We caught up with the Yorkshire-based illustrator, founder of The Printed Peanut (the online store where she sells her beautifully illustrated wares – including homeware, books and soaps) to talk inspiration, cat prints and what it’s like living in a mill…
Hi Louise! Why and when did you decide to open The Printed Peanut?
Back in 2012, I was living in Canada and I worked part-time in an amazing stationery shop. It was the first time I’d really noticed that you could apply your designs to products to sell! On my days off, I set up a screen-printing bench in my tiny flat and printed cards and wrapping paper. It was a real education to see what people would pick up and buy in the shop and I learnt the basics of how to run a business.
How did you get into illustration?
I studied Illustration at Glasgow School of Art. It suited me down the the ground because you can apply illustrations to all sorts of things, whether that be textiles, chocolate wrappers or animations. I also love narrative and storytelling and the two go naturally hand in hand. When I graduated I found it difficult to get work in the industry, so I would just continue to draw in my spare time, slowly creating a recognisable style and a more consistent portfolio to show future clients.
How would you describe your style?
My style is very true to me and it just comes naturally. I’m very influenced by the flat, cut out styles of Nathalie Parain and the prints of Eric Ravilious and Edward Bawden. I love vintage children’s books and have a collection next to my desk that I like to delve into when I’m having a creative block. I love working in a limited colour palette and I often create my own little worlds where men still wear suits and hats and there is always a happy cat in the background.
Can you tell us a little about the processes used to create your work?
I create my work by compiling paper cut outs and drawings, which I then scan into the computer, where I will add colour and texture. It’s fun to rearrange compositions using Photoshop. I love that you can press ‘undo’ which you can’t do in real life. I have recently began drawing directly into my iPad to speed up the process. I like my work to look as if it is all done by hand but in reality, the computer is just a very handy tool!
Which illustration is your most popular? Why do you think that is?
I love designing packaging for my products and bringing illustration into every day life. I love designing tea towels because it’s like having a useful screen-print in your kitchen! It’s hard to say what is most popular… people always love a cat-based illustration!
Who doesn’t love a cat print?! Do you have a favourite design?
I really enjoy working with clients and seeing my designs come to life on products I wouldn’t be able to get produced myself, such as the fudge packets I designed for Liberty, or the circus play tent I designed for Anthropologie. I have the tent up in my spare room as it’s so fun!
Where do you create? Does your location inspire you?
I work from home in an old mill in Yorkshire. I have a custom built workshop for myself (complete with an underfloor heated marble floor!) I could happily work from anywhere, which is a great kind of job to have. I love living in the bottom of a valley, surrounded by brooding hills and trees. It is an old fashioned town with a great market and local characters. I live right next to a train station and can be in Manchester in 20 minutes if I need some city inspiration.
That sounds like the perfect mix. What does a typical day look like for you?
I get up around 8am and make coffee, which I’ll drink whilst checking over emails. If I have a big illustration project on, such as a children’s book, I’ll usually be working on that solidly for the whole day. I do like to break up screen time by packing up orders from my website. I love all the details that make buying from an independent so special. Each of my products will be wrapped in printed tissue paper and I like to pop in little notes or a free pin badge.
My daily outing is to the local post office. I enjoy the balance of running a small business and working on illustrations. I find it hard to stop working at the end of the day, especially as I work from home. My life is about to drastically change as my first baby is due in a matter of weeks, so it will be a steep learning curve how to balance work with looking after a little one!
So exciting! You use social media for your business – how does this work for you?
I love the community of illustrators out there on Instagram, it helps to keep you going through the harder times and you can bounce off ideas when you’re feeling isolated in your studio. It’s a great platform for showing my work to people all over the world at the touch of a button.
Do you have any words of wisdom with readers looking to start a creative business?
Do what you want to do and keep true to your own style. It’s easy to be influenced by gorgeous designs on Pinterest and Instagram but they already exist, there’s no point copying! It takes a while to get a steady income from a creative business and the first few years can be tough, so keep on going!
What’s been your highlight so far?
I have to pinch myself daily to remind myself how lucky I am to be doing something I love for a living. I’m so happy I can draw every day, and get paid for it! There’s nothing quite like getting a completed book back from the publishers. I have three books coming out this year and I feel really proud of that.
That’s amazing! What else do you hope 2019 has in store for you?
Perhaps some baby themed products! I’m looking forward to a new direction in life as I have been working so hard for the past five years. I think a bit of time out from commissions and a focus on personal work will ultimately feed and inspire my other work in the long run, so I’d love to work on some large scale prints.
QUICK FIRE QUESTIONS
Describe your work in three words…
Colourful, playful, jolly.
What are your making rituals?
I usually start by cutting little shapes out of paper and drawing into them, as it’s a lot less daunting than drawing onto a blank sheet of paper. I can’t work without the radio on, and a steady stream of biscuits.
Tea or Coffee?
Coffee in the morning, tea in the afternoon!
Mountains or Sea?
I like the sea as long as I’m looking at it, not in it.
Night Owl or Early Bird?
I’m a mid-morning person, I love my sleep!
I wish someone had told me…
Hard work does pay off!
See more from Louise at www.theprintedpeanut.co.uk