Loch a Tuath News
I was thrilled to be part of the Loch a Tuath News' 'Artist in Residency' this March.
Eilidh was born and raised in Aird Tong (daughter of Alison Murray and Ian Jamieson) and, after three years in the making, is thrilled to be opening her new shop in Stornoway this month. She currently runs an online store, EJayDesign, which offers bespoke watercolour map illustrations, highlighted with hand-painted gold to represent meaningful locations to her clients. The prints can be finished with personal titles and dates, making them unique and enduring gifts
Inspired by her gapyear in the Australian desert nine years ago. Eilidh's art centres on the theme of home, which she aims to capture in every print
"While working as a barmaid, I stumbled upon a company that sold a leather journal which you could engrave your home country's map onto and finish with a heart on the area you come from. I needed it immediately, despite the high shipping costs to the desert, and soon had a journal of the Outer Hebrides with a heart over Stornoway, reminding me of home a purchase that was worth every penny."
When she returned to Scotland in 2014, Eilidh Eilidh attended Glasgow Clyde College to pressure a degree in Graphic design. Rather than going to university, she decided to continue her studies online and in 2018 got her first job as a Graphic Designer in Stornoway, which taught her about printing and design service.
'The next year. I found myself in Nice, France, working in a bar. One evening I wanted to paint but wasn't sure what, and then I recalled my journal from years prior and decided to paint the map of Lewis, with gold over of my home.'
She then created an Etsy store, without expecting much to come from it, but over time the sales started coming in. "My friend suggested that I quit my job at the bar, but I remained adamant in telling myself that the dream job I had in mind was nothing more than that - a dream.
As a result, I decided to continue working full time at the bar and managing my art on the side, something that became incredibly exhausting"
Finally, after a few months Eilidh quit her bar job and started to take her online art business more seriously. To her surprise. EJayDesign flourished, even throughout the pandemic, as more people turned to the internet to purchase gifts.
Discussing her art, Eilidh told us 'I've always been drawn to watercolour as I am fascinated with how unpredictable and beautiful the inks are. You can never know how each painting turns out. With my maps, I paint the same piece three or four times with each one turning out differently. I then merge them all together digitally to create that unique look. Once printed, acrylic gold is used for the personal touches."
A succession of commissions has made Eilidh's journey in the competitive art world a success. "The first 'big break' was being asked by Essence of Harris to sell her art in their store, which gave me a lot of confidence as I had no prior business experience. After that I got to feature my artwork in Lews Castle Cafe, which was immensely fun, and from there, more shops began to reach out."
Perhaps Eilidh's biggest break was when a company called Welbeck Publishing wanted to feature her Lewis Map as the cover of the novel Little Wing by Freya North for their Australia and New Zealand market (see this month's front cover), with over 10,000 books set to be printed. 'I initially thought it was a scam as it was such an amazing opportunity!' she told us..
Then it was on to her own exhibition in Edinburgh with fellow islander Donald Libby. It was quite daunting as there was so much work and money involved with no certainty of success. By the end of the exhibition. I managed to sell artwork that was completely different to my maps, which was a big achievement, and network with a lot of new people. Eilidh left Edinburgh with work in the Torrence Gallery and an upmarket interior design shop, so it was worth the effort.
A fun end to 2022 for Eilidh was the installation of a huge map on the walls of Sandwick Bay Candle shop (pictured above), with the Hebriden beaches set in gold. It is so big it can be seen from the traffic lights on South Beach when the door is open.
Eilidh's artwork is currently available in various locations in Lewis, such as Lews Castle, Essence of Harris Sandwick Bay Candles and An Lanntair. She also has stalls in Glasgow and Edinburgh for anyone missing home, and all over Skye. In March, the shop on North Beach will be open, where she will be selling coasters, glass worktop savers, clothing and tea towels as well as her fantastic prints.