Updated: Jan 15
"Be brave, bold and proactive – contact companies and people for potential collaborations and work. Don’t wait for the work to fall in your lap."
Words: Rachel Cameron-Potter and Rosie Dore
Images: Rosie Dore @rosie.dore
Pictured: 'Woodland Animals' by Rosie Dore
ROSIE DORE IS AN ILLUSTRATOR AND BEEKEEPER CURRENTLY LIVING IN KENT, UK.
Hi Rosie! First of all, how are you doing? How have you been finding lockdown?
Hello! I’m doing well thanks - around now is my busiest time of the year in the run up to Christmas, so everything has been a bit crazy and hectic! As much as I absolutely love what I do, I’m really looking forward to a bit of a break in a few weeks. As someone who works from home, I’ve felt really lucky this year actually during all the lockdowns. My routine hasn’t really had to change much!
Can you tell us a bit about your background? How did you get into illustrating?
I did Fine Art at university, but specialised in film/animation because I wanted to work in film and TV production. I realise now that the thing I loved most was drawing and creating compositional stills for the art direction. So, looking back, it is obvious to me that what I enjoyed was basically a form of book illustration (a series of illustrative stills to tell a story), but I don’t think I even realised that at the time. I did internships with Aardman Animations and Warp Films after university, but ended up working for an energy company just to pay the bills. After a couple of years, I quit my job and went travelling, and when I came back I got a job as a jewellery maker. I started getting illustration commission requests whilst working there, as I was still drawing in my spare time. Gradually the time needed to do commissions grew larger – at one point I was doing full days jewellery making and then coming home and working on commissions late into each night! Eventually I took the leap to [start illustrating] full time.
Alongside being an illustrator, you’re also a beekeeper. Firstly, cool! How do you get into a profession like that? Would you say this work influences your art in any way?
Haha! Well, I should clarify here that it isn’t really a profession, more like a hobby. My parents are beekeepers, so I got into it through them. We don’t actually like to take the bees’ honey, because commercial beekeepers that do it for the money have to replace the honey with sugar solution, which isn’t nearly as nutritious (or delicious)! After seeing how hard the bees work to make it, it feels awful to take it away from them. My dad likes to explain that we are like bee landlords, and just take a little bit as rent each year from a hive that has more than enough stores to survive on. I also maintain a sponsored hive where absolutely no honey is taken. Bees have definitely influenced my art in a way that any passion might through subject matter. The more I learn about bees, the more they amaze me. I’m currently working on an illustrated book about the different jobs honeybees have in the hive. They really are incredible.
Your work is very nature-centric (is that a word?) Where do you find inspiration for your pieces?
I would say that animals are possibly the only bigger passion of mine than art, so I’ve found them taking over every aspect of my illustration without even meaning to! I’m lucky to live next to woods, and I love going for walks. I definitely get inspiration from getting out into nature, and taking note of colours, textures and lighting. I also get lots of inspiration from the amazing wildlife photographers on Instagram, being able to see animals in their natural environments closer than you could otherwise.
Then there are other influences such as designers like William Morris, and companies like House of Hackney. Filmmakers like Wes Anderson are a constant reminder to keep compositions fresh and interesting, and directors like Guillermo del Toro inspire me to try and capture a bit of magic in whatever I am creating. If I’m stuck, putting on the soundtrack to The Little Prince, or a Thomas Newman playlist always helps me to shut out the world and get in the zone.
What are some of the most exciting projects that you’re working on at the moment?
Right now I’ve been sorting a lot of seasonal things for my shop, like recyclable gift wrap and cards. I’m also finishing off a private commission of an illustration with 13 dogs in it! I’m set up to do some pattern design work in January for chocolate company Terre De Sienne’s packaging, as well some illustrations for flashcards for an English-language teaching company.
What do you find the most rewarding about your work?
I think the most rewarding thing about my work is getting to do what I love as a career. Especially having worked some jobs previously, as a teenager and in my 20s, which I didn’t enjoy or have passion for. It also feels incredibly rewarding whenever someone is moved and happy with an illustration I’ve done for them that is particularly significant (like a pet who has passed away).
What advice would you give to other aspiring illustrators?
I would say to aspiring illustrators: create as much as possible! Draw what you love, and keep going. Don’t get caught in illustrating particular things or styles just because you think they are popular right now. Your passion has a way of showing through your work when you draw what you love, so be true to yourself. Social media is quite important for illustrators these days – you can have the best portfolio in the world, and if no one sees it, it won’t go anywhere. It can also help you feel more connected with the illustration community (especially in these isolating times) – there are some exciting yearly project weeks like Our Planet Week and Folktale Week. Not only are they good for giving you prompts to illustrate, but you can see lots of other illustrators’ work and it can be really inspiring, as well as great for gaining new connections and friends. Lastly, be brave, bold and proactive – contact companies and people for potential collaborations and work. Don’t wait for the work to fall in your lap.
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