Catriona McLaughlin meets Aberdeenshire-based artist, illustrator and designer Gabrielle Reith of 'Small Stories' and find out what inspires her gorgeous work.
Please tell us about yourself and what made you choose a creative path in life.
I was brought up in a very creative family - my Mum is an artist and my Dad an architect. They have always encouraged me to use my creativity. My Mum was always making something new using exciting techniques and my Dad used to spend hours on end making paper cut-out houses with me!
I graduated from Gray’s School of Art with a degree in drawing and painting, then worked as an artist part-time for about eight years. My work totally changed when I was pregnant with Poppy (now aged six) and all I wanted to draw was birds! Poppy - and now Vaughan too - have inspired my work to evolve and I am constantly filling sketchbooks with new ideas. Having the kids meant that I was able to work from home, which has inspired and enabled me to make Small Stories a full time commitment.
What inspires your work?
My children, the stories they tell and my experiences with them are my inspiration, hence the name 'Small Stories'! I also collect children's storybooks and vintage china (mainly coffee pots, although I don't drink coffee) and have recently become addicted to collecting inspiration on Pinterest.
Can you tell us a bit about your creative workspace?
My 'creative space' is currently our front room (dining table and sofa) as we live in rented accommodation at the moment while we are looking for a house. I am really looking forward to having a dedicated space for making work in and where the kids can be creative too!
UK Handmade loves your 'Fantastic Mrs Fox' and 'Bear Went Over the Mountain' brooches. Can you tell us the story behind them?
'Fantastic Mrs Fox' as you might imagine from the title, was inspired by Roald Dahl's book Fantastic Mr Fox. I think Mrs Fox was equally fantastic. I am Mrs Fox with two fabby kids! 'The Bear went over the Mountain' was inspired by a childhood song of the same name that I used to sing at school and am now teaching to my children.
How would you describe your style/aesthetic?
Illustrative, playful and fun with a sense of humour.
What do you love most about what you do and what do you find the most frustrating?
I love being my own boss, coming up with ideas and making things. It is great being able to work from home and spend time with my family too! I find marketing frustrating. Who wants to spend time marketing when you could be drawing and making?!
What advice would you give to someone starting a creative business?
Be self critical, network with other makers in your area and get to know what is going on both locally and nationally. My branding has also been so important for me. My husband created the Small Stories branding as soon as we realised my making career had begun. Having that kind of presence at a show or fair with your collection packaged well and a banner beside you makes you stand out as being professional. It just ties everything together when the colours within my products can be quite diverse.
And finally, if you had the time, what new craft would you like to learn?
It would be great to learn some letterpress printmaking and make my own plates with my illustrations. I love the embossed images that letterpress gives you and I am excited by the possibilities!
For more information on Gabrielle's work, please visit: