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Louise Lockhart’s imagination is a place where colour, stylish folk, sunshine and pretty paper goods reign supreme. It’s a place we wouldn’t mind moving into, actually. We talked to the creative talent behind The Printed Peanut about her illustrations and inspiring business. Here’s what we found out …

Tell us, where did your love for illustration stem from?

I have always loved drawing and knew that I wanted to draw for a job when I grew up. My work is naturally illustrative as I love telling stories with pictures. I have a large collection of children’s books and my favourites are from the 1930s-1960s. The simplistic printed quality you find in them is always something I aim to replicate.

You launched The Printed Peanut in 2012, which means you’ve been growing strong for 5 years! What have you learnt during this time?

I say I started in 2012 but I didn’t go full time until 2014, which was a scary decision but I couldn’t have grown in any other way. It takes a lot of hard work to build a brand and a business and I have worked very long hours. You have to keep developing your style and thinking about what you want to achieve. I have learnt that I like to balance running my own business with doing freelance illustration work, especially working on my own children’s books.

What inspires your work? Where do you find creative inspiration?

I collect a lot of old printed ephemera and packaging that catches my eye. I love hand-painted signs and handmade objects that tell a story about the individual that made them. I’m always on the look out for unusual buildings, ice-cream vans, ceramics, fruit wrappers, anything that brings a little joy with wonderful colour combinations or design in everyday life.

How would you describe your illustrations?

My illustrations are always bright and playful. I start each composition by creating little paper cut outs to make shapes, which gives them a playful quality. I like to create my own worlds where it’s usually sunny, cars look like they’re from the 1970s, and men still wear suits and hats.

Do you work to strict routines each day, is your approach to work more spontaneous?

Because I love what I do, it’s not hard to start working as soon as I wake up. I start the day with a coffee (in one of my own cups!) and check my emails. I usually have a few jobs on the go at once so I can swap between different things to keep it fresh and interesting. By 3.00 or 4.00pm I’m ready for a break and cycle to my local post office to post off orders from my online shop. I like the freedom that being self-employed brings. I can travel a lot and choose when I have days off. Although I usually end up working all the time!

Tell us about your working space. Do you have a studio or office you work in each day?

Currently my office/studio space is a room at my parent’s house. My husband and I are renovating an old mill in a town about three miles away and one day it will be our home and workspace. I can’t wait! It can be tough working from home as I like to have other creative people around me to bounce ideas around with.

What’s the most challenging part about running your own business?

Some months are much better than others and I’m learning when these are, so I can concentrate on other projects. Christmas is so busy so I can’t focus on anything other than The Printed Peanut! It can be scary spending a large chunk of money on stock but there’s no other way to get the business moving. They don’t teach you about business at art school so I’m picking up as much information as I can along the way, which is a good way to learn.

What do you love most about what you do?

It’s such a fantastic feeling when a product or a book arrives and you can hold it in your hands and see the physical result of all that work you’ve created, usually on a computer screen. It was magical when I got my first batch of cups back from the factory in Stoke-on-Trent.

Which designs or products have proven most popular over the years?

My products are ever-changing and ever-expanding but one surprise hit are my soaps. My friend has a soap factory down the road so I thought it’d be fun to design some packaging and sell them. I never would have predicted how popular they have become!

What’s coming up next for The Printed Peanut?

This year is going to be an exciting one as I have two new cup designs coming out, plus many more printed stationery and cards on their way. I have been working with some great companies such as Anthropologie and Chronicle Books so keep your eyes out for some exciting new arrivals this year and next!

Where can Khoollect readers find your products?

My website sells all of my products and children’s books. You can follow me on Instagram too to see my inspiration, sketches and finished designs.

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