Why It’s A Little Quiet on J. Oliver Designs

Why it's a bit quiet here right now

I haven’t posted much over the last few weeks and I thought I’d update you on why things have gone a little quiet ’round these parts. I don’t talk about my personal life much because this is my creative business space, but because this relates to my recent silence and has an impact on my online participation, I don’t want anyone to think I’m not creating new work!

In September 2018 I began an online Master’s degree in Graphic Design. It’s a part-time degree, so it has been spread out across two years rather than the usual one year. What I love about the part-time MA is that I can do it at my own pace from home while still running my business and working a full time day job (and finding time to dedicate to my family and friends 😊).

The MA ends in October 2020 and I am currently knee-deep in my Major Study, which is the massive project we do in the final semester. Luckily, my Major Study is centered around my freelance business so I can still work on everything at the same time, but it also means that time spent on social media and here on my website has diminished as I give my project a final push toward the finish line.

I’m happy to say that I’m now developing my next design product and I’m hoping to release it before the end of the MA (as I’d like to include it in my project!) along with another freebie. I’ll post an update about this nearer the launch.

I try to check in on social media as much as possible, but my Major Study must take priority at the moment. All I ask is that you bear with me for a little while longer. You can find out when new products and freebies are launched by joining my newsletter group (I never spam and always aim to include relevant design-related content):

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Thank you for your patience! 💛 If you’re new here, why not check out my other blog posts or my shop for digital creative resources.

Creative Resource Recommendations | Part One

Creative Resource Recommendations

This post contains Affiliate Links. This means that I earn a small commission if you purchase through my links, at no additional cost to you. Please read my Affiliate Policy to find out more.

As a digital illustrator and designer, part of my job is to keep up to date with trends and products in my industry. I run shops on a few different marketplaces and as a result I get to see many wonderful and unique design resources on a daily basis. I’ve decided to start a series here on the blog: Creative Resource Recommendations, where I will occasionally share links to hand-picked creative products that you might like.

While I can’t personally vouch for every single product, I will only share resources from designers and artists I know of and whose quality I trust. I will also only share resources from the marketplaces where I sell my own products (i.e. those I trust!).

Keep reading to discover my Creative Resource Recommendations (Part One).

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5 Reasons to Take A Break From Creative Projects

5 Reasons to Take A Break From Creative Projects

Creatives often find it hard to know when to take a break. Thanks to fast-paced digital media we’re conditioned to believe that we’re not doing enough if we’re not working our socks off 24/7. We’re prone to comparing ourselves to others who seem more successful, productive and happy. But even those people need breaks from time to time, and chances are they’re successful and productive because they know when to give themselves a rest. Breaks are important for a number of good reasons and burnout is real. If left unchecked, it can be dangerous to our mental and physical health.

I took a big break from work and social media over the last couple of weeks. I had to step away and allow myself to unwind, remember that relaxing is good and catch up with a few things I wasn’t able to do while working on my business and building my social profiles. I’m making this a regular pattern going forward; as soon as I notice the signs, I’ll step back. And I’m OK with that.

But I wasn’t always OK with it and it has taken me time to understand that it’s perfectly healthy to stop working, stop being socially present online, and understand that my world will not collapse as a result (in fact, it should result in me coming back more energised, productive and focused!).

Below you will find five reasons to take a break, plus a few ways to spot early signs that you might need to take a step back.

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Interview: How to Find Design Clients During a Lockdown

How to Get Design Clients During a Lockdown Header

Creative Market isn’t just a venue for beautiful design resources. They also host a blog packed full of useful design and business tips, advice and information. I was recently approached to take part in one of their thought leadership blog posts: How to Find Design Clients During a Lockdown. The article is now live on the site and I highly recommend reading it if you’re a small business.

In the article, frequent Creative Market blog writer Marc Schenker interviews shop owners to discuss how to get clients and keep your business rolling during adverse circumstances. Many of us are still experiencing partial lockdown, on furlough from our day jobs, or unemployed because of COVID-19. There’s so much uncertainty about the future and this hasn’t only impacted the creative industries, but all industries. Find out how different businesses (including mine) are coping with these changes:

If you enjoy the article, why not check out some of these other insightful Creative Market blog posts:

Remote Design at Creative Market: How We Do It. An insight into how CM are continuing to run the site during COVID-19.

How to Create Your Brand’s Social Media Aesthetic – Useful if you’re just starting out, and features links to invaluable resources.

How to Start a Graphic Design Business in 2020: Entrepreneurs Share Advice. A goldmine of tips and advice from some great designers and companies.

Five Foolproof Steps to Score More Freelance Graphic Design Jobs. Another great article for new designers or small businesses or anyone looking to expand.

10 Files Every Designer Has & Could Start Selling Today. An excellent article if you’re thinking of setting up your own business selling creative assets or services.

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Creative Distance Learning Resources

Distance Learning Resources Header

This post contains Affiliate Links. This means that I earn a small commission if you purchase through my links, at no additional cost to you. Please read my Affiliate Policy to find out more.

The wonderful folk at Creative Market have put together a collection of creative resources dedicated to distance learning and homeschooling. This will help teachers working from home and parents taking on the role of teacher during these difficult and unusual times.

What’s on offer? You’ve got a choice of fun characters, diagrams, activities, learning games, printable worksheets and posters that will engage and entertain kids. Some of these graphics also work great in Microsoft Word, PowerPoint and Canva, giving you a lot of different options to use them (make sure to read the descriptions first!).

There is a huge range of different creative resources available, and everything is organised into sections to make it easier for you to find what you need. Sort by subject or by grade level. I can’t emphasise enough how awesome these products are so why not take a look and see for yourself:

Below you’ll find some of my favourite collections from this range (with preview images), but do explore the Creative Market website to discover everything.

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Why I Love Vectors and Why You Should Use Them

Why I Love Vectors

This post contains Affiliate Links. This means that I earn a small commission if you purchase through my links, at no additional cost to you. Please read my Affiliate Policy to find out more.

Vectors feature in almost all of my products, and while I use them every day for my work I forget that many people might not know what they are, why I champion them and the many amazing ways they can be used.

I’ve only been working with vectors for the last three years; before that I’d never touched Adobe Illustrator and worked exclusively in raster format (.jpg, .png) using Photoshop. It wasn’t until I got an in-house graphic design job where Illustrator was mandatory that I learned how to create vectors and finally understood how efficient and useful they are.

Why Vectors?

Vector artwork relies on mathematical curves, points and lines (or paths) to create polygons and due to its nature it can be scaled up or down indefinitely without losing quality or clarity. This makes it an ideal option for displaying graphics at different sizes across a range of media, from computer screens and mobile devices to flyers and massive billboards. Vectors give you crisp, clean lines rather than pixelated or jagged images.

The other cool thing about them is they allow you to easily edit things like colour and line thickness, and when a vector is made up of many different components you can rearrange the composition with minimal hassle.

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6 Creative Projects You Can Do At Home + Inspiration

6 Creative Projects You Can Do At Home

The wonderful thing about being creative is that there are many things you can do even if you have a small to non-existent budget. With everything that’s happening in the world right now, a lot of us find ourselves isolating at home with more time on our hands than normal. If you’ve only ever dipped your toe into creative projects but you want to get more hands on, now is a great time to do it. I’ve put together this post full of ideas, resources and inspiration to (hopefully) kick-start your creativity!

Just to note: because I’m mainly a digital artist a lot of my creative work involves a computer, although for this list I’ve tried to include a few physical activities you can do at home even with limited supplies. The key to this post is that you have choices and nothing is ridiculously expensive or difficult to access.

So without further ado, here are 6 creative projects you can do at home on a small-to-zero budget.

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Tutorial | How to Edit Logo Templates

Blog: Edit Logo Templates Tutorial

Logo design can be a pricey business if you’re a solopreneur or small company, with many bespoke logo designs and branding packages costing hundreds or even thousands of pounds. Early on in your career you might find you simply do not have that kind of budget.

That’s where logo templates can come in handy. They’re a great starting point and many offer editing capabilities. Generally you will need access to editing software or know someone who can edit the logo for you. There are different software options out there, some free, some paid. If you’re going to buy a logo template always read the product description to make sure you can edit it (or you know someone who can).

My logo templates are predominantly created for Adobe Illustrator and/or Photoshop, but I always provide an .eps file to give you as many choices as possible. This tutorial will show you how to edit my logo templates in Illustrator and Photoshop.

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Design Tool | Cosmic Dream Logo Templates

Cosmic Dream Logo Templates

The easy-to-use Cosmic Dream Logo Template Kit helps you create your own beautiful logo designs. Use the individual vector icons to build stunning compositions that set your logos apart from the crowd. Or choose the pre-made logo templates for your client projects – especially useful if you’re on a deadline. Editing the text is easy in Illustrator or Photoshop.

BONUS: Included is a set of lovely seamless vector patterns and a vector mandala. The icons and mandala come with un-expanded versions so you can change colours, formations and stroke width.

This kit is also perfect for wedding stationery, greeting cards and gift labels, invitations, textiles and other merchandise. Take them further and use them in your scrapbooking, art prints, or digitally on social media in your Instagram feed and stories or your Pinterest posts. The sky’s the limit!

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Newsletter and a Design Freebie

Instagram Stories Freebie

When you join my newsletter group you’ll get instant updates about new products, freebies, tutorials and special offers. I send out newsletters a couple of times a month and I always aim to pack them with content I think you’ll enjoy – including the occasional gift that’s only available to newsletter subscribers.

We are bombarded with emails all the time and I know it can be overwhelming, so to thank people for joining my newsletter I wanted to offer a freebie for your personal use.

As soon as you join you’ll receive a welcome email, and inside that email you will gain access to a set of 3 premium Instagram story templates based on my best selling product Celestial Beauty Design Resources. You can use these templates to jazz up your IG stories, giving them a magical, celestial vibe. The other great thing about them is you can re-use them as often as you like.

The download is a .zip file, so you’ll need to locate it on your computer and unzip it. The stories are saved as .jpg files. To learn how to upload an Instagram story click here.

Enter your email address for updates about new resources, freebies and special offers.

Anything you sign up for through J. Oliver Designs falls under my Privacy Policy, and I recommend you read through it and make sure you’re happy with everything before you proceed to use my site.

My Promise

My promise is that I will only send you relevant content, either about my products or creative services, or illustration and design related stuff. If I send you anything you don’t like you have the option to unsubscribe. I’ll be sad to see you go but I understand – no hard feelings. 😊

Oh, and you can always hit reply on my newsletter emails and get in touch with suggestions or questions. It’s incredibly important to me to know what my readers want, so feedback is more than welcome. Don’t be shy – I love hearing from you!