Meet the Maker: Hofficraft
Hofficraft is Welsh for ‘like craft’ and, as a Welsh illustrator with a love of craft and making, it’s the perfect name for Amanda Hartley’s creative business. Amanda creates a range of products, from hand-painted Easter egg decorations and miniature cacti forged in Fimo to tote bags, cards and shrink plastic badges, but all feature her quirky illustrations in her signature clean and simple style. We caught up with Amanda to find more about how she became an illustrator and maker, and what craft means to her…
Easter Decoration by Hofficraft – find more of Amanda’s Easter decorations here >
I grew up in Cowbridge in South Wales, hence my tag line, ‘Hofficraft, handmade by a Welsh lady in Oxfordshire.’ Hoffi means ‘like’ in Welsh, so it seemed to fit.
Hi Amanda! Can you introduce yourself and tell us what you do?
Hello, my name is Amanda, I live in Abingdon in Oxfordshire with my husband Joe and our cat Bella. I work part-time as a receptionist for the Physics Department at Oxford University, then in the afternoons I race home to a little corner of the living room to work on Hofficraft. I make a whole range of different products and love experimenting with different materials and ideas.
I guess my learning-to-draw process has been pretty long and varied and it’s constantly evolving
How did you learn to draw?
I was always much better at art than anything else at school. My mind works in a very visual way, so drawings and pictures make sense to me. After school I went on to study Graphic Design but after a few years in the industry I got really frustrated with the lack of freedom I had over my work. It’s only relatively recently that I’ve really got back into sketching again, so I guess my learning-to-draw process has been pretty long and varied and it’s constantly evolving.
I like to keep things really simple and clean, so all my work starts as pen and ink sketches. I like keeping that element of hand-drawn style with the pen and ink outlines.
Some of your drawings and characters end up as shrink plastic badges. Can you tell us about those?
I really like working with shrink plastic as it gives me the freedom to do unique pieces in very limited numbers, so I can gauge if they will be good sellers or not. Shrink plastic can be pretty unpredictable in terms of colour and shape but I love watching it shrink and transform into a unique little pieces of wearable art right before my eyes.
How did you come up with the name Hofficraft?
I grew up in Cowbridge in South Wales, hence my tag line, ‘Hofficraft, handmade by a Welsh lady in Oxfordshire.’ Hoffi means ‘like’ in Welsh, so it seemed to fit. I like that it goes back to my roots and works if I’m selling in Wales or here in Oxfordshire.
I definitely find that I’m busier at certain times of year, so I try to plan my year around those times, thinking of new ideas that will work for Christmas, Easter and Valentine’s Day well in advance.
You opened your Folksy shop in 2014 and made your 500th sale this February. Congratulations! How did you get there and do you think there’s a secret to being successful when you sell online?
Thank you! I think it takes a while to get noticed but I find that keeping my shop up to date and regularly listing new products definitely helps increase interest. I’m also constantly working on my photography skills and I find Instagram is a great way to test out new ideas. I always promote my shop when I’m out and about at craft fairs and I get a lot of business this way. I definitely find that I’m busier at certain times of year, so I try to plan my year around those times, thinking of new ideas that will work for Christmas, Easter and Valentine’s Day well in advance.
My cat Bella likes to sit with me when I work – she insists on her own chair so we sit side by side!
Who or what inspires you?
I’m constantly inspired by things around me every day: conversations, sayings, animals, nature, colours etc. I’m always jotting down ideas and sketching – the telephone pad at work is usually filled cat doodles! Instagram is really inspirational too and I think that’s what really gave me the push to start up my business because there’s a whole world of amazing artists you can watch and be inspired by every day!
Can you talk us through your creative process? Do you always know what the finished piece will be when you start?
Everything starts in the sketch book. I then get an outline drawing on to thick tracing paper as this gives me a really nice scan. Once scanned, I clean things up in illustrator and make the image a vector before dropping in colour patterns and gradients. I’m lucky in that my work can be applied to a variety of different mediums, so I might start just having a shrink plastic design and as it gets more popular I can then add to cards, prints and bags.
I love working with Fimo – it’s so tactile. My little sleepy cactus pots are one of my best sellers.
We love that some of your pieces are made from Fimo. Lots of people will recognise that from their childhoods but probably haven’t used it for years. Is it as much fun to work (play) with as we remember it?
I love working with Fimo – it’s so tactile. I used it as a child as well. Perhaps that why I like using it so much? I started using it for Christmas decorations, rolling it flat and using pastry cutters. Then I started making models with it and my little sleepy cactus pots are now one of my best sellers.
Everything starts in my sketch book…
Tell us about your workspace…
I don’t have a separate studio that’s dedicated to my work but I do have a lovely corner in the living room that’s sectioned off with shelving so I can have my own space. I have a wooden desk that I had made especially for that space and there’s a hatch into the kitchen just above my desk so all manner of beverages can be passed through as I work! My space is quite small so I often spread out into the kitchen as it’s a lovely light space with folding doors out to the garden. My cat Bella likes to sit with me when I work – she insists on her own chair so we sit side by side!
I have a lovely corner in the living room that’s sectioned off with shelving so I can have my own space.
What does a typical day in your life look like?
I’m up early every week day as I open up the physics department reception. I finish early in the afternoon and then head home to work on Hofficraft. I try to have a break when I get home either in the form of a walk or a workout at the gym or just a sit down with the cat! I plan my week on Sunday with targets and things to do for the next seven days, so I usually crack on with my list and I can sometimes still be sketching, doodling and painting till late evening. I deal with orders as soon as they come in and I set aside time each week to maintain my shop.
For me, craft is about supporting artists rather than large companies that supply mass-produced items.
What does craft mean to you?
For me, craft is something unique that someone has made. It’s about supporting artists rather than large companies that supply mass-produced items. I love selling at craft fairs as I get to meet other makers and support fellow crafters. It’s always interesting to see the processes other artists use and I normally come home with something unique that has a story behind it.
Use code HOFFI for 20% off Hofficraft – valid for a limited time only!
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