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Rollerdog

March 30, 2020

Hi there and I hope this finds you all well, I picture you snuggled down with a cuppa ready to be visually entertained lol. Well I hope not to disappoint with the vibrant and fun artist I have in store for you today.

I’ve been following Helen Foster’s company Rollerdog for quite a while now. Helen is an Illustrator and Designer, living in Derbyshire. She is also on Instagram as rollerdogdesign. As you can probably tell, Helen, like myself, has a penchant for lovely (and often lanky) longdogs! Here’s a couple of her initial drawings.

I messaged Helen to ask her more about her company.

How did you first become interested in the Lurcher, Greyhound, Whippety dogs that you illustrate?

I’ve always been enchanted by the gentle elegance of these dogs with their supremely long snouts, and their affectionate, sweet nature really appeals to me. I had a whippet called Speedy and sort of shared our neighbour’s beautiful greyhound, Talent, who I had a deep bond with. I also love it that despite their noble appearance, they often have hilarious, tangled sleeping positions and some extremely goofy facial expressions.

I noticed that you had been inspired by some great pics of other hounds from Instagram, which helped create some of your wonderful designs. Do you have any plans to branch out into more products using antics from pet profiles online as your inspiration? Perhaps it could be a competition for a new tea towel design lol

 

That’s a lovely idea! I’ve run a few competitions in the past and invited folks to upload their hound photos and I was overwhelmed with the funny and touching responses. And yes, I’ve been so inspired by my Instagram feed: I love the ‘pile of whippets’ photos of @cosmicpearlwhippet, and those of your very own Boo of course! I really enjoy making a cup of tea and scrolling through the beautiful photos and incredible artwork that’s being made all over the world. 

Talking of Instagram, I’ve found happiness in the ‘creative hub’ experience of getting to know fellow creatives. As an example, a creative ‘visual conversation’ started after I made drawings based on some of @cosmicpearlshippet’s beautiful whippety flower crown photos. Jane then recreated her original photo, complete with flower crown and a handmade collar to match the collar I’d worked into my drawing, as you can see in these photos:

What is your training or business-life prior to Rollerdog Design?

I became a freelance illustrator after leaving uni in the late nineties, and carried out commissions for some wonderful and diverse clients, including educational publishing houses, charities and public sector organisations. One memorable project was to design the children’s range of packaging for Hotel Chocolat, for which I was part-paid in Turkish delight! (Don’t worry Association of Illustrators, I was paid properly in actual money too).

I love the fact that you donate to the Forever Hounds Trust. Did you choose this worth-while Charity for a specific reason?


It started with a phone call from Naomi from the charity, who’d seen my work online, and we hit it off. Afterwards I looked at the gorgeous hounds on their website and I’ve never looked back. They have a fabulous team of volunteers who rescue abused or abandoned greyhounds, lurchers and other sighthounds from all over the country.

I believe the business is more than 2 years old, is this a full-time venture for you or something that’s still developing and growing?

Answering this question reminded me that Rollerdog turned 3 in January this year, and I completely forgot to celebrate! Yes, it’s a full time venture which continues to grow. It still feels new and I don’t get bored – there are always new products to try my designs out on (some more successful than others…let’s try to forget the unfortunate saggy socks experiment of January 2020).

Cushions, Tote Bags, Cards, Coasters, Aprons, Magnets, Tea Towels and Keyrings… what’s next for Rollerdog Design?

I often get asked about producing art prints and have recently found a fab print house that produces beautiful quality prints onto a range of art papers, so I’d like to offer this as an option in my shop. I’d also like to look further into getting my work licensed so that I can spend more time making new designs (although retail that can be great fun, and not meaning to lay it on too thick but I’ve truly never had a mean customer. I receive the most touching feedback, sometimes with very sweet photos – and quite often with the hound interacting with their new Rollerdog goody in the cutest ways, as you can see in these photos, the first one giving new meaning to the term ‘doggy-bag’ !

I’m loving the new cards and would like to see more of a range of those that you can purchase separately or together with the gift selection you presently offer. Also a few more male centered doggy designs for us dog loving males too : )


I’ve been talking with my printing chap (@artistgiftprinting) who produces the cards and we’re hoping to start offering just the cards on their own in the months to come. I’m also planning to bring some other animals into the mix, such as one of my favourite mammals of all time, the beautiful but endangered pangolin. I’m also a great fan of the beautifully dinosaurial rhea and seeing a hare in the wild always gives me a jolt of happiness – and they need our help too due to the cruel sport of hare coursing.

Any other dog related businesses or Illustrators work that you follow and admire?

So many. One of my favourite artists who also happens to love sighthounds is Whyn Lewis (@whynlewispaintings). I admire the characterful drawings of J. Otto Seibold (@jottoseibold) and Marc Boutavant (@chienpourriii) and Helen Dardik (@helen_dardik) produces the most gorgeous, fun patterns and paintings. Not dog-related I know but as a lifelong Moomin lover I find the work of the wonderfully wise and funny Tove Jansson endlessly inspiring. The list could go on and on.

Many thanks Helen for your informative, amusing replies. I get a sense that you match your chirpy characters very well ; )  I recently bought four beautiful coasters which I admire everytime I make a cuppa, which as were all in home isolation right now.. is quite often these days lol. How fab are these ? You can purchase anything from Rollerdog’s great range of gifts here and tell Helen I sent you : ).

Stay Safe everyone, I’m thinking of you all.

8 Comments leave one →
  1. March 30, 2020 9:11 am

    Morning Craig, What a lovely post, I’m not a dog person at all but these ones put a really big amused smile on my face this morning. Thanks for introducing Helen.
    All the best, with kind thoughts Clare

    • March 30, 2020 4:11 pm

      Thank you Clare, great to hear we nearly converted you lol so if you could have a real dog that looked like one of Helen’s , would you be tempted 😀

  2. Tony Hannaford permalink
    March 30, 2020 1:57 pm

    Thanks for this lovely life-enhancing post. Beautiful and joyful work. What a happy person Helen must be!
    Keep up the good work – its great to see your posts.
    Best,

    Tony.

    • March 30, 2020 4:12 pm

      Thank you Tony, lovely to read your feedback too. Take care Craig

  3. Elaine permalink
    April 1, 2020 12:46 pm

    Hi Craig, Thank you for this lovely post. I sat down with my cup of tea, listening to The Cure (I needed a blast!) and voila, long dogs! I’m in heaven! You might remember from previous posts I am the Lurcher lady, I now have 8 rescued Lurchers added two last year and another two this year, all with extremely sad stories to tell. Loving Helen’s work and can see some future purchases in mind. What an uplifting post, lovely colourful work. Big thank you, was so needed in this time of gloom, stay well and a paw waves to Boo! Elaine

    • April 1, 2020 3:15 pm

      Wow Elaine, 8 rescued lurchers that’s pretty amazing , well done to you, can we have a group picture please if that’s possible? So glad you liked Helen’s work it is fun and uplifting isn’t it. I’ve got some ceramic furry friends coming out soon which I’ll post on the blog. I hope your crowd are behaving well and keeping you amused, if not full time busy ! All the very best, Craig

      • Elaine Wrightson permalink
        April 3, 2020 8:10 pm

        Hi Craig, I have managed to get a ‘group’ photo whilst they were all sun bathing in the garden today, getting one with them all stood up being sensible, well I don’t think that is possible! Best Wishes Elaine

      • April 3, 2020 8:55 pm

        Fab news Elaine and if you’d like to send me a copy craig@fishink.co.uk that would be great. Cheers Craig

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