I sold a small card to a little girl at a local sale. It had been a very slow morning. But that little girl loved that card, and she counted out the pennies from her pocket. I would have given it to her for free, but she didn’t want that. She wanted the whole transaction. That made me feel proud and humbled.
Trudi Murray almost abandoned her dream of becoming an artist when her art teacher humiliated her in front of her classmates. “I hid my love of illustration away after that… it’s taken me 20 years to find the confidence to say I still love that type of work, I want to make it myself, and I don’t care if it’s not ‘proper’. Luckily for us she is now back, painting and illustrating in her bold and bright style, and with a beautiful studio to boot. We caught up with Trudi to find out more…
Can you introduce yourself?
Hi! I’m Trudi Murray. I’m an artist and illustrator living and working in Hampton, south-west London. I’m married to Alex, and we have three children who are 16, 14 and 10.
How would you describe what you do?
I paint, illustrate, make collages and prints. My style is strong and energetic, and individual. My paintings are getting bigger and bigger. I love splashing paint around! The collages are made from paper I have first printed myself, using techniques such as lino printing or mono printing. Illustration work is lovely too, as I get to work to a brief, which is interesting and a challenge.
Have you always been creative? When did you first pick up a paintbrush?
I was always doing something creative when I was little, from sewing to modelling, to making little books. My Grandma could turn her hand to anything craft related – she won all the craft prizes at the Village Fair, every year! I think I’ve followed in her footsteps. She certainly taught me a lot of processes.
It’s taken me 20 years to find the confidence to say I love that type of work, I want to make it myself, and I don’t care if it’s not ‘proper’!
Was was your experience of art and craft education at school?
I did art to A-Level. I loved it, although I never felt quite ‘good’ enough. One A-Level lesson, we had to bring in a copy of a painting we liked, and talk about it. I’ve always loved illustrations in books, or on stationery, so I took in a small illustration of a goofy looking cat, from a calendar I had at the time. The teacher dismissed it in front of everyone, saying it wasn’t really ‘proper’ art. Everyone laughed. I was really crushed! And actually, I hid my love of illustration away after that, and it did affect my decision not to go to Art College. It’s taken me 20 years to find the confidence to say I still love that type of work, I want to make it myself, and I don’t care if it’s not ‘proper’!
Can you describe your creative process?
I set myself projects based on a mood or an idea or even a technique I want to employ. Then I work at it obsessively, until I’m done, making various pieces of work in a series. I love watching how an idea can progress from first thought to final series of work. The first thought is often something that happens accidentally in a sketchbook, then POW! I’m off. I do think the ‘obsessively’ part of it is a huge part of how I work. I get consumed. I can’t think of anything else.
Being free is the key, I think. Just work like you did when you were a kid. Experiment. Be bold. Do what you feel.
You use a mixture of techniques and materials in your work. Can you tell us more about that?
I think having lots of different techniques and materials at your fingertips can really spark off great ideas. Serendipitous things often happen when you’re playing with paint, ink, paper. Being free is the key, I think. Just work like you did when you were a kid. Experiment. Be bold. Do what you feel. People who set down rules never help, though. I’m learning to turn those prescriptive voices off.
Where do you work?
I work at home in the most wonderful, light and airy loft studio. It’s a big space. I’ve got room for several work stations, and a desk for my computer, scanner and printer. I share it with my two cats all day long.
Are there any artists or designers you particularly admire?
I adore the work of Margaretann Bennett. I’m always coming back to it for another look. And Emma Chichester Clark, Quentin Blake, Ian Beck… so many wonderful illustrators!
Who or what else inspires you?
My husband’s unfailing positive attitude, and the way he views ‘mistakes’ as good opportunities. I learn a lot from him. And also, people doing their own thing, working hard, humbly and with kindness. I want to be like that.
Your work has been published in books and magazines. We’d love to know more…
Last year I designed the cover of a new, ground-breaking book about paediatric neuropsychology for a team of doctors on Harley Street. It was a huge challenge as the subject matter was so tricky to convey, and the brief was to make the book accessible to not only professionals in that field, but also parents. I did it though!
Being creative for a living is like playing. It is playing! It’s very humbling when people like your play enough to buy it. I never take it for granted.
No less important to me, and always a big honour, is designing the cover of the local Church community magazine, which comes out quarterly. It’s fun, and lovely to meet people locally in the village, who stop and say, ‘Ooh, I loved your cover this time!’ That’s always a thrill.
What’s the best thing about being creative for a living?
It’s like playing. It is playing! It’s very humbling when people like your play enough to buy it. I never take it for granted.
What would you say to someone thinking about selling their work?
Don’t be like me, too scared to start for years and years! It all started for me when I offered a few little illustrations for sale via my friends on Facebook. They sold overnight. I offered more. They sold too. That led to commissions and, with a little money under my belt, enabled me to start work as I do now. Eventually, the administration of constant small sales was getting tricky to manage – having a Folksy shop is easier! I would say be organised in terms of money, tax, and admin from the word go.
Do you consider what you do art or craft? Do you think there is the distinction?
Although my Grandma was a crafter, she was an artist through and through. I think art and craft both involve looking, being observant, and expressing yourself.
I think art and craft both involve looking, being observant, and expressing yourself.
Which piece are you most proud of and why?
I sold a small card to a little girl at a local sale last week. It had been a very slow morning. But that little girl loved that card, and she counted out the pennies from her pocket. I would have given it to her for free, but she didn’t want that. She wanted the whole transaction. That did make me feel proud, humbled, and, I shed a tear behind my stall!
How would you spend your perfect day?
Painting obsessively. Then a cycle through Bushy Park with the kids and Alex, and fish and chips for tea.
See more of Trudi’s work in her Folksy shop >>
To celebrate being our featured maker Trudi is offering 15% off in her Folksy shop with the code ‘CELEBRATE’. Valid until 21 June 2015.