Interview: Ella Harriott

Ella Harriott is a graphic designer and illustrator. I was luck enough to interview Ella about her shop and design work. 

Hello! Thank you so much for letting me interview you. How are you?

You're very welcome, thank you for having me. I'm very well thank you but super busy!

Tell us a little bit about your background.

I grew up in the beautiful East Sussex countryside, was at school in Eastbourne and studied Art and Textiles for A Level. I have always been creative but this was really when I started experimenting more and realise it was what I wanted to do in the future. I studied an Art Foundation year and a Graphic Communication degree at Bath Spa University, graduated in 2016 and here I am!  

How has your creative process changed since the start?

Over time my personal work has definitely become more illustration based. For a while I wondered where I would specialise and my work was very broad covering photography, graphics and illustration but now that I have found what I love doing I try to focus on that and enjoy it. 

How did you manage to learn and hone your craft?

Experimenting! Its the best thing you can do, try everything available to you and then you know if you enjoy it and if its something you may or may not want to use more of. Also just do what you enjoy, your best work is always what you enjoy doing.

Have you always been into illustration and design?

I have always loved art, design and crafts. I used to make scrap books and have always made hand made gifts and cards where possible, I love making things look pretty! The creative subjects were always my favourite because I actually enjoyed them plus it runs in the family genes so yes I suppose so! 

If there were no resource restraints, what would be your dream project?

Designing a stationery range or print design for Country Living would just be the dream! It is my favourite magazine and I just love everything they do.  

What equipment do you use for your work?

It depends on the print design but usually I start with a HB pencil and fine liner for my illustrations and typography. I then use my Canon 550D to photograph my illustrations and take them onto my iMac. Then using my Wacom Bamboo Stylus I edit my illustrations on Adobe Photoshop and often add colour, cut them up and rearrange them to create a print design. 

What tools or materials could you not live without?

My camera and an HB pencil! I have always worked in pencil I just prefer it to pen, I think because its less permanent it allows me to be more confident with mark making and not worry if its not quite right. Most of my print design combine my illustrations with photographs often of flowers so without my camera I wouldn't be able to take these high quality snaps. 

Why has social media been an important platform for you to use?

I will admit I am not as good at using my social media pages as I should be but I am trying to step it up. It is so lovely when you get someone contact you complimenting your work and it gives you opportunities you wouldn't necessarily get otherwise (like this interview for example!). Its great to hear from like minded people and its also great for linking sites where you sell your work.

Who inspires your work?

Quentin Blake has had a huge influence on my work and is my favourite illustrator ever! I always read all the Roald Dahl stories as a child and the illustrations really captured the quirky and fun characteristics of the characters in all his wonderful stories. I absolutely love his illustration style and I really think he has subconsciously influenced my illustration style.  

Do you have any favourite pieces of work that you adore at the moment from your shop?

My favourite will always be my Afternoon Tea print. It is one of if not the first print I designed and it is just so typically British and I love the variation of illustrations. 

What do we hope to see in this up and coming year for your Instagram and your work?

Hopefully more of me on Instagram as like I said I am really trying to increase my online presence! I am also hoping to bring out some new print designs soon so more new florals and nature inspired illustrations. 

What are you currently working on?

Currently I am trying to get my cards into more local shops so if anyone is interested in selling them I would be very grateful and please do get in touch! I also sell my work on Etsy so I al always packing up parcels and sending them out :) Its coming up to fair season soon so need to start getting myself booked in to some of those, busy busy! 

What’s your typical working day?

I work part time along side my design work so this takes out a huge chunk of the day but I do what I can either side of that. It depends what I am doing, sometimes I am drawing, putting together new illustration combinations, researching online or just sending emails it really varies. My favourite mornings though are playing around with illustrations on Photoshop and watching a new print design idea come together. 

What’s been the biggest struggle in getting your business off the ground?

Cost unfortunately, often you come across amazing opportunities that are just not possible when your business is still very small which is a real shame. But I do what I can and at the end of the day the most important thing is to enjoy what you are doing and I love it! 

What are your career plans with your online shop?

To keep it going and keep adding new prints, I would like to at least add a new design every season and then with a selection at Christmas. The changing seasons are what often inspire me, seeing new flora appearing and things changing around me, the more I notice the more I am inspired. 

Do you have any advice for anyone doing craft fairs?

Speak to other sellers and don't be shy! Often they can give you advice on other fairs and events that are either really worth going to or not worth going to. A lot of the people I meet usually do all the local fairs whereas I tend to only do a few but as well as business advice  some of them can be long days so if nothing else its nice to meet new people and have someone to chat to! :)

What advice would you give to people looking to define their own style?

Do what you love, for so long I was trying so many different things and it wasn't until I graduated University that I realised I could now just do what I want without worrying about marks and grades. I combined my love for photography and illustration to create my own print designs and I love it. 

What’s next?

I am actually hoping to go back to University to study my pgce so I can teach secondary art as I want to use my knowledge and experience to inspire others. I really love what I am doing and I what to continue it into the future so I shall certainly still be popping up at local fairs and still be selling online. I may also be creating some bits for a charity event in the summer so I shall certainly be keeping myself busy.

What's the best piece of creative advice you've ever been given?

Mum always used to say to me 'Try it, you never know it might be your new favourite thing!' Experimentation always leads to new discoveries and nothing bad has ever come out of it. Try something new and challenge yourself, if you don't fall in love with it, move on to the next thing, it may just be your new favourite. 

You can find her shop through Facebook 'https://www.facebook.com/ellaharriottdesign/'. Ella has some wonderful cards in stock.