Born and raised in the Malvern Hills, I moved to Oxford in 2009 and have lived in the area ever since. Bumblebear is a side project that I’ve been building for the last few months during my evenings and weekends, I work full time as a Senior Product Designer at what3words. If you would like to get in touch, please find me on Facebook or Instagram.
Building a website
I’ve worked as a digital designer since 2011, when I started an internship during my second year of university at Oxfordshire based web design agency Urban Element. I was studying for a BSc Media Technology at Oxford Brookes at the time, which is where I’d discovered an interest in web design. Whilst at Urban Element I learnt the foundations of commercial web design and development, as well as all the other required agency skills – working to budgets, and working with clients. The coding skills were particularly invaluable, and even though I haven’t done any website coding for a client since I left Urban Element, I’ve always wanted to maintain the skillset. This is why I’ve been tweaking and improving my personal website (which has since become this website) ever since.
It was around about the time that I finished University when I bought a second generation iPad, and was instantly hooked with digital illustration. I’ve always been someone that draws. Mostly with Bic biros, occasionally pencils, and for a very brief period in 2013 it almost looked like I might get into painting. But despite the clunkiness of drawing on an iPad in the pre-Apple Pencil era, I loved it. The ability to rapidly experiment with colour and composition instantly appealed to me, as well as its versatility. You can get creative and really mess around with an illustration without any risk of permanently destroying it.
Since then, illustration has been something I’ve pursued endlessly in my spare time. When my brother had his first child in 2017 I created my first picture book; a 40 page epic that consumed me for 6 months. In more recent years I’ve had the opportunity to create illustrations for commercial briefs whilst working at Global Initiative, and over the last year I’ve been able to define a comprehensive illustration style at what3words.
Building a shop
Skip forward to a rainy January morning in 2020, and as is my usual habit on days like these, I start tinkering with my website. That morning’s tinkering was particularly productive, and after a few hours I’d turned my website into a fully functioning online shop with the help of WooCommerce. I had previously toyed with the idea of selling my work on Etsy, but because I am a digital designer by trade, I wanted the freedom to be able to design the shop exactly how I wanted it. It also works out cheeper, and the geek in me definitely finds it more fun.
For the first few months after I had built the online shop in January, I didn’t do much with it. My Oxford to London daily train commute took up a lot of time, and the sporadic internet connect meant managing a website whilst on the train wasn’t really feasible. What those hours on the train did allow to do however is spend a lot of time illustrating on my iPad; most of the illustrations for the prints in my shop were created on this train journey.
And then, Corona happened, and I was working from home. I suddenly gained an extra 3 hours 40 minutes a day from not commuting, and the strict lockdown restrictions meant I had time to kill, and needed projects to keep me entertained. I’ve now created various picture books and colouring books, and have completed my 250th order. It’s been a great experience, and I’m excited to see where it goes next.