Happy Feature Friday!
Today we’re talking to the creator behind Lily Featherston Design to hear all about her background and the amazing prints, cards, and other fun products she creates! We think it is amazing that Lily bases all of her work off of subjects she truly loves — which is why you’ll see so many animals and nature based imagery in her designs. She doesn’t just stick to one medium and is always trying out new ways to create prints or even put her designs on new surfaces! We can’t wait to see where her work will take her next, so keep reading to learn more about Lily Featherston Design and get inspired along the way!
: Tell us a little about yourself.
: Hi! I’m a 27 year old artist living in New Hampshire with my boyfriend. I’ve spent most of my life in New Hampshire, but I moved to Portsmouth in 2013, about a year after graduating from college. Portsmouth is a beautiful little city on the coast, and I absolutely love it. When I’m not inside making art, I like to explore the coast and be by the ocean. I like pretty much all things seafood, so I spend a fair amount of time eating as well!
: You’re located in New Hampshire and grew up there. What about your environment has affected your artwork?
: I grew up in a small town, in a house surrounded by forest, so I spent almost all of my time in the woods. My family is very outdoor oriented so we were often hiking and exploring. We had a dog, and right down the road was a small farm, so I loved animals from a young age. When I was around 9 years old I got to take care of a lamb for a week. He had to be bottle fed, and I grew really attached to him. I remember he had the fuzziest little face, and he would clop along after me wherever I went. Sheep have become a common subject of mine, and I really think it stems from that early experience with “lamby” (Very original, I know!)
: How did your shop, Lily Featherston Design, come to be?
: It’s been quite the process, that’s for sure! In college I actually majored in Animation, I was very drawn to the idea of being able to express a certain emotion or idea with movement, and again I often looked to the natural world for inspiration. After graduation I wasn’t totally sure what I wanted to do with my degree, and I didn’t want to move to NYC or LA so I started making greeting cards of animals for my friends and family, focusing on their facial expressions, and trying to portray silly emotions. I loved it. I went out on a limb and started selling them at a local art sale, which then lead to opening my own Etsy page! Since then, my work has changed quite a bit. I do less cards, but I still love to draw animals.
: Experimentation is a big part of being an artist. What creative experiments or new styles of creating have you enjoyed the most so far? Were there any that you didn’t like?
: For a while, I really loved cut paper. My original animal greeting cards were all made by cutting and glueing paper. I really enjoyed the tactile, 3D quality it gave my work. I also love strong colors, and using colored paper as a background gave my work an even and solid color behind it, something that is hard to achieve with painting. It was a fun way of creating, and it really complimented my style. It’s downfall was that it didn’t always hold together in the long term, and it also took a lot of time to produce just one card, let lone multiple cards. I made each card individually, and in the end I realized it wasn’t going to be time or cost effective.
Gouache is another medium I love to work with. I currently have a flower series in gouache showing at the White Heron Cafe in Portsmouth, NH. To me, painting with gouache feels like painting with velvet. It has such a smooth texture, and it’s easy to mix your own colors, which lended itself perfectly to the flowers I was itching to paint. I’ve done two series of flower paintings now, and every time I get invested in another project, a new flower springs up and I can’t help myself, I have to paint it.
Recently, I have been obsessed with printmaking. There are so many different styles and techniques, but I’ve been working with linoleum and rubber to create blocks for printing. It’s a new process for me, so I still have a lot to learn, but that’s exciting to me. Its a very satisfying system to start with a blank piece of rubber, and slowly watch your design appear as you carve the unwanted color away. So I guess there are a lot of mediums I love to use, and not very many I don’t enjoy! One thing I’ve never really done is digital art. I’ve worked with Photoshop and After Effects, but I really prefer using my hands.
: Running your own shop can have a lot of challenges. What was one thing that you thought would be easy when setting up shop, but turned out to be a challenge?
: Promotion! When I first opened my shop, I was just happy to put my work out there, and hope that people would see it and buy something. But in reality, there are a lot of artists out there making amazing things so it can be really difficult for your work to get noticed. That’s why I enjoy doing shows and art fairs, because it’s an easy and fun way to get yourself out there, and put a face behind the name.
: Do you have a favorite piece or a piece that has special meaning to you?
: I had a watercolor of 3 sheep that I sold a few years ago that was very special to me. It was the first painting of sheep I think I ever did and it was based on a photo taken from my great aunt’s farm. She used to raise sheep and she had this beautiful old farmhouse in Connecticut that I just barely remember. Recently, I made a series of prints from the photo as well, and I actually titled the series “Grandfather’s sheep” because it was accidentally labeled in an old family album as belonging to my grandfather. Both my great aunt and my grandfather were huge outdoorsmen (and women) and very into fishing and farming, and working on the land. I feel very connected to them because of that, and I can see how they inspired the next generation of my family to love and appreciate our natural world.
: What did it feel like when you sold your first piece of artwork?
: It felt very empowering! It made me feel much more confident in myself as an artist, and it really inspired me to keep working and keep creating the things I love.
: You’ve sold your work at art fairs and done shows. What do you love about getting to interact with your customers and gallery viewers?
: It’s always fun (and nerve-wracking) to watch people look at your work. But it’s also such a wonderful feeling to have people come up to you and tell you in person how much they like a certain piece, or how they connect to it. When I was just selling my cards, they were very cute and colorful, and when I was behind the table I could see people pass by and acknowledge me as the artist. It was pretty fun to come back from the bathroom with my boyfriend behind the table, and watch people take a second glance at the masculine man with the cute puppy love cards (not that there’s anything wrong with that!).
: You have had your work printed on wrapping paper & towels! What is your dream item to see your work printed on?
: I’ve been seeing a lot of artists printing their work on tea towels, and I really love the way they look. At one point I had my giraffe drawing printed on canvas bags and I loved the way they came out. I always imagined having a series of canvas bags with different animals and flowers printed on them, and someday I think that would be really fun to do!
: Any advice for any fellow young artists?
: Oof, I feel like I have some advice, and also need lots of it! But I think my main piece of advice is just to keep making work you love. I know that’s a pretty classic thing to say, but in this day and age artists can show their work on almost any social media platform and it can be very overwhelming. When I made an instagram for Lily Featherston Design I started following all of these awesome artists for inspiration and motivation, and it left me feeling confused. I was suddenly second guessing myself, and wondering if my work matched up to another artist’s work. I had to take a step back and remind myself that even though there is this awesome community of artists online, I can’t let that affect my creativity. I have to make the art that I want to make, and it can be a daily reminder not to be swept up into thinking I need to be doing something I’m not. We are all so unique, so just keep making the work that YOU want to make!