Morning! Today's Friday Finds is an illustrator whose work many of you will recognise - particularly if you live in the UK; she is Lucy Loveheart. I've been lucky enough to meet Lucy a few times when she's exhibited in Norfolk where we both live and at the Country Living show in London where she usually has a stand annually. She's also about as tall as me - which is nice - i.e. pretty tall!)
Lucy at work in her studio © Lucy Loveheart
When did you start your business and why? Did you plan how you started meticulously or was it almost accidental?
When I was in the last year of my Masters degree I (very luckily) started to work for Café Rouge. They had begun setting up a few outlets in London. I provided them with paintings, murals, poster designs etc. Very quickly it became a huge company and they started developing a chain of restaurants across the country. With very little experience in running my own business I had to suddenly swing into action and adapt accordingly. So in a very short space of time I had an unexpected business to run. Alongside my Café Rouge business, as an in-house artist, I worked as a freelance illustrator and artist.
Did things take off immediately or has it been a slow burn?
It did take off immediately, which was wonderful. When I stopped working for Café Rouge, effectively I had to start all over again and had to approach my business in a completely different way, and find new outlets for my creativity (and new ways to make ends meet)…..so it was more like a fast hot start, then a slow burn and now things are speeding up!
Do you do your business part time or full time?
© Lucy Loveheart - Chips by the sea
Do you intend to grow your business into something much bigger or are you happy with it as it is and why?
My husband Patrick, and I have been running the business for over 25 years. We have struggled on and off with the business side of things, which is not our strength. Recently we have had the pleasure of joining forces with a wonderful team and together we have created a new company, which has much more of a business focus, but at the same time keeping my art at the heart of all that we do. This is going to be essential, and will also give me the luxury of being able to focus more on the art, which is my passion.
Where do you sell your work?
Tokyo, London, Holt, Wells, and Norwich!!!…..I think a number of our products such as our books and cards have sold worldwide.
©Lucy Loveheart - Secret Cove
Which of the selling methods that you use works best for you? Why do you think this is?
The best selling methods have always been when other people have done it for me!!! Selling is not my strong point!!
Who do you think your typical customer is?
I don’t seem to have a typical customer…I think children like my work because it has childlike qualities, but one of my biggest collectors of my paintings is a gentleman in his 80’s.
© Lucy Loveheart - NYC
Which aspect of your work do you enjoy most?
The imagining stage. I love imagining all aspects of my work, from pictures I might paint, from products we might produce to exhibitions I might have.
Is there anything you would have done differently if you were starting your business today?
That is very hard to answer…I know that there are many things I could have done differently but all those things contributed to me being where I am now and the mistakes I made were all valuable learning curves. Had I done things differently I might have been slightly less hard up at times, but I was always doing what I loved and the one thing I always tried to do was follow my passion and listen to my inner creative voice and gave myself the room to experiment and play with my art and business.
© Lucy Loveheart - In the sky with Diamonds
Are you someone who sets goals regularly or more instinctive?
I oscillate between the two.
Have you ever or do you employ people part time to help with any aspect of your business? For example, book keeper, accountant, packers? If you do how did you find people who were the right fit for you?
When I started working for Café Rouge, my business was expanding so rapidly that I couldn’t cope with the demand single handedly, so I started training my husband and friends to help with the paintings etc and my husband got recruited to help with the accounts and an enormous amount of other areas.
Working with people that are the right fit is a wonderful and fulfilling experience. I have now got an amazing team around me and we all have great complimentary skill sets.
© Lucy Loveheart - Laughing in the rain
Could you describe where you work? Are you alone most of the day or with others? Do you feel that they way it is now is the best fit for you? Do you see that changing?
My studio is next to my house. I love it!! I work with my husband all day long and usually it is in total isolation. It works very well for us indeed.
Do you have a mentor or people who you are able to discuss your business with? If not how do you find you best make decisions about your business?
I have an incredible team, who have insights and wisdom that are invaluable to me. I value their judgment about all aspects of the business and I love getting their feedback. My husband has the unenviable task of having to give me an honest opinion about my artwork. He is nearly always spot on. It is essential to have people in your life who are not afraid to give you the truth. I also consult my mother who always has pearls of wisdom to give, when asked about all subjects of life and business. She has been a constant soulmate and tower of strength.
© Lucy Loveheart - Magic and memories
What is a typical day for you in your business as it is now? What would be a dream day for you – business or otherwise?
My dream day would be to get up early, exercise, do a little bit of office work and then paint, paint paint all day. Sadly the reality is that more and more of my time is spent writing e mails…BUT my team is currently trying to help me create my dream day. It might take a little while for me to move from admin to art, but it will be amazing when it finally happens.
Anything else you want to add…
Follow your heart, follow your dreams, never ever give up and if possible work with and surround yourself with people whom you respect and love working with.
Fabulous Frames in Norwich www.fabulous-frames.co.uk
The Voewood Bookshop in Holt voewoodartandbooks.com
The Big Blue Sky in Wells www.bigbluesky.uk.com
My shop: http://www.lucyloveheart.com/shop/
Thank you so much for giving me this interview Lucy and it sounds as though you are set for a wonderful art consumed future with the support you have around you. I absolutely love that NYC image - I want to buy a print of that one!