Embroidery Extraordinaire: The Alumna Stitching Her Way to Success


A BCU Alumna who went viral thanks to her first ever aerial embroidery is celebrating huge success in her exciting and creative career.

Taylor Brooker, who graduated with a BA (Hons) in Visual Communication – Illustration in 2016, always planned to go freelance with her art, but it wasn’t until she created her first aerial embroidery hoop as a wedding gift for a friend which went viral on Twitter, where she finally found the courage to make the leap.

She said: “Before I went freelance, I worked as a Social Media Executive and Illustrator for a book publishing company for a year, before working as a Graphic Designer for five years.

"I knew that I always wanted to go freelance with my art in some way. In August 2021, I did my first ever aerial embroidery as a wedding gift for a friend, which went viral on Twitter with 160k likes.

“I got the idea when I was trying to think of a good wedding gift. I knew I wanted to make something for them, but a painting of the church didn’t seem like the best option. When I was on Google Maps looking at the area, I realised how nice it looked from above, so I started thinking about how I could portray that in a way that wasn’t with paint. I’d already been looking at some embroideries on Pinterest, so the two ideas just seemed to combine.

Langshot Manor and Vineyard in France

“After sharing photos of it on social media, I had a lot of people ask if I’d do them as commissions, so I gave it a few months, then decided to make the leap.

“It was scary because I had no idea if it was sustainable or if it would just fail, but I didn’t see the harm in giving it a go, even for a couple of months at first. I knew that the first year was bound to be unsteady, but I was passionate enough about it to give it my best shot.

“On average, it takes around seven days to work on a single hoop, but they have been known to take around 16 days if they’re more complicated. I’m mostly asked to do wedding venues, childhood homes, parents’ homes, and farms. My most unusual ones to date were one of a Chateau and vineyard in France, and one of the Uffington White Horse.

“I love hearing people’s stories behind their special locations and getting feedback afterwards, especially when it’s been given as a gift to a loved one. But I also love the process of working on the embroideries as it’s so therapeutic, especially during summer when I can sit outside.

“I think the embroidery hoops are special because you can immediately tell what it is, even though in some ways it’s quite abstract. I also love that it’s something you can hold in your hands and look at from different angles. You almost feel like a bird flying over the landscape!

“In addition to a couple of commissions, I’m currently working on a very detailed personal embroidery of Warwick Castle.”

Cropredy Canal and California Beach

As well as aerial landscape embroideries, Taylor also offers watercolour landscapes and buildings, as well as realistic pencil portraits.

Taylor said: “I’ve been doing pencil portrait commissions for about 12 years, and I’ve worked on some special ones during that time.

“I’ve been commissioned to draw people’s children, pets, their loved ones who’ve passed on, or old houses that have special meaning.

“In watercolour, I am mostly asked to paint wedding venues, landscapes, and homes.”

Taylor chose to study at BCU as she’d heard good things from fellow illustration graduates. After excelling on the course, success soon came her way thanks to being chosen to participate in the New Designers exhibition.

She said: “I had a great experience at BCU. I loved getting to spend time with other people who loved illustration as much as me and being in a building surrounded by other creatives is exciting and gives you inspiration!

“BCU also gave me great opportunities, such as the chance to submit greetings card designs for Hallmark cards. I ended up winning one of three two-week placements at their headquarters in Leeds, which was an amazing experience.

“I was also chosen to participate in the New Designers exhibition in London, where Sony found my work and reached out to me for an internship, as well as the card company Thortful, who I still create designs for today.

“The tutors on my course also helped me work on my children’s book illustration skills and encouraged me to go down that route. After graduating, I got a job with a book publishing company, where one of my roles was to illustrate the books. I also illustrated a series of six children’s books for the author, G.R. Dix, which was a great experience, and helped me build up my confidence talking to clients.”

But going freelance can be incredibly challenging, as Taylor has discovered.

She said: “The most challenging part so far has been getting work. As a one-person show, I have to strike a balance between working, advertising myself, and correspondence, which can be tricky.

“So far, I have been able to rely on social media for commissions, but with algorithms being so unpredictable, there are weeks when I don’t get any new work and must work extra hard to promote myself, meaning I have less time to create.

“But, despite the challenges, my proudest achievement since graduating is going freelance. I’d been eager to do it over the past seven years, but never felt quite ready to go for it, so I’m proud of myself for getting to this point.”

Taylor now has big plans for the future, and top advice for current BCU students too.

She said: “In the future, I’d love to become really successful with my commissions and hold exhibitions, but whatever happens, my biggest goal is to just keep enjoying making art.

“My advice for current students is to not stress too much about the future and your long-term goals. If you don’t know what to do when you graduate, it’s fine to go with the flow. One really good idea is to build a portfolio that you’re proud of, and if you need to, set yourself some imaginary projects that you can work on and include those in your portfolio.”

Find out more about Taylor here
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