Meet the Maker: Clare Hopkins of Florence & Ottie
Meet the Maker is a new blog series on The Dapple featuring Q&As with small businesses, creatives, and makers who are crafting unique products for dogs and dog lovers. Know someone we should include? Email us at email@example.com.
For this week's Meet the Maker, we're talking with Clare Hopkins, the designer behind Florence & Ottie's adorable pet pawtraits. Clare lives in London with her eleven-year-old West Highland Terrier, Maisie. We quizzed her about launching a small business and how she transforms our favorite pups into one-of-a-kind illustrations.
Tell us what you make.
I create a range of personal pet illustrations, which can be ordered as a A5 print or a set of greeting cards. We have also just begun designing a range of pet accessories. All of our products are handmade with love.
What led you to create Florence & Ottie?
At University, I studied Textile Design for Fashion & Interiors. Somewhere in each design I created, there was a dog…. It just had to be done! Once I left University, I got a full-time job as a Designer for childrenswear in London. As much as I love my job, I wanted to begin illustrationing dogs once more and creating my own business, which was niche in the market and would make people smile.
Where does the name Florence & Ottie come from?
The "Florence" part of Florence & Ottie originally began on a summer holiday to Bamburgh, Northumbria when I was very little. My grandpa became poorly with a typical English cold and I spent the whole holiday looking after him—as much as a toddler could—and ever since I’ve been known as Florence for Florence Nightingale. The Ottie part in Florence & Ottie is my chosen name for a Dachshund I plan to have in the near future… a bit of forward planning here!
What's your process for creating a pawtrait?
I begin by collecting the client's favorite photographs of their pets. Once I have these, I begin illustrating—making sure I capture each animal’s unique personality.
To create my illustrations, I use an ink pen with a very thin nib which guaranties all the fine detail of the animal, like the curly fur for example. Once I have illustrated the pet, I use collage to add a pop of color onto a tiny detail… this brings the illustration to life and also adds a bit of playfulness.
What's the most challenging part of drawing dogs?
I would say the most challenging part of drawing dogs can be the eyes. Eyes tell a lot about the character of a dog and if these aren’t drawn correctly can quickly change the whole perception of the dog at hand.
What's your favorite place to work?
I love to work in a quiet and relaxing environment. Often I work in the Florence & Ottie studio, which is filled with candles, flowers and soft furnishings. It's a very Scandinavian-inspired Hygge environment.
Any exciting upcoming plans for Florence & Ottie?
I’m constantly on the look out for new ideas to bring to Florence & Ottie. I recently began designing a range of handmade dog bandanas, which received fab feedback at Brick Lane Market in London. They will be up for sale on Florence & Ottie Instagram and Etsy very shortly.
What's the most rewarding part of your work?
The most rewarding part of the job is seeing photographs and people's reactions to the illustrations once they have received them—it really does put a smile on my face and makes the job very well worthwhile.