Creating art or illustrations is such a special talent; the amount of thought, time, effort and detail that go into creating unique and wonderful pieces is exceptional, and even greater when it is used to make others happy. For this week’s Meet the Maker on Pedddle, we had a chat to some of our superbly talented artists’ and illustrators, discussing their individual journeys’ to creating their small businesses, first experiences selling at markets and motivation during the pandemic.
Images in order of appearance: Floral painted Gift Box by Teodora Paintings, Libra Goddess by Autumn Bella Designs, ‘Stay Wild, Child’ Jungle Print by Out of Ink Studio, Peacock Art Print by Gentangle Designs, and Crazy Plant Lady hand illustrated print by Little Posy Print Company
Pedddle: How/when did you being your journey to creating and selling your products?
Teodora Paintings: I have started over 10 years ago when I went through some changes in my life and I needed a hobby to get my mind off things. I have always painted as a hobby, on and off, but in 2010 I took it more seriously. After creating the first collection of mixed media paintings in which I incorporated some fabrics, I started to show it to the world and put it up for sale. Luckily for me, as a declared introvert, I found Folksy, an online selling platform that was great! I find it hard to cope with markets and I would never go door to door to approach art galleries.
Autumn Bella Designs: I did the first couple of illustrations about 6 years ago, these were a Panda and Penguin for my sister’s baby shower… the baby was named Autumn Bella and this is where my business name came from! After these I started doing a few other bits for friends and family, then about a year later I started thinking about making a larger range of products and start selling!
Out of Ink Studio: I started Out Of Ink Studio a little bit by accident a couple of years ago when I was creating a inital print for my home and I showed it to a friend and she said she would buy two. After that the seed was sown and I began to think of it as a business.
Gentangle Designs: I started @gentangledesigns about 2.5 years ago as a little side hustle. I kind of forgot I could draw (even though I have an unused degree in graphic design) and that I enjoyed it, so I just decided to start up one day and put it up on Instagram and well, here I am! I started off with just selling art prints and coasters and have grown my product ranges over time, once I established what worked. For now, it’s still a side hustle. I’m about to start a full-time job, but I love doing it so much, that I figure I’ll just have to teach myself to draw in my sleep!
Little Posy Print Company: My journey has taken a few twists and turns along the way. I had my eldest son at the same time as I was doing my final major project and final show at uni (I had him in a car seat in the studio while I was setting up my show) so for a few years I had to get a ‘real job’ because nappies cost a lot! I started to create again in the evenings when my husband was still at work and my son was asleep. It was 2009 and the credit crunch was hitting hard so small home businesses were popping up on Facebook and I started to create logos and branding for them. In 2012 I moved into wedding stationery design but by 2015 I could not deal with another bridezilla and felt the need to create things that I loved, not what someone else was asking for. I created a collection of 30 illustrated greetings cards and hoped that people would love them as much as I did. Little Posy Print as it is now started from there. My collection has now grown to over 250 card designs, illustrated prints, stationery, and gifts, jewellery and embroidery kits all based on my illustrations.
Pedddle: What sets your products apart from others?
Teodora Designs: I am not sure. I like to say that my feature element is lyre as I am trying to incorporate it in my artworks – my animals have horns and antlers in the shape of the musical instrument. This is to symbolise music and poetry. I like to think of my work as being lyrical and poetic. I also use bright colours which I am hoping to bring people joy when they look at it.
Autumn Bella Designs: I think maybe the level of detail?! I hand illustrate everything in pencil and add a lot of shading. Once I have finished the pencil drawing I scan and reprint so I can watercolour paint over this. Each element is worked on separately before I put it together on Photoshop. Prints can also be personalised so I think that too!!
Out of Ink Studio: My artworks are a reflection of my experimentations. I use different mediums like painting, inks and fine line drawings and my artworks reflect that. I also use my computer skills to add extra layering and dimension to my designs, as well as allowing different colour schemes. At the moment I am cutting up some of my old paintings and using them to make collages which I plan to sell as prints in the near future. Like I said I’m always experimenting and hopefully this makes me an interesting brand to follow.
Gentangle Designs: All my illustrations are hand drawn in pen and take around 12-25 hours to create. I think customers like to know that someone has taken the time to create something by hand and they are taking home something unique. I also think my products are very versatile. I don’t believe they are for just one demographic. They are just as suitable for a child’s bedroom as they are for a housewarming gift for a couple.
Little Posy Print Company: I think my collection is fairly unique. It’s very personal to me, my rule of thumb is that nothing goes on a card if I can’t say it out loud myself without sounding like a wally so everything comes from my weird little head. My card collection is a mix of bright colourful illustrated elements and bold hand drawn typography work. I’m very much a fan of a cheeky card, especially a pretty one that will draw you in to look at it and then make you giggle/gasp when you read what’s on it. I started off hand painting every element in gouache or watercolour and then scanning it into the computer to create a card but now do all of my work digitally on my iPad which gives me so much more creative scope and allows me to sit on the sofa covered in dogs while I work. All my work has quite a lot of depth and texture to it, and I’ve worked really hard to make sure that any paper stock or materials I use is of the highest quality because receiving something in the post should be as much about the feeling of something in your hands as it is about the visual experience.
Pedddle: This blog will be themed around illustration and artwork, why do you think selling illustrations and artwork is so important right now?
Teodora Designs: I love art, not just creating it, but collecting it as well. I have all sorts of unique items in my home, from vases and pottery items to paintings and illustrations. Working mainly from home, I think now it’s more important than ever to create a cosy environment that appeals to your aesthetic senses. Apart from needing practical things, decorative items are equally important as we can’t really live without beauty, can we? Now, this is something personal to each of us, but owning a piece of art, not only gives you that beautiful item that makes your heart sing but it gives the artist a sense of purpose, too.
Autumn Bella Designs: I think over the last year one reason it was important from a customer point of view is that illustrations/ artwork can make really thoughtful gifts which are easy to have delivered. Also with people spending more time at home they are great ways of brightening up your home/ adding personal touches.
Out of Ink Studio: Artwork can really make a difference to a room and finish off a room. In lockdown, lots of people took the opportunity to decorate their homes and with shops closing many people tried looking and buying from places they wouldn’t normally try which was great for small independent businesses. I also think lockdown has made people think about how they spend their money and people realise that small businesses are something that they like to buy from and want to support. Customers often have special requests and with makers only a message away you get a service not available on the high street.
Gentangle Designs: Not every illustration or piece of art will appeal to every single person, but every now and again there will be something that draws you in or connects you to something. It will stir emotion and make you smile or remind you of something or someone. I think having positive connections in a time where we haven’t been able to spend time with family and friends has been important.
Little Posy Print Company: We’ve all be stuck in our houses for so long looking at the same 4 walls that I think making them pretty is so important. Obviously I’m a bit biased but I think lovely thing about illustration is that it doesn’t haven to take itself too seriously. I suppose it’s the cheeky little cousin of Fine Art and Graphic design, they both think they’re very grown up and take themselves quite seriously. Illustrations are about conveying a feeling or a meaning or a message through a combination of drawing and text and that message doesn’t have to be deep and meaningful, or commercially minded, it just has to being people joy. Generally when an artist or illustrator is creating a piece they are doing what they love and so that love and happiness is translated into the paper. I can’t think of anything more joyful then filling your walls and your house with little bits of other people’s joy to remind you that you’re not alone and that it’s going to be ok. Also, every time you buy something from my shop it genuinely makes me do a crazy little dance that is sometimes so energetic that it makes my boobies come out of my bra!
Pedddle: What was your first experience of selling at markets/being a stallholder?
Teodora Designs: I am happy to say that my very first market was quite successful. It was a Christmas market and I had a few small items at affordable prices, which proved to be very popular. Also, the local newspaper was there, too and I made it into their write-up about the event. This was a great confidence bust!
Autumn Bella Designs: My first experience of selling at a market with Autumn Bella Designs was the Handmade Fair in Hampton Court- I really went for it! In hindsight doing such a big and expensive fair as my first one was probably crazy, but it did make me focus quickly on display and what I was selling. I only did prints up to the week before this HMF so quickly had to start designing cards so I had products that could be bought there and then and it ended up going really well!
Out of Ink Studio: My first experience of selling my products was at a local mums meet up. I was completely terrified but knew I had to put my fear aside and just go for it if i ever wanted to put my products out there and sell my artwork. Fortunately it was a success and the rush after selling your artwork to someone is the best feeling and also keeps me motivated.
Gentangle Designs: I remember I had the best day. I had been building up to it for about 3 months, organising myself, sorting stock, working out what I needed to run a stall. Meeting people face to face and getting feedback in realtime was amazing. I couldnt believe people wanted my work in their homes (it still gives me a buzz even today). I did my first craft market with just 7 designs, now I have enough designs to fill three tables! It’s true what they say, don’t delay, just go for it, otherwise there will always be an excuse not to!
Little Posy Print Company: I’d done a few little markets in village halls etc but my first proper experience of a well organised and well attended market was out 2019 Etsy Made in Cumbria Christmas fair in Carlisle which was brilliant. It was amazing to see so many people who were actually interested in my work instead of just a few old ladies who popped in for a little nose around. I created my Mystery stationery box for that event and sold out on the first day, having to make more on the Saturday night to go back on Sunday. It was a really confidence booster and gave me the buzz to get out and do more markets. I’ve found it a brilliant way to connect with local buyers and really get to know what they want to buy. Packing up the car early in the morning with all your creations and getting out to a market to see actual people is the best, I can’t wait to do more this year.
Pedddle: How have you kept yourself motivated to keep creating products during the pandemic?
Teodora Designs: For me, creating art is therapy, it kept me going through difficult times before so I knew that if I keep creating, it will help me going through these times, too. I also hoped that people might want to see happy things around them and this was another big motivation, too, as my art has often been described as ‘happy’ and ‘joyful’.
Autumn Bella Designs: This has been actually been my most productive time!! I started my Aries designs as we went into the first lockdown and continued with the rest of the Zodiac prints in order from there. I have thought about doing these prints for so long but never had the time as I work full time and do ABD evenings and weekends, so this year gave me that time!
Out of Ink Studio: Running a small business and home schooling hasn’t been easy during lockdown but being creative is also something that makes me happy and as a mum of two you need to carve out time to make yourself happy otherwise we might all explode! 🙂
Gentangle Designs: My designs are very intricate and I use a lot of patterns and shapes to create them. People often say, “it must take a lot of patience”, but drawing or making something is a form of mindfulness and it has helped me having this to do through the pandemic. I think also finding a community and network (on instagram and Pedddler) to tap into has helped keep me motivated. There are so many talented people out there and it has been great to see people leaning on each over and supporting one another.
Little Posy Print Company: Lockdown has been a real eye opener! I think like everyone I completely stopped doing anything for the first few weeks. The weather was lovely and we all thought that we’d be out again in a month haha! When it became clear that that wasn’t going to happen I had to find a way back to my creativity again. I responded by basically illustrating my feelings, creating a range of lockdown support and sympathy cards and prints to help people connect with their loved ones and send love even though they were separated. Looking back at this year it’s actually been a very creative year for me. It gave me a chance to slow down and really look at what I’d been doing, where I wanted to go and time work on new projects which was lovely. I’ve realised that my work doesn’t just have to be applied to paper products and launched a range of embroidery kits and I’m working on a range of jewellery based on my illustrations too.
This blog was written by Mehar. Click here to meet the Pedddle team.