Sunday, 21 July 2019

Claire Likes To Doodle Custom Chibi Portrait*

Hi everyone! I have been so looking forward to sharing this post with you all, because I just know you guys are going to LOVE the fantastic artwork I have to show you! I was so delighted when my awesome fellow blogger friend Natalee (be sure to check out her blog here) dropped me an email to tell me that the fabulous Claire from Claire Likes To Doodle wanted to work on a collaboration with me!! I had been following Claire over on her Instagram for months, after falling in love with her super cute art from the first moment it appeared in my suggested feed!  

If you've been a regular reader of my blog for a while now, you'll know how much of a fan I am of all things kawaii, and specifically anything chibi. I know that lots of you come to my blog to get your dose of cuteness overload, and today's post will definitely fulfil those 'AWWW!' needs. Brace yourselves for the adorableness ahead! 

I wanted to start off by telling you all more about Claire and her wonderful artwork. Firstly, Claire is so lovely!! As soon as I started chatting with her, I felt like I'd known her for ages! She's so friendly and really easy to talk to :) Being a fellow nerd means we share a lot of similar interests, including a love for all things cute and chibified. She is also a feminist and spoonie, as well as a first-time mom, and overall just a fabulous person!

When it comes to Claire's artwork, she is self-taught which is absolutely amazing! Not only does she paint portrait commissions, but she started her career as an artist drawing wrestlers in chibi-style, and also does superb fandom related artwork. Additionally, Claire does the most fantastic alterations of Magic the Gathering cards; they are brilliant!! Take a look at some of her incredible work below. 

There's even an opportunity for you to meet Claire and check out more of her art in person, and maybe even get your own chibi portrait commissioned, because she's going to have a stall at the upcoming convention, Not Another Comic Con, being hosted at Aston University, Birmingham next month on Saturday 3rd August!

I am over the moon that Claire so kindly gifted me my very own A5 chibi portrait*. These beautiful commissions are around £30 each and are hand drawn and painted using watercolours. I am a huge fan of watercolour artwork and so I couldn't wait to see the finished result. This was my first ever experience having my portrait painted as well, so to say that I was excited was an understatement, haha!

Before drawing my portrait, Claire discussed with me over email what I was looking for in terms of personalisation, details and anything else that I had in mind. Something that I think is excellent about getting a portrait painted by Claire is that she also incorporates things that reflect your interests and personality. For me that included adding something kawaii into the mix! We exchanged ideas and thought it would be awesome to showcase the two opposite sides of my personality, alternative meets kawaii, and that's exactly what Claire did :) I described and sent several photos of myself, my favourite outfit, my go-to makeup style and some of my favourite plushies! And here is the wonderful portrait that Claire created for me...

A custom chibi portrait by Claire Likes To Doodle

Oh my gosh, seriously though guys... how cute is this portrait!!? It's so gorgeous! Claire did the most spectacular job and I am so happy with what she created! I really like how eye-catching it is, the colours are so bold and vibrant. Watercolour is stunning, and I love the sort of marbling effect that it can create, like on my black leggings. As someone who has never had the greatest self-confidence, seeing the way that Claire has captured my best features makes me look at my new portrait and feel good about myself, which is going to be helpful for my mental health each time I see chibi me :'D 

A custom chibi portrait by Claire Likes To Doodle

I am so impressed with all of the details on my face, such as my snakebite piercings. My eyes are so bright and the eyeshadow that Claire included makes them stand out even more! I am really glad that she chose to draw me with a big grin, as smiling in photos, etc., wasn't always an easy thing for me because one of my insecurities when I was younger was my teeth. It took me a long time to build up the courage to stop posing for pictures with pouted lips or sticking my tongue out, so having a portrait of me smiling and looking so cheerful is a nice reminder of how far I've come :) 

One of the things that I adore about Claire's unique art style, as well as the chibi style in general, is how short and chubby characters/people look. Standing at only 5'2'' and being plus sized, I love that this artwork represents me so well whilst still making me feel cute as heck :p I can't find enough words to express how much I love it! 

A custom chibi portrait by Claire Likes To Doodle

LOOK AT THESE SQUISHY FLUFFY CUTIES! A portrait of me really wouldn't be complete without one of my favourite things in the world, plushies! And so I'm thrilled that Claire decided to add an adorable plushie into each of my hands. The one on the left is actually a personal favourite plush that I own. He's a pastel rainbow alpaca from the Japanese brand Amuse, and his name is Sherbet and he is the goodest, most colourful cuddly friend ever ^.^ 

If you didn't know yet, Vaporeon is my all-time favourite Pokemon; it has been ever since I was around six years old! And yet somehow I still don't own a plushie of Vaporeon!! :O Well, the need is even more mighty now that Claire has helped make my dream a reality by giving chibi portrait me a Vaporeon plush!! The shades of blue that she has used are so pretty, and I love how huggable plush Vaporeon looks. Together, these plushies bring a splash of bright and pastel colours to pop out amongst the darker shades surrounding them, and they make me 'squeee' aloud everytime I see them! :D :D 

As you can see, Sherbet is very pleased with his portrait too XD I thought I'd include a shot of me alongside my custom chibi portrait so you guys can make a comparison. I think it looks just like me! I especially love how Claire has done my hair, it flows in the same way that my hair does IRL, as it's naturally wavy! The other photo I wanted to show you all is of my chibi portrait before it was painted. I was lucky enough to be able to watch Claire painting it on video over on her Twitch channel. Unfortunately, Claire is no longer streaming over on Twitch but it was a very fun experience to be able to see her artwork really come to life right before my eyes! 

A custom chibi portrait by Claire Likes To Doodle

Here's what the print looks like on display! As you can see, it grabs your attention even when surrounded by lots of cuteness! I haven't decided yet whether to frame it and keep it where it is on top of my book sets, or put it up on my art wall, but either way, it's going to look marvellous :) 

I want to say a huge THANKYOU to Claire for working with me, and for making my first experience getting a portrait done so fun!! Head over to Claire's Instagram, Facebook and Twitter to show your support for her outstanding work. Oh, and here's a link to her store. Be sure to look out for the Claire Likes To Doodle stall if you're attending the Not Another Comic Con event this August! If you're interested in getting a commission done for your own chibi portrait, you can contact Claire via social media :) 

You can also find more examples of her work by checking out my wonderful friend Estelle's post, as she's recently worked on a collab with Claire as well! Oh and FYI, the link I shared to Natalee's blog at the start of my post today will lead you to her own post all about Claire's chibi portraits, so go have a read of that too. 

I want to finish up this post by sharing a code that Claire has very kindly provided so that all of my lovely readers can get a discount on their very own commission. Use MONKEY10 to get 10% off! Please let me know if you order yourself a chibi portrait, I'd love to hear all about it! Also, it would be fantastic if you tagged me in a photo when it arrives, so I can see how Claire has brought your personality to life on paper :) (Well technically on card, but that didn't have quite the same ring to it, haha). 

Thankyou for reading! 


What is your favourite thing about my new chibi portrait?

Have you ever had a portrait done before? 

(*) All posts/content marked with an asterisk signify that the item(s) featured have been gifted or sent to me for the purpose of review. I have kindly been sent the product featured in this post in exchange for a review. See my full disclaimer here.

Monday, 15 July 2019

Kenji & Flying Tiger Haul

Hi everyone! Happy Monday! I hope you're all having an awesome start to the week :) Today, I have been trying to endure this sweltering weather! And catch up on my favourite shows, so its been one of those 'lazy' days. I thought I better try to do at least one productive thing today, and finally share a post that so many of you guys requested. If you follow me over on Instagram, you might have seen my posts about my day out on Thursday last week, when I went on a shopping spree in Preston city with my best friend. I was super looking forward to visiting some stores that unfortunately my local town centre doesn't have, and as a consequence I got a little overexcited and spent more than I probably should have. Oops! Although to be honest, I was very much in need of a dose of retail therapy, and I picked up some lovely things. The stores that I was most enthusiastic about going to were Flying Tiger/Tiger and the most adorable store called Kenji, and after seeing me share video snippets on my story, lots of my wonderful friends said that they would love for me to do a haul post, so here we are! Enjoy! 

I absolutely adore both of the stores who's products I am featuring in today's post, mostly because they sell unique and quirky items, that can be more difficult to find unless you shop online. When it comes to the kinds of cutesy stuff that I like, I usually have to purchase them via the internet so it's a lovely change to be able to get them in store, and enjoy the experience of browsing the shelves and filling up a basket. Plus my best friend gets a good laugh out of watching my reactions apparently XD I tend to get very giddy and 'squeeee' a lot when I am surrounded by pretty stationery and adorable products! 

Flying Tiger or just Tiger as it used to be called, is a Danish company that reminds me of Ikea, selling a range of products, from stationery and kitchen and bathroom ware, to children's toys and games, and all kinds of really useful items. Something that very much appeals to me about the store is how many novelty-style products it sells... for example, the first time I visited, I bought a tin case with a handle that was shaped like a tomato with a cute face on XD Yeah, those sorts of things are right up my street! 

Kenji on the other hand is a newer and less-well known company, with only four shops in the North of England, including Preston, Manchester, Warrington & Bury. It is another store that sells a multitude of items, such as kitchen products, accessories, giftware, plushies and my favourite, stationery! And all of them are Japanese inspired. I am just in love with this store, and I really hope that they become more popular and can expand throughout the UK. 

I'll show you all what I picked up at Tiger first! 

How flippin' cute are these two notebooks that I bought!? 

There goes my temporary notebook ban out of the window... I knew it wouldn't last long :D I have so many notebooks that I haven't even written in yet, and I told myself I had to stop buying new ones, but I cannot resist. I just love them so much! I am always writing, but with the amount of notebooks I have, it still seems impossible to use them all. Although, I do have several that I have some sort of attachment to and cannot bring myself to write in them. My fellow notebook hoarders, please tell me I'm not alone in this :') 

My attention was instantly grabbed by the hamster notebook, which is actually an exercise book style of notepad. There were several designs and it was pretty difficult for me not to just buy them all but I was trying so hard not to come home with too many notebooks...what is too many though ;) I chose the yellow one because I am a big fan of the colour, it's so happy and bright, and I love the pink and yellow combo. The main reason I was drawn to this notebook is because seeing it hit me with a wave of nostalgia. If you've ever seen the anime series Hamtaro, then you'll remember the scene on either the first or second episode (but don't quote me on that) when the main human character of the show is shopping for notebooks with hamsters on. Well, seeing this hamster exercise book made that scene immediately pop into my mind, and I had to have it.

I bought the small notebook with beetles on the cover because a) the nature geek in me loves insects, and b) because I'm a sucker for anything colourful. There was actually an entire range of products in store, found across all the different sections, with these beetles on, but I fought the urge to buy more and just stuck to the notebook. Those fabulous rainbow pens were from the LGBT+ Pride section. It was fantastic to see a pride section, selling flags and colourful dinnerware for hosting pride parties. I wanted to pick up something and chose these pens (one for me and one for my friend), because just look at those pom-poms and vibrant colours!!

Just look at that bunny bead set! Yes, I'm 26 years old and yes, I had no second thoughts about putting this bead set straight into my basket :D When I said that I was a fan of novelty-shaped things, I meant it. The fact that the beads came in a rabbit-shaped container is what made me have a mighty need; getting all of those lovely, bright beads is just an added bonus. I'm looking forward to sitting in the garden in the sunshine making bracelets, and I love that I can re-use the container for storing little bits and bobs after. 

Something cool about Tiger is that it has a snacks section and there's some really interesting things available that I need to try some time, but as soon as I spotted a pack of six stroopwafels for just £2, I couldn't say no. If you've never tried these scrumptious Dutch caramel wafers before, you really need to! 

I've been after some food shaped erasers for a while now, to use for my toy photography hobby. For anyone who's new to my blog, I am a collector of vinyl figures and toys, and alongside that I do toy photography. I have a dedicated Instagram if you'd like to check it out here. I want to start creating my own set-up's with props, and I thought that novelty erasers could be incorporated into this, e.g. for a picnic scene. I love that this little set from Tiger came in a container too, so I won't loose them. I used to own quite a few of these cute erasers as a teenager but I lost them all! So the plastic tub will definitely come in handy. 

Aren't these just the best highlighters that you've ever seen? I know that they are for me! Something that's amazing about Tiger is how cheap their products are! This pack of highlighters was the most pricey individual item that I bought, and they were only £3! I have always been curious about pastel-coloured highlighters, whether the shades would be very visible and such, so I thought why not finally find out! If I didn't like them, then I could still keep these little ice lolly shaped ones for summery photography props or whatever. I am a lover of pastel colours and I like mini highlighters that are easy to fit into a pencil case, but I'd never seen anything like these before so I had to get them. Which is your favourite colour? I love the blue one, as when used it looks more like a mint shade :)

Apologies for bombarding you all with photos of stickers, but I wanted to show what each sheet looked like close up VS trying to squash all six into one shot. Who else loves stickers? They are another stationery item that I have managed to build up quite a collection of over the last ten years or so, but I do actually use them, mostly for when I'm writing letters or cards to my penpals and loved ones. Tiger have a marvellous deal, 2 for £1 which I am over the moon with, considering how many stickers you get, the quality of them and the fact that you can see how much thought has gone into their design. 

I hardly ever see stickers of sea creatures so that's the main reason I chose those, and also because they are so colourful and cheerful! I picked up the dogs for my friend, the cat sheets because cats are amazing, and the reptile one because reptiles are my favourite group of animals! Which is your favourite sticker sheet of the bunch? 

So that's everything that I purchased from Tiger (other than two things that I bought for my niece). I've just realised that I didn't tell you how much some of the items cost, so I'll list those before showing you my Kenji haul :). The Pride pens were £1 each, the erasers were £2, the hamster exercise book was £2 as well as the beetle one, too. Oh, and the bead set was £2. 

I only did a small haul at Kenji, compared to Tiger because I had spent quite a lot of my budget at this point and still had to get lunch, as well as go back to pick up some pretty desk drawers that I'd spotted earlier in the day at TG Hughes for £14.99. Again, the notebooks stole my otaku heart, and thank goodness that I had a budget as there were so many amazing ones to choose from! It was tough to choose and I swapped things in and out of my basket several times as I walked around the store, haha! 

I picked up this mini notebook with an alpaca/llama on the cover solely because alpacas have been one of my favourite animals since I was about 14, and they look especially cute in designs that are inspired by Japanese and Korean animation. Seriously, Japan makes the most fabulous alpaca products, and I have accumulated a fair few alpaca plushies by the Japanese brand, Amuse :D This notebook was £2. 

The other two notebooks that I couldn't leave the store without  were £2.50 each, and oh my gosh, I LOVE LOVE LOVE the designs/prints on their covers. The price is such a bargain in my opinion because the quality is fantastic and the covers are so incredibly sweet, and are printed on the front and back of the notebook. Also, I didn't realise until I took the notebooks out of the plastic film they were sealed in before taking these photos, that the texture of the cover is lovely. I don't know what it is about inanimate objects given cute faces, but I can't help but adore them! There was another version of these notebooks available too that I so wanted to get, a lilac one with another sky/galaxy theme on. I have a feeling that the notebooks I bought from Kenji might end up being added to the stash of ones that I cannot bring myself to use in case I spoil them. That's how delighted I am with them! 

The final items from my Kenji haul are a set of floral tealights and a tiny porcelain duck. Haha, I know that the latter is very random, but let me explain! When I was a child, I used to collect small ornaments, and I would buy them each time I visited the market in my hometown. Even though I don't collect them anymore (I still kept my childhood collection, of course!), I just think its a part of me now to be drawn to little ornaments and sometimes I can't resist buying them. I obviously needed this little puddle duck in my life and I will name him and he will be the best duckie friend ever :3 

Lastly, I picked up this pack of four flower shaped tealights candles simply because I really liked the yellow one that looks like a sunflower and at only a £1 per set, it was an offer I couldn't pass up on. I really like how each tealight has a completely different design and colour, and not only are they functional, but they also make great props. It's all about the props when you're a blogger XD Another thing that I think is superb about this product is how simply yet nicely it is packaged... I'm lovin' the flower tie. They would make great gifts :) 

Well, we've reached the end of my haul. I hope that you all enjoyed reading, even if I did get a little rambley in parts :D I cannot recommend these stores enough, they have something to suit everyone's taste. Be sure to check out the Kenji and Flying Tiger websites for more information. I'd love to know if you guys have visited either of these stores, and what you bought so please let me know in the comments! 

Thankyou for reading! 


What is your favourite item that I mentioned in my post? 

Have you bought anything nice lately? Tell me all about it :) 

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