This week I am delighted to feature Nottingham based artist Eloise Renouf. I love Eloise's stylized and fun designs and I hope you do too...
1. How did your business come about (and when did you start)?
I took a break from designing in 2008 when my middle son was born. My partner and I had been running a stationery business for about 8 years, and we wanted a change. After a couple of years of being a full-time Mum I became frustrated with having no creative outlet. I didn't have a lot of time to give, so I decided to create a few small prints for wall art, and to set up an Etsy shop at the end of 2010. I thought it might bring in a bit of pocket money, and I hoped that it would also serve as a bit of an indicator as to whether the work I was producing was of any interest to anyone! To my surprise I got quite a lot of interest right from the start, including some valuable commissions, and it has snowballed from there.
With ideas, I have an awful lot going on in my head! I'm not very good at making mood boards, and my ideas change all the time, so I can't stick to anything very rigidly. I collect magazine clippings, vintage books, mid century ephemera, colour chips and the like for visual stimulation. I teach part-time at Nottingham Trent University so I am able to use the wonderful library there. I'm always drawn to the really old and crusty books that haven't been borrowed in years! I try to absorb information about pattern, texture, colour and surface from as many different sources as possible, and then start to re-interpret them in my own way. Everything I do starts with drawing and mark-making. I'm quite a "neat" person, so I prefer to use pencil, ink, pen or gouache or acrylic paint. I tend to create elements that I can use in different ways, rather than a complete "picture". These are then scanned, moved around and coloured on my Mac.
3. What has been the hardest single obstacle to your life in design (apart from a shortage of time, which seems to be universal amongst creatives!)?
Funding all the various projects that I would like to see come to fruition! I have a million ideas, but have to pick and choose which I can actually bring to life due to the costs involved. If money grew on trees, I'd be well away!
I love what I do, and I've always enjoyed working independently. I always want to better what I've done before - I'm not really competitive, other than with myself! So I'm always looking for ways to improve. I'd like to become more successful and have my designs enjoyed by a wider audience, so I guess the only way to do that is by hard work and perseverance. If I want recognition I have to earn it.
5. What has been the icing on the cake for you as a artist/designer?
I don't think I can name just one thing! Being asked to illustrate the cover of Canadian magazine "Uppercase" was amazing, and came fairly soon after opening my Etsy shop. It gave me a huge sense of affirmation, and was very exciting. Being sent bolts of my first fabric collection for Cloud9fabrics was also a wonderful experience, and now seeing what people have made from it on Pinterest and various blogs is fantastic (if a bit surreal!). My first book, "Twenty Ways To Draw A Tree" came out in May last year, and has been more successful than I ever imagined. Seeing it on the shelf in Waterstones has to be up there on the icing front!
6. Who do you admire (other artists/designers; other people generally) and what/who are your biggest influences, past or present?
I admire anyone who does what they love to do, and does it REALLY well, for the right reasons. People with a vision and a passion for their craft, be it art, design, music or whatever. They don't need to be famous or well-known; just giving their all to something they love. I find them really inspiring. Regarding influences, I think my surroundings as a child started my love affair with design. My parents were big fans of Heals and Habitat in the seventies, so I grew up with quite a specific visual aesthetic which I still love today. Later I discovered the work of artists, designers and illustrators such as Lucienne Day, Shirley Craven, Barbara Hepworth, Robert Tavener, Pat Hutchins and Celestino Piatti, whose work I greatly admire.
Far from ideal! I have small children, so I choose to work from home. It has obvious benefits with regard to them, but means that I don't really have a space dedicated entirely to my art. I share a reasonably spacious office with my partner where I have my computer, books, files etc, and do lots of my "desk work". In another room I have a sewing/painting space and storage for all my fabrics, samples and packing materials. And quite often I'll end up drawing at the dining room table which has lovely light and is nearer the kettle for tea breaks! It's a rather disjointed set-up, but works perfectly well for now.
8. What is the best piece of advice you've ever been given?
Stick to your knitting. In other words, find what it is you are good at, and work at becoming even better.