Introduce us to you and your brand
I’m Ellie, and I’ve been living in Scotland for nearly 9 years now. I am an illustrator and take inspiration from nature and terrible puns to produce slightly silly bird guides and other designs. I started drawing digitally at the start of 2020, and have really enjoyed the flexibility it gives.
The bird guides came about thanks to my mum – she was trying to learn to identify the different duck species on her local lake, and I decided to draw her some rubber ducks in the colours of wild ducks. Her reaction was ‘they would look great as a tea towel’ which sent me down a rabbit hole of product ideas, and led to me working on a range of different guides.
Nature has been a real lifeline to people throughout the pandemic, but birdwatching can sometimes have a reputation for being quite a stuffy and exclusionary hobby. I wanted to share my love of birds in a more tongue-in-cheek way, with guides that are useful but also entertaining.
How has your brand/work developed since you began?
The past year has been a real learning curve. Before my Duck Guide design came about, I was selling my art exclusively through print-on-demand services, but now I seek out suppliers to print my designs on products. I like the control this gives me as I can choose companies with values that fit in with my views (such as using recycled packaging) and I can see the quality of the product for myself before it reaches the customer.
,What do you consider to be your most popular product?
My most popular product has been my Duck Guide Multiwrap. My Multiwraps (snood-type scarves) are printed in the UK on a fabric made of 100% plastic waste, but still manage to be soft and comfortable. The scarves feature rubber ducks against a bright background, and can be used as face coverings, hair bands, scarves… the list goes on!
,Tell us a little about a piece you are the proudest of?
I was really happy with how my Inches of Finches design came out on tea towels, mugs and greetings cards. The UK has quite a few different species of finch, and they are some of the more colourful birds on our shores. I love the way they look perched on their tape measure!
How did you find out about SDX? And what made you apply to sell with us?
I’ve been shopping at SDX for a few years, and it has long been my go-to place for birthday and Christmas presents. I love that there is such a range of work, and that every purchase goes straight back to an artist. I applied to sell because I wanted to be part of that selection, and the day that I put my work on the shelf was such a proud one!
What would you consider to be the most challenging aspect about being a working artist/designer?
Finding time to keep creating whilst balancing all the other jobs that are needed. Marketing, packaging, front of house… it’s all in a day’s work! Or in my case, after a day’s work (I work for an environmental consultancy by day).
What have you found to be the most challenging aspect to your business since the beginning of the pandemic in 2020?
Not being able to get out and about was really hard – I love visiting new places for inspiration. Social media and marketing do not come naturally to me, and I really felt like face-to-face markets would be a good thing for my new business, but obviously there were none of those happening! I was really glad to meet lots of likeminded artists on Instagram, and together we muddled through.
How have you spent your time during lockdowns, any new hobbies or passions discovered?
Lockdown was the catalyst that led to my business being started, as I was furloughed for a short period and subsequently had more time to dedicate to art. Throughout the lockdowns, I was working from home, but the extra time at the start and end of each day when I would have been commuting really added up to allow me to create new work.
How do you think the pandemic will affect shopping habits and the retail industry moving forward?
I hope that the importance of supporting local shops and businesses will be one that is carried forwards – not being able to travel really made everyone appreciate what was on their doorsteps. I think that the popularity of online shopping will stay high because it is so convenient, but there is nothing to replace being able to physically see and item and learn about how it came to be.
How did SDX being closed affect your business?
I didn’t join SDX until it reopened, but I definitely missed visiting independent shops as a customer!
What do you hope to gain from working with SDX going forward?
I hope to be able to reach more people and encourage everyone to embrace their love of nature. If someone can identify a bird they see after drinking their morning coffee from one of my bird guide mugs, then that is a win in my book! I also love to make people laugh, so if my (terrible) puns make someone smile, that’s fantastic.
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?
Create things that make YOU happy! And talk to people who are doing what you want to do business-wise – people are usually really happy to help and share top tips.
Tell us your favourite inspirational quote or best advice YOU were given.
Thank you to Ellie for participating in our blog, you can find her stock in our Glasgow, Buchanan Galleries shop