Creative Makers: Louise Lockhart, illustrator and founder of The Printed Peanut
The Printed Peanut is an illustration-led business with a joyful, vintage-inspired aesthetic.
Since launching back in 2012, Louise Lockhart – the one-woman operation behind the business – has moved across the world and worked on a variety of product ranges and client commissions. Injecting colour and play into people’s homes with nostalgia-inducing products has remained at the heart of The Printed Peanut.
Earlier this year we invited Louise to join us as an industry speaker on our brand new Illustrated Merchandise: Making & Selling for Illustrators Course, where she joined us for an exclusive Zoom Q&A, sharing the story of building her brand, how she got started on her creative career; the inspiration behind her products and a few key words of advice for those just starting out.
Here we share a few highlights from that session.
Her story begins when Louise had first finished studying at Glasgow School of Art. Like many new graduates, Louise found herself feeling a little lost as she struggled to to find her place in the professional world. Jetting off on her travels in search of inspiration, she explored India before settling down for a year in Canada. Finding a job in an independant stationery shop in Vancouver, the dream of running her own creative business began to emerge.
After a few months she launched her first product; a reimagined version of the classic British children’s game Pass The Parcel – still one of her most popular products today. Looking back on this debut, Louise admits that she had not realised that Pass The Parcel was far less known outside the UK at the time – but luckily for her, the quaint British appeal became a unique selling point for the product and her brand, introducing a new concept to her Canadian customers.
Selling her own wares in-store gave Louise the opportunity to gather customer feedback first-hand. This early experienc working in retail also exposed her to different sides of running a business, such as invoicing and sell or return policies – which aren’t covered at art school. “If someone had tried to teach me about business at art school, I wouldn’t have been interested!” Louise laughs. “I just wanted to experiment and have fun and I’m really glad I did. Figuring out how I could make a living from my art came later.”
Returning home to Yorkshire, Louise gave herself one year to make a go of The Printed Peanut full-time. Still relatively new to her practice, she used her illustrated products as a portfolio. “I couldn’t get any illustration work commissioned by other people so I just made stuff by myself to show that I could do it”, says Louise. “In the beginning, you are doing more than twice the work because you are still finding your style and learning how to promote yourself. Everything gets easier with time but at the start you need to hustle a lot.”
Working from home – a converted mill in Yorkshire which her carpenter husband spent 4 years renovating, her studio space is on the ground floor, where you’ll find Louise playing with cut paper at the start of each new project. Her creative process developed a long time after she left art school. Having always struggled to start drawing on an empty sketchbook page, she had a “lightbulb moment” when she reverted back to the far more tactile practise of paper collage.
Over the last few years, Louise has worked with brands including Anthropologie, Liberty and Boden on commerical commissions, yet remains committed to The Printed Peanut and ensuring her business is eco-friendly choosing to work with UK manufacturers to keep production as local and sustainable as possible.
“I don’t like the idea of pumping out more and more products that are just going to end up in a landfill so I try and make things that customers will want to treasure.” explains Louise. “We are creating the antiques of the future.”
The Printed Peanut has never been trend driven, instead the brand has evolved naturally around her own interests – collecting vintage ephemera, lettering and packaging; and finding inspiration in vintage toys and the circus. Louise recommends playing to your strengths and being true to your own vision rather than get swayed by what might be popular. “As an illustrator, it can be scary if you think your style is in fashion at the moment because that is going to fade. I don’t want to be fashionable, I just want to do what I want to do.” explains Louise, whose core ambition is to stay small and sustainable. “When you are designing new products, it is a constant push and pull between making what you like and what will sell. It is about finding a balance between being true to yourself and having a commercial twinkle in your eye.”
Illustrated Merchandise: Making & Selling for Illustrators returns in September 2021 and tickets are on sale now! More information on the course content and how to sign up can be found here.
Interested to hear more? Check out our IGTV interview with Louise Lockart on Instagram.
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