• 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.
  • Illustration is moving to Tiny Viking Co!

    We’ve recently been busy on a little (BIG) project – the illustration arm the studio has grown to the point that it needs its own home…so say hello to Tiny Viking Co! This includes a dedicated online store as well: www.tinyviking.co.

    This means we can focus on graphic design and website design here at Malvolio, and illustration/stationery will be at Tiny Viking Co. So make sure to follow both businesses on social media, as the updates will be quite different.

    We LOVE all of the support we get from every one of you, and hope you enjoy this evolution as much as we are excited for the changes!

    Expanding a website

    Orbit Plumbing is a local plumber in Somerville, who started with a small 5-page website. Their website has now evolved into something much bigger!

    Orbit Plumbing first started by just wanting an online presence, which is a regular request from tradespeople…but while a one-page website is great for contact details, it doesn’t cut it when it comes to being ranked in search engines. So we built a small 5-page website as a starting point for them.

    After a few months, they wanted to work on SEO, making their website show up higher for local plumbing searches. Because the website was set up for growth, adding new pages and new content was an easy task – so the time could be spent on writing good content, instead of being concerned about how to expand the website.


    Then Orbit Plumbing opened up a new arm of their business: Orbit Plumbing Products Online, which is an online store selling plumbing products and the opportunity to book installation with those products. The online store was easily added onto the existing website, following the same layout with some new features and customisation added in.

    So they started with 5 pages, and now have a website with over 200 pages of services and products which is constantly updated. It’s been amazing to watch the growth of their now not-so-small (but still local) business!

    Common Sans

    In my quest for searching for different fonts, I came across this gem: Common Sans.

    It’s as common as it gets – until you realise it’s got a hidden message: every time you type the word “refugee”, it replaces the word with “human”. I would have never imagined a font being used for human rights; it’s a wonderful thing.

    From the Common Sans website: Being a refugee is a temporary status, being a human is permanent. Humans are amazing. A stamp on their passport should not let us believe otherwise. Rewrite, retype, rethink.

    So much love for this.

    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.