Meet the Maker - Stephanie Cole

Thursday, June 26, 2014
Today's Meet the Maker interview is by the globe trotting Stephanie Cole.  Stephanie is originally from the West Country but now is based in Helsinki.  We are delighted to have her work in our Made in Britain shop, here is a little interview about her, her life in Finland and her love of Scandi design...
Please can you introduce yourself and tell us a little about your work? 
Hello, my name is Stephanie Cole and I'm an illustrator and maker from Cirencester, creating a range of cards, home textiles and wall art. Primarily, all my designs start with hand drawing or painting, which teamed with fresh colour combinations gives my work a familiar and playful feel. Since moving to Helsinki around a year and a half ago with my partner's work, (he animates, in case you're interested) I'm lucky enough to be able to spend my time between designing and creating small pieces in Finland and coming back to the UK every so often to finish the making process, work with small British companies who took over the reins producing my work when I migrated, label, parcel up and everything else that goes with running a small creative business. 
Apart from creating things what else do you do? 
In Helsinki I like to explore the design district and visit exhibition showings, go for coffee and walk near the sea, while at home in the Cotswolds you'll find me soaking up home comforts such as lunch in my favourite independent cafes, visiting Stroud Farmer's market, a good pub and mooching around Bath, Bristol or Wales. I also like food, both cooking and eating it, the countryside and family time (cat included). 
When did you know you were an artist/maker? 
Forever. I was a stubborn teenager, and though I could've done a lot of things, I just wanted to draw or create something all the time. I didn't think too much about the future, during school and university I was just having such a good time creating that when I'd finished an education in it, there was nothing else to do but carry on, and it became real. That was scary but I wouldn't rather be doing anything else. 
What do you love most about working in your chosen discipline? 
I love drawing and that from my illustrations come hundreds of possibilities, a screen printed textile, a card, art print, jewellery, the list goes on. Seeing a drawing turn into a product is really exciting. I've worked on small company branding too, and recently created huge hand-painted murals at the new Gloucester services on the M5. Every day is different, and the variety is perfect as I'm easily bored doing the same thing. I feel very lucky to do this, but you only get out as much as you put into a creative business, most days run on pints of tea and pure determination. The feeling that 'you' made this happen (when everything goes to plan!) is unreal. 
Where does your inspiration come from? 
For me, it's a real combination of 'happy places', the British coast and countryside , interesting styling, a great colour combination, pattern, or sometimes a thought-provoking quote will spark something off. Living in Scandinavia has also rubbed off on my work, I've caught some amazing exhibitions and been exposed to the most beautifully crafted and designed objects in shops here. When winter is that dark and bleak, there's also nothing better than a pop of colour and being in the warm painting. Each year beginning I set myself a drawing project painting on blank postcards every day, a great way to get the creative vibes flowing again after the blur that is Christmas. 
Describe your studio or workshop? 
Currently a desk for painting, a scanner and a laptop in front of the window in our studio apartment. Cosy! Saying that, I have a great view looking out across pine trees and sometimes see woodpeckers and hares... 

If you could peek inside the studio of any artist, designer or craftsman (dead or alive), who would it be? 
Can I have more than one? Namely: Mina Perhonen, Nathalie Lete, Maxine Sutton, Mark Hearld, and Finnish artists Tove Jansson, Rut Bryk, and Birger Kaipiainen. I must also visit Marimekko's factory while I'm here. 
How would you describe your creative process? 
Complicated! We were never meant to stay in Helsinki that long, which was the reason I carried on with my creative work between here and the UK. Everything starts from my hand drawings and paintings, which are then scanned into and fiddled about with on my laptop, then depending on what they are going to become, either screen printed by hand, printed onto recycled card stock or laser cut. That all happens with small companies in the UK, which was important to me when I moved here and could no longer do it myself. 

What handmade possession do you most cherish? 
A silver moth necklace my parents gave me by Gloucestershire based jeweller Elaine Day. Also a stuffed whale my boyfriend made from a pair of his old jeans which lives on our sofa. 
What do you do when you are stuck in a creative rut? 
After a day or two of self-loathing and despair, I'll take a walk, go out to see a film, see people, wonder around a gallery and then try painting again. I'll admit I don't deal with it very well! Time out and a change of space is important. 

Where would you like to be in 10 years? 
Though I love to design, it would be great to be screen printing my own work again in a nice, bright studio, most likely in the UK. I'd like to have a really nice portfolio of work by then, be making bigger, more time consuming pieces with stitch perhaps (I worked with a lot of embroidery in my uni days), some exciting illustration projects under my belt, a solo show and I've always tinkered with the idea of owning a cafe-gallery. Better get cracking then!

Thank you Stephanie!  Yes you must go visit Marimekko whilst you are there.  We love Scandi design in the MIB office.  You can find Stephanie's lovely colourful designs in our Made in Britain shop.

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