unravel 2018: q& a with illustrator Ellen Kirkhope

unravel 2018:  q& a with illustrator Ellen Kirkhope

 It’s been an absolute pleasure to work with Illustrator, Graphic Designer and Trend Specialist Ellen Kirkhope on 2018’s unravel illustration. We spoke to Ellen to find more about the creative behind the work….

Could you tell us a bit about your background and when your interest in art and design began? 

I’ve always enjoyed drawing. In fact I can remember spending lots of my early childhood creating quirky characters for comic strips that I’d give to my Mum and Dad. It was at school that I started to take it all a bit more seriously, enrolling in every possible art and design class and spending my weekends at the nearby art college to practice life drawing. To me there’s nothing better than a day spent at an art gallery or museum – and there are so many to choose from in London, I feel spoilt!

Screen Shot 2017-11-23 smYou mentioned that you were quite new to being a freelance illustrator. Can you tell us about your creative journey until now and what inspired you to take the plunge and steer your career in this direction? 

I was a designer for quite a few years within all sorts of different industries from stationery through to fashion and then latterly I became a trend forecaster for the online fashion & lifestyle website WGSN. Actually, I spent a whole decade there learning the craft of trend forecasting and whilst designing was still part of the role I began to feel an urge to start designing and illustrating again, specifically in my own style so I took the plunge (it wasn’t easy!) to try out freelancing.

I like to get out and about around London for at least a day before I start a project, noting down ideas and doing very rough sketches. The next step for me is to create a mood board – normally with at least six directions and i collate images that will help inspire me for each one. Finally, unlike many illustrators, I do my rough idea sketches on the computer. I like the immediacy of the computer – and how quickly you can colour and modify the designs. Once the route has been approved, I tidy up the artwork and off it goes!

We are so excited by the 2018 unravel design. Could you tell us a bit more about how yoPrintu came up with the concept and how you worked on the design once this had been established? 

Lately I’ve been really inspired by different artist’s studios and desk spaces (from past and present) and that’s where the idea for this design came from. To have your own studio is one of the greatest privileges for a creative person. I used the tools that might be on a crafter’s desk and with my love of pattern, I created an orderly layout for the design with the right amount of space and balance.  

London_design_week_competition_winDo you dabble in any other creative or craft forms in addition to your art,  illustration and graphic designer? 

I still do a lot of trend forecasting for stationery and fashion. The mood board creation of trends is actually a very creative and visual process. Also, I recently won a competition as part of London Design week to spray paint the ground outside of the tube station – now that was a new experience! I think it’s good to push yourself to try new things creatively. It’s good to step out of your comfort zone.

When you are working creatively are there certain items you can’t do without?Brixton_design_trail_postcards

It’s sad but true that I’d be utterly lost without my computer and the internet. As much as I like time away from the screen, this is where I do most of my creative work.


Is there anyone in the art or illustration world who you can cite as an influence? What inspires you creatively, and if so is there anyone you follow who you admire on social media? 

I’m almost always inspired by mid-century books of any kind. There’s a local secondhand book shop near to my house and I find myself continuously lost in the endless shelves there. My current top favourite illustrators to follow on social media are Molly Egan, Lisa Congdon and Ryan Chapman. My instagram account is only just beginning but feel free to follow me here @ellen_kirkhope as I continue on my journey.

Farnham Maltings’ annual yarn festival unravel is taking place on Friday 16 – Sunday 18 February 2018.  The 10th anniversary of the event will feature a programme of bookable workshops, talks & demonstrations led by UK & International experts and a marketplace of over 70 quality exhibitors selling yarn & fibre accessories.

Tickets for 2018 are on sale now!  Click on the links below to purchase your advance tickets:

Fri 16 Feb   11:00–17:00  /  Sat 17 Feb  10:00–17:00  /  Sun 18 Feb 10:00–16:00

£7 early bird (limited numbers), **Apply the Promo Code unravel2018 on the discounts page when booking** /  £8 advance (available until noon on Thu 15 February) and £10 on the door (under 15s free).

We will be announcing loads of exciting news about unravel in the forthcoming weeks and follow us on Twitter and Instagram  and facebook to keep updated with all the goings on! For those wishing to get a flavour of the festival, last year’s programme can be viewed in the craft archive here

2 thoughts on “unravel 2018: q& a with illustrator Ellen Kirkhope

  1. pauline findlay
    on said:

    I am a knitter and would like to donate some knitted flowers for A Place to be I have been on the website but I cannot find the pattern for the flower that is showing. Also I would like to know what size the flowers should be. I do lots of flowers for my hats and pets so I would like to contribute

    • Gemma Curtis
      on said:

      Hello Pauline
      Thank you so much for your message. It’s really great that you would like to support A Place to be with knitting flowers, thank you. Please go whatever size and design that you would like to. They don’t have to be a specific size. Sue Stratford has kindly provided a pattern for those wishing to follow one and this is on our unravel pages of the craft.farnhammaltings.com website.
      Thank you again.

post a comment

Your email is never shared. Required fields are marked *