I am a illustrator, designer and maker with a love for colour, graphics, picture books and print. I run Ruth Thorp Studio from my home in Bath where I create a range of illustrated cards and prints alongside the books that are published and created in collaboration with Raw Mixture.
My work is inspired by the natural world, incredible landscapes and a sense of adventure. I am drawn to clear, sophisticated design and bold graphics, using colour, texture and minimalist layouts to create pieces that make people smile.
The art of storytelling through both words and pictures fascinates me and I love that people can attach their own stories and experiences to the work I have created. I love to hear my work has brightened someone’s day and added a bit of beauty to the world.
With a degree in Architecture from The University of Bath, I worked for 10 years in an international Landscape Architecture practice before forming Ruth Thorp Studio in 2013.
I work full time as a freelance illustrator, creating and selling illustrated collections. I also take on commissions and collaborations and have had my work published in magazines and journals including Breathe; Ernest Journal; Simple Things; Severine; Halo Lit; Barefoot Diaries; and Unpsychology Magazine.
I have written and illustrated a number of picture books and have designed and illustrated a growing selection of books in collaboration with Raw Mixture Publishing including ‘Soul Manifestos & Pieces of Joy’, ‘Soul Meditations’, 'Blue Marble' and 'Lifesongs' all written by Steve Thorp. I also illustrated 'Surviving the Tsunami of Grief' written by Katrina Taee and Wendelien McNicoll.
It's always lovely to be asked to be interviewed about my work and creative business. Click on the links below to read more...
JUST A CARD
THESE TWO HANDS
THE BOOK SNIFFER
'The illustrations are beautiful, stylish, and expertly done. They’re clean and simple [...] yet complex enough that you immediately see Thorp has a trained and professional eye for design.' The Picture Book Review
Qualifications and training
2004-2008 // BSc First Class Honours Degree in Architecture from The University of Bath
2006-2016 // Architectural Designer and Illustrator for Grant Associates Landscape Architects
2012-2013 // The Art and Business of Surface Pattern Design modules 1-3
2013-Present // Founder of Ruth Thorp Studio
With a passion for design and a first class honours degree in Architecture from The University of Bath, I founded Ruth Thorp Studio as a base for all of my current and future creative ventures, in particular offering my services in illustration and graphic design.
I love exploring new ideas, learning new skills, drawing inspiration from my surroundings and embracing new ways of looking at things. When starting new projects, I embrace the freedom and unpredictability of putting pen to paper and feel the unknown is actually quite liberating, as it helps me explore ideas I could never predict. This is the foundation of creativity and it is a lovely thing to be immersed in.
My ethos of design parallels my belief that a life should be built on happiness and a sense of pride and worth which can touch others in a positive light. Ultimately, I feel that design across different disciplines should focus on people, meeting the needs of the user and creating products that inspire, function efficiently and can be enjoyed. I hope that this shows through in my illustration and design work which often places a strong focus on complex colours and textures combined with bold graphics, both hand-drawn and vector based, that are well considered and hold a sense of fun and energy.
The journey so far has been exciting, challenging and varied. My creative soul has been embedded and encouraged within me from day one...so here is a little background on my story so far...
1986 - 2004 // Having been lucky enough to have always been surrounded by design and as such appreciate the pleasure and delight that good design can provide, I spent much of my childhood creating and making things. By immersing myself in inspiring environments I discovered an important part of my design process. Colour, light, space and texture have always had a huge effect on me and provided a catalyst for my creativity. I have two older sisters, the younger of the two being 4 years older than me. To her delight, when I was born I became her human play thing! With an incredible imagination, she would spend hours making up stories and games for us to play and I am proud to say that we had one of the most amazing dressing up boxes a child could ask for, along with 3 boxes of lego and an awesome dolls house which would keep us occupied for days at a time!
Growing up through school, my favourite lessons were always the creative subjects, although I have also always had a keen analytical mind for problem solving and science, so pretty much all of school was a joy for me and since then I have never wanted to stop learning. Of course the best bit about choosing to learn as an adult is that there are no exams or grades which is fine by me! Free to explore only the things I find interesting and leave the rest to someone else.
I took A'Levels in Human Biology, English Literature and a double AVCE in Art and Design, which basically meant that I could indulge in having 2 hours of Art and Design every day. Some of the best times I've had were in my art lessons at school where I was free to immerse myself in experimenting with different media and forms.
2004 - 2008 // From school I went on to study Architecture at the University of Bath and loved my four years spent there. By developing and expanding on both design, technical skills and judgment, whilst learning a range of computer software including Photoshop, Illustrator, InDesign, SketchUp and AutoCAD, my degree has served me well with my chosen path of illustration and graphic design.
2008 - 2013 // On leaving University, I realised that although I love architecture, it is not the career for me and have since then been exploring new creative disciplines for my chosen path. My first attempt at 'Ruth Thorp Studio' was actually in the form of a couture bridal dressmaking business. Desperate to get back to some hands on creativity other than Architecture, I decided to learn how to sew. It had always been a dream of mine, but before University I had never had the patience required for dressmaking. However, now with a clear head, I set out into the wonderful world of couture. Although primarily self taught, I began by attending a college evening course and then attended some more short advanced dressmaking courses and workshops including those taken at the 'Alison Victoria School of Sewing'. I soon realised that I could apply my architecture training to develop skills in pattern drafting, dressmaking and design to produce sophisticated, elegant and beautiful garments made to a high standard. From there I set upon forming 'Ruth Thorp Studio' offering a couture design and dressmaking service. After a while, however, I became frustrated and lost; in my gut I knew that this was not the right path. And so my mum sent me a link to the 'Art and Business of Surface Pattern Design' course on Beth Nicholls' 'do what you love' blog, I signed up and I haven't looked back since.
2013 - 2016 // Having completed the ASPD course in 2013, I formed my current 'Ruth Thorp Studio' business focusing on surface pattern design and illustration. I split my time between working in a busy Landscape Architect's office in the centre of Bath and my own Ruth Thorp Studio work producing a product line of illustrations selling them as cards and paper products online, in shops and local markets. Alongside this, I designed branding, created websites, produced illustration work for a craft magazine, designed book cover artwork for a fiction and non-fiction title as well as the internal illustrations for 'Soul manifestos and Pieces of Joy' and my most proud creations to date; had three rhyming picture books published. The first book ‘The Squawks’ was published by Raw Mixture in April 2014, the second 'Lilly Mae' is a collaborative project with my sister Sarah which was published in February 2015 and my most recent book 'Squiggle Bee' was published in November 2015. Following the success of the books, my work was chosen to be used as the front cover artwork for a literary magazine called Severine and I illustrated the entire third issue of Unpsychology magazine including cover design for the main magazine and digital poetry supplement and a series of internal illustrations which responded to specific written pieces, poetry and quotes.
2016 + // In August 2016 I left my sensible salary paying job to have a go at becoming a full time freelancer. Taking the leap into the unknown was scary, but extremely exciting and it's been an incredible adventure so far with so may new experiences and opportunities opening up and I'm pleased to say that with the help and support of so many wonderful people around me, my little business is now flourishing and I'm having the time of my life!
10 things that make me me!
1. I live with my partner and best friend in all the world, Luke in our beautiful townhouse flat that we spent 3 dusty years completely designing, renovating and transforming into our happy place!
2. I have an ever growing collection of house plants which I have become a bit obsessed with and which are slowly taking over the flat. I love spending days propagating, potting up and trying to grow new plants and have been caught talking to them on occasion too!
3. I love to dance and sing and spent my childhood performing in dancing shows and theatre productions in and out of school. I now attend any dance classes I can and enjoy adding tennis, yoga, pilates, strength classes, body combat and the occasional swim into the mix too!
4. I have ginger hair and anything ginger flavoured is good by me.
5. People often comment that they miss my laugh when I'm not there (I think I'll take that as a compliment!)
6. I've eaten a mostly plant-based and vegan diet since 2019 which was a much easier switch than I thought it would be (and I'm a very lazy cook!) and I love that not only is it good for my body but that it is helping our lovely planet too. Oh and I could eat tomatoes all day long!
7. For the last couple of years I have embarked on a lifelong dream of learning to play the piano and love the fact that I can lose myself in music as a form of meditation.
8. I am a TV addict and huge fan of shows like The Marvellous Mrs. Maisel; Grey's Anatomy; Mad Men; Space Force; 'Community; The Morning Show; Ted Lasso; Green Planet.... the list goes on!
9. I am a big fan of a spa holiday, especially one with a great sea view, good food and exercise classes thrown in. It's the ultimate way to unwind and relax and the only time I fully switch off from my work!
10. I love to dance on the beach and let it all go and there's nothing better than jumping in for a sea swim! Newgale beach in Pembrokeshire is one of my favourite places in the world and I'm pleased to say that although I didn't grow up there, I can now call it home as my parents live there now. Not a bad way to live sharing my time between Bath and Pembrokeshire! ;)