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How did I get here?

Bear with me, this may be a long one.

I'm often getting asked how I came into designing, did I study it? What's my background? Have I always been designing? Well, here goes...

I actually studied Theatre Studies at Lancaster University, but was always drawn towards the visual elements of the degree, rather than the acting.

I was REALLY into photography too, joined the uni's Photographic society, even became a treasurer of it in 2nd year (you wouldn't believe it now, my maths is terrible). My friends and I would spend countless late evenings on campus photographing, playing with light trails and exploring what our cameras and equipment could do. I literally never went anywhere without my camera. Here I was, turning up to a pancake social, with pancake mix in hand and camera round my neck.

Photo manipulation above...not really 4 of me!

I remember in our 1st year degree show, we had to devise a piece of theatre based on Lancaster town. We created the show with an external practitioner named Lu, who had crazy hair and a weird musty scent. She gave us all roles to play, and surprise surprise she chose me to play the 'photographer' - when I knew deep down she just wanted some decent photos of the production for her portfolio. I wasn't "acting" at all - I was simply her photographer.

One in 2nd year day I spotted a job advertised looking for a 'photographer' at a local club. I got the job and started immediately. Essentially I was to photograph drunk students and attempt to sell them key rings - you know the sort. It was pretty dire. In my 1st and only week working there, a drunk chap knocked the camera out my hand, causing it to smash on the floor and broke the lens. I quit the next day, accidentally pressing 'send' on my resignation text before I'd explained why - that the job was more about being groped and humiliated, than having anything to do with photography, and wasn't really for me.

Throughout uni life, I carried on photographing anything that moved (apart from clubs!). This soon progressed from just editing photos, to adding text, overlays, backgrounds, playing with layout, printing things and so on - you get the picture. I was often asked to create leaflets and digitals for the various events that went on for groups in and out of uni. A few pretty shocking examples following...

In 2011 I photographed my first Wedding, for the miniscule sum of £150. It was for some friends from the Christian Union. Sadly the photos were that appalling I've since deleted them all, but it got me started. Fast forward a year or so and Matt and I had become new parents. The first few years of motherhood is a blur to me, but once I'd gotten used to the new 'me', I picked up my camera again and began shooting Weddings and events - something I could easily fit around family. It started off for family and friends, but I was soon getting bookings from people I didn't actually know.

I designed my first piece of Wedding Stationery (of many) about 8 years ago, for school friend Rach and her husband Nick. We got it printed with Panda Press in Stone, but back then I knew nothing of gsm, crop/bleed marks, and card stock. And what's the with seriously odd font choices - don't look too close, please!

Our second daughter arrived in 2017 along with a change in circumstances, meaning that photographing Weddings was no longer possible as our weekends were busy with other things. I shelved the photography for a while, but carried on designing. Working at a laptop is surprisingly easily whilst breastfeeding, however I soon learnt to get customers to proof read properly after printing someones invites with the wrong Wedding date! (I blame baby brain and lack of sleep at the time.)

Spending more time designing prompted a new name, so 'Rose & Grace' was finally born, after our girls' middle names. A good few years of creating bespoke Wedding Stationery under my belt, then that thing called Covid happened. Oh yeah, that means no Weddings. Needing some sort of income, I turned to my other hobby of boating. A friend asked if I'd try and draw their boat as a paper gift for her and husband's 1st Anniversary. From then on, my boat illustrations were actually a thing - and what I thought was just a pre-Christmas rush of orders, has turned into a steady stream of commissions on the go. I branched out into drawing houses, as it turns out there are a lot of houses in the UK, boats too, which is pretty handy for business.

Fast forward another couple of years and Weddings are back on full throttle. So, essentially that's my story. I'm pretty happy floating somewhere between designing bespoke Wedding Stationery, drawing people's homes and boats, creating off the shelf prints, and other design commissions.

Lots more ideas in the pipeline, but I'll tell you about those another day.

Thanks for reading

R x

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