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Carlie Allan

Artist at Buck & Bear

Based in Cambridgeshire

Media/Press images:

Please email for a link to a We Transfer download

Recent work, clients & features:

Featured on BBC1 Interior Design Masters. Featured on Channel 5 Dream Home Makeovers with Sophie Robinson. As seen in John Lewis.


I was commissioned to create a piece for Channel 4 interior design George Clarks Old House New Home, and have worked on the offices for the Channel 4 show Steph's Packed Lunch.

One of my favourite clients has been Samantha Faiers, (The Mummy Diaries).

About Buck & Bear gold leaf glass gilding

A Bit About Me

What first got you into sign writing and glass gilding? 

I was following someone on Instagram creating gold leaf signs and i just fell in love with the process. I went down to Portsmouth for three days and learnt to gild with Richard at Watergild Studios, he’s a fantastic teacher and really taught me in depth about glass gold leaf gilding.

What is gilding exactly?

Reverse glass gilding is also known as verre eglomise, which is now on the endangered crafts list, it's an old technique historically used in shop windows by sign writers. I use only the best 23ct superior gold leaf, you can get a lot of cheaper imitation leaf around lately but I would always advise to steer clear of that!


So, are you a full time artist?

I’ve been a Graphic Designer for over 13 years, i was fortunate enough to have a lot of time away from that in 2020 to really experiment with being creative. I played around with a few gold leaf signs here and there and wasn’t really finding my groove, then really put my mind to creating something new and fresh and it all kind of took off from there! I was very lucky when i was able to drop down my job to just two days a week, giving me much more time to focus on creating the art that i love.


What do you love the most about having such creative job? 

I’ve always been creative, even as a kid, so when i got into a Graphic Design job after uni it was great, until i realised you don’t always get the creative freedom you crave at a ‘desk job’, i felt like i was loosing all creativity, so when started painting and gilding it felt so good. Now i get to be so creative every day and play with new materials as much as i like.


Whats new in the world of Buck & Bear?

I recently featured on BBC1 Interior Design Masters, gilding a copper wall and signpainting a mirror and some signage for 21 Soho, it was an amazing experience! Back in 2020 i did an amazing artist collaboration with Hannah Rose Illustrations (look her up on Instagram, she’s amazing), she hugely inspired me to have a play with alcohol inks. So going forward i will be releasing more one-off pieces made with gold and alcohol inks, with my usual Buck & Bear style and hand painted wording on the back of the glass. I’ve also started making limited edition print runs of some of my popular designs as posters.


Where do you most get your inspiration from? 

I spend a lot of time on Instagram, there’s such an amazing artist community on the platform, i’m inspired by everything i see on there. I am hugely inspired every day by Sophie Tea, she is honestly just everything i aspire to be, she’s really taken the art world by storm and is so refreshingly honest and you end up being so invested in her as a person and as a brand.


When did you sell your first piece and what did that feel like?

I sold my first piece in April 2020, and in the eight months that followed that i then sold over 100 gold leaf signs. I honestly couldn’t believe it. I recently learnt what ‘imposter syndrome’ means and i totally relate to it, the feeling of not really feeling good enough, and it’s always the same when you get commissioned to create something, i get this feeling of ‘why do they think i’m good enough to make this’. I don’t really know if any artist ends up truly believing they are good at what they do!


How do you price your artwork?

I really want to take art back to basics, where people appreciate what goes into creating something bespoke. We are in a world where everyone has a Cricut, a printer, Canva etc. It’s started to devalue art, no one wants to pay for something done properly, they want cheap and quick. I show a lot of behind the scenes process on Instagram, so clients can understand what it is they are paying for.


I use thick, quality glass, I use 23ct gold not imitation leaf. Gilding is a historical process and it’s not easy, it takes time to learn it. Each sign takes weeks to create, from designing a digital mock up for the client, to getting the glass made at bespoke sizes, hand painting onto the back of the glass, gilding, then framing, it’s a long process. My signs are priced between around £200-£775, and to be honest, that’s pretty low pricing for the industry. I give my clients the option to pay a £75 deposit and then the balance is only due before the sign is posted out.


What advice do you have for others who are looking to start something on their own?

Just start it. It’s so scary, overwhelming and exhausting. But, worth it. I dreamt about having something of my own for so many years, and after the sudden loss of a friend just as i was turning 30 (Bertie Buck - the reason i then named my business Buck & Bear), i decided i couldn’t spend my life sitting at someone else’s desk. It was time.

The first year after i set up my business i focused on wedding stationery, with a hint of gilding, i was so confused, everyone kept saying ‘find your niche market’, and you know what, it took me about a year to figure out what that even meant and how to even start thinking about doing that.

No one ever sets out an easy plan of how you should start a business, there was a to of time in my first year where i stumbled around blindly not knowing what the hell i was doing, i spent a lot of time, a lot of money and a lot of energy trying to understand the basics and finding my place.

Eventually, in my second year of business, i found my feet. I found my platform (Instagram), i found my audience, i grew. And here i am just less than five years after i started, and i am now in the exact place that i dreamt about for so long. If you never start, you’ll never get to where you want to be.


How do you find running a business on Instagram?

Instagram has allowed me to connect with my audience, no longer do you need to go to an art gallery and buy a faceless piece of art, Instagram is all about making relationships. I absolutely love being a part of that community, i chat to people on there every day, most of my work comes through people finding me on Instagram and sending me a message. It’s much more personal than formal emails, i love getting to know the person i’m creating a sign for.



Follow Carlie at Buck & Bear on Instagram to see all the techniques and behind the scenes videos @buck_and_bear_design

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