online store, be sure to check their ‘processing time’. That is how long they say it will take them to prepare and package up your order. For example for a handcrafted item, the seller may need 2, 3, 5 or even more days to create or customise your gift. You’ll need to mentally add this time (sometimes the site does it for you!) to the given delivery dates to get a clear idea of how long your gift will take to arrive…and make sure it’s before Christmas!

Thirdly, remember that the festive period is a very busy one for sending and receiving post and it can take much longer to arrive than it does for the rest of the year…

But at the end of the day, it’s only Christmas!

If you miss postal deadlines and end up scrambling around in Flying Tiger on the 24th of December it doesn’t really matter (and I may well see you there!). It can be a stressful, tiring time of year and keeping calm and looking after yourself is more important than a big pile of presents. Good luck and happy hunting!

If you’d like to order a present or card from the Owlstation Store and need help with any Xmas queries, feel free to pop me a message. For the UK I advise ordering before the 10th of December. For International orders, please do get in touch as Xmas delivery recommendations vary from country to country.

 

 

 

 

 

Glasgow Botanic Gardens

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After an exciting but tiring month of client work and opening the Owlstation Etsy Store, it was brilliant to get away for a few days holiday to Glasgow. I’d never been before and loved exploring the city and recharging with plenty of decadent treats (hello gourmet donuts!) I was especially taken with the botanic gardens, so many beautiful exotic plants and exquisite natural patterns and colours.

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The Owlstation Store is OPEN!

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The Owlstation Store is now…OPEN!!! You can now find a curated selection of my illustrated Prints and Cards at www.etsy.com/uk/shop/OwlstationStore with more to come soon!

It’s been a long old journey getting everything set up and ready, so I’m super chuffed to be able to share this with you all! I just want to say a big thank you to my friends and family that have helped and supported me this year in this adventure. Your advice, time and hugs made all the difference, you are excellent human beans 🦉! Extra special thanks to the talented @alekadzie for his epic photography skills!

Countdown to Launch on 10th of October!

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I am indeed counting down the days to the 10th of October when I’ll be launching the Owlstation Store on Etsy! It feels really good to be at this point and to finally have a home where I can share my products and illustrations with you all, such as my ‘Save Progress?’ greetings card.

Having grown up with retro PlayStation games like Final Fantasy 7 and Tomb Raider 3, I got used to saving my game’s progress by seeking out ethereal Save Crystals…I thought it would be fun to make a card that lets you and your friends save your life progress whenever you need to! Be sure to pop back in 8 days time when I’ll be sharing my store link, hooray! 😀

Owlstation Store Update

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I’m getting ever so close to opening the Owlstation Store…in fact, I’m pleased to announce that I have set a date! As of the 10th of October you’ll be able to visit my Etsy shop! To begin with, I’ll be selling a curated collection of illustrated prints and greetings cards, inspired by my love of retro PlayStation games and fantasy adventures (sneak peak above!). Moving forwards, i’m excited to grow my store and create new collections in between my freelance design projects. So…pop the 10th of October in your diary and please do check back here for more updates through September!

 

Magical Zelda & Returning to Console Gaming

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It feels like years since I’ve gotten lost in a console game. As I’ve gotten older and life has gotten busier, my gaming adventures (and game design work) have tended to take place on mobile or desktop. A train journey here or flight there being the perfect time to explore a new story or world. But the ritual of setting up the Playstation and telly, getting comfy on the sofa with friends and settling in for an evening’s session has been something missing from my adult life…until now!

It seems odd that my brother and I never got round to playing Zelda together as kids (we were very focussed on Final Fantasy) but I always suspected it would be something I’d enjoy. This year the planets finally aligned as my boyfriend Adam decided to set up The Legend of Zelda: The Wind Waker on an emulator.

!!! SPOILERS BELOW !!!

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At first I wan’t entirely sure about the strong primary colour palette and chunky 3D characters, but after an hour of gameplay I was addicted. As we’ve explored the vast ocean world i’ve grown accustomed to the simple visual style and been impressed by how many emotions a small number of polygons can trigger. Sailing in our little dragon boat over stormy, rain-whipped waves, I’ve felt glad to be safe inside our living room. Creeping in the shadows of an enemy’s lair to avoid their searching spotlights has had my heart rate climbing…

It’s lovely to slowly learn the language of a new game again. How do I jump? What can I smash? How many weapons might there be?…Beginning to uncover it’s depth. When you first play a game you’re unsure if it will all be over in three or four missions, realising that the map is much larger than you thought and the path to the final boss is by no means clear is just so exciting! And as it turns out, there is plenty to do in Wind Waker.

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Some bosses have had us stuck for hours, straining our brains to work out clever ways through only to realise it was a completely logical solution  all along (usually centred around the last weapon or item we’d unlocked).

The UI and UX can be pretty frustrating at times. Having to repeatedly open and close the menu to equip items into slots is quite fiddly. The level maps are often scantily basic too…however the game’s charm more than makes up for this. Then there’s the evocative music, which coincidentally is a great soundtrack to work to! Crawling through giant shells, edging around perilous cliff faces, launching into the air with a leaf parachute, it’s just so good to get lost in a console game again!

All Zelda images gratefully borrowed from the internet and used here without permission.

Spellbooke & Other Items

Owlstation_owlstation print 2019_spellbookeHere’s a little glimpse of some adventure items for a new A3 print I’m working up. A rune covered Spellbooke shown above…Owlstation_owlstation print 2019_treasure chestIt should be noted that true adventurers keep their sandwiches in ancient, Spanish treasure chests…

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…And for those stubborn cauldron stains, only the strongest, fungus-based cleaner will do! More progress on my illustrated prints and the Owlstation Store coming over the Summer :).

 

 

Owlstation Store, a peek behind the scenes!

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This year I’ve set myself the goal of opening my online Owlstation Store. I’ve been wanting to do this for a little while now, to have my own space to create and sell my illustrations alongside my freelance projects.

I’m very inspired by nature, fantasy and adventure; so having the opportunity to explore these themes for my first range of greetings cards and prints has been a lot of fun…learning about shipping, pricing and SEO has been somewhat more challenging!

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There’s still a lot to do before I open shop – but i’ll be sharing my progress here, and on Facebook and Instagram, so do check in for little sneak previews. And if you have any Etsy advice, I’d love to hear it!