Meet Aimee Mac from Aimee Mac Illustration
Aimee Mac is a designer, maker and illustrator extraordinaire based in the North West. Her intricate pen and ink illustrations are inspired by plants, animals and insects, with a deliciously bold colour palette. In our Meet the Maker interview Aimee talks to fellow Folksy seller Iris from Happy Hedgerow about her creative life…
To celebrate being our featured maker Aimee is offering a 10% discount with the code ‘Florence’ until the 1st of June 2022.
Shop Aimee Mac Illustration on Folksy – folksy.com/shops/aimeemacillustration
Hello Aimee. Can you introduce yourself and tell me a little about your work?
Hello! I am Aimee, I’m 29 and I’m a freelance illustrator and graphic designer based in Cheshire. I’ve been freelancing for around six years now and my work has changed a lot over the years. My work used to be all black and white, lots of animal skulls and insects, but now it’s full of colour and I find a lot of inspiration in the countryside, my travels and my garden. And my cat!
Have you always been creative? Can you tell me a bit about your journey up to this point?
I’ve always been super creative! I took art lessons very seriously as a child. I did the usual art / art & design through school and college. When I left college for university I was torn between art & design and graphic design but in the end I studied Graphic Communication & Design at Leeds University in 2010.
I took a year out in the middle of my course to do some work in industry around Manchester. This was when I first started working as a screen printer in Salford. I worked in a shared studio with other illustrators and designers in a really creative former mill and, during my time there, I realised that working for myself would be much more fun than working in an office! After I graduated from university I went back to the print studio to work full time and, over the course of a couple of years, I developed my own style and the whole thing kind of took off from there!
I can see from your bio that you get your inspiration from an eclectic mix of plants, animals and insects, but also ceramics and retro interiors. How do you make sense of it all? Which is your biggest influence and why?
Good question! Bizarrely, sometimes I find the most inspiration in my surroundings when I’m not really searching for it. I generally find that if I go on a walk or visit a new place, or even spend a bit of time watching films or documentaries, eventually I’ll see something that catches my eye and I get a light-bulb idea for a print or card or new product. However, I’ve learnt that if I don’t write the idea down immediately, I tend to forget. So now I’m a professional list maker!
Most recently I’ve found a lot of inspo from travels around the UK (especially since lockdown) – beaches and the countryside are full of amazing things.
Could you describe your creative process, from initial idea to final piece? Some of your pieces are very intricate. How do you know when a piece of art is finished?
So generally when I start a new illustration I have a pretty good idea of how I’d like the finished piece to look – but not always! Some of my favourite illustrations have come from just putting pencil to paper and seeing what happens.
I always start out with an A4 sheet of thick paper. I mark out the centre lines and a 25mm border around all of the edges before I do anything. This tends to stop my sketches from creeping too far over to one side, or going over the edge of the paper. I’ll then do a rough sketch of mostly circles to map out where everything will go and use the shapes to do slightly more detailed sketches with a light pencil, so it’s easy to erase the lines when I’m done.
I then go over the initial sketch with either my pen and ink or a black coloured pencil, depending how textured I want the lines to be. When everything is dry I carefully go back over the drawing and erase any pencil lines, scan the image in and open it up in Photoshop to add the colour.
I try to leave finished illustrations for a few days and look back on them with fresh eyes before they go to print or go on my shop because I’m super impatient and have an unfortunate tendency to send things to print before I‘ve given myself a bit of time to think about them – then I always want to make changes!
I’m not familiar with printing techniques. How do the different methods of printing (digital, screen and risograph) influence how you work? Do you need to approach each differently?
Definitely! Setting up work for particular printing types is a job in itself. The majority of the prints that I currently have for sale are digital prints. The pros of which are there are no minimum orders and an infinite choice of colours. I currently use a great local printer and have my work printed on my favourite Italian paper stock. There are some similarities to risograph and screen printing that I need to consider before sending my work to print with these methods.
It’s generally only worth sending your work to screen or riso printing if you’d like a bigger batch, usually 50+ limited to how many colours you can use for both methods. This sounds like a con but it can actually be a really nice challenge to utilise colours as best you can. While screen printing doesn’t necessarily limit which colours you use, the setup (if you don’t print it yourself) incurs a fee per colour, so that is something to consider.
Risograph printing, on the other hand, usually has a very limited set of colours (8-10 generally) to work with but the colours can be layered in ways to make your own colours – which is exciting! All printing methods have their pros and cons, but at the moment I’m mostly using digital print methods.
There are a lot of products and accessories you could put your artwork on. How do you choose which to go with?
I have a kind of regular collection of items that I always restock: prints, cards and wall hangings. I do occasionally do one-off runs of new items like t-shirts, tea towels and sometimes jewellery. Over the years I’ve just learnt what sells best!
Do you have a designated workspace?
I do! I’m currently working in a nice sunny spare room in our home, which is ideal. It’s Victorian so it has a cute little fireplace, which is great for taking product photos. It overlooks the garden too, which is nice for watching the birds flying around and the cat roll around on the grass.
It’s pretty cluttered if I’m honest, because I like to have all of the strange little things that I’ve collected on show – jars of shells, little bits of pottery and bits that I’ve found in charity shops, that kind of thing.
Tell us about your cat. What role does she play in your day-to-day work?
I have a little cat called Flo. I wasn’t really a cat person before we got her but she’s actually really good fun and really makes us laugh. I usually end up drawing her if I have no other ideas. She’s got a tiny little completely flat face and enormous green eyes, so she’s nice to draw because her facial features have a lot of character. She has big ears too in comparison to her little body – she’s great.
When we moved into our current house I loved the idea of her hanging out with me while I worked, so I set up a little bed for her in my studio and I always have treats for her on my desk but, in reality, she prefers to sleep literally anywhere else and she occasionally visits me for scratches, food or to be let outside. She does however very, very rarely sit on my desk and watch the birds in the garden but that doesn’t usually last long. Typical!
Shop Aimee Mac Illustration on Folksy
Meet the interviewer
The maker asking the questions this week is Iris from Happy Hedgerow, who designs and makes hand-crafted leather goods from her home studio in the Scottish Borders.
Read our Meet the Maker interview with Iris – https://blog.folksy.com/2022/05/09/happy-hedgerow
Shop Happy Hedgerow on Folksy – https://folksy.com/shops/HappyHedgerow