Introduce us to you and your brand!
Hi! I’m Eilidh, and I create watercolour maps that aim to evoke the feeling of ‘home’ by setting your most cherished locations in glistening hand-painted gold and pair with custom titles, for a truly bespoke piece of art.
Born and raised in the Outer Hebrides, I've always had a love/hate relationship with my quiet home. My desire to travel and live abroad taught me how lucky I am to have grown up in such a unique place.
It all started in 2013. Working in a mining town in the middle of the Australian desert, I was 19 and unsure of what to pursue in life and I missed my tiny island terribly. One day, I came across an online shop that could burn your country onto the cover of journals. I instantly fell in love.
The shipping price was more than the cost of the journal but it didn't matter. No one could put a price on home, and I needed this journal. I chose the Isle of Lewis and a heart on Stornoway. Every time I used it, I felt comforted that home would always be there. Six years later, I was living in France, but Scotland was never far from my mind. I remembered the feeling my journal gave me all those years ago and soon found myself designing images of a variety of Scottish islands as I wanted to create a piece of art that could remind an islander of their true home, no matter where they were in the world. And from this, an unexpected business was born!
How has your brand developed since you began?
My brand started with designs of Scotland and the islands to creating pieces for customers all over the world and applying the same idea to their countries, so they can have the same feeling. I’ve also branched out into other products which is really exciting for me.
How did you find out about SDX? And what made you apply to sell with us?
I came across SDX on instagram and was interested in the idea of all costs going back to the artist. It gives me more of an incentive to supply a variety of products other than prints as production costs can be high, so when you included percentage fees shops normally take, you’re not making much.
What would you consider to be the most challenging aspect about being a working artist?
The most challenging thing I have found is having the confidence to set a price you feel reflects your work and finding your target audience. With each print, I must give my time to understand the customers need in order to create something bespoke to them. After a year being in business, I now have the confidence to simply say ‘no’ when I think the client has unrealistic expectations and questions my work. This was really difficult at first and hard not to take criticism personally.
Understanding wholesale and what each shop expects is also a major learning kerb that I have yet to master all while trying to understand SEO and grow your following on social media... there is so much to learn!
What do you consider to be your most popular product?
My three Scotland maps are what really took my business to the next level as it is so versatile. You can apply gold to as many locations important to you, or highlight the road trip you took. Anything! In the past six months I have expanded into coasters, clothing, mugs, stickers and cards which are all cheaper than the art pieces. I was surprised and humbled to see a number of instagram followers excited to purchase smaller items with my maps on them as some people are not into wall pieces but would love a handy mug or a little sticker for their phone case.
What piece are you the proudest of?
I am most proud of my whisky distillery map. It took over 30 hours of research and a big investment to get them all produced and foiled by machine. I have since made an Irish whisky map and a Scottish gin distillery map. It looks really cool when all the points are dark and then suddenly there is a flash of light from the gold as you walk around it.
Do you have any past accomplishments you wish to share?
I am proud to have lived in other countries and used my experience to create a business. Without missing home, I probably would never have drawn it. My entire brand identity is based on the feeling of longing for a place or remembering a special time, which is a feeling I only discovered from living abroad.
What have you found to be the most challenging aspect to your business since the beginning of the pandemic in 2020?
Honestly, battling with the post and trying to maintain stock. At the beginning, the post was taking over 3 weeks to arrive at times and people would be angry at me. Companies who supplied my materials were also having the same problem, so it was taking over a month to get materials, which meant I could not complete orders. Thankfully everything has gotten smoother and customers are now used to unexpected wait times.
How have you spent your time during lockdowns?
I created many new maps, including my whisky map which took a lot of time. I was unexpectedly a lot busier during lockdown with work due to everyone being online.
Have you discovered any new hobbies or passions in the last year?
I am not sure if it could be classed as a hobby, but I have found I am very interested in the business world. I studied graphic design and never dreamed I would own my own business. I have learned having a product to sell is only 20% of the game. You need to learn SEO, wholesale, hashtags, social media, product photography, target market, production methods, tax etc...
I find myself browsing shops and trying to work out how they produce the item to get to a certain price. I am intrigued in knowing how photography and hashtags can generate interest in a certain type of person, and how you can use advertising to grab their attention.
How do you think shopping and retail may change after the pandemic ends?
I think a lot of companies have realised it is cheaper to host a website that can be accessed by the entire world than to rent in a small town with only a certain number of people. Everyone is now online more, so it makes sense to focus your attention in learning how to get the first page major sites.
What do you hope to gain from working with SDX going forward?
This is my first major shop with different products. I am excited to see what is popular and if I gather a wider audience. I hope to branch out into the Glasgow shop if everything goes well.
If you could share just one piece of advice to aspiring artists/designers who want to make a living from their creative talents, what would you tell them?
Have patience. It takes a while for search engines to list your products and gain momentum. It took me a year of researching and learning SEO to get to a place where work comes to me instead of having to find it.
Expanding into new products takes time. You need to sample, wait for them to be produced, take professional photos and then list them online. It may take weeks before your first sale and months before it’s popular.
You also need patience with yourself, too. It takes time to learn and you will make mistakes. Don’t dwell on them too long. Learn and move on.
Tell us your favourite inspirational quote!
“Home does not happen to be the place you are born, is it the place in which you become yourself.” By novelist Pico Lye
...and that's true, it is precisely because of family, friends, my country and the safety of the Hebrides that I have been able to step out into the big wide world and take on all my adventures so far.
I once read the definition of home as being “…the abiding place of the affections. It’s not a building or a room, but a place where your love dwells.” - what a perfect summary of home.
Thank you to Eilidh Jamieson for participating in our blog! You can help support SDX and EJay Designs by shopping her products in our Edinburgh, George Street shop