Brand Spotlight: Jo Scott Art
We are very excited to bring to the Scruffy Little Terrier family, a wonderful range of greeting cards by Jo Scott.
I first found Jo and her beautiful artwork on Instagram (isn’t that where we find everyone nowadays?) and I fell in love with her dog greeting cards. Jo Scott is an award-winning dog artist who works to commission and produces original watercolours in her studio based in the Forest of Dean.
She has won some amazing awards including, in 2016, being the recipient of a highly commended best new product award at the Scotland Trade Fair. As well as, in 2017, winning the trophy for best charity calendar at the National Calendar Awards (wow!). The calendar featured 11 portraits of rescue dogs and 1 rescue cat and their stories, it was so good, it beat the naked rowers calendar…now there’s an accolade she won’t forget!
After chatting with Jo, I chose a selection of her terrier style greeting cards, as I think they will suit the Scruffy Little Terrier brand just perfectly.
I thought I’d share our conversation with you, to give you an insight into Jo Scott Art, this wonderful small British brand.
A Conversation With Jo, Owner of Jo Scott Art
Have you always painted or did you used to do something different for a living?
When I left Art College I went on to study for an MA in Visual Culture at Middlesex University as I wasn’t sure what I wanted to do, there weren’t very clear routes into working as an artist back then, unless you followed a route into graphic design, textile/surface pattern or fine art, none of which really appealed to me at the time.
From there I ended up working in the theatres of the West End in London and my last ‘proper’ job was as an account manager for a software company that supplied arts venues such as Tate Galleries, Ambassadors Theatre Group, The Royal Collection. I worked with some great people and there was lots of travel so I have very fond memories of that period. What was your plan for the business at the beginning and has it changed?
What was your plan for the business at the beginning and has it changed since then?
There was no plan in the beginning, I had never stopped drawing or painting since I’d left art college, however the dog portraits started not long after meeting my husband in 2003.
During a period when we were a bit short of cash and needed to get his Mum a birthday present, I thought I’d have a go at painting her dog, Romeo. It was a massive success, I’ve been painting dogs ever since and it became a side-job.
In addition to that, I come from a great greeting card sending family and around 2010 I decided I’d like to combine my love of dogs with my painting, create a few ranges and launch them at a trade show which happened at the Spring Fair in 2015. Around the same time, I gave up my day job to concentrate on the business full time.
Now I produce my own collections for cards, have 100’s of trade customers throughout the world and branched out into other gift items including clocks and tea towels.
I still paint commissions and I design for other card companies such as Thortful, Cardly and I’m just in discussion with Moonpig, so now I’ve written it all down it has changed enormously!
Have you always painted dogs? What’s your favourite thing to paint?
My first love was Snoopy! (Oh my goodness, so was mine! says Michelle) I credit those cartoons with my love of drawing, as a child, I would spend hours drawing Snoopy and his friends, making cards and notebooks for the rest of the family.
I love being outdoors so watercolour was a natural choice to work with as it’s fast-drying and you can take it anywhere. I’ve painted flowers, all kinds of animals, I like sketching buildings and street scenes but it always comes back to dogs.
Observing and painting dogs and the occasional cat are what really ‘spark joy’ in me!
What’s your favourite breed of dog to paint?
Well that’s an impossible question for me to answer! It’s well known I’m a bit partial to a scruffy terrier as my own dog, Thomasina, is a rescue terrier of unknown origin, but it’s equally well known that I fall in love with all the dogs I paint!
So, no I don’t have a favourite breed of dog to paint.
What do you attribute your success to?
I think deciding early on, especially on the greeting card side of the business, that I was going to niche down and specialise in dogs really helped. Then following up with experiments, trying all the different trade and retail shows, testing what worked and what didn’t.
I’ve made some cracking mistakes over the years but they’ve been great learning curves and I wouldn’t be here now if I hadn’t taken the plunge, started before I felt I was ready and really ‘gone for it’.
I’ve also had some great support from family members who’ve sat into the early hours packing cards for me, to one of my best friends who gives up her free time to come and do shows with me and my husband who brings the tea (only joking, he does a LOT more than that and has always been a massive help and great source of encouragement!).
What is unique about Jo Scott Art?
Going on what my customers tell me, I capture the character of the dogs that I paint, both in the commissions and on the cards I produce. There’s a unique ‘look’ that our dogs give us, I’ve been able to capture that and my customers can recognise it too.
As dog owners, we all go through similar experiences, being able to share the joy and sometimes pain (fox poo anyone?) through something as simple as a greeting card that anyone can buy and share with their friends is something I get a real kick out of.
What other products do you sell?
Besides greeting cards, I have a range of art prints featuring a range of different dog breeds and I also have a range of tea towels. I’m working on my calendar at the moment and I’m experimenting with some other items such as cushions, clocks and coasters too.
Can you remember the first time you thought ‘Wow!’ about your business?
My very first ‘Wow!’ moment came at the Spring Fair in Scotland in 2016, this was when I felt my stand finally looked like I imagined it could. I’d taken enough orders to make a profit and I won an award for the best new product.
Although, my biggest ‘Wow!’ moment came from the first time I exhibited at Crufts three years ago. I was unprepared for the atmosphere of the show and the reaction of all your ideal customers in one place all coming to your stand to tell you how much they loved your work.
Both those moments really made me feel I was producing work that people loved and wanted to buy!
What do you do to relax?
Although I have lots of help with the business, I outsource a lot, I have a warehouse for fulfilment, I work closely with a fabulous web designer and brand consultant (Rosie at WufDesign), I’ve had at least two years of business coaching with Patrica at the Design Trust, Richard my product photographer at Forever Creative Photography, not to mention all the help from husband, friends and family I’m still a one-woman business. If I stop, so does the business and I think it’s a problem a lot of us, especially when we start out, have and that’s learning to fit in relaxation and having some time off!
What I do is go for long walks with the dog, this is my most common form of relaxation and something I can do daily, the dog always wants a walk!
I love swimming so often a session in the pool is a great way to wind down so I can’t wait for them to open again (this chat took place during COVID19 lockdown 2020) and then every so often I book a block of time off, schedule as much as possible and go travelling. Travel is something I adore and always hits the spot for me in terms of switching off and relaxing!
Is community and sustainability something that is important to Jo Scott Art?
Community I think has been at the core of my success, that common ground that unites all dog owners is an essential part of my business. As is giving back, I work with one local charity the Forest of Dean Dog Rescue and Helping Paws, a volunteer organisation in Brighton. Both do so much at the spiky end of dog rescue, something I’m not emotionally equipped to do myself but I can give my time to help and I like to donate portraits and greeting cards to help raise funds.
As for sustainability, I work with suppliers who produce FCA accredited card and envelopes, all my cello wraps are 100% biodegradable and all my packaging can be recycled. This is why I’ve avoided the gold foil trend on my cards, it may look fabulous but it will ultimately end up in landfill. I think moving forward sustainability has to be a basic requirement (we totally agree, Jo!).
What’s the best bit about Jo Scott Art? Is there anything you would change if you could?
The bit I’m enjoying most at the moment is having created a lifestyle company. The one thing I realised quite early on is that I didn’t want to manage staff (I’ve done that in my old job), I’ve tweaked changes and have numerous revenue streams so the business can support our lifestyle.
I’ve ensured I can do my work ‘from anywhere’ and I’m about to realise a personal dream. We’ve just bought a motorhome and we’re planning a couple of big 6 month trips and the business will be coming with me on tour.
I feel this is my biggest achievement, everything I’ve done has led to this point so I don’t think I’d change a thing and I can’t wait to continue! (Wow, this is so exciting Jo! says Michelle).
Jo Scott Art and Scruffy Little Terrier
You can find Jo’s greeting cards on our website, under ‘For Home’, we’re sure you will find one you love. There is a card for every occasion for all dog lovers.
We hope you agree that Jo Scott Art is a great addition to Scruffy Little Terrier, I am very proud to have Jo on board and can’t wait to see her future card creations too!
the Scruffy Little Terrier Shop!
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