One of the interesting things about In Conversation With…. is the chance to be able to talk to small, independent artists, sole traders and to look at their style, inspiration and ethos. Quite often, tea towels are one of a range of goods produced by artists with small businesses, along side mugs, cushions, coasters, table mats, key rings, fridge magnets…….
Small providers often do not have the people power, or promotional facilities, to be able to widely advertise their goods. Forums like FaceBook, Instagram and Twitter, along with eBay and Etsy, are often used rather than having big flashy websites. It is through Instagram that I was first introduced to the work of Heather McLennan. I saw one of her tea towels and thought ‘There’s someone who would be good for In Conversation With…, unique, out of the ordinary and I am delighted that she agreed to be interviewed. Heather’s website describes her as a Scottish Artist, even better! Here is her story:
“Ok here goes, a little bit about myself….. I am an Artist, who paints mostly in Acrylic; however water colour is my first love, and pastels. I have drawn and painted for fun pretty much all of my life… I am totally self taught, and learning all the time. Having been in travel all my life, in my middle 50’s I contacted Visit Scotland with my coasters and card designs, asking if they would consider me for gifts in some of their Tourist Information Centres. Delighted, they said yes and I have been with them for 3 years now. My range of goods are now, Coasters, Cards, Clocks, Chopping Boards, Placemats, Tea Towels, Tote Bags, Cushions, Mugs, Key Rings, Note Pads.
I started printing tea towels, as tourists love them as a keepsake; they are lightweight and easy to take back as gifts from their travels. I am working on my first children’s book at present and hope to have this adding to my range in 2020.”
But did Heather always want to be a tea towel designer, I ask with a smile on my face? “When I was a child I dreamed of becoming Zookeeper with the BIG CATS… I helped in the Children’s Zoo area in Edinburgh Zoo in the mid 70’s.
How do you see the future? “I do not wish to become a big brand name, I want to keep small and be able to manage my very small modest hobby/business myself. I have a small online shop (closed just now, because of Coronavirus lockdown). A wonderful little shop called Purdie’s of Argyll sell some of my range, along with 8 Visit Scotland Shops and The Biggar Gallery in Biggar. I have had 3 Art Exhibitions, and been overwhelmed with selling pretty much all my paintings; they are affordable and not over priced.
I would love to see myself in 5 years time, still happily creating art which people love and hang in their homes. I love painting for Charity. Very proud to say my last large Canvas sold for £2750.00 in November 2019, for a wonderful Charity called ‘Its good to give’ for children fighting cancer.
My favourite design is Brodie Highland. He is the lead character for my children’s book; tea towel wise Heather Honey and Hudson are my favourites. All my cows are named by lovely followers on my Face Book page. I did not always paint cows, this just evolved….
What do you like to do in your spare time? “My hobbies are, yes you have guessed, drawing and painting, riding my horse which I sadly lost the end of last year at the grand old age of 32, walking my Labrador with Malcolm, my husband, having my son home from University to cook for and spending quality time with my girlfriends. Oh, and I eat far to much chocolate. I received my bus pass last year, that pretty much sums me up.
P.S. I painted live in the Scottish Parliament to celebrate 50 years of Visit Scotland, there is Heather Honey and Hudson tea towel hanging in full view. (January 2019)
Thank you Heather for taking part in In Conversation With….. It’s been really interesting seeing life from the point of view of a very small business. I’ll keep watching out for any new tea towel designs.