An Interview with Surface Designer Vicky Webb AKA Crumpets and Crabsticks

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My sister and I haven’t always been that close. I wasn’t the best of sisters as a kid. It has taken a lot of growing up (and hundreds of miles) for us to be the way we are with each other today. Motherhood can and will change your relationship with your family members and it certainly has changed ours. For the better of course. Our relationship is stronger now than it has ever been and to be honest, I am a very proud big sister. I mean, I don’t wanna be all soppy and stuff, that’s not our jam, but I am proud of the things she has been able to achieve and the lessons she has learnt from my mistakes. She has worked hard to be where she is now.

It’s not everyday that you get to interview your little sister. Sounds strange saying it out loud but here I am. So let’s find out who the woman behind Crumpets and Crabsticks really is.

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Brighton Fun. Copyright of Monsterful Mama

About Vicky

Vicky AKA Crumpets and Crabsticks (30) was born in Kent but now lives in the Isle of Man with her husband, daughter and cat. Her interests lie in British culture, general anthropology and watching people, the environment, mathematics and pattern. She largely uses water colour, acrylic, and computer based image making software. She is also a maker of ethical and recycled products.

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What is the meaning behind your name?

Back at uni, we had a day of working on branding and self promotion, and one of the suggestions for coming up with a name was thinking about your favourite things. Crumpets and crabsticks are two of my favourite foods from my childhood. It kind of rolled off the tongue. It just stuck.

Why did you become a designer?

I didn’t see any other possible outcome in my life. I would not be happy doing anything else, so there was never really any other option.

What exactly is a Surface Designer?

The brain gets a rush when you notice a pattern and successfully predict what is coming next, whether this is aurally or visually. I always remember as a kid looking for the repeats in fabrics and I still do it today, almost as a little test. I designed my first repeat pattern in my last year of uni for a screen printed tote bag fundraiser and since then I’ve been hooked.

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Goats- Copyright of Crumpets and Crabsticks

Since graduating I have tried my hand at many different creative avenues, but pattern was always the most rewarding for me. I now apply my repeats to any surface that can take them. I’ve found PoD (print on demand) websites to be the best outlet for this as I can cater to the largest of audience with the largest product selection.

How would you describe yourself/your style?

Chameleon-esque? I don’t limit myself to one style. I’ll draw inspiration from anywhere and try to put my own spin on it.

Which of your own designs is your favourite?

Surprisingly, none of my best sellers. Probably the ones where I’ve surprised myself, either due to a particularly difficult technique or repeat, rather than an appealing aesthetic.

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What skill would you like to master and why?

Networking. I find the whole thing rather embarrassing (I blame being English) and things like social media get a bit neglected, but it’s a necessity in any industry these days.

If money was no object, what hobby would you like to start up?

It’s a toss up between pottery and jewellery making, as they both definitely have a paywall – but I couldn’t be happy making things that their only purpose is ornamental. Therefore pottery would win.

What are you looking forward to in the next 10 years?

Watching my Daughter grow up and seeing how she influences my designs.

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Nursery Prints – Copyright of Crumpet and Crabsticks

What does a typical day in your life look like?

A year a go it would have been – Coffee, staying in PJs, firing up the PC. If the zone can be found – I stay there until the end of the day. Now things have changed, we have a daughter now, during the day baby duties have replaced design ones. ‘The zone’ has not adapted, it still requires commitment – so I work in the evenings where I can set aside a few uninterrupted hours.

If you could live in any fictional world, which one would you choose?

Probably Discworld, because even though bad things will undoubtedly happen to you, at least they will happen with a sense of irony, and maybe a bad pun or two.

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Pressed Flower Pin Badges – Copyright of Crumpets and Crabsticks

If you could only have 2 pizza toppings for the rest of your life, what would you have?

Pineapple. Yes I know. Mushroom. – You didn’t say I had to have them together though right?

Any words of wisdom for inspiring designers?

  • Don’t give up. Your work will be terrible at first. That’s to be expected.
  • Don’t worry too much about what others think – there are so many people out there now seeing your work (thanks internet) that there is bound to be some people out there that will like your work. Be patient.
  • Design for yourself – don’t concern yourself too much about what will sell, you’ll beat the fun out of it, and you’ll have sold out before you’ve even made a sale.
  • Diversify – if you’re taking the route of PoD sites to fund your art habit make a store in all of them, they all have good days and bad days, and they all attract different types of customers. Just because Society6 worked well for someone – doesn’t mean it’ll work well for you. Don’t be too proud, Zazzle might make you more money than the top end fashionable sites if you play your cards right.

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If I am honest, it’s pretty cool and inspiring to have such a talented and creative little sister. Naturally, she challenges me to get creative, even if it is just for typical sibling rivalry. Let’s just say she helps to bring my best creative side out of me.

You can find more from Vicky on the following links:

Instagram

Facebook

Blog

Shops

Hope you’ve enjoyed the read. Let us know what you think. Do you have somebody who helps you to be more creative? Drop a comment below.

Thanks.

Peace and love,

Monsterful Mama

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I’m taking part in the #MummyMonday linky with Becca from Becca Blogs It Out

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My First Year as a Blogger.

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Can you believe it’s been a little over a year since I started on this journey as a blogger? I can’t, that’s for sure. So much has happened in those twelve plus months. To say that the last six months or so have been manic (what with Zosia turning one, Mum being in hospital for nearly eight months, work and other general life stuff) would be something of an understatement. If you hadn’t noticed, I have been pretty MIA for a long time. Life has thrown some major curve balls at us so far this year, but we keep on batting them off into the distance. Sometimes you realise just how much a person can take before they break and what truly matters in life. But I guess that’s life for you.

So what’s been happening?

Well, firstly we had a lovely little party for Zosia’s first birthday. The night before was very busy. I spent all night cooking, cleaning and decorating but it was worth it in the end. Budget wise we did pretty well and I think that writing the blog post Six Simple Steps to Planning a First Birthday Party on a Budget before hand really helped. She was of course, spoiled by all of our friends and family and she loved playing with the other babies and toddlers which was so lovely to see. If you follow me on SM you would have seen some of the pictures from the weekend. I’ll go into more detail about this in another blog post later.

The biggest thing that has stopped me from doing pretty much everything has been my mum. In December she was admitted into hospital. She has only just been discharged. Growing up and as a teenager, my mum and I never really got on too well. I think that is because we’re too similar. We get on a lot better when we don’t live together. Seeing her in a coma, fighting for her life made me realise just how much time we had wasted over silly, petty arguments and dramas in the past. Being the eldest in situations like this does make you realise that being an adult can really suck at times. Seeing her fight so hard to get back to some kind of normal hasn’t been easy.  Now that she is home we just remind her of how proud and grateful we are that she didn’t give up. Every night I would come home and give Zosia an extra squeeze. She makes everything seem better.

On a lighter note

So after a year or so of blogging, what have I learnt? I have had to think about this quite a bit really. Especially as out of the twelve months, I’ve only been really active for about eight. I’ve condensed some of the biggest lessons that I have taken out of this whole experience so far into seven points. I think for anybody considering becoming a blogger or influencer you definitely need to consider some of these before you start.

1. Make sure you have time

Time has been one of the biggest issues for me. Being a working mum means a lot of things need to be juggled and often that meant something wasn’t getting done. It took me a while to work on the balance of life as a parent, a teacher and a blogger. Too often did the washing pile up higher than the Empire State Building or the toys on the floor make an assault course during the midnight feeds. Of course my husband helps where he can , but he works too and it is easy for us both to be tired at the end of the day. We’re currently in the process of trying to set up things so that we can be more organised. We have a meal and chore planner in place which were hoping will not only help with keeping up with the work around the house but also keeping our finances in check. It also helps keep an eye on who is doing what which should help with the silly arguments about washing up! I try to get blog related things done in the evenings or on the weekends so that the hubby can focus on his work. That way I can keep up with the housework on my days off too.

I was most productive when I had a plan in place. I used my bullet journal to make a note of blog post ideas to use for the future. I would track what I was posting to the blog and when so I could see how many things I had posted each month. I have to admit that since Mum was ill, I’ve not been keeping up with anything, not even my bullet journal. The plan will be to start integrating all of the things that worked slowly but surely so that I can get back in to regular blogging again. I think I might start making a digital tracker as I don’t have the time to manage the drawings and creative side of a paper bullet journal at the moment. Keeping a planner and a tracker is definitely a useful tool for bloggers.

2. Know your niche

It is important that you know what you want to write about. Have a clear idea about where you fit in the blogging world but also make sure you know and care about what it is you’re writing. There is absolutely no point in writing about make-up if you only wear it on special occasions. Keep your content down to a few subjects that you’re really passionate about. For me it is parenting first and foremost, with a dash of creativity and a hint of education. There may well be the odd post about other things from time to time and some may over lap into other areas and that is ok. The point is don’t try to write about ten different subjects at once. ‘Jack of all trades, but master of none’ kind of thing.

3. It’s okay to have a break

I think that this was one of the hardest lessons to learn. In the first year I have had at least six months off in total. Returning to work as full time cover teacher at my old school just sapped the life out of me. I was no longer enjoying teaching. I couldn’t wait to leave. Every evening I would come home exhausted and I would just want to snuggle my little girl on the settee all night. I wasn’t a very good house wife during this time. The blog went on hold as did most of my life and friendships. What was difficult to accept was that it is okay to take a break from the blogging world and I had only had about a month off. This time around I’ve had about five months off but I wasn’t worrying about the declining statistics or anything. I had a week or so where I was facing the possibility of losing my mum. The blog become nothing to me. I was just trying to get through each day as it came. Each day a gruelling trip into central London, through blizzards and cancelled trains. Each day clinging on to the tiniest bit of hope. It was sad to think something so unimportant had taken up so much of my time before now.

As I am ready to process such events now, I can begin to focus on rebuilding what I have lost but also remember that it is not the end of the world if I am not present online. Family must always come first. This blog is about an outlet for me to process a great many things that I have, I am and I will have to experience in the future. That is what I must remember.

4. Try to make friends with other bloggers

This is one of the hardest things to do when you can be a bit of an introvert like me but having someone who knows what things you go through to keep your blog going is good for your well-being. Having a blogging friend can help you when motivation is low, being able to sound off ideas and someone to share your content is a massive bonus. Plus you get a cool new friend.

5. Social Media is a must

Having accounts on the big four social media sites is an absolute must. There are so many positives to having them all set up as your blog. Depending on your niche, you might also want to set them up as business accounts. Instagram is great for sharing the images you create for your blog but sharing links is a massive pain. Facebook is great for supportive blogging groups and setting up a page for your blog content should be on your to do list if you’ve not got one set up already. Twitter is has a great community amongst the bloggers but watch out for some sneaky, bitchy trolls. It is also great for sharing your content. Pinterest is one of my favourites and I have been working really hard on making sure this site reflects my brand. You can pin your content images and link them straight back to your blog. You can join group boards as well as pin lots of inspiration things to come back to later. Social media is your ally when it comes to getting people to your blog so make the most of it and although it can take up a lot of your time, it is such a valuable tool.

6. Don’t expect to become famous over night

I am sure at some point, we have all sat staring at our statistics expecting fame and glory to appear in a the blink of an eye. One of the hardest things I found was checking my stats almost constantly meaning I was always glued to my phone. Statistics are not everything. I know it is important keep an eye on them but they are not the only thing that is important about your blog. Not everyone’s blog is about becoming famous either. Sometimes I need to remind myself why I started this blog in the first place and if one day I can make any money on the side then that would be amazing. Sure when I started this blogging journey I thought it would be an easy way to make some money on the side but in fact it hasn’t been like that at all. It is incredibly hard work. It requires a lot of effort for little outcome and that’s where my last point comes in.

7. Don’t Give Up!

Sounds so simple right? Don’t let yourself get down hearted when a post isn’t as popular as you were expecting. Analyse it. Look at post similar to yours. See if you can spot what went well with their post that you may have missed in yours. Do some research. Have other bloggers had the same problems as you? You may well find that somebody has written a blog post about how to get more traffic to your site or ways to improve your content. The biggest lesson to learn of all, is to keep learning lessons. Make progress, no matter how slow. We learn best from our mistakes so of course, it is okay to make a few along the way.

What’s Next?

Well we are expecting more challenges throughout this year including a major move with a one year old but I hope to be able to get back into something more regular in terms of the blog. Change is not something we shy from in this household so we will try to keep a positive outlook on life. There are more posts in the line up and with the summer holidays coming up, I should have plenty of time to get through the back log of unfinished blog posts. I also have quite a few creative ideas that I am beginning to process as well, including learning to build and creating my own website for the blog, so keep an eye out for those updates.

I think that’s about it really. What would you add? What lessons were hardest for you to learn in your first year of blogging? Drop me a comment below and don’t forget to follow me on the four big social media sites for more regular updates.

Thanks for reading guys.

Peace and Love,

Monsterful Mama.

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