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Cover art: Amy Marples. Decades and drawings.

Words: Simon Paterson

Images: Amy Marples

Like many artists, Amy Marples is quiet, unassuming and not a fan of blowing her own trumpet! So, given her abundance of talent, I thought it best we do it for her. After following Amy’s Instagram page and being very impressed by her unique, instantly recognisable style we asked her to design us an S41 Christmas Card and were blown away by the result! It perfectly captured our historic and beloved town centre at the most wonderful time of the year, Christmas. We sent out the card to many of our friends, family and advertisers and the response was fantastic, with many of them taking a picture of it and posting it on social media. We wanted to know more about the local girl born and raised in Clowne, so we asked her to design our first front cover of the decade and interviewed her about her inspirations and ambitions.

What was the first drawing you can remember doing as a child?

I can’t remember exactly what it was. Fairies were always a very popular choice, but any sort of figures really. My sister and I both had dolls houses, and I’d draw any new characters for us to make stories with. I’d also make them different outfits and hairstyles that we could change them into, and then attach them on with Blu-tack. That must have been some of my earliest ‘art’ besides random scribbles!

How old were you when you realised you had a talent worth sharing?

There’s a lot of people I have to thank over the years for giving me the confidence to share my art and help me improve. I think it was in Junior school where I realised that I liked art, and that other people liked my drawing too. I always went to the afterschool art club, and we had a school Christmas card competition. I think I won that two or three times! Even now I still make homemade cards for my relatives.

If you were stranded on a dessert island and could only have one of your illustrations with you, which one would it be?

I’ve done a few drawings of my sister over the years, but recently I painted her in gouache. A lot of the time I have mixed feelings about my art, but I really like that painting. It’s A5, so it would be easy to take with me, and she’s always been extremely supportive of me. Maybe if I had that I’d feel like she was with me and it would give me some motivation!

Does art run in the family?

I’m probably the one most into drawing, but we’re all a very creative bunch and like the arts in one form or another. My mum studied art at college, and she was always very helpful with critiquing my work. She had the perfect balance of praise and criticism. My sister is also an excellent photographer.

I understand drawing isn’t your only talent and you have just graduated from University with a degree in creative writing (go you). Are you looking to combine writing and drawing? You could be the next Roald Dahl/Quentin Blake…rolled in to one!

I did an illustration to go with the very first poem I wrote for my MA called ‘Stars of The Night’, as I thought my blog would look better if I had some images to go with the text. But I do love the idea of combining my writing and art together. A while ago I tried to do a couple of characters, but I’d like to redraw those now. During my last year at university, I started getting into graphic novels, and I thought that maybe I’d like to try something like that in the future.

As we start a new decade, if you could live in any past decade, which one would you choose and why?

Maybe the 1960s? I love nostalgia for the past, but it’s hard to pick one when you start to think of all the downsides. But there was a lot of good things that started then too. I’m also quite a fan of pop art and psychedelia as I love bright colours, and a lot of the music I listen to seems to be from the 1960s. I blame my parents for that…

Aside from being an Artist, if you could do, or be anything else, what you be and why?

I can’t imagine not drawing or writing. For ages I was really sure about being a vet once I’d left school, but I changed my mind. I think really I’d have to say an author, since books and writing are some of my other passions. Hopefully that will come true one day!

What’s was it like growing up in Clowne in the 90’s? Has it changed much since you were a kid?

In some ways it almost seems like a different place, it feels so much bigger now. Sadly, it’s lost some of its highlights over the years. We were once known for our Christmas lights display which was incredible to me as a kid. It felt really magical seeing all of the houses completely covered in lights. Unfortunately, one year a lot of our neighbours suffered really badly from theft and vandalism, so nearly everyone stopped doing the lights. On a more positive note, there’s recently been some new additions, as a few local businesses have now opened up in some of the empty buildings.

If you could host a dinner party and invite three guests to join you, who would you invite and why?

Do they have to be living? If not, first choice would be John Lennon as he had many interests similar to mine, which I think would make good conversation. I’m a little bit obsessed with him! I’d also invite Grayson Perry as I’ve always admired his ability with different art forms. Finally, I’d like Angela Carter. She’s one of my favourite authors and I aspire to be as good as her. I think that would make a very interesting guest list!

What’s next for Amy Marples?

As much as I’ve loved being at university, I’m ready for doing something else now. I’m definitely up for trying to publish some of my writing, and getting onto the next steps with my art. I’m currently in the process of putting both onto a blog as it feels like my art and writing are still very separate things, and I’d love to bring them together. Hopefully, this decade will be the start of a new creative journey for me.


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