Monday, 11 June 2012

Q & A with Debbie Greenaway

I first fell in love with the work of Debbie Greenaway from The Imagination of the Ladysnail a few months ago through Her illustrations are so innocently charming that it’s impossible not to adore them! I recently approached Debbie and she was more than willing to take some time out of her busy schedule to talk to me about The Imagination of the Ladysnail …
Hello Debbie! So, you’re an illustrator and printmaker and a fab one at that. Did you train in these areas or are you self-taught?

Hello! I would say that I am bit of a half and half. I have always drawn, and studied art from an early age through to illustration at degree level. I was first shown lino printing during my GCSE Art studies and had to study Printmaking as part of my A-level – which at the time I wasn’t keen on. It seemed like such a lengthy process but once I got through the first learning stages and saw the results you could create – I was hooked.

What would a normal day be like in the world of The Imagination of the Ladysnail?

I try and get up early but the snooze button often ends up being hit a couple of times. I try and start the day with an hour of swimming – it helps me relax, clear my head and think a bit more clearly about the day ahead and other things. After that, I take a cup of tea in to my workroom and begin tackling the to-do list for the day or previous days. I try to get everything ticked off the lists best I can. Then it is on to emails and updating the social network sites. Then there are usually things that need drawing, sewing or printing. There is no set routine really and throughout the day there will be many brews and biscuits whilst to-ing and fro-ing from the making desk to the computer desk. I try not to get distracted but often find myself watching the birds on the bird feeder or checking to see if the squirrel has eaten my washing line (!)

You print your designs on paper, fabric and ceramics. Which is your favourite to print on?

It would be hard to choose but if forced I would say paper. After the print has dried, it is so nice to run your finger over the printed area to feel the texture and the raised areas of printed paint. Also when you see a finished piece framed and hung in a gallery, shop or home – it is a wonderful feeling to think I have made that. It is a wonderful sense of achievement to think someone has picked up a piece of my work, bought it and then put it in their home.

Do you have a favourite place or space to work in?

At the moment, I am trying to establish a proper working print area at home and have just invested in a drying rack so that when I am printing there is somewhere other than the entire floor for me to put my work to dry on! I like working at home but I also love working in a print room with other printmakers, it is a great environment and it helps to have others to talk to when so often you have to work by yourself. It is good to see what other people are doing and it gives you the chance to bounce ideas about with others.

I love your branding! For all those just starting out, was it something that just came naturally or did you take some time to plan out how you wanted your ‘brand’ to look?

Branding is hard to find. I once did a project about it at university and the majority of the class found the task quite difficult – me included. I think ‘branding’ or ‘style’ is something that often happens on its own. For me, it was easier to draw things I liked and discovered that after a year or two I found a way of working without realising that I had developed a style. There is no harm in working towards how you want your brand to look, this can be because you would like to create a collection and you want it to look a certain way but there is no harm in letting it come naturally. You can always edit your portfolio and tailor parts of it to different markets.

Who is your all-time favourite artist?

Currently, I really like the work of Oliver Jeffers - there are many of his children’s books on my shelves. I spend a lot of time in bookshops or online - having a gander at what’s out there and seeing what’s new. I like it when I find something, get all excited and enjoy telling everyone about it. Like when I was given the book ‘I Want My Hat Back’ for Christmas – I told everyone about it and showed the book to anyone who would look. It still makes me laugh every time I read it.

The notorious robber bird is my favourite character from The Imagination of the Ladysnail. What’s yours?
From my own work I would say the Lion. There is something reassuring about that character and I feel comfortable drawing him. Outside of my work I would say Gromit from Wallace and Gromit, Wall*e, any of the Mr Men or Shaun Tan’s Eric (I would like to find him living in my cupboards).

If you could give one piece of advice to someone that may be thinking about starting their own creative business what would it be?

START! Try not to over think everything. Go with what you love and enjoy doing. Go to as many business/start-up workshops and networking events as you can. There is a wealth of information and support out there to help you out. Do not be afraid to ask people questions or advice. Check to see if there are any local art/craft related groups you can join, for example Manchester Craft Mafia – they can offer you the chance to meet other like minded people. Some often organise selling events or social events and may have information about other opportunities.
Also, getting your business out there is easier than ever with the help of the internet, so what’s holding you back?

So, what next for The Imagination of the Ladysnail?

The first thing on the main to-do list is to redesign my website. My other plan is to start creating a new portfolio of work and printed items which I can start soon as I have invested in a chest and drying rack for my print room – the drying rack arrived today! Then I need to sort out printmaking facilities for exposing and cleaning my screens. I would also like to improve my photoshop and illustrator skills and learn how to use a graphics tablet.

If you have any questions for Debbie then please put them here and I will pass them on to her. You can find the wonderful The Imagination of the Ladysnail here:

Go check it out!