This featured creator is Steven from The Sketch Nook! It’s an honour to have Steven as he’s such a lovely, supportive guy and a real inspiration as both an artist/business and all-round human being! He’s also from West Yorkshire, which is big brownie points 🤩
Hello The SketchNook! Explain who you are and what you do?
Hi Bronte! I’m Steven and I try to spread positivity through hairy legged doodles :P… I think that’s a good summary of what I do… I’m moving into some 3d work and animation at the moment. So that might change in 6 months.
What was the inspiration for your name?
Growing up I used to disappear a lot. I would always be found in a random corner of any room/garden just doodling or colouring in. My folks used to say I would fit myself into any nook and cranny to draw. When I moved into my own place that was big enough to have a study, the first thing I did was slap a big sign on it saying, “Stevens Sketch Nook”. Now its my state of mind. I’m always safe when I’m drawing! 😊 (the sign up now just says “Bring Snacks!”).
What inspires your illustrations?
Life! Mostly. I don’t have many friends but we really tight. I’m lucky enough that we are a pretty diverse set of hilarious folks. I always keep a sketchbook on me and the ideas come naturally over time.
What's your creative process?
My creative process is constant. I’ll make doodles when I’m on the go, and then I’ll have an hour or two in the Nook in the evenings to put that into something more legible/public friendly. My wife is a huge part of my creative process like in this doodle I made of a cat we rescued last year. We said this poem together whilst looking at our cat one day who hadn’t moved for most of it, we were just making jokes to each other and being silly. So I ran upstairs and wrote it down ^_^.
I use procreate for the digital stuff. I draw with any black felt tip I can get my hands on. I paint when I’m stressed, and I use polymer clay and acrylics for my character models.
Your tiger is super cute - what's their name and what's their story? 🐯
Hahaha :D Thanks! (gender neutrality appreciated there) Tiger is Tiger! She’s a manifestation of everything going on in my house. Me, the wife and the 4 cats. And then I spin it down to its simplest form on paper. We have Japes every day, so it’s easy to keep drawing. Sometimes we don’t even need japes, we just had Star Wars on a n the background the other week whilst we were playing some games and I had this idea for the empire strokes back.
What inspired you to start your own business?
My friends kept telling me I should do it! Then In 2015 I made a small Christmas stall ( with my wife) of cards and knitted stuff to raise funds for Mind, the mental health charity, as I had had a particularly rough year that year. I thought we might make 50 quid cos it was just in the office block I worked in. It ended up being the busiest week of my life and we made £600. That was close to the post tax value of what I earned that month. That and the amount of laughs that I got I started to think I could do this for a living.
What would you say your proudest moment is?
Oh! I love the simple little things in every day. At my first con there was a very miserable looking chap walking with his head down. He saw one of my “Witch Please” prints on the table in his eye line and his face lit up!!, the transformation was insane ^_^ that made me feel nice. I get so many hearty laughs at my stall that always make my day. If I can keep doing that, then I’m sure I’ll be living my best life.
What's your favourite thing about being an independent maker?
The community!!! I call it my happy place. All my stock is printed by other independents too, like The Messy Radish and Dudley’s Doodle Beans.
I couldn’t have found them without the community. Independents can be such wonderful people who really appreciate a bit of love for their graft, no matter how successful or big they seem. They always have time for you. Most of my idols are now friends and I look forward to chatting to them, even though I hold them in such high esteem, they talk back like I’m on an even footing with them. There’s a real genuine positivity about the independent community and that really makes me hopeful that it’s only going to get bigger over time.
If you could give one piece of advice to anyone who is just starting out/struggling to find their feet in the art industry, what would it be?
Draw all the time! Self-criticise all the time! figure out what makes your art special…
Then go to some markets. Talk to the artists, buy a little something, even if it’s just a token purchase. Follow them on social media. Interact with them, if they like your work they will mirror your behaviour! That’s the beginning of your empire and your little art family, you will need an art family for the tough times so well done :) . Time to get on a market yourself!
If your heart knows you can do it, don’t give up, be patient, change things up that you are doing but don’t stop! ( I started as a painter and then did graphic design work for years before I figured out my skill was my writing, not my drawing)😊 it’s not easy, or everyone would do it.
… I mean… Everybody is different, but that approach is working for me. It’s really important to not let the bad thoughts have the attention they don’t deserve. I had a chat with an artist a few weeks ago who was sad that her market felt “saturated” to this I disagree. There is room for everyone in the industry, you’ve just gotta find your strength and your audience ( I used to be a painter so I have made a lot of changes finding myself too)
If you could spend the day with any maker in history, who would it be and why?
I studied art, art history and commercial art growing up ( though maybe I’m still growing up). I think all the best artists are alive now, and they aren’t the ones making millions in paintings.
John Bond seems like a really great chap! I bet he knows all the secret restaurants that are better than the ones on the main street.
Reza Farazmand who does Poorly Drawn Lines is someone I’d love to see how they come up with ideas.
Allie Brosh from Hyperbole and a half too! She really paved the way for mental health to play the huge part it does in illustration. Also, she has a really cute dog.
Where can we find your work?
I’m booking Markets and cons for next year right now so check my Instagram for the best updates if you want to come say hi 😊.
Currently I’m only selling on Etsy. I’ve just designed some Positivi-tees to release on Redbubble in Jan 19
Give “the SketchNook” a search on any social media, I might be there. Then tell your auto correct you didn’t want to say “Sketch Book”
Any last advice?
Only some advice I received from a wise Scotsman one “What’s for you, wont go by you”. Just keep doing the thing!!!
So that’s The Sketch Nook! If you’d like to see more of Steven and Tiger (who wouldn’t??) then check out the links at the top of the article! I’d 100% recommend checking out his shop as there’s some really funny items in there and the customer service is top notch. I recently bought a Tiger print and I LOVE it! There’s still time to check the #collabvent calendar on Steven’s Instagram, too - there’s some really interesting and talented people on there and each post is amazing!!
Bye for now! Bronte :)