Meet the Maker - Abi Ponton

Friday, May 02, 2014
Hi there!  Today's Meet the Maker features local artist Abi Ponton, aka Pigeon Illustration.  Abi's work has always proved popular in previous years at Paper Scissors Stone, so we are very pleased she is back for 2014! With such eye catching colours and folksy designs we can see why they are a firm favourite.  We caught up with Abi to ask her more...
Please can you introduce yourself and tell us a little about your work? 
I’m a Bristol based illustrator, having moved here after finishing my degree a couple of years ago. My work has often been described as ‘folky’ stemming from my natural drawing style and the fact that I try not to over-complicate an image. I use bold colours and happy, quirky characters to brighten the viewer’s day with. I am a great believer of keeping as much uninhibited, childish fun and humour in adult life as possible. I love to print and often use Drawn in Bristol’s screen-printing facilities at Hamilton House to make prints, tote bags, cushions and t-shirts. I also paint, collage and make digital work, which will either be adapted for hand printing, or they will be sent off to be professionally giclee printed. 
Apart from creating things what else do you do? 
In the little spare time I have, I write prose and play music, although I guess that’s ‘creating’. I go to watch a lot of live music locally, I visit Museums and galleries whenever possible and also like going for walks in Bristol’s many green spaces. 
When did you know you were an artist/maker? 
My Mum has always been creative; painting, knitting and ‘upcycling’ - before the word was ever conceived. She reserved the bottom shelf of a kitchen cupboard that we called ‘The Make-It Cupboard’ to store anything that could be used to make something with. It was overflowing with cereal boxes, loo roll tubes, ribbons, buttons, egg boxes and powder paint that my sisters and I could help ourselves to whenever we wanted. I guess one of us had to grow up to be an artist! 

What do you love most about working in your chosen discipline? 
The excitement of starting something new is the best. Even if the end product is great, you can’t beat that get-up-and-go buzz of having a great idea that you know you’re going to carry out and you know it’s going to be amazing. 
Where does your inspiration come from? 
I get inspiration for my work from anything in life that makes me happy. This can be an object, a person, a colour, an idea, a film, a song, a shape or the many trinkets I have at home. When I have the time, I like to visit places that might help to generate ideas and inspiration; museums, galleries, the waterside, the zoo or the woods are all good for this. 
Describe your studio or workspace? 
I usually make my initial drawings from observation, which could be anywhere I’ve mentioned above. I develop these drawings and ideas by hand or digitally at home. I have a big desk with everything I need to hand, including physical materials, computer software, endless streams of tea and coffee and my slippers. It’s usually a mess because I’m always working on a number of projects at once and surrounding myself with things I like, such as plants, magazine clippings, trinkets and other artists pictures. 
If you could peek inside the studio of any artist,designer or craftsman (dead or alive), who would it be? 
Two artists immediately spring to mind. The first being William Morris, who I have always been fascinated with. He produced such beautiful and clever work and was clearly a polymath and genius, but was reportedly a difficult person character-wise. I’d love to peek into the rooms at Morris & Co to see what kind of atmosphere there was there and the kind of processes they used. My second choice is Grayson Perry, because I love his work and his thoughts on art and it would be a pleasure to see such talent at work. 
How would you describe your creative process? 
My creative process is a very natural one. I’ll generally make a drawing of something I’m excited by, or come up with a good idea and carry it through any processes I fancy trying out on it. I like working on something that I can visualise clearly so I know what to aim for, but if it’s not quite right, or if I get an idea of a different direction it could take, I’ll do it. I often have three or four versions of one image made in a variety of different materials. I enjoy exploring a theme, making lots of work on it while I’m inspired by it, as opposed to just one image and moving on. 

What handmade possession do you most cherish? 
My collection of hand-knitted hedgehogs. 
What do you when you are stuck in a creative rut? 
In the past when I’ve been ‘stuck in a creative rut’ it’s really upset me, and I’ve forced myself to make work, which, of course, turns out to be rubbish, then I’d berate myself for making bad work and swear never to illustrate again! But over the last couple of years I’ve changed my tactics. If I’m going through a bad patch creatively, I give myself time to reflect and chill out. I’ll do other things I enjoy like reading, watching films, going for walks, visiting museums and maybe do some observational drawing, but if I don’t feel like picking up a pencil I won’t. I’ve always been creative, so I know something will get me inspired again eventually. 

Which is your favourite local independent shop or eatery in Bristol & why? 
There are too many! I’ve always lived near to Gloucester Road, so I usually shop for presents in places like Iota and Fig. Paper Scissors Stone of course – I’m always buying things in the places that house my work, having little will-power against the number of beautiful hand-made things that catch my eye while I’m there! I buy most of my clothes in charity shops and consume a lot of coffee and cake in the various independent cafes too, The Canteen and The Social to name a couple.

Where would you like to be in ten years? 

Thank you Abi.  A collection of hand knitted hedgehogs?  Would love to see those!  Abi's colourful creations are available to buy in our Paper Scissors Stone shop.

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