The design show season has started off with a bang! Home – London was such a melting-pot of talented designers, interiors & speakers and Eleanor Stuart is certainly no exception to this notion. Eleanor’s classy, quirky designs softly embrace the idea of fun vs. homeware. Fast emerging as a new accomplished designer, Eleanor’s collection is strong enough to hold its own in the colourful world of interiors. I interviewed Eleanor to learn about her brand, her passion and what makes her tick…
HOP GIFT: Happy Valentine’s Day! Courtesy of Eleanor Stuart we’re offering all my lucky HOP readers an exclusive 10% off Eleanor’s collection for a limited period. Read my post to find out more.
HOP Did you always know that you wanted to enter the fabulous world of ceramics, stationery & illustration
ES Before starting my own company I worked in the events industry which I really loved, from working on art installations to some bonkers culinary events and making props from everything from paper flowers to handbags made out of edible flowers so I was always doing something creative, so it was quite a natural progression into making and designing my own work. Ceramics and stationery seemed like a really great and accessible way to start producing my work – particularly when you’re an illustrator, ceramics and stationery are great ways to produce your work both in a 3D and 2D format for people to enjoy.
HOP How did it all begin
ES It all began less than a year ago when I was working with an events company in London. Whilst I was
working there, one of the events we were working on was for the Telegraph tent at the Hay Literature Festival and the theme for their installation in the tent was ‘Alice through the Looking Glass’. As a perk of the job I was commissioned to design nine bespoke ‘Alice through the Looking Glass’ plates for the installation featuring an assortment of characters which I re-illustrated from the original story.
After I completed the work I realised that I loved getting back in touch with the illustrator side of me and creating a piece of work myself for others to enjoy. After some great feedback on the plates, I decided to look into getting them made as a collection with a pottery in Stoke-on-Trent and I haven’t looked back since! I launched them with a collective of designers with ‘PopUp Britain’ in a pop up shop in Piccadilly Circus last summer where I met one of my first stockists, the British Library, and ever since then it’s been a roller-coaster ride of new collections and doing my first trade show this January at ‘Home’ – so from quite an opportune opportunity my business was born!
HOP What challenges did you face launching your company and going it alone
ES Starting from scratch from very much a point of being a designer, getting my head around turning my illustrations from a drawing on a piece of paper to a product to sell where you’re suddenly surrounded by spreadsheets and talking margins and trade prices with suppliers took a bit of getting used to.
However it was incredibly exciting to see my illustrations be turned into fine bone china plates, greetings cards and art prints and go off, suitcase full of products in hand, out into the world to start selling it all!
HOP Describe a typical 24 hours at the Eleanor Stuart Studio
ES When you run your own business no day is ever quite typical as you do every job – designer, accountant, pr, email answerer, packaging – so each day is an assortment of doing various jobs – each one fun in its own way! I always like to make time to look at new work from other designers, from illustrators to architects, and think about possible new work and opportunities for the future.
HOP What are your top tips for anyone wanting to become a full time illustrator or someone who is thinking of a career change
ES I would say start off by making a few pieces of the work you want to make to gage reaction, sell it at local markets or fairs and listen to as much feedback as possible to make sure you’re creating the best possible version of your product.
There are so many great outlets for new designers to both create and sell their work and contact those who are already dong it – when I started out I contacted designers and illustrators whose work I loved for advice on where to start which was invaluable when you’re starting out. Doing markets that are more geared to your work, for example the Crafty Fox markets are particularly good for illustrators and hand-made work, means you’re meeting both designers in your field but also customers looking to buy your type of product.
Finally, make sure you enjoy it! I think particularly for creative people, it’s important to find time to be creative, to be inspired by new things and to keep that spark of creativity and enjoyment alive – that’s definitely what makes the long nights doing accounts worth while!
HOP Where do you draw your inspiration from for each design and project
ES Most of the inspiration for my designs comes from being out and about in London and seeing new things and observing people and thinking about how I can work things in to a new design or what new products I could work on. I particularly love going to galleries such as the Tate Modern and shops such as Liberty for inspiration and to see new work.
HOP What three things could you not live without
ES My family, my laptop and cake.
HOP If I was stuck on a desert island, my three creative must haves would be…
ES … I would have to have my laptop and a remote desert wi-fi connection so I could stay in touch with the creative community (and ask them to send a rescue boat…preferably captained by Johnny Depp!), a pen and paper is a must have for any creative, and lastly my iPod (which would magically have infinite battery) to play some tunes and drift off into creative thoughts…
HOP I’m most happiest when…
ES When everything is going swimmingly, happy customers, happy stockists, events to look forward to, and I can look to the future and start doodling ideas for new designs…with a side of cake.
Images credited: Eleanor Stuart