THERE is an art to business branding, and as such businesses are now more than ever looking to artists and designers to summarise their ethos in imagery.

One such collaboration is a blossoming illustration partnership between iconic Yorkshire brand Bettys and York artist Emily Sutton.

The 34-year-old illustrator caught the eye of the Harrogate-based café and bakery business with her classical drawings inspired by mid-century design.

Initially commissioned to illustrate a book for Bettys, Emily has gone on to produce designs for the packaging of some of the brand’s most popular products, and this Christmas she worked her magic to create a family of festive critters that not only featured on window displays across the Bettys network of tea rooms, but appeared in the company’s first ever Christmas television advert.

“The first project was a book called Who Was Betty,” explains Emily, “which was a collation of lots of stories surrounding this mythical woman Betty, and I did the illustrations to go with them.

“They had found my work online and discovered I was a local artist.

“Bettys is a very classic brand, so they wanted something design wise that reflected that. They had been looking at mid-century illustrations, and that is something that I’m really inspired by.”

That was around 2011, at a time when Emily’s work mainly focussed on exhibitions. She had yet to partner with a brand.

“I was really excited when Betty’s got in touch. Growing up in York I was very aware how big they are, and how much of a feature of Yorkshire they are. It felt like a real honour to be asked to work with them.

“Shortly after Who Was Betty, the team got back in touch to ask I would work on some designs for a new caddy for their café tea blend.

“That was the first big design project I had ever worked on, and the first big project with Bettys,” recalls Emily, who has since gone on to design another tea caddy for Fortnum & Mason, as well as creating the packaging imagery for luxury ready meal brand Charlie Bigham’s.

Alex Meek is one of the Bettys in-house design team and has worked with Emily on a number of different Bettys projects over the years. “We love her charming, hand-drawn style and the craft in her illustrations,” said Alex, “they speak perfectly to the artisan skills we value at Bettys.

“Emily is attracted to detail – the kind of detail that requires a brush with a single hair. And if you look at one of the Bettys biscuit tins which feature Emily’s artwork, you can see exactly what that means: you’ll see that each ear of corn is picked out individually, the grains on the wooden floorboards are drawn in perfect single strokes, a spoonful of sugar is depicted as hundreds of tiny dots.

“Likewise her illustration for Bettys iconic Tea Room Blend tea caddy is filled with little details that customers will recognise from the within branches.

“This Christmas she created a whole enchanted forest for us, in which she brought our new range of festive chocolate animals to life. We were so thrilled with the characters she helped to create that we based our first every TV ad on her illustrations.”

Through their partnership with Emily, Bettys has gone on to use her designs on several caddies and tins as well as the packing for the herbal tea range, and boxes for their hand-crafted chocolate collections.

“I have developed a way of working that works well for Bettys,” said Emily. “I definitely have a certain style that I use for their projects.

“I like to look at old packaging from the early to mid 20th century as well as Victorian designs and lettering.

“With Christmas in particular, which always has a nostalgic feel, its really important to look back. “There was definitely a golden age of Christmas design and it’s great to pull ideas from that.

Emily has also worked on illustrating literature, in particular children’s books, taking commissions for publishing houses including Walker Books, Bloomsbury, Penguin and Random House. She has created visuals for characters penned by Paddington Bear author Michael Bond to accompany his book The Tale of the Castle Mice, and right now she is working on the sequel, written by Michael before his death.