The Gal Behind the Prints: Yorkshire Artist Interview
Updated: Aug 25, 2020
Fed up of social media being a negative place, Leia has curated a space on the internet to spread positivity and raise money. She is the gal behind the Yorkshire Artist; a quickly growing shop, Instagram account, and place of happiness for everyone to go to. And, if you’ve followed her already, you’ll know that her artwork and personality are the rays of sunshine the world needs right now.
Interviewing Leia, or should I say chatting to her, was an absolute pleasure, and I can’t wait to share with you an insight into this fabulous artist!
Hello! How are you doing today?
Hey! Stressed, but excited and full of ideas! I'm overwhelmed but in a good way.
Let’s start off with an easy one – describe Yorkshire Artist in one sentence.
Uhm, a place for positivity and creativeness! And a place of creativity and positivity which is personal to me and other people as well! So like not just for me but for everyone.
What’s your most favourite thing about using social media to share your positivity?
Bringing people together. I’m not there for the numbers and followers. It helps, but it doesn’t matter. Initially it's about the connections, especially with my community of reps, we have a great little friendship group now. I can't wait to meet them all in person!
Oh and I love my collaborations with fellow Instagrammers! It allows me to connect with others in a unique way and vice versa. I love taking someones quote and bringing it to life through artwork. Others seem to really enjoy it too as I just ask for a quote and run with the rest. Then, when we announce the collab they get excited too! It's really fun!
And what’s your least favourite thing?
Negative Nancies! Stacey Solomon calls her trolls Susan. I think Susan's a nice name because it reminds me of granny's but it’s the same thing. I call them Negative Nancies because some of the things they say are rubbish and clearly down to jealousy and boredom. People think they’re two people sometimes, like one person online and another in real life but they're not. You wouldn’t say a negative thing to someone in person so why the hell are you saying it online?
When did you first realise you wanted to go down the art path?
Officially it was at my 6th form open evening with my mum. We were there for about 5 mins, we went to geography because I'd done well in that at GCSE, but we ended up walking straight out and going to the art department instead. I chatted to my textile teacher who said 'did you know you can do all three arts' at A-Level, which I didn't. So, I just decided to do that! I'm lucky that both my parents have been supportive. You get some parents who don't want their kids to go into the arts, they try to push them to do science or law. Mine weren't like that, they didn't check up on me. They just trusted me to get on with it.
For my degree, my textiles teacher again talked to me about doing textiles at uni. She said Manchester had a good course so I just said yeah and did that!
I get my creativeness from my granny (my dad's mum). She sits and draws and paints and has always done arts and crafts with me and my cousin's so that’s probably where it came from from a young age. Not that she'd take the credit for it!
What or who is your biggest inspiration?
Ooh uhm, it’s never really a who. You know in school when they'd ask which artist inspires you, I've never really had one, I just find pictures and draw them, so there isn't necessarily a who but there is definitely a what. Flowers are my favourite thing, I don't know why, I really like flowers and it comes into print design all the time. So, I draw a lot of flowers and I do landscapes when I'm painting.
I did a lot of hiking at A-Level so I was taking a lot of photographs at the time. I like to draw from my surroundings and from photography, I can't ever pass a flower or nice landscape without taking a photograph! I can’t come up with stuff, my brain and creativity doesn’t work like that so I have to draw from images. Although I think it’s very impressive when people can draw like that.
If you could collaborate with anyone, who would it be?
Uhm… I thought about this the other day. Chessie King, (@chessiekingg on Instagram). She's really good for body positivity and she's pretty cool. But she's also got her own prints so I'd never actually approach her because she does her own stuff, but she's always the one that springs to mind. She does a lot of positivity and she does a lot for others as well. If you’re not following her you need to!
Do you ever struggle with impostor syndrome, or a lack of confidence in your art?
I don’t really care what other people think. I do about sensitive stuff like if someone said 'you're not a very kind person' I'd want a valid reason. But if someone said 'you're not a very good artist' it's such a broad thing that it’s very hard to say what’s good or bad because there's so much personality involved. So, if someone said that it wouldn’t bother me. I don’t lack confidence in that area because what they say wouldn't make sense. Unless someone is copying someone else's artwork, then that’s wrong in the sense that it's morally wrong and you shouldn't be doing that.
What advice would you give to someone who is just starting out?
As an artist or on Instagram?
Okay, so Instagram in general – start a page for a reason, don't start it for followers or likes. That’s not how it works. Don’t do follow loops, be genuine but don’t put all your thoughts and feelings on there just in case you say something you later regret. Watch out for Negative Nancies but take them with a pinch of salt, like sometimes there might be something in what they're saying but nine times out of ten what they're saying has just come from jealousy or they just want to be a dick.
Also, start something with originality, like body positivity with a twist or something. Make sure you’re doing it for you not someone else. Like with my account I was sat at work and thought 'Oh, I'll just start doing quotes' because I wanted to do a bit of calligraphy as I'd never done it before, then I thought 'how do I track it and share it? I'll use Instagram'. So, I started that, and then when I was thinking about quotes, I wanted them to mean something to people so I decided to ask them and get other people involved so they appreciate it as well - Collaborations are always useful. But again, because it's meaningful to you and someone else, not for followers and likes. They might come out of it which is a bonus, but they shouldn't be your first agenda.
Starting out as an artist, again, be original but remember 'Steal Like an Artist'. So, the thing is with art, like I said earlier, there's no right or wrong. I can look at David Hockney and his landscapes and I can look at the way you might draw and combine the two, and that's something different. But what you don't do is copy someone. You can copy to learn a skill, but you wouldn't release it as your own artwork or try and get payment from it.
Also, make sure you get paid for what you're deserved. I was scared to put the price of my prints up but I'm offering two free prints with them, including P&P and 10% is going to Mind too, so there's a lot more to it than just a piece of paper. Also, don't give your artwork away! Keep your original stuff, or stuff you're really proud of, or at least keep a decent photograph of it or you'll regret it later on.
But yeah, art is so wide and vast that you can get inspiration from anywhere. Also, anyone can draw! People say they can't but all you need to do is pick up a stick and a bit of mud and a piece of paper and voila, you've drawn something! Art isn't necessarily about something that's really detailed or magnificent or whatever. It tends to be appreciated a bit more, but also with artwork having a meaning behind it really helps. Like when you go to Tate Modern and it's just a piece of plaster on the wall and it has all this gibberish next to it, I don't really get it. But if there was a bit of plain English next to it like 'this art means loneliness' or something then I'd instantly be more interested in it. Meaning behind your art, Instagram or you as an artist always helps. Like, there's gotta be a reason why you're doing it, it might just take some time to figure it out.
What’s a fun fact about you that no-one knows?
My fun fact that everyone already knows is that I'm named after Princess Leia!
A fun fact that no-one knows... my Australian internship – I went to Sydney accidentally. Well, I applied to an internship there accidentally. At one of the top ten leading print design studios in the world, and I was there for three months!
If you could create anything in the world without worrying about money, what would it be?
A teleporter! So, one minute I could be in Sydney and the next I could be in a cottage in Wales, or York, because then I could get some really good photographs of flowers and landscapes to draw! And I’d also get to travel, but conveniently so Tilly could come with! Me and Henry want to go travelling but it's either travelling or a house and then getting married, how can we afford it all, and where the hell would Tilly go?
Is Yorkshire Artist your main source of income?
I don’t do this full time. I think some people don’t realise that, so my commissions do take longer because I also have a 9-5 job at the same time! During the day I’m a textile designer and I run art workshops in central Manchester (when were not in lockdown)!
What do you do when you’re not making art?
When I'm not working, I hike and kayak and chill with Till. Oh, and Henry!
Why did you choose Mind?
I chose Mind because I don’t know a vast amount about it but I just know that they do good and that’s enough for me. Mental health needs to be spoken about more and they're doing exactly that. Also, my positive quotes connect to a positive mindset which connects to mental health.
How much have you raised for Mind so far?
So far, I've now raised £179 - but that's not all from sales. I have a lot of people send me extra to give to the charity too!
What products can we expect from Yorkshire Artist in the future?
I've just released tote bags but I want to release custom bags and I have more of my own ideas for them too. Like one for periods, one for medication, one for your glasses case... when I go away, I like to put my bras in one bag and socks in another and then pack them because I'm really organised! So, I want to do ones with boobs, bits and bobs, stationary, flowers, all sorts!
I also want to do cards at some point. Cards for her, cards for him, I do want to do more things for him but 90% if not more of people that buy and follow me are women, so I have to bear that in mind. But Positive pal tops are coming. Bookmarks are coming. Cushion covers are coming with the sunflower on because everyone goes bat-shit crazy for the sunflower!
I'm also gonna do a food shopping list planner thing. And I am collaborating with an Instagrammer Mum to make bespoke planners specific to family, like a kid’s star chart, that can all be printed at home. My next print collaborations are gonna be sunflower based. I'm also making a body positivity print collection with around 8 prints and you can buy 3 at once I think. Yoga prints are also coming.
A lady got in touch recently asking if I could do a mum body positivity print and she gave me the idea to do Powerful Pregnancy Portraits. So, it's not really a new product but a twist on an old one. I think people don't realise that they can be changed. I'm always happy for someone to get in touch and say 'can you do this, but can you do it in this kinda way'. So, I'm trying to get ahead of it. I don't think people realise the amount of stuff I have, like I do baby scans, and rainbow baby scans, which are popular but don't get ordered much?
There are more ideas, but I'll leave it there for now!
As you can see, Leia is incredibly passionate about what she does! If you want to find out more about Leia, head to her Instagram here where you can find prints, products, pictures of her gorgeous bunny, Tilly, and much more! Or, if you’re interested in shopping some of Leia’s beautiful handmade products you can find her Etsy shop here.