QuirkyLime and the heroic design
May 30, 2018
Explore Learning members drew their heroes for the chance to have their design transformed into stunning wall-worthy art by QuirkyLime!
Our members from up and down the country sent in their hero designs to celebrate the theme of our National Young Writers’ Awards, and there were so many that it was incredibly difficult to choose a winner!
Natalia from our Lewisham centre was the lucky winner whose wonderful creation has been turned into a wall-worthy masterpiece by the lovely people at QuirkyLime. We loved her reason for why she chose her mum as her hero! Natalia said it was because she ‘is kind and fantastic‘.
We caught up with Karen Willcox from QuirkyLime to find out more about creating junior masterpieces.
QuirkyLime is such a fantastic idea, how did it all start?
QuirkyLime started when I had children; I needed to find an outlet for my creativity. I was trying to find something I could do other than my job as a book designer. The Junior Masterpieces were created by accident in December 2015. My girls produced so many drawings, I was unsure what to do with the sheer volume of artwork. Trying to keep my life simple and minimal I started selecting the best ones, the ones I really liked and wanted to enjoy for longer; I would edit, print and display them or give away as presents. A friend Mary saw one of the prints and wanted something similar for her husband’s 40th birthday. This became the first family portrait produced by QuirkyLime and is now one of the most popular commissions. By word of mouth I got more and more requests and it has steadily grown ever since. We won Bronze in the Junior Design Awards last year, and that was my sign that my idea might just work!
What was your first Quirky Lime design?
My oldest daughter Dora had drawn her family when she was 3 or 4. They were so simple and honest stick men, I wanted to keep them as they were but just make them stand out, I added the pink background. And I loved it, as you do with your own children’s drawings. The bright background colour is the real wow factor for the Junior Masterpieces drawings now. You can have a really simple line drawing and create the most amazing Junior Masterpiece. The simple ones can often be the most powerful.
What is the best thing about your job?
Seeing the look of joy on my client’s faces when they receive their Junior Masterpiece.
And the hardest thing?
The constant process of finding new work, and as it is mainly me, if I am not there, nothing gets done! I now outsource the printing and postage and am getting some more help so I can focus on the product ideas and Junior Masterpiece creation.
What advice do you have for children who don’t think they are good at drawing?
Don’t try to make the perfect drawing. The younger minds create wonderful masterpieces because they have complete freedom and no restrictions in their drawing. Older children can still do it if they just enjoy it. They should try to copy a drawing, or use a sketchbook and draw everything in it. You are bound to find some amazing drawings in it over time, just keep at it and keep practising!
What is your favourite commissions and why?
I love the extended family portraits because they are often drawn by a few different artists and they are always so colourful. All of the commissions are always full of emotions from the parents. I have had sad, happy and really unusual drawings, they all have such a special meaning for the person who commissions them, which is what I love.
You’re a mum of two, a book designer and you run QuirkyLime. What advice do you have for other parents who juggle being a parent with work?
Know your priorities, and what REALLY matters! I try to find time to think about what I have achieved, and making a list of achievements, always makes me feel a lot better. Sometimes when we are so busy in life, we forget to realise what it is really about. Those little people, they are still so small and need us quite a lot more than I think I realise at times. What REALLY really matters in life? Very little when you think about it (for me at least).
This year you are supporting the National Young Writers’ Awards, why are you excited to be involved?
Encouraging children to be creative is so important – it doesn’t matter if it is with words or with drawing, it is all about expressing what children have hidden inside. I just love their freedom to create the most elaborate stories, I love that it doesn’t need to be real. I think children should be encouraged to be a child for as long as possible! My youngest daughter Lotta absolutely loves reading, and the stories she writes are amazing and funny! It is an honour to be part of these awards because they encourage the values of QuirkyLime.
We asked children to write stories about a hero. Who was your hero when you were a child and why?
I grew up in Holland and I loved playing hockey. I remember vividly that the Dutch hockey team were my heroes at the time, I remember pretending to be them with my friends. My dad is English and he read us most of the Roald Dahl books; I remember being fascinated by Matilda too.
At Explore Learning, we encourage children to be fearless learners, how have you had to be fearless in your job?
Absolutely, fearless in the sense that you never know if new ideas will work, or approaching new opportunities will pay off. You have to be fearless to take those steps and do it, stop worrying about failure and be fearless – if you don’t try you can’t win!
How do you encourage your children to be fearless?
I constantly tell them that practising is the way to get better. You learn from your mistakes, and you have to make mistakes to learn. Dora is a really keen swimmer, so we always use swimming as an example of learning something new; nobody can swim when they start lessons and by practising and sticking with it, everybody learns to swim. Just like with anything else, hanging in there is the hardest but always worthwhile.
Fearless learners aren’t always born that way, so at Explore Learning our incredible tutors will help your child to become a confident, fearless learner who is ready and excited for their next challenge.
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