A Look Behind the Scenes of Sarah Ray Illustration

behind the scenes sarah ray illustration

An ‘Inspiring Indies’ Interview with Sarah Ray Illustration.

In this week’s ‘Inspiring Independents‘ interview we’re chatting with illustrator Sarah Ray. Known for her unique, quirky illustrations we’re huge fans of Sarah’s work. In the past we’ve been lucky enough to feature Sarah’s cards and illustrated gifts on Piccadilly Lane’s sister site Card & Gift Network. Now we’re delighted to be able to share an insight into her indie business right here on Piccadilly Lane.

What inspired you to start Sarah Ray Illustration? When did you begin?

When I went to University to do Graphic design I didn’t even know that illustration was an option until a tutor suggested it to me and I changed course. Ah, that was better! I instantly felt more at home. That’s when it all started; I’d caught the illustration bug!

What can you tell us about your indie business? What sets you apart from your corporate contemporaries?

I’m just a wee business, it’s basically just me doing a hundred different job roles every day. From invoicing to writing press releases to illustrating for a client, there’s a lot to do! Because it’s just me, I guess this is what sets me apart from the more corporate businesses. People buy into me, I am the brand (which is a bit scary!) but it ultimately means that my products are honest and unique and can’t be found anywhere else.

What’s your role in the business? What’s your favourite things about your job / running an indie business?

That’s a difficult question! I’ve got so many different hats to wear I sometimes forget which one I need to put on next. My favourite part is the creative part because that’s the reason I’m doing this thing (although I have to remind myself of this at times!) I love it when I’ve come up with an idea that I think works, and draw it up.  The more I make time for this, the more satisfied I am!

Are there other people in your business? What can you tell us about the rest of the team?

Nope, just me. Although I do have helpers. My husband is a massive support and is really good at helping me with how I need to move forward and with general tasks. Other family members have been brilliant card packers too, especially my mum! 

Here at Piccadilly Lane, we believe that independents offer an amazing combination of unique design and high quality. Do you agree? How do you ensure this happens at Sarah Ray Illustration?

Yes, totally. I want to be proud of everything I make, so everything goes through quality control (me with a cup of tea and a biscuit checking over materials and techniques, trying not to get crumbs over stuff). I believe I’m unique in what I do, I don’t think I would have continued if I didn’t think I was because I wouldn’t be able to survive as a creative.

You recently worked with the Birmingham Royal Ballet creating designs to promote their upcoming ballet for children. Do you enjoy mixing commission work with developing your own products? 

Yes, absolutely!  Variety is the spice of life, as they say! and doing commissioned work adds another dimension to my career and keeps things fresh and exciting; I love it!

You currently specialise in a wide variety of cards and gifts? What inspires you about this type of design? 

Cards are great, there is so much potential with what you can say through an illustration, it’s endless. This makes it a creative challenge to come up with something totally unique. It also makes me think of people, and what they might want to express to each other.  I mean people are giving each other my cards because it means something to them, how amazing is that? 

All of your products feature your fabulous illustrations. What can you tell us about the process of creating these designs?

I write things down that I think are funny or interesting and then some of them make it into a sketch of some kind. Normally a pretty ugly pencil drawing just to get the idea down! Most of the time I draw it up in photoshop using my wacom tablet and then it’s done! I’m quite quick at what I do, sometimes designs take me a couple of minutes to come up with. I’m definitely a quick worker!

Your collection shows great attention to detail and quality. What can you tell us about the craftsmanship involved?

Ah you’re very kind! I think it’s just the fact I’ve been doing this for a good few years now. I don’t really think about it, it’s a natural process, but I’ve still a lot to learn! But that’s the thing about this job, there’s always something to improve on and learn about! Which I’m glad about otherwise I’d be a bit bored I think.

Why should people shop with you? What makes you different?

The main reason I started doing all of this was because I enjoyed making people smile and have a giggle at my drawings. So I’m just happy that people still like doing that, and if they buy something after enjoying my work, then that’s a bonus! 

We LOVE independents and think more people should be supporting them. Why do you think people should shop with independent businesses like yours?

Independent businesses are what make the world a more interesting place.  They are so unique and will offer a high level of personal service too! Imagine a world without them? It would be dull! So it’s extra important we support them.

Last but not least, what’s your favourite independent business and why?

Ooh that’s a hard one! There are so many I love and so many undiscovered to me as yet. But one that comes to mind right now is Becky Baur. I met her at a trade show in London a few years ago and I love her bold, fun illustrations.

Thank You Sarah!

You’ve read the interview, now take a peek at the indie. Visit the Sarah Ray Illustration website.

Posted by Charlotte 8:00 6/07/15

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