• ECFS Edinburgh

Spotlight Series - Amy Steele Illustration

In this week’s Spotlight Series, we spoke to Amy Steele, a University of Edinburgh alumni who applies her colourful and animated style and illustrations to various products. Check out the interview below to find out the story behind these ‘jazzy’ designs:

Tell us about yourself!

Hi! I’m Amy and I’m an illustrator based in Edinburgh. I graduated from Edinburgh College of Art in 2019 and I’ve been working part time as an illustrator creating lots of jazzy art since then! I love bright colours and bold patterns and my work almost always aims to make people smile!

How/Why did you come up with this endeavour, was there a particular ‘light bulb’ moment?

Like a lot of artists, I really struggled to find my ‘style’ at uni but somewhere along the way it finally clicked that ‘style’ isn’t really a definitive thing; it’s evolving all the time and everything flows a lot better if you make art that you’re passionate about. When that fell into place, I started to work out the kind of projects I wanted to work on forever and ever!

Was there one particular thing you did that you feel enabled the business to take off/gain traction?

To be honest, there hasn’t really been any magic moment that’s launched me into success, I’ve just worked hard at keeping my social media updated and continuing to make work no matter what.

I guess the face masks I made during lockdown have maybe been the closest thing to that magic moment – people really seemed to go crazy or them and I couldn’t keep up with the demand, which was stressful but so nice to know people wanted my work!

What has been the most challenging/rewarding part of running your business?

The most challenging part of being an illustrator for me (and I’m sure most people in the creative industries can relate!) is a constant doubt of my own skills and abilities. I’m always having to reassure myself that I’m good enough and that even when I get stuck in a rut, the work I’m making is still valid!

The most rewarding part is getting to do the thing I love most as a job. Not very many people get to do their hobby as a job so I feel grateful that that is a reality for me.

Where do you see your business going in the future?

Ideally in the next few years I would like to eventually be freelancing full-time. Being part-time, I just don’t really have the time to work on the projects I’m most passionate about. I want to do children’s picture books because I always have stories floating around in my head and images to go with them. At university I found that my work lends itself really well to making children laugh because it revels so much in the ridiculous.

Is there a positive aspect that has come out of this pandemic for you/your business?

Yes definitely! I think people that maybe wouldn’t have realised before how great shopping small is. You get something that really is made with love and makes so much difference to the maker. I think people have been showing small businesses a lot of love in the past few months and it’s so great to see!

The pandemic is also something that we’re ALL experiencing, and art is a great way to express our feelings about it. I’ve found that most of the work I’ve created surrounding the pandemic has been pretty popular as people really feel they can relate.

How do you ensure you run your business with sustainable practice in mind?

For me, illustration is fairly easy to do sustainably. In my practice I do most things digitally, so wastage of materials is minimal. When I do have to use physical materials (e.g. for packaging prints etc.) I try to make sure everything is recyclable. In collaborative projects, I try to work with companies and brands that are working sustainably and doing good in the world!

Interview conducted by: Samara Fruitman

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