Helen Stevens

Surface Designer

Drawing is at the very core of my business. Through drawing I have been able to build a professional international business, and have managed to create a lifestyle for myself out of doing what I love.

Throughout the whole of my life, even from primary school age, I’ve always recognised my love of drawing and painting and known that it would be the thing that lead me through life. At school, college and university my focus became stronger, choosing the right courses to develop my skills and creativity. I graduated from Cleveland College of Art & Design in 2002 with a first in Textiles & Surface Design. It was just before drawing and designing in Photoshop was introduced to the university, which meant as students we were trained in traditional methods of creating surface pattern designs, using cut and stick with photocopies of hand drawn imagery, to create print repeat patterns and embroidery designs.

Our design process started with weeks of observational and experimental drawing and painting by hand, before moving into the development of patterns for the fashion and interiors market. The success and quality of the final designs at the end of a project was always based on the content of those earlier drawings. Getting messy and being experimental with mark making, materials, scale and technique was the best way to indulge and develop your creative ideas. This is still the way I design today, my drawings are always hand drawn and painted, I love to work this way.

I design and sell products into the interiors market and see a lot of flat computer generated imagery applied to very basic repeat pattern. I hope that by lifting artwork and textures from sensitive sketchbook pages I maybe offer something different to the interior products I retail in such a competitive market. Sometimes I forget to draw just for the hell of it. Drawing without a final destination, without worry of commercial viability and sales. It’s important to put time aside to play with painting and drawing, especially when you run a business based on investigating your ideas and developing your creativity. Ideas can become restricted and adapt to the money you hope to make from them. Sometimes you forget the reason why you started your business because you get so wrapped up in the everyday workings of running a business. So going back to my roots and getting messy in the studio with my pencils and paints is quite vital to the success and continuation of Surfacephilia.

Find out more about Helen’s work at Surfacephilia

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