In issue 1 of Crafty (out in shops right now, so make sure you bag a copy before they all get whisked up!), we had a cup of tea and some freshly baked bread with Laura Clempson, the illustrator behind the delightful stationery and sewing kit company Cupcakes for Clara.
We spent so long finding out all about her and having a good old nosey around her house that we couldn’t possibly fit the whole interview in the magazine. Here’s the rest of the chat we had – and a few extra pictures of the lovely Laura’s home.
“I like to curl up on the chair in the front room. I don’t know what people must think when they walk past every day and they see me there or on the computer. So many people when you work from home think you’re doing nothing. People phone me during the day just for a chat, but I work then, so it’s like, ‘you’re taking up my child-free time!’ Someone said to me just last week, it must be so nice to be a lady of leisure and just do what you want. ‘Are you joking?’ I said. ‘I worked till 3am last night.’ Maybe it’s just a thing people think when you’re self-employed that because you’re not going out to work it’s just easy. When actually you’re probably working harder than you would be otherwise.”
“I don’t mind not getting my monthly pay check so much but I just find those monotonous jobs so difficult to do, all the accounting stuff. I was fine last year, it’s going to be horrendous this year. I’m not very good at emails. I once saw someone on Twitter say they’d either answer emails in three seconds or three months and I thought yeah, that’s me. If it doesn’t get done straightaway it’s not going to happen.”
“I don’t know how I’d run my business if I didn’t have the internet. It’s hard to say. When I first started my blog, we didn’t have the internet at home and I used to go to the local library every day to blog. It was after Clara, just about when I first started. I started the blog because I entered a Clara doll and the two others into a soft toy competition and they won and part of the prize was to be stocked in this online shop so they wanted some of the toys and everyone was like, start a blog, you may as well. It was the thing to do then, it wasn’t such a big thing as it is now. So I just started it showing pictures of my work and it kind of grew. I don’t really have the time and I find it quite difficult to fit it in and I’m not very good at scheduling posts. I know a lot of people who do a month’s worth, but I like to do it so I can show what I’m working on. My stats are between 5 and 600 a day. It’s growing quite nicely but I do notice a big day if I don’t post every day.”
“I’ve had my blog for about six years and I started the business in 2011, in about October. It took off a bit more in July and it’s gone a bit crazy since then – in a good way, in a tiring way. Before Christmas, orders were just insane. I think for two months I had four hours sleep a night but you just have to go with it. I wouldn’t change it.”
“Clara’s not modelled on me, she’s kind of a mix of my two sisters I would say. Macy’s her twin sister and she’s the quiet shy one, which is my sister Amy who’s very quiet and shy and lovely, and Katy is more hot headed than Amy and a bit fierier so she’s a bit more like Clara – but in the nicest way. I don’t want Katie to think that’s mean! People always ask if Clara based on my daughter Matilda but Clara came before Matilda. I used to spend my lunch breaks just drawing, so I just gave her a grumpy face and she appeared.”
“I used to work at a puppet company. I worked on The Fantastic Mr Fox, The Corpse Bride, Frankenweenie – I haven’t seen that yet. I’ve not been able to go to the cinema, it’s terrible. I worked on Frankenweenie when I was pregnant with Theo, working on all the wigs, which were really nice. They were all wired so each hair could be moved, so you have to make almost like a wig skeleton first and then they’re made of wig hair. I have met Tim Burton, it was really exciting. He came into the room and he told me that my work was good. He was really nice, not very chatty but you wouldn’t expect him to be. Everyone was really hoping that Johnny Depp would come in but he didn’t.”
“I think Matilda will be arty because she’d happily just draw all the time. Because we have it out all the time, she sees us drawing. She’d happily just paint or draw. Theo just wants to jump and cut things at the moment. It’s so good being a child. I think they’re both quite creative. They don’t really have a choice growing up in a house where people are creative. That’s what I did, my dad’s a photographer and my mum ran a children’s modelling agency so they were quite creative, self-employed and always working from home.”
“A big thing in our house is books. We have hundreds of picture books and in there we have them colour coded. Like a rainbow. It was really fun, we did it with Matilda. Matilda loves doing it, she’s not particularly organised but things like that she thinks are nice. Books are quite a big thing, Tom’s a writer and I’m an illustrator so it’s inevitable. If Matilda’s been good, she wins extra stories for bed time and if she’s been bad she loses stories. We don’t have a naughty step, just no stories. It works!"
“Quite often I can’t get to sleep and it’ll be because my head is spinning. I don’t always write ideas down straightaway and Tom does the same. We’ve both got notebooks by our beds but because we’ve got phones as well, we use them.”
“I feel even though the kids are little, I almost feel like they’re proud of me in their own way. They do get really excited to come back and see new things. I said to Matilda coming back from school yesterday, I’ve got this new drawing, she was like ‘yeah!’. A lot of the time she’ll try and copy, she’ll draw her own Clara drawings. I haven’t used her ideas yet but I did a card for the grandparents embroidered her drawing onto it.”
“To other people, I’m living the dream but I think I’m nowhere near what I want to achieve yet. What do you when you get what you want? Dreams should always change otherwise you’re retired and you’re just sitting in your house. I often wonder what non-creative people do with their evening.”
“People on Pinterest are amazing. I was asking people on Twitter, how do other people do it? I feel like I’m manic most of the time, just trying to get things done and other people just seem to fit everything in, have immaculate houses and perfect children. How? What do you do?”