A long time in development, this range has been tons of fun to work on and I’m very proud of the results.
The reaction from my lovely, loyal customers has been tremendous too - in fact, we almost sold out of many items in less than a week. My famously fussy wee brother has even requested one of the Big Bottle t-shirts for his Christmas - a very positive sign!
I thought I’d share with you a little of the story behind the range…
Here at Gillian Kyle, we are all about celebrating Scotland - its what we do. Scottish icons come in all shapes and sizes, from shaggy Highland coos, to Charles Rennie Mackintosh, to the Scottish engineering masterpiece that is the Forth Bridge.
A very important part of that Scottish story are the iconic companies and brands which call Scotland home. And, right at the top of that tree are Tunnock’s (of Teacake and Caramel Wafer fame) and (of course) Barr’s IRN-BRU.
In fact, these 2 fantastic and international Scottish brands were pretty much the reason I began Gillian Kyle, nearly 10 years ago.
I’d just graduated art-school and, not really knowing what to do with myself next, I decided just to get drawing.
Popping down to the local corner shop, I bought some everyday Scottish groceries to create a modern, Scottish still life; Scott’s Porage Oats (yes, that’s how it’s spelt), a loaf of Mother’s Pride plain bread, a bottle of IRN-BRU and a packet of Tunnock’s Tea Cakes.
I developed my drawings into 2 design ranges; Tunnock’s Teacake (a big, bold drawing of one of these wee choc-mallow beauties) and Scottish Breakfast (a tongue-in-cheek homage to the Scottish diet).
Printing them onto some tea towels and tote bags, I hit the seasonal craft markets - HARD. People loved the designs and the brand that exists today has grown from that point. Thank you, Tunnock’s and Barr’s!
Lets Get Official
The Tunnock’s range grew arms and legs, and before long I had an official license in place with Thomas Tunnock Limited.
And perhaps more excitingly, a personal tour of the Tunnock’s factory with Boyd Tunnock CBE, himself; our very own Scottish Willy Wonka.I also had a license in place with AG Barr for my Scottish Breakfast design, which featured an IRN-BRU can alongside the porridge, Mothers Pride, Wham Bar and ‘healthy’ Scotch pie. Breakfast of Champions, I’m sure you’ll agree.
The Time is Now
Cut to 8 years and many, many customer requests for an extended IRN-BRU gift range later. The time was right, and more importantly, Barr’s were supportive; we began to talk about working on an officially licensed range of IRN-BRU gifts.We felt it was important to keep my signature hand-drawn, vintage vibe, but also create something new and different to what I’d done before. It also had to mirror the fun and character of the IRN-BRU brand.
The beautifully moulded glass bottle that I’d grown up with would be the starting point - because, as we all know, IRN-BRU tastes WAY better out of a glass bottle.
But I needed an angle. Hmmm.
Pop is the Answer
I’m a massive fan of pop art and Andy Warhol in particular. I remember being blown away the first time I saw his work in the flesh at the Tate Modern in London. The colour, the irreverent humour, the boldness and simplicity.
I’d heard murmurings about some upcoming Warhol exhibitions at the National Galleries of Scotland and the Whitney Museum of Americal Art and it gave me the inkling of an idea. And so, after lots and lots of development work, our official IRN-BRU POP! gift range was born.
A bright, bold and colourful range of diverse products from mugs and coasters to suitcases - with plenty of gents t-shirts thrown-in for good measure (because a man can never have too many tees, right?)
With designs ranging from the crazily colourful and bold, to a more subtle palette of tonal greys, there’s something for IRN-BRU (and pop art) fans of all persuasions. Our IRN-BRU gift range has been a real pleasure to develop and I’m already itching to get back to the drawing board to add more designs; I’d particularly love to add some ladies’ tees.
IRN-BRU POP!, the perfect cure for the Christmas present headache.
Till next time,
PS I'd LOVE to share my newest art, contemporary Scottish designs and Scottish Stories with you as they are released. Join our mailing list here for regular doses of all things Scottish!