New Year’s resolutions are often broken. But this hasn’t been the case for Laura Bremner, who set up Juniper Press after making a resolution to start sketching again.
She said: “I started Juniper Press about four years ago after making a New Year’s resolution to sign up for a printing-making short course at Gray’s School of Art.
“I did this because for the 10 years prior, I had totally fallen out with drawing. I started work as a graphic designer after graduating in 2002.
“Over the years, computer-based work took over and I stopped picking up my pencils.
“I hadn’t drawn in so long that I became scared to.
“A blank sheet of paper would give me anxiety – I honestly thought I wouldn’t be able to draw again.
“Juniper Press has opened up so many amazing opportunities, but more so, it has given me back confidence in myself and my work.
“By pushing myself out of my comfort zone and committing to a course, I knew it would force me to start sketching again as a hobby, but I never thought for one second it would bring about my own business.”
Now, Laura offers eye-catching prints, cards, jewellery, tote bags and other stylish items.
The talented printmaker is heavily influenced by the intricacies, detail and storytelling of Eastern European and Scandinavian folk art.
She said: “My love of lino printing has definitely influenced my illustrative work.
“Early on I quickly dropped the use of colour, favouring my monochromatic work more, mainly because it looked so much better displayed on my market stalls.
“By sticking to this, I’ve definitely developed a distinct, cohesive brand for myself now.
“It’s recognisable. Even if I wanted to introduce colour, I just can’t now.”
In her business’ early days, Laura was delighted to be invited to take part in the Painted Doors Project, during which local artists transformed 12 of the city’s doorways into works of art.
She said: “Painted Doors was the first proper street art project to hit Aberdeen and the first of its kind in Scotland, when Aberdeen Inspired, along with Mary Butterworth, started it in 2016.
“It gave local artists the opportunity to produce legal street art and get paid.
“It helped show there was a public appetite for street art in the city at a very difficult time economically, helping strengthen the case for bigger festivals like Nuart to come to Aberdeen.
“I was delighted to be invited to work on my very own door. It was great fun engaging with the public during the whole week I was working on my design at Correction Wynd.”
Laura splits her week between two jobs. In addition to running her successful business, she also works part-time as a graphic designer at Station House Media Unit, which supports disadvantaged communities and vulnerable people in Aberdeen.
She said: “I create all the branding and marketing materials for the organisation.
“As well as all the in-house design, I work on commercial projects that help generate additional revenue for the charity. We also support volunteers to create their own community magazines.
“That work is also replicated at HMP Grampian, supporting prisoners to create magazines too.
“My work is certainly varied. One day I might be painting a giant Oor Wullie in my kitchen, the next I could be working at the prison.”
Laura also supports north-east charities with her creative work. In 2017, Friends of ANCHOR, which helps cancer and haematology patients from Aberdeenshire, marked its 20th anniversary with
20 large anchors which were decorated by north-east schools and creatives.
Laura said being selected for the Anchor 20for20 appeal was a big achievement for her.
She said: “I was so grateful for the opportunity.
“As well as raising vital funds for charity, art trails like these also help increase tourism and footfall in participating cities.
“It’s not just the economic impact either – trails like these take art, design and illustration out into the public domain – it makes it accessible to all.
“It’s a way to inspire younger generations by providing a fun, free day out for all.
“It was such an honour to be part of it. My anchor raised an incredible £37,000 at auction before finally settling in its new home.”
Laura is also excited to be one of the chosen Oor Wullie Big Bucket Trail artists this year. Her sculpture will aim to raise funds for children’s charity The ARCHIE Foundation.
Encouraging and supporting creatives in the north-east is something Laura, who is an Aberdeen Etsy team captain, is very passionate about as she helps to organise north-east craft markets.
She said: “I started up the Aberdeen Etsy Team a few years ago after seeing the first Etsy Made Local market in Glasgow.
“It looked amazing. I thought to myself, ‘something as huge as Etsy would never come to a small place like Aberdeen’. Then I discovered it was local teams who were solely responsible for organising these events, so there was absolutely nothing stopping Aberdeen having their own team or Etsy Made Local market.
“I got together with some other keen creatives and we started to build a team.
“We now have four amazing markets under our belts, with the last one reporting a footfall of more than 13,000 shoppers in one weekend.
“Being a captain is stressful. It’s become an unpaid part-time job I didn’t really plan for, but I don’t know what I’d do if I did step down. I’ve given it my all for three years. I’d miss it.”
In addition to selling her work through her online Etsy shop, Laura also attends fairs throughout the year and organises her own ones.
She said: “Our next big fair is the Etsy Summer Showcase, which will be part of the Look Again Festival from June 13 to June 16 at the Anatomy Rooms. I’m also working on plans for another pop-up shop.”
Visit etsy.com/shop/JuniperPress to purchase Juniper Press products.
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