How Artist Annabelle Golden Used Lockdown to Pursue a Full-Time Career in Graphic Design

Here at Bed Threads, we love celebrating new and upcoming artists whose work inspires and brings delight — and graphic designer and illustrator Annabelle Golden, is no exception.

At only 22-years-old, the New York-based creative behind Graphics and Grain, has managed to make a name for herself, gaining a strong 36.5k (and counting) Instagram following from sharing her work on social media. Her success all happened in the space of a year in lockdown when she was looking for ways to fill her time at home with creative hobbies. After dabbling into digital art, Golden soon realised that was where her true passion lay, so she decided to share her inspirational artworks on Instagram and turn her new-found hobby into a full-time gig.

Now, we've had the pleasure of collaborating with the Golden girl, to bring you a collection of her illustrated artworks that exude nothing but warmth and joy.

Here, she shares how she managed to turn her hobby into a full-time job, where she draws inspiration from, gives advice for anyone interested in pursuing a creative career and explains the process behind her exclusive Bed Threads collection.

You can shop Annabelle Golden's collection here.

Hi Annabelle! When did you start illustrating and creating graphics?

I started creating and sharing my art in April of 2020. I had just graduated from college in December of 2019 and was feeling very unsure of what I wanted to do with my life and career. At the beginning of the pandemic when we all found ourselves with lots of time on our hands, I began to experiment with a few different hobbies and creative outlets, one of which being digital art — it wasn't long before I fell in love with the process.

I began sharing my work every day on Instagram as a way to motivate myself to continue creating and hopefully develop a community of artists and creatives to connect with and be inspired by. Since then, I’ve developed the most lovely community online, and turned art into my full-time gig.

What inspired you to go down this route with your career?

I've always been a creative person and have always wanted my work to tap into that creativity in some way or another, but I was unsure how to do this. I also really value flexibility in terms of my work-life balance, which is something that working for myself and working freelance has really enabled me to take control of. Once I started growing on Instagram, attracting more clients, and becoming more confident and developed in my artistic style and voice, I felt really inspired and determined to continue working at creating art on a full-time basis.

Congratulations on your Bed Threads collection! Can you talk us through your creative process for this? Where did you draw inspiration from?

If you’ve stumbled across my Instagram page, you can probably glean that I gather a lot of inspiration from nature, particularly mountains. I’m constantly inspired by places I’ve travelled to and places I want to see in the future. For my collection with Bed Threads, I wanted to capture the feelings of dreamy mountain locations that make you want to get outside and spend some time in the sun. In this collection, you’ll find so many golden suns and green and golden mountain ranges, which always make me feel ready for the next adventure.

What are the most important features in a piece of artwork for you?

I am a big sucker for colours; it's usually earth tones, but really anything pastel and muted that makes me feel a sense of calm and at peace. In a lot of my work, I’ll often include multiple colourways of the same piece because they all make me feel something a bit different.

What has been the most memorable part of your career to date?

This is such a tough question! In my relatively short career, I feel like I’ve been so lucky to work on some amazing projects and connect with so many inspiring and creative people.

If I had to land on one moment that is the most memorable, it would probably be painting my first (and so far, only) mural. It was an amazing and serendipitous collaborative project at an adorable Airbnb called The Inn Between run by a really wonderful couple, Leah and Jake. My partner and I road-tripped from New York to Texas and stayed at their colourful Airbnb for about a week while I painted a mountain mural in one of the tiny homes on their property. Everything about the experience was so unique and special, and Leah and Jake were so kind and welcoming.

This collaboration with Bed Threads is pretty special, too.

What has been the most challenging part of your career to date?

It's definitely striking a healthy work-life balance. When you work for yourself and when you run a creative business, it’s far too easy to become so wrapped up in your work. My brain is always on, and I’m constantly thinking about my business and often have to stop myself from answering an email at 1am. I’m always thinking about more things I could be doing whether that’s content for my own Instagram, working on projects for clients or thinking about ideas for products for my own shop.

I’ve definitely put some intention behind trying to slow my stream of thoughts and limit my working time to the typical work hours, but I still often fall short of that goal.

Do you have a single piece of advice you’d give to your younger self or someone looking to pursue a career in graphic design and illustration?

To my younger self, it sounds cliche but literally to stop worrying so much. What will happen will happen, and while you can control some things, there’s a lot you can’t. The time I spent worrying consumed so much of my mental energy for so long (and still does) that I wish I could just tell my younger self that for the most part, things will work out. You’re going to be so proud of where you are in a few years, so try to just relax and enjoy everything a bit more.

For someone looking for a career in a design-related field —create as much as you can and try out as many fields, areas and mediums of art and design as you can! There are so many types of art and design out there and they all have so much diversity within them. I never want to put myself in a box in terms of the type of art I can create and I'm constantly wanting to branch out into new areas of design, but it gets a little challenging to try new things as you get busier with work and other projects. I definitely wish that as I was starting out, I allowed myself to experiment more with different types of design before I got too deep into one style or one program. I’m working on this myself and am actively trying to step out of my artistic comfort zone more and more.

Do you have advice for someone looking to start their own print collection for their home?

Start with one piece and build around it. I’m such a fan of cluttered gallery walls — in my room in college, I had a big wall filled with so many little art prints, film photos, coasters, concert tickets and many other things, all loosely arranged together. Even though it was just a random assortment of art, photos and memories from my life, as I built the wall out more and more, it all came together and looked like one big cohesive gallery wall.

Now in my current bedroom, I have the same thing going on but with so many art prints from artists I follow and admire (and of course with some photos thrown in, too). I think it’s really wonderful how all the different art styles and pieces I have can somehow form a cohesive “vibe” for lack of a better word, even when the pieces themselves are all so different.

So, I guess my advice would be to not worry as much about whether the pieces you want are going to go together, and instead focus on acquiring pieces that speak to you and what you want to communicate to others or feel when you look at your art. As you grow your collection I can almost guarantee they will start to fit together in some way or another.

For more from Annabelle, follow her on Instagram @graphicsandgrain and shop her Bed Threads collection here.

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