Harriette Rymer is an artist & designer based in the beautiful town of Harrogate. She makes an incredible range of designs, taking inspiration from colours and objects around her. Her designs are produced in many forms including mixed media paintings, original wall art, digital artworks and installations.
What first got you into designing and producing your own products?
After graduating from university, I was unsure of what to do. I didn’t have a set career path and had always been torn between my science degree and my passion for design. In my spare time, I created artworks for my own pleasure. As I began showing them to friends, family and sharing them on my social media, the interest for them grew. I applied to some art shows on a whim unsure if I would be accepted – but I got in! My first show was really successful and made me realise I had an attractive product that people wanted. I have since been working as an artist & freelance designer full-time. Creating new pieces to exhibit and sell at art shows and in my online store, and working on freelance projects.
What is the inspiration behind your art?
I’m inspired by my surroundings. Sometimes I draw from physical objects like plants and flowers found in my Dad’s garden, while other times I’m excited by a colour combination discovered on a walk in the Yorkshire Dales or a pattern in someone’s shoe tread. I take in everything, constantly snapping photos or sketching shapes I see to respond to later.
Did you have any challenges or obstacles in setting up your small business?
There’s always some sort of obstacle to overcome, but usually, with some trial and error, you get past it and learn for next time. I have found by joining artists groups we share our experiences and solutions to problems, which makes it easier.
I set up my ‘studio’ in one of the basement rooms of my family home. It’s a little cramped but its got enough room to produce my work and provides a space to be messy and experiment with ideas, so I can’t complain too much!
One of the biggest challenges has been organising my time. I have to plan what I’m going to do each week; otherwise, I wouldn’t get anything done. I run my business by myself which means I’m constantly switching between several roles. My days are filled with applying to shows, budgeting and bookkeeping, packaging orders, ordering in materials, responding to emails etc. and then I have to find time to actually create my work! Even though it can be exhausting, I love what I do.
Have you had to adapt and make changes to face the challenges and circumstances at the minute?
I had a lot of shows and exhibitions that were supposed to take place this year. They have now either been cancelled or postponed until 2021. I understand this needed to be done for everyone’s safety. But, it has been a little frustrating having put a lot of time and effort into preparing for them. I’m so grateful and fortunate to have continued to make online sales – some show organisers even helped create online versions of their events to help us reach our audiences, so that’s been positive! However, I do miss interacting with my customers and showing them my work in person. Hopefully, we can do that again soon.
How important has keeping production local been to you?
I design and handprint all of my lino prints at home in Yorkshire. I think it’s a wonderful connection to have between the inspiration of the work and the production of the final piece.
By using the traditional hand-printed process, each individual print turns out unique. I love being hands-on and physically making prints, so it means even more when people like my work because I’ve dedicated so much of my time to make each one special.
I choose to use local printers for my giclée prints and love working with them one-to-one to achieve the perfect finish. There is a closer connection to my work this way and can ensure the quality is up to scratch every time.
Follow up: Why do you think people shopping locally and supporting small businesses is important?
I think it gives a great sense of community to support those around you, especially when they’re just starting out. I like to support other local independents because I know first-hand the struggles of getting started. To me, any purchase (no matter how small) means the world and doesn’t get forgotten. It allows me to continue being creative and doing what I love. Supporting an independent is supporting a dream.
What has been your biggest success so far?
I was ecstatic to find out I got into North Yorkshire Open Studios this year – a really fantastic event showcasing artists and makers across the region. It’s such a wonderful event that I’ve visited before and really wanted to be a part of. This year’s event has been postponed to 2021, but I’m still excited to plan for it and set up my studio.
What have you found the most rewarding so far?
Earlier this year, I began creating little postcard-sized pieces of art as part of a project called ‘one of many postcards’, inspired by John Pedder (found on Instagram). The idea is you make postcard-size pieces of work and people can have them in exchange for a donation to charity. It was a great success and I raised over £400 for multiple charities and people loved the work. I was so amazed by the popularity of it and everyone’s generosity – I even got a mention in the local paper!
Do you have any wise words of advice for anyone thinking about starting their own business?
Just keep going. There are going to be tough times and moments where you question what you’re doing. But if you truly love what you do, and you give it your time and energy, things will start to fall in to place.