We’re about to head down the rabbit hole with Emma Talbot, founder of the creative company The Little Brown Rabbit to find out how to strike the perfect balance between creative time and family life.
Tell us a bit about yourself and your business
Hello, thank you so much for having me here at the printed.com blog. My name is Emma Talbot and the name of my online business is The Little Brown Rabbit. I'm a painter, illustrator & crafter. I work as a freelancer but also run a business selling my art prints, greetings cards, paintings and craft objects.
What does a typical day look like for you? How do you organise yourself?
My first mission of the day is to get my daughter to school on time! Then I start my working day. Although I'm not really a morning person, I always try and get some creative work done in the morning as it's far too easy to get distracted by other tasks such as answering emails etc in order to tick a few boxes off your to do list. I find that if I go down that route, I get sucked in and lose most of my time to the day to day runnings of my business. Before I know it, I'm off to collect my daughter from school with nothing accomplished design-wise. So I'm better off designing and creating first and leaving other jobs to later on after lunch.
When did you decide to become a full time artist?
I never really took the leap as such—it was a natural progression for me because I studied art and graphics at school, then college and after that I studied for my BA Degree in Illustration.
After uni, I got my first design job as a graphic designer which was great because I learned all the Adobe design packages on the computer inside and out. Graphic design was definitely not creative enough for me, so my second job was at a greetings card and gift wrap company which I really enjoyed as it was far more creative and I got the added joy of seeing my designs appearing in shops.
After seven years in the greetings industry, the company I worked for was going to move to Wales so I decided this was the perfect time for me to leave and set up on my own.
You mention on your Etsy store that you like to use the most environmentally friendly methods available. How important is this to you and has it become more of a concern from customers?
This is so important to me. A lot of products I sell are printed on paper so I will always source paper that is environmentally friendly. I do the same with my envelopes, picture frames and cello bags for my cards.
I use secondhand boxes and packaging to post my work in as it seems such a waste to throw away perfectly good packaging! If I notice any shops leaving cardboard boxes outside to be binned I will ask if I can take some. For padding I use a trimmer and paper from my recycling pile. I do my best wherever I can.
You feature other artists on your blog and promote a mix of modern and traditional art crafts. How important is it to keep the traditional arts alive?
So important! After working on a screen for 10 years producing commercial work, I noticed I was getting more and more drawn to traditional arts again, which is what I trained in initially. I REALLY missed it!
There's something very personal about picking up a paint brush or pencil and putting your soul on a canvas or a made art piece. I'm fascinated about other artists’ processes. I’ve have noticed for a few years now that the demand for traditional skills is becoming more and more popular again.
How do you find inspiration?
I seem to find inspiration everywhere and so I’m always taking photos but the internet is obviously an amazing resource. I have to be careful though; if I fall down the rabbit hole of Pinterest or Instagram I could get lost for hours! I give myself 15 minutes to look for inspiration and set an alarm!
You’ve been vocal about the hurdles that creative parents have juggling their business and family while trying to find inspiration. How do you avoid becoming overly stressed and uninspired?
That's a tough one! My daughter is now four and I'm slowly discovering a daily schedule that works for me. Creating is the most important thing to me and my business—if I didn't create there would be no business and if I didn't create I would get down in the dumps very quickly. This is why I try to create in the morning as it makes me feel fulfilled, inspired and more productive in other areas. Even ten minutes in my sketch book works for me if I have other things on.
I’ve learned that breaks are a necessity! As a mother, you try to cram your day full to get as much done as possible. Sometimes you just run out of steam and need time off. I've learned to recognise when this happens and not to feel guilty about it. I also struggle a lot with my energy levels and have found walking, replacing snacks with juicing and meditation really help me cope with daily stresses and keep my energy up.
What are your favourite tools to use for your work?
My passion is mixed media, so I like to use many tools! I guess I couldn't do without my ephemera and paints.
Any advice for those wishing to get into the profession?
Yes! If I could go back in time, the first question I would ask myself is "what area of design would you want to get into if money wasn't an issue?" Then whatever the answer is, do that! Don't let your money head take the lead, follow your heart, otherwise you'll probably end up creating work that you don’t enjoy that much and you’ll end up where your heart wanted to go in the first place.
There are so many areas of design you could get into so it's important to work out which areas light you up when you think about them, they're the ones to go for. Or if there is a particular designer you admire, ask yourself what is it about their work that you are attracted to. You can glean a lot of insight just by asking those two questions :)
What does the future look like for The Little Brown Rabbit?
I'll always be painting and illustrating but in the future you'll definitely be seeing more of my craft work in paper mâché and my embroidery artwork too.