Katie Craven | Illustrator and Designer of Katie Craven | Inspiring Interviews

Katie Craven | Illustrator and Designer of Katie Craven | Inspiring Interviews

Tell us a little bit about yourself…where do you come from, what did you study, and how did your business begin? 

I was born in the rolling hills of Somerset but grew up in a village in Lancashire! I studied Art & Design at college and went on to study a Degree in Fine Art at Liverpool John Moore’s University. I always knew that I wanted to be an artist of some kind but didn’t know how my creativity would unfold. After I graduated from University, I spent my time creating an illustration portfolio before my business started to emerge in 2014, when a friend mentioned to me that The Princes Trust helped young people set themselves up as self-employed. At this point I had no idea how to go about working for myself, and The Trust were absolutely amazing from our initial meeting, as I was soon put onto the Enterprise Program, which helped me to learn everything I needed to know to get my business off the ground. It was from working with the PT and my mentor that I started to realize that I really wanted to produce beautiful products that would be adorned with my magical illustrations!

How did you get into illustration?

During University I produced many large-scale paintings that were very illustrative in style, which I really loved creating! I have always been drawn to creating elaborate details and following my intuition, which has meant that my style has always been recognizable as my own regardless of the medium.

 A few years after graduating I picked up a fineliner pen and it was like me and the pen were always supposed to meet - it was the perfect tool for turning the worlds inside my head into instant reality, right before me on paper! I found that pens were perfect for quickly getting down that image that I had envisioned, whilst allowing me to add a high level of detail (and I am certain that they made me draw better too!)

Tell us a little about the design process for our first scarf collaboration together.

 It has been a dream of mine to collaborate with Charlotte for many years now, and when Charlotte came to me with the idea of creating a design that encompasses a circle of hands rich with the seasons blooming out of them (to represent how we support another through our seasons of life) it felt like the perfect way to represent our combined love of nature and supporting others to grow.

I worked on the design in my pen and ink style of drawing, creating the different seasons growing out the hands and the foliage intertwining each other, showcasing some of the wonderful plants, flowers and wildlife that can be found throughout each of these seasons. We worked closely together to make sure that the design was developing into what both of us had envisioned. It was such a pleasure to work together with Charlotte on this scarf collaboration that represents the beauty of supporting those around you –  we inadvertently created a design that also perfectly epitomizes our wonderful friendship!

What’s something special you can tell us about some of the motifs within the design? 

Within the design there is a little surprise - two of the hands are wearing both mine and charlotte’s birth rings! This felt like the perfect addition to the design, a way to beautifully incorporate a little personal touch for both of us by featuring the months in which we were born! 

When was your ‘aha!’ moment when creating your business?

I would say it was when I realized that I really wanted to create products that are not only beautiful and magical but are also made to last. With British luxury at the core of my brand, I wanted to create products where attention to detail is taken at every aspect of our products journey by selecting the highest quality fabrics and paper stocks to ensure the longevity of our luxury collections. I also feel passionate about making sure everything that we create is sustainable and kind to our planet - we really do love our natural world so doing our bit to protect it is very important to us!  Ultimately, my ‘aha’ moment was the realization that I wanted to create items that I am proud of, by creating a luxury brand that sells high quality, British made products that bring beauty, joy and magic into our customers lives.

Where/When do you feel happiest?

I feel happiest when I am on a walk in the woodlands near where I live with my husband, and also when I am in my studio whilst working on a new collection. I feel so incredibly lucky that I get to draw for my job!

How do you keep motivated when running your own business?

I suppose I think about the fact that there is nothing else I would rather be doing! I really love the excitement of designing and bringing new ideas to life. There is nothing better than being able to create your own world, in terms of creating a brand that brings joy to others, the freedom to evolve creatively, and being able to have your own voice and message.

Also, to keep motivated, I like to map out what we need to be working on and what our next steps are, so that we are always working towards something with an end goal in mind, which really helps us to move forward and not stay stagnant.

Favourite way to start the day?

I usually start my day early with a cup of Yorkshire tea at my desk – whilst planning and emailing! In the Summer I love to begin my mornings with a walk on the hills around my local countryside and in the Winter, I enjoy taking that walk mid-morning once the sun has risen. I also like to plan out my day in the morning and check that my weekly schedule includes all immediate and long-term plans designated for that week.

Do you take everything as it comes, or are you a 5-year planner?

I certainly have an idea of where I would like to be in 5 year’s time – however I like to make sure that I am kind with myself if life doesn’t work out the way I had planned. I am always having dreams and thoughts about where I would like my brand to be in 5 years time and what exciting things I would like to be doing. I definitely do plan ahead in terms of trade shows and collections as we have to work on those many months and even a year before they launch in stores.

Favourite season?

Spring and Autumn! Spring because it is just so hopeful and beautiful – I love that the world starts a new, and especially after a long winter in England, it feels so incredibly special when it finally arrives! And Autumn because of the colours and smells and beautiful walks. For me, they are just the most magical months.

What’s the best career advice you’ve received?

To sleep on it. Sometimes if I am really unsure of a decision to make or if something has gone wrong and I don’t know of the best way to tackle it, a good night sleep always brings such a fresh perspective on things, and sometimes I wake up knowing exactly what I need to do next!  I think about this advice all of time and certainly follow it often.  

I worked on the design in my pen and ink style of drawing, creating the different seasons growing out the hands and the foliage intertwining each other, showcasing some of the wonderful plants, flowers and wildlife that can be found throughout each of these seasons. We worked closely together to make sure that the design was developing into what both of us had envisioned. It was such a pleasure to work together with Charlotte on this scarf collaboration that represents the beauty of supporting those around you –  we inadvertently created a design that also perfectly epitomizes our wonderful friendship!

What podcast or book are you loving right now?

I am currently re-reading Tara Mohr’s ‘Playing Big’ book because I think she conveys such a powerful message with helping women to come into who they really are and take up as much space as they need to in the world, which I feel is incredibly important for all women to do! Also the podcasts I love are ‘The High Low’ with Dolly Alderton and Pandora Sykes, ‘How I Built This’ with Guy Raz, and ‘Hashtag Authentic’ by Sara Tasker.

Who’s your role model?

I really love fellow female designers such as Kate Spade and Emma Bridgewater. I admire them both for their tenacity, determination and vision for the brands they both created. I think having things that are beautiful, useful and long lasting around you on a daily basis really does make life feel so much more wonderful! You know great design when you see it, feel it and use it, and it really makes all the difference. I also really admire Victorian designer William Morris, as he created such incredibly beautiful designs which shall remain classic and timeless for many decades if not centuries to come. He truly believed in the creation of beautiful things to make the world a better place and that is a belief I also hold. Honestly, I really admire anyone who has the ability to create something beautiful out of nothing!

What would you tell someone else thinking of starting their own venture?

I would tell them not to be afraid to ask for help when they need it. I really struggled with this when I began my business, and this probably held me back, because asking for the help earlier could have meant I began without delays, simply because I thought I was supposed to know everything already. Unfortunately, we are not equipped to know everything we need to in life so there will always be times when we need to ask for help. There is no shame in doing so!

 I would also say to believe in yourself and your idea, especially because everyone that has created something amazing in the world before you first started out with just an idea, and I believe that there is enough space in the world for yours too!

 Shop our first collaborative piece "The Helping Hand" scarf here. 

 

- Katie Craven, Founder and Designer of Katie Craven