Friday, 25 May 2018

Etsy shop find...a chat with Bex Parkin

This months etsy interview is with the super talented Bex Parkin.
Bex is a freelance illustrator from the UK, and designs, paints and creates her wonderful prints, for sale in her etsy shop.
Inspired by nature and her rural location at home in Staffordshire, Bexs' work very often features gorgeous foliage and beautifully painted florals and animals with such amazing detail.
I just love her dark base prints where her colour palettes really pop. Those bright pinks and zingy limes and oranges... amazing!

Head over to her etsy shop and you can pick up packs of greeting cards and art prints that I'm sure would take pride of place in your home. 

So, let's get comfy and get to know a little about Bex... her loves, processes, guilty pleasures and more!

1. Can you tell us a bit about you and your background?

I live in very rural Staffordshire with my three big kids, partner and dog. 
In my previous life I studied History of Art and Architecture and did a graphic design course at Central St Martins. I have lived and worked most of my adult life in London where I worked in lots of museums and art galleries but my favourite job was sourcing vintage and antique textiles and clothing for the fashion industry – I met many famous designers and it fired my love of colour, pattern and decoration. 
I only started illustrating just over 12 months ago and have loved every second of it! 

2. Tell us about a typical day for you?

Our alarm goes off sometime between 5am and 6am every day and despite being a morning person, I can’t wake up until I have a cup of tea in bed. 
I love a quiet hour or two to plan my day before dragging my three kids out of bed. 
After the dreaded school run and a dog walk I do some more serious exercise – usually a run or long hike. 
Then I’m at my desk solidly until the Post office run. 
I am very prolific so I paint most days but other jobs include answering emails, photographing, website design, printing, scanning and packing. 
I also update my Etsy shop frequently with recent artwork. 
After the family meal and sorting the kids out, I like a quiet hour of sketching in the evening, ready to paint the next day. 
I don’t watch TV but prefer a Netflix drama on the laptop instead. 

3. What’s your favourite item listed for sale in your shop? And the most popular item?

Normally what ever I last painted but I do love my jungle animals – particularly my Pink Tiger and the Toucan. 
The most popular are the card packs which I intend to do lots more of soon!

4. How would you describe your work/style?

I used to get quite worried about finding my ‘style’ when I first started illustrating but it all seemed to happen quite naturally in the end. 
I think I have two slightly different styles – one is more painterly like the Three Flamingoes and the other is slightly simplified such as The Tiger Tree. 
I love animals in nature, big jungle leaves, imaginary flowers and decorative elements. 
I have to focus on my colour palette sometimes, so it doesn’t get out of control!

5. Can you give us an insight into your creative process?

My mind is a flash of ideas! 
I am quite a prolific artist and produce work fairly rapidly, sometimes because I’m excited about moving on to the next piece! 
The process always starts with sketches in the evening when I can relax and let my mind wander. 
I might focus on a particular animal or colour, a decorative element or technique. 
My degree in Art History will also come into play and I will look at other artists for inspiration too. 
The process normally incorporates research of some type and I might study animal expressions, leaf patterns or tree textures. 
I make notes along the side of the drawings then sketch onto paper the next morning and crack open the gouache tubes!

6. What’s your guilty pleasure?

I am quite isolated in the countryside where I live and I miss the culture of city life and also travelling which I used to do prior to kids. 
Now they are older (12, 14 and 18) and I have a very understanding partner, my guilty pleasure is going off for a while on my own every few months. 
It's crucial to my mental health that I have new experiences and I guess my creativity needs this too. 
Quite often it will involve travelling or meeting up with my best friends. 
We all met at University and just being around these strong, fabulous women inspires me. Without them, I would not have had the belief in myself to start illustrating.  
I’ve always had this wanderlust and independence – I’m just so grateful I have a partner who recognizes that I’d go quite mad if I didn’t head off sometimes! 
We do go away together and with all the kids too of course! 
This year I am going to Columbia and Peru with a friend so prepare to see lots of llamas in my work! 

7. Where do you work? Describe your studio/work area?

I work from my studio at home which is on the top of a big hill surrounded by green countryside. 
My big desk in front of the window looks out onto busy bird feeders and fields of cows. 
I always have my springer spaniel under my desk too! 
As I have the room to myself, I have plenty of space for my large Epson printer, scanner and packaging. 
I’m very lucky!

8. What were your favourite books as a child?

I can’t remember many books from my childhood other than Ballet Shoes but I have always bought Victorian novels from junk shops for their cover design and have a very lovely collection now. 
My own kids always loved The Hungry Caterpillar, the Gruffalo series and any sort of pop up book – I love pop ups! 
Other favourites were the Mog series and The Tiger Who Came to Tea. 

9. Tell us nine random facts about yourself?

I used to play rugby for my University
I hate chocolate or ice cream
I love Instagram – it has really driven the popularity of my work – hate all other social media
I once ran away to Florence with my daughter (she was then 3) and lived there for 4 months
I am a fan of clean eating and love cooking
I am inspired by brave, bold women – I would definitely have been a suffragette!
I speed read
I didn’t tell my partner I was an illustrator for 6 months in case he thought I’d gone mad – he is my biggest fan now
If I’m not painting, I’m growing vegetables in my greenhouse
I would love to be a travel writer 

10. What’s the most rewarding thing about being a designer/illustrator?
Lots of things – it’s such a rush when people appreciate your work or even buy a piece! Being approached to do an exciting project or collaboration is always fantastic, such as with Early Bird publishing for a range of greeting cards being launched in June.
 I love the flexibility of working for myself from home. 
The possibility of what happens next and where this journey goes is also hugely rewarding – there is never a dull moment!

A huge thanks to Bex for taking the time to be part of the etsy interview feature and giving us an insight into her world.

You can follow Bex on instagram here.

x x x

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