Ten years ago Victoria Irving was working in retail and painting in her spare time. Now, from her Lake District studio, she’s a full time artist and founder of creative brand, Feather & Wild. Here she shares her story, about going after her dreams and creating art that she loves.
Lake District Life
Victoria has spent the whole of her life in Cumbria, within easy reach of the UK’s spectacular Lake District National Park. Its mountains, valleys and lakes have long been an inspiration.
“The Lake District has always been my breathing space,” says Victoria. “My childhood memories are of days out with my dad, driving through Caldbeck Common into Keswick, a trip which I still take today with my own daughters. The area has a beautiful atmosphere that just makes you slow down, even on busy market days.”
The national park is the star of Victoria’s artwork. Its grey skies, craggy hilltops and misty moorland are all represented in the moody and ethereal style that has become Victoria’s signature.
A Slow Start
But getting to this point hasn’t been easy. And art hasn’t always been the focus of Victoria’s life. She studied art at school and interior design at college but ended up working in retail and catering, rather than pursuing a creative career.
Painting was something she did in her spare time. And after having her first child, it was “a little kitchen table hobby that paid its way while I parented”.
Victoria first started selling prints in 2013 as a side hustle when a friend helped her set up a website. But she admits she hadn’t got a clue about marketing herself. Nor did she have real confidence in the art or the brand she was creating.
Taking the Plunge
That all changed in 2016. Victoria recognised that she was in a creative rut and, now pregnant with her second daughter, decided that it was now or never.
She should either forget about working as an artist or throw everything at it, trying one last time to build a fully-fledged creative career.
Thankfully, she opted for the latter, which meant overhauling her branding and the way she painted. “I started to take photos in the style I loved. To sketch the art I’d want to hang on my walls. That was when it all started to make sense.” And that is when Feather & Wild was officially born.
Taking the leap, trusting her instincts and doing it her way, Feather & Wild has felt right for Victoria from the start. “I'm so pleased I didn't ignore that impulse to grow it into a full time career,” she says. With all the right elements in place, she felt much easier about promoting herself and her art.
The Creative Process
Now Victoria is a full time artist, creating artwork and gifts “that provoke a memory or feeling of escapism”. She describes creating as a kind of therapy. And loves that she gets to bring a little peace (and a slice of the Lake District) into people’s lives through her work.
How would she describe her creative process? “I don't always know how a piece is going to look. I just have the urge to paint and once I'm in the zone I feel a multitude of emotions.”
“Sometimes the painting goes well. Sometimes I hate it and wonder how I'm ever going to pull this creative career off. Then I love it again. It's quite an emotional rollercoaster!”
Working from her tiny home studio, her “sanctuary”, Victoria is able to sketch and paint most days. “My studio has served me well,” she says, “But I’m outgrowing it now, as the business and the size of my paintings grow.”
She dreams of having a big garden studio one day, where she has the space to paint bigger works of art, hold workshops and create photo prints.
On Paperwork and Perseverance
Inevitably, a creative career isn’t just about creativity. “I hate the paperwork and accounting,” Victoria tells us, “My brain just isn't designed for all that!” She also says she struggles with losing her creative mojo on days when deadlines are looming.
But, says Victoria, facing challenges and fighting through them is all part of the job and she tries to revel in each little success.
“I think on a personal level my biggest challenge – one I'm still working on – is being seen. It has been such a huge thing for me to show this art (that is very much an extension of me) to the world.”
“I still cringe at some of the terrible artwork I’ve created along this journey, stuff that is still floating around out there somewhere. But I have to remember how far I’ve come.”
What tips does she have for nine-to-fivers wishing they could take the plunge into a creative career? “Without a doubt it is so important to have a good mind set in terms of your own personal growth,” says Victoria. “If you go in thinking you already know it all, then you will no doubt at some point hit roadblocks that are far harder to get past.”
“Accepting your mistakes, of which there will be many, and growing from them will also help keep you on the right path towards success.”
The Future for Feather & Wild
So what’s next for Feather & Wild? Victoria wants to keep growing the brand whilst sticking true to her own style and ethos. A few big statement pieces and a coffee table book are on the horizon.
Victoria also wants to help others find their creativity through e-books and face to face workshops. Finding her creative direction has given Victoria so much. Now she wants to give a little something back.