Week 2 of my ‘Gal Pals in Creative Biz’ goes to Victoria Foster who runs The Aviary; a stunning illustrated and print design house selling delicately illustrated temporary tattoos, jewellery, stationery and homeware. Victoria’s talents seem never ending, so I was excited to see what answers she had for my creative biz questions!
How long have you been a creative powerhouse business for?
Wow, that’s an amazing accolade, thank you!
I “got serious” about creating my brand and small business just under two and a half years ago.
When did you decide that you wanted to take your craft & talent to the public?
I guess like many arts graduates, I spent a good few years immersed in other people’s creative endeavours to earn a living. When my thirties started to loom, I decided the need to wake up everyday excited about going to a studio and making my own work rather than someone else’s was too strong to ignore.
Armed with a collection of new drawings and a desire to become a small part of the movement against mass-produced items, I just had to hope the public would enjoy my products as much as I enjoyed designing them.
Do you think creative businesses face greater challenges than non-creative enterprises?
To begin with, yes. Probably because creative businesses often provide items or services that aren’t initially recognised as being “useful”. Despite living in such a design-rich society, there seems to be a culture of undervaluing the creative skill base. Hands up how many of us have been asked to do work for free? Having said that, there are some amazing organisations such as The Design Trust, Cockpit Arts and Indie Retail Academy that provide us with brilliant advice and support, right?
What have been your highest highs?
I’m not sure about highest highs, but I feel really grateful for every single sale and piece of encouraging feedback that is enabling me to lead an independent and varied life.
And what would you say are your greatest challenges?
Managing my time, managing my money, and believing in myself and abilities when the doubt creeps in.
What’s the work/life balance like?
Single-handedly running a creative business can be all consuming. I’ve made my passion my livelihood so it can be tough to step back and take time off. I haven’t mastered the perfect balance yet, that’s for sure! But I still wouldn’t swap it for a “proper” job. Hurrah for supportive loved ones!
More and more of us ladies are taking up arms and going into business to make our own fortune. What do you think about the current state of women in self-employment/business?
I think it’s a really exciting time to be a self-employed, in the creative industries at least! It’s really heartening to see so many talented women being brave and pursuing their dream jobs. It also feels as though there’s an extended support network of likeminded ladies who are all working together to create inspiring and joyful objects and experiences. That glass ceiling still needs chipping away at, but I think there are more opportunities for us girls now than ever before.
Paying it forward, who is your favourite female run creative business?
It is so tough to pick just one! I recently met botanical illustrator, Charlotte Day. Her work is utterly exquisite and being that she’s a few years ahead of me in the drawing-for-a-living game, she was also really generous with her time and expert advice.
Any advice for gals out there looking to make their creative mark?
It’s still early days for me, but I think one of the key things is to try not to get distracted or discouraged by what other creatives are making or achieving. This can be easier said than done. You have your own way of working and your own distinctive style that will shine through if you trust it.
Favourite quote: I am awful at retaining phrases and quotes, but I love the simplicity and authenticity behind two of Secret Holiday Company’s affirmation banners. ‘Be Kind’ and ‘Be Brave’. Pretty good words to live by.
Weapon of choice: Drawing is at the heart of everything I design and make so it’s got to be the 0.03 Copic Multi-liner.
Currently working to: George Fitzgerald’s, ‘Fading Love’ is on heavy rotation in the studio at the moment, along with all of Warpaint’s back catalogue, Jon Hopkin’s, ‘Late Night Tales’ mix, and if I’m stressed out by a project deadline, A Winged Victory for the Sullen’s, ‘Atomos’ sorts me right out.
Illustrated & Handmade in the UK.
Deborah Ballinger Illustrations © 2015