When we purchased our house last Summer, the thing that I was most excited about was decorating and adding some artwork to our home. I wanted to buy some beautiful prints to add character to our home and I went on a massive online search. And that is where I came across Three Little Birds Illustration and I was hooked. I loved that they created stunning prints with Irish Words – they were simple and yet eye-catching.
Three Little Birds Illustration is run by husband/wife team Deborah and Neil and the brand was set up in December 2017. Since then it has just gone from strength to strength. Deborah is a self-thought calligrapher and artist and has an amazing eye for detail. Neil is then the technical side of the team – turning her artwork into digital images that they can print to the highest quality using giclée printing. I wanted to learn more about the brand so reached out to them, and today I am delighted to be sharing an interview with Deborah.
Have you also been interested in art?
I have always been interested in all things creative yes! For as long as I can remember I have been doodling, writing (with a focus on typography), and making things. I love learning and love creativity.
I love that you use Irish in your prints – what inspired you to focus on the Irish language?
Both myself and Neil just love the idea of making Irish more accessible, in our own very small way. We have had such lovely feedback in particular about the Focail prints, where we include the phonetics, so that people who feel they don’t have any Irish at all, can actually sound out the word. Neither of us are fluent Irish speakers, unfortunately, but both of us have a keen interested in and love for the language. I also love the individuality of meaning that can be drawn from a single word. Individual interpretation is a magical thing, and I thought to do that through Irish would just add another dimension that is so special.
Where do you find your inspiration for your work from?
To be honest, I draw inspiration from my surroundings. I love the shapes and colours that can be found out in nature, and I’m surrounded by so much beauty where we live in the heart of the Irish countryside. I love drawing botanicals and am fascinated by how many types of leaves and florals we have in nature, all shapes and sizes.
I really think simple things can hold so much meaning for people, and I strive to create pieces with an air of simplicity, but a depth of meaning. I have always been a stationary buff too and creating greeting cards and wedding stationery is just a dream!
Was there a pivotal moment when you decided to follow your path as an
For years I trained and worked as a Psychologist, both in clinical and academic settings, and I was very fortunate to be able to do that. Things changed then for me when our son came along, and I found myself pursuing that creative side of myself more and more. I wanted to express myself in other ways, to create things that would hopefully bring happiness to people in some small way, and to explore and learn in an area that I had for so long been interested in but that I had put on hold. A conversation with a very special friend spurred me on to just go for it, to put my all into it and to see what happened. I’m very glad now that I took that step!
Do you have a favourite print that you have created?
Yes! Well, I, of course, love them all but… the “Every little thing gonna be alright” watercolour print has to be my favourite. I painted it as an ode to our namesake, and that has a very special meaning for me. Our son (5) sings the song and has done since he was a toddler. He loves music and singing, and this song just stuck with him after I sang it to him a few years back. To this day he still sings it, and this print represents the magic of those moments with him.
Being a husband and wife team, are the roles within the business split or do you both do a bit of everything?
No, they are definitely split, although we do work together on some aspects. We will discuss initial ideas together, I then do all the drawing, painting and calligraphy. Neil then takes over and is responsible for digitizing the paintings and drawings and creates the prints and greeting cards. Another part of my role which I love is being the main point of communication for our customers and wholesale stockists.
What has been the most challenging aspect of starting your business?
The most challenging thing, as with any self-employed person I’d imagine, has been time management. Learning to be patient with the creative process is another… I’m the type of person who likes an idea to come to fruition immediately!! With the number of steps involved in the creation of each piece, that’s just not possible…but I’m learning to slow down and enjoy each step that’s involved
To date, what has been the proudest brand moment?
I’m so fortunate that we’ve had quite a few since we began in December 2017. Seeing our products in the most beautiful shops has been a real “pinch me” moment! Another has been working on wedding stationery for the loveliest couples.
Are there any artists whose work that you admire?
Lola Donoghue – I would love to have one of her pieces in our home!!
Would you have any tips for those hoping to start a career in art/print – something that someone had said to you when you were starting out?
I think one of the best pieces of advice is to be true to yourself. Believe in your own ideas, and your own ability to create. There are lots of creative people out there, and the saying “comparison is the thief of joy”, is so true! I think just having respect for others’ ideas and creativity, but at the same time believing in yourself and your ability (instead of comparing to others) is so important.
Where would you like to see the brand going in the next five years?
I’d love to expand our wedding stationery and greeting cards, to work with more stockists and to branch into some other aspects of stationary. I do have one or two projects up my sleeve that I’m working on but I have to remain tight-lipped about those just for the moment!
And lastly a very important question… Lyons or Barry’s tea? And favourite dipping biscuit?
Lyons, and a chocolate finger!!
A massive thank you for Deborah for doing the interview and for her patience with me! I loved learning more about her business and wonderful designs. I would highly recommend taking a look at her website, I purchased one of her Focail calligraphy prints in A3 Size that says Codladh Samh (which means sleep well) to hang above our bed well before this interview and I love it. Three Little Birds are also on Facebook and Instagram and I cannot wait to add more pieces to decorate our home.