I found Laura’s work via Twitter last year, and was blown away by the detail and obvious love behind her paintings. Her pet portraits have people virtually queuing up, so I couldn’t wait to find out her story.
You started out on quite a different path, how did you come to be a full time illustrator?
After leaving high school with a baccalaureat ES (economic and social sciences), I decided to go to university to study law. Unfortunately I soon discovered it wasn’t for me, but I had nothing else so I kept trying. A year and a half later I moved to Rome where my parents worked. As I wasn’t able to find a job there (I don’t speak Italian), I decided to go back to my first love, illustration.
I spent the Summer working on my portfolio and got accepted into a private art school, back in France. I knew I couldn’t afford it but it was a nice boost, and motivated me to learn by myself.
I later met my boyfriend (who is English) and moved to Norwich. I had no qualifications or diplomas, so I took my chance and became a self-employed illustrator!
When and how did you start selling your work?
Most of my sales come from pet portrait commissions at the moment, all through social media (especially Instagram), which is amazing. It’s really the best tool to promote your work without being too “invasive”, as it also works well as a virtual “word of mouth”.
I’ve been self-employed for 5 months now and I’m hoping to save enough money this year so I can get some goods printed and open an online shop. I must admit I’m still undecided on which website to use, Etsy, Tictail, Big Cartel… I need to do some research on those!
Do you have a dream commission?
I’ve always wanted to work on a cookbook and do more editorial work for magazines.
I recently had the chance to collaborate with the amazing Olivia Mew for her Stay Home Club shop and it was so fantastic to see my watercolour illustrations turned into embroidery patches. I’d love to work on more different projects like this!
Japanese culture seems a big inspiration for you! Why so, and what else inspires your work?
Visiting Japan is one of my biggest dreams, I’m fascinated by the Japanese culture and the more I learn about it, the more I want to paint it. I hope one day, I’ll have the chance to go there – and paint some more!
Food, animals and kitschy objects are also a big source of inspiration.
What advice would you give someone thinking of changing their path to do something different?
Work hard for what you love and your time and dedication will pay off in the end. Also, don’t compare yourself/your work to anyone else – especially to those who have been doing it for years. I was guilty of this when I started, it’s an easy trap to fall into but it will only hold you back.
I can’t remember how many times I’ve wanted to give up and I’m glad I didn’t, as after every bad moment my motivation became even stronger.
Blog – Look At These Gems
I really love this blog. It’s full of amazing illustrations, movie reviews and recipe compilations – very inspiring!
Thank you Laura! Aren’t her paintings amazing?
You can follow Laura’s progress all over the interwebs:
Twitter – @laura_manfre
Instagram – @laura_manfre
Portfolio – Cargo
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