Beastie-Sized Photo Studio! CrawCrafts Beasties

What’s Goin’ On?

Beasties at Work - CrawCrafts BeastiesPhew! It feels like it’s been another busy old month here in Beastie Towers… but when I looked into my “Ready” box earlier, there didn’t seem to be a whole lot of little monsters living in there yet. So much for my master plan of getting ALL my Christmas market stock made in the first 2 months of the year, eh?

That left me wondering what on earth I’d been up to, so I thought it was high time I offered another sneaky peek into life as a maker of monsters – hopefully it will help us all to solve the oh-so-intriguing Mystery of the Vanishing February!

First off, I ventured Northwards… And many of you will already have seen the photos Explorer Beastie and I took of our whistle-stop tour of Donegal.
Donegal Days with Explorer Beastie - CrawCrafts Beasties(If you haven’t, catch up with Part 1 and Part 2 now!)

But that wasn’t the only reason for my trip. I was also planning to catch up with my buddy Julie from Juleco, so that she could teach me some new skills! Loyal BeastieBlog readers might remember the super revamping she did on the humble Beastie Passport last year…
Hooray! New Passports! CrawCrafts Beasties… So I thought she might be able to help me figure out a better way to do my commission sketches as well. I spend a HEEEEUUUUUGE amount of time on these – time I’d really rather use for knitting! With Julie’s help, I’ve been taking my first steps with computer illustration using Adobe Illustrator, in the hope that I’ll be able to re-use elements across numerous sketches, colour-match better with the yarns from my stash and (best of all) colour in with a single click! I already feel that I’m making progress – I just hope I can get the basics down before my free trial runs out. I’ll keep you posted!

I’ve also been having fun playing with the new toy I mentioned in last week’s post. Ever since I went to an Etsy product photography evening last spring, I’ve been meaning to make a lightbox for myself… It’s so easy, and yet I never seemed to be able to scrape together the 20-odd minutes it would have taken to throw one together. I was tormented by questions of where on earth I was going to keep the thing once I’d made it, and how I would extricate it from its hiding place when I needed to use it. Fortunately for me, Boyfriend was taking notes – and look what showed up in my Christmas stocking!
Beastie-Sized Photo Studio! CrawCrafts BeastiesIt’s a Beastie-sized photography studio! It came complete with daylight lamps, backgrounds in 4 different colours and a tripod… And the best bit is that it folds down into an entirely portable (and stowable) 42cm  square carry case. Now even the gloomiest winter mornings can be photoshoot days… I can’t wait to share my new-style pictures with you all, starting next week! I’ve had a few commissions on the go over the last while, and before each Beastie shipped out, they all got a little time in the studio.

In fact, commissions are probably what’s been munching up most of the month – they really do take time! And sometimes they demand a little bit of extra focus. So a couple of weekends ago, I did something that I haven’t done in… eeek, I don’t know how long! I unhooked myself from the internet. It helped that Boyfriend and I were heading off to the farm for a couple of days – in my mind, it makes a lot more sense to be offline when surrounded by wild countryside. As I made my way to the bus station on Friday evening, I caught up with all the notifications on my phone and then switched off data and WiFi for two whole days. I didn’t even take any pictures… Apart from the odd one down at the lake.
Down at the Lake - CrawCrafts BeastiesIt was just the break I needed. Much as I love being part of this vast online community and meeting people I’d never have encountered otherwise, it was nice to spend time talking, reading and crafting without the distraction of a steady stream of beeps and flashing lights. I also couldn’t get over how much longer my battery lasted! It was like being back in 2005!

And when I switched my phone back on the following Monday morning, it didn’t explode with a sudden influx of unread notifications – catching up didn’t take that long at all, and I was excited to see what everyone had been up to while I’d been away. The world didn’t end because I tuned it out for a couple of days, and I didn’t miss out on a massive order, a life-changing opportunity or a genuine email from an exiled prince who needed me to hold onto his fortune for a short time in exchange for serious ca$h mon€y. In fact, I might be tempted to do this more often!
Paddy Admires the View - H Crawford/CrawCrafts BeastiesHow about you? Do you reckon you could go on an internet crash diet? Let me know in the comments! And normal service resumes next week, with another new Beastie for you to meet. See you then!

 

Hooray! New Passports! CrawCrafts Beasties

New Horizons for Beastie Passports!

There’s been work afoot behind the scenes here at Beastie Towers, and today I’m excited to be able to tell you about it at last!

As many of you probably already know, all Beasties are issued with a special passport before they leave for their new homes. This passport contains everything an adventurous little monster (and their new family) needs to know about themselves – who they are, their code number and how to keep in touch with the crew back at Beastie Towers.

Here’s how they looked when I first started making them…
Original Beastie Passports, by CrawCrafts BeastiesFull credit for this idea goes to Boyfriend, and for the last couple of years, it’s been amazing for helping me to keep track of all the Beasties I’ve made. It’s also a handy way to show people that their Beastie is unique! I cut a template to help keep the shields on the front cover consistent, and constant practice has meant that I’ve actually got quite speedy at cutting them out, folding them and filling out the features on each one.

But that doesn’t change the fact that I’m still making every single one by hand! And as the Beasties have started to reach out and colonise new social networks, I’ve had to cram ever more information onto these teeny 5x6mm cards. The end result is…
Save me from drawing teeny social network icons! CrawCrafts BeastiesYikes! Look at all that! The last straw came when I was preparing for a market in the middle of last month, and I realised that two of the social networks I use – Twitter and Instagram – had done the unforgivable and changed their logos… to something undrawable!

A BIRD? How am I going to draw THAT?
Image from http://www.cnn.com
Instagram, How Could You?
Image from http://www.idigitaltimes.com

A bird? And white lines on a multicoloured background? How am I supposed to draw those over and over without going cross-eyed?! Something had to give… So I bit the bullet and tackled something I’ve been meaning to do for ages. It’s time to let print technology do the work for me!

Aaaand since my expertise in designing for print is pretty much non-existent, I figured it would be a good idea to get a pro on board. Fortunately, I know one! I reached out to Julie from Juleco… I’d already seen work she’d done for other clients, and I knew she’d do a great job.

I got my samples back from the printers last week. So now, without further ado, I’m delighted to share her design with you… Behold!
New Passports Have Landed! CrawCrafts BeastiesBecause I no longer have to draw the crest on the front by hand, I was keen to add in a couple more elements – look, there’s a Beastie on there now! And a couple of nods to their Irish heritage, too.
New Beastie Passport Front Cover - CrawCrafts BeastiesInside, there’s space for me to write what type of Beastie they are and their code number. The new “tribe” line will allow me to share their genetic origins – all my Beasties are made from natural fibre yarns, and I want to make more of a big deal about this! I’ll still be drawing the “photos”, of course, but having a space to stick them into, instead of drawing directly onto the passport, will mean I can use proper drawing paper. Plus I’ll be less afraid of making mistakes!
Inside the New Passports - CrawCrafts BeastiesAs for the back… I’m especially pleased that the social media logos no longer look like they were drawn by a 3 year old, but it’s great that I can include info about my Etsy store for the first time, too. I’m also relieved to have somewhere to put my health and safety disclaimer at last – not the most glamorous thing, perhaps, but certainly important!

Massive thanks to Julie for making this project a walk in the park – it was a real pleasure! And if you’re  a small business owner looking for help with your brand identity, I’d definitely recommend you get in touch with her… Or at least take a peek in her Etsy shop!

So, what’s the verdict? Are we fans of the new-look passports? Let me know in the comments!