Self-taught artist turning hobby into career

Words by:
Kate Chapman
Featured in:
July 2017

Although she’s always dreamed of having her own art and design business Rebecca Harrison still can’t believe how quickly her new countryside inspired venture has taken off.

The 30-year-old posted a picture online of a drawing she’d done for a friend at the start of the year and then found herself inundated with commissions. Flash forward a few months and her stunning work is adorning a range of stunning, contemporary greetings cards, art prints, gift wrap and fabrics.

During that time Rebecca has also built up a distinctive portfolio of around fifty illustrations including lambs, squirrels, deer and hares alongside wilder creatures such as elephants, penguins and pandas with more being added all the time.

She is selling her work online and in a number of independent stockists nationwide, including several in her native Lincolnshire, where her countryside and wildlife drawings are proving particularly popular.

“It’s all happened quite quickly,” says Rebecca, who grew up on her parents’ mixed farm in Hemingby, near Horncastle.

“I’ve developed my style over time and had always hoped to have my own business, but this has all happened quite by accident.

“I’m inspired by everything around me, but particularly animals. I grew up on a farm surrounded by them and I love spending time with them.

“I’m interested in their expressions; they all have individual characters and a lot of them are quite funny and I aim to capture this in a cute, detailed and unique style.”

Rebecca attended school in Horncastle and went on to study architecture at Newcastle University before moving to London, where she currently works full-time as an architectural visual 3D artist while running her art business in her free time.

“I’ve always been interested in drawing and painting, although when I was younger I used to draw buildings quite a lot, which is what led me to study architecture,” she explains.

“I’ve always been more interested in the arty, rather than the technical side.

“I started painting when I was at university as a hobby and then began taking commissions. I always hoped to have my own business one day. This all started at the beginning of the year when my flatmate at the time asked me to draw her a picture of a baby giraffe because she liked them.

“It got lots of attention after I posted it on Instagram, when other people started requesting other safari animals and then I did some pictures for my nephew’s nursery, which turned into a lot of paintings for nurseries and this was all through social media.”

Following the interest in her work, Rebecca set about getting her designs onto a range of greeting cards, which she has been selling along with prints, wrapping paper, fabric and paintings through her website and Etsy shop, as well as at several London markets. She also uses social media platforms Facebook and Instagram to showcase her work.

Rebecca is a completely self-taught artist with a natural talent for capturing the likeness of animals and takes her inspiration from her surroundings, especially the rural landscape of her childhood. She uses photographs for reference when drawing and completes all of her work in her home studio rather than when out and about.

“My work is environmentally conscious in subject and production. I draw on cartridge paper using non-toxic ink, all of my products are printed in London and I offer a 100 per cent recycled kraft card range,” she says.

“For my drawings I use black ink and then I scan the image in and add the background in digitally, which also makes it a lot easier for the printers as there’s just one pure colour.

“For my paintings I use acrylic on canvas or canvas board as it’s bright and quick to dry.

“When I’m creating a painting I like to finish it in one sitting if possible – partly because I don’t have the space at present to come back to it too often and partly because I have to be in a certain frame of mind to paint and I like to get through a whole piece while in the same mindset.

“I often use palette knives to put the paint onto the canvas, which helps to give some texture and then I use a range of different sized brushes. I finish them off using pastels and sometimes fine-line pens over the top once the paint has dried to highlight areas.

“When it comes to the subject of my paintings I’m more of a landscape painter. I love painting big skies, which Lincolnshire is great for; you don’t get that so much in London,” she adds.

As for the future Rebecca is open to commissions and is keen for her brand to become more well known while she also plans to extend her range further. She’s also hoping to turn her artwork into a full-time career and eventually plans to move back to the countryside she loves so much.

“In the long term I’d like to develop a fabric range – I’d like to explore a range of blinds, wallpapers and soft furnishings later on,” she adds.

“But at the moment I just want to continue designing and growing the range and ideally I’d like this to become my full-time job.

“I like living in London but I love coming back to the countryside, back home and getting out and about, enjoying country walks.

“As for the drawing, I love it, it’s what I’ve always wanted to be doing and at the moment I’m more than happy to spend every waking minute on it when I’m not doing my day job.”

To find out more about Rebecca and her work visit

Items from Rebecca’s range are also available in The Country Stile and the Sir Joseph Banks Centre, both in Horncastle, Annikas in Louth, and Stuff With Style in Woodhall Spa.

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