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Saturday, June 2, 2018

Talented Artist - Amanda from Taylor Two Shop - Interview & Giveaway

Taylor Two Shop

About Amanda

Working from my home studio, I create original illustration led and hand made products for Taylor Two; a range of gifts are available including mugs, hip flasks, greeting cards, birthday cards, jewellery, badges, mirrors, art prints and more.

I also offer wholesale discounted bundles on certain products.


Website // Etsy shop // Instagram


1) Can you tell our readers a bit about yourself?

I'd describe myself as an aging hippie who refuses to entertain the aging bit. The youthful designs in my shop reflect the real me, who is still 15 years old, however actual me turns 45 this year.

I began my self employed journey nearly 17 years ago in 2001 when I had my first first child, my daughter. After which I decided I could not bear to leave her to go back to my job as a mortgage advisor (shockingly different to what I do now, yes) and so decided to stay at home and think of ways of making money while being able to look after my child at the same time. Three years later in 2004 I also had a son.

It wasn't just about the money, I didn't actually really need it as had the financial support of a husband. In truth it was more about my active mind and the crushing boredom of being a housewife. It took me all of six months to decide that I couldn't possibly generate any further amusement from window shopping, cooking and cleaning for the next 18 years.

I started out self teaching myself brand design, graphic design for print and also vector illustration and have been a graphic designer and illustrator working from home for small business clients for the last 17 years. I learned the skills by practising every single day with the software and reading a tutorial if I got stuck on anything – hence I'm completely self taught.

I've always been able to draw by hand, and so becoming a graphic designer and illustrator was not a difficult leap for me as a naturally creative person – it was more a matter of learning the software than learning to 'draw' or learning to be 'creative'.

Obviously I now run Taylor Two also, and so at some point I started to develop a yearning to become a retailer and creating not just images in software for business clients, but actual physical products, and things that I wanted to draw just because I felt like drawing them rather than led by a client brief. In 2012 started what I'd call 'playing' at owning a shop, and opened just an Etsy shop to start.
Fast forward to 2015 and I was well and truly bored and burnt out on graphic design, and it is at this point that I began to take my retail endeavour seriously.

I decided to work incredibly hard from that point and focus all of my energy on turning the shop into a profitable business. I continued to service existing graphic design / illustration clients but ceased all attempts to win new clients for that business and instead put all of my energy into making Taylor Two a success.

2) What’s the inspiration behind your work?

Always the hardest question to ever ask a creative person. Most of us surely just say that inspiration is 'everywhere'?

This is true in my case but I think if I study the majority of my product range, there is a clearly defined set of inspirations that tend to kick off ideas for products and those would be things in my life that I have always loved, been fascinated by and involved in ... and those things are:
Literature. Music. Nature. Mysticism.

What self respecting hippie wouldn't be into all of those things?

3) Where did you learn how to make art/jewelry/designs?

I'm a self taught artist and illustrator as mentioned above. I've never enjoyed formal education so my natural go to when I need to learn something is to just teach myself. Something about formal education bores me and I avoid it like the plague :D

With the jewellery, just like everything else I've taught myself I simply sat down one day literally only last year in 2017 and decided that I wanted to be able to make jewellery. Then I'd have an idea for a piece that I thought was vaguely within grasp of my current skills and then just simply sit down and try to make it.

Using the same method deployed with teaching myself design and illustration, if I struggled with anything jewellery crafting related I just went to Google and found a tutorial to help me figure it out.
I started out with very basic skills but my skill set has evolved rapidly, allowing me to create ever more unique pieces that match the ideas inside my mind.

This week I learned how to saw out shapes from metal sheet, incredibly easy actually, I could have done that straight away but just didn't have all the tools collected together yet. Of course I can use my drawing skills to outline any shape I think is a good idea for a jewellery piece and then it's just a matter of sawing it out.

I think if you are naturally manually dexterous in one way (drawing for instance), you're most likely manually dexterous in many other ways too. It's common for creatives to be creative in more than one area.

4.) What does your work place look like?

Like this!

That's what it looks like above my desk anyway.

Basically my workstation is very 'IKEA' . It's mainly all white apart from this dreadful clashing black computer, and what you're looking at is where I stash my jewellery boxes and parcelling items, so I don't have to get up when doing order and therefore be more efficient (and also fatter).

Below my desk at my feet I keep containers filled with jewellery ready to ship out as orders come in. I have a serious comment to efficiency / sedentary working.

Above you see some flasks, I keep the most popular hip flask designs up there too so that I can grab them quickly and efficiently as orders come it.

5) You make bookish items, where does your love for books come from?

I was very outdoorsy as a child, really not into reading at all in the slightest … I basically lived outside with the dog pretty much during daylight hours. I'm still like that, I'm still incredibly outdoorsy.

But then something unexpected happened when I was aged 12, I read a book and I really liked it more than I'd enjoyed reading before for some reason, and somehow immediately turned into a book addict basically. From that point I began to read about two books a week and that went on for decades.

My favourite genre was horror fiction, but I did throw in quite a number of classics too; favourite classics include Great Expectations, The Handmaids Tale, Jane Eyre and more.

I do have a canvas painting of Miss Havisham (Great Expectations) in my upstairs hallway as she's always fascinated me Yes I paint too, and did make an attempt to sell them but that didn't work out very well :D

In the painting I've depicted her within the first days after she is jilted at the alter. I wanted to show her like this because we only ever see her old in all other depictions, I wanted to capture her during the moments she was heart broken and turned from a young innocent girl into the bitter person she slowly became.

6) You offer a variety of different products, how did you come up with this combination?

I came up with this wide range of products while desperately trying to find out what will actually sell well and what people 'want' to buy.

Really it can be quite the mystery what people want and I've found the only way to know is to start creating things that you personally think are nice and interesting and see if anyone agrees with you!
Some products are being weeded out of the store because they either don't sell well, or even if they do the profit margin is too low and they aren't worth the time and space. For instance, mugs, they sell well but they don't have a high enough profit margin and they take up oodles of space in my small home.

Products that will be remaining in addition to the jewellery include greeting cards, hip flasks and badges; that's because I need a creative outlet for my illustrations, and the do sell so they might as well stay, even though they don't make masses of profit. I'm compelled to draw and those drawings need an outlet.

Chances are I'll end up adding new product ranges as time goes on. If I get an idea for a new product I could create, it makes sense to see if anyone is interested in buying the idea I've come up with.
I think it's important for shops to constantly be offering new items if they want to remain competitive in the marketplace. You don't keep visiting a shop that is only ever selling the same old thing year in year out, eventually you will become bored of it no matter how many new patterns or colours it comes in. And so it's my job to prevent that by always having new ideas and new products for my customers.

7) You have a fabulous eco policy, can you tell a bit more about that?

It's that inner hippie at work again. I've always been environmentally concerned from a very young age, no idea why, I guess it's my long term love of nature that fuels it.

The thought of the planet and it's oceans becoming ever more lined with litter horrifies me and so I try to do my bit wherever I can to keep our beautiful planet as nature intended.

I actually have an aim to buy a woodland in the next few years once my youngest turns 18 and I can be more free. I'm going to enjoy growing things, care taking the woodland for future generations, and will work there during the day. Bonus points for no nearby neighbours to annoy with my ring hammering noises.

And back onto reading - if anyone is interested in a fabulously intelligent read they should subscribe to an independent publication called 'The Land', which is about land rights, environment and more.

8) You have a YouTube channel, how did you get the idea to make videos and what do you like best about making them?

Those were for created for business marketing purposes as apparently when it comes to social media you achieve far greater clicks and engagement with video than you do photos.
We've all become rather impatient and easily distracted when browsing online and videos can give a marketeer an advantage over those boring old static photos most other small businesses are only using.

In addition, the bigger retailers are starting to use them in their product description pages, and it can give a small retailer an edge if they have product videos also. I haven't made a new video in ages, I have been planning to add to them again soon.

I quite like them to be funny or interesting when I can and if the product warrants it, and I really enjoy the look of stop motion. Music plays a big part in the videos too, I'm very careful about music selection for each. 10) What are your plans for the future? I've created two handmade leather jewellery pouches recently as the beginning of a jewellery storage line.

I'm testing the market to see if there is any interest in these and would like to figure what sort of jewellery storage buyers would like to purchase.

As with everything retail, it's going to be a matter of trial and error, but it simply makes sense to offer jewellery storage if you're offering a jewellery line.

I doubt it will be the only new line of products added in the future, as I said, buyers like to be presented with new ideas and products on a constantly revolving basis. Luckily I don't think I'm going to run out of ideas any time soon, if anything it's more a matter of finding time to make or draw all the ideas I have.


Handbag mirrrors

One very lucky reader of With Love for Books will receive a book themed handbag mirror from Amanda.

a Rafflecopter giveaway

The winner will be notified by email and has 3 days to respond. All of our giveaways are international.


  1. A handbag mirror with a delightful design would come in handy here!

  2. what lovely products and such amazing talent!

  3. I love that necklace , it's from my all time favourite singer and my favourite movie too.

  4. The quality and design look amazing. Unique, fun and lovely colours too.

  5. Gorgeous products, very talented lady

  6. So cute thanks for the chance for this, I will use this daily! Great for a Purse or lunch bag so convenient!๐Ÿ’•๐Ÿ˜˜

  7. Really awesome products, very talented!

  8. Creative and impressive variety of products.

  9. This mirror is gorgeous, and perfect for us book-worms who get so engrossed in their book that they need a beautiful mirror in their handbag to check their appearance.

  10. Love the eclectic mix of items you create, especially the necklaces are all so cute!

  11. Such beautiful items in the shop.

  12. Thank you everyone for your lovely comments on my work, much appreciated :)

  13. What amazing items -they are so original

  14. Best wishes for the creative creations and shop. Thank you for the giveaway.

  15. Thanks for the great prize and competition. Good luck everyone!

  16. I love all of your products. You're extremely talented!

  17. Really pretty products, very unique!:-)

  18. Nice post. I was checking constantly this blog and I’m impressed! Extremely useful info specially the last part I care for such information a lot. I was seeking this certain info for a long time.
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    Thank you and good luck.

  19. hi was just seeing if you minded a comment. i like your website and the thme you picked is super. I will be back. amazon affiliate