Chloe Hall is a talented illustrator and designer-maker based in Leicester. Balancing her freelance career and part-time work with my friends at gifting and stationery brand Ohh Deer, Chloe creates colourful illustrations inspired by lush petals and foliage in her studio. Living on a narrow boat with two guinea pigs for company, Chloe produces dreamy repeat patterns and striking illustrations that have found their way onto all manner of stationery, into the pages of magazines and of course, onto the front page of this blog. I caught up with Chloe to find out more about her work, her inspirations and where to find her gorgeous products.
Tell us about your work…
I started drawing plants a few years ago and haven’t really stopped; I’m inspired by nature, plants and love being outside. I create watercolour illustrations which I then turn into patterns and these are used for stationery products. More recently, I’ve started to incorporate specific flowers and plants into my patterns by asking my Instagram followers to suggest plants they’d like to see. It’s been really nice to come across new subject matter and connect with my followers more. When people buy my products I hope they feel like they’re bringing a little bit of the outdoors inside with them.
How did you become an illustrator and small business owner?
I’ve always studied design subjects but never really knew what I wanted to do until after I left university. I chose the subjects because I liked them, never really thinking about where doing them would lead. Becoming a maker and small business owner was also something that just grew naturally. I had a mentor after uni which really helped and everything flowed from there; I carried on creating patterns and started to get my work in small shops and boutiques which I now work with consistently.
What would you say are the greatest challenges you’ve faced?
There have been a few… Funding is something that I feel can really hold you back, but there are lots of creative grants available if you spend the time properly researching. I started off creating all my work at home, printing using my HP printer and machine stitching my notebooks, cropping every single page. As time went on this became too time consuming, and my hand ached. I wasn’t getting orders out on time, so making the decision to use a commercial printers and hold stock was a big decision.
Deciding whether to do markets and fairs is also tough. I’ve had about a year off from doing them and feel like this year I would like to get back out there, even if it’s just to do a couple, to meet people that maybe wouldn’t normally stumble across my work. But there are good things too. My family, friends and boyfriend help to keep me motivated. Seeing others doing similar things to what I’m doing and succeeding is also really motivating, I think a lot more people are starting up small businesses and it’s exciting to see.
Tell us about your work/life balance…
I sometimes work in my room if I need my printer, if not I like to go to my studio shed. There’s no internet in there so it’s easy to stay focused. I hold small amounts of stock at home and have loads of sketchbooks and paints lying about in my personal spaces. I think finding a work/life balance is quite tough when you run a small business. It’s hard to set boundaries in terms of when you should take time off and stop working for the day. Then there’s making sure you don’t feel guilty when you do take time off. I work three days a week at Ohh Deer and spend the rest of the week, and my evenings, working on commissions and my own stuff. I like walking and try to get outside as much as I can when I have weekends off and I’m trying to make more time to read too.
Who or what inspires you?
My biggest inspiration is of course, nature and plants. Colours and textures are also so a big inspiration for me. In terms of people, other small business owners inspire me. I love the fact that there’s a community spirit over on Instagram and that everyone is doing their own thing but everyone is really supporting each other too.
What are you proud of and what’s next?
Being at Pick Me Up art fair in London with my illustration collective Codswallop Collective and taking part in the London Illustration Fair was so much fun. I loved meeting other people doing the same thing as me. I also find that every time I get my work into a little shop or stocked by an independent business it’s just amazing. I’ve recently gotten a few stockists overseas which is so exciting. I don’t really have any huge plans for this year. I just want to keep going, keep making patterns and putting them on new products. I would love to attend Renegade Craft Fair, London, this year so fingers crossed you’ll see me there.
Where can we find your work and your products?
You can find all my products in my online shop chloe-hall.co.uk. I’m also on Not On The Highstreet. In terms of my illustrations and new bits and pieces, I mostly use Instagram to show what I’m up to, what I’m working on and any new products I’ve created. You can find me there at @chloehallillustration and find details of all my bricks and mortar stockists here.
Any advice for young people hoping to follow a similar path?
Don’t stop! The key is to keep going. Sometimes you will be lucky and get a big break but I do think it’s all about hard work and that if you really want something, you have to work for it. Don’t worry if you make mistakes, if you love what you create it really shows and that’s what interests people.