When did you start your business and why?

I started off my business at the end of 2017, after I left my career in psychology.

My path was quite different - I trained as a psychologist and was working in academic and therapeutic interventions. Thinking back, I have always been a creative person, but I never really drew anything.

I was always doing or making something creative and it seemed like I was drawn to creative projects. I then became interested in modern calligraphy, which is actually how the whole thing started.

After a while, I started to pursue more creative ventures such as sketching and painting. I then decided I would make some of my own prints. It was a hobby at first. However, I felt a creative pull inside me to try to make this into a career.

It was nothing to do with my previous career, as it was extremely fulfilling and interesting. I just wanted to do something else to allow myself to slow down a bit. I’d kind of say it was kind of like following an inner call.

Changing careers was definitely a big shift for me. I still think about my career in psychology and I am certain that I would have never gotten where I am today without all of that experience.

It didn’t start overnight either, it took a lot of time and experimentation to get my designs to where they are today.

Can you explain your creative process?

Throughout my life, I have had a love for children’s books which never left. This love is something which holds a great significance over the work I create.

A lot of people say they are very influenced by their surroundings and by nature and I finally understand this after moving to a more rural location.

I usually start off things with a sketch or pencil drawing and then everything will be worked up with ink and water colour.

I discovered the world of digital art, which was a new world and meant I was able to take my work to the next level.

An illustration by Deborah Maguire.

It took a while to learn, but when I saw what it had to offer in terms of my ability to produce things at a quicker rate and in a more environmentally friendly way, I fell in love with it.

I now work mostly on screen with my iPad. I have a digital pencil, digital water colour brush and even a digital ink brush.

Although I now work digitally, my goal is to keep a traditional pencil and ink look. I then pair with an Irish printing company to print my own cards or illustrations.

These past few years, my focus has been on children’s book illustration and, thankfully, working digitally has allowed me to do this. At the moment, I’m working with three different authors, so the digital aspect allows me to do this.

What is your biggest achievement?

Self-publishing my own book last May would for sure be my biggest achievement to date. The book is called The Girl and the Dog and is something I worked on for over two years.

Deborah's book, The Girl and the Dog.

I spent the time collecting words on a notes app on my phone before I sat down and decided to write it properly.

The illustrations are a kind of passion project that came initially from a place of grief to identify life’s small moments.

The book is aimed at both adults and children. I wanted it to be a coffee table-type book where you can pick up on any page and read.

There was a lot of going back and forward in my mind before I decided on the conversations I wanted to portray. Each page is a different conversation between a girl and her dog that are meaningful in their own way.

What is it about your business that brings you joy?

Creation in general brings me joy. When you are creative, you start off with a blank template. Then you begin to carve out little moments of creativity.

I love to see things to come to life as I begin to work on small details. I find that when I begin to get lost in the process, I feel a sense of calm that I can’t find anywhere else.

Another side of my business which I enjoy would definitely be my card packs that I sell on my web shop.

Illustration cards by Deborah Maguire.

I love to see the different cards people choose, it just feels very personal. It’s a huge honour. I never take it for granted that people actually choose the things I have created.

What advice would you give to someone interested in pursuing an artistic career?

The first thing would definitely be to take time to produce something which feels authentic to you and try not to listen to any outside voices or influences. For me, it took quite some time to realise myself what I actually wanted to draw.

The other thing I would say is to be kind to yourself. While I love the creative side of my job, the business side can be hard.

Also, know when it's ok to take a break. You can feel very vulnerable when you begin putting your work out there, so kindness definitely goes a long way.

It took me quite some time to find what my style is, but others might say it was apparent from the start. So please be kind to yourself and your own creative abilities.

Deborah’s work can be found at threelittlebirds.ie.

Read more

Meet the Maker: Bianca Divito

Editorial: Irish lamb producers are raising the bar