Creative Freedom: Tea and Crayons

It’s amazing where some light-hearted banter on Twitter can lead, creatively. Abby Wright, Fritha Strickland, Kayleigh Bluck, Natasha Thompson, Rachel Lewis and Rachel Price, six young female illustrators from all over the UK with a design-focused education and a passion for illustration, found it led to forming an online illustration collective in order to challenge themselves, work together and share knowledge and creativity. Tea and Crayons was born in November 2010.

With a collective interest in editorial, fashion and advertising illustration, the six didn’t deliberately set out to create an all-female group via social networking. “It was a complete coincidence,” admits Rachel Lewis. “Maybe it’s the old cliché that girls just like to talk more? We didn’t set out to start a feminist illustration movement.”

After chatting daily though, they did find that their styles complemented each other. All six use both hand-drawn and digital techniques in a “fluid, feminine way” – with fashion being a common theme. However, Abby prefers to work primarily digitally, while Kayleigh’s artwork is nearly always hand-drawn, encouraging a good creative balance and much-needed inspiration for each other.

“It’s really valuable to get feedback and chat about what works and what doesn’t,” explains Rachel Price. “Our collective is a really good source of motivation, as well. It’s hard working on your own so it’s fun for us to bounce ideas around about future plans and projects.”

Come together to win clients

Combining their efforts has led to them producing an impressive mailer pack to send off to 500 potential clients. So far it’s brought some great feedback via email and Twitter.

“Together we decided what the pack should consist of [and who to target],” recalls Kayleigh. “It’d be extremely difficult to reach so many clients without sharing the costs.”

Naturally, the girls found social media to be the best platform to promote themselves and their work, including their own blog.

“We’ve been lucky to have been featured [by blogs and sites], which has helped spread the word,” says Fritha. “Our Twitter feed allows us to keep followers up to date with our latest [group] activities, whilst keeping a personal touch to who we are.”

Abby has some good advice for those reading this who are thinking of starting their own online creative collective.

“First, work with illustrators or designers whose work you love – you can’t be expected to promote and work with them if you’re not sure about their style,” she says. “Keep it small for now – we know each other’s workings and communicate well. Larger groups may be harder to keep motivated.” And finally, “Be creative, and don’t be afraid to try something different,” adds Abby. “Be prepared to be committed and take the time to establish yourselves. It will take time, but the results may be amazing!”

Illustrations (top-bottom):

Kayleigh Bluck by Fritha Strickland

Rachel Lewis by Kayleigh Bluck

Rachel Price by Rachel Lewis

Fritha Strickland by Abby Wright

Natasha Thompson by Rachel Price

Abby Wright by Natasha Thompson

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