Cartoonist Alison Everitt draws on experience
PUBLISHED: 11:53 27 May 2014 | UPDATED: 11:53 27 May 2014
Sassy would of course never reveal her true age, but an educated guess would put her mid-30s. She's confident, curvy, leggy, but the sort of person you could have a real belly-laugh with too.
Her blowsy hair waves over expressive eyes, and she would surely rather die, darling, than be seen in flats or without makeup. She’s often to be seen surrounded by overflowing shopping bags, kicking off her heels and wondering whether it’s ‘gin o’clock’ yet, or giggling: “A drop of wine never hurt anyone . . . must be why a whole bottle makes you feel a whole lot better!”
One would never dare draw any comparison between Sassy and her creator, the Suffolk cartoonist, illustrator and author, Alison Everitt. But there’s clearly a connection, a directness, a sense of fun, an energy that both share. “I love her,” says Alison, looking fondly at the array of Sassy greetings cards on the table. “She likes fizz, she likes nice clothes, she likes having fun.”
She’s also popular, stocked by the likes of John Lewis and WHSmith as well as plenty of independent retailers.
Alison’s other ranges are her true loves, however. “With Sassy, my publisher, Paperlink, feeds me the lines and I come up with the image. The other two ranges [‘Rewards’ and ‘You can never have too many…”] are entirely my creation and now that Splimple [greetings cards publisher] are distributing them, they’ll reach a wider audience which is exciting!”
‘Rewards…’ features feet relaxing socked, shod – maybe in flip flops, golf shoes, hiking boots – or bare. “If you don’t have a face in the picture the card is ageless so will appeal to a wider audience. Feet have become my brand!”
Detail is key in all Alison’s meticulously hand-drawn work. “I love to feel the pen on paper – I can’t be doing with all this computer jiggery-pokery. And I love drawing detailed things on shelves in the background; not sure why! But I’m paying the price for hunching over intricate work – thank goodness I’ve got a good chiropractor!”
Alison is keen to take on more private commissions. “I still insist the picture is of feet rather than a face, but I capture the recipient’s personality through background detail.” She waves a wallet crammed with pictures sent by a client – items of clothing, favourite books, food and drink, the TV they watch, the view from their window. “From that very personal information I can create a unique ‘portrait’.”
So how did she come to be sitting here, radio humming and surrounded by the paraphernalia of a busy artist, in a sunny room overlooking her pretty Monks Eleigh garden? Studies at Camberwell Art School led to work as an illustrator, cartoonist and writer of six fun books that showcase her cartoonist skills and dry wit. It was while promoting these that she made media contacts that led to her presenting and appearing on lots of shows such as the BBC’s Clothes Show and Radio 4’s Loose Ends during the 1990s.
When the media work ended it took nothing more than a few art classes for Alison to revive a skill that is now channelled into her business, Everitt Originals. “I get very cross when people suggest that what I do is a hobby. It’s not. It’s my job, it’s how I make my living.”
She’s been running the business for the past three years from the cottage she shares with her husband, Robert who works in TV, and cat Poppy. “I love it here, but I’d go mad if I stayed at home all day, so I spend a lot of time in coffee shops which are great places to people-watch, get ideas. I spend quite a bit of time in London too – I love places with a buzz – but I’m always happy to get home.”
She also teaches a weekly art class upstairs at the Secret Garden restaurant in Sudbury, and is a regular at Lavenham farmers’ market. “I love meeting customers and getting instant feedback. Thankfully, it tends to be positive!”
See Alison’s work at www.everittoriginals.co.uk and www.splimple.com.