Posted on October 22 2020
We love celebrating creativity at Zap! Creatives. When we first saw Amy Holliday's bee-utiful charms we just knew we had to do a feature with the talented illustrator!
Hello Amy! Let’s start by getting to know a little bit about your background?
Hey! I’ve been really into drawing and creating things my whole life. I took art and graphic design through A level, followed by an art foundation course, then studied illustration at the University of Cumbria in Carlisle. When I was very young, I imagined I wanted to grow up to be an animator, as I loved hand-drawn animations so much. But I came to realise expressing myself through drawing and traditional media was always my most favourite thing to do, which is what changed my mind to focus on illustration instead.
How did you start selling your work?
After graduating in 2011, I made a habit of sharing my artwork online, mainly via Flickr, my blog, and a self-coded website (which would be very embarrassing to look back at now). This was before social media had taken off. But luckily, people began to notice my work, and slowly, commissions started to come in. I would say this was the start of my business
I had a real passion and drive to create beautiful art that could be useful to people, whether it is to serve a specific purpose or to simply bring joy or meaning to people’s lives, and of course, I hoped to make a living from it. This same drive still keeps me going today.
I had made an Etsy account back in 2011 but didn’t use it to sell anything other than the odd requested print. It wasn’t until late 2017 when I moved to a bigger place that I considered the idea of having a proper online shop. I finally had the space to do it, and I was receiving requests and suggestions for products to sell. It was really exciting because after working on commissions for other people for so long, it meant I could finally have an outlet and purpose for my own art.
We LOVE the bee charms you sell! What’s your favourite thing you have ever created?
My giclee prints are the most significant products as they were the first thing I sold in my shop and what has helped it to grow, but the acrylic charms are probably my favourite thing right now. I love how vibrant and detailed they turn out, and the fact they are recycling waste plastic into something new is amazing! I’m also loving the hoop earrings I’ve been able to make from gold metallic charms, the idea of my art being wearable is blowing my mind.
What things are important to you when running your business?
Sustainability is incredibly important to me. I care deeply about our impact as a species on the environment and I work hard to keep my waste to a minimum, both as a small business and in my everyday lifestyle. When shopping, I look for ethical, low waste products, so I aim to reflect this in my business. Offering products that reflect my values is hugely important to me.
When it comes to packing items, I use recyclable materials, such as cardboard mailers, tissue paper, paper tape, and avoid plastic as much as I can (I’m trying to go completely plastic-free) I also reuse things such as bubble wrap I’ve received from my own purchases. My business may be tiny but I still feel the responsibility to produce as little waste as possible and not pass it on to my customers. I also believe in supporting local businesses and sourcing materials locally whenever possible.
Your illustrations are beautiful! What are some things that inspire your creativity?
Thanks! I mainly find myself inspired by the beautiful natural world. Science, conservation, and environmental issues are subjects that often move me to create, whether to visualise concepts or bring awareness to important issues. Aesthetically, I adore colour; rich, jewel colours, and organic lines. I have always loved botanical and scientific art, but I also love vivid contemporary art. I’m also easily inspired by unique places such as striking tourist attractions or interesting architecture, and often by the creativity in video games too, old and new.
My current favourite house plant is our new Elephant-Ear plant (don’t tell the others). But in general, foxgloves, ferns and palms, anything wild or exotic looking!
What do you find most challenging about running your business/being an illustrator?
I’ve been a freelance illustrator for 9 years now (wow) and there have been many challenges along the way. I feel like I’m constantly learning and evolving.
I think the most prevalent challenge is trying to find a healthy work/life balance. I love what I do so it’s easy to work overtime. I also like to sketch for fun so it’s hard to know where work ends and time-off begins.
It is a challenge every day to be a one-woman business. Flitting between tasks can become overwhelming and feels like there is a never-ending to-do list, so I try to make a schedule for the week and stick to it. Working for myself suits me as I love to be doing lots of different things, but prioritisation and remembering not to push myself too hard is key.
Biggest achievement so far for your business?
I think above all else the biggest achievement is being able to pay the bills from doing what I love. It has never been easy, but when I reflect on how far I’ve come, I realise how lucky I am to do what I love as a full-time job.
Where can people see your amazing work and buy your beautiful products?