Today I have the wonderful Este Macleod who creates absolutely beautiful paintings and is an experienced textile and ceramics designer.
When did you start your business and why? Did you plan how you started meticulously or was it almost accidental?
Started working in 1992 or maybe before as I have been an artist pretty much all my life.. After I completed my textile design studies I set up a ceramic studio. Options for textile designers were limited and using designs in application worked well. I've always painted as well, but this took time. Developing my painting style and technique happened whilst I worked as a freelance textile designer and ceramicist. I also printed a range of textiles and made candles for gift shops.
Did things take off immediately or has it been a slow burn? Do you do your business part time or full time?
Full time artist, I've never worked for anyone else. Even as a student I always worked and supplied shops, so this was a resolve I've always had, having to make it work being an artist. Adapting to different markets and finding creative solutions is part of life as an artist and it was not always easy.
Do you intend to grow your business into something much bigger or are you happy with it as it is and why?
I've been an artist for nearly 25 years, a ceramicist for 10 of those. A change in direction came with me becoming more established as a artist, this only happens over time I found. I see myself as a colourist painter. I still do ceramics but really more for my own pleasure, this is ironic as it was such hard work when it was my main form of income. Being a painter offers me the freedom to work everywhere..even on holiday, I paint everyday. The path of my business followed the directions of my life, coming from South Africa and restarting things in London, then moving around...I've completed two degrees in this time as well, and enjoy learning and developing continuously. Expanding my business: I'm very happy with where I am right now, I am an established artist and represented by several galleries in the UK and abroad. Options exist now in a digital age that was not there before, and this is exciting as well. Printing of textiles and other products based on my painting designs offer new challenges. I sell giclee prints online, and have textiles available through Spoonflower. John Lewis and Paperchase stock my prints and cards as well. A market I would like to explore further is the gift market, I would like to see more of my designs on products as supposed to just papers products and wall art. I am cautious though to where work is to be seen. At this point I am reflecting on my background training as a textile designer, and I am very grateful for my old school hands on training and experience as a silk screen printer, colour and design sensibilities. My priority however remains painting, not design. An aspect of my practice is training, I do workshops for adults and children a few times per year. I am considering offering these as an ecourse as well, but need to do more research.
Would you say you earn a good living from your work? Where do you sell your work?
Yes, I sell through galleries in UK and abroad, etsy, spoonflower and online via social media.
Have you had publicity in national magazines? If so how did you you go about achieving this?
I've been included in books magazines, newspapers etc, it just happens and I do not pursue this. I am considering writing a book though...
Who do you think your typical customer is?
My typical customer, surprisingly men often buy my paintings, even though assumed it would appeal more to women. Over 35's typically, but a broad range of people respond to my work. I have a collector, a man who's got over 30 of my paintings. I once asked him why he had so many, he responded that it makes him happy.. That's good enough for me.
Which aspect of your work do you enjoy most? Is there anything you would have done differently if you were starting your business today?
I like the creation process, I work very intuitively. I paint every day. Starting a business now, I'd do a bookkeeping course, and get better grounding in computer design, that said, I am very grateful for the direction my creative journey took over the years.
Are you someone who sets goals regularly or more instinctive?
I follow intuitively, things come upon my path, opportunities that lead to things, but I don't actively ' plan' these out, I just go with things, I don't even make shopping lists.
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?
Whilst working as a studio ceramicist I had throwers and decorators working for me part time, but I changed my business over time as we moved from South Africa to London in 1999. I do not employ anyone and I do not see this changing. Typical day see below
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?
A mentor, no not really, I admire lots of artists and designers who inspire me. My husband and son are my best critics, neither of them have any artistic aspirations though.I do discuss ideas and plans with my husband and friends and value their input. I am not impulsive, I think things over.
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?
As I spend much time on my own working, and once in the zone find it hard to get out of it, I have adapted a routine that helps to create a balance. I do yoga, Pilates classes or power walking first thing in the morning. I find that this energises me, calms my mind and sets me up for a day of working. I'm not a morning person; my creativity develops as the day progresses. I love working at night. I have a studio in our garden and another in an office building where I do larger paintings and offer workshops. I work alone; I like to listen to music, audiobooks or Radio 4. I do much work in our house as well when I am very busy, in order to see my family, I paint and draw everywhere, I often make my best work whilst on holiday.
A dream day: I get inspiration even from dull days but I would say as I find much inspiration from travelling, an ideal day would be somewhere warm on holiday, Sardinia would be good, a lazy start, going for a swim, reading, observing, eating fresh seafood, walking about and then some painting. I've had a very productive time in Greece recently. As far as a more realistic idea, day: yoga, meeting up with a friend for a little lunch, starting work at around 3pm and working vigorously for a few hours. I have these quite often I am very happy to say, I love being an artist.
Anything else you want to add... tips or plans or ambitions or even special offers to my blog readers...
Ooh, I am not sure, being an artist isn’t easy, but I would not have it any other way, advise to aspiring artists: do follow your dream but work at it, work hard, find things that will work for you, adapt, never compromise your integrity regarding the quality of your work.
Special offer, cushions design competition: to win a cushion http://ohhdeer.com/
EsteMacLeodPainterAndAppliedAr tist/photos/pcb. 599768063483599/ 599767663483639/?type=1& theater
Prints also on offer at 15% discount from 23 November until 1 December using coupon code CHRISTMAS14 on my etsy site.
Finally please tell us where we can buy your work! Links please:
I sell mostly through galleries, details on www.estemacleod.com
Daily updates on new work via my www.facebook.com/
EsteMacLeodPainterAndAppliedAr tist I also sell prints viawww.etsy.com/uk/shop/ EsteMacLeodDesigns and textiles via http://www.spoonflower.com/ profiles/este_macleod
Este thank you so much. Your work is absolutely fabulous, as is your story and advice.