Sarah Westwood is an illustrator and designer who has quietly got on with her growing her own design emporium in Fryupdale.
But the hero that lies at the heart of her success could be Sprockett, her very gorgeous and charismatic weimaraner.
Sarah’s style is cool, quirky and crosses all age groups in its appeal.
Charming, bright and modern, Sarah has embraced social media and raised her design game and credentials at the same time.
Sarah studied surface pattern and design at Huddersfield, and over the past 11 years had worked as an illustrator. Only in the ast three years has she devoted herself full-time to creating her business.
“I finally found the confidence to leave my part-time job and haven’t looked back,” she said.
Sarah created an Instagram account for Sprockett and during December, she completed a 100-day illustration challenge. Entitled 100 Days of Sprockett, it involved posting an illustration, and each day someone would suggest an idea.
These suggestions resulted in a weimaraner Batman, Tour de Yorkshire cyclist, a canine John Travolta and a homage to the iconic image of the Beatles on the zebra crossing at Abbey Lane.
Sarah said: “It became very interactive and friends came up with suggestions which I would then draw.”
This mini campaign caught the eye of various agents that represent illustrators, further broadening Sarah’s reach.
She has taken her work throughout the country, most recently to Kirstie Allsop’s Christmas in London, and locally to Whitby’s Christmas Market. Also a regular at Country Life’s craft fairs.
Here Sarah gauges the response to her designs and meets her buyers.
She has branched out into tea towels, place mats, cards and badges.
There are also pencil case accessories, bags and mugs, all bearing Sprockett’s charming adventures.
“I got a badge machine and can heat press any of my designs, which is a process that enables me to produce everything here in my studio,” Sarah said.
“My cards are made in Pickering, a local joiner makes my frames for artwork, all my fabric gifts are made in England or Scotland. All of those details are really important to me, and necessary if you want to take part in craft fairs.”
While Sarah was designing, she taught herself how to use Illustrator.
“I was trying to do custom portraits,” she said.
“I got an image of a handsome man with a beard and made a new design from this. It then sat in a file for a while until I had some ‘I love beard ‘mugs made.”
A few samples sold out locally and have proved popular enough to become one of her staple designs.
It is Sarah’s adaptability and eye on trends that ensures her work is fresh, modern and on the button.
“For the last few months I’ve been working with an American company based in LA that runs www.justweimaraners.com and they are redesigning their website with my illustrations. The items they are releasing is a quiz which will feature my work and then another quiz to follow that .
“I’m designing a new logo so that the site is going to be over hauled for 2016.
“The website gets over 50,000 hits a month so this has been a great opportunity for me.”
It’s an exciting time of the year for Sarah.
Because her style feels fresh and bright it is easy to see why it works so well in America. There is a hip, urban element to her work, but Sprockett translates just as well on a surfboard as he does on a Whitby fishing boat – part of her new coastal series.
“I sell most of my work to the States. It’s quite amazing really,” she said.
“I was chosen to do Etsy Team Leeds last Sunday and over 6,500 people turned up. It was the most amazing and crazy day.
“I was one of about 30 makers to get chosen and over 100 makers applied to do it.”
Combining her very English credentials and ensuring it is locally crafted and hand made, both her art and accessories reach a wide audience.
Meeting the real-life Sprockett in her kitchen it’s easy to see why everyone is falling in love with the handsome weimaraner from Fryupdale.
Visit www.sarahwestwood.co.uk/ to see Sarah’s work.