I always think back to this shoot from last summer with a smile… Caitlin Houser just worked magic with my stationery and handlettered fabric. It must have been divine intervention that connected us as I am ever so thankful for the images captured this day!
Hope you enjoy taking a look at this beauty, all thanks to this lovely vendor team:
Last February when I first shared this sketch of Cinderella’s castle, I made the connection with Michelle Santiago of Neva Michelle Photography. I was so blessed that she wanted to photograph a whole suite built around this sketch! Needless to say, I was thrilled with the result, and a year later, this is still my favorite photoshoot!
A bit more about the process: I wanted a vintage look for the invite. No fonts, but all handwritten! Each piece of handmade paper was painted with a blue and gray watercolor wash to age the paper and the cherry on top was a pink and silver wax seal of a crown. Even the postage stamps were on theme and I am still so in love!
I love crafting wedding invitations, layering in textures and colors and small nods of personality!
Last spring, I created this Disney inspired Sleeping Beauty invitation suite. I wanted to design a suite that perhaps Aurora would have chosen from her princess wedding, a wedding dripping in garden florals with hints of gold! And of course I went with pink, but threw in accents of blue so all the fairies would be happy!
I really adore making these review posts… to be able to see all the work I created each month all in one place amazes me… God has blessed me so abundantly with so many awesome projects and clients. I’m so thankful for Him who gave me these talents that I can share with the world. I hope you love reviewing these summer months as much as I did making everything!
Earlier in 2018, I designed a suite for a July elopement in Switzerland! Planned and styled by Loukia Arapian, photographed by Gabriela Oswald.
The month also started with an email from Tiffany Greenleaf, an incredibly talented florist in Newport Beach, who contracted me for placecards and a ton of a acrylic goodness! Side note: this was the first full wedding that I got to make the watercolor tags for! Photos by Jack Randall Photography.
I was also blessed this year by the talents of Carmen Soares of Beyond the Gates Photography. She had reached out wanting to shoot some flatlays and I sent her a TON of items to play with including these fabric menus and I just ADORE all the work she did for me! If you’re in Oregon, look her up!
In the middle of the month, I made a divine connection with Caitlin Houser just in time for her styled shoot in Washington! She was able to use some items I had made earlier in the year for a shoot that I never received photos from. I’m still so over the moon from this shoot!
The month also included getting to make these placecards for Memorial table! What a sweet sentiment to the parents and gradparents! Photo by Vitae Weddings.
Toward the end of the month, Disney’s Alice in Wonderland animated film celebrated its anniversary! The year prior, I painted a similar piece which launched my Floral Letters line. After a year of painting practice, I recreated this piece and am so in love with the added depth.
Another set of placecards made for a wedding with a custom mix of blue green paint. I’m still so amazed at how successful these little tags have been!
Along with some matching signage for the guestbook table! Photos by Meghan Mehan.
And more watercolor tags for these baby shower gifts! I was just salivating when Erica showed me these photos! See more of her sweet treats on her site: http://winkbyerica.com
I just adored getting to work on these welcome stickers for this September bride! The watercolor florals were painted to match the lace of her wedding dress!! How cool is that?! I loved when Marina presented the idea to me
This invitation was created for my besties stepmother! Such a fun celebration was in the works and I was honored to get to create not only the Save the Dates but also the invitation.
For another September bride, watercolor spot calligraphy for her invitation designer: Happily Ever After Invitations. See the final stationery pieces below, photographed by Katelyn Turner.
The month ended with celebrating at one of my forever friend’s baby shower!! I was honored to design the invitation for the shower and I also handpainted a globe for the nursery!
As July concluded and August began, I was working with a bride on her Tahoe wedding! I absolutely adored the work we created together and even better, I received all of these amazing photos from her photographer, Torrey Fox Photography!
Around here, school starts mid-August and in honor of this big day, I created an alphabet print of my Floral Letters! This is currently hanging in my office but I do hope to make a print of it to make it available for all of you!
Did you notice those table numbers above in the Tahoe wedding?? After I finished those acrylic table numbers in July, I created a watercolor version and listed them in my shop and started selling them right away! Along with the table numbers, I also listed bridesmaid proposal cards! I have been selling those for years but as embossed cards! Adding these to my shop was a BIG update and they have been highly favored by brides. It was super exciting to see them going out into the world! Available for purchase in my Etsy shop here.
Another twist on one of my current listing of banner tags was the creation of these watercolor dipped tags for an Aruba wedding!
And so many more watercolor tags were made… I am so happy with how much people are loving this new addition to my shop! The below photo is from Allison Williams Photography in Chicago.
Back in the beginning of the month, this lovely mama-to-be contacted me to create some signage and keepsakes for her baby shower. After which she left me such a sweet review!
Sam created two beautiful watercolor calligraphy pieces for my baby shower which became artwork after the shower and will, no doubt, become a treasured family heirlooms… I really enjoyed working with Sam, appreciate her prompt communication and speedy turn around. I look forward to working with her again!
After doing logos for years in the corporate world, it still amazes me that I now get to handdraw logos using my pens and paint brushes! This logo was for Plant Powered LulaRoe.
It wouldn’t be the month of August without working on a birthday invitation for one of my little “nieces.” Turning 5 is a BIG deal and I love the mermaid invitation we created! Along with turning 5, Miss Molly also started TK so I painted her up a sign to hold on her first day of school!
After working on Lindsey’s globe, I finally felt comfortable painting in acrylic so next up was painting this piggy bank for another one of my sweet “nieces,” Emma!!
I took the last week of August off as I joined my hubby on a road trip for his BBQ competition team… but before I left I got a start on the Watercolor Summit courses!! Will update with photos soon!
The month started with celebrating my mama’s birthday! So of course I had to paint her up a watercolor portrait!
Another painting was made for a September birthday… I love how this aunt chose special lyrics for her niece and even had me add the birthday girl’s name right into the lyrics. Such a special present!
Always love when I get wedding photos of displays such as this showing off my escort card display! Antique keys, oh my!! Photo by Dawn Derbyshire Photography
Mid September, Andy and I celebrated our 11th wedding anniversary! Wedding vow artwork created by me, photographed by Beyond the Gates.
And finished the other winner of my watercolor portrait giveaway from the month prior. First maternity portrait and I love it!
Oh and speaking of maternity photos… love this shot by Melissa Fe Chapman of one of my fabric banners!
First comes maternity kids, then comes tattoos of your kids names! How’s that for a transition… loved making this tattoo design for Chelsea. We left the last name a little short rather than extending that last letter to allow room for a third name, Lord willing! Loved that idea!
More watercolor tags… these were used for a rehearsal dinner to be tied to bottles of hot sauce! It was a crab boil in North Carolina! I love spicy food and wish I could have gone!
Remember that Mermaid invite above for Miss Molly’s birthday? Well when I forgot to get her a card, I painted her up a gift bag. So in love.
And finally, the month ended with a styled shoot planned by Jessica Schmuckle for Styled Sheets Across America! Love how they used my handlettered fabric hanging as a table runner! Photo by Trudy Moylan.
If you got this far, I want to say thank you for reading and sharing in my work! Have any questions, drop me an email or leave a comment below! Thanks for your support! Will be posting Part 4 soon, it’s a big one!
As I thought over my One Little Word for 2019, I kept thinking of my word for last year which was FOCUS. I’m tempted to just rephrase that with having my word be REFOCUS as I don’t think I fully focused in on the year as much as I wanted. I still feel rather scattered and split… am I a wedding calligrapher or painter of personalized wall decor? And why can’t I be both?
So while I wrestled with this… I saw the word “refine” and being drawn to it, I had to look up its exact meaning:
remove impurities or unwanted elements
to make improvement by introducing subtleties or distinctions
And when I read that, it resonated me with on a few levels. One of which is my spiritual life which has had a great awakening these past few months as my family and I got back into going to church and LOVING it. My soul was so thirsty for the Word for so long, for years even, so I love how refined can be defined by the action of making something pure or improved by pruning.
But then on the business level, all this past year I struggled with letting go of avenues of design that just didn’t fit me anymore. Or that have run their course. For example, one of my first big product booms of my shop were my embossed cards. Each one was handwritten with a special kind of ink and then dusted with powder and then heat embossed. I went from selling hundreds a month to less than a hundred a year. To sell one at a time, was just a pain to pull out all the supplies so I made the decision to just remove them completely from my shop. And it felt GREAT. It is time to move on.
In an aim to not make this post too lengthy, my point is this: I plan to work similarly to last year, focused in, but continue to make refinements along the way. Some changes will be subtle while others may be larger in nature.
I have always given the reins of my work to God and just tended to the work I have been given with the talents God has blessed me with. So I am excited to see where He takes me this year.
Do you choose a word for each year?! I would love to know, tell me all about it in the comments!
Amongst other Southern California summer weddings, like this one (images by Vacay Photo):
And then finally, without knowing what was to come, I painted this fanart for Disney’s Alice in Wonderland’s anniversary… the painting that planted the seed for many more watercolor floral letters.
August continued with even more paintings! Not only were individual letters created, I also created a brand new theme using evergreen branches for a last name sign, celebrating my aunt and uncle’s 50th wedding anniversary!
And another new theme was created for a unique commission, celebrating a couple who got married in Key West, Florida!
And then my first—of many—floral family name signs! Eeek!
And to close the month, one more floral painting!
September was one very busy month! It started with painting up a bridal shower invitation and envelopes…
In the middle of September, Andy and I celebrated our TEN year wedding anniversary. So of course I had to paint out our own personal vows before we left for a short weekend getaway.
Not only did I paint my own vows, but I also worked on this giant pair of 16×20 wedding vows that have now made their home in Ireland!
And not only did these large paintings of vows cross the Atlantic but so did this last name sign!
More watercolor floral letters were made too of course, this is one of my all time favorites!
Also included this month, to celebrate my friend’s new home, we worked on this handpainted family sign! Congrats Jess!
The month ended with the biggest, loudest and craziest party ever!
The month started with this GORGEOUS wedding in northern California. I loved getting to create these tags for each guest with gold watercolor paint! See more of this beautiful wedding here, photographed by Kirsten Wiemer.
A HUGE highlight of the year was getting to work on my first styled wedding shoot! The creativity was surging throughout the Estate on Second venue in Santa Ana, California! I am only posting this one single sneak peek, taken by Harper and Grace Photography, but please checkout the full shoot here.
Before going to the shoot though, I finally created business cards for myself!
The month also started with some day of details created for a Charleston wedding which I also got to create the lettering for their letterpress invitations. It was my first time seeing my work printed with letterpress and I was SUPER excited to receive their invite in the mail! photos by Kaitlin Scott Photography
We ended the month going on a trip for my hubby’s BBQ competition team to Tennessee, but before we left… I painted #allthethings! Take a peek at some below:
The cacti bridal shower (see invite below) also took place at the end of the month for which I painted all these handpainted floral table runners!
This month was just pure and utter CRAZINESS! The month started off with some agate Thanksgiving placecards!
November also included the launch of my watercolor lyrics and vows on Etsy! To celebrate, I hosted a series of giveaways… here are some of the results:
At the end of the month, over the Black Friday weekend, I hosted some BIG sales. One of which was for my handdrawn papercut silhouettes. These made the perfect Christmas gifts, I just love all their sweet little faces!
And one last note, the month included the launch of my Facebook page! It’s a bit neglected but it’s finally up and LIVE! Take a look!!
The month of December meant the finishing up and sending of all these Christmas cards!
The month also started with this painting of Psalms 23 full of bright yellow sunflowers!
And of course, the month also included lots and lots of tags made for Christmas dinner and Christmas gifting!
Speaking of Christmas gifts! Several paintings were made to be given as gifts from me and commissioned by others for gifting too!
Another Christmas gift I got to help with was the painting of these reclaimed wood signs! They have such a lovely backstory too… this family just moved out of their home that they had for almost 30 years. They used the wood from a shed in the backyard to make each of their daughter’s a sign with and had me paint a cute family saying of theirs! I just love getting to make art such as this, so close to the heart!
Lastly, what is Christmas without ornaments! This year I just couldn’t decide between these two ideas so I just went with a few of each! Plus finishing up the ornaments made from my son’s first Christmas tree in 2016!
The owner of Events by the Cea and I first met when I snuck behind the scenes at Kara’s wedding (link) to photograph some of the pieces I worked on. Shortly thereafter I emailed her asking if she had any styled wedding shoots in the works that I could collaborate on and luckily she was just starting to plan one for that fall!
I was so thankful for my first opportunity to work on a styled shoot (a mock-wedding photoshoot for wedding vendors to collaborate on to showcase their talents). And because it was local to me, I was able to attend the shoot too! The creative energy at the shoot was tangible! I soaked it all up and learned so much watching Christina and her team work their magic on decorating tablescapes, interiors, and floral installations.
Just wanted to pop in on this lovely Valentine’s Day and share some of my favorite photos from this styled shoot I got to collaborate on last month! Katie Hammond gathered quite the team of vendors, models and even a horse to all come together for such a gorgeous set up! My favorite part would be the reception table surrounded by the draped white linens making a nice secluded and romantic area for dinner, however the ceremony floral circle backdrop would be a close second!
This was my first styled shoot that I’ve participated in with multiple photographers. It’s so amazing to see everyone’s different perspectives of the same subject! Between the different angles and the post editing, each photographer created such unique pieces of art, moments captured in time forever…
When I opened my shop 5 years ago today, NEVER EVER would I have guessed this day would come. But it surely has and I am ever so thankful!
This started as an Instagram post but after writing out this novel of thankfulness, I knew I needed to move it to a blog post!
I never would have been able to imagine reaching 10,000 orders on Etsy and I never would have been able to without some help… I’m ever so thankful for the constant support I have and without each and every one of you, Your New Friend Sam would have fizzled out years ago. Today, I’m reflecting on all those who made this dream possible, I’m really ever so thankful for:
my customers of course! Some of whom I have since become friends with as we follow each other’s journeys on Instagram
my hubby and family: to get to 10,000 orders means putting in at least 10,000 hours of work and more and I certainly wouldn’t be able to do that without help! Our parents all take turns watching our babe to let this dream become a reality and for that I can not be more thankful.
my friends: there are a special few who I like to bounce ideas off and their help is always so encouraging and motivating in helping me keep the creative juices flowing!
my Heavenly Father: He has graced me beyond measure with the skills to keep this going. Only He knew the bigger picture and I never would have guessed what He had in store for this humble shop. I heard these lyrics at church not too long ago and they really hit home: “Take these hands / I know they’re empty / But with You they can” This is SO true!
Thank you for following my journey here on this blog… as a giant THANK YOU to celebrate, head over to my Instagram as the giveaway for my shop’s anniversary continues: instagram.com/samallencreates.
In writing out that blog post title, in writing out “5 Years,” I am amazed at how much has happened in that time.
Looking back to where I was 5 years ago, the night I opened my shop, I was working at a graphic design firm full time out of the house with a daily 90 minute commute each way. It was my dream job though so it was totally worth it. I opened my shop with just some printable invitations that I had already designed for friends. My plan was to not have to deal with shipping anything! (oh my, how that has changed!). And then it took a month to even make that first $10 sale.
Later this same year, my best friend was getting married in the fall and as I had started to dabble in handlettering, she graciously let me write out her Save the Dates and address stamp. After which I added the address stamp to my shop… it was with this stamp that really started changing my shop. People started buying it a couple times a month, then a couple times a week. They started requesting other types of stamp designs based on my writing. My writing?! What, how and when did that happen? I then listed these custom orders in my shop, and so on and so on, making my shop a buyable portfolio in a way.
This is the best part about Etsy—or even Instagram, in my opinion, is the approachability that is given between the shop owner and the buyer. We, as shop owners, are so easy to talk to with just a click of a Contact button. Buyers can easily request customized and personalized products, which is just not something so easy to buy at your local Target.
It took about a year and a half to really gain momentum though, and what started as a printable invitation shop morphed into a full service lettering and design shop. Most of my business now comes from placecards and gift tags along with custom rubber stamps (none of which started in my shop!).
It was through this shop that I opened a long, yet short, 5 years ago… that I was contacted to create my art for Hobby Lobby and Michaels… it was through my shop that I was found for creating placecards for the Crate & Barrel catalogs… and it was through this little shop that I found the freedom to leave my job and work for myself (in 2015)!
My traveling lettering shop during a 7 week road trip, Fall 2015
While working for myself is not always a dream come true and it comes with lots of ups and downs, I am so thankful for this gift of being able to work from home and getting to create art each and every single day!