Ruth Craddock playfully calls her illustrations “doodles” and titled her website “A Sketchy Story.” Her lovely black and white drawings often feature forests and mountains and creatures that inhabit them, with decorative floral elements wrapping the scenes like garlands. Select pops of color and pattern add a screen print quality to her work. In her interview, Ruth talks about her background in textile design and how it has influenced her illustration style, how it is important to keep active as an artist–varying the types of projects you do (she does personal work, private commissions, and advertising work)–, and shares her dream of doing book illustration (her work would be perfect for it!). Thanks Ruth for this peek into your life as an illustrator! -eden
Where are you based?
What three words would you choose to best describe your artwork?
Whimsical, decorative , doodles.
Have you had a formal art education?
I went to the Scottish College of Textiles in Galashields which is part of Heriot Watt University and got a First Class Hons in Printed Textiles. Galashields is a small town in the Scottish borders, there is not much to do there so you can really focus on you’re work during the week and then escape at the weekends guilt free. Also they have a brilliant big print room I would recommend it if you want to study textiles. Then I went to Central Saints Martins and got a Ma in Textiles Futures.
Was there a specific moment when you knew you wanted to be an artist?
Art was one of my favourite subjects at school but I was pushed into studying English Literature at University. After a year I finally built up the courage to say I wanted to do something more creative.
What was the first piece of art that you sold? How did the sale come about?
I sold work from my degree course. I printed fine line patterns on leather which I then hand cut geometric patterns. It was very time consuming and repetitive.
Tell us about what inspires your work.
Nature, floral and fauna play are important in my own work and I use these to create whimsical landscapes. I’m interested in quirky details and intricacy when creating illustrations, which is developing the more l draw. My background as a textile designer influences the way I approach my work. My drawings are playful with the use of pattern and repeats and I’m influenced by traditional textile makers such as William Morris and Josef Frank as well as graphic and bold patterns such as Marimekko. I like bright colours and slightly obsessed with yellow.
When you feel a lack of inspiration, how do you find it again?
I have learnt that there is no point being stressed by this — you need to take a step back. When I get busy my space can get a little chaotic to say the least, so I take this time to de-clutter and look through past drawings, scribbles and notes — it allows me to see things in a new light. I also like to walk everywhere; I find it clears my head and time away can be inspiring. I’m really lucky that where I live in London is close to Epping forest, parks, canals, and the markets, shops and galleries of Hackney and Shoreditch. You can feel very far away very easily but can also throw yourself in amongst all the hubbub and activity too when you want.
What materials and/or tools do you use to create your work? Do you have any favorite techniques or processes that you are willing to share?
Mainly pen, paper and a little watercolour.
How do you make money through your art? Please explain what works for you and why. (For example: selling originals or prints online or in galleries, doing commissions, working with major brands, etc.)
I sell through shops, do markets, take part in exhibitions and take private and and commercial commissions. You need to do lots of different things. I find you can’t narrow yourself, and it makes it more interesting/a challenge having to adapt.
Do you “make a living” as an artist? If not, how do you primarily support yourself?
What have you found to be the most successful way(s) to market your art? Do you have any tips to share?
When I started making my own work I found doing markets and taking part in exhibitions worked. They helped me build my confidence, as I was very shy about my own illustrations, and made people aware of my work so projects and opportunities occurred.
How would you describe the “business” of being an artist?
I find that side hard and frustrating at times.
What is your favorite thing about being an artist?
Being in charge of you’re own work is both a challenge and a high. Knowing that drawings I doodled at my wee desk for Rollasole are on las Vegas strip makes me smile. Places I’ve never been to but want to go.
Who have been your biggest supporters?
My family of course.
If you could collaborate with anyone (a person or a company) who would it be?
Oh there are loads. Marimekko as they apply their patterns to both products and textiles, and I want it all (I’m slowly getting a collection together). I would love to do a tv ad, just now I’m doing doodles for a promo video for Rollasole so seeing my doodles come alive will be really fun to see. l would really like to create illustration for a book, so to work with a writer or a publisher such as Penguin would be a dream come true.
Do you collect artwork from other artists? If so, whose art do you own?
At home we have prints by well known artists such as Olaf Hajek, Charlie Harper, and Sanna Annukka. But we also have photography and paintings by friends and family. My friend Ania Wawrzkowicz is a very creative photographer and artist, and my uncle paints beautiful landscapes.
Do you have any current obsessions, art or non-art related?
Loads. I’m discovering more about illustration and really like the work of the Scottish illustrator Barbara Jones and Eric Ravilous from the same period. Pens, stationery, the colour yellow, hot chocolate with whiskey and Matthew McConaughey in True Detective.
What piece of advice would you give other women who are pursuing careers in art?
Simple things like look to what inspires you and what’s meaningful to you — as it will show in you’re work. Be proactive! You need to juggle/balance being creative with getting you’re work seen, which is very difficult. If you’re not getting feedback whether positive or negative regularly then you’re not doing enough, you need to keep pushing yourself.
Do you have any upcoming shows, news, or things you’d like to let us know about?
I have quite a lot of varied work on just now but I have slowly started doing some small illustration of the area round where I live and hoping to have a exhibition in September… you can keep up to date with my facebook page and blog.
FIND HER ONLINE:
Buy Her Art
Please contact her directly.
♥ Her, Follow Her!