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Welcome from Bren; The Story of Ink & Brayer

Welcome from Bren; The Story of Ink & Brayer

Kia ora and welcome to Ink & Brayer! 


Bren Sutton - Ink & BrayerHi I'm Bren - a designer based in Auckland, New Zealand. It’s been a month since I launched Ink & Brayer, so this welcome is well overdue! But here I am finally, to introduce myself, and to share the story of how Ink & Brayer came to be. Thanks so much for joining me here.

Like so many people, my life turned upside down last year with COVID, but I had a double-whammy to contend with. Just weeks before the first COVID lockdown in New Zealand, my husband Mike was diagnosed with cancer and required major surgery. His odds were not good and he became extremely unwell, very quickly. At that time I was working as a product designer and illustrator for a large NZ souvenir company. The demand for souvenirs plummeted due to the borders closing, so although I was saddened about my job being under threat, the timing wasn’t all bad because I had to focus on my family and to help Mike get through the battle of his life.

Couple Bren and Mike together during Covid lockdown, just after Mike's cancer diagnosis
Image: Me and Mike early in lockdown, just before Mike's health took a downhill plunge. (Notice the dog soft-toy in the window -remember the cute ‘teddy bear in the window phase? How cool on those walks with the kids!)

Mike pulled through his most critical challenge – a liver resection. But his health was still uncertain , appointments were daily, and souvenirs were still not a thing. And Mike could no longer drive. So I needed to create a business that I could work on in flexible hours, sometimes from Mike’s bedside in hospital, and often in waiting rooms. Ink & Brayer was my solution. I set about building a website, but not having a clear vision of what it should be. It wasn’t until I attempted to summarise my creative personality in just a few words that it became clear to me. Print, Pattern, Passion!

I’ve always dreamed of having my own creative business. It was in my thoughts, but not in my plans. COVID made it a necessity, and I am grateful that something so exciting for me has come out of such a difficult time. 

Bren Sutton and Pippa Fay's illustartions mocked up on an apartment wall, along with the sun and plants the room looks like a very happy place

Ink & Brayer is a reflection of everything I love and all the passions and interests in my life. I genuinely love everything I choose for the store. The aesthetic is print and pattern based, with strong illustrative content. It all makes sense when you know my background and who I am as a person.

I was trained in traditional hand-drawn animation and worked for years with Walt Disney Australia. There I discovered a passion for the organic shapes and textures in nature through drawing special effects, and also learnt to see and appreciate strong geometric shapes in drawing. I fell in love at Disney too - with Mike - a fellow kiwi, and we came home together to NZ.

Mike and I started a family, and I worked in several different roles while our children were small, my favourite being surface pattern design. My passion for pattern and colour was ignited!

NZ artist Bren Sutton in her Auckland studio holding some of her illustrations and art prints

Pattern and textiles are now a part of who I am. Art and illustration always was. Printmaking is a new love but has always appealed - I’m particularly drawn to a Japanese aesthetic and I adore wood block and linocut art. Photography has become my almost daily mindfulness practice, mostly just with my iPhone. And so there you have Ink & Brayer - a curation of all my creative passions; but not just my art, because when I fall in love with something, when I get hit with that magical excitement and energy that comes from uplifting design and colour, I have to share it! I want you to feel joy too – to be energised and uplifted by beautiful pattern and colour. There is so much to share. I hope that I can create a space here that you will enjoy visiting – not just to shop, but to feel excited and inspired, a place that makes you want to create too.
I’m just getting started, there is so much to come; please join me on this journey and share your thoughts, your passions, your suggestions. Tell me who your favourite artists are, what makes you happy. I’d love to hear from you.

Have a great day,
Bren X

Oh, and btw, we received great news about Mike’s health last week. Things are looking up!

(AND, because I know you are wondering, a brayer is the roller a printmaker uses to roll out ink.) 

Image below: Me working on an illustration in my home studio, early in my surface pattern design career

Artist Bren Sutton working on an illustration

Image: My vibrant pinboard in the years when I first fell in love with pattern and colour

The vibrant pinboard in Bren's studio when she first fell in love with pattern and colour

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