Beautiful photograph by Harriet Clare
The meaning behind it all
My aim has always been to use my skill set for more than just making people smile, and over the past year I’ve been thinking about how I could push my work further in this direction. After much mulling, We Are Nature was born out of my frustrations around how our environment is seen as a separate entity, especially in the ‘developed’ (or in my view, over-developed) West. I want to share the way I see nature: as our protector, and life support machine. I want to emphasise and celebrate all that nature gives us, as humans, without it being construed as something that’s ‘over there’. I want to encourage people to love this gift, and perhaps then tread a little lighter. I want to show people the urgency that we need to give back as much, if not more, than we take. And I know I'm not alone in this thinking.
Call me semantically inclined, but I believe the often sub-conscious impact of words to be game-changing. I’m hoping my new set of artwork will help to (in its own, very small way) nudge the current cultural attitude of ‘we must look after nature’ to the much more relevant ‘we must reinstate our symbiotic relationship with nature’.
"What is forgotten in this mindset is nature’s absolute power over us. If we don’t look after, or rather respect this place we live it will over-ride us, no matter how much we puff out our chests or desire creature comforts."
While ‘we must look after nature’ is not at all wrong, it implies that we humans are a superior, all-knowing adult and Earth is a soft, helpless child that needs to be parented, when in fact it is the other way round! To add to that, what is forgotten in this mindset is nature’s absolute power over us. If we don’t look after, or rather respect this place we live it will over-ride us, no matter how much we puff out our chests or desire creature comforts. A scary thought, but one that needs to be addressed if we want to continue to have issues to passionately fight for (like an under-funded NHS) or lovely things in our lives (like children). Sorry to be blunt, but time is running out.
The dinosaurs will be turning in their graves. They had this world taken from them by something out of their control. Here we are doing it to ourselves! (And see how nature bounced back after a whopping meteor decimated 75% of Earth’s living species? For more about that, read this.)
In short, we’re not separate from or superior to nature. We are merely a small part of it. It will still be here after we’ve gone, so let’s try and stay here as long as we can.
I hate dishing out the gloomy stuff without also giving some actionable, positive ideas too, so:
- As many of you know, my other website We Are The Shift is full of small tweaks to fuel change.
- Switch up your thinking, so when you are buying something, ask yourself ‘Will this harm nature?’
- For a dash of hope, the latest environmental discussions and an airing of shared frustrations, tune into the wonderful Outrage + Optimism podcast.
- Donate. There are some incredible environmental charities out there. A few that I’d recommend are: Just One Tree, the Soil Association, Client Earth, Sea Change Project, The Marine Conservation Society, City to Sea and The Woodland Trust
And to finish this section, I'd like to share a quote from a book; The Future We Choose by Christiana Figueres and Tom Rivett-Carnac:
"So when, and if your mind tells you that you are just one person, too small to make a difference, so why bother, you can remind yourself that [positive social] tipping points are non-linear. We don’t know what is going to make the difference, but we know that in the end systems do shift and all the little actions add up to a new world. Every time you make an individual choice to be a responsible custodian of this beautiful Earth, you contribute to major transformations.”
Power to you, people.
Anyway, back to We Are Nature...
As you can imagine, it was pretty tricky do illustrate this all whilst making images that delight whilst carrying rather a large message - and sell, too! But I think I did ok. Here is how I made it all.
Introducing the designs
Don’t worry, this is the nice fluffy bit.
As usual, I started with lots of sketches of different biomes and landscapes, but this didn’t quite get the message across. So I went back to the drawing board and asked myself how people connect with nature in their own lives. I realised I could use images to emanate the feelings of celebration, satisfaction and joy they (we) get from these activities. This worked better!
The final set of 6 illustrations celebrate:
1. Wild swimming, 2. The sun, 3. Houseplants, 4. Forests, 5. The whole natural world, 6. Those that actively work to defend nature from people that damage it.
I will be launching a limited print run of all of these designs at some point, but first will come the usual stationery, homewares and gifts at various times throughout the next month or so. You’ll find them all plopping into the shop here.
Thanks for reading my rant and finding out more about my process, I'm happy you made it to the end! I’d love to hear which designs are your favourites, and what you think about the collection, so do leave a comment below. It’s always so good to have feedback and connect with my customers,