This week we meet artist Catriona Tyrwhitt of B is for Bird, a full-time mother who also finds time to create beautiful bespoke paintings and stationary for private commissions and her Etsy shop.
What inspired you to start B is for Bird?
I was on maternity leave with my son and, for my nephew’s birthday, I painted him an illustrated alphabet. I went on to paint several others with varying themes. With no plan to sell these, I put a picture up on Facebook and had a few friends ask for prints.
Over the year, I sold a couple of hundred prints. I returned to my job in marketing, but almost as soon as I went on leave again before my daughter was born, I started getting requests for illustrations and quickly felt the creative urge and started painting again.
As I neared the end of maternity leave, I decided to make the leap and become a full-time mum/illustrator.
Can you tell us a bit about the company?
Currently, B is for Bird is focused on personalised commissions and then, prints, cards and stationery. I tend to paint and draw from the natural world: animals, plants and flowers. Initially, clients wanted bespoke art for new babies or christenings.
However, as I’ve developed my style, I’m getting more projects for weddings, anniversaries and birthdays. I’m also a fan of proper snail mail and have made children’s stationery, as well as a range of cards.
How difficult was it to launch your own business?
It’s been so gradual, and I still think I’m really working it out. It’s been difficult to be strict on tracking expenses/sales as I have spreadsheet phobia and I can still be awkward when it comes to asking for payment.
However, I’ve been delighted with the steady stream of work I’ve had thus far and am excited to get onto more projects.
What would you say is your USP?
I love to create truly personalised, affordable artwork. I don’t think I’ve done a single commission without collaborating with the client. So often, these are gifts, and they need to be something that the client is excited to give to their loved ones. W
ith my greeting cards, each one is hand finished with ink and therefore, discrete and original. I know I could take shortcuts but like to think my cards will stand out against mass produced ones.
How do you manage to fit it in with being a mum?
There lies the difficulty! I am a full-time mum, but I work when the children are asleep, or my husband whisks them off to give me a break. My house is a mess, but work is my golden time where I can switch my brain into a different mode. My son is at nursery, and I have supportive family nearby who help with the baby on a weekly basis, so I’ve now carved out a day and half a week for my business.
Describe your nursery…
Filled with other people’s art! Fortunately, I am from a family of artists, so I have a lot of their work in the children’s rooms. Both kids rooms are colourful, but ultimately, messy.
Have you come across any amazing baby kit on your travels that we should know about?
I am trying to avoid too much plastic at home and I have recently bought the Bamboo Bamboo products for my daughter. They create bamboo suction bowls, which is ideal for self-feeding babies. Occasionally, she still manages to hurl it across the room, but at least it won’t break!
What would be your advice to someone giving birth now?
Involve your birth partner in the preparation. Make sure your partner knows how to use the TENS machine; how to find your hypnobirthing track on your phone; what is in the hospital bag, as you’re unlikely to have the capacity to do anything else but birth your baby!
Who is your inspiration?
My siblings are all artistic and all have creative partners. Their talents inspire me, and they can also give me honest feedback.
We just had a family holiday in Cornwall and it was amazing to see everyone getting their paints out and making time for their art. We’re lucky that my parents always fostered our imaginations and allowed us to run with our creative pursuits.
- To browse the B is for Bird shop click here