Here at craft maltings HQ we are super excited to be revealing the brand new artwork for 2017’s unravel. Professional illustrator Stephanie Cole has designed the iconic image for the annual yarn festival and we are tickled pink with her fabulous creation. We asked Stephanie a few questions about the commission and her inspiration and shared this insight into her world as we proudly publish the artwork for the first time.
Tickets for unravel 2017 go on sale today, visit farnhammaltings.com to get an early bird ticket and start making plans for Feb! We hope you can join us there.
We love the illustration for unravel 2017 and are so happy to be able to share it with the knitting and crochet community! What inspired the design and how do you feel about the work?
Gemma at The Maltings came across one of my art prints in the shop there, a nice heard of patterned sheep, and I think that sparked the idea to ask me to do the illustration for this year’s Unravel. I happily reworked them into a new line-up with a fresh colour palette to fit in with The Maltings’ branding. It was lovely to be asked – plus, it’s easy for me to get inspired to draw sheep- I grew up in The Cotswolds!
When you take on a commission or begin a new piece, how and where do you start and how does the process develop along the way?
There’s lots of researching to do first, and if I can’t get to somewhere which might inspire a piece of work, my first stop for reference material is Pinterest! I have plenty of inspired images on my wall in the studio too, as well as past projects to get me fueled. I’ll send off preliminary ideas to my client and it evolves from there.
Your murals are amazing! Do you enjoy working on this kind of larger scale work?
Thank you, they are absolutely my favourite thing to do, I can get lost in painting for days! I still remember the first one I did- a seven meter map of Farmshop suppliers at Gloucester Services on the M5, and remember how much bigger that seven meters felt when I arrived! It looked amazing and I felt so proud, it’s the best feeling to see your work on such a huge scale and in front of such a large audience. Painting in with the penguins at Longleat Safari Park was also a highlight.
How long have you been an illustrator and how did you develop your distinctive style?
I graduated in 2010 from Surface Pattern Design and started from then, so a few years now. I was always torn between illustration and textiles, so that fitted perfectly for me and enabled me to create textile pieces for my range too. It took a lot of drawing and experimenting to find my style, you can’t force it- it has to come naturally or you’ll have a really hard time working it!
What medium do you work in? Are there other art forms you like to dabble with and – burning question – do you knit or crochet?
Sometimes I work quite graphically in ink, other times more freely in watercolour or gouache, depending on what sort of feel I’m trying to create. I’m doing an evening jewelry class and have just signed up for next term too, it’s so nice to do something entirely different but still creatively challenging. It’s also good to get out of the studio for a change of scene! As for knitting or crocheting, I expect I’ve tried to learn every winter, but it never sticks. My nan is a wizard at knitting so it must be in there somewhere…
How do you stay motivated and inspired when working on your own and running your own business?
It’s a tough one, most times I love it and other times you can feel a real recluse. When that happens, I get out! I’ve made great friends with people doing similar things at markets and events and it’s great to get together over a cuppa and support each other.
What would you be doing if you weren’t an illustrator?
Tough one! Perhaps a florist? Or maybe have a lovely little gallery-come-coffee shop…
Do you have any creative ‘heroes’ in the art world? Are there any bloggers, writers, creative types that you follow?
I lived in Finland for a couple of years with my partner’s work, which was so inspiring. Marimekko shops, amazing curated exhibitions, Arabia ceramics… Tove Jansson became my hero, and interestingly did murals too. Back home in the UK there are a whole number of amazing crafts people which are so accessible, I follow them on Instagram to keep up with their endeavors. Then, there’s Matisse.
Do you have a proudest creative moment or project?
It has to be my murals at Gloucester Services, such an amazing project I’m so proud and thankful to be asked to do. I’m not a massive royalist, but presenting HRH Prince Charles with a plaque I created at the opening was a crazy, special moment.
What’s in the pipeline for you next Stephanie?
After the madness of Christmas in my online shop is over I have a new mural project to get designing, plus a giant hare to paint at The New Brewery Arts for Cirencester’s Hare Art Trail, can’t wait!
unravel… a festival of knitting runs from Friday 17 Feb to Sunday 19 Feb 2017. For tickets visit farnhammaltings,com
Tickets for Friday, (11am – 5pm) here
Tickets for Saturday, (10am – 5pm) here
Tickets for Sunday, (10am – 4pm) here