I have always loved the work of the incredibly talented artist and illustrator Anna Wright, so it was a huge honour to catch up with her recently as part of our Women that Inspire Us series.
Growing up in Scotland, Anna was surrounded by a beautiful world of nature and animals, which has come to inspire her work, and contributed to her success. She has developed her wonderful drawings into a business and has become renowned for her unique collection of fun prints, cards, homeware & gifts.
Tell us a bit about your story and what inspired you to become an illustration artist turning your drawings into a business?
Whenever people ask this question I struggle to know what to say: it’s just what happened. However, over the years you discover more about yourself, and I’ve realised that being brought up in rural Scotland has had a huge influence on what I do now. As a child I was always creating in my free time, there were no shops or cinemas, I was surrounded by beautiful gardens, trees, birds and farm animals. They were my entertainment and I was very happy that way.
After I left Edinburgh College of Art to start life in London, I struggled to find my vocation but people and galleries were asking for my work, so I decided to go back to Scotland and give it a go. I do need a sense of order in my life and knew that I couldn’t have a hand to mouth existence, so from the very beginning I was looking into ways of stabilising my income as much as possible, which is why I did prints and cards. 10 years later here I am!
What is the process of how you create your work and where do you get your inspiration from?
I can find inspiration in most places, the thing I find hardest is trying to focus on one subject without jumping around too much. My favourites are animals, I am constantly amazed at the variety of species out there and the incredible ways they communicate and live. I do also find human behaviour fascinating and it always amuses me to add captions to my animal illustrations that people can relate to they way they behave themselves. If I can express these interests in a colourful and humorous way then I am happy.
Your beautiful and fun illustrations adorn so many walls around the UK and your business is going from strength to strength. What has been your biggest challenge to date and how have you overcome it?
The biggest challenge has been learning about business on the job. Nothing is what it seems – the whole thing is a constant learning curve! I have realised that I need space for creativity. When you start out it is just you and you go for it, but as the business grows different areas become more demanding, people want different things and it can effect your creativity. For example, I find the idea of creating new illustrations especially for a particular range of products quite stifling. I prefer to create new work that I am confident could stand alone as a piece of artwork and work from there as to whether or not it should be developed into other products further down the line. I have learnt I need to keep strong to what I feel happiest doing and try not to be side lined by anything else.
What would you say are the key attributes to running your own business?
Have a plan of what you want from the business. Whether it is money or a lifestyle you need to understand why you are doing it, there will be difficult times and you need to have the purpose to keep you and your team motivated. Depending on how big your business is it is good to have a structure and goals in place so everyone knows what they are responsible for, this makes it easier for everyone.
What stands out as your proudest moments since launching your business?
There have been a few shows and book launches where there have been lots of people in one place to see my work and that’s always lovely. But what makes me happiest is when I hear from people who have my work in their homes and it brings them joy. Whether they have a picture that they look at every morning and it makes them smile or a mug that is their favourite – that always makes me feel quite proud.
Where is your favourite place to travel and why?
Wow, this is tricky – SO many places. I love going back to Scotland, you can’t beat it in the sunshine. Europe for a wonderful mini break – we all take for granted how close we are to such a rich variety of different cultures to draw inspiration from. But my stand out trip was a cycle ride around Madagascar – the variety of flora and fauna was incredible and I still think about it often.
Is there a particular piece of jewellery you always wear? If so what is it?
I do like to wear a charm bracelet of my mother’s. The charms are wonderful, they are very old, quite chunky and full of character. I always keep my eye out for any more of that vintage but I have yet to see any which makes me love it even more! My boyfriend also gave me a beautiful contemporary brooch for Christmas which I haven’t taken off yet.
What stands out as your favourite piece of jewellery from our collections?
It is so difficult looking at everything, many things I would love but The stand out jewellery for me are the Willow Drop Earrings with Green Amethyst. Classic with a modern twist and timeless. I love Green Amethyst too.
What exciting plans do you have in store for 2019?
Always lots of new things happening, but my big thing this year is that I’m working on a fabric range for furnishings. I’m excited to really get that project moving. Watch this space!