Interview: Foxx and Raccoon
Foxx and Raccoon started in August 2018 after Hannah-Kate wanted to create something original for her partner as an anniversary gift. Foxx and Raccoon sell macabre art and homeware. I was lucky enough to interview Hannah-Kate about her business.
Hello! Thank you so much for letting me interview you. How are you?
I’m great thank you! We’ve recently moved house, so I’m still recovering from that upheaval, but feeling very energised and positive!
Tell us a little bit about your background.
I’m originally from a small farming town in Wiltshire, where I lived with my parents and two brothers. I’ve moved around a lot in my 20-something years - briefly moving to Essex in my late teens, I lived in Southampton for a few years in my early 20’s, and now I live in Birmingham with my boyfriend and our alien-like dog.
Besides art, I’m also into photography, knitting, and collecting far too many houseplants.
I adore your business. What made you decide to set up Foxx and Raccoon?
I’ve been drawing and painting since I was a teenager, and was heavily inspired by my older brother who, in my opinion, is the greatest artist I know. Art has remained a passion of mine since then, and it has been my dream for as long as I can remember to run my own business, however this passion wasn’t really nurtured until I met my other half.
For our first anniversary, I wanted to gift him something really special, however after spending literal months searching I couldn’t find a single thing I thought was good enough, so I decided to make it myself. When I handed him the painting, his reaction gave me the huge boost of confidence I needed to finally start sharing my art with the world, and thus Foxx & Raccoon was born, named after our nicknames for each other.
How has your creative process changed since the start?
At the start, I questioned myself a lot, and would get frustrated if pieces didn’t go perfectly right away. However, after a while, I learned to trust my gut instincts and impulses, which has lead to branching out into adding other items to my store, and pushing myself creatively. Initially, I only ever sold glass paintings. Whilst these are still at the forefront of what I primarily make & sell, I’ve since added homeware, photography prints, and now soft furnishings to the store, and I’m always looking for ways to expand the business further.
Also, I only ever used to paint skulls, avoiding anything else that was outside of my artistic comfort zone, however after a few commission requests came in which were COMPLETELY different, and after receiving great feedback on these pieces, my self-confidence has grown massively to the point where I’m now comfortable taking on any ideas customers may have!
How did you manage to learn and hone your craft?
I’m completely self-taught, and strongly believe in the importance of trial & error. Also, practice practice practice! I’m always sketching out ideas, and testing out/researching different materials. Art & craft is an ever evolving process, and I don’t think anyone will ever completely master it, it’s all about growing, adapting, and trying new things.
Have you always been into craft design?
I’ve always appreciated art, but didn’t have the confidence to try my hand at creating it until I was a teenager. However now, my life is completely overtaken by it, and I wouldn’t have it any other way!
If there were no resource restraints, what would be your dream project?
What a thought! I guess any answer to this would be quite revealing of future plans for F&R…lets just say, I’d love to work on an absolutely huge scale piece, and to perhaps branch out into stained glass - watch this space!
What equipment do you use for your work?
Most of my work is predominantly on glass frames, though you can’t beat drawing/painting on paper. I paint using acrylic and oil paints (this varies from piece to piece), and my photography work is all shot on a Canon 5D MkIII.
What tools or materials could you not live without?
Gesso primer. That stuff has changed my life and makes everything so much easier. Also, my camera.
Why has social media been an important platform for you to use?
Social media has helped to connect me to so many great people, both business & personal life-wise. It provides a great platform to showcase my creations, but also allows a more personable approach to art. You can choose to show as much or as little about yourself as an artist as you want, and easily create a narrative surrounding your art and business. I’ve always preferred to decorate my home with artwork that isn’t just visually pleasing, but also created by artists I feel some sort of connection to or who’s views/interests align with my own, and social media has been great for allowing me to discover artists/creatives I can connect with, along with allowing other people to relate to & connect with me and my work.
Who inspires your work?
I’d say I’m mainly inspired by the music I listen to, be it black metal or 80’s gothic rock, along with films, nature, books, and anything else that interests me. I was a goth as a kid, and even though I no longer dye my hair jet black or wear black lipstick, I’ll always have a love for all things covered in skulls and inspired by the darker things in life. My goal was to create artwork that I enjoy looking at, it’s a huge bonus that others enjoy it too!
Do you have any favourite pieces of work that you adore at the moment from your shop
Probably the Bowie pieces! They’re not the biggest paintings I’ve done, but they turned out exactly as I envisioned, and I absolutely love them. I’ve sold paintings in the past that I’ve been genuinely sad to see go, but seeing my art displayed in other people’s homes is such a great feeling that it’s totally worth it.
What do we hope to see in this up and coming year for your Instagram and your work?
Now that my new office is finally set up, hopefully just a whole bunch more paintings! I currently have 3 paintings I’m working on, and plan to just keep creating. I’m also wanting to post more behind the scenes photos on my social accounts for sure.
What are you currently working on?
A lot! I have two commissioned paintings I’m currently cracking on with, along with another piece for the store. I’ve also recently opened a RedBubble store for some digital designs I’ve created, so I’m working on ways to improve that site as well as constantly improving my Etsy store and Instagram.
What’s your typical working day?
I wish I had a structured working day when it came to F&R, however it varies day to day. Once I start painting, I tend to become a little obsessive and find it hard to put the brushes down until either the piece is completely finished, or it’s at a point where I have to wait for paint to dry before working on it more. On a day entirely dedicated to F&R, I’ll spend most of my morning networking on social media, queuing up posts for Instagram/Facebook, tweaking my Etsy store, and noting down any design ideas I have. Then, I’ll pack and post any pieces I’ve sold the day before. Once I’m home, I move my dog into his bed in the office, put on some heavy music, and start painting/drawing.
What’s been the biggest struggle in getting your business off the ground?
Mastering SEO for Etsy! It’s still very much a work in progress, and always will be, but I know I’m not alone in being very confused by those dreaded 3 letters. Also, learning to not question myself constantly, and having confidence in my work, as it really does show when an artist doesn’t believe in their own craft.
Do you have any exciting plans for this year?
We’ve just moved house, which is about as much excitement as I need for a little while! Besides that, we have a tonne of adventures planned (which I’ll be attending camera-in-hand), and I may have a collaboration in the works with an artist I admire, along with a bunch of new products and hopefully a lot of commissions!
What are your career plans with your online shop?
Just to keep on going with it and to remain in love with what I do. I paint and draw because I love to paint and draw, people having an interest in and purchasing my artwork is a bonus! I’d love for it to continue to grow the way it has over the past 6 months, but will continue to create until I’m very old & very grey regardless of how well pieces sell.
What advice would you give to people looking to define their own style?
That it’s ok to take influence from people, but don’t ever directly copy someone - sure most ideas aren’t original anymore, but always strive to create something that others might have not seen done in that particular way before. Also practice. Always practice.
Do you have any advice for anyone starting their own online shop?
Dedicate a lot of time researching SEO and its importance. Take great photos of your items (if you can, hire a decent photographer, quality photos go a long way on social media), and, most importantly, don’t be disheartened if you don’t sell out of everything right away. Successes are rarely made overnight, it takes a lot of work and patience, and sometimes it can take years for people to even make one sale, but you’ll get there if you really want it.
What’s next for Foxx and Raccoon?
Expansion, a lot of paintings…maybe clothing…I have a lot of plans, and have new ideas almost every day, so it’s anyones guess where I’ll take it next!
What's the best piece of creative advice you've ever been given?
To believe in yourself and your work. I had a bad habit at the start of F&R of running every decision I made past my boyfriend, until he told me to learn to trust my own judgement. Now, I make every decision by myself, and I only go to him to show off what I’ve done as opposed to seeking constant reassurance and guidance from a third party.