Friday Finds - The Paper Creative - Illustrator Sarah Glover

Morning  all, today's Friday Finds is an illustrator and bookbinder at the beginning of her career: Sarah Glover - "The Paper Creative". I came across her work on line one day and love the delicate quirkiness to it. Sarah has created a children's book which has sold really well for her and is now creating a new line of stationery and has plans for a second book aimed at an older audience. 

© Sarah Glover

When did you start your business and why? Did you plan how you started meticulously or was it almost accidental? Tell us your story of how “The Paper Creative" came to be!

My business started after I graduated in July 2013. I had some funding through an enterprise scheme linked with the university and this allowed me to get a shared studio space to carry on with my creative practice. I thought it would be an easy transition from university to working on my own projects, in fact it was the opposite, I felt overwhelmed by the freedom of writing my own briefs and not having set deadlines. 

After a few months bumbling along I revisited my favourite university project, an illustrated children’s narrative. I started re-working specific illustrations that I wasn’t 100 per cent happy with. It took a good few months, and plenty of cups of tea, to get each spread just how I wanted. Now that the book flowed correctly, I decided it was time to do something with my creation. I took my first step into business at this point and had 50 copies printed. As a bookbinding artist I wanted to hand bind each book, this was a fairly quick process and meant the finished product still retained my handmade aesthetic. I sent a handful off to publishers, hearing nothing back I set to work sewing felt characters to accompany the stories and began selling them at selected craft fairs. My business was born.

© Sarah Glover

Did things take off immediately or has it been a slow burn?

It has most definitely been a slow burn, Its been a case of staying committed, working hard and believing that one day something will change and as I now look back on the past year, I can see how much I’ve achieved.

Do you do your business part time or full time?

When I first started off I was focussed full time on my practice, this was due to the enterprise support programme. 
Now, in a much more realistic world, I work on my creative projects part time whilst working at an independent delicatessan. I love the diversity of the two roles and find that for me personally, a day at the deli reminds me of my passions and the goals I’d like to achieve. 

© Sarah Glover

Do you intend to grow your business into something much bigger or are you happy with it as it is and why? 

I would love my illustrations to provide me with paid, full time work, so I plan to allow my business to grow. It is still in its very early stages and as yet I am unsure of the solid direction of my illustrative works, and welcome all opportunities that come my way. 
I’m a big goal setter and have set aims for the year in what I wish to achieve. These range from growing my brand, to craft events I plan to attend, to personal projects that I’d like to indulge myself in. I will always be creative so I believe that it will continue to grow. 

Where do you sell your work? 

My work is currently sold via my ETSY shop, at a selection of contemporary illustration & craft fairs, through word of mouth and a few boutiques across the UK.

© Sarah Glover

Which of the selling methods that you use works best for you? Why do you think this is?

So far I feel that contemporary illustration & craft fairs have provided me with the best sales. I believe the tactile elements of my work, is best appreciated in person, so at fairs they receive a lot of comments and interests. I’m also a very chatty person who loves to talk about what I do and other craft practices, which makes for a busy stand; I love the atmosphere of a good craft event.

Who do you think your typical customer is ?

My typical customer tends to be female, quite often a grandparent, or close friend to someone with small children. My children’s book is viewed as a luxury item, making it perfect for best friends baby presents, christening gifts and art to decorate children’s nurseries. The books have been sent to America and other locations before now, its really rewarding to hear stories about where your work has travelled too. 

© Sarah Glover

Which aspect of your work do you enjoy most? 

I enjoy the stage when I’ve pinned down an idea and im working on the illustration, or design. I tear through layout paper like its going out of fashion and I will keep re-drawing an image untill im happy with it. My childrens book textures come from physical rubbings of objects, there was one point I wanted to get the tree bark a specific way and I must have rubbed the same piece of wood around 30 times to ensure I got the look exactly right.  I can work solidly at this stage and not be aware of time, I get utterly submersed in my project and that feeling is what makes me aware that illustration is a part of life not a just my job.

Is there anything you would have done differently if you were starting your business today?

I’m not sure really, I think there are many things that I have learnt and perhaps I would have been better to take a break post university and not jump straight into a studio, but had I done it that way I’m sure I would say I wish I’d hit the ground running. I think listening to people is a great thing in business, surrounding yourselves with like minded individuals is key, be it for business or socially. I know I wouldn’t have carried on some days with out the support of some very special friends in my life. 

Are you someone who sets goals regularly or more instinctive?

I’ve touched on this lightly earlier, as its an integral part of my creative practice. I make goals as it helps me to keep on track but at the same time I have waves of creativity and maximise them when they come along. I’m happy to envelope myself for as long as I feel creative to make the most of that idea, knowing that it will pass and I’ll have time to edit later and tackle the more practical side of a business. That part of me is more led by instinct, I think a combination of the two is ideal. 

© Sarah Glover

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?

When I first started I used to have the shared studio in Leicester city centre, It was an old converted factory and whilst I loved the building and the exposed walls I didn’t feel very productive. As time went on I found I was working from home a lot more. I also found that travelling to and from the studio was taking big chunks out of my day.

I now work from home at an old school desk, that I got free from a neighbour. I am very much an early riser and a working day can begin at 6am, I love being able to pop the kettle on and work in some comfy clothes with nothing but the radio for company. I would love to return to a more rural workshop in the future, and have set it as one of my goals.

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 am very lucky to have formed some great friendships at university, with students and staff who have had continued input on my progress. One friend in particular is a rock for me. She keeps me motivated on the hard days and lets me know it is ok to have a day off. We share all our success and failures together learning how to move forward. She too is a creative and I feel this allows her to understand how I am feeling, and how best to tackle a situation. I was lucky to have a mentor for 6 months after university with whom I am in still in contact, that role is more related to the admin side of the business. 

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?

I wake up around 6am, pop the kettle on, If it’s a drawing day I’ll head straight to my desk and begin whilst listening to radio 2. Around 9am I'll grab some breakfast and briefly review my work so far.  I have learnt that my productive time is the morning so I capture this and make the most of it knowing in the afternoon I’ll want to tackle something less taxing. I’ll continue drawing, If at any point I feel like a break, I allow myself one but only to do the following -  upload some work to social media, check emails, or read through competition briefs. Im strict about breaks as I can be easily distracted. I’ll work until lunch and then the afternoon is more focussed on business progression, things such as budgets, promotions, events to take part in and plans for the week. 

Anything else you want to add … tips or plans or ambitions ..?

My big ambition for this year is to be a successful applicant at London’s, Renegade Craft Fair. Its highly competitive, and I may not be successful but I know if I give it my all and cross everything I have as much chance as the the other 5000 applicants. I have a very busy month ahead of me finalising designs and products and Im excited to see what the next 12 months has in store for me. 

Finally please tell us where we can buy your work! Links please ☺

You can buy copies of my children's book and characters at:

To view a selection of work and other projects please visit:

Thank you Sarah - good luck with Renegade!


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