Creative Inspirations: Yellowstone Art Boutique

For some reason I’ve been finding it hard to blog lately. So today, I’ve decided to focus on the Creative Inspirations series which is in fact the longest running series on my blog! I started it in 2012 to share my favourite makers and creative people with you all.

Today it’s the turn of Yellowstone Art Boutique which was launched by Hannah Stoney in 2011. The shop stocks a wonderful collection of creative work by British artists from a wooden cabin in Staffordshire. Hannah’s collection of bicycle print textiles and ceramics first caught by eye, which then led me to discover their online shop filled with amazing things! I hope you will enjoy this interview today.Creative-Inspirations-Yellowstone-Art-BoutiqueC: Tell us a little about yourself and how Yellowstone Art Boutique got started?
H: I knew before I went to University that I wanted to open a creative space one day. Back then I thought it might be more of a fine art gallery but over the years my love to handmade and craft developed. I graduated from Cheltenham with a First Class Honours in Painting & Drawing and then worked in a printmaking gallery in London to learn a little bit more about sales and the business side of running a gallery. I started writing a business plan and worked toward opening my own shop, then in March 2011 it became a reality. It was such a long time coming that I could hardly believe it when I had an actual shop! I’m passionate about championing British design and so sell work by trained British makers in Yellowstone Art Boutique.

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C: You are located in a very skilled area of the UK, what influenced your decision to only stock British artists?
H: Being in Stoke-on-Trent is amazing as so many local customers are from very creative and skilled families. It means that our ceramics have to the best of the best as our customers really know their stuff! Saying that, when I opened there was very little creativity in the area so local people loved what I was doing. Now lots of events, shops, galleries and even TV shows (The Great Pottery Throwdown) are based in Staffordshire. I’m proud to have a store in the ‘creative county’- what could be more apt!

I think it’s important to be heralding British made work as there is so much diversity and I love supporting home grown talent. I don’t need to look elsewhere and our customers would much rather buy from British makers.

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C: Tell us about your typical day in balancing a successful creative boutique and being a designer.

H: It sounds cliché but no two days are the same. Let’s just say I never get bored and I regularly forget to eat because I’m so busy (I’m working on imposing actual work times and break times but I’m finding it hard!). I thrive on doing a million things at once, even though it drives those around me crazy. So today I’m working in the shop- I’ve framed 5 pictures, packed some online orders, served customers, replied to emails, hovered up, cleaned the windows and an order has just arrived for me to check, price and display. Who knows what will happen this afternoon!
A typical day in the studio for me involves lots of spreadsheets and head scratching. Then designing commissions and Wedding stationery for clients. Like I said before it’s always a mixed bag though, and you never know what a day will entail.

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C: What are the biggest challenges that come with being an employer?
H: Being an employer is both fantastic and terrifying. My team are incredible so they make managing them very easy but the legalities of it can get a little complicated. The shop (and our 3 online shops) are open 7 days a week so I physically couldn’t do it all on my own. After 5 years I’m finally coming round to the idea that I can delegate some jobs and the world won’t end!

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C: Your small team at Yellowstone includes your Mum, how do you get on working together?
H: Mum and I have a brilliant relationship so it actually works very well. We do things in different ways but we rarely work in the shop together so it doesn’t cause any problems. We are on the same wavelength though so often don’t really have to explain things. At the end of the day, we keep it professional at work when we need to though, and I unfortunately for her, I’m technically her boss so I get the final say! The only downside is that we talk work lots of the time and drive our family crazy. We find it hard to switch off from Yellowstone mode.

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C: Congratulations on recently celebrating 5 years of Yellowstone Art Boutique! Can you share with us what the biggest learning curve has been for you as a shop owner?
H: Thank you! I think managing staff has been the biggest learning curve. Everything has evolved massively and I think I’m a much better boss now I’ve made so many mistakes.

I wrote this blog post about the 10 things I’ve learnt from business which still rings true. One of my biggest tips is to always have new stock and change displays. We aim to have new products every time customers visit. We never want to rest on our laurels.

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C: I’m sure you have to wear many hats as a small business owner including marketer, visual merchandiser, stockist and designer. Which areas of your business do you love and which are a struggle (mine is definitely accounts!)?
H: I love being a buyer and finding new work for the shop. And I love creating new work and seeing it right through to production and then selling it myself the shop- it’s very rewarding. The struggles for me are rotas, sorting out staff holidays etc, accounts..! But I have a brilliant accountant who has got me very organised so it’s less of a headache now. I’ve always been quite academic despite being creative, so I find bit of paperwork therapeutic. Paying the bills, less so…

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C: Any tips for designer makers looking to get their work stocked in shops?
H: YES. Look on the shops website as most have them have a preferred method of contact. For us it is via email and I’ve even written guidelines about what info to send us.

  • Personalise the email to the buyer (you’ll find their name on the website or call the shop to find out) and write a little comment about their shop.
  • Don’t send huge jpeg files or wetransfer files. Just small images and a link to your website or online shop will be perfect.
  • Be friendly! It’s not a job interview so you want your personality to come across if you want to work with them.

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C: Lastly, can you share with us your favourite designer maker at the moment? Who has caught your eye that we need to find out more about?!
H: My favourite designer at the moment is Paper Moon. We’ve sold Nicola’s work for a few years but her prints just get better and better. The pastel colours are just ticking all of our boxes at the moment!

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What a amazing shop eh? I’m so pleased Yellowstone are selling online so we can all enjoy these beautiful ceramics and prints! Don’t forget to check out the website and to go give them a follow on social too. A big thanks to Hannah for getting involved with the series today!

If there are any creatives inspiring you that you want to find out more about, do let me know and I’ll invite them to join us here on the blog.

All images in this post are courtesy of Trove Photography.

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Creative Inspirations: Cloth And Candy

Happy Friday everyone! Today I’m excited to be interviewing Farzana Chowdhury (Fuz) from online fabric store Cloth and Candy. What caught my eye about Cloth and Candy was the contemporary fabrics on offer and the gorgeous patterns they stock. I’m now thinking of sewing a skirt or a bag as they have left me pretty inspired!

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• Tell us a little about yourself and how Cloth and Candy started.

Well, I guess it all started whilst studying for my final year exams at university almost 15 years ago, I decided my dream was to one day open up a shop full of beautiful things. Not quite the expected path when you are about to graduate with a geeky science degree! The next ten years or so saw me move into the retail industry to learn about how a business works. I’ve worked with some incredibly creative people and such gorgeous products, but it was a trip to Pakistan in search of my wedding dress that got me hooked on textiles being the business I wanted to be in. I visited the most amazing store which had hundreds of handmade rugs and throws that were just beautiful. So here I am now, a few years later, with a strong fascination in colour, pattern and texture, with an online store selling a fabulous collection of cottons with an emphasis on just that!

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•What inspired you to start an online business and what were the challenges you faced?

As with a lot of small business start-ups, I didn’t have the biggest budget in the world so I had to get creative! I sought advice and did lots of research into how I could do this on my own. I had to learn a LOT, from basic accounting and legal stuff to the big one, building the website. It was a real labour of love and I am pretty chuffed about how it turned out….*cheesy grin*.

On the day I launched, I remember my heart was pounding so hard with excitement and nerves all at once.. then there it was, I had gone LIVE! My dream business began that day and then two weeks later, I faced another challenge… terrible morning sickness!! I found out I was pregnant and in a few months time, life is about to get very busy indeed but it’s very exciting! As for coping with running a business and having a baby? Well, a taxi driver in Marrakech once said to me, “when you jump in the river, you just have to go with the flow” …wise words quite frankly!

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•A lot of your fabrics are unusual prints, how do you select what to sell?

Choosing is NOT easy.. there are far too many amazing fabrics out there, so I always go with my gut instinct. Saying that, I put in a lot of time into researching what’s new and keeping my eyes open for inspiration around me, be it on my travels, from magazines or the internet, shopping trips and even a little bit style stalking on the streets of my city, London. Fabrics are chosen for their striking designs, colour and quality and most of all, we stay true to our motto, “if we don’t love it, we won’t stock it!” .

•What is your top tip for storing fabrics?

Oh, I’m such a fabric hoarder it’s unbelievable…my husband is always asking why on earth I need more? As if there’s an answer to that question?! I’ve picked up fabric from all over the world and the collection keeps on growing! One day I’ll get round to making things out of all the lovely fabrics I still have left over. I think the main thing for me is to keep them out of direct light – the last thing you need is for exposed piles of fabric to get faded along the edges! I generally keep all my bolts in closed bookcases – as a tip, the Ikea Billy bookcase is the perfect size and you can get doors for them if you want 😉 For smaller pieces of fabrics try wrapping them around rectangles of card or plastic – then you can arrange them on a shelf and be able to see exactly what you have at a glance.

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•Can you give us any sneak peeks or exclusives for new products coming up? 

Ah ha… well, yes I can! l I have a plan you see, and that plan is to expand into the home decor market. Watch this space as next year, you will see gorgeous items perfect for your home that sit within our brand’s contemporary style. Don’t worry, we won’t be giving up on our lovely fabrics!! They were always going to be just the start of something we hope you’ll find very exciting…

For those of you who have read to the end YAY! You are the lucky ones as Fuz has kindly put together a giveaway of fabric including 8 fat quarters of premium cotton worth £30! Just head on over to my Instagram to be in with a chance of winning.

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A big thank you to Fuz for this awesome interview and giveaway!

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Creative Inspirations: Daphne Rosa

Today’s post is an interview with someone who I am super grateful to know in real life! Kate and I met at a craft fair about 18 months ago and I’ve been so inspired by her wonderful fabric creations ever since. We meet regularly for biz chats and brunch and to geek out with our planners. Here’s a little creative inspiration from the fabulous creator behind Daphne Rosa!

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Tell us a bit about yourself and what you do. How did Daphne Rosa come about?

Well hi everyone, I’m Kate and I make fabric flowers! I am also a teacher for part of the week and it was always the plan to teach and then be creative on the side, but as many of you may know, especially if you are a teacher yourself, there is little to no time for anything else! So in 2013 I decided to go part-time at school so I could really focus on starting something, although I didn’t at that point know what that something was. After several weeks of thinking, brainstorming, sketching… some of my university friends came to visit to help me make some fabric flowers for my wedding… can you see where this is going?! It was during that weekend of pyjamas, doritos & chick flicks while making my wedding bouquet the lightbulb moment happened and I realised I had found what I loved to make, and DaphneRosa was born!

How gorgeous do Kate and her hubby look on their winter wedding day?!

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What does a working day look like in the Daphne Rosa studio?

I try to get admin/emails/not so exciting but essential jobs out of the way first thing with a cup of tea which then leaves me the rest of the day to be creative! I am very lucky to have a studio in my garden which is where the real magic happens! However tempting it is I do always try to shower and get dressed so that I feel like I am going to work, although I’m not afraid to admit that there have been plenty of days when the postman has caught me in my pyjamas! Recently I have been developing some new products so that I can offer pretty things to everyone, regardless of whether you are getting married or not and loved working on some lovely orders for Mothers Day last week. However this week’s focus has been some gorgeous lemon and ivory flowers for a bride to be getting married in May and I already can’t wait to see them finished!

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Where do you find inspiration for your products? Do you have lots of seasonal flowers you draw from?

I tend to get inspired more by fashion and the world around me. I do love real flowers and love it when someone wants me to design some fabric versions of flowers they love, but what really gets me going is colour and print. I think it’s great that I can offer flowers with a difference and really like to exploit this to its fullest whenever possible, for instance I am currently sourcing fabric for a bouquet with an American theme… watch this space, it’s going to be awesome!

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I am completely in love with all of your fabric choices and embellishments. Where are your favourite places to source supplies/go shopping?

I do a lot of shopping for resources on line as it’s hard to find the time to get out and about to browse at the moment! I did recently take a trip down to Walthamstow market and if you are a lover of fabric and have never been you should! Imagine affordable fabric in every colour and print imaginable, it really is fantastic! I only stopped because I couldn’t carry anymore! Here’s a great link to a map for the key places to stop at…

If you could only use one fabric for the rest of your life, what would it be?

Wow what a question! Well it would have to be synthetic as I love the ability to manipulate it with heat (big lover of my blow torch). It would also need to have some metallic in it somewhere as I struggle not to include a bit of sparkle in everything that I make!

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The core of your business is making beautiful floral pieces for the wedding market. What is the best thing about working with a bride and groom on their special day?

I know weddings aren’t for everyone but I just love them! Being at wedding fairs and getting to spend my day chatting to excited couples about all their plans for their big day is definitely one of my favourite parts of my job. I know from experience how important the people you work with for your wedding day are and it’s a real privilege when someone decides they want you to be part of it. I love that I get to create something special just for them that no one else will have and that they get to keep them forever, always popular for grooms that their money lasts a bit longer! Recently I had a bride and groom come and visit the studio to talk colours and style which was fab too!

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I am so happy to have finally got my hands on a Daphne Rosa floral crown and pom pom ring! What was your inspiration for branching out into the accessories market? How have you found it so far?

Having developed accessories for the bridal market I could see an easy transition to accessories for everyone, why should brides get all the fun?! So I began with our flower headbands and crowns which have now lead to pompom rings and more to come! It’s been great to be able to offer products that everyone can enjoy. Just as with weddings I think everyone deserves to feel special and they seem to have been popular so far!

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You recently joined the planner gang! How are you finding your Filofax experience so far? Has it helped your business in any way?

I LOVE my Filofax! I was a bit intimidated by the whole concept at the beginning, there just seemed so many options and ways to do it, but once I started I wondered how I had existed without it before?! It is so fantastic to finally be able to have all of my organisation/endless lists all in one place and in a logical format. I even asked for one for my birthday this month… this must be what your thirties are for!

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Lastly, what’s next for Daphne Rosa? Any projects or new products we can see a sneak peek of?

Well lots of wedding bookings already this year so there will be some lovely new bouquets and buttonholes to share soon. The development of the accessories range is my primary focus at the moment so there may be some bracelets and necklaces to join our pompom rings in the etsy shop soon! I am also working closely with a fabulous illustrator on some different products to come later this year so it’s all go, watch this space!

Thanks so much for hanging out here on Claireabellemakes Kate! I would definitely recommend keeping up with Daphne Rosa on the links below, you wont be disappointed!

Website | Twitter | Instagram

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 * Photos in this post have been provided by Daphne Rosa. Please do not use without permission.

Creative Inspirations: Hester’s Handmade Home

It’s been quite a while since I added a post to the Creative Inspiration series, but today I’d like to introduce Hester! I’ve become a huge fan of DIY You Tube Channels and Hester shares weekly craft videos. Read on for my interview with her.

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  • Tell us about yourself and blog

Hello, I’m Hester and run www.hestershandmadehome.com  a craft blog that I started at the beginning of this year. I’ve been blogging for a while but decided to give the craft section of my blog it’s own place.  I make craft videos and post a new tutorial every Thursday on my YouTube channel, Handmadehome. I like to focus on crafts that are simple to make, are frugal and have an element of up cycling. You can also find my tutorials in Reloved magazine. 

  • What inspired you to start a YouTube channel for DIYs? Tell us about the process of making a video.

I started my craft blog after a friend visited my house and saw all the decorations and furniture I made myself and told me I should blog about those as he found my home very inspiring. The YouTube channel was a logical step to show my crafts, especially after my cousin (a YouTube specialist and film maker) kept telling me the future of blogging is in videos, he bugged me for years so I finally gave in 🙂

The making of a tutorial can be anything from one hour to a full day’s work.  I think of a craft I want to show and set up my camera. I always try to film in daylight as the look of my site is fresh, airy and natural. I film all the steps for the tutorial and an opener and closing bit of me talking to the camera. Then I load it all into my laptop and start editing. I try to keep my videos between one and two minutes as most craft videos are very long and dare I say boring. I’m trying to make mine a bit more to the point and quick.  

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  • I’m obsessed with my home city of Cambridge. Tell us a bit about where you live and how it inspires you.

I live at the beach and that reflects in my home, I decorated my house in a Scandinavian beach house look. Think natural wood, white tones and blue hues. All very plain but with hints of colour and texture. If you want to have a look around go to the ‘about me’ section of my website. You see the beach influence in everything I make as well; they have a relaxed feel to it. And there is a lot of blue 😉 Might have to go on a blue detox soon! I’m trying to give my website the same airy, beachy look my house has by trying to keep everything light and fresh. Hence me trying to photograph and film everything in daylight.

I love living by the beach, if you have writers block there is nothing better to clear your mind then a nice beach walk. Staring out to the waves, enjoying the sunshine and a cup of coffee in hand you’ll be sure inspiration will hit you 😉

 

  • Do you have an interior background and how does this influence the DIYs you share and create?

Sorry to disappoint but I don’t have an interior background. I always had a passion for interior design, I must have been the only toddler that didn’t want to be a princess or a nurse, I wanted to be an interior designer :-).  But I ended up as a makeup artist doing hair and makeup for photo shoot, still creative but in a whole different field.  I’ve always liked crafting; I grew up in a very creative household and was always making things. The love for crafting rekindled after decorating my home last year. Out of budget reasons I decided to make most of the furniture myself. I love up cycling, making something out of things you already have. I’m no eco warrior but I do think its crazy people throw so many perfectly good furniture pieces away. It’s also so easy to make your own soft furnishings and small furniture bits, that’s what I’m trying to show on Hester’s Handmade Home anybody can craft and it doesn’t cost a lot of time or money. Just find the right tutorial for you and you can make anything!

  • Can you share some of your top tips for crafters?

Just do!! If you have an idea, think about how your going to make it or look at a tutorial, and then just start. If your craft goes wrong just stop and start over. The amount of times I heard you can’t make that, and I thought; yes I can! Just do, if it doesn’t work out, take it apart, rethink and start over. I must say I don’t do anything that involves electrics as for that you do need to be educated. But decorating your home, making small bits and reworking your furniture, it’s all possible!

  • If you could meet any creative alive or dead, who would it be and why?

I think it has to be Jim Henson, the creator of the Muppets. To have such a creative mind you can think of all the Muppet stories and jokes. And to create the first puppets out of carpet pieces and golf balls, amazing!!  You might have guessed my love for the Muppets if you follow my blog and especially my Instagram as you would have spotted Kermit the Dog, my little Jack Russell. 

  • Finally, one craft only for the rest of your life, what would it be?

Tricky one as I use so many different techniques and materials in my makes. I might have to choose fabrics as you can mould them into so many different things. Dye, bleach, print, sew, make soft furnishings, canvasses, covers etc.  Mean question but yes fabric crafts.

Thank you so much for stopping by today Hester! It’s been great to get to know you a bit more and I encourage all the Claireabellemakes readers to subscribe to you on You Tube!

You can see my latest video DIY for Hester’s channel here. I’d love to know what you think.

Toodles!

Claire

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Creative Inspirations: Blue Eggs and Tea

A short while ago, I posted a video reviewing the work of some very talented UK Illustrators on Etsy.

One of the Etsy stores was the beautiful Blue Eggs and Tea. Today’s Creative Inspirations post is an interview with the talented lady behind the drawings, Ruth. Enjoy!

Ruth of Blue Eggs and Tea

Blue Eggs and Tea Illustration

  • Tell us all a little about yourself and how Blue Eggs and Tea (BEaT) began.

Hi Claire. I started Blue Eggs and Tea (BEaT) on the 10th March 2013, and haven’t looked back since. Before that I had been doodling and posting them on Instagram, thinking nothing of it, but then people started saying ‘you should do greetings cards’ and although I ignored this for a little while, in the end I thought why not! One thing to know about me is that I am quite impulsive and overtly decisive. I go with my instinct on things, and I’m not afraid to take a punt. I like change. I’d wanted my own business for years – but then suddenly this all just happened. I don’t have an arts background – actually, I’m a scientist. But my love has always been for that space in between the two. Writing is important to me – I like to write poetry with a strong scientific influence as well as draw.

  • Do you have a dedicated workspace or studio?

I wish! No, I have a little house, which is only just big enough for my cats and and fish and better half, and all our stuff. I have a spare room and this is my nest. I daren’t call it a studio. In the near future we’ll probably move, and then I hope to have a space that starts life as my studio with that intention. I think I’ll know I’ve made it when I have a studio. Ideally, it would be separate from the house at the end of a garden where I can see birds, but I’m not fussy. It’s not about the workspace, it’s about what happens in it.

Original Bird Illustration

  • I loved your recent blog post on balancing a creative life with a day job. What is your top tip for people wishing to start their own business?

Oh yikes. I have many tips! I think I need to write a very long post on it. Everything is at risk of becoming a cliché, and so you have to give advice, but also show it in action. You can spend a lot of your life waiting for everything to be just right, waiting for the planets to align before you say ‘i’m going to try it’ and categorically I believe this is a waste of precious time. If you can start without bankrupting yourself, and you have the support of those you share your life with, then I would say get on with it! In that case, the worst that can happen is that is doesn’t! And then you go back to the drawing board. You have to take risks in life, and you have to trust in the customer who will buy your product or service. You may not understand your magic, but if people want what you have then you have something worth sharing.

The Original Blue Egg Brooch Pin

Blue Eggs and Tea Brooch Pin
  • I’m a bit nosey, so I love to learn about creative processes. How do you begin to work on new design concepts? Are you inspired by anything in particular?

I tend to sit down and start drawing. Maybe I have decided what bird it will be. I position it in the middle of the page, or thereabouts and then I just do what comes into my head. I don’t think too much consciously. But clearly something is going on up there. At other times I magic up an idea and rush to draw it. It is like that – magic. If I try and think then it doesn’t happen. The words always come last. It’s like naming a poem or a novel – you do it and then you name it, and then you know it’s finished.

In my head, I live in a whimsical world of rabbits and birds and other creatures talking to each other. It’s animals that pull the levers! At least this is the standing joke. But I’m also acutely aware of people and the lives they lead, the struggles, the ups and downs. I worked for the Samaritans for a couple of years – and this made me really aware of the lives of others. I have a great love for people, and each of my illustrations says something about that love. So, whilst birds are important to me, there is a lot of personification happening. Actually, my work is a way to reach people, not to show them that I like birds. I hope it goes a little deeper than a show and tell. In this way, I would mostly align my inspiration with Dr Suess. There is so much to learn about morals and life in his books. My favourite is Did I Ever Tell You How Lucky You Are? It has set me up with a guilt-complex for life!

Are You Lost Bue Eggs and Tea

  • Recently I purchased some prints from your Etsy store and I’m amazed that your drawings are mostly digital as they look like watercolours. How do you ensure the quality of your work stays so high?

Quality is the absolute must for my business. Without it, it’s just tatty bird scribbles, and money is too tight for most people to insult them with that. I take as much time on my illustrations digitally as I would with real paint out of a tube. I draft it, I work it, I redo it, I add to it. I shelve it and return to it. I do it again. Nothing leaves my work area until I know the product is right. I have recycled a lot of paper through trial and error. This is where there isn’t any magic. I only use the highest quality paper, so that you get more than a print – and this is the beauty of digital watercolour and ink – every single print I send out looks better than the original. You can’t say that with paint. The texture comes to life, the lines, the colour…it’s all made better by the realisation on paper. You have to love what you do, and love the people who are investing time, money and effort in supporting you – when you love all of that then you only want to give your best.

Blue Eggs and Tea Brooches

  • Can you share with us any exclusives for BEaT? Any upcoming products or events?

I always have a commission or two in the pipeline. Currently, I have some wedding invitation designs to work on. I’m also in the final stages of a pretty decent wholesale deal. On top of that I am setting up a Not on The High Street shop – they were kind enough to let me in – and working on some Christmas designs! I might try and sleep after that, which is an event for me!

  • And lastly, a silly question. If you could be a super hero for the day, what powers would you have and why?

You really have to ask? Fly. Obviously.

Thank you so much Ruth for sharing your inspiration and lovely lovely shop with us today. Here’s a little peek of some of the Blue Eggs and Tea prints I have displayed in my craft studio.

Blue Eggs and Tea Prints

Whimsical Mouse Cartoon Bicycle - Illustration

Birds and Blossom Illustration

Toodles!

Claire

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