Gemma Milly & my new header

Last year I did some life coaching and one of the most fun exercises I did was to construct how I felt my life was and how I wanted it to be, using a box of children’s toy figures.

One of the things that was on my mind at the time was my blog. I felt that it was in a bit of a mess – it desperately needed an overhaul and a bit more focus (I’m still working on the focus thing). My task was to choose two items; one to represent my blog then and one for how I wanted it to be. And now, with the help of Gemma and Zoe, I think that my blog has gone from crazy, wonky unidentifiable zebra thing to an elegant, focussed thoroughbred race horse. Or something like that.

In my day job I work in IT and have spent a lot of time functionally designing websites and so for me designing the new site layout was easy. What I couldn’t do was build it or make it look pretty.

I first became aware of Gemma when she illustrated the first edition of Heart Home magazine. I started reading her blog and eventually asked her to design my header. I assumed she was probably too busy and clever to do such a small job and I was delighted when she said she’d love to.

I had already decided that I wanted two headers, one for Autumn/Winter and one for Spring/Summer. Annoyingly we finished the Autumn/Winter header in January but owing to some developer tribulations before I found the brilliant Zoe, it was the Spring/Summer one that went up first. So clearly there’s a surprise coming on the 21st September.

For the Spring/Summer header I gave Gemma a brief of St James’ Park in the summer. Gemma took the following image of the park as her jumping off point and I think you can see how the header has evolved from this.

{image from here}

I had so much fun working with Gemma and I really miss talking to her every day. It was so enjoyable thinking up items to adorn the background with, arguing with respective boyfriends over whether anyone would get the pelican reference and pontificating on the perfect size of chevron. Just don’t mention the ribbon sizing.

Gemma is far more girly than me and was constantly trying to get things such as scalloped footers past me so I had to be on my guard. But when you ask someone to ‘knock you up a dragon’ as a rough sketch and they send you back this drawing, you know you are working with someone pretty talented (and yes, I know it’s actually a griffin but she knew what I meant).

I am so thrilled with my new header. Gemma totally understood what I was trying to achieve and produced something that is very much ‘me’ but something I would never have come up with by myself. So a round of applause for Gem! Yeay!

Gemma is also an inspiration to me. A few years ago she left her job in advertising because her heart wasn’t in it and went back to college and retrained as an illustrator. I really admire her determination, bravery and self-belief and am hoping some of it rubs off on me.

She’s not been in business very long but she’s making quite a name for herself. Most recently she’s been working with Browns on their jubilee window displays in South Molton Street (which I’ve not had a chance to go see yet) and most impressively her portrait of the Queen was printed on the cover of last weekends’s Sunday Times magazine which is a jubilee collectors item.

Having been out for cocktails with Gemma I can also tell you that she’s totally lovely and enormous amounts fun, one of those people you just click with straight away and feel like you’ve known for ages. I can’t wait to see her again.

Needless to say I’m hugely grateful to Gemma, she has helped make my blog look fantastic and I couldn’t have done it without her. You can see more of her work on her website.

PS I’ve now sorted out my blogroll, which is under the link menu at the top. Let me know if I’ve missed anyone or if you’d like to be included.

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  1. I fell in love with your header the instant I saw it. I think it suits you down to your toes, and I’ve absolutely loved hearing the process behind it. Gemma sounds delightful, and how wonderful that you’ve found not only a collaborator, but an inspiration and a friend in her. I can’t wait to see what you come up with down the road, Annie. Exciting days ahead for you, dear!

  2. What a lovely story to share Annie. She’s an amazingly talented lady-the header looks wonderful and the Queen’s portrait’s not bad either!!!! Sharing journeys from start to finish bring such a lovely personal touch to a blog! Cx
    caroline @trend-daily recently posted..A Visit To….My Profile

  3. your header is one of the best i’ve seen. such great thought went it to it and you can tell. thanks for including me in the blogroll! that is so sweet of you. how awesome Gemma’s portrait made that cover. i love that cover too. Teri

  4. I loved the header from the moment you showed it to me (albeit the winter version) and have patiently and silently waited for your revamp:) I think you found magic in the combination of Gemma and Zoe. This is not to be underestimated as a successful project requires a special team.

    I better hold on to my Sunday Times magazine:) Gemma is very talented!
    See you in class:)
    tina recently posted..southbank as inspirationMy Profile

  5. I love that you shared the story behind your blog header, and the artist who made it a reality. I guess it goes without saying that Gemma is amazingly talented. I find her journey inspiring, as well!
    I think it’s genius that you created one header for spring/summer and one for fall/winter…Way to plan ahead. Of course, I now can’t wait to see the fall/winter version. Congratulations again on getting this beautiful site completed.
    Theresa / inspirationCOOP recently posted..{mini-view: such small steps…}My Profile

  6. Annie – I love your new blog. It’s absolutely gorgeous. I was lucky enough to work with Gemma on that issue of HHM you mentioned and we had such fun doing it! I’m desperate to find a way to work with her again. She’s a very talented, interesting and clever person! As are you, my dear, so you’re a good match!


  7. Congratulations again, darling girl. Really, all your hard work paid off and the results are extraordinary. I love the collaborative spirit with which you approached the whole redesign, and give you a lot of credit for letting someone else work as closely as you did. I think I’m too much of a control freak to let go of the reigns, even though I’d KILL for a header image I didn’t hate instantly, haha. Can’t wait to see the fall/winter version!! Looking forward to the posts that come in between, too. xo

    Also, love the name Gemma. Very British :)

  8. It’s great to hear how your fabulous new website design came together. I really love Gemma’s work and it seems like you were the perfect team.

    Can’t wait to see the winter version!

    Kelly x

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