Resources

Interview: Tori Gray, Harbour Lane

 

CAN YOU TELL US ABOUT YOURSELF AND YOUR CREATIVE BACKGROUND?

I’m Tori, an illustrator and printmaker who last summer made the crazy decision to quit her full time job and open her own gallery/ studio. I’ve always been creative and anyone that knows me knows what a grump I get in if I’ve not been up to my elbows in ink for any length of time. After getting my advanced higher in Art and Design at school (with a really weird flower painting made of bubble wrap- I was experimenting!!) I went onto college to get a general art diploma and then an HND in Illustration. Deciding that three years of further study wasn’t enough and I could do with another few years of avoiding the real world, I went on to do a degree in Illustration at Duncan of Jordanstone in Dundee. I struggled a bit at uni as I wasn’t quite sure where I fitted in, in terms of style and techniques but after discovering bookbinding and the printing department I managed to pull a first class honours out the bag! Unfortunately, what I didn’t anticipate was that a First didn’t actually mean a paid job in the creative industries so I freelanced for a while and got sucked into working in retail. Hating my job and being seriously grumpy (lack of inky elbows, you see) I quit in the summer of 2016 and opened Harbour Lane in the November!

 

CAN YOU GIVE US AN INSIGHT INTO YOUR PRACTICE AND WHAT YOU DO?

My dream was always to have a creative space that I could make AND sell work from. I always thought it was going to be a dream until my pushy boyfriend and incredibly supportive parents gave me the confidence to ‘at least give it a go’. So Harbour Lane Studio was born. It’s a fairly small space that I have managed to cram a whole lot into. The open plan layout allows me to have my studio, complete with printing press, 2 digital printers, 4 desks, 33 art books and endless amounts of paper squashed into one quarter and the rest is a gallery shop. The gallery space hosts work by artists based in Scotland, producing handmade and limited edition pieces and is constantly changing with new work and displays. It’s amazing how much talent I have managed to squeeze into one wee room. Did I mention that after opening hours, I also shimmy all the furniture around and hold printing classes?!

 

ANY EXCITING PROJECTS OR EVENTS YOU HAVE ON THE HORIZON?

I have met so many talented creative people in the last few months. I love being able to reach out to people who I admire and help support them in their craft. It’s no secret that this is a tricky industry to be in and the fact that I am building this wee network of young, creative, Scottish people is something that even my crazy ‘bubble-wrap flower painting self’ could not have imagined! I feed on everyone’s enthusiasm and I have never felt more inspired and motivated so as a result, I am teaming up with a few of the artists to either hold workshops or collaborate on new projects. I want Harbour Lane to be known as a creative hub where artists can sell their work as well as talk about their craft and even teach it! There is just so much potential. I am in talks with all sorts of amazing people right now trying to organise classes and workshops so keep an eye out on my Facebook!

 

WHAT MAKES EDINBURGH A GOOD CITY TO BE BASED?

It’s hard not to be biased. I was born here and went to school here and now I have opened my business here. Edinburgh will always have a place in my heart, even if it wasn’t the beautiful, cultured, busy city that it is. I think my favourite thing is that even though it’s a big city, the capital of the country, it doesn’t feel big. It’s not scary and intimidating like London can be, it’s friendly and homely. It’s full of people that just want to help and support each other. I am proud to be part of that.

 

WHAT ADVICE WOULD YOU GIVE TO PEOPLE THINKING OF PURSUING A CAREER IN THE CREATIVE INDUSTRIES? 

It’s cliché and incredibly unoriginal of me but my advice would be to never, never, NEVER give up. It’s not easy but if it was, then everybody would be doing it. You have to be made of tough stuff and willing to adapt but if you really want it then you’ll find a way to make it work. Also, don’t be afraid to ask. Harbour Lane wouldn’t have happened if I hadn’t kept asking around until I got the answer I was after. Things don’t always work out first time but don’t let that put you off. What’s that saying? ‘Nothing worth doing is ever easy’? Darn tootin’!

 

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