On a drizzly Yorkshire evening, Neil was researching interesting spots to go for a little hike. He became increasingly interested in places which had a story to tell. Where can I walk where a giant once walked? What church was it that was besieged by a demon dog? Or what beach did that cake-eating dragon get drowned by those angry bakers?
Because UK folklore is as rich and dense as a nana’s fruit cake, it became hard to keep track of it all. At this point, the stories started to get plotted onto a map, and because Neil had previously worked as an illustrator, these maps inevitably got doodled on, and ultimately, because he gets carried away, he added trees, castles, lighthouses, textures, and other bits and bobs. Before long, it became a fully realised digital illustration - “Mythical Beasts of the British and Irish Isles.”
The first map was shared with a folklore group, and like a golem, it took on a life of its own and set off to work. Things got very busy soon after, and Púca Printhouse had somehow, unintentionally come into existence.
Over time, the project grew and we realised it could, and inadvertently was, serving a bigger purpose. The more we delved into this world, the more we realised how warped the stories had become, how things we believed we were so familiar with, were in fact just complete nonsense, much like Uncle Dave's political views. Through tragic historical events and Hollywoodisation, we saw that the truth and meaning of these tales, like a dunked biscuit, were at risk of losing all integrity unless we got the good stuff imbibed pronto. The project had discovered its purpose: to collect, correct, and reclaim the stories.
There is a reason people still want to know these tales - inside all of us somewhere deep down, there is an undeniable desire to connect with our land and ancestors. Also, the world is full of very serious people telling us daft lies, it can be a sweet relief to have something daft-looking tell us something true. We love history, and it’s even better if it has teeth, claws, fur, scales, and a peculiar number of eyes or heads. But more importantly, we find those universal truths hidden in them, the codes of our communities, the warnings of dangers, and guides to staying in harmony with the very land which we still exist within.
We have relocated and swapped those drizzly Yorkshire evenings for the perma-drizzle of a tranquil nature reserve in Bonny Scotland, where we are currently working from. We hope to keep growing, learning, sharing, connecting and working on new exciting projects.
We always love hearing about the way the maps are utilised or shared and would like to thank everyone who supports this strange ride we’ve found ourselves on; we certainly couldn’t do it without you.
Meet The Team
Research and design
Neil spent the best part of 2 decades working as a Street Artist. During this time, he carved his niche within the burgeoning live art movement, painted hundreds of murals, exhibited across the globe and worked for some of the world’s best-known brands including Toms, The National Trust, Adidas, House of Marley and many more.
He stepped away from his creative practice to work and re-train in environmental conservation. Later, he worked in the heritage sector developing new and exciting projects and working models to allow them to reach wider audiences and better serve the communities around them.
Neil inadvertently returned to illustration at the end of 2020 after a long break, founding Púca Printhouse.
Shipping and customer assistance
Charley graduated from Brighton and Hove University with a 1st class degree in Sociology and Social Policy. Post graduating, she completed her PGCE and embarked on a career as a Teacher. She is interested in education, especially in alternative teaching practices, forest schools and how education can reach groups that it has previously struggled to engage with.
Charley helps with our shipping and is a key point of contact for customers. When things get busy and “real”, Charley saves our asses. We foresee the likelihood of greater emphasis on supporting education as a significant and meaningful part of our future, and Charley's knowledge and experience of this will be a guiding light to us.