• Recent Posts

  • Categories

  • About the Author

    Sarah is one-half of Malvolio. She's the creative side of the business, and loves concept development in commercial projects, illustration, and working on various self-initiated paper craft projects in her spare time.
  • Designer Kid


    I relate to this article so much: I Was The “Designer Kid”: 5 Annoying Realities. That was me growing up, I was definitely that annoying artsy kid. I didn’t have the crazy hair, but I was obsessed with drawings in kids books more than the story, made most of my decisions based on the colours of something, and had an art supplies collection that would even put the local art shop to shame.

    I don’t think other kids understood, or even adults for that matter. All I knew was that I wanted to draw forever. As long as I could draw, I would be happy. I wasn’t impressed when my parents told me that I couldn’t make a career of it, but the world has its funny ways and it did happen (not without a lot of hard work, however!).

    I think the only people who “got it” were other art/design kids. Not those who were trying to be, but those who lived and breathed art and design whether they wanted to or not. We’re a weird bunch, we think in colours and shapes and pictures – and I didn’t realise this until my teens when I connected with some pretty amazing creative friends who are on the same wavelength. And I’m okay with being weird…not everyone gets it, and when I was a kid I was definitely left-field, but I love my life full of colour and art supplies.

    I guess the skills I learned growing up have come in handy now (not the annoying people part, the skill in designing and drawing part…I hope, anyway!).

    Business cards for local cafes

    We designed and printed these business cards for an amazing team over in Mornington, who run a variety of eateries – The Winey Cow, Mi Mexiko and Thanks Albert.

    With the owners across the three businesses, collective cards were designed so they only had one card with their direct contact details, rather than three! There are generic cards for each cafe as well, which are useful for customers to hold onto.


    Milestone cards featured by The Garden

    It’s lovely to see our milestone cards featured in a photo from one of our stockists, The Garden. They sell lots of very cute (and useful!) baby goods, and they’re all local! Make sure to go and say hello to the ladies there next time you’re in Frankston.


    Baby Shower Invitations

    We have a few off-the-shelf invitations, but it’s always fun when someone asks for a custom illustration for their special event.

    Emi’s friends were organising a baby shower for her, with games including cupcake decorating. They wanted an illustration of her, rather than baby-related items, and the brief was that it had to include a cupcake somewhere on the invitation.

    …and it had a mixture of blue and pink, as it wasn’t known what the baby would be by then!


    Three businesses needing to match

    Usually, businesses approach us needing one logo for a business. But this was a different situation, where multiple business logos had to be planned together.

    The lovely owners of Bale Grow are mad about hay. Everything is about hay in their world…so much so, that they created two more hay-related businesses: The Hay Shed and Hay Day Events.

    I love client stories, and when they told me all the things they do with hay, it’s ingenious. A lot of businesses stay as one single business with different products, but in this example they have very defined target markets for their products, and the three businesses are advertised in different places to reach those specific customers…so three businesses made more sense than one.

    However, they still wanted to create a consistent look and feel across the three businesses, as they wanted people to see that the businesses were connected in some way. Through developing the designs, we came up with a circular logo, with a unique icon in each logo, representing the products of that business.

    1458 BAL Hay Day Events Logo_FA balegrow-logo 1459 BAL The Hay Shed Logo_FA

    Commercial illustration: character design

    A lot of my illustration time is spent on our stationery line, but sometimes I also get to work on commercial illustration projects, which are just as fun as they are rewarding.

    One client I have done quite a lot of illustration for is The Winey Cow, in Mornington. We decided to play on their name, and create a collection of cows who could be dressed up to suit any occasion. These cows venture out onto posters to help promote events at their venue.

    It is amazing to create characters, and get to come up with new expressions, outfits and backdrops for them. Hoping to one day do a kids book for the same reason – I adore character design. But in the meantime, these cows are very entertaining and I always have a giggle when a new brief comes through, as I never know how I’ll be dressing them up next. It’s like visiting a costume shop every time, but with pen and paper instead!

    twc-03   twc-01

    Map Design: Hand-Drawn versus Vector

    We have designed maps for all sorts of various uses: events, venues, camping grounds and diagrams.

    Because we offer hand-drawn illustration as well as vector illustration, we sometimes get requests for a particular type of style of map, but there are both pros and cons to either type of illustration.

    Vector Maps


    Vector maps are often flat in design, using shapes for areas and icons rather than images to depict what’s on the map. Vector maps can be resized as big as required (to the size of a billboard and beyond if you wanted!). Vectors are also easy-to-edit shapes, making changes quick and efficient – very helpful for events where the layout can change very close to the cutoff time for printing.

    Hand-Drawn Maps


    Hand-drawn maps are completed in the same style as all of my other illustrations. They can look more dynamic than a vector map, using illustrated items and objects instead of flat shapes. However, hand-drawn maps can’t be enlarged easily – they need to be drawn at their final size from the start, no matter how big that may be. The positioning of items are harder to move, but each one is uniquely drawn from scratch.

    Stamps vs Stickers vs Direct Printing

    When it comes to branding products, there’s a lot of options out there. I’m going to explain three ways that can be used, especially for small businesses.

    Direct Printing

    The most traditional way to brand products is to print straight onto the packaging – but this is also the most expensive, so I see a lot of business owners get put off. It ties them down to a specific size of packaging, and there’s usually minimum print runs required. For those who are craftspeople and small businesses, full packaging printing can seem really daunting…but there are other options.

    IBS stickersStickers

    Sometimes packaging might be in plastic or cardboard but direct printing isn’t suitable – this is where stickers can be a great way of adding colour and branding. Stickers come in any size or shape you can imagine, and they can be standard colours or even metallic for a special finish. Here’s one of our client’s products branded with stickers – Inspired By Spice.


    TWC stampStamps

    If the packaging used is porous, such as fabric or uncoated cardboard, stamps can be another way to brand your products. Stamps are generally one colour, although you can buy any coloured ink you wish (or get creative and mix inks together for some pretty cool effects!). They are also a little limited with details, but can work incredibly for line drawings or logos. We designed a coffee cup stamp for our client The Winey Cow.

    Photo credits to Inspired By Spice and The Winey Cow.

    Fitness-inspired wedding illustration

    Flashback to an illustration for some wedding invitations we did last year – with a bit of a twist! Alicia and Julian are mad about fitness so we had some fun adding in weights into their illustration. Not usually what you would see on a wedding invitation!


    Graphic Design for Tradies

    We keep design simple, which although important for all clients, it is something which our trades-based clients seem to appreciate the most.

    Often, tradespeople come to us without a logo, a brand, or anything much more than maybe a template business card or a newspaper ad. They usually want it to be no-fuss, so no fancy brand style guide, or complicated website…but they want to look good. So we focus on their brand looking consistent, choose colours that help them stand out from their competitors, and make sure all of their stationery and advertising (both digital and print) look professional.

    We have had a number of tradespeople approach us over the years because they have used an online design template or printing service, and then found they can’t use the images on anything else…or there aren’t templates that look the same for everything they want to print. Designing a logo they can use anywhere is hugely important, as well as then knowing they won’t find another business using the same design, which often happens with online design templates!

    When it comes to being online, we help with social media, Google business pages and their websites. In most cases, their websites are kept simple: often treated as an online brochure just so people can check out who they are and what they do, and see examples of their work. And then we update their website when they need, so they can focus on their work.

    Our favourite part of working with tradespeople is that most of their businesses are as local as you can get, which makes working in Somerville even more amazing.