Image is Creative Commons licensed from here via Google
Hi folks! Taking a quick break from the hiatus to bring you this very special interview with well-known fairy artist, Linda Ravenscroft! Linda’s work has been used for mugs, T-shirts, jewellery, and best-selling calendars, and she has just opened up a fabulous gallery in the heart of mystical Glastonbury (which, some say, has its very own entrance to Fairyland itself.) So here is the lady herself, to tell you more about herself, her inspiration, and why we should all ‘shine brightly’!
1. Hello Linda, and welcome to ‘The Breathing Ghosts’ Series Blog! As a lover of all things fairy-related, I have been a fan of your work for some time, but in case any of my readers are not familiar with your work, would you mind introducing yourself and your art?
My Name is Linda Ravenscroft, I live in the wonderful county of Somerset, in the magical isle of Avalon, Glastonbury, in the South West of England, I live with my husband of 28 years John and our dog Anubis. I always wanted to be an artist since I was very small – but never thought for one second it would be a viable career! I was unable to continue my art education due to financial circumstances and I worked as an office receptionist for 15 years, it was only when I had my child Phoenix (formerly Vivien) that fate took over.
Phoenix required several serious operations and many stays in hospital, so I was unable to go back to my office job, so I figured the only thing I might be able to do from home was paintand draw – so I did, my husband John was more convinced of my talent than I was and would push me (feeling physically ill) through the doors of galleries to show my work, and to my surprise they loved it….since then I have only looked forward.
My art has always been a mystery to me, it has been there for me through the darkest of times, I was bullied as a young girl and instead of talking about it to others I would paint myself into this wonderful place, were no one could harm me, and anything could happen…I found my own fairyland and it has been with me all of my life.
2. Why are fairies, the fairy kingdom and fairy magic, so essential to your art? What is it about them that fascinates you as an artist?
I never intentionally set out to paint fairies, nor was I aware that I had a fascination for them either. I simply tried to paint what I was feeling or an image depicting something that was important to me, as I did when I was a child…I guess I have always had them with me, they are just a natural part of my life.The art I chose to paint is in some way connected to faerie in a very natural way, many of my paintings have stories to tell: almost always about taking care of the world we live in or about how important it is to love and respect yourself and others…these to me are all natural fae qualities.
3. As I have previously visited Glastonbury on more than one occasion, I’m thrilled to find that you’ve just opened a new gallery- ‘The Mystic Garden’- in the heart of Glastonbury. Can you explain a little bit more about the highlights and challenges of opening your own gallery?
Glastonbury Town is a very unique place, the sort of place where faeries still live…a place where you can be in touch with the people who understand and like fantasy art work. Having the gallery as a place to showcase my art is wonderful…the gallery is very special and almost every product for sale is handmade or created by my husband and I, or is a one of a kind visionary art pieces made by some of the worlds most talented people all of whom are friends which I had the pleasure to meet during my time traveling the world with my art. The feedback, love and energy I receive from people visiting the gallery also helps to drive me forward, inspiring me to create NEW works for the future.
4. Do particularly mystical places- such as Glastonbury- have an impact on your art?
Yes of course, there are so many magical places, whether they are natural or man made, such a lot of beauty can be found all around us, when you add wonderful tales, myths and legends. My mind just visualises wonderful things- that’s what so magical about being a visionary artist…we see things that others cannot, we are truly blessed, perhaps by the fairies!
5. Which artists or art movements inspire you?
Arthur Rackham, Alphonse Mucha, the Pre- Raphaelites and William Morris in particular and the Arts and Crafts movement- their belief that hand made things are the most treasured. I believe that we have to remember and have faith in our ability to make and create magical, wonderful things with our own bare hands and a little imagination. Crafts, of all types should be encouraged, we are becoming so apathetic and rely too much on machines and technology these days, even the art of painting and drawing is becoming a thing of the past. The digital age is leaving behind some of the old skills we used to have, its time to revive them, we have this wonderful gift of imagination, it would be a shame to lose it.
6. Do you feel that fairies still have relevance in today’s increasingly urbanized society?
In my view ‘Faerie’ represents the natural world we live in, and whether you believe or not, they do have a place in our modern day society, in fact their light is needed more now than it ever was before.It’s time to look at this world and our feelings towards our fellow man, and realise what harm we are doing. Most of my images are inspirational and uplifting, offering hope or a thought for the future of this beautiful world we live in.I truly believe that we all have a little bit of Faerie light within our hearts, helping us to make the right decisions in our everyday lives we just have to look for it, and let it SHINE BRIGHTLY in the darkness!
7. Some other well-known fantasy artists- such as Brian Froud– have been open about channelling the fairy realm to inspire their creativity. Do you believe in fairies, and if so, why?
I have never seen a fairy in person, I can only say I do believe, they have been my saving grace since I was a small child, and it would be wrong for me to deny them after all they have done for me…so YES they are real, but I’m not so sure you have to actually see on to believe in them, they are inside my heart and my head and in the way I chose to live my life, you can either believe or not. Its up to you.
8. Do you see fairies as benevolent creatures,trickster creatures, or something in between?
Something in between like all things there has to be a balance that’s natures way and fae belong to nature so most definitely good and bad fairies have to exist.
9. Are you inspired by ancient myths/legends/fairy tales?
Of course- my Father would tell my sister and I stories every night, all the wonderful fairy tales and one or two of his own, we would visit magical place and old mansions and hear stories of ghosts and other tales of the former owners, and on country walks we would look for fairies and pirates, what more could I ask for!
10. You are the author of numerous books on how to draw fairies. Do you believe that art/ being able to draw is a skill that anyone can cultivate?
YES! especially with fantasy art, you can be so creative with this genre, you don’t have to paint that perfect face, who knows what a goblin looks like or a flower fairy, she may look more like a flower than a person, so of course anyone can learn to create fantasy [art]. The hardest part is visualising and imagining what you need to draw. I have taught in many workshops abroad and at home, because I am a traditional artist who hasn’t strayed into the digital world, I still use real pencils and paint, I am able to teach people the basics with which they can work, now I have the gallery here in Glastonbury I will be offering workshops to help people with their skills, a little guidance and a little help will go a long way.
11. You are also the illustrator of the ‘Mystical Faerie Tarot Deck.’ (Llewellyn Publishing,) and you sell handmade jewellery, crafts, clothes and gift ware via your website. How is designing something like a tarot deck, a necklace, or a T-shirt different from creating a canvas?
I have been very fortunate with my licensing companies, who have more or less allowed to do as I wished with my art, which is wonderful, I always feel that an artist always produces their best work when they are not placed under too much pressure, and providing they like what you do, usually it all works out to everyone’s advantage. Commercial work is always more stressful than your own creations, as you are normally working to a deadline which has to be met.
I am not a commercial artist, nor would I like to be, as they are more constrained and I think perhaps not allowed to be as creative as they would like to be, however I do seem to have a commercial eye for creating magical products, and knowing what will sell as a lamp shade, mug etc., it seems to me that its one of those extra skills which comes with years of experience.
12. What words of advice would you give to anyone wanting to become an artist?
I began by doing the local craft fairs (when Phoenix was out of hospital), taking commissions and selling work through galleries as sale or return items, then as I felt more confident I wrote to a large publishing house, who looked at my portfolio and signed me up on a 5 year contract, which is when I first had images licensed in 1998.
I would suggest that if you are confident and happy with the quality of your work it might be a good idea to try a few publishers, always enclose an s.a.e. for comments and a reply, these can be invaluable as many publishers will tell you how they feel about your work and may offer useful advice for the future.Most important of all!Whatever it is you are good at – always try to “SHINE BRIGHTLY”
Thanks Linda! 🙂