By Kate Marsden
Harking back to the golden age of travel this week as we take a look at the stunning poster prints of graphic designer Georgina Westley. There’s even one for all you music festival fans…
Tell us a little about you. What do you do?
I am a graphic designer from Bedfordshire. I create modern travel poster prints of places that are special to people and I sell them online through my Etsy shop. I was an in-house graphic designer for many years and then turned freelance when I had my family. The travel poster prints came about after my sister-in-law asked if I would design a piece of artwork around Emley Moor Mast in Yorkshire. She had lived near the mast growing up and wanted something on her wall to remind her of it. Thankfully, she loved it, and other people saw it and liked it too, so I decided to do more. As with most new businesses it grew slowly, but each time I released a new print it seemed to spark more ideas from people about their favourite places. Pretty soon I had a very long list of exciting places to explore.
I really enjoy the buzz of starting a new piece of work. Through researching the locations, I try to get a feel for how I could approach the design. What time of the day does the scenery come alive? Is it sunrise or sunset? Is there something quirky about this area that I can play with or would a more traditional treatment work better? Is there an iconic view of the place? Are there any well-loved local landmarks that could be included?
These are the questions that I am constantly asking myself. It helps me capture the spirit of the place and also stops my work from becoming too formulaic. I want to grow as a designer and meeting new customers and finding new places helps me do that.
What does a typical day involve?
After taking the children to school I go running, cycling or walking with friends. Usually for about 45 mins. I find if I put my trainers on first thing in the morning then it’s harder to make excuses not to go. Getting a daily dose of fresh air and a rush of endorphins sets me up with a positive mind-set. I find the regular connection with nature very grounding too.
After a quick shower and a coffee, I sit down to start work. Before I get stuck in I take a quick look at my diary to make sure I am where I’m supposed to be. I use a Moleskine A5 diary to organise myself. I’ve tried various systems over the years but paper and pen wins every time. I am a voracious note taking, list making, mind mapping, sketching, crazy lady. My brain feels full most of the time so I find offloading information on to paper is essential to me functioning properly.
The ideas for my travel posters often come from my customers and visitors to my website, and I have a long list of locations that people have suggested to me. This list is the backbone for my work. I regularly ask people via social media where their happy places are. I collect all this information on my website and if I think I can design a poster out of it, I add it to the list. I like the list. It allows ideas to form overtime and I get pick which one to do next depending on my mood.
Where do you work? What is your studio space like? What do you enjoy doing when you're not working?
I have my studio set up in the conservatory and I feel very grateful to be able to work from home. The whole idea of setting up my own business was to be completely flexible around my family. Working within viewing distance of the oven allows me get ahead with the dinner whilst doing my design work. The downside of working from home is that it always feels like there is something else to do. Washing to hang out, dishes to wash, bathrooms to clean; but not getting distracted from my design work is something I am getting better at dealing with.
I have a Macbook Pro, a large external monitor and I use a shiny Apple Magic Mouse. I keep trying to switch completely to my Wacom Intuos tablet but I can't quite get away from my reliable rodent. I have my trusty Epson printer which very rarely lets me down and a whole raft of pens and pencils. I use Adobe Creative Cloud and all my travel posters are designed in Illustrator. Working on your own can be quite isolating so I have the radio on a lot. I listen to audiobooks too but I have to be in the right mood for those, sometimes that can be a bit distracting especially if they’re good.
When I am not working it’s all about the family, having fun, and relaxing. I am learning to play the piano and the guitar. I train in Shotokan karate and I practice yoga. Once a week I volunteer at my local hospice which is a huge privilege. I love sewing, music, dancing, baking, eating and making stuff.
What do you consider to be the main challenges facing designer makers at the moment?
Finding the courage to start and having the self-awareness to stop.
Starting a new business or creating a new product in the creative industry takes courage. Every time we put something out there we make ourselves vulnerable. We are showing people what we can do and saying look at me, this is the best I can do at this moment in time. That takes courage and I admire anyone who does it. I wish more people would make that start; ignore the worry about what others might think, and just do it anyway.
That said, knowing when to stop and tune off can be a big problem for designer makers these days. An inquisitive mind and a creative nature combined with running your own business can make it hard to stop thinking, plotting, planning and doing. It is really important to try to get beyond this though, as I often find that it's in those moments of nothingness that the best ideas set seed.
What ambitions do you have for your business over the next few years?
I love my job. My ambition is to carry on talking to customers about their happy places and finding more beautiful and quirky places to draw.
Do you have any tips for fellow designer makers/ small business owners who are reading this and may be just starting out?
Don’t wait for everything to be perfect before starting. Just start. Some people wait for all the pieces of the puzzle first. It’s tempting to put things off until you have your own room with the all the right tools. You can research the life out of a good idea and sabotage your own spirit. Just start. Share your ideas with friends and family, get feedback and start small. You can change and adapt your designs overtime but if you never make a start you’ll never know how great your ideas could be.
Please share any favourite independent shops/galleries and tell us why you like them.
Cambridge Contemporary Crafts - A small but well stocked and curated independent gift shop that is a pleasure to look around.
The Art Nest – Hitchin - A diverse collection of work by local artists.
Kate Lycett - An imaginative artist whose work I really admire.
Welbeck Tiles - Beautiful handmade tiles from glorious Cornwall.
Silverpebble - Fine silver jewellery designer and teacher with a passion for botany and a keen eye for a good news story. What’s not to like? I’ve been on one of her courses and really enjoyed it.
Had you realised the Just A Card campaign message suggests cards as an example of a small purchase - we're about encouraging all sales as they keep businesses afloat?
I think Just A Card's message is an important one. It resonates with me as a customer as well as a seller. In the past I have felt a little pang of guilt when I have visited galleries or gift shops and only bought a card rather than a big ticket item. Nowadays when I buy cards, postcards and other small items I know that many little purchases keep independent shops open whether they be online or creating the much needed interest and diversity on our high streets.
How important is the Just A Card campaign message to you and your business?
Very. I hope it helps people realise how valued and appreciated every purchase is for independent designers/makers/shops.
Where did you hear about the campaign and which Social Media platforms do you use most frequently? What do you think people can do to support Just A Card, and how will you be doing so?
When the Just A Card campaign was asking for entries for its 2016 Christmas Gift guide, someone kindly tagged me on Twitter suggesting that I might like to apply. I did, and I was genuinely surprised when I was told my work was to be included. My Glastonbury Festival print was featured and my sales for this print soared. I was then able to use Twitter and Facebook to sing about the Just A Card Christmas Gift guide and hopefully in turn promote other independent designer makers. I display the Just A Card logo on my website and this links back to the campaign site explaining what it’s all about plus I will continue to tell small local independent shops about the campaign so that they can put up a poster in their window.