With a passion for design and a first class honours degree in Architecture from The University of Bath, I have 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 combined with bold graphics, both hand-drawn and vector based, that are clean and well considered and hold a sense of fun and energy.
I am drawn to bold, brave, simple and sophisticated design, and I like to express a quirky sense of fun and humour in my work.
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 + // So here I am in the present. As of 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 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 yoga and pilates to the mix too!
2. I have ginger hair and anything ginger flavoured is good by me. Rum and ginger beer? Yes please.
3. People often comment that they miss my laugh when I'm not there (I think I'll take that as a compliment!)
4. I love ice-cream and custard and full cream milk. I could drink bucket loads of the stuff! However, having recently (2019) embarked on a plant-based diet I have now discovered the wonders of homemade coconut cream ice-cream, frothy oat milk in coffee and delicious creamy cashews which in my opinion taste even better than the dairy varieties and have the added advantage of being better for my body and our lovely planet!
5. I read somewhere that maple syrup is a super food - I'm holding onto that one and nobody will convince me otherwise! Oh and I make a lot of pancakes, so these two kind of go hand in hand.
6. I could eat tomatoes all day long!
7 & 8. I am a bit of a TV Boxset addict and huge fan of shows like 'The Marvelous Mrs. Maisel', 'House', 'Community' and 'Mad Men' and I once made a skinny tie for my boyfriend. For those of you who have seen 'Mad Men' you will understand why after watching it my boyfriend thinks it is incredibly cool to smoke and drink all day, sleep with lots of women, wear steel grey suits and skinny ties. Well he doesn’t smoke, he drinks a bit, I won’t let him sleep with lots of women and a steel grey suit was above my budget, so skinny tie it was!
9. I am a big fan of a spa holiday! My favourite place being Bedruthan Hotel in Cornwall. With stunning sea viw rooms; endless chill-out spaces; amazing food; epic cocktails; yoga classes; tennis courts; unimited spa time; swimming pools; a sensory spa garden; and the beach a few minutes walk away, it's got it all! 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! 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! ;)
I am drawn to bold; brave; simple; sophisticated design and I like to express a quirky sense of fun and humour in my work.
Scroll down for more information on me and my story so far and feel free to browse through my portfolio to see what I've done.
I welcome freelance and licensing work and am always interested in new commissions and collaborations.
Thanks for clicking // Ruth
Hello and welcome to my site. I'm an illustrator, designer and maker with a love for colour, graphics, picture books and print; a red headed fashionista with a big laugh who is drawn to those who smile, enjoy life and love what they do. In life, above all, this is my aim!
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
'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
It's always lovely to be asked to be interviewed about my work and creative business. Click on the links below to read more...