If like me, you are a Pinterest fan, you no doubt spend more happy hours avidly collecting crafting ideas than actually creating them. Which is why the concept of Pinterest Parties have become all the rage in America, where crafting fanatics can meet up to bring their Pinterest lusts to life in the real world.
After a yummy Ilegal Mezcal cocktail (served up a jam jar by Qui Qui Ri Qui) we were given a brief demo by Marianne Johnson of Wild by Nature, a florist of some 15 years. She inducted us into the sticky ways of florist tape, a wonderful thing that enables spiky bits of wire to be glued together into one smooth mass. We were then directed to a table heaving with a colourful selection of fake flowers, and it was heads down all round, as we set about creating our floral crowns. As they began to take shape it became apparent that we were all creating very individual looks, and that is surely one of the best things about making something yourself: yes, you probably could buy something like this off the peg, but my creation will never look like yours. And I like that feeling!
At the end Anna Wild gave us a brief demonstration of how to create full on Day of the Dead make up. I’m not really the type to dress up all crazee for festivals, but in a light bulb moment I realised that I’m now sorted to go as Frida Kahlo to a big fancy dress party I have been worrying about. All I need for that is copious quantities of eyebrow pencil.
It’s not just illustrators getting in on the act! I was super excited to hear that the talented textile designer Zeena Shah has produced a colouring book of intricately drawn pages inspired by her interest in nature, folk art and Scandinavian iconography. Best known for her instantly recognisable textile designs and frequent print workshops, Zeena has produced a book that is every bit as fabulous as you would expect it to be, chock full of decorative patterns and beautiful imagery. The paper cut cover of Scandia is a particularly unusual and beautiful choice for a colouring book and is sure to make it stand out as something a little bit special. Would you like to win a copy of this beautiful book? Read on to find out how, this giveaway is OPEN WORLDWIDE thanks to the kinds folks at LOM Art, an imprint of Michael O’Mara.
When did you first cook up the idea of a colouring book and why did you settle on a Scandinavian theme?
Almost immediately after i’d just finished the final edits of my first book How to Print Fabric publishers Michael O’Mara got in touch about the possibility of an adult colouring in book. They had seen my illustrations and loved my Scandinavian inspired style. I’ve always been drawn to Scandi style so it was a perfect fit and extension of what I already do.
How long has it taken to put together and what was the process of working with Michael O’Mara?
It was a very quick process as I had a very tight deadline (all my own doing as my first book had just been published so I was busy juggling that as well as creating new work). I turned around all of the illustrations within a month or two of signing the book deal. It was such a lovely project to work on and a real joy to be able to draw everyday so I really enjoyed it even though the timing was tight. MOM were a dream to work with, they really understood my handwriting and we were in touch throughout the whole process from the first rough to the first paper cut sample of the book cover.
You trained in textiles at Chelsea, what did your studies do to prepare you for the working world?
I studied Textile Design at Chelsea School of Art and as much as I loved every minute of the course in all honesty it really didn’t prepare me for the real design world. It was a bit of a shock when I left art school and started working for various design studios and realised the reality was very different to the experimental art school mentality. I would encourage everyone to get out there and do as much work experience/interning as they can during their courses to prepare them for the industry, make those contacts. I feel so very lucky to be able to make a living running a creative business and doing what I love.
Who or what has most influenced your artistic style?
Nature and the everyday is a huge influence on my artistic style. I love to draw what I see and take inspiration from the things around me. There is an illustration of some leaves in Scandia that come from leaves I collected on my walk to the studio through Hackney Downs park. I’m always that crazy person collecting things on the street. I also collect a lot of vintage textiles and am obsessed with Vera Neumann‘s beautiful printed scarves. Her work is always an inspiration.
What is it about the actual print process that you love so much?
I love working with my hands and creating with a definite process, a start and finish. All of my screen prints will begin with a drawing that might then be papercut to create stencils or exposed onto a silk screen using a light sensitive emulsion which will then be screen printed. It’s the immediacy of this process that excites me. You can very quickly create print upon print once you have your design.
Can you tell us a bit more about your previous book?
My first book How to Print Fabric was published in October last year. It is a collection of 40 print and sew projects for the complete beginner. I wanted to create a book that would make the world of printing onto fabric really accessible to everyone. It shows you how you can use everyday household objects to create beautiful print designs and what to do with them in a straightforward and fun way. One of my favourite projects is a laundry bag you can print using a toilet roll.
You are very busy with a lot of creative projects, how do you juggle your many projects?
Haha, I think I am just one of those people that like working on a million things at once. I always seem to be working on ten things at once as opposed to just one. I try to be as organised as a one woman band can be and have now started to outsource the production of my printed homeware collection to free up time for more creative projects and illustration commissions. I couldn’t live without my ical!
Can you tell us a bit more about some of your favourite events and projects?
I’m especially enjoying running my screen printing workshops at them moment. I really challenge people on a Monday evening to get out of their comfort zones and create something that really get’s them thinking in a different way to how they usually do and the results are amazing. Every class is filled with such talented folks and everyone’s print designs are always so unique. Another favourite at the moment is turning my illustrations for Scandia into some screen printed tote bags and paper prints to celebrate the launch party. Postcards, tote bags and more will be on the way soon.
Do you colour yourself, and if so what do you like to colour and what mediums do you use?
Before illustrating Scandia I hadn’t gotten into the craze for colouring in, my sister has always been a huge fan but I never seemed to find the time. Over Christmas I sat down and coloured in one of my favourites and used a mixture of graphite pencils, colouring pencils and sharpies. I really like sharpies or felt pens as they give such a lovely sold block colour which is what I’m always drawn to in my printmaking. I would like to try watercolours next time I have a moment though…
What is your next project, and can we expect a follow up colouring book?
Fingers crossed for another colouring book in the future, I have some commissions keeping me busy next and am working on a new collection of limited edition screen printed paper and textile goods readly for later this year.
To win a copy of Scandia head on over to my Facebook Page HERE and leave a comment or sticker. And tell all your friends because the giveaway is OPEN WORLDWIDE! A winner will be drawn at random on Sunday 26th June 2016. You can buy Scandia on Amazon. Please consider using my links to help support the running costs for this website.
Buy from Amazon UK here.
Buy from Amazon US here.
Find more of Zeena’s work here.