Time to stock up on Christmas cards, thank you notes for presents you'll be receiving, and holiday gifts. Use code MERRY at checkout for free shipping. The code is valid through Saturday!
A few days late, but this week's "Pairs Well With..." features one of my favorite holiday card designs, Argyle Fir, with a beautiful long pine and teasel wreath from Terrain. You can find the card in the shop here!
When I first began Happy Cactus, all of my designs were one-of-a-kind, hand-drawn and hand-colored by me. Knowing that I wanted to produce cards in greater quantities at a faster rate, I was well aware that I needed to learn how to use Photoshop, Illustrator, and other Adobe programs. These programs would allow me to manipulate my scanned drawings, color them, make patterns, and lay them out so they are print ready.
I decided I needed to dive in and learn how to use the Adobe Creative Suite of software programs on my own. Many people are surprised to learn that I was able to become proficient in using these programs without some formal classwork. I was moving across the country at the time, so I taking an in-person class was not an option.
Here are the resources I recommend if you have little to no experience with Adobe's software and have the initiative to teach yourself and practice your skills on a daily basis.
YouTube - It takes a lot of time to search through the clutter on YouTube to find the right tutorial. I recommend searching by keywords. For example, when looking for a video on how to make patterns using Illustrator, I would search "tutorial Illustrator patterns" and sift through the results. The quality of the videos vary, but I was usually able to find fairly good explanations of techniques.
Lynda - Lynda was my best investment when I started out learning Adobe software programs. For a minimal monthly fee, you get unlimited access to high quality video tutorials. For the classes I took, the teachers provided clear, detailed instruction and many provided practice files. I designed my first wholesale catalog using InDesign without any previous experience solely using Lynda tutorials.
Skillshare - Skillshare is a newer website where experts from a variety of fields teach informal online classes. Classes are fairly inexpensive and usually focus on pretty specific topics. For example, if you want to learn how to digitize your own hand lettering, there's a class for that taught by Sean McCabe, a well-known hand lettering artist. Skillshare didn't exist when I was first learning these programs, but I've taken a few classes over the past few months to develop my skills and learn new techniques.
Through these various online resources, I now feel confident working on a variety of projects, from retouching product photos to creating a catalog to laying out greeting cards.
I've mentioned here before that for about a year now I have been hand-painting porcelain pieces. It's something I've truly enjoyed doing, and I am so happy to share that I'm finally selling some pieces here in the online shop.
Previously, I've only sold my hand-painted porcelain items at craft shows or by custom order. I decided to share the pieces with a wider audience here after receiving such positive feedback about them during the various holiday shows I've participated in over the past month and a half.
The first item for sale is are small 3.5 inch gold dotted bowls. These little bowls were very popular at shows - all of them sold out within a few hours - so I've been busily painting more. They feature little gold dots all over - both inside and outside the bowl. I have a few in stock now and will be adding more soon. They are the perfect size for trinkets, nuts, or other little items. I use one by my bed to hold my rings at night and one on my desk to hold paper clips. They are food safe and dishwasher safe, too (although I recommend washing by hand). Here's a shot of me painting a bowl.
Find them in the shop here!