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SUNDAY SIT DOWN WITH
REBECCA GOURLAY

The second blog post in our new weekly series “Sunday Sit Down”, is a little chat with the super talented illustrator behind Leigh Elizabeth Studio, the wonderful Rebecca Gourlay, aka “Rebecca Journal”. We had the best time interviewing the lovely Rebecca, we hope you’ll love it too! 

WHO/ WHAT INSPIRED YOU TO START YOUR OWN CREATIVE BUSINESS?

   “When I was younger, before I’d even thought about studying Illustration at university, Faye Moorehouse was someone I looked up to so much- she had her own studio which seemed so cosy, a little puppy, painted every-day and made money from!! To me it seemed like a dream lifestyle- I wished so much to be able to have a studio by the seaside and wake up each day with only the intentions of creating. I opened my own Etsy shop (Faye was the first person I ever followed on Etsy) and tried selling biro-pen drawings of polar bears and foxes wearing glasses. They didn’t sell (except to my mum and aunties). And I realised over time there was way more to being a successful illustrator like Faye than I had realised! That studio by the sea didn’t just suddenly appear like an apparition- But I knew I wanted to somehow achieve the dream! I’m not even half-way there yet and it has taken y-e-a-r-s to get to where I am just now but it’s worth it! I have made so many pals through Instagram (including Leigh) who are all on their own journeys and they inspire me endlessly!! People like Leigh, Megan Crosby, Rachel Hillis, Frida Cooper, Josie Mitchell and Night Time Holiday have all created amazing businesses and are women that give me so much motivation.” 

WE LOVE YOUR UNIQUE ILLUSTRATIONS! WHAT HELPED YOU TO DEVELOP YOUR OWN STYLE?

 “Letting the fear of making mistakes pass by! It has taken me absolutely years and years and years to develop my drawing techniques but I don’t feel I truly began to hold my own ‘style’ until I left university last year- I was always so afraid of making mistakes and not being ‘good enough’ throughout my degree that I would restrict how I worked and would never stray from my comfort zones. I think the absence of grades and marking criteria since leaving uni helped me let loose a little more and have fun! Experimenting is super important: working with mediums you haven’t before and allowing yourself to make mistakes and just have fun! It can be hard to give yourself time to play in this busy world we live in, but it is good try out new things. I have been drawing since I was a teeny child and it takes forever to figure out how you want to draw- I think trying to let go of the idea of a “style” is helpful- sometimes it can feel like such a panic and a worry if you don’t think you have a style yet. I know I spent years flitting between ways or working in the search for my personal style but it has just been an organic development over time. If I could go back, I would spend more time having fun and being passionate about making than fretting over what I should draw like or comparing myself to others. I always find myself feeling like I am rubbish compared to other creatives! I am my own worst critic!”

A gorgeous illustration by Rebecca

Rebecca does beautiful digital work too!

TALK US THROUGH YOUR TYPICAL WORKING DAY:

   “I work full-time at a day job, so I don’t get to spend as much time on creative things as I would like to! Most of my work gets done when I get home from work in the evening and into the early hours of the morning (usually with a couple of cups of coffee way too close to bed time!) But on one of my days off I will try to dedicate time to either getting a commission or some work for my Instagram done! I am not someone who can just roll out of bed and immediately begin working – I like to go the the gym to wake myself up and then sit down for breakfast and have a moment to myself, then I’ll make a big cup of coffee (yum) and go through my Pinterest or websites I enjoy for some inspiration and get drawing! 

DO YOU WATCH OR LISTEN TO ANYTHING WHILST YOU WORK?

   “I am worryingly addicted to Youtube and I have it in the background constantly! I like to listen to people just going about their days, pottering and talking about cosy things like baking or decorating. I really like to listen to Frannerd (Fran Meneses) videos when I want some motivation and I am OBSESSED to the core with Bon Appetit. Those guys just make me so happy! I will sometimes listen to music when I work but I find music really dictates my mood and sometimes songs that make me feel kinda sad puts me off doing work. So happy people on Youtube do the job for me!”

WHAT DOES YOUR PERFECT DAY OFF LOOK LIKE?

   “I love days that involve a trip somewhere fun with my boyfriend- we try quite hard to make the most of our days off together and he is someone I love spending time with! My favourite place EVER in the world is Brighton- I get so sad when it is time to leave that place! My perfect day would definitely involve us being there bright and early and having something delicious for lunch! The perfect weather would be that lovely crisp winter weather where the sky is beautifully blue and everything feels icy! We would potter about for a bit, looking in book shops and at furniture in vintage shops then maybe buy something lovely from one of the independent shops! Then we’d get some dinner somewhere super cosy and head home to chill out together for a while. I’m a simple person! I just love to potter about and make the day feel as loooong as possible with good food along the way!”

Rebecca's Illustrations are almost dream like

Super cute Christmas decorations

WHAT ADVICE WOULD YOU GIVE TO YOUR YOUNGER SELF STARTING OUT YOUR OWN BUSINESS?

  “Know you won’t be able to do or know everything at once but it will (almost) all fall into place over time!! Although I still have a lot to develop and get better at, I have managed to figure things out that stressed me out so much a couple of years ago! I was always so anxious to have everything sorted and be established at some crazy professional (and very unrealistic) level that I ended up feeling like I just wasn’t cut out for freelance life. Making friends in the same boat as you is really good for you, it helps you realise you are all just trying your best and talking to people helps you learn SO much! It is really good to ask for advice and just generally talk to other creatives! It helped me get out of my own head and try to just enjoy things and trust myself. Spending time establishing your brand is a good thing to do as well! Putting time into details like using a certain font + a colour palette on Instagram or creating a little logo to go on stickers and cards with orders etc helps people remember you and helps you create your own little world.” 

WHAT DOES SUSTAINABLE FASHION/ DESIGN MEAN TO YOU?

  “Sustainability in fashion and design is something I am SO much more educated in now I have engaged with small business owners through instagram! People like Elizabeth Whibley and Rachel Hillis use their instagrams not only to promote their own businesses BUT give so much amazing information of how shopping slow and small can make a huge impact on the environment. Rachel makes a huge effort (alongside Elizabeth and brands like By Megan Crosby and Night Time Holiday) to eliminate any plastic in her packaging which is something I have become conscious of with my own packaging. The people I follow on instagram are so amazing and try so hard to create positive changes- my feed is filled with ways to be more eco-friendly. Megan Crosby hand-makes such beautiful clothing from organic cotton and always uses her off-cuts whilst Night Time Holiday collects her left over clay after making products to create one-off pieces as part of her “waste not want not” project. It is so exciting to see people use their practises and platforms to make changes and it has definitely fuelled a change in how I shop and thing about my own products.” 

WHERE DO YOU SEE YOURSELF IN FIVE YEARS TIME?

   “I hope I have managed to develop my brand further, reach more people and work with more people! The dream is to be working half of the week on my own business and working within a creative studio/team for the other half of the week! A girl can dream… maybe I will have a studio by the sea in five years?” 

Rebecca did a series of beautiful  illustration for us at Leigh Elizabeth Studio! Every order for our shop comes with a hand written thank you note, beautifully designed by Rebecca, which you can hold on to and frame! If you’d like to follow more of her journey and see more of her work, you can give Rebecca a wee follow on Instagram! @REBECCAJOURNAL

  We hope you loved our little sit down with Rebecca! 

If you’d like to apply to be interviewed for upcoming “Sit Down Sunday” features, or know an inspiring lady who deserved to be featured – please drop us an email at hello@leighelizabethstudio.com.

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