Today we’re excited to introduce Merle Hunt who joins us for the first time this Sunday December 11th at Brighton Open Market. Here illustrations are perfectly themed for our fairy tale festivities. Find out more…
Please introduce yourself and your brand….
My name is Merle Hunt. I studied illustration at Plymouth University and graduated with a first and the elated feeling that my ambition of becoming an in demand illustrator was just over the horizon. However, I struggled to get commissions for the next two and a half years until I finally came to the realisation I would have to do it for myself. After a few false starts as I tried to find my way, I ended up getting help and guidance from The Prince’s Trust and Merle Made Tales came into being. At the heart of Merle Made Tales is a desire to tell stories, born from a childhood love of Tolkien, C. S. Lewes and others, and to impart some of their magic. I also find inspiration from nature, the seasons and the Golden Age of illustration which produced such incredible illustrators as Arthur Rackham, Kay Nielsen and Edmund Dulac. If my own illustrations could imbue my customers with just half the heart-singing wonder I feel when I look at the work of these artists I would be happy! My less lofty goal is to create a company that values storytelling, the environment and putting a little beauty back into the world.
How would you describe your style and your creations?
My style as an artist is quite traditional and harks back to that Golden Age I mentioned already at the turn of the 20th century. I mainly use watercolour and gouache to create my images and then have them printed as cards etc. with printers local to me in Sussex.
What do you enjoy most about your work?
My biggest pleasure comes from creating the art itself. Of course, this is why I set up my business in the first place. When I’ve just started on a new piece and it’s going well…..there just isn’t a feeling like it! I’ll just keep thinking about it all the time: when I stop for dinner, when I go to bed, any time when I’m not working on it, I’ll be thinking about it. It’s very exciting!
What can we expect to find on your stall at The Fairy Tale Fair Brighton on December 11th at Brighton Open Market? And are you looking forward to taking part?
This year I chose Nordic Fairytales as the theme I would base my Christmas collection around so you’ll find illustrations from “The Snow Queen”, “East o’ the Sun and West o’ the Moon” and a few more plus wrapping paper with a procession of trolls on it! There’ll be cards, prints and wrapping paper available.
I’ve never been at one of the Fairytale Markets before now, but I’ve heard so many good things about it from other stall holders that I’m really looking forward to it!
Do you have a best seller?
Yes. I have a painting inspired by the fairytale “The Snow Queen” of Gerda and the reindeer after she escapes the robbers. The card of this illustration always sells well.
Do you have any plans or ambitions for the future?
I want to continue to grow Merle Made Tales into a sustainable business that can support me financially and also to have a dedicated studio space with plenty of room and lots of light. At the moment I live with my mum and sister while I get my business off the ground and have very kindly been given the use of the dining room and table. While I am more grateful then I can say for any kind of space to work, getting my own bright workspace once I’ve increased my revenue a little more is definitely the next step of the business plan.
Do you have a motto or inspirational quote?
A young-at-heart friend once said to me with absolute child-like certainty when I jokingly said that I could perform stunts on horseback like a Cossack rider without ever having ridden a horse before: “You can do anything Merle! I believe in you! You have the power!” Needless to say, even this enthusiastic encouragement wouldn’t have made me ride like a Cossack but now whenever I need a little courage (which is often when setting up a business!) I channel my friend and say to myself, or anyone else who needs more self-belief, “You have the POWER!”
What part of Christmas do you enjoy the most?
Oh goodness! I remember as a child that the countdown to Christmas after the first day of advent was absolutely excruciating! Time just seemed to be barely hauling itself along. Now it feels like I light the first candle and it’s Christmas day already! So these days it’s actually the build up I savour most and the anticipation that I get the most enjoyment from…in a funny sort of way. I love Christmas day but I love all the preparation, the carols and mince pies, more.
How can we find out more about you?