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An Interview with Tabitha Mary…

An Interview with Graphic Designer Tabitha Mary.

How did Tabitha Mary.co.uk start and what was your initial inspiration?

It started with the Shipping Forecast Regions print, I created it for my parents for christmas about 5 years ago! It looks quite different to the version we all know and love now. But the original got so many conversations started with people fascinated with knowing where the actual regions were that it dawned on me that I might be able to sell it as a print. So I reworked it into a more commercial version and gave it a whirl… I had my very first listing on Etsy, I couldn’t believe it when I received my first order! I can still remember exactly where I was: In the car on mini break in Yorkshire.

Original Shipping Forecast Print by Tabitha Mary

You have over 80 prints in your collection, which is your favourite? Or top 3 if you can’ pick one.

Oh tough one, probably Kilimanjaro and Annapurna as they are two prints that I created solely for myself as a memory of my travels and hiking adventures. I also love the Mount Fuji one, just because I love mountains!

What is your proudest work achievement to date?
Just being sat here, right now making a living out of my dream. I never thought I would end up running my own business and being able to survive off of it. Quitting my full time job was so scary, but looking back, the best thing I ever did!

Where did you grow up?

I was born in Stevenage, but when I was 3 just before my sister was born we moved to a tiny village called Buxted in East Sussex near Uckfield where my parents still live. I love going home to Sussex. I’ve lived all over Hertfordshire and Bedfordshire following my career as a graphic designer but no where’s quite felt like home in the way Sussex does.

Do you have a favourite thing to draw?

Definitely coastal locations.

What Radio station do you listen to?

BBC Radio 2

If you had to watch one DVD Box-Set forever more, which would you choose?

EASY! Sex and the City – it’s my guilty pleasure!

What would you choose as your favourite food?

Ok, that’s a lot harder. Can I have a savoury and sweet choice?!

Savoury: Sausages Sweet: Anything pastry (makes me sound so healthy!)

Do you have a particular style when it comes to home/interiors/décor? Can you tell us a little about this…

My husband and I love anything vintage and retro and mix that with my obsession with Orla Kiely and all things graphic makes for probably quite a 60’s vibe, but in a modern and vintage way. My favourite home colours are grey and duck egg, so that pretty much features all over the house with accents of yellow, orange and tons of graphic patterns injected in the form of blinds, cushions and bedding. I believe in having a plain base and then adding the detail with accessories.

What is the best holiday you’ve ever been on? Did it inspire any artwork?

This is really hard! I like different types of holidays and locations for all their own reasons. Summiting Kilimanjaro will always be up there as it was such a personal achievement, but Italy with Paul when he proposed and our Honeymoon in California are also pretty high on the list! I just love to explore and experience new things, so all holidays are great!

Tabitha & Paul’s Engagement
Nepal
Nepal

What is the best and worst thing about being self-employed?

Best thing: The sense of achievement and flexibility of being your own boss. Worst thing: The pressure, I set myself really high standards which means I never switch off, i’m always working and I find it really hard to let go or delegate things.

What’s your strongest memory of your childhood?

My Mum and Dad’s carpet in the house I first lived in until I was 3. I vividly remember thinking it was horrible!!! HA HA! Sorry Mum!

What’s your scariest experience?

My best friend making me do Aerial Extreme for my hen do! I used to be okay with heights, apparently as i’ve got older I no longer am! Hated every second! I remember climbing onto the platform and my bum cheeks were shaking I was so scared!! ha ha. Conveniently said best friend was pregnant so couldn’t participate!

What is your favourite piece of artwork and who is it by?

Oh it changes all the time! Currently its a set of 3 prints I recently bought from the super talented Talia Giles.

Tabitha Mary's favourite artwork
Art by Talia Giles

Describe a real-life situation that inspired your work?

Summiting Kilimanjaro lead to me creating a print that can be personalised with your name, route and summit date. It’s one of my best sellers with fellow sumitters wanting a lasting reminder of their achievement.

Kilimanjaro
The fabulous Kilimanjaro

What’s your most embarrassing moment?

Oh there’s too many! I can be a bit dizzy!

Do you have a favourite colour?

Probably duck egg, but closely followed by grey, orange and yellow.

What jobs have you done other than being a graphic designer?

Since graduating in 2007 i’ve been lucky enough to work as a graphic designer in a few jobs, designing christmas crackers, kitchenwares, licensed sunglasses, licensed stationery, packaging, cards, wrap, gift bags. The days before uni I did all the usual jobs, macdonalds, tesco, waitressed, worked in staples for a bit! Best job was waitressing at Glyndebourne Opera house during the summer breaks from uni.

Is the artistic/creative life lonely? What do you do to counteract it?

Being self employed can be lonely, luckily I’m a pretty motivated person and good in my own company. But to stop myself going stir crazy I go to regiment fitness two mornings during the week, which ensures I actually talk to other human beings other than Paul (my husband!) and we always have pretty busy and social weekends either seeing family or friends or working an event.

What memorable responses have you had to your work?

I get really overwhelmed when people write me lovely feedback, especially when they’re talking about a gift they’ve bought for someone else. I’m pretty shy when it comes to receiving positive feedback, it drives my husband mad!

Have you visited all of your print locations? And what research do you do for your prints?

Gosh I wish! Sadly not, in the early days I did as that’s how I chose my locations, but now so many of my prints are commissioned by a shop or customer I use photography and online interactive maps to explore the areas and get a feel for the place.

Can you describe a typical working day for you?

There is no real typical, but i’d say I start about 8.30am, I action any sales that have come in and do any admin that needs doing. I then start on whatever print is next on my ‘to do’ list. I try my hardest to break for lunch, this didn’t always used to happen, but now that I’m pregnant I make sure I take an hour time out every lunch time. The afternoon is normally designing or if a wholesale order has come in then printing and packaging that. I tend to finish work about 7pm when my husband gets home from work.

You’re currently heavily pregnant with your first child – what aspect of having children are you most excited about?

Everything! I find thinking about the fact i’m growing a little person a bit mind blowing! I just cannot wait to have a mini Paul and I and for us to have something so special between us to look after and watch grow. At the moment I’m mostly focused on the birth and I cannot wait to see Paul hold our baby for the first time, I get a bit teary just thinking about it!

Where do you envisage your business to be in 5 years time?

My main goal is to keep it growing at an achievable and realistic rate given that things are going to change as I approach motherhood. I just hope that I’m still sat here in 5 years working for myself. I feel lucky everyday that I have the opportunity to be living my dream job, but don’t take it for granted and worry all the time that it might end one day. I just have to hope and pray it doesn’t. But main goals are to continue focusing on my wholesale and licensing growth which has already grown significantly over the past year.

What hobbies do you pursue outside of your artistic work life?

I used to be a massive hiker, hiking most weekends all over the UK and taking trips abroad to partake in hiking holidays. That’s dwindled a little since settling down with Paul as our hobbies are more focused on home improvements, and very often working weekends! (sorry paul!) But I hope that country walks will be something we will enjoy once again as a family when our baby arrives!!

Is there anything else about Tabitha Mary you’d like to know? Perhaps we can do a second interview if we get enough questions…