Please introduce yourself and your business
I'm a freelance illustrator, working in lino cut. I sell original prints on Etsy, as well as working on commision for commercial publishers and private clients. I have a somewhat unique style of lino printing, ever so slightly retro, a little bit Medieval but also contemporary and organic. I grew up in the beautiful and ancient Forest of Dean and studied illustration at Falmouth College of Arts in Cornwall, and both places greatly influence my work. I love to incorporate simple but dramatic landscapes into my prints - jagged mountains, stormy clouds, choppy seas - and use textured paper and printed linework to create movement and depth.
When did you establish your business?
I finally became a full time, self employed illustrator in 2008, so I've been going for about 3 years now. Before that I'd been working part time as a groom while promoting my work and trying to get noticed by potential clients.
What prompted you to start your own business?
I took BA Illustration at college, followed by an MA in the same subject, so I'd known for a fair while that I wanted to illustrate. After graduating in 2005 I went travelling for a year and, on my return, set about entering lots of competitions and open exhibition call-outs to try and get back into the illustrative mindset I had before I left. I entered and ultimately won a competition run by the Saatchi Gallery and HarperCollins to design a book cover for a new book by Sean Dixon. That gave me the confidence boost and exposure I needed to quit my job and throw myself headfirst into illustration.
What are you doing when you’re not creating?
I like to hang out on our allotment; weeding, harvesting, sowing, digging. I've got a greenhouse for the first time this year, so I'm in there quite a lot, tending my tomatoes and peppers. I also read a heck of a lot, and love to go walking.
What would people be surprised to learn about you?
I hate the telephone, I can't even explain why, but I really do hate talking on the phone. I'm terrible at it!
What is your favourite…?
Colour: I like all colours. Having said that though, my first choice when looking at paint for a room is always red. Or orange.
Animal: I love horses. They're such beautiful animals and have a history with humans to rivals that of dogs. They've been with us through work, leisure and even war. When they truly trust you they will do anything you ask of them, and follow you anywhere. If they don't they will fight against you with all their might.
Season: That's really tough. Can i pick two? Winter: beautiful hoare frosts and snows, sitting by an open fire around Christmas time supping mulled wine or cider and eating wintry pies, all wrapped up snugly. But I also love the heat of summer, freeing my feet in flip flops, going for long walks in the sun, sitting in pub gardens, having the freshest of fresh food from my allotment, watching Wimbledon, wearing pretty frocks and swimming in the sea.
Movie: There are so many! But here are a few that I've seen dozens of times and haven't yet tired of, in no particular order - Juno, Wall-E, Disney's Robin Hood, Watership Down, Last of The Mohicans, Withnail & I, The Royal Tennenbaums, The Nightmare Before Christmas, Pan's Labyrinth... They might not be the greatest movies of all time, but they're my favourites.
Book: Again, so, so many. Here are a few - Birdsong by Sebastian Faulks, The Handmaid's Tale by Margaret Attwood, A Confederacy of Dunces by John Kennedy Toole, The Pickwick Papers by Charles Dickens, Robert Jordan's Wheel of Time series, Phillip Pullman's His Dark Materials trilogy and pretty much anything by Mario Vargas Llosa, John Irving, John Steinbeck or Louis de Bernieres. And I've just realised there aren't enough female authors in that list.
Blog: I often find myself caught up on the Go Fug Yourself blog. It satisfies my guilty love of seeing celebrities in pretty (and not so pretty) frocks, and adds in a healthy dollop of humour without critising the women's bodies. Also, the ingenious Hipster Hitler, Hyperbole And A Half and Cake Wrecks.
When did you first start working in your chosen discipline?
I first tried lino cutting in the first year of my degree back in 2001, though I only got into it properly in my third year, and that's when it stuck.
What inspires you?
All sorts; Medieval and Anglo Saxon art work and illuminated manuscripts, Art Nouveau prints and posters, Japanese woodblocks, shadow puppets, the natural world, books, music, my peers.
What’s your favorite piece of work that you have created?
A couple of years ago I worked on a fully illustrated copy of Beowulf for the Folio Society. When I began my illustration degree I dreamt of working for Folio, so it was a real honour to have them as one of my first clients. I created illustrations that were based on artwork from the time the poem was first written, somewhere around 700 - 1000AD, but that were also obviously contemporary to now. The finished book was beautiful, with my cover design blocked in gold onto a rich, red cloth cover with a golden slip case also embosed and blocked with my design. Inside my illustrations decorated every page. http://www.foliosociety.com/book/BWF/beowulf
What are you working on at the moment?
I've just finished work on my first ever pet portrait, which was a lot more enjoyable than I expected and is definitely something I'd like to do more of.
How did you hear about Etsy?
I gradually started becoming aware of Etsy through friends who were beginning to sell work on the site, and through various blogs where other artists and craftspeople were advertising their Etsy wares.
What do you like about being part of Etsy
I like the feeling that everyone on there is there for the same reasons I am. It's great to feel part of a growing community of people who are eschewing cheap, mass produced products in favour of hand made, one-off goods that maybe cost a little extra but mean so much more.
Where else do you sell your work?
I sell my work as giclee prints and as ipod/ipad/laptop skins, iphone cases and T-shirts on Society6 and I have a few printed cotton products available on Envelop. I'm hoping to add more to both sites soon. I also have greetings cards available in Mary Portas' Living and Giving shop in Primrose Hill and What Alice Found in Boscombe, Dorset, through South West Artwork, who also sell my cards in their online shop.
What are your goals for the future, both work wise and life?
I'm hoping the work will start to pick up again soon and keep building from now on; there's been a real lack of illustration work available over the past year. My partner's recently decided to go back to uni to start a new degree, so it would be great (though unlikely!) to be able to support us both before he graduates, and maybe even be able to afford the odd camping trip for us both now and then.
Do you have any tips or inspiring words for others?
A good web presence is really important if you want people to find you online (or even if you've got a physical shop), and people seem to feel more confident in your work the more they know about you. It's good to share, so let people know where you're from, where abouts you are now, and try to be friendly or at least informative in your profile. A blog is a great place to share a little of your life with your customers and/or fans and keep people up to date with what you've been up to, whether in work or your personal life. I've recently discovered Twitter, which has a wealth of like minded and helpful people eager to share hints and tips and promote you (and for you to do likewise), and is a great place to share links to your work, shop, blogs etc.
Etsy shop link:http://www.etsy.com/shop/BeccaThorne