Josephine Dellow is an Illustrator and designer from Barnsley, South Yorkshire. Having studied BA Illustration at The University of Huddersfield, Josephine graduated from the University of Central Lancashire with an MA in Children’s Book Illustration.
Working in the greetings card and giftware industry since 2011, her clients have included UK Greetings, Hallmark, Asda, Tesco, Sainsbury’s, The Art File and Waitrose. Josephine loves to draw houses and buildings, which she has started making into screenprints as well as taking commissions. Gift Shop Hub was lucky to speak to this wonderful Yorkshire artist…
Hi, Josephine, tell us a little about you and your work…
I’m Josephine, a very smiley lady who loves drawing! I make screen prints and design products with my illustrations and sell them at art markets as well as online, on my etsy shop.
Describe your average day.
I have a part time day job designing and illustrating greetings cards, so an average day can involve working all day there and then coming home to work on my own stuff. Days on my own work can vary lots – which I love. Some days I’ll go to the print workshop to make screenprints. At home, I can be drawing all day, running around preparing for an art market, framing pieces for exhibiting, online jobs – like shop maintenance and promotion – or illustrating and designing for commissions.
What jobs have you done/do other than being an artist?
My first ever job was at Topshop, while I was studying at Barnsley College. When I first went to University, I was studying Fashion Design, so I have done some very varied work placements at fashion companies, on fashion shows and in costume for TV. But that ended long ago, before I went back to Uni to study Illustration and I have worked in the greetings industry for over six years now.
What memorable responses have you had to your work?
One of the most memorable was when in 2015, I stood up in front of a large crowd at the SCBWI children’s book conference and presented a children’s book pitch to a ‘Dragon’s Den’ style panel of agents. The feedback from the agents was helpful and encouraging, but what felt amazing was having the crowd laughing and enjoying my story.
It was in 2016 when I decided to just draw what I love drawing, make prints to sell and see how it went. I showed my work at Saltaire Arts Trail and then did my first Christmas market at Etsy Made Local in Sheffield. Hearing people’s warm responses to my work and that they wanted to take it home was a new and gratifying experience that I’ll never forget.
Is the artistic life lonely?
Not for me, thankfully. I am happy in my own company, getting lost in my world of drawing and business, but I also join in with some really wonderful local networks for artists and sellers.
I love to chat to customers when I sell at craft fairs and art markets, and also connect with other sellers – it’s a very friendly community and I always make new friends at fairs. Having learnt such a lot from members of the Crafty Business Network in Barnsley and Sheffield Sellers on Etsy Facebook groups, I would recommend checking them, out.
What research do you do?
I do all kinds of research really. My shop is only just coming up to its first birthday, so I’ve had so many things to read and learn; things to do with business, costing, selling to shops and galleries, packaging, searching for the best prices for materials etc… there’s not much time left to spend looking at all the amazing illustrators on Instagram and Pinterest. I love to be inspired by visits to galleries – especially illustration exhibitions – and meeting other artists at print fairs, but I try not to saturate myself by looking online too much.
How do you work and what media do you use?
I have a huge stash of materials, but most of the time, I just want to draw with my black fineliners. I fell in love with using them when I was little when my Auntie used to buy me them for Christmas with a big block of printer paper! My other love is making screen prints, which I do that at West Yorkshire Print Workshop. I like to make my own textures to use on photoshop too, so that’s an opportunity to get messy with mark making when I’m in a messy mood!
Do you rage against the machine or use computers to create your artwork?
I am a Mac lady and I would find it hard to be without Photoshop now! There was once a time when I could hardly use it and most of my university work was edited by cutting, sticking and photocopying! I got to grips with it quick when I started working in the greetings industry and have been using it for over ten years now. I feel so confident with it that I’ve started one-to-one tutoring – with raw beginnings and still combining it with my hand techniques, I can sit down with artists and help them to do the same.
Which other artists/designers/real-life situations inspire you?
Real life mostly, all the things about life that spark a magical or comforting feeling! My biggest real-life inspiration is and always will be my childhood. It was colourful and fun, my imagination was my super power and my big, fun family made the house a lively haven to play and grow in. As for artist inspiration, my all time favourites stem from my favourite children’s books – Richard Scarry, Shirley Hughes and Nick Sharratt are just a few of my favourite illustrators.
What is your dream project?
There are so many things I want to do and ideas I have. I would love to have my own exhibition one day, somewhere like Yorkshire Sculpture Park would do nicely!
Also I would love to have a children’s book published – I have an MA in children’s book illustration and I write, too. I want to make more colouring books. There are lots more products I want to add to my shop. I want to design a lamp at some point. The list goes on!
What’s the best piece of advice you’ve been given?
I try to be as sponge-like as possible and make mental notes of all the good tips I’ve heard over the years. I hear myself repeating quite often ‘if in doubt, leave it out’. Something one of my university tutors said about leaving only the best pieces that I really like in my portfolio.
One thing I always remember a guest lecture we had at university from the Association of Illustrators and how passionately Derek Brazell spoke about how we should not accept being unfairly paid. Particularly in their early careers, illustrators get offered work with little or no payment, on the grounds that it will be ‘good for their portfolio’ or ‘will be seen by lots of people’.
It’s not just a ‘nice little hobby’ – we provide a specialist service in a profession that isn’t easy to sustain – and by accepting this, we encourage it to keep happening.
Can recommend any great blogs/campaigns/twitter accounts?
I recommend following the Etsy Sellers in Sheffield and Crafty Biz Barnsley groups on Facebook to discover what a creative and supportive network we have in the area.
Professionally, what’s your goal?
I quite like not knowing at the moment what my end goal is, as long as I have a creative life and love what I do. I’m enjoying simply drawing and making, putting it out there for people to see and seeing what comes back. I couldn’t have predicted some of the opportunities that have come about since starting this relaxed approach, so it finally feels like an organic creative process… a good way to be!