I’m an independent designer and Illustrator based in Devon. I left my home county at 18 and only just returned 16 years later and it feels good to be back. I studied Product and Furniture Design, and since those days I’ve been intrigued with many creative fields, working in publishing, product design, branding to illustration, either as an employee or an independent. A lucky ride so far.
I got into design by my desire to fix things. I remember as a child hearing things on the news or via adults chatting that seemed wrong, unfair or unjust. Even at a young age, I would feel a sense of responsibility and think how can I help? With design I could contribute and solve problems through making and experimenting, and I loved the creative process. This along with my childhood wish to have my drawings shared on the Disney Show. I failed; my Goofy doodle was just not good enough. Yet 14 years later I landed a job at Disney designing their style-guides, so I guess my dream kind of came true. I worked there for a couple years and like the littlest hobo I just kept on moving on, learning and meeting fascinating folk along the way.
Since working independently, my typical work day in all honesty starts with my Instagram feed, terrible probably, yet I enjoy seeing the small or big wonders folk have spotted, created or appreciated across the pond. With no commute, breakfast is my calm time and often when I have most of my ideas. I get started about 8am, this is my time to research and write-up my blog posts. Plucky is my blog I started last year, where I share stories of creative courage. It was my small contribution to bring courageous creatives together and I’m incredibly grateful to those who have taken the time to contribute, especially with The Plucky Ones interviews. Then I catch-up with clients, share ideas, tinker in digital and analogue to process and realise ideas. I wrap up at 6pm and head out for a run, cycle or attempt to skate and whenever I can grab time, I’m renovating my new workshop/studio, a crumbling old tin tabernacle. I’m excited to bring it back to life and have friends, family and fellow creatives to visit!
Many things influence my work, yet nature is my greatest inspiration. It provides me with energy, excitement and all kinds of magic. I come to life when I’m in and amongst it. It has a great way of putting things in perspective.
To take an idea from your mind, realise it and put it out into the world, with a strong sense of purpose and belief that it can change things positively, is what excites me most about design. To have that opportunity right in front of me each day gives me energy and motivation. And never gets boring.
After a brief intuitive art course, I’m enjoying the process of drawing and making just for the hell of it. The opposite of my design process. It’s made me realise how many decisions I already make before drawing a design sketch. Art loosens me up and I’m beginning to value both ways of working to achieve the same end goal.
Project wise, today I am back working with RNLI - Royal National Lifeboats Institute – a humbling charity and top team of people. And I’ve just completed a project for Surfers Against Sewage. After working on a personal art series, Drop In The Ocean, SAS asked if I could collaborate on a range of organic kids tees, I love how they work, passionate and cheeky, so I leapt at the chance. It’s often a little dance between client and personal projects, and for the last 8 months I have also been building a little dream of mine, a business named, Feist Forest.
At Feist Forest we handcraft lifelong work-tables for independent minds and makers.
Upon my last few years of travels it was the table that gathered people together. Stories and ideas revealed across it. Things made and sculpted upon it.
Once I returned to my home county of Devon, I wished to make the best quality and purposeful table that would bring independent minds, skills and positive ideas together. A wooden table with creativity and nature at it’s core. Not factory made. Not disposable, the opposite, built to last. Handcrafted, one at a time, here in England, and sustainably. A table for the vagabonds, dreamers and makers who courageously make great ideas happen.
There’s so many people I admire, from David Attenborough, Mickey Smith, Charles and Ray Eames, Cy Twombly, Tove Johansson, to Yoshitomo Nara, I could go on… but one I always return to is: Yvon Chouinard. I love what he’s created with Patagonia, he along with his team have proved that businesses can care, break rules and be profitable. This to me is a big achievement. Not that long ago, if you challenged manufacturing processes or the environmental impact of a product you were labelled a hippie, eco warrior or environmentalist, rather than an innovator or someone who cares. Yvon has set a standard and inspired others to not only be a part of it, but to demand it, with other companies trying to reach it.
Yvon’s sustainable approach was one of the inspirations behind Creature Collective. A furniture collection that myself and Katie produced, whilst at the studio, Supafrank. It was a journey from initial character illustrations to pared-down components that distilled the spirit of the original creatures. The few simple components could be constructed using just one tool – a mallet – to make up a stool, a hook, a light and a light pull. By using the same peg joint and materials we minimised waste and saved on multiple processes. And if any element needed fixing, the peg construction is simple and intuitive.
The future is a funny thing. I’m doing my best to not think too far ahead. Right now I am happy working with like-minded clients, developing my personal and collaborative art/illustration projects, and building Feist Forest. Today I will continue to do the best I can, politely say no to things I don’t believe in, enthusiastically say yes to those I do and try and be mindful and curious.
Cat Bennett, an author of Confident Creative and Making Art A Practice. I often return to her books when I feel a little lost creatively. She always gets me back on the right path.
Forest Man (Youtube video). Since the 1970’s Majuli islander, Jadav Payeng has single handedly planted a forest larger than Central Park. It’s a story of courage and the impact one person can make and it’s played on my mind ever since. Amazing.
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