This week’s Meet the Maker is all about our talented Illustrators and artists, who create unique, quirky and interesting pieces including; art prints, jewellery, home-ware and gifts. We chatted to Beth of Beth Barnett Illustration & Claire of Just Daydreaming, about how they started their businesses, the processes they use, and the highs and lows they have faced.
Pedddle: Tell us a bit about your business and how it started – e.g. where did you first become interested in producing your products/learn the skills it takes to produce them?
Beth Barnett Illustration: I started out when I lived in Oxford – I was inspired by the architecture there, so started doing drawings of some of the buildings, and was surprised to find people wanted to buy them! In 2020, I decided to leave my job and try my hand at running my own small business – selling prints and paper goods featuring my illustrations. I’m still learning so much each day: about how to run a business; how to improve my drawing; and how to juggle everything while maintaining my sanity, but it’s going ok so far!
Just Daydreaming: I started Just Daydreaming back in 2012, after graduating from uni and alongside working in a design studio. I didn’t want to loose my creativity for drawing and handmade items so I started illustrating greeting cards and designing and making acrylic jewellery and my collections grew from there. I set up an Etsy shop and I started exhibiting at local craft fairs to meet customers and see what was most popular with the pubic. I spent some time creating brochures to take to local shops and was lucky enough to get stocked in some galleries in Brighton’s lanes and also Brighton Museum & Pavilion shops. I also entered competitions and I won a card competition with Printed.com and was highly commended in the top 4 entries for a card competition with M&S as well – so these helped me build up a following on socials and gave me to confidence to carry on expanding my range.
Pedddle: Following on from the first question, we’d love to know more about your process, the materials you use and what you’re inspired by.
Beth Barnett Illustration: I do most of my illustrations on Procreate, which is a digital drawing app – I use an iPad Pro and an Apple pencil. Then I transform them into various products – whether its greetings cards, post card sets or prints. I’m really inspired by architecture, nature and education – so most of my work is focused on one of those three areas!
Just Daydreaming: I first started back in 2012 illustrating greeting cards. I drew these by hand and then scanned them in to add digital elements to finish the designs. When taking part in a craft fair that year a creative on the stall next to me said my designs would work really well laser cut in acrylic, and from there my adventures into acrylic jewellery were born. I launched my first whimsically themed jewellery collection in summer 2012 and dragged friends and family along to a small photo-shoot to model the pieces. In 2013 I collaborated with local clothing store Flax to exhibit at High Street Fashion Week London with 6 models wearing our pieces on the catwalk. My designs are mostly inspired by my seaside surroundings, fairy tales and folklore stories, motivational quotes, and nostalgic childhood memories and trends. My acrylic jewellery is all designed by hand by myself, and then drawn digitally and laser cut locally in Brighton. My cards are all still hand drawn by myself as well, mostly via my iPad nowadays as I love all the different brush effects you can get via that. I use only UK printers and everything is printed sustainably and send in recyclable or biodegradable packaging.
Pedddle: Do you remember your first selling experience?
Beth Barnett Illustration: I remember my first commission – it was to do a series of drawings of an Oxford college for an anniversary festival they were having. When I think back, I seemed to take it in my stride more than I would now! I also should have charged far more… but I think that’s just part of the learning process.
Just Daydreaming: Yes I took part in a craft fair in Brighton and was so nervous to meet people in person and if they’d like my products. Luckily it went well and I got some lovely customers and great feedback. I also met some other lovely creatives that I am still friends with to this day.
Pedddle: What challenges did you face when you first launched your business?
Beth Barnett Illustration: I think my answer might be the same as most recently-established small businesses: the pandemic. On the one hand, this gave me lots of time to focus on the business, without distraction, but on the other, it’s made it so hard to connect with other creatives, to meet customers and to network. That’s actually one of the reasons I joined Pedddle, to start building a better network.
Just Daydreaming: I think the main challenge was knowing what would sell and be most popular and how much stock to order to make sure you have enough to sell but not overspend on stock to start with so you end up making a loss. Even now thats still a tricky balance to try and get right but overtime I think you learn a bit more about what your audience will be most likely to buy and what things will sell well, especially seasonal items such as Christmas gifts.
Pedddle: What’s next for your business this year – anything you’re planning, looking forward to, are there any new products/ranges etc.
Beth Barnett Illustration: Over the next year it’s all about building up – more sales events, more social media, more products. Hopefully getting out there and meeting people and getting some in person feedback on my work.
Just Daydreaming: Lots of plans. I have been working on lots of new pieces over the summer which have just launched including some new ’The Ocean is Calling’ sea themed prints to highlight the importance of our oceans. I’ve also been working on some new Taylor Swift themed postcard sets ahead of her Red Taylor’s Version this November. I’ve also got a bigger than ever Halloween collection launching in September and am currently working on some new Christmas pieces including acrylic decorations, cards, prints, stickers, stationery and fun stocking fillers. You can explore all my latest products via my Etsy shop Just Daydreaming: https://www.etsy.com/uk/shop/JustDaydreamingShop