My Name is Rebekah Nathan & Richard Brittain
I sell as Bliss in a Teacup
Who’s your biggest critic and supporter? Each other! We also really love sharing our ideas and works in progress with other creative friends and people who follow us on various social media venues for feedback.
What was your first piece and/or idea that made you keep creating? I started out by selling knit cowls at a local boutique when we were living in Vancouver. We quickly added little embroidery hoop chalkboards to our line, which were super popular but tricky to make. When Richard came up with the wooden bookmark design things really began to take off.
What lead you to where you are today? We wanted to move back to New Zealand in order to have a slower (and more affordable!) pace of life. We didn’t get that at first living in Auckland, but now that we’re in Hawkes Bay we’re starting to find out feet. One of the things we missed most about being in Vancouver was that we both worked part time so had the time to work together on the shop and dreaming up new ideas. Now that we’re in the country and I’m having a break from teaching, we’re finding our creative rhythm again.
Who are your favourite artists? and what inspires your work? Oh man, where to start! We’re inspired by a mixture of folk art and Modern design. I’m a bit more hippy and witchy, where Richard likes things to be pretty clean and sleek, which I think compliment each other well. Some of our favourite artists and inspirational folks are Shanna Murray, Evie Kemp, Amy Merrick, Fieldguided, Emma McCleary, Amanda Blake, Elisabeth Dunker, Melissa Wastney, William Morris…I could go on, and on. I know there’s many more we look to as well as many more we will look to in the future. I love the internet for both widening and knitting together my creative community.
What other areas would you like to explore or expand into? Richard has a background in printing so he’s been working on some linocuts that we’re going to turn into screen-prints. We’ve also got a new jewellery range coming out in time for Craft2.0 (woop!) and some other top secret homewares that we’re currently making prototypes for and are really excited about. Watch this space!
What advice would you give other artists/illustrators starting out? Just do what you love and be yourself. This is so important. I think authenticity is so important, but feel difficult at times when you’re starting out and seeing the success of various different trends. There’s nothing wrong with being on trend of course (in fact, it’s pretty great when it happens!) but if you don’t really believe in what you’re making then others will see it. Aside from that, use social media to build relationships and let that do the promotion for you. Oh, and relax. What you do is great and good enough.
How has your creative style developed over time? I feel like we’ve refined it more and more with every new product. We’re also more confident with saying what we do and don’t like, as well as having a go rather than spinning about whether or not it’s going to work.
What do you love most about working with your medium/material? Wood really is my favourite. Every piece tells a story, in part from it being reclaimed but also because the incredible different colours and grains. I love the warmth of it and how we can use it for so many different products but each looks new and unique.
How hard is it as an artist to balance creativity with business? It is hard, neither of us really love the business side of things to be honest! In some ways though, because we’re both really aware of this we’ve made it a priority and have found some really helpful programs to help us with the stuff we don’t love (ie keeping track of inventory and accounting. Ugh). The most important thing for us is that creativity always takes precedence. You do have to be realistic though, it’s important to be smart about getting your work out there in the way that is fairest and benefits you the most. We’re working on it!