ABOUT DESIGNED BY HMA
Hello, my name is Hayley Margaret Arthur, aka hma ☺
I am a watercolour animal artist, born, raised and still living in Shropshire. I live in a little village called Baschurch, where I live with my partner, Adam, and our two fur babies (rabbits), Maggii and Mimmy.
At the end of 2016, I was feeling a bit fed up with the thought of being stuck in my 9-5 job (until I’m allowed to retire) and I thought to myself, ‘I don’t want to do this forever’ – I’m sure many of you have had this exact same thought. I have never really known what I would like to do but I do know I have always had a love for art, design and animals! I didn’t know at that point I’d end up creating my own little business, I just knew I wanted to spend my free time doing something I love… even if it was just a hobby.
In January 2017, I was looking through my art supplies (which were getting a bit dusty) and came across an old watercolour paint set, with no idea where it came from, and having never used watercolours before, I picked one of my favourite animals, the platypus, and I ‘had a go’ at painting it. The only thing I could think was, ‘why haven’t I been doing this always?’
Inspired by other artists and the success of my first watercolour animal painting, I experimented more and more, discovering a love of bright, bold and unrealistic colours. With each painting I was teaching myself different techniques that worked best for me, some were ‘failures’ and some were ‘successes’, but all were beneficial. I started to add in my signature white dots, colourful paint splats and eventually I later decided to incorporate black biro. All of these elements combined together have created a ‘formula’ that I use as standard for each painting now, bright colours, paint splats, white dots (and highlights), finished with a biro outline and squiggles!
In terms of my chosen subject to paint, animals, I do not think there is an animal I do not like (ok, maybe spiders), however I do have a soft spot for the ‘underrated’ animals. If people do not like it, or it is underappreciated, I tend to love it. I am the kind of person who purposefully wants the runt of the litter, so to speak but also literally. Some of my favourites are, platypus (as mentioned above), wombat, anteater, aardvark, rock hyrax (fun fact, its closest living relative is the elephant, if you happen to look them up, this is unbelievable), capybara, tapir, porcupine, raccoon, narwhal etc.
Side note: I am on a personal mission to paint EVERY animal, so if you think of an animal I have not painted yet (especially the unusual ones), let me know and I will add it to my ‘to paint list’.
From here, I started creating more animal watercolour paintings in all my free time and I began to share them on Facebook and Instagram. To my surprise, other people actually liked them too! Encouraged by the general public’s positive response, I decided to have a few cheeky prints made from my original artwork, made them available to buy on Etsy and people actually started to buy them! I even started getting requests for commissions - (see ‘commissions’ page if you would like one for yourself).
Designed by hma was born!
With this as my foundation, I branched out a little and started to look into having other products made (besides prints) and I now have various cards, cushions, mousepads, notebooks, coasters & tea towels with my artwork printed onto them. You will see that many are available to buy here on my website.
Stock at the ready, I attended my first ever stall, West Felton Carnival, in July 2017. It was a huge success and I now try to attend stalls on a regular basis. This is something I love doing for one main reason, whether it be the event organisers, the other stallholders or the general public, everyone is always so frickin’ lovely! Any stallholder will know, you have great days and you have bad days but I can honestly say, come rain or shine, sales or no sales, the people make it all worthwhile. If I have not met you already, I hope to at a future event, check out my ‘events’ page and come meet myself and the team.
Speaking of the team, it would be impossible to be building this small business or attending stalls without them. If you ever come to meet us at a future event, you will definitely see me with at least one of the following…
Firstly, I mentioned him above, my partner Adam. This guy helps me with pretty much everything but the actual painting. He spends evenings with me mounting prints, packing cards, printing labels, doing stock takes etc. and then he uses all his free weekends to help me come to the stalls, loading the car ready to go, parking the car even though it’s miles away, packing the car back up to go home etc. We both work full time, therefore I have so much appreciation for everything he does for me and that he does not mind helping me with my venture. In between all this hard graft, Adam can be found eating produce from all the other stands, pretty sure he is keeping them in business! Haha.
Then there is my wonderful auntie, Jane. She is my number one ‘employee’; you will mainly find her chatting to customers and having a laugh with them. On top of that, you may even see her busting out some of her classic dance moves to the various music they play at these events! She is always so organised, she helps me set up the stall displays and she always has a cheese sandwich and snacks for us in her bag to keep us fuelled throughout the day. If you have been lucky enough to be our neighbour stallholder, she may have even assisted you with setting up your stall, she is just an absolute hero and these events would not be half as good without her.
Finally, my sister, Sarah. This girl is all about the business cards! Whenever she is able to attend an event, she will hand them out like there is no tomorrow. I am pretty sure this action generates all the enquiries I get following an event, she lays the groundwork for future commissions and it also boosts my following on Facebook and Instagram… a true marketing pro! She also brings the petroleum jelly and glitter to make us look sparkly for our customers! You will mainly find us wondering around the other stalls, taking part in the event activities or taking sister selfies together.
The conclusion, my family loves me, so they help me for free haha ☺ I do buy the cakes, ice creams, hot chocolates etc. though, I’m not all take, take, take! I appreciate them all, more than I could ever express.
To summarise the above essay, I am an animal watercolour artist based in Shropshire, with a passion for bright, unrealistic colours and I have a soft spot for unusual animals. I have produced various items using my original artwork that are available to buy online and at stalls, I take on animal commissions and I have the best family who help and support me no matter what. And that is designed by hma.
Thank you to every single person that has supported me, is supporting me, will support me. Every friend, family member, customer etc. I just cannot thank you all enough for giving me the opportunity to turn my passion into a small business. Long may it last and continue to grow with your ongoing love and support.
Love from hmaSHOP NOW