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artist interview: rhi james

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Rhi James (aka Hebe Studio) is a Perth-based British artist who creates vibrant illustrations that inspire you to travel the world. We caught up with her to find out a bit more about how she got started and where her work is heading next.

Tell us a little about yourself. 
I was born in London but grew up all over England, settling in a Cotswold town called Cheltenham for most of my teenage years. I then moved to Wales for university and went straight from there to London, where I was a print designer for seven years. Last year, I took leap of faith – I quit my job to go freelance and moved to Perth with my partner who had been offered work here.

When did you first know you wanted to be an artist? I can’t really remember a time where I didn't know I wanted to be an artist – I was always obsessed with art even as a child. It didn't ever feel like a decision I made, just something that naturally evolved over time.

What kind of mediums do you use? I use watercolour, gouache, a bit of Copic markers, colouring pencils and an iPad pro. I love combining lots of different mediums.

What inspires the scenes and subjects within your work? Colour and pattern is such a driving factor in my work. If I see a scene with amazing colours and patterns I’m instantly drawn to it.

What makes a piece of artwork successful for you? It’s so subjective, but I think if you look at a piece of art and it makes you feel something then it's successful. With my own artwork, it's harder to tell. For example, my two best-selling prints are one I did in a couple of hours and knew straight away that I liked, and the other is one I hated for a long time and almost gave up on. So it's hard to know even for myself what makes my artwork successful.

What's an average day in your studio like? Every day is pretty different depending on what projects I have on. Typically, I'll wake up early and reply to emails/DMs first thing. Then I split my day in two. I’ll power through client work until lunch and then maybe go for a quick walk or a bike ride to clear my head. I’ll then go through emails again (once a different side of the world has woken up) and work on developing Hebe's website, prints and products in the afternoon. In the evening, I usually post on Instagram and keep working on things until I go to bed.

What has been the most exciting part about starting your own creative business? It’s like having the business equivalent of a baby. It has all come from you and watching it grow is the most incredible feeling.

What has been most challenging? Since I started Hebe, it's become impossible to switch off. It takes up all my time and I’d love a holiday right about now.

What advice would you give to budding artists? Just keep going. If you really want to be successful as an artist, you have to just do it as much as you can. I sometimes think it's like a muscle: the more you do it, the better you get. Don’t be intimidated by other people and don’t compare yourself to anyone. Your work will change and progress – just let it happen naturally and you'll find your place.

Which artists do you admire? There are so many! Tahnee Kelland, Karina Jambrak and Rose Dufton, to name a few.

If you could travel anywhere in the world, where would you go? There are so many places I want to go, but top of my list is Japan during cherry blossom season.

What's next for you? I'm looking into doing a proper website launch at the beginning of October (hopefully) and am aiming to develop a few products. 

Where can we see more of your work? On Instagram at @hebe.studio and on Etsy at HebeStudioStore.