How do you get from starting a painting to a new product?

How do you get from starting a painting to a new product?

It takes about a year to get from a painting to a product. I start by going out into the field to observe the birds. I then draw them to get a sense of their shape, their habit of movement and their habitat.  I photograph them for studio reference too. Then I prepare the surface and start the first layer. Once this has dried I knock it back and then do another layer. I’m always thinking about how the final piece will look, how it shows movement and habit fo the birds.  I usually knock back at least 4 times, and paint another layer. So it’s like several paintings in one.  Acrylic paint dries very quickly so I have to get the shape as accurate as I can first time so I spend time drawing it first so I know how to paint it.  It’s something I share when I teach – people who can draw well have drawn a lot. Only by repetition and observation can you easily produce drawings that look like you want them to. Once I’ve applied the last layer and the painting it complete, it is left to dry.  A painting can take from a couple of weeks onwards.

puffins painting 

The painting is them photographed and transferred into photoshop. Then starts the designing process. What makes as good painting doesn’t necessarily make a good product decoration. You have to consider that the product will be looked at from many angles and needs to look good wherever it’s being held. It has to be altered to fit the different products. The design for a plate will be different to the design for a mug. The design for a washbag will be different to a coaster. 

Once the design is complete for each item, it is then sent to the design and print studio. There is it prepared for applying to curved surfaces and sample motif designs are made. This usually takes about 6 weeks to be done. 

Once the flat design has been approved, they are made into samples.  For the chinaware the designs are applied by hand to the bisque products, fired and samples are made.  For textiles the fabric is printed, and then the individual items are made by hand.For the tableware the designs are printed and pressed, which can take a few goes to get the colours right. All of our manufacturers work to a high standard, so it takes a while for us all to be happy with the final item.



Once the samples are approved, which may take many to-ing and fro-ing between me and the design company they are sent off to the printers.  This stage can take about 3 months.

Meanwhile we are designing boxes and branding for them and these need to be designed and proofed, sampled and then manufactured.  And we are designing and printing the information cards that go with each product. When you are looking for recycled, ethically produced UK made packaging it takes a while to source them.


Once products come back from the manufacturers, they are photographed and then put up on our website.

It's not a quick process but we hope you are happy with our final designs.


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