We speak to the London-based illustrator about her unconventional path to success.
Amy Grimes is an illustrator who's gone on to become a brand in their right, working under the name of Hello Grimes. Even rarer is Amy's stock in trade, creating flora and fauna-based pieces that are colourful without being flashy, and which come with an eco-friendly mindset that means the artist is giving back to the muse that so inspires her work. Not that that's an easy thing to do, mind.
"It can sometimes be a struggle to ensure you have an eco-friendly product that also isn't too expensive," Amy explains to me over email, "but it's something that I think is really valuable, especially as people are more and more aware of the impact of plastic etc on the environment. All of my products are printed within London and the textiles are all made in the UK. Where I can, I also use biodegradable cellophane film to wrap my prints and cards and send my products in recyclable packaging.
"I've recently had notebooks made which are all handmade in London using an organic cotton cover," Amy continues. "This process definitely isn't the cheapest available, but people are often willing to pay more for a product that is handmade using sustainable materials."
The Hello Grimes name under which Amy sells her goods comes from a habit of often being referred to by her surname, she tells me; I go back deeper by asking how the entire enterprise got off the ground.
"I set up Hello Grimes as a way of promoting and selling my work, but I was creating images and illustrating before I decided to run this mini-business," she explains. "The progression to starting it was really natural, and it's essentially snowballed over time. I started by sharing my work online and as more and more people saw it and wanted to buy the prints, I decided to make it a bit more official by setting up a website and expanding my product range."
The internet then has its part to play, but, like the grounded elements which play such a pivotal part in Amy's work, the artist doesn't forget the simple roots that keep any business going - like a real-world presence to enable plain old window-shopping.
"From my own experience it's always been better to sell in person, and most online sales will come through the week after attending a fair. You also meet so many interesting people in this way, and it provides a really good platform to get your work seen and also meet people and understand what sells well and what doesn't.
"Selling illustrated products in this way has also opened up more commissioned and freelance work too," she elaborates. "You never know who will be attending the fair or market that you're selling your work at."
A recent novel use of her talents is a commission from baby clothes brand Little Choo, which saw her designs decorate adorable leggings ("I never really imagined I'd see my illustrations on baby clothes, but it's really cute and something I'd definitely like to do more of," she enthuses), along with Christmas card sets for retail chain Scribbler. Amy's work is an easy sell; after all, what can be more universal than branches, flowers and nature scapes?
"The British countryside is a recurring theme in a lot of my work," Amy says when discussing nature's influence on her work. "I have a set of three Heathland prints which are all based on Scottish heathlands, and my fabric patterns are based on different eco-systems within the UK. Having said that, the inspiration for my work really varies. Sometimes it will be a place I've visited or a book I've read that inspires the image."
Amy is also not averse to basing her work on imagined places and landscapes; one particularly effervescent print that shows a luminescent rockpool by night was inspired by a Cornwall trip where she was given directions to a pool that glowed at night; no such sight seemed to exist, despite much searching, but Amy decided to conjure one up anyway in illustrative form.
Surprisingly, Amy's work is mostly digital, despite its handmade look. "I'll start by drawing the composition sketch by hand and then scanning this in to colour digitally," she explains about her method.
"To create the different textures that run throughout my work I'll hand paint sheets of texture to scan in and then these are layered up in Photoshop, sort of like a digital collage. I love working in this way as it allows a lot of freedom to change the composition or colours as you go; I'm much too indecisive to know exactly how it should look at the beginning of an illustration."
Currently Amy is working on a book illustration project, something she'd like to do more of. "I'm hoping to get more work within children's publishing in the next year or so," she says. "I love the style of illustration for children's book publishing as the illustrations are often playful, bright and use lots of emotion. They're also really fun projects to work on."
From freelancer to brand, to storybook artist; I ask Amy if there are any heroes she's emulating with her widely varied career path.
"I'd say that places, experiences and landscapes tend to influence my art more than people," she replies. "There are some illustrators that I really love and admire (Marc Martin, Brooke Smart, Heikala as a very small selection) but I think it's important not to compare yourself to people too much.
"If you're trying to emulate someones work you will never be as happy with it as if you were just to draw what you interests you and not worry too much about what the 'style' is; that tends to develop naturally the more work you create anyway I've found."