Featured Artist - Claire McElfatrick

At Calypso we publish cards by artists from all over the world – tell us where you grew up and where you live and work.

    I was born in Oxford and grew up in a small village in Buckinghamshire, England. I now work from my home studio in rural Northamptonshire.

    What is your work environment like, do you have a home studio? An ocean view? What sort of music do you like to listen to while you work?

    I love working from my little home studio, which I share with my husband. We both have completely different tastes in music, so most days you’ll find me with my headphones on listening to all sorts on Spotify! My playlist often reflects what my current project is or what mood I am in, so it could be anything from the latest pop tunes to Frank Sinatra Christmas classics! It also depends on the time of day…I sometimes work into the early hours when my little ones are in bed, so mellow piano vibes, classical or movie soundtracks tend to be playing then!

    We live next door to a farm. Unfortunately, the studio doesn’t benefit from a lovely view of the land or the animals, but I do hear the cows and lambs often and a fair few tractors coming and going!  My desk view is of a fence…however it does attract many curious little birds and the odd squirrel, which is delightful to watch!

    How is your day structured as a working artist?

    My day always has a slightly chaotic start with the school run! I do love my morning walk through the village as it gives me time to catch up with my little ones with some fresh air and headspace ahead of the working day. I rarely make it to my desk without a giant-sized coffee to get going! I will often have client projects and commissions on the go but when I get a gap, I love working up fresh new ideas for my folio. Afternoons are school runs and cooking and catching up with the family before heading back to my desk to finish bits off for the day…or sometimes that can lead into the night, as it can be hard to leave an unfinished artwork!

     How did you begin your career as an artist? 

    After graduating from university studying textile design, I dabbled with freelancing in surface pattern and worked as a window dresser before landing my dream job designing greetings cards for a leading UK publisher. I stayed with the company working as a senior in-house designer and design manager for over 12 years before finally taking the plunge to freelance from home and look after my little ones. I love it and have not looked back since!

    What was your first big success as an artist? 

    Having people believe in me! Starting with my early days of freelancing getting my work published in the US. Then employment with a leading publisher and now having my wonderful agents at Advocate Art representing me and introducing my work to so many amazing clients around the globe! Success doesn’t come easily to artists, so I am so grateful for the people who have believed in me and helped me to make a career out of what I love doing.

    What inspires your work?

      Living in the English countryside I am, and always will be, inspired by nature, flowers, wildlife, and people. I have a passion for bold colors, pattern and textures, and I love to keep an eye on the latest trends to keep my designs looking fresh.  

      Are there other artists that inspire you? 

      So many wonderful artists out there! I love seeing what’s being created on social media channels and the different approaches and techniques being used. I am fascinated by art and design through the decades and love retro advertising and styling. I adore the work of vintage Disney concept artists like Mary Blair, her imaginative use of color was truly magical!

      What is your earliest memory of creating art? 

      My parents would tell you it was when I took to their friend’s staircase with a packet of crayons and did a spot of ‘decorating’, But I will always remember doing a detailed pencil drawing of a vintage Singer sewing machine with a school friend. We would have been around 8 years old, and we felt so proud of our joint creation! It was my first still life and that’s when my love of art and design really started to flourish! 

      What is your favorite medium? 

      I tend to work more digitally than ever these days, but I still like to paint textures and marks with acrylics and watercolors to scan and collage into my work. I sometimes go back to my paints when the mood takes me - it all depends on the project and the outcome I want to achieve. 

      How has your style changed over time? 

      From my early days of freelancing in textile design using mainly gouache paints and inks, to now using mixed media, digital brushes and collages. I am embracing new technologies and sketching on my iPad instead of a traditional sketchbook. Also, I have expanded my work into different product categories so not only greetings cards and stationery but also children’s book illustration, puzzles and more! I feel I will always be developing and evolving as an artist!

      Of all the cards we publish by you, do you have a favorite? 

      Probably the Hummingbird from my Enchanted range, I really loved working on this, it was pure escapism into a magical world!

      Click here to see Claire McElfatrick's entire collection with Calypso Cards.