This week in our Q & A Series we meet Claire Mullan from Tee & Toast. Based in Belfast, Tee & Toast offers unique and independent graphic designs and illustrations on a range of products. We stock her Greeting Card Range which you can see here.
So what is working for yourself like?
It's amazing. I'm pretty good to myself. If i know it's going to be a sunny day - I'll most likely take it off. I've never been a morning person either so I do most of my work in the evenings - it's when I'm most productive and now with a toddler it's the only time I get a bit of peace. I'd say I am pretty laid back but also a very hard worker. Having a home studio also means it's impossible to switch off. It took my wedding and having a baby to realise the joy of delegation. So I now have helpers and I'm a bit better at switching off. I worked at St George's Market in Belfast on my stall every weekend for almost 10 years, I'm rarely there in person these days and although I miss it & the craic - I'm enjoying spending most weekends now by the sea on the North Coast.
Did you always want to be a designer?
I always wanted to be arty! But I thought I was going to be an advertising creative & that was the direction I pushed myself towards at Art College. I ended up going down the path of a graphic designer although most of my work involved hand drawn illustrations as I wasn't a fan of computers. If i could go back in time I'd probably want to study textile & print or illustration - I was always peeking in their studio windows & wishing I could join in.
How long does it take to design one of your cards?
Designing the cards is a super quick process. I hand draw them and then I have to tweak them on the Mac to get them print ready. It's the coming up with a new idea or a new twist on something that can take a while. I doodle new ideas from time to time in my sketch book - unfortunately sometimes I get side tracked and they might end up in there a while.
Are there many iterations before you get to the final design?
Yip. I draw and draw and draw something, then when it comes to the final attempt - there is always something about the very first doodle that appeals to me and I go back to where I started!
There are lots of spinning plates, what do you find to be the most challenging part of being a designer/ maker & promoter/ seller of your products?
Ugh! So many things. Mostly the business side of things, accounts and staying organised and... every year Christmas just sneaks up on me! Although finding good quality suppliers & manufacturers who won't let you down is always a challenge and so time consuming.
When you're not designing what do you like to do?
I would like to say sipping cocktails, hula hooping & yoga but as I am 9 months pregnant I'm not doing any of that at the minute. Mostly I'm at a park with my son or building sandcastles on the beach followed by evenings binging on boxsets, chocolate and tea!
Is there anything next in the pipeline?
There are lots of things on the to-do list. Lots of new t-shirt designs based on being outdoors at the coast or in the mountains. Luka my son is 2, so I am getting lots of inspiration from being around him 24/7 so lots of kid things like new birthday cards and I am not sure they will be ready on time but I had wanted to have baby milestone cards ready before baby number 2 pops out. I also want to add smaller gift ideas to our range so enamel pins, magnets and patches are hopefully coming soon too.
Who is your favourite designer/ influence?
Dick Bruna - the creator behind Miffy brings me so much joy. I love his simplicity and use of bright colours. His museum in Utrecht is amazing.
And finally, Barry's or Lyons?
Ah neither! I'm going to have to say Suki Tea, our market muckers in Belfast!