Sweet dreams are made of tartan

We have a new series launching today, which we're pretty excited about. Before we get to it, we realise that we may never have explained how any of our series came about. We thought now might be the time to change that, so we're going to let Stewart explain how he came up with this new series.

My Indy Prints work is often a celebration of Scotland's culture. I've created pieces that focus on Scots sayings, stories and myths, among other things. However, I've not really looked at the people who can be said to have helped define our culture, those people who have become Scottish icons in our time.

I first began a series of portraits of these famous daughters and sons on rainy days at the West End art fair last summer. I was pleased with how these turned out, yet the portraits were just a bit too simple, lacking in a certain special something, and so I shelved them to have a wee think.

Forward to a few weeks ago, when I got it into my head to draw some tartans. Now I've grown fond of tartan and wear kilts as much as I can, but I don't quite know what possessed me to try draw some. After some trial and error, I finally figuring out how to actually recreate the patterns, when I remembered the portraits I began last year. Pretty much just like that I realised what I needed to do: iconic Scottish faces on Scotland's iconic fabric. It seemed so obvious, once I'd thought of it!

After making a list of important Scottish cultural icons and asking the lovely people of the Twitters who they liked best, I sat down and drew more portraits to make a series of sixteen and, along with them, sixteen different tartans.

For each icon, I chose a specific tartan. Where possible, it's the family tartan of their surname. In other cases it's from their mother's maiden name. When that didn't link to a registered tartan, I followed Scottish clan septs – basically the subdivisions and associations that make up the clan tartan structure, which includes most family names in Scotland. Eventually I found a tartan for each portrait. Since many clans have several tartan variants, I've chosen the ancient and weathered ones, for their warmer and subdued tones.

That, then, is how our new series of sixteen Scottish icons on sixteen Scottish fabrics, came about. We like to think of it as a vibrant celebration of Scotland's cultures. We hope you like it.

Explore the full series here.

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