Hello again! Sorry it has been a while, I didn't intend for blogging to go by the way side quite so much. Normal service will be resumed when Dottie starts school in September, something I am dreading and looking forward to in equal measure.
I have got so many ideas swimming round in my head, but they can wait until then. In the meantime, there will still be the odd post, so keep your eye out. Some of you might have already seen on Instagram Stories that my house is currently a building site as we are having pretty major works, and I will be sharing some before photos of that at some point. Today however, I want to introduce you to my friend Sophie Darling, Sophie is an amazing screen printer/designer and all round creative extraordinaire. You might have seen some of her beautiful prints on scarves and clothing worn by some of her fans (myself included). I caught up with her to talk amongst other things, about the challenge of being a creative and a parent, something I am sure effects lots of you too.
Tell us a little bit about yourself.
"A little bit about me, hmmm, I am primarily mum to 2 extraordinary small(ish) people, Otis 14 and Illy 10. I live in Brighton and my life circumnavigates a work, home and school routine on a daily basis.
I spent my early years in London moving to the wilds of Sussex when I was about 6. After spending my teenage years in Brighton (where I spent most of the time sulking on the beach) my parents shipped me off to an American University. This really re-invented me but having decided England was calling I returned to follow my education in fine art at university.
Then doing what every career driven girl does I embarked on a 12 year stint in London. My career started, working in interior design, painting specialist paint effects and murals, running a crew of painters around the country decorating restaurants and bars. Following a screen printing course at London Print Workshop in Brixton my overriding love of print began and its this medium I have spent the last 17 years developing, experimenting and nurturing into what is it today, namely my art meets fashion label, Sophie Darling."
What is it you do exactly?
"Primarily I am a screen printer applying my contemporary eye for design and pattern to fabrics and surface. I draw constantly but also use photography as a starting point for my designs. I interpret these using my beloved Mac book Pro into layers of pattern and form.
I have a screen printing studio in Brighton where I apply my designs to enormous light sensitive silk screens that are made up of an incredibly fine flat mesh. What you are left with is a stencil, which you can print time and time again onto a variety of fabrics and mediums. If it’s flat I can print on it!
It’s a traditional time honoured technique modernised through my interpretation of differing techniques, colliding pattern with colour and texture. It takes a huge amount of time to get everything right, experimenting with colour and layer to create multiple prints, each with their own nuisance and unique details that invigorate and excite me every time I lift the screen and see how the print has come out."
How and where do you find inspiration?
"I find my inspiration all around me, whether travelling to the far flung reaches of the world or simply walking the streets of wherever I may be that day. It is form, colour and texture that catches my eye, from the rolling Downs to urban landscapes. I take in exhibitions, watch trends and explore others work. I take inspiration from artists such as Rothko, Sonia Delaunay and Peter Blake and designers such as ACNE, Craig Green and Dries Van Noten."
How do you combine being a creative with being a parent?
"I think parenting as a whole is extraordinarily creative, from the moment they are born you are thinking creatively on how best to amuse them, how to fashion a nappy out of a tea towel and a bin liner, how to create a moon scape from a washing up bottle or an Easter bonnet from a cardboard box. Of course that was the early years, so now my time is consumed by coming up with ways to make my kids do their homework, tidy their rooms or get creative themselves. Creativity for me extends way beyond the work place, it is a way of life. Inspiration comes to me daily in so many forms and I actually take huge pleasure in the simple things.
Ok so that’s the positive! The biggest challenge of being a ‘creative’ is that what I make comes from deep in the heart of me, it’s a window into my soul. My creative interpretation of my work is my vision but there is no guarantee that people will see it too.
The biggest challenge for me is running a family and my business side by side and trying not to compromise either. I sacrifice a lot on both sides but think you have to be resilient, committed and calm to do both. I like to be there for my kids as much as possible so I work late, after they are in bed, and steal away at weekends when my husband, Greg, is home to take over. I keep my business manageable and in my control so I can still be there for the kids. Its like a pot I keep just off the boil that could go any second! As they grow I become more independent, so Sophie Darling grows and I am able to give it more and more time. So both family and business are growing ‘organically’!"
You also run a creative co-op, can you tell me a little about that?
"One of the things that has brought me so much joy for the last 14 years is the studio I run with my very good friend Holly Murray. We took over the studios back in 2003 running our leather accessories brand Kimchi for a subsequent 7 years. Since then, we have run the space as a studio for other creatives. We have seen so many talented people through our doors over the years and we provide integral support to one another. It’s this space that has facilitated the birth of my third baby Sophie Darling.
At the studios at the moment we have Mibo, Sarah Arnette, Hello Marine, Holly M leather accessories, Sorrel Bay fine jewelllery, Zoe Tucker children’s books art director, yellow house art licensing and a fashion designer! Yes that is a lot, but it’s a big space and we fill it with extraordinarily talented people, all of them professionals in their own right. All of them are striving for the ultimate work life balance on these, the hallowed shores of Brighton."
Do you have any exciting plans for the future you can tell us about?
"So many exciting plans! I am working on a capsule collection for a fantastic super stylish festival called Port Eliot down in Cornwall at the end of July, plus my new autumn winter collection is in development for launch later this year. One of my most exciting collaborations, has been working with the good folks at The House of Artists who have developed 6 of my prints in to an interiors collection. They are stunning, and I am thrilled with the results.
I also have another pop up shop opening in November, plus a studio sale in july where I invite people to come down to see what I have been up to. I’m also part of an incredible entrepreneurial programme for the next year which is helping to focus my creative mind and really decide the future of Sophie Darling. Its an interesting journey, and I am loving every minute."