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The Tuesday interview - with Sophie Honeybelle

With Wraptious having just launched a new range of 8 beautiful designs from Sophie, it seemed rude not to have a chat with her too! We found out about how she got hooked on patterns, photography and what she'd choose to take to a desert island!

1) Hello Sophie. What exciting projects are you working on at the moment?
I’m updating my website and getting all the latest patterns ready to showcase. My work has changed quite a lot over the last four or five months, so I’m excited to show off what I’ve been up to. I’m also attending a wedding in April and have decided to make part of my outfit using one of my own surface pattern designs, so I’m learning about how to sew and what fabric to use. It’s quite a challenge so far, but really exciting.

Connecting with you has been super-exciting too!

2) Studying painting at University, what's made you evolve your focus to surface pattern design?
There’s not that big of a creative leap from the kind of painting I was doing at university to what I’m doing now and I think my experience with painting has to some extent helped me understand what kind of designer I want to be. The biggest difference between the two is that I now work almost exclusively on a computer instead of using oil paints and canvas. Stylistically my work has the same vibe to it – quite graphic, clean colours, solid shapes and repeating motifs.

I think surface pattern design is a more commercial creative avenue for me and one I’m more confident in. The art world is a completely different beast! It was back in 2007 that I first discovered it was possible to have a career as a surface pattern designer. I did some research online, but my searching didn’t reveal much and at the time I was starting to set up a business as a jewellery designer/maker so I put all my energies into that. Fast-forward to 2012 and I felt like I needed a change and a new challenge so started looking into surface pattern design again. This time round there was a lot more information online and I found an e-course (The Art and Business of Surface Pattern Design) to help me understand how it all works. I signed up and it’s been the best decision in years!

3) Where do you get inspiration for your work?
At the moment I’d say about 90% of my inspiration comes from looking at damask wallpapers. The remaining 10% comes from looking at fabrics from the 1960s; the colours used by Lucienne Day; how William Morris fills a space and how traditional Middle Eastern designs tessellate.

4) How do you think childhood shaped you as an artist?
I come from a creative family (my uncle is a sculptor, my cousin is a jeweller and everyone is either drawing, painting or art journaling) so I think this has helped! I was always encouraged to be creative and from the age of 11 or 12 the majority of my birthday and Christmas gifts were art materials or art books.

My parents gave me and my sister Story Teller magazines when we were little. I loved them when I was a kid and I’m fairly sure this is where my love of illustration comes from. When I was about 13 my dad gave me an old Fujica camera to play with and I’ve been dabbling with photography ever since. I’m incredibly fortunate - my family have always supported my creative adventures and helped me to lead a creative life.

5) Do you remember your first commission?
I don’t remember my first commission but I do remember the first time I created an image for a specific purpose. When I was about 8 the company my dad was working for asked its employees’ kids to draw Christmas themed pictures for a competition. The winning card would be printed and distributed, if I remember correctly. Well, I drew a pencil sketch of a sad homeless man in a park which of course didn’t win! I guess at the time I was thinking ‘Think of the people who need the most love at Christmas’.

6) What project are you most proud of?
With my work, I'd say it's this latest set of designs as they are heading in exactly the right direction for me.

7) Artistically, who's catching your eye at the moment?
I love the work of fellow surface pattern designer Elizabeth Olwen. Her colours are always fresh and beautiful and her motifs are eye-catching and graceful. Zoffany have a damask wallpaper design called Nureyev: Navarre which is featured in the BBC series of Sherlock. Whenever I watch the show I always feel inspired by that design. Alabasta design some wonderfully detailed patterns for placemats that have inspired me a lot over the past few months. And finally, The Ape On The Moon blog is forever a source of incredible, exquisitely good illustration. I have a gander at that when I want to see what talent this world has to offer. 

8) What advice would you give artists and designers who are just graduating and looking to promote their talent?
I'm really not in a position to give advice! The only thing I know is that confidence is key and to believe in yourself and your work and to stay true to yourself. Get your work seen wherever you can and be brave in sharing it.

9) And finally, Desert Island Discs style, what one luxury would you take to a desert island?
An MP3 player with an obscene amount of storage filled with excellent music, assuming batteries are another luxury in plentiful supply.

Sophie's work is available in our shop on cards, and soon to be prints and gift wrap too! Visit her profile page.
To see more of Sophie's work pop over to her website honeybelle.co.uk

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