Welcome back! This week, we’re excited to jump into the colourful and uplifting world of CoconuTacha, the latest independent designer in our spotlight series. So, join us as we get to know Natacha, the creative mind behind CoconuTacha, and learn about what inspires her beautifully enchanting design aesthetic! Don’t forget to check out some of CoconuTacha’s art for yourself by shopping some of her favourite designs below the article…
Hello, or shwmae! My name is Natacha and I’m from a little village in South Wales, working from my home studio as a graphic designer and illustrator for my brand, CoconuTacha (a play on words that I made up when I was 15, it’s not the best, but it’s just stuck!). I started my business in 2015 by creating watercolour illustrations and paintings and selling these on Etsy. Since then, my business has grown and I now create a whole range of illustrations for greeting cards and other merchandise.
What are the challenges you face as an independent artist? And the joys?
For me personally, the main challenge I face is working from home everyday. I thrive in large, bustling social settings and working from my home studio has been such a big learning curve, although I have made it super pretty in there! I’ve overcome this challenge by setting up regular co-working sessions with both my friends and my Patreon community on a weekly basis. I think it’s easy to become unmotivated when you work for yourself and there’s no one there to keep you in check, but the co-working sessions have helped tremendously and I’ve also had great feedback from my Patreon for providing these sessions. The joys? There are so many! The fact that I get to create art every day and call it my job is the best part. Seeing my work on greeting cards, t-shirts and other merchandise get shipped around the world is such an incredible feeling and something I don’t think I’ll ever get used to.
Describe your typical work day…
I wake up and the first thing I must do is make breakfast for my Labrador, Mochi, and a cup of tea for myself. I don’t have much of a ‘morning routine’ as I make my way straight to my studio and get to work and have breakfast at my desk. A typical day would start with answering emails and getting the ‘boring’ admin tasks done and out of the way. As an illustrator, I probably only spend about 5% of my time illustrating these days as admin and other tasks take up most of my time as the business has grown! I then move on to packing orders from both my Etsy and Shopify stores. I love packing orders and decorating the packages in pretty tissue, ribbon and stickers. Once the orders are all packed and shipped off, I may get some time to design new things! I typically work using my laptop or desktop computer and sketch out my designs digitally before vectorising them.
What sort of cards do you love to design?
I would have to say that Valentines day cards are my favourite types of cards to design – always overly feminine, bright pinks and reds and with cute slogans on them. I’m very inspired by love and cute things and LOVE the colour pink, and all three of these things go so well together when it comes to Valentine’s day!
How did you get into greeting card design?
When I was younger I used to make cards for all my family when it came to any special occasion. I’d get card and stickers from any craft shop and have such fun designing so many types of greeting cards. I made up a huge stash in preparation! So it was only fitting that as I grew older and as I started the business that I thought I must design greeting cards. I’ve always been inspired by those independent artists and illustrators that I see in independent card shops and always dreamed that one day I’d have my own range.
What’s your creative process?
I ‘sketch’ out my designs directly into the design software that I love to use – Affinity Designer. It’s more of a vector programme, which is great for me because I love to work in vectors! But it also has a pixel-based option too so it has great flexibility. I experiment with different shapes, colours and compositions to create a cohesive design. This can take minutes to hours depending on how complex I want the design to be.
What or who inspires your work?
I love watching small business studio vlogs over on YouTube as I get on with my work day. Many of these people inspire me to keep going with my work, as it’s so lovely to see others doing a similar job to me! MY favourite YouTubers in this category are Katnipp Illustrations and XXL Scrunchie.
What do you like to do outside of work?
I strive to have a great work/life balance and I know this can be so hard to achieve when you run your own business. Outside of work I love to be outside! Going for walks with my partner and dog, discovering new places, going to the beach and the lakes etc.
What are your favourite cards that you’ve designed & why?
One of my favourite cards has to be the ‘Brighter Days are Coming’ card. I designed this card at the start of 2020 as I was going through a pretty tough time in my personal life and so this design was very personal to me. Then the pandemic hit and many people were sending greeting cards to their loved ones all over the UK and the world during lockdown. This card swiftly became a best-seller during those times and I got to write so many heart-felt messages inside for the recipients. What was a lovely, positive and personal design to me ended up being the same for many hundreds of people and that was such a lovely feeling.