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Thursday, 15 October 2015

An Interview with.... Annie Dornan-Smith, Illustrator

I met Annie this time last year at a FABB Birmingham event and we got on straight away. She was funny, smart and oh so creative and since then I've really enjoyed watching her illustration business grow. Being cheeky as I am and knowing how busy she is,  I reached out and asked for an interview. Being a doll she said yes and here it is....

Annie Logo
Hi! I'm Annie. I'm first and foremost an Illustrator - I make fresh, clean Illustrated Stationery and Homeware, often with a natural influence and sell them over at www.anniedornansmith.bigcartel.com. I'm also a creative and lifestyle blogger over at Annie Pancake where I share my work, thoughts and tips. 

When did your passion for illustration start? How did your style develop?


I discovered illustration at uni - prior to university, I didn't even really know what Illustration was - I thought it was just for children’s books or people who wanted to work at Disney. The world of online illustrators and image makers really opened up towards the end of the first year at uni (I'm now in my final year) and up until now I have just been immersing myself in that world. The question about style is one I have been asked a few times now and it's actually super flattering for me, haha. It's funny because I don't necessarily feel like I have a cohesive 'style' - I have only been calling myself an Illustrator for a year, maybe less than that, so a 'style' isn't really something I feel like I have achieved yet - I definitely think it is an ever-changing process. However, to get to where I am currently, I went through a period of exploring styles and mediums until I found gouache. I love how opaque and chalky gouache is, so I think that has dictated my style a lot. I do think your unique 'style' should be transferable though, so I won't (and don't) always stick to gouache. 


How many designs/ sketches do you typically do before deciding on a final piece for your shop?
The amount varies. Usually I start with some tiny thumbnail sketches to try out ideas/arrangements before wasting lots of time on them. It helps you weed out the bad ideas. I generally just draw thumbnails until I reach a design I'm happy with, and then I start from there. Sometimes though I think I'm happy right away, but when I get half way through a sketch I will realise I hate it. Sometimes the initial idea comes out exactly how I envisioned it, though, and I'm happy.


What are your favourite medium/s to work with?


My favourite medium at the moment is Gouache - like I said, it's super chalky and opaque, so you can layer it up. I love images with super-limited colour palettes - this is something I want to practice more - and gouache makes that really easy. Recently, I'm getting really into 3D and ceramics. I'm working on going to a few courses and getting involved with the decorative arts part of uni more, so hopefully I can look at expanding my 'homeware' side of the shop very soon.


Do you have tips on developing an illustration style?


Everyone's going to hate me for this but: practice. And experimentation. Like I said, I'm not concrete in my style, but I have come a heck of a lot closer to what I want because I spend so much of my free time working on it.

Time. Or the perceived 'lack' of it. I have this reasoning that we all have these kind of selective 'priorities' - people will scrimp the extra twenty pence between two items at a supermarket, then go and drop a tenner on a really beautiful magazine. Sometimes it makes absolutely no sense, but I think it just shows our priorities - what we actually  want to do. I think it's the same for all things, especially time. For a while I was worried I wasn't "meant to be" an Illustrator because I never seemed to have time to actually sit down and draw. But then I just  made time for it, and lo- here I am. If we want to be creative, we have to prioritise it.

Additionally, I think people have this huge fear of not knowing 'what to draw' (or write, or knit, or make, or whatever). I learned early on at Uni that the way to solve a lack of ideas is not to sit and stare at an empty sketchbook. Go outside, do something, get ideas from  living your life. Then when you get an idea,  write it the hell down


What advice would you give for fellow young entrepreneurs just starting out?
Haha - I love that, 'entrepreneur'. I guess I don't really feel like that yet - my business is still a baby, I barely feel confident to call it a business yet. But I would say: Take help. I have learned so much by spending a few quid on eBooks, or guides or real life books (I'm currently reading "Grow Your Handmade Business" by Kari Chapin) and reading blogs. If I hadn't started investing in this stuff I would still feel like I was completely floundering. Some of my favourite advice-givers are The Private Life of a Girl, Mariah Coz, Regina Anaejionu, Jenny Purr and The Merriweather Council. 


What are your illustrative plans for Christmas?


Christmas is kind of defeating me a bit, to be honest! I have been planning since August and those plans were grand. However, needing small quantities has been a real struggle - I don't want to invest in  the price of 100+ rolls of Christmas-specific washi tape until I know I will sell most of them, so a lot of nice ideas I had have been ruled out by sheer cost. Still, I definitely have, on the way, a cute little Christmas cards pack, wrapping paper, and hopefully some cute organisational stationery to get us in the spirit of the new year. If you want to be notified of when these babies arrive you can join my mailing here, and also get a lovely free shipping discount for being part of the club. 

What’s next for your brand? 
What's next is hopefully some new products! Like I mentioned earlier, ceramics is something I'm really hoping to get into (again, go join my mailing list if you want to know when that happens) and I'm hoping to start doing some more stationery beyond 'notebooks and cards'. 



Now on to some fun blogger questions.... 
 What is your favourite lipstick colour?
I used to be a die-hard blue-based-red lipstick kind of girls, but these days I pretty much wear one shade - haha! It's by Revlon and it's a coral/orange called Smoked Peach. If I'm going for something fancier I usually use my extremely well-loved Topshop 'Beguiled'. 

What brand of beauty could you not survive without?
I'm not a huge fan of any particular brand other than currently the only shade of foundation I can find that suits my deathly pallor is NARS "Siberia". It's nearly run out and I'd like to find a cruelty-free alternative, but I’ll be sticking to NARS.

Your hair is gorgeous! How do you maintain its health?


Thank you so much for saying my hair is gorgeous! How do I maintain its health is a hilarious question, haha. If you've seen it up close, you can see the  split ends on the split  ends. I'm not even exaggerating. My bleached ends just meant it wouldn't grow at all, but recently I've been doing a coconut oil mask once-a-week  if possible and using sulphate-free products, which has let it hang on long enough to grow a little longer. As for its thickness, I have always had super-thick hair. I think now that I cut it myself in a simple 'straight line along the bottom', the thickness is even more apparent. But I like it like that.

Tips for blogging whilst running your own business 
Tips for blogging! Over our ridiculously long uni holiday, I was setting aside my whole Sunday for blogging. I plan my posts in advance and gather everything for them the Sunday before. However, now that I'm back at uni too, I tend to grab a few spare hours to shoot all the photos, then another few hours to write up all the content, and then schedule the hell out of it all. Having a regular structure of posting Tuesdays, Thursdays and Saturdays has helped, too. I know what kind of content (creative or lifestyle) I need for each day, and then I know where to start. 



A HUGE thank you to Annie for taking the time for the interview, it's really been a pleasure! I love Annie's work so go head over to her sit and check it out - those Christmas cards are on my shopping list for pay day! 

Annie's Links:
Twitter
Facebook
Instagram
*All images taken from Annie's gorgeous website - go check it out!! 

1 comments:

Lauren ODowd said...

Great interview! Her work looks amazing! Xx

An Impatient Scottish Girl

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