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Monday, August 27, 2018

Talented Artist - Abbie Smith from Abbie Imagine - Interview & Giveaway

Abbie Imagine
About Abbie Smith

I'm Abbie. I'm an illustrator and writer based in Cornwall, England.

Abbie Imagine produces prints, greeting cards and homeware, all hand designed by me. Every poster is printed to order in house on thick archival matte paper.

When I'm not sketching random words in the hopes it'll become a beautiful design, I'm writing my first novel, bugging one of my animals or exploring the Cornish countryside. I have two house rabbits and a Border Collie who requires copious amounts of attention and endless beach runs.


Website // Facebook // Twitter // Instagram


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

I can indeed! So, I’m Abbie, mad rabbit lady, illustrator, dog mum and country bumpkin, living in Cornwall, England (aka Poldark land). I’ve always drawn and I’ve always written. In school, whenever I was asked that question, (you know the one, “What do you want to be when you grow up?”) my answer was always, “I’m going to write books and draw the pictures.” Well, that and I wanted to be a Blue Peter presenter, but it turns out I’m far too introverted for the TV life. Today, I draw pictures for a living and I have technically written a book, so the childhood ambition is very almost realised.

2) What’s the inspiration behind your work?

Books are a huge inspiration for me– the language, the imagery, the characters themselves. That and where I live. Cornwall is a very small county in the very south of England, surrounded on three out of four sides by the sea and rolling hills full of nature everywhere in-between. You’re never more than half an hour away from the coast and it’s an always beautiful, but sometimes rugged landscape. When you’re stood in an ancient village, surrounded by narrow roads that were never built for cars and lined by old fishermen cottages, with a still working harbour and old tales of smuggling, you can’t help but feel inspired.

On a stormy day, with the sea crashing against the harbour walls and the sky a magnificently angry grey, it fills your mind with so many stories, so many images, so many voices from the years gone by. But then the sun comes out, and in your head plays, “Oh, I do like to be beside the seaside!” on repeat, suddenly a whole new feeling manifests and your work becomes sunshine and fishing boats and happiness.

3) Where did you learn to illustrate and design?

Honestly, I never really ‘learned’, at least not formally. My grandad was a self taught artist. He would sit on the sofa, in front of the TV with any scrap of paper or card he happened to have near him– sometimes it was an old bill that had come through the post, sometimes it was a cereal box– and he’d just draw. No reference photo, no plan, he’d just pick up his pencils and on to the paper, an amazing drawing would appear. His favourite things to draw were ships, animals and football games. When he and my nan would go on holiday, as presents, they’d bring me back sketchbooks and pencils, then I would sit in the lounge with them doing my own doodles. Since then, I’ve always drawn as a hobby, but I haven’t always been very good at it– it’s just something I liked to do.

It’s taken years and years, but through sheer determination, I’ve finally found my ‘style’. It’s a cliche, but it really is all just about practice. I don’t think I do anything technically correct, I have no idea what even is ‘technically correct’, but I like what I do and as it turns out, so do other people. And that’s really all that matters.

4) What does your work place look like?

A mess! Oh gosh, I’m so messy. I’d love to be one of those artists with a beautiful, Instagram worthy workspace, but right now, there isn’t even one patch of empty space on my desk. It’s piled high in greeting cards I’ve just printed for orders in my shop and their packaging, far too many printers, shortbread biscuits… but it’s organised chaos. An outsider would see it and run out of fright, but I know where everything is (well, mostly). They say it’s a creative thing, the messiness, so that’s my excuse.

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

Oh, thank you! That truly means so much to me. It goes all the way back to childhood. From as long as I can remember, I’ve loved books. Growing up, I shared a room with my little sister and our mum would read us a bedtime story every night. She said the only problem with that was I would never let her stop. It was always, “just one more chapter. Just one more!” And once she did finally get to put the book down, my sister and I would then make up stories together.

We called it ‘Dreamland’ and we’d spend all night coming up with stories using our favourite pop stars as characters. Some nights we’d get so carried away in our fictional world, it was suddenly seven a.m and time to get up for school. I genuinely have no idea how we both managed to function at school on such little sleep!

6) You use a lot of quotes, how do you select the quotes you use for your products?

For the main part, I try to keep my distance from copyright problems, so I stick to books that are in the public domain. Luckily for me, a lot of those are my absolute favourites. Jane Austen had such wit, so I’m always drawn to her work. Plus, my sister is really into ancestry and she’s found a line that suggests we share a great, great, great, great, great… great? Probably a few more greats… grandad with the Austen’s, so I like to think I’m waving the flag for my fourth cousin a million times removed. Alice’s Adventures in Wonderland is another favourite because it’s so quirky, yet so inspiring all at once.

There’s such a cleverness to the writing, despite being considered a children’s book. I have a bit of an obsession with beautiful books and buy up any pretty copy I can find of Peter Pan, Alice, Pride and Prejudice etc, so whenever I’m in a slump, I bring out one of the pretty books and have a flick through to find a quote that resonates.

7) You're also a writer. Could you tell us a bit more about the kind of books you write?

I can! I have this thing about magic. When I write, I like to transport myself to a world that’s different. Where the things we deem impossible perhaps aren’t. Where the things I like to believe could exist are almost tangible rather than abstract and contested. I have a few works in progress, but I have finished one book. Well, in as much as it has a beginning, a middle and an end. It reads from start to finish. Whether I’m entirely done editing yet is another matter. It’s set in our modern world, but in a community of witches, with covens and mystery and families at war. It’s YA and I hope for it to be a three part series. I’m also writing one that’s a little more on the paranormal side with Victorian England pomp, a secret society and a ghost called Oswald.

8) Can you tell a bit more about how you started your store?

Out of university, I got a job as a writer. It was for a group of websites and I’d write about gaming, new technologies and gambling (although I had little to no interest in any of these things). It was a small company and I worked from home, only seeing my boss in person once every few weeks. One day, the system I used to add bits to the websites stopped working. Then my emails to my boss started bouncing back. Then I wasn’t paid. Tragically, it turned out my boss had died quite suddenly and the company was completely shut down. I was in Cornwall, with a media degree, but with no media jobs for hundreds of miles around. I started applying for any job that was remotely linked to my degree and in the meantime, I found Etsy.

I decided to open a shop because why not? I could kind of draw and I had nothing to lose, but maybe I could make some pocket money to tide me over. I remember people saying to me at the time, “Yeah, but no one actually buys things like that, do they? You can’t do it as a job.” Five years later, it’s my full time career. It’s not been easy. To this day, it’s not easy, but it’s all mine, and that’s quite a lovely feeling.

9) What do you like the most about having your own shop?

There’s a certain amount of pride in knowing everything you have, you’ve built yourself. Don’t get me wrong, it’s so, so difficult. There have been a few times I’ve thought about giving up. There will probably be a few more times in the future! Sales aren’t always consistent, but then sometimes, sales are absolutely bonkers. It’s a constant game of balancing and trying not to let emotions, good or bad, overwhelm you, but at the end of the day, it’s something I did myself. Completely and entirely. It’s my passion and heart and when I sit and think about the fact that thousands of people around the world have something I created in their homes… it’s mad– in a good way! Also, getting to have animal hugs at any point in the day is the best (though I think my bunnies disagree and would rather I left them alone for five minutes. They’re so cute though, it’s not my fault).

10) What are your plans for the future?

To keep growing, to keep creating and to get brave enough to try to publish my book! My dream is to be able to walk into Waterstones and see it there on the shelf. Preferably with my artwork on the cover as well (that would really be hitting the ‘write the books and draw the pictures’ dream of six year old me), but I’m willing to compromise on that one!


One very lucky reader of With Love for Books will receive a literature inspired print in any of the sizes offered in the shop (winner’s choice) from Abbie Smith.

a Rafflecopter giveaway

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


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

  2. I love the cards and signs, cute and funny :)

  3. Wonderful articles in the shop, I enjoyed nearly everything I looked at. :-)

  4. Your work is beautiful thank you for sharing.

  5. Awwwww, I saw the cutest for the baby's room, and mine ;)

  6. Hello Abbie! I love your shop. Thank you

  7. your shop is filled with such lovely items, thanks xx

  8. Good luck on the book!

  9. Your items are so funny, I love them! Also, I spy another FRIENDS fan :D

  10. I just love your artwork, especially your animal drawings. And the words on your cards are so original and fantastic.

  11. So talented and I love your cards too so original

  12. Adorable Etsy store! I just visited and favorited some items.

  13. Wonderful work! The prints are so beautiful :)

  14. Very unique.I really like them.thank you for giveaway.x

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