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