It is such a delight to showcase a wide variety of artists and crafts people in Creative corner and it continues to get great feedback. So I hope that you enjoy this week’s instalment. When I saw this beautiful animal artwork on twitter I knew I had to feature Laura’s work this week. Apologies with it being a day late!
1. Introduce yourself.
Hi, I’m Laura, I’m a 23 year old animal artist based in Newcastle. I have been running Laura Mary Art Limited since January. I am a massive animal lover so since graduating last summer my focus has turned to animal art. I do a lot of commission based work as well as some of my own stuff too, mainly working in graphite and coloured pencil or watercolour!
2. Tell us a bit about your business.
There are two sides to my business; I take commissions for pet portraits which are usually done in pencil (either graphite or colour). I have been commissioned to draw a whole range of animals from cats, dogs and horses, to longhorns and bulls. As I work from photographs I am able to send portraits all across the UK and have also done some work to be sent to the US too. I also have a range watercolour paintings, and home wares such as candles, mugs, coasters and place mats.
3. What made you start your own business?
I’ve always dreamed of being an ‘artist’ and I’ve always absolutely loved animals. I started taking commissions for pet portraits while I was at uni, it started off just drawing pets of some friends and family but then I started getting commissions from other people. The positive feedback I got definitely gave me the confidence to put myself out there and start taking more commissions. While I was finishing my degree the pressure was on to start looking for grad jobs but I knew that wasn’t something I really wanted to do so I went about setting up my own company. I like the idea that I can do exactly what I want and art is something I’ve always wanted to do.
4. Did you have any formal training or are you self-taught?
I studied Fine Art at Lancaster University, although I think the most valuable lessons I learnt were at school. I studied Fine Art and Fine Art photography at A-level and I had the most amazing teachers – I was taught lots of really valuable skills which I have been able to put into practice and develop since.
5. Explain your creative process.
For commissions I work from customers photographs, I am often sent a number of photos and discuss the most suitable one to make sure the portrait will best capture the personality of their pet. I sketch out the outline of the portrait and then work on it bit by bit, sending updates as I go along. I usually start with the eyes as I feel that they are really important in capturing the personality then work outwards from there.
When I work on my own stuff, I just like to have fun. I started doing the watercolour prints at the start of the year and now have over 20 different designs. Similar to the portraits I start with a sketch, which I then add ink and watercolour to bit by bit. I often work on a couple at the same time, so I can add bits and wait for it to dry while I’m working on another. The final part of the process is to create the splashes in the background.
6. Describe your typical day.
My days completely vary depending on what I have to work on that week. I’ll usually spend a bit of time doing admin in the morning before working on some commissions in the afternoon and evening. I’m a bit of a night owl so I often work late into the night as I find that is when I’m at my most creative so lots of my work is done then. I work from a home studio which is perfect for me as it means I can come and go as and when I need or when I’m feeling creative!
7. What’s your biggest seller of animal artwork?
It is constantly changing, I find that some weeks it will be one design then the next week people seem to like another one. However I’d say the biggest seller across all prints and products is the pig!
8. What have been the high and low points of running your own business?
It is definitely a rollercoaster, as with running any business, there will always be highs and lows. For me the most rewarding thing is hearing lovely feedback and seeing happy customers with my artwork. I’ve had quite a few emails from customers once they have received the portraits saying they have teared up when seeing them and that is really what I love, being able to create artwork which is really special to someone.
On the other hand, it can be very stressful and sometimes I can find it very overwhelming, especially all the business side of it. I’m not the most organised, I’d be more than happy to sit around and make art all day but unfortunately my admin doesn’t do itself so it can be a struggle to keep on top of, as well as working on commissions, new products as well as a part time job and trying to have a life. There will be days when I will be working 18+ hours, and then to wake up and do it all again the next day so sometimes I do wonder if it is worth it but then selling my work and getting such lovely feedback makes it all worthwhile!
9. What would be your top tips for running your own creative business?
I think one of the most important things when running your own creative business is to work hard and never give up! There will always be setbacks and mistakes made but I strongly believe that these are all lessons to be learnt from and they will help you get to where you need to be in the future. Another thing I think is really important is networking. Meeting other like minded people whether it be at shows, craft fairs or online can do the world of good to any small business!
10. What are your aspirations?
I absolutely love what I do at the moment, so to continue and develop what I’m doing is the dream! I’ve recently been taken on by a couple of shops so I’d really love to be able to continue getting my work out there in different areas! I also have hundreds of ideas for new designs and products so hopefully I’ll have the chance to develop those in the future too!
11. Where can we find you?
Many thanks to Laura for taking part. I think she has a great work ethic and I just love her beautiful watercolour animal artwork. I wish her all the luck in her future endeavours.