Frankly, The Folksy Magazine


Meet the Maker… Holly Betton, Death by Tea

by Emily. Average Reading Time: about 6 minutes.

postcard front Folksy

How long have you been selling on Folksy?

I have been selling on Folksy since February this year. I had heard about it from other designer-makers so had a look around and decided to join!

Tell us about your work and the process you use?

I am a designer, illustrator and professional colour-in-er. I graduated from Nottingham Trent University in 2010 with a Degree in Textile Design, holding a particular interest in drawing and print-making. Most of my work starts as a simple mono-print, this method of printing gives the naïve mark and line that forms the basis of my work. Colour is then added and combined with playful text and composition to create designs with an eclectic and unique charm. I make and design a range of cards, printed tea towels and mugs as well as prints and original art work.

What’s your favourite piece of work? 

I don’t have a particular favourite, but some things I am proud of, such as my dinosaur drawing, as I found it so hard to draw a fierce looking one, they all looking friendly which was quite frustrating.

Favourite dino mug
Favourite dino mug by Death by Tea £6

I also have some work in an exhibition taking place at the Kensington Urban Outfitters in London. I created the work especially to fit the ‘Once upon a time…’ theme and I really liked the end result, it was curated by one of my current stockists, Moonko and it is a great opportunity to show people my work!

Favourite Urban Outfitters exhibition
Favourite Urban Outfitters exhibition

When did it all begin for you?

After completing a BA Hons Degree in Textile design at Nottingham Trent University, I was offered a paid internship with ceramicist Clare Gage. It was really inspiring to see Clare running her own business. I attended various different Fairs and really enjoyed the experience of meeting others, especially fellow designer-makers who were in a similar position. From this, I decided that I would like to pursue a career in this field.

Tell us about your work space? Favourite place to work?

This is a difficult one as I tend to move around a lot and leave a trail of scissors, crayons and pens wherever I go, much to the annoyance of everyone else. I don’t really mind where I work, as long as there is a cup of tea, some snacks and some nice music on hand I am quite content.

How do you keep your work unique?

I never really think too much about what I am doing, I just get drawing and do lots of work and see what happens. I have a rough idea of what I want to achieve but I find if I am too rigid in what I need to draw, I can’t do it! I just draw things that I like or objects I think will look nice such as biscuits, dinosaurs, bears, teapots, and flowers. My work is like me, the pictures and words, and everyone is unique so in theory, that makes my work unique…right?

Handsome chap card by Death by Tea
Handsome chap card by Death by Tea £2

Describe your day as a maker. Are you organised/disciplined?

I also have another job which I do in the morning, so the afternoons are designer-maker time. I try to make lists and be organised and I think structure is important and managing your time well is an integral part of having a successful business. Although, no matter how hard I try to prepare before events, it always ends up being last minute. Luckily I have lots of lovely friends and family that are there to lend a helping hand.

What three tools could you not live without?

All my work starts as a mono-print so the tools which are involved in this technique, such as a roller and ink are pretty essential. I love the quality mono-printing gives; the naive line and mark are something which I haven’t been able to achieve using other methods. I also like to use biro, felts and crayons too, I know this is practically blasphemy but I am standing up for these underrated tools!!

What gets the creative juices flowing when creativity is stifled?

I always find looking through magazines and books or going to exhibitions helps. There are so many talented creative folk and being able to see what others are doing really helps to motivate me! I am part of a creative group in my home town; we meet up every other month and take some of our own work to discuss. It really helps to talk to my peers about my work and they always help to think of ideas and problem solve!

Are you inspired by any artists from the past or present?

I like so many artists and designers! Although, most of these don’t directly inspire I just really admire their work and their impact on the art world. My favourites are Cy Twombly and his expressive and emotive paintings, Gillian Wearing and her work on people in society and Andy Warhol (especially his drawings!) for being Andy Warhol! I also like Howard Hodgkin for his use of colour and mark! I see so many lovely creative people and can’t think of all of them!

Cy Twombly - untitled
Cy Twombly – untitled

How do you know when a piece is done?

This one is easy as I always say I have this feeling that just tells me when to stop, which is quite handy really. A lot of my work is scribbled and half coloured in, but that is no mistake, it is finished!

What do you love most about being a maker?

I like to make people smile with my designs! I notice that when people walk past my stand at a Fair, they often smile or laugh (in a good way, I think!) which makes me happy to think others appreciate my work! The novelty of people using my tea towel to wash their pots, or sending a card that I have drawn in the spare room still hasn’t worn off! I think it’s lovely that people like what I do!

cutlery tea towel
Cutlery tea towel by Death by Tea £10

So, where would you like to be in 5 years time?

I hope Death by Tea will grow and that I am able to continue designing and creating products that others can enjoy! It would be fantastic to have more stockists throughout the U.K. and to be involved with a number of creative projects. I would also like the opportunity to share my knowledge and experience with others so it would be good to organise some workshops or teaching.

What would you say to any makers starting out?

I would say good luck and go for it! Although it is not easy and requires lots of determination, commitment and good old fashioned grafting. I have been lucky with the help and guidance that I have received so if you know anyone who is in the creative industries or a fellow designer-maker I would recommend having a chat with them. Also, a book called ‘The Handmade Marketplace: How to sell your crafts locally, globally and online’, it proved a great starter-pack for me! There are so many Fairs you can do but I would suggest you really carefully consider your audience and be choosy about where you go as sometimes paying a bit more can be worth it! I wish you all lots of luck and hopefully I will see you out and about!

Tea solves most problems card
Tea solves most problems card by Death by Tea £2

 You can browse and buy Holly’s full collection in her Folksy shop Death by Tea. Enjoy!