In the run up to Small Business Saturday, we are supporting local small businesses by sharing their stories with you.
Local artist Libby moved back to Guernsey from London when the pandemic struck, and what started as a form of creative escapism during lockdown has grown into a successful business for her. The self-confessed animal fanatic shifted focus from the world of fashion to the animal kingdom and her Coastal Collection has really taken off, along with her pet portraits... including a commission of Dr Brink's lovely little Twitter-famous dog!
Lockdown! I was previously located in London post-degree, and after some hard grafting, was enjoying the start of my career. Living and working for a sustainable womenswear brand in the East End, I felt at home. On reflection, walking through all the markets and stalls in places like Spitalfields must have stirred something inside me.
When lockdown happened, I reluctantly retreated to my parents' home and soon ran out of binge-worthy series to watch. It wasn’t long before I picked up a pencil and reignited my creativity. Neither having my own business, nor illustrating had ever crossed my mind before the pandemic… so happily, a positive outcome has derived from an odd few years.
Having come from a Fashion Design background, I had many Promarkers (fancy felt-tips for quickly adding colour to sketches) unused from my degree. One day I began to draw various parts of my home and with one handsome sketch of my dog, I was hooked. Since then, I’ve had a growing number of commissions for pet portraits and have recently developed two print collections - now also available as tea towels!
To answer the why... escapism. This has been a great project to express myself and reclaim some creativity. Every little part of this venture is me, and I love that I can customise everything to reflect my personality.
Commissions and artwork created for prints are both a labour of love. I have had some challenging moments trying to devote time to my bigger pieces such as the octopus, which I love and is framed in my home, however, I think the blue or 'uncooked' lobster is my favourite. He was by far the quickest to draw and has a lot of personality. The easygoing nature and gorgeous blues in this piece allows me to understand why it's a favourite amongst my customers too!
The best bit so far for me was that time when Dr Nicola Brink tweeted my commission of her dog, gifted to her by a lovely customer. I made a Twitter profile just so I could retweet it! I definitely sprung off the sofa when I saw it!
The requests that have come my way have been so lovely; I’ve had such a varied number of emails to draw pets, from chinchillas to a full menagerie! For me, the most daunting commissions so far have been humans! There is so much depth to facial features that I get fearful I won't be able to build up the tones and complexities, however, so far the outcomes have been great and well-received so I can't ask for more. I get them done in a week or so just so they aren't looming over me!
The markets and creative community who have kindly welcomed me in have been so warming and it has also been a great way to meet fellow creatives. Even when the markets are a little quiet, I have the best time shopping amongst the stalls and having a mooch myself! If it wasn't for them, I don't think I’d have the passion to get out of bed on a Seafront Sunday morning!
My favourite local charity is Edible Guernsey. Whilst I don't have the time and dedication to be part of the team, I love their events. I know nothing about seeds and what to swap, but I am always eager to support with a Lemon Drizzle for their Tea and Cake Stand at one of the many open days and events.
I am obsessed with knitwear! I get a lot of comments and compliments on my varied jumpers… the chances are I’ve knitted them myself too!
We love Libby's illustrations and can personally vouch for the fact that Libby truly captures the character and emotion of her subjects - we even commissioned a pet portrait to give to a family member for Christmas last year.
Libby works on social media under the name of Hot Dogs Illustration, but don’t let the name fool you! Libby started off focusing on pets, but she has since expanded her commissions to a include cars, home interiors, wildlife and more. Send her your favourite photo, or a few different images, and Libby will work her magic. She's also not afraid to get creative - just take a look this personalised Reindog Christmas card design.
Go on, challenge her with a new portrait idea... and let us see the results!