Sam had a natter with Illustrator Heather Horsley, about her greeting card design company, Muffin Designs.
HM: Hi Heather, we love your work, but can you tell our readers what you do?
HH: I’m a freelance Illustrator. I’m based at Banks Mill Studios in Derby where I have been since June 2010 after graduating from the University of Derby with a BA(Hons) Visual Communication, specialising in Illustration. I predominantly work in publishing including book cover design, greeting card design and editorial work.
HM: We see you have your own company Muffin Designs, that specialises in Greeting Card designs, how did this come about?
HH: Yes, while I was in my last year at university I always joked with my buddies about setting up not one but two businesses after I graduated, one (Heather Horsley Illustration) which would concentrate on Editorial and Book publishing and the second one, Muffin Designs, would concentrate on developing and producing my own Greeting card designs and hopefully would expand to other products. I had already been a greeting card designer for 21 years but wanted to start producing my own ranges, with fresh looking hand rendered designs. I still work with other publishers on a commission basis but do my own ‘thing’ with Muffin Designs. This was only a dream for me a few years ago but now it’s all happening, with hopefully exciting times ahead.
HM: What's it like being based at Banks Mill Studios, would you recommend working in a studio as apposed to working from home?
HH: I love it at Banks Mill! Banks Mill has helped me on several levels, not only does it come with a great network of creative people as neighbours, but also offers business support. All Banks Mill tenants are informed of and encouraged to engage in networking opportunities and seminars. I have worked from home for 20 years, which is ok, but you do have to be extremely self directed. I had to be strict with myself not to be distracted by domesticity and interleave between work and the demands of bringing up three boys. Now the boys are older I jumped at the chance of working at a studio, it meant that I could work in peace and concentrate properly on all my design work.
HM: Where do you get your ideas for your card designs from?
HH: This is tricky at times, trying to produce designs that haven’t been done before is a challenge in itself. However, I obtain a lot of my inspiration from nature. Every time I travel, I tend to take my camera and my little sketchbook to record anything interesting, especially nature’s patterns and intricacies. Last year I visited La Gomera, one of the Canary Islands, which is fabulously rich in textural and colourful vegetation and landscapes. Here I had ample and inspiring reference material to work with. Other innovative illustrators and designers are also a source of inspiration influencing my work continually, this includes drawing from new trends, fashions and colours, keeping my approach sharp and up to date.
HM: How do you normally create a design?
HH: My work mainly consists of pen line with printmaking textures thrown in which are all coloured using Photoshop. Saying that, the work I produce for Publishing firms does tend to be all hand drawn, hand painted using Gouache/water-colour and acrylics.
HM: What is your aim for the company?
HH: My aim for the company is to consistently produce contemporary, fresh looking designs, using all my new found skills from University. Always trying to be aware of and respond to consumer and market trends.
HM: Anything exciting in the pipeline?
HH: I’m planning another trip abroad where I hope to collect some more exciting reference material for my next two small ranges of seasonal cards ready in time for the Banks Mill Open Studio event at the end of November.I’m hoping to release 2 sets of 6 designs in the range, I’m quite excited about them as I’m hoping to steer away from the traditional Christmas look altogether.
I am also hoping to expand some of my designs so that they can work on other products such as tea towels, mugs, calenders, possibly tote bags and T-Shirts.