Meet the maker: Stephanie Rostron, Illustrator, White Thistle Design

Tell us about your illustration business, what is it you do and how did you get into it?

The first memory I have of really starting to enjoy drawing was back in a Year 8 art project in which we were given the task of drawing our front door. It was the first time I can remember really putting 100% effort in and I hugely enjoyed my first attempts at portraying texture and contrast through varying amounts of shading. Fast-forward 17 years, and after a degree in Printed Textiles and Surface Pattern Design and 7 years in the bespoke pattern design industry, my drawing skills have changed somewhat since I was 13, but I still enjoy it just as much as I did back then. 

A break from working life 3 years ago to go travelling allowed me to refocus on drawing, something I hadn’t really done since my degree, and even then I always felt I was trying to just get the grades and please tutors. Drawing whilst travelling allowed me to really focus on what I wanted to draw, my own style and being around so many amazing surroundings, I was never short of inspiration. Since returning, I’ve continued drawing and I find my style constantly evolves as I find new favourite ways to draw.

Nature-based art prints, personalised prints, greeting cards and original illustrations are all available to buy and I take on completely bespoke work, which I find is always so lovely working with people to create their own unique piece of art.

What is the piece of work you’re most proud of?

Whilst a lot of my commission pieces for wedding/birthday gifts are some of the pieces I’m proudest of, the most recent drawing I did for a family members’ big birthday is probably the most proud I’ve been of a drawing. At 11×14”, it is one of the largest, yet most detailed illustrations I’ve done to date. Incorporating many personal elements into the drawing including references to holidays abroad, UK trips and three Lancashire roses for each of the recipients’ children, the drawing took weeks to complete. I wish I’d kept a record of how many hours in total! But it was all worth it as I was so happy with the final piece, with all the detail included and how all the elements combined with each other.

What does the future have in store? What plans do you have for your business in the future, and how would you like it to develop over time?

I’d love to start drawing bigger and therefore having bigger prints available for purchase. I’d also like to branch out to offer a bigger range of products. I’ve yet to fully decide what these are to be, but I’d love to just keep expanding on what I have to offer, whilst still focusing on detailed drawing which is the core of White Thistle Design.

What’s behind your business name?

White Thistle Design pays homage to two incredibly important women in my family – my two Grandmas. One of my Grandma’s maiden names was White, whilst the other is from Scotland and is a very proud Scottish lady, so to represent her I chose the national Scottish flower.

Can you talk us through your making process from start to finish? How does each of your pieces come to be?

I usually have a list of ideas for drawings, of which the inspiration comes from my own photographs. I find it’s so important to have my own material to call upon as this retains originality, which I’ve always been very proud of. I like to have a mix of things as reference, as this helps keep me inspired from drawing to drawing. I have albums of florals, foliage, woodland elements, tropical elements, skulls, birds and animals from museum visits, countryside walks and holidays abroad to scroll through to find ideas. My houseplants are always a great inspiration too!

A sketch is made first of the design and composition to check where I’d like elements to be and check the layout looks balanced aesthetically. Once I’m happy, the detailed pen work starts and then the final design is scanned in, edited and test-printed. When the test prints are as close as possible to the original drawing, they are available to purchase. I’m transitioning over to only printing once an order has been received to try and minimise waste. In addition to this, prints are always sent out with sustainably-sourced packaging. Biodegradable sleeves are used to keep the prints safe in transit, whilst biodegradable branded stickers, recycled/recyclable tissue paper, card backing boards and envelopes are all used.

What do you do to relax? Are there other crafts that you like to do?

Before lockdown I was taking part in a ceramics course and I really enjoyed the time set aside per week to switch off from everything and create something for myself. I found it quite therapeutic being so hands-on and now have some unique pots around my home (some a lot better-looking than others). I’d love to do more classes in the future and I currently have an air-drying clay kit to get stuck into at home.

Aside from keeping creative, I also love countryside walks and bike rides. Not only are these great for mental and physical wellbeing, but I also love finding undiscovered beauty spots that aren’t teeming with people. Being outdoors also allows me to build up my collection of photographs of elements to draw in the future.

Click here to contact Stephanie Rostron at White Thistle Design

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