Small Business Spotlight: Inky Fingers Illustrations

This week’s Small Business Spotlight is a little different from usual, but hey, sometime you have to step out of your comfort zone and try something new! This week we are featuring Inky Fingers Illustrations, run by the lovely Tia. Tia creates bespoke portraits of pets, including dogs, cats, horses and other beloved pets in the mediums of graphite and watercolour. As art is entirely subjective and we are definitely not experts, we would never be able to properly ‘review’ their work and feel that it would be unfair for us to pass comment on the works of art created by the artists we feature. Instead we have decided to have the interview portion of this Small Business Spotlight feature as normal, followed by a gallery of Tia’s work for you all to enjoy. With that said, we hope you all enjoy finding our more about the person and inspiration behind Inky Fingers Illustrations!

What inspired you to start Inky Fingers Illustrations?

I’m going to sound like a seriously crazy dog lady now but, it was a dog – and not even my dog – although I suppose he did have a hand (or should I say paw) in it. Like a lot of dog owners I’m apart of an online community based around a dog breed – in my case Cavalier King Charles Spaniels. One group in particular had a popular pooch who regularly posted, she was a strong favourite of mine too and I loved hearing stories and seeing her photos being posted by her owner. At 14 years of age she was a grand old lady, but she gave all us cavalier owners hope that our own pooches could achieve such a wonderful age- especially as the breed is known for some awful health issues. Unfortunately she passed away just shy of her 15th birthday and i wanted to do something to help her equally lovely owner get through a tough time. So after 10 years of gathering dust I cracked open the watercolours and painted her portrait and sent it out to him. Shortly receiving the portrait he posted it to a Cavalier page and requests started coming in of other owners wanting portraits. I wanted to do more for other pooches and their owners so I thought I’d try out ‘auctioning’ my skill set with the proceeds going to a Puppy farm rescue fund arranged all by a small community of Cavalier owners. It was then repeatedly suggested to me by friend that I should consider starting it all as a business and it sort of snowballed from there 🙂

What are the best and worst things about owning and running a small business?

For me one of the most difficult things about owning a small business is finding time to keep it ticking over. I work full time alongside my startup so only really have my evenings and weekends to create artwork and do the other less desirable aspects of owning your own business – at the moment I’m trying to find a happy balance between the two. The best thing about a startup, other than the obvious ‘making the dream happen’, is meeting other like minded people. Inky Fingers Illustration has opened doors to some amazing people and small businesses and I’ve made some great friends who I would never have otherwise met!

How long does an average portrait take to complete?

A4 watercolour is definitely my most popular size and medium, generally it takes on average 10 evenings to complete depending on the clarity of the image, anyone who has watched me paint knows I’m terrible for making small adjustments so I can end up just tweaking for a whole evening- at the end of the day I want it to be as perfect as possible

What has been the most challenging portrait you’ve ever done?

I’ve recently completed an A3 watercolour portrait of 5 dogs and that was my most challenging portrait to date… I thoroughly enjoyed the challenge and am really pleased with the end result but the pressure to not make a mistake was incredibly high, especially with the final portrait in the set! Any smudge, drip or wrong stroke and the whole thing would have to be started over completely from scratch. One of the pooches being a much loved family pet of which they only had 2 photos of and it was also a birthday present for the client’s partner’s birthday- no pressure! 

Which is you favourite animal/breed to draw and why?

I absolutely ADORE Cavalier King Charles Spaniels (though I may be a little biased as my pooch is a Cavalier). I feel an animal’s personality lyes within their eyes and Cavalier’s just has the biggest most expressive eyes which gives me a great opportunity to get as much detail as possible into them and their ears! They have the most beautiful ears and soft little faces! Yes, I’m possibly a little biased! Horses are another firm favourite, I’ve been painting and drawing them since I was 3!

What products do you offer alongside your portraits?

My Full Time role is as a graphic designer so I’m also looking to officially add digital illustration and logo design in the future, I also create pet decorations in Fimo!

Anything else you’d like to tell us about Inky Fingers?

It’ll actually be Inky Fingers Illustration’s 1 year anniversary at the end of the month! I never thought that I would make it this far or that anyone would be interested in my artwork so to anyone thinking about starting their own business- just do it, you may even surprise yourself!

Inky Finger Illustrations Gallery 

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You can follow Inky Finger Illustrations’ work on Facebook, Instagram and Twitter. If you’re interested in commissioning your own portrait then head over to their website for a full list of their services and even more beautiful pictures in their portfolio. Their prices start at just £20 for a graphite portrait and £28 for a watercolour, I’m sure you’ll agree that’s a steal for the quality of Tia’s work!


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