Intricate Illustration & Learning To Promote Your Work with The Scenic Route Style
Victoria McGrane from The Scenic Route Style chats with us about learning to promote yourself as an artist, overcoming the isolation of working from home & her creative process
The Scenic Route Style is a collection of incredibly detailed hand-drawn nature-inspired illustrations by Victoria McGrane. Her line includes hand-printed artwork but also wrapping paper, greeting cards and even seriously cool temporary tattoos, all eco-friendly and recycled wherever possible.
Victoria grew up in the northern beaches of Australia and loved making things ever since she was little. "I remember this handcrafted magazine called “Caterzine” and in fact one of my earliest memories is learning to sew with my grandmother." So naturally when it came to choosing what to study she enrolled in a technical fashion and textile couse.
"That’s where I just fell in love with textile printing. I loved the whole process, and especially the limitations of screen printing as a medium; only being able to use a certain number of colors, that the design needs to be separated into layers, that the lines need to be a certain thickness…"
After spending a couple of years traveling through South East Asia and Europe, she eventually found her way to London where she worked as an intern for several small obscure fashion labels. "They all had a very artisanal approach with hand painted textiles, hand beading and screen printing so it was an amazing way to learn about hands-on techniques."
From there she received a grant to set up a textile studio in London where artists could come and rent out the space and equipment to do their own printing and also launched a successful fashion label Neurotica which she ran for 3 years, her designs were sold in Japan, the US and the UK.
After moving back to Australia she went travelling to Sri Lanka "And that was the real catalyst for what became The Scenic Route Style. It wasn’t just the visual inspiration but also thinking 'there’s more than just working at a job'."
"I started posting on Instagram about taking the scenic route and taking the time to look at little every day things like a bird or a frog as opposed to always rushing to get to a destination. I just decided to take the time to draw what I like as opposed to everything that’s so trend-based in the fashion world."
G&S: When did you first launch the Scenic Route Style?
I started working on The Scenic Route early 2017 and officially launched in September. I spent a long time just working on finding the name, making the website and the logo and just doing all the things… I waited ages before I was ready to share it with people.
G&S: Yeah, it’s hard to be vulnerable and show work that isn’t finished or if you’re not 100% confident about what you’re putting out there yet.. I cringed so much when I had to click send the first time I share my blog on facebook, worried that I’ll just look like a total amateur..
When I launched it still wasn’t 100% ready but at some point you’ve just got to rip the band-aid off and let things evolve and improve. There’s also something about sharing the journey that’s really cool too."
G&S: I see now that your products are already carried in 11 stores in Australia in addition to seasonal markets. I feel like a lot of creative types who are setting out on a solopreneUr venture, myself included, really struggle when it comes to having to sell or promote ourselves, because we’re so emotionally invested in our products. So could you tell us a bit about how you go about approaching customers in markets and stores?
One of the things I’m struggling with right now is I’d love to just spend all my time creating but now I’m at a point where I have to actually go out there and sell what I’ve created. I find it’s good to split my time up so I’ll push myself to spend the whole of one month selling and then my reward is that I get to spend the next month focused on creating.
For shops I drive around and visit the ones I can, and then there are a lot of gorgeous shops that aren’t in my area but that I stalk on instagram so I send them a package with a lookbook and a few of my greeting cards.
Markets are a great way to start. It’s really important to be brutally honest and look at what’s selling, that’s a principle that I’ve taken from the fashion industry. The first thing people always ask is “Are you the artist?” and even if your first natural reaction is [to shy away and be bashful] you have to force yourself to own up to your work and be proud of it. I only put stuff out there that I’m really confident about, for every 5 pieces that you see I’ve got another 10 that didn’t work.
G&S: Do you have any advice for people looking for a creative outlet, or who are starting a side hustle or business?
Be true to yourself and think about what you’re good at. When I first started The Scenic Route I’ve always wanted to paint so I went to painting classes and did some abstract painting and I loved doing it but ultimately it wasn’t me. The illustrations are what I’m really good at and they make me happy and fulfill me.
And the second thing is always: you have to tell people about it! You have to show people your work and not be scared to say “Yep, this is what I’m doing. And if you’d like to buy it here’s how”. It’s not enough to just post it once on facebook, you’ve got to go on instagram and pinterest and blog about it, and go to markets and sell it. I make it sound easier than it is because that is the hard bit.
G&S: Are there any unexpected challenges you’ve struggled with since starting The Scenic Route?
For me, being isolated at home without having someone to bounce ideas off of was a big challenge but I’ve joined a local women’s business networking group. We have a monthly lunch to share our wins and losses. I’ve also joined an online coaching group and we have weekly group sessions with people doing similar things to me, it’s great for accountability. It’s so important to have a connection to other people.
Another thing I would say is considering yourself as a business. It can be tough and painful to balance, keeping the books and your taxes with the creative side, but you’ve got to force yourself to sit down and go through the figures. But I just try to keep in mind the goal that when I make enough money I can hire someone to do this stuff for me!
G&S: Can you walk us through the different steps of your creative process from inspiration to realization?
My inspiration is very macro, just the tiny things around me. I’ll take pictures of things I see everywhere I go. This season I had one story that was nocturnal, one that was flower child and another was birds of paradise. I even find it inspiring to walk in my garden or drive around to the national parks; there’s a place near where I live called The Promise Land where you can go swimming in Never Never Creek and it’s like something out of Peter Pan! On my doorstep there are just so many different landscapes, I honestly think that I will never run out of birds and flowers to draw.
Then I literally just sit and draw. I’ll put on a podcast or an audiobook take my pen and ink and draw all the elements. Then I scan them all into my computer put them all together. I’ll print the compositions out and draw some more, add textures and colors in with watercolor and, gouache and inks, then I’ll scan them again, touch them up a bit in photoshop and so on until I’m happy. I have a screen printing setup in my shed so for some artworks I’ll print them myself by hand and if there are more than 3 colors, I’ll have them printed at a fine arts printing studio."
Thanks again to Victoria for taking the time to talk with me, I found her whole journey super inspiring and will definitely be taking her advice in learning to sell my own products! Be sure to check out her gorgeous instagram @thescenicroute_style and thescenicroutestyle.com where you can find her products, a list of vendors and an awesome blog of her own!