Makers Corner: Aisling van der Walt

Today is ‘Super Monday’ because you get to hear from not one, but TWO of our fantastic makers in the lead up to Etsy Made Local Tottenham!!

Our second maker today is the lovely Aisling van der Walt.

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What inspired you to became a maker?

Since I was young I’ve always loved drawing and creating. My poor sister has vivid memories of me as a 10year-old sketching her portrait in the car while she was sulking just to wind her up #sisterlove.

After years of remaining hidden in my dusty art box, my paintbrushes came out again when my husband bought me art classes for my birthday. My homemade cards got a serious facelift when I started to teach myself modern calligraphy and brush lettering. With encouragement from friends and family to sell some of my work, I gradually started turning my hobby into a business. I set up an Instagram page, started selling on Etsy, teaching Wine and Modern Calligraphy workshops, and now I’m delighted to be selling at an Etsy Made Local Christmas Market!

Please can you share the making and designing process?

If I am creating just for myself, I go straight to my watercolours and use nature to inspire me. I’m drawn to abstract forms of colour and subtle tonal variations, aiming to achieve a painterly, whimsical effect.

If I am creating a commissioned lettering piece for a customer I often mock-up a design using my iPad pencil which is a quick and effective way to play around with composition, colour and design. Once I have agreed a final design with the client, I lightly mark out the design with pencil and paper to ensure correct alignment, then I apply paint using high quality watercolours. When everything is good and dry I hand letter the quote/ lettering on top of the paint.

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What is it like owning your own business or like many, juggling multiple jobs?

I have learned a lot about juggling since starting my art business! I work as an occupational therapist in the NHS which I love, but when you work in healthcare you put all your time and energy into other people and for me, art and calligraphy is the perfect way to recharge my batteries. Running my own business has been a steep learning curve because it involves so much more than just painting. I needed to learn marketing, photography, printing, stock management, Photoshop, DPIs, PPIs, TIFFS – things I had no clue about before I started! Even when it is crazy busy with orders and commissions, I feel so lucky to be able to run a business around something I love so I wouldn’t change it….but maybe ask me again in the Christmas rush!

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Can you impart a quote or words of wisdom to inspire?

“Done is better than perfect” – being able to say this has been a huge learning curve for me! My perfectionistic tendencies definitely come out in my artwork and in many ways, they help me produce high quality pieces. But when it comes to deciding to put yourself out there and open an Etsy shop, or share your work on social media, or run a workshop, or sell at a market, sometimes you need to just take the plunge even if you think you’re not ‘there yet’. I could wait my whole life to get ‘there’ and meanwhile nothing would have happened. Take the leap and who knows, you might be more ‘there’ than you thought you were!

Thank you so much for speaking with us. You can find the lovely Aisling on Day 1 of Etsy Made Local Tottenham (Tottenham Town Hall) along with many other talented local makers and don’t forget, this is a two-day bumper handmade only market! Find us on Day 2 at The Beehive Pub on 2 December. See you then!!

Etsy shop

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