This month i'm delighted to introduce Watercolour and Calligraphy Artist Imogen Partridge...
Please can you give me an introduction about who you are and what you do?
I’m Imogen, watercolour illustrator and calligrapher, telling stories through my work, marking milestones in people's lives and bringing personality to brands. My illustrations are mainly based around buildings and places using ink and watercolour to bring them to life. It brings me so much joy to create pieces people will treasure.
I live in Tonbridge, in Kent with my husband and two small children. I studied interior architecture at university and this could have had some influence on the subjects I choose. Most of my work is based on buildings, spaces and places or things that mean a lot to people. At the heart of all my illustrations are stories, memories people cherish, a Grandma’s beloved garden she’s tended over her lifetime, or a home
that’s seen your family living here over generations, or inviting your wedding guests into your journey telling them about how you met, where you go for coffee, where you like to eat, the things that make you both you.
The things I illustrate don’t have to be grand or classically beautiful, it is about how they make you feel, it’s capturing those feelings and memories in a unique way to celebrate these stories. Drawing and watercolour painting is incredibly mindful and has been a valuable grounding tool for me, especially through the chaos of life with two small children. Using my hands, away from a screen, immersing myself in the detail in front of me with music or a podcast in the background takes me away from whatever is going on in life around me. I wanted to share this gift with others so I have set up my watercolour workshops to try and introduce and nurture this mindful practice in. It is so wonderful to meet like minded people at all different stages of their painting journey through these workshops and I am passionate about being environmentally conscious in my business and personal life, another reason I want to make artwork that people will keep and cherish. I constantly question my processes and suppliers, always looking at ways to improve and part of this is supporting other small businesses, especially here in the UK. Tom’s Studio is fantastic for this and so many of our brand values are aligned. My Lumos has been a wonderful addition to my tool kit, meaning I never need to use another disposable fine line pen again!
When did you start drawing?
I have always loved drawing and I can remember saying I wanted to be an artist when I grow up. It has been a wonderful constant thread that has run throughout my life, sometimes more prominent than others but always there to reach for. I loved art at school and had teachers who were really encouraging. I might have studied fine art but was a bit too practical in thinking about a career. However studying interior architecture at university introduced me to different types of drawing and allowed me to explore communicating ideas in new ways, as well as utilising digital technology for certain elements of the process. My career as an interior designer allowed me to develop this further, through sketches for concept ideas, visualising interior spaces and drawing to work out details of how things could be made. There is an ever growing shift to use digital processes for these elements of the design, but I try to cling to using pen and paper whenever I can. It makes sense to me and is a fantastic quick tool for communicating an idea or refining a detail, but more than that it is celebrating the design in a different way. With AI rapidly advancing, designing via computer will be something which needs less, or at least very different inputs from us, but no one else can actually be you; putting a pen in your hand, making the marks, making mistakes, creating without knowing how it will end up, just allowing creativity to flow (not yet anyway).
What appeals to you most about what you do?
People and their stories. My printed work is based on places I love, not the most obvious or grand or renowned places, ones that might not be celebrated ordinarily but are such a big part of my life. I love the thought of the layers of different memories a building or place might have, somewhere I love to have precious memories of, that someone else looking at the same place with a slightly different perspective on. Layering their stories into the history. Hundreds of people all with different moments and ways the place has been a part of their life. I love that visual. I am writing this on a train looking around at all of the people and thinking about all of the thoughts and emotions they have around buildings, landscapes, kitchens, gardens, beaches, happy or sad, new or old. People are fascinating and our world is made wonderful by the stories we have, we are creating and that have been passed on.
Capturing these places through a process which immerses me in that place, studying the details, imagining how it feels to be there and creating a unique perspective of that place which in itself will become a part of a story fills me with joy. I am grateful to everyone I work with for entrusting me with their stories and I really feel those myself and take on some of the emotion with my work. I recently created a piece for a wonderful lady whose Mum was terminally ill. Her parents had moved to
their dream home just before she received her devastating diagnosis and her Dad was going to have to move again when her Mum had sadly passed. She came to me wanting to create a piece for them to capture the house they loved, the garden they spent so much time in together, the seat where her Mum laid to watch her Dad gardening. A piece that was full of emotion, for her Dad to treasure wherever he
went and look at with fond memories of his wife and family. It was an incredibly emotional piece to work on and a privilege to be trusted to do. The lady was so pleased with it and said ‘It’s so much more than an illustration, it’s everything.’ That is why I do this.
If you had to start again, what advice would you give yourself?
Oh so much advice, but equally part of the process is learning. Working through things you don’t like so much to get familiar with what really drives you. So the two things I would pick out are telling myself to work on my mindset and don’t underestimate the power of community. Mindset includes things like not being intimidated by ‘successful’ people, don’t compare, be inspired, see it as a sign of where you could get too. Understanding that you can choose what you think and how you react to things, and that is incredibly powerful.
Community is one of the best things about the small business world. The friends I have made, the support I have and wonderful people around me that inspire me every day and carry me forward on this wave are amazing. I would tell myself to reach out sooner, if you admire people then tell them, ask them about their story, be yourself, be kind and interested, celebrate others successes and you will find those people who do the same in return.
What are the best resources you’ve found online or elsewhere that helped you get started?
There are so many wonderful free resources available for creatives and I actually wrote a blog post with some tips for starting out on my website called ‘5 really useful tips for running a small creative business that I wish I’d known earlier’. Even if you’re not starting a business, there are things in here that I think would be really helpful and lots of the podcasts and blogs I mention talk about creativity and being an
artist, as well as more general inspiration.
Youtube has some amazing tutorials if you are looking to perfect specific techniques, or you could join a creative workshop like my ‘introduction to watercolour’ to try a new skill or get some help or feedback on a particular area or medium you enjoy. I also couldn’t go without mentioning having beautiful, sustainable tools that make creating even more of a joy. Every time I pick up my Tom’s Studio pens, paint with my beautiful little water pot or pack away my tools in my beautiful personalised leather case, it feels wonderful. Make the experience of creating wonderful, and you will create wonderful things.
Who are the artists/individuals that inspire you most and where can we find them?
I look at lots of artists for inspiration both for their work and where they are in their journey. I recently read an article in House & Gardens about botanical artist Emma Tennant who was celebrating 75 years of painting and gardening. I had to put it straight on my vision board, her studio space in Scotland was so beautiful and I would love to be still painting and drawing, immersed in everything I love when I am her age. I find inspiration in so many different places and in different ways. I love visiting buildings, places, spaces for inspiration and often walk around spotting beautiful brickwork details, or quirky buildings or interiors I would love to capture. The incredible world of creative small businesses is a hugely inspiring community
to be a part of and wonderful trailblazers like Holly Tucker doing amazing things for the small business community and through her podcast which I love, introducing me to all sorts of people that I may never have considered interesting. They blow me away constantly and I highly recommend getting a beautiful Tom’s Studio pen and paper and whiling away some hours listening to Conversations of Inspiration.
Photo credits Charlotte Knee Photography, Mollie Manning Creative & Imogen Partridge
You can see more of Imogen's work here.
Tom's studio affiliate code: IMOGENPARTRIDGE for 10% off any order over £30