Interview with Beeillustrates: Rosy cheeks, authenticity & Edinburgh art scene

Bee Anderson, aka Beeillustrates, is a 20-year-old illustrator from Devon.

She’s a full-time student in Edinburgh, working as a waitress in between her drawing and her lectures.

Her art is bold, colourful and speaks to a diverse young generation.

With a current Instagram following of just over 7K, Bee has gone from drawing for herself in her bedroom to drawing for a vast, diverse and growing audience who love her work.

We caught up with Bee to talk about how she made her hobby into an exciting side hustle…

Bee Anderson

RH: Tell me about yourself and how you first got into illustrating

BA: I never really did art when I was younger, it was something I started when I was older as a hobby. I ended up getting really ill and dropping out of college, where I was doing scientific subjects. So I started drawing and I really enjoyed it. Then I just carried on and procrastinated enough that it turned into a business.

RH: What was the process of turning your hobby into a business?

BA: Honestly, I was just doing it for enjoyment. I was living in Edinburgh on my own for summer last year and I was doing it more and more as a hobby and started posting a little bit of it online and then it just kicked off all of sudden. It was really unexpected. 

RH: How do you balance everything?

BA: I don’t really balance it well, that’s definitely not one of my strengths. At the moment I do about 35 hours a week at a normal job, then I go to uni all the time and I also have my illustration business. So balancing is something I’m working on because it’s a lot. I’m one of those people who doesn’t like saying no to things so I do everything I can. As my illustration business does better I might just get rid of my waitress job all together.

“At the moment I do about 35 hours a week at a normal job, then I go to uni all the time and I also my illustration business.”

Title: Maneater

RH: What kind of tips or advice would you give people trying to make a side hustle into something more?

BA: Just to be consistent, authentic and transparent. I think your audience can always tell if you’re trying to put on a front or be someone else. And then usual stuff like hashtagging to get more exposure. But I think primarily, being authentic. That’s the biggest advice I can give.

RH: What makes your work authentic?

BA: It’s since I’ve recognised what I’m weak at and made it a trademark of my style. You already have your weaknesses so why not turn them into something that actually marks you out.

RH: What weaknesses have you turned into artistic quirks?

BA: When I was younger I had sticky out ears and really rosy cheeks. You know what kids are like, they said really horrible things. But now, every person I draw has sticky out ears and rosy cheeks. It’s my style and it’s quite satisfying when I think of all those bullies at school.

“You already have your weaknesses so why not turn them into something that actually marks you out.”

Title: Brunei

RH: Which illustrators influence your style?

BA: There’s so many people I love. I don’t know if I take my style from anyone. @hellomynameiswednesday – Wednesday is fabulous, they do loads of activism art, I recommend that anyone follow them. Laura Callaghan illustrations are brilliant too. I accidentally walked past her exhibition in London, I had no idea it was on. I saw it on social media afterwards and was like ‘noooo’. I love the colours both these illustrators use, and I’d love to do more intricate pieces like them, but I just don’t have the time at the moment. That’s going to be my next project over summer, to do a massive illustration because I love the details.

RH: Do you find art is a big relief from day to day stresses?

BA: Absolutely. Art is so therapeutic.

RH: Tell me about Edinburgh and the art scene there

BA: I’m from Devon originally but Edinburgh is where a lot of my family is from so it’s nice to be back here studying. In terms of art, Edinburgh is pretty good. There’s a whole hub for art at the university, there’s lots going on. What everyone’s told is to go to London to pursue art but in Edinburgh and Glasgow School of Art there’s the beginnings of a movement to make it outside of just London. You don’t have to be in London to do well in the creative industry. I definitely try to contribute to that but I think it still needs a lot of work, trying to make everywhere accessible for creative opportunity.ou don’t have to be in London to do well in the creative industry.”

“You don’t have to be in London to do well in the creative industry.”

RH: What would you say to struggling artists, inside and outside London, who are questioning whether to stick with their art?

BA: I would say absolutely go not give up. Keep doing it. Whatever your weaknesses are, just keep working at them. Do what I did and make them what marks you. Take a break, come back to it. You’re not a machine, you can’t always be producing amazing stuff first time. Sometimes you need to take a step back and do something else for a bit.

Title: Girls in Love Poster

RH: What is the vision for your art going into the future?

BA: That’s a really hard question. I guess to keep doing it, I haven’t ruled anything out, I just enjoy doing it for now. I’d love to do it full-time when I leave uni but for now I’m just enjoying it as it comes. I’ve been really surprised with how well it’s going at the moment but hopefully it keeps going up!

RH: Finally, where do you get inspiration for all your individual pieces?

BA: Mostly anger. [Laughs]. I have a whole list of notes on my phone of things that are pissing me off and I’ve decided I need to use them for something. I read a lot of news, but it’s things that make me either angry or put me in the mood to draw. The caption always comes after. I never know what I’m going to caption things when I’m drawing it.

Title: Never

You can follow Bee @beeillustrates on Instagram to follow her work.

You can also buy Bee’s prints here:

Currently, Ruby is retraining to become a journalist. She is an avid follower of British politics, writes poetry on her commute and is a firm believer in open debate. Her particular interests are attending and reviewing art exhibitions and analysing current affairs.


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