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 creative conversations

INTRODUCING

TIFFANY FRANCIS-BAKER

Tiffany is a nature writer and illustrator from Petersfield in Hampshire. She has written six books, and also makes and sells seasonal gifts from her online shop, including notecards, wellness boxes and essay collections. 

We love Tiffany's multidisciplinary approach to freelance work, and how her personal connection to nature shines through everything she does. The way that Tiffany observes and records her outdoor adventures through writing and illustration demonstrates the power of nature on creative imagination. We think she is an amazing example of how to follow your passions whether you feel academically qualified in all areas, or not!

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BACKGROUND

I grew up in Petersfield and nature was a huge part of my childhood. I was fortunate enough to spend most weekends at my grandparents’ house in an ancient woodland, so every Sunday my sisters and I would play in the woods and make swings and mud pies. I also went to a rural primary school which was a real privilege, and my mum has always shared her love of wildlife with me. We used to go blackberry picking and listen to the dawn chorus together at Queen Elizabeth Country Park. She is now very passionate about hedgehog conservation!

 

 

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Woodland Essays - Tiffany Francis-Baker

QUESTION ONE

Your term ‘creative conservationist’ really resonates with us and I’m sure with a lot of people that share similar passions. How did you come up with it? 

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Bluebell Notebook - Tiffany Francis-Baker

I’ve had such a positive response to the term ‘creative conservation’ since I’ve started talking about it! I think it comes from the internal conflict that comes from having to choose your career at such an early age. I can’t believe we have to decide our university subjects at 17 - I had no idea what I was doing then! Luckily I just picked my favourite subject, which was English, and I absolutely loved it, but then when I became more involved in the conservation movement, I realised I felt a bit useless compared to the amazing scientists and ecologists working on the frontline of conservation. It took a while to come to terms with, but over time I realised that, actually, creativity has a huge role to play. We can’t invite people to care about nature if they don’t have an emotional connection to it, and that is where storytelling, illustration, writing and all other art forms come in. I now feel really empowered as a creative person to play my part in such an important cause, and it’s been wonderful connecting with other creatives who feel the same!

QUESTION TWO

How do you record ideas while out in nature for your books? Can you offer any tips for anyone interested in nature writing?

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Dark Skies - Tiffany Francis-Baker

I don’t actually tend to record much while I’m out because I prefer to allow myself to just be in the moment and take everything in. My inspiration for that comes from the poet Wordsworth, who wrote that he experienced poetry as ‘the spontaneous overflow of powerful feelings…recollected in tranquility.’ If any good little nuggets pop into my head, I usually write them down in my iPhone notes (very unpoetic!) and sift through them later. I think it’s wonderful that people connect creatively with nature in such different ways - I think the most important thing is to be true to your own style and don’t get too bogged down with what other people are doing. There is room for every voice in nature writing, and it’s far more interesting when you write authentically and reflect on your own experiences. 

QUESTION THREE

What‘s your favourite season and why? How does being in nature make you feel?

My favourite season is autumn - so much so that it’s my daughter’s middle name! I love being cosy, and I love shifting into a season of reflection and hibernation while still finding colour and vibrancy in the landscape. Being in nature makes me feel very peaceful and grounded, and I feel like the more I embrace the rhythm of the year and the seasonal cycles, the happier and less stressed I become, and the better I can cope with the natural turbulence of life. 

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Wild Wellness Box - Tiffany Francis-Baker

QUESTION FOUR

How do you find a balance between creativity, work, motherhood and being outside? Is there a difference for you between spending time in nature recreationally and for work purposes?

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Woodland Essays - Tiffany Francis-Baker

It’s definitely been a real learning curve adapting to freelance life with a baby, although I would say it’s definitely been a positive experience! For one thing, I now value my time so much more because firstly, I have less of it spare, and secondly, any time away from Olive needs to be really worth it. I’ve found motherhood and creativity really fuel each other, particularly as motherhood is such an animalistic experience and it’s definitely connected me to my more primitive side. From a creative point of view, and in terms of running my business, I’ve also found it incredibly empowering to work around my daughter, as I love having the freedom to earn a living and care for her at the same time. I also love the idea that she can watch me running a small business and nurturing my creativity so she knows there are no limits to what a woman can do. 

 

As for spending time outdoors, I don’t really differentiate between work and leisure, unless I’m going somewhere specific for a commission or particular project. I don’t tend to go anywhere too crazy on a day-to-day basis - just a dog walk with my two dogs and the baby in our local area! I love living in the South Downs and I get most of my creative ideas while I’m out walking the same paths every week. 

QUESTION FIVE

How do you cope with imposter syndrome, particularly as a woman in the nature writing industry? on now?

Oh, imposter syndrome has plagued me forever! Just as I know it does for so many people. I’m fascinated by it really because it seems so much more prevalent with creatives and freelancers, but it’s such a silly thing and I’ve spent a long time trying to work around it. I think it’s always good to have some level of self-doubt because it gives you self awareness and stops you getting too sure of yourself, but generally I find it has faded with time and I hope it continues to do so. And again, since having Olive I have definitely noticed I am less affected by imposter syndrome because I’ve found motherhood so empowering and it’s put a lot of things into perspective, like not caring what people think as much! 

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Sunflower Notebook - Tiffany Francis-Baker

QUESTION 6

We really love your authenticity and how you want to talk about what you do and how you do it. It’s refreshing to see a successful creative that’s willing to share their experiences to help others learn! What advice would you give to someone who’s torn between art and writing?

Thank you! I get quite a few emails and messages asking for advice and I’ve always loved sharing what I’ve learnt along the way. One of the things I love about the creative arts is that there is always room for more voices - I’ve never been a competitive person and I think it’s much better to help people out and put good energy into the universe, rather than trying to hoard good contacts and advice. I would say to anyone who has a creative passion (or two, or three!) and isn’t sure where to go with them, definitely don’t box yourself in. Explore everything you’re interested in and, if you want to do art and writing, you can absolutely do it. You just have to find a way of making it work if you want to make it a career, which is one of the reasons I started my illustrated essays. They were a bit of a one-off idea I thought I’d trial in the shop, and they are now my most popular product! For a long time I was torn between choosing art or writing, and when at last I realised I could just do both, it was very liberating.

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Halcyon Days  - Tiffany Francis-Baker

AND FINALLY...

Where can we find you? 

You can find me at www.tiffanyfrancisbaker.com or on Instagram at @tiffany.francis.

Here's a great video from the South Downs National Park featuring Tiffany discussing her most recent book, Dark Skies. We absolutely love her work and hope that you enjoy reading and listening to her thoughts as much as we do here at Wild City. 

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A NOTE FROM US HERE AT WILD CITY 

Thank you to Tiffany for sharing her answers with us, we've been so excited to share her work with you all! Support and follow her on social media, read her books and buy a

Wild Wellness Box to brighten someones day!

 

We search for people that demonstrate a significant connection to nature in their work and lifestyle. Here at Wild City, we believe that nature and creativity should be accessible to all ages, all backgrounds and all communities. All professionals featured are chosen to inspire and uplift urban communities worldwide, raising awareness and encouraging others to reconnect with their imagination through nature.  Get in contact if you want to contribute!

This part of our business is not for profit – we do it for free because we care and are interested to hear what people have to say. However, feel free to share on your social media or even buy us a coffee if you enjoyed reading and want to support us in future!