Take a Sneak Peek Behind the Scenes of Miss Magpie Designs
Say hello to …
Emily Summers of Miss Magpie Designs.
Tell us a little about yourself and your company?
I am a self-taught illustrator. I studied Costume Design for a time but discovered that it wasn’t the right direction to be heading in, although I took away from it a great many new skills that have helped me with my design work for Miss Magpie Designs. I have an obsession with birds, finding them a wonderful subject matter, so naturally all of my products have a feathery theme! I like to mix my materials, usually going with a combination of watercolour pencil and acrylic ink but am just starting to branch out into the textile world as well. I particularly enjoy exploring the use of typography within my designs.
Describe your typical working day …
I normally split the day into two. I like to work on my commissions in the morning, so I can make the most of the natural daylight. During the winter months, there are so few hours of good light to work in and I’m not particularly fond of drawing under electric lighting, so I devote the first half of the day to working on my pet portraits. I’ll always have Classic FM playing softly as I’ve found it’s fantastic for keeping me focused, although occasionally I’ll end up conducting to the music with my pencil! The second half of the day is for my design work. I’ll use this time to plan, research and come up with new ideas for upcoming ranges. Right now, I’m planning for Mother’s day, so I’ve been creating rough sketches to get my thoughts onto paper. I really enjoy the planning stages of each range – it’s so much fun to start from scratch and come up with something different!
What is the best thing about your job?
Definitely that I am doing what I love. It’s always been extremely important to me that I enjoy my work, otherwise what’s the point? Passion for a subject is what gives it life. I like to think that my passion for birds and wildlife comes across in my work; at least I hope it does!
Do you use any specialist techniques?
My technique is fairly traditional; good old-fashioned pencil and paper, with a little digital editing thrown in. When it comes to turning an illustration into a product, I’ll do a little tweaking on Photoshop using my drawing tablet, but that’s about as specialist as it gets! I like to keep things simple and fresh.
Your products …
What is your personal favourite product in your collection?
At the moment, I would have to say my illustrated writing set. The art of letter-writing is slowly becoming obsolete and I am someone who always gets excited to receive anything that isn’t a bill in the post! I hope I might encourage some people to rediscover the hand-written letter and what better way to do that, than with some beautiful stationery?
What are the most popular products in your range?
My 2013 British Bird Calendar was extremely popular. It featured a different bird for each month and I had a lot of positive feedback, particularly from bird-watchers and ornithologists! My Kingfisher illustration has been one of the most popular from the beginning, so as a greetings card, it has done particularly well.
What are you working on at the moment?
Having just finished designing and listing my Valentine’s range, I am currently working on my illustrations for Mother’s day. I won’t say too much about the range, as I like to keep quiet until the last possible moment, but let’s just say you’ll be seeing a feathered-friend that you haven’t seen from Miss Magpie before!
What do you have planned for 2013?
I’ve got rather a lot of plans for this year. Whether or not I can see all of them through is another matter, but at least I can say I’m not short of ideas! My main goal at the moment is to branch out into the textile world. I’ve just started a regular feature on www.simplyhomemademag.com which will be following my progress in this area. I’m hoping to explore both hand and machine embroidery as a new means of illustrating my birds among other things. I’ve also got a website in the pipeline, so it’s all go!
Your inspiration …
What inspires your products?
I am directly inspired every day by nature. I only have to look out of my kitchen window to see all manner or birds in the garden, some of which you never see in suburban areas. I always draw my main inspiration from what I see around me.
What other card and gift designers do you admire?
There are too many! I lose count of the amount of time I spend fawning over others work. One of my earliest designer crushes is Emma Margaret Illustration who’s gorgeous hand screen-printed designs leave me feeling happy every time. I also completely adore the work of Gennine Zlatkis she creates such lovely characters with her birds and I really admire the way she works her Mexican roots into every piece.
What current or upcoming trend are you’re coveting?
2012 was the year of the Owl and wasn’t that a good one?! I’ve heard whispers that the Flamingo could have the limelight this year, which is terribly exciting. A wonderful bird with bold colouring and a unique shape, it’s certain to inspire a lot of fabulous work!