At the end of last year I had the pleasure of working with the lovely Emily Cole, who I have followed for some time now, on a selection of beautiful products from her illustrations range. And due to everything being so busy at the time, I’m only just getting round to sharing this shoot on the blog.
If you’ve never come across Emily before, you must go and check her out as soon as you’ve finishes reading this post, as she’s super talented and one of my favourite people to follow on social media.
In conjunction with her shoot, Emily also agreed to very kindly answer some questions for me, to tell you guys a little more about her and her business.
Tell us a little about you. And tell us about your business.
I am an Illustrator based in Lincolnshire with my husband, James. (I am working on adding a dog to the mix.) I am the illustrator behind Emily Cole Illustrations and I have the wonderful job of drawing cartoon horses for a living. I hasten to add that it is a bit more than just that … sometimes I draw a dog or a cat and sometimes the cat might be parachuting.
What made you set up Emily Cole Illustrations?
I wish I could say something more substantial or elegant than the true answer, which is that it was a complete accident. There were two things that I always said that I never wanted to do; the first was work in a kitchen and the second was to own my own business – I have managed to do both.
I was supposed to be an architect and had completed my degree but through series of rather bizarre events my secret hobby of drawing came to light. I was highly embarrassed by them but there was a growing amount of interest and requests for drawings which lead me to set up my business.
Who is your target market and how do you reach them?
I try to make my work relatable to horse owners or those who ride and spend time around these simultaneously wonderful, majestic and ridiculous creatures that we love.
Amazingly, a lot of my custom has come through the organic reach of Social Media and through word of mouth. My business essentially started life as a Facebook page for me to share drawings but it as it has grown it has drawn more and more people in who like the work.
Tell us about the products in this shoot.
As with my previous calendars, the 2018 Calendar features 12 brand new drawings that depict the highs and lows of equestrian life.
It has been a serious amount of work trying to get it finished in time but I love working on them and I think this years has turned out really well. I also have Christmas cards and wrapping paper, which are all perfect for the festive period.
What made you decide to hire a professional photographer?
With anything that you have worked hard on you want to give it the best start you can. Photography is a very specific skill and can make or break a campaign. I have long admired Sophie’s work and I was really excited to see what she could come up with – I wasn’t disappointed!
What have been your biggest struggles, in running your business?
Aside from the whole ‘running a business’ one of my biggest struggles has been confidence. I think with any form of art there is always part of yourself that you are putting out there. I still get nervous each time I send a drawing to a client or post one on Social Media.
And your biggest wins?
To have kept going and to have grown has been amazing. I couldn’t tell you how and there has definitely been times when I have been working until the small hours and wanted to throw the towel in, but I wouldn’t change it for the world.
What inspires and motivates you?
Observation and spending time aroundhorses will always bring a multitude of ideas. Whenever my imagination is feeling drained I try to arrange some time away from the office to get the creative juices flowing again.
What’s the biggest lesson you’ve learned?
It is OK to ask for help and take breaks. I shoulder a lot of responsibility for the Business and put a lot of pressure on myself which will inevitably take its toll. On a practical level, asking for help when you need it and trying to keep weekends and evenings free has meant that I am actually more productive and better mentally. It is a myth that you have to burn the candle at both ends.
What would be your biggest piece of advice to any small business owner trying to make a living out of selling their artwork?
Be yourself. I remember when I was younger I used to look at Thelwell’s work and think ‘I wish I had my own style.’ I used to dismiss my drawings as generic cartoons but as soon as I embraced that that was the way I drew I started to see growth within it. Also keep a Sketchbook that you can make as many mistakes as you like in – no one but you needs to look at it!
What are your goals for 2018?
I would love to expand my range of products. This year I added some new lines of Wrapping Paper, Notebooks, Greeting Cards, Prints and the Alternative Rosettes. I would also like to get myself to some more shows as it is great to meet people who enjoy the work.