The smile on my face grew wider and wider as I read the answers submitted by illustrator Amy Blackwell. Her work has the same effect on me; how can a cat in shades NOT make you smile? Sit back and allow Amy to warm your heart a little.
How long have you been selling on Folksy?
I started selling prints and cards on Folksy a couple of years ago. I took a little bit of time out and I’ve just kick started my Folksy shop, Blackoutwell with a big update. I really missed it.
Tell us about your work and the process you use?
I’m a doodler. I draw pictures inspired by people, places and things going on around me and then I add colour digitally to bring them to life. Bright, bold colours feature heavily in my work with subtle hints of detail – my favourite part of picture making process is picking the colours. I’m a maker as well. I use all sorts of techniques to create my pictures and I’ve just branched out into the world of painting. I’m also a keen knitter and crocheter too.
What’s your favourite piece of work?
I love the hand painted cotton spools, they can be hard to part with though because they’re all original tiny paintings.
When did it all begin for you?
From day one. Both parents are creative people and encouraged it when I was little. I picked Art as my favourite subject through school and went on to doing Fine Art at university. It felt like the most natural thing to do afterwards too. I can’t stop making pictures.
Tell us about your work space.
I have a “studio space” at home. I do all of my printing, painting and scanning there. I stare out of the window a lot too. I carry my sketchpad around with me, so when inspiration strikes I’m armed with my doodle supplies.
How do you keep your work unique?
My styles been finding it’s feet over the last few years and it’s interesting seeing it develop, project by project. I’ve created some familiar characters who crop up a lot, mainly cats and redheads. I like playing around with different processes and techniques (amateur embroidery, print making, scribbling, painting, collage). The results usually bring something fresh to the table. I try to remember to draw different things because I have a habit of obsessing over one thing at a time.
Describe your day as a maker. Are you organised/disciplined?
I like to think I’m organised but there’s definitely room for improvement. I’m really good at writing ridiculous “To Do” lists. I work part time so I spend most of my day dabbling; a bit of scanning here and a bit of painting or colouring there. Then I go to work in the evening armed with a bag full of creative supplies. I’m more productive if I have a whole day to myself. I’ll get up and head straight to my desk in the spare room, where I’ll spend the day ticking off missions from one of my lists. In the afternoon I’ll go off and have a post office adventure (this is where I get to stretch my legs) and have a rummage in the local charity shops. In the evening I’ll sit on my bum and knit or draw in front of the tv for hours or procrastinate and do house jobs.
What three tools could you not live without?
Yikes… my ipod, my knitting needles, my pencil.
What gets the creative juices flowing when creativity is stifled?
I listen to audiobooks and radio dramas while I work. It gives my imagination a kick start, thinking about plot lines, people, scenarios etc. If I’m feeling reeeeally stuck I’ll walk into town, snap some pictures, window shop, visit the library and book shops. If none of that works I’ll find something else to do like read a book, pester some loved ones, buy some cake and try again another day.
Are you inspired by any artists from the past or present?
I love going to visit all of the old, fancy, tudor portraits at the National Portrait Gallery when I’m on a London adventure. That’s a treat!
How do you know when a piece is done?
Usually the picture’s done when it’s all coloured in but sometimes extra bits of detail needs adding and there always seems to be ‘colour scheme battles’ going on. The images start out as scruffy line drawings and end up as fully coloured illustrations. Paintings on the other hand are harder to finish – I have loads and loads that need little finishing touches, hopefully one day the indecisiveness will go away.
What do you love most about being a maker?
I love going through the motions and ending up with lovely handmade things. Getting to show and share them with other people is really rewarding.
Where would you like to be in 5 years time?
I’d like to be sat in a really comfortable chair next to a window with a nice view, armed with my sketch book, pens and a bottomless cup of tea… please.
What would you say to any makers starting out?
More of Amy’s wonderful work can be seen in her Folksy shop Blackoutwell.