Helen Ward Studio

25 Nov

Just when you thought I’d been sat around on my bum twiddling my thumbs for the last few weeks…
…turns out I’ve actually been working like a loon on secret shenanigans!

This project has been a looooong time in the making. As you my or may not know, I work as a freelance graphic designer and illustrator and I specialise in developing homewares and giftware for mass-market major retailers such as WH Smith, Sainsburys etc. etc.. I have been designing for this sector for  several years now and over the last few months, it has become increasingly apparent that I need to pick up the pace a bit and start designing some stuff for myself rather than other people the whole time. Cue Helen Ward Studio – my new brand name that I am going to use for my own new range of product and surface pattern design!

I have just developed one collection of patterns for this so far, which I am filing under the name ‘Entomology’. It seemed to be a sensible progression to work along this theme, as some people will already recognise my name from my artwork. I intend to develop more collections in the near future that will build to create a full compliment of design work to be used over a  spectrum of homeware and gift products.
I have had samples made of this new ‘Entomology’ range so I could do a bit of market research during the arts trail. The initial response for this seems to have been very positive, so I am really pleased about that! 🙂


This picture shows the display I had for the Arts Trail of the Entomology range. A full list of all the product samples I had made are:

  • Cushions – in three designs
  • Lampshades – two sizes in two designs
  • Greetings cards – sold separately and in packs of 8
  • Tea Towels – in four designs
  • Ceramic Mugs – in two designs
  • Pocket Mirrors – in 5 designs
  • Melamine trays – in 2 designs
  • Screen Print – as a limited edition of 100

I had planned to have a couple of other products than this too, but I nearly lost my marbles just trying to get this lot sorted on time. I never knew how difficult it would be to get things like this produced – it took me WEEKS to get this far! I guess the main problem was that I am having to fund this myself, so I only wanted to have things produced in very small quantities. Anyhoo – it all came good in the end and I am really  glad that I persevered with it.

Here are some more details:


greetings cards


ceramic mugs


tea towels


pocket mirrors

I am trying to decide my next move with all this now.
It would be really really great to hear any feedback anyone may have about it all so far – thanks!

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10 Responses to “Helen Ward Studio”

  1. Rebecca November 25, 2010 at 10:21 pm #

    These are gorgeous – I love the bug design! Natural-world-type designs often look a bit twee but this lot are super-snazzy 😀

    How exciting to be setting up your own brand. Good luck with it all.

  2. Susie Thomas November 26, 2010 at 2:43 pm #

    Helen I can’t wait until I can buy these, it all looks amazing!! I want a mug and a cushion and teatowels :o) when will you be selling them??
    Well done and good luck!

  3. Liz Constant November 26, 2010 at 11:44 pm #

    Wow, this all looks GORGEOUS! I love the scarab tea towel (will have one please when you’re selling) and the cushions are wicked… I wanted to make it up this year for a nose but it was too far to waddle when people were trekking around our house! x

  4. lucy November 27, 2010 at 3:20 am #

    Hi Helen, I came to see your house last weekend, all the work looked brilliant. Love the Entomology pattern, it would look great on apparel too! Lucy x

  5. Gill December 1, 2010 at 2:06 am #

    I love the heart shaped screen print. Actually really love all of it! Would be interested in when these are available.

  6. birdface December 1, 2010 at 12:21 pm #

    Thank you all so much for your lovely comments!! 🙂
    I haven’t quite decided what the best thing to do about all this is right now.
    I have been wondering about just starting up an etsy shop for it all, but I am a bit concerned that any rash decisions I make about it now may affect other opportunities in the future…
    …then again, how much harm can an etsy shop do??
    I have also been thinking about notonthehighstreet.com – which perhaps might be a better direction to go in¿

    Any other suggestions would be gladly appreciated. It seems a little close to Christmas for all this now, doesn’t it? I kind of wish I’d just sorted it all out in time, but it’s too late for that now really.
    I have found it almost impossible to get reasonably priced tea towels printed, so I definitely need to sort my suppliers out and then go for the plunge and pay for higher orders *gulp*.

    Thanks so much anyway everyone.

    Gill, the screen print is a limited edition of 100 and you could buy one from me directly if you like?
    I can do it for you as £75 unframed – I wouldn’t want to try and post the frame too as the glass is quite big, so I would worry that it may break en route. I had it made to fit a standard Ikea box frame – so hopefully that shouldn’t be too difficult for you to get hold of?
    Let me know if you want one anyway, and I’ll get it sorted 🙂

    Helen x

  7. deena December 8, 2010 at 5:53 pm #

    oh helen! it’s all lovely!!

  8. Jenny Ellory December 11, 2010 at 1:34 am #

    Wow! These look amazing, you’ve done such a good job, and it’s a great progression from your butterfly artworks. Well done!
    I know it costs loads, but when you are confident that you have a larger supply basis, you should save up to do a trade fair and get selling big time! Top Drawer at London and 100% design usually have ‘new comer’ special deals to help you get started, and you could put yourself forward for the competitions they do- if you win an award that gets you publicity there. The cost of the stand is well worth it in the long run- my friend was shocked how many orders she had for her tableware this year.

  9. Jenny Ellory December 11, 2010 at 1:39 am #

    ps, just read your comments, and you wouldn’t have to pay out to produce in bulk until you had paid orders from people at trade fairs- you just need to have a display really!! Etsy is hard because it is so saturated and not many UK buyers, it is mainly USA. Not on the High Street is a good idea. Also,look at this http://www.envelop.eu/ or sell directly to local shops to start off and get money coming in?

  10. birdface December 11, 2010 at 11:19 am #

    Thanks everyone for your comments – and thanks very much, Jenny, for your advice.
    I think you are totally right and I have pretty much written off the idea of Etsy. It probably great for the people who have managed to make a success of it, but there must be so many people who have great stuff and are just slogging away with little result…

    I have been invited by notonthehighstreet.com to have a shop with them and I have pretty much decided to go ahead with this option. It is a great site and there is so much wonderful product on there. There is quite a large fee that you have to pay before you join and several other hoops to jump through before you can actually start selling anything, but it is undoubtably a good company to be associated with. I am sure it will be worth that initial financial output and effort *IF* I can get the product just right.

    I would love to be involved in the trade fairs too – it is currently my goal to be able to be involved in something like Top Drawer – I think I would love it! I see what you are saying about not having to have large orders made until the big buyers start coming in, but my problem is trying to get the product looking right when I am only buying it in smaller quantities. You would have to have all your sample product made with exactly the same quality and colours as when it was all being made in bulk.
    The tea towels for example would need to be screen printed in lots of at least 100 and I have four designs of each – $$$. The samples I have had made already were digitally printed, but the colours were not as good I had hoped (although thankfully they still looked OK!) and this was very expensive. I sold a lot of stuff from the new range at the arts fair, but although the prices were quite high, they were only enough to cover my costs and certainly not enough to make an actual profit. This was fine as I was only doing a bit of market research, but when you consider that anywhere I sell this stuff, I would also having to be giving a percentage to the vendors too – I would be pretty screwed!

    I need to have product printed at a high enough quality so that I can guarantee exact consistency in my colours across the entire range – you wouldn’t BELIEVE how much of a mission it has been just to get to this stage and I have currently hit a brick wall when it comes to how to proceed in a way that I can both afford and deem to be good enough quality. The only way forward I can see now would be to get a business loan and to make a massive financial risk in getting a large range of new stock printed. This then causes a whole new set of problems – where would I store it all apart from anything else???

    Hmm.
    Turns out starting a new business is really hard – who’d of thunk it, eh?
    Perhaps if I sell Jet on ebay, I would have a bit more cash to play with and a lot more time AND I could use the nursery as a store room…

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