The Botanical Lass | Interview with Jacqueline Colley

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As a sucker for the botanicals it should come as no surprise that the work of illustrator and pattern designer Jacqueline Colley had me at hello. Having caught up with her at Pulse earlier in the year, I was left longing after her Tiger Jungle Throw and can now say that I am a proud owner thanks to a little work bonus and a well-timed sample sale on Jacqueline’s part.

Jacqueline has over nine years experience working in the industry and after some hard slogging can now count Ohh Deer,  Topshop, Oasis, HEALS, Swoon Editions and geo-fleur as clients in her portfolio. Her latest Oasis collaboration with the Zoological Society of London (an EJP charity fave) is divine and perfectly on the wild side. Jacqueline quite obviously loves nature and her prints include a range of amazing plants and animals, all  inspired by places as diverse as the desert & rainforest. I sat down with Jacqueline to find out her background, process and of course the ultimate tropical questions…

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Firstly, can you tell me a little bit about yourself and your background? 

I studied Graphic Design at Chelsea but spent my whole time answering briefs with illustrations. My sketchbooks of drawings got me onto the H&M graduate scheme which relocated me to Stockholm and trained me in textile design. I spent 6 years working for a number of high street brands including Oasis before going freelance three years ago in order to spend more time on my own design and product ideas!

Talk me through your design process.

Weird things will spark ideas; an object in a museum or a book at a car boot sale, I’m a real collector; hoarding imagery! Next, whether it’s a placement or a repeat, I will sketch the idea out roughly, then research and collate reference images. Finally, I will draw using ink and felt tips before scanning and finalising the layout in Photoshop.

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It’s refreshing to see a variety of products within your shop such as trays, pins and patches. How do you decide to develop the application of your designs?

I love to develop my designs into different products to create collections. I think it’s a result of working for the high street where you start with an all over print which then becomes a placement and embroidery etc. I love seeing where a design can go and it’s so exciting to work with different products and see your design come to life as an object that people can use or wear!

You’re inspired by nature and habitats, what’s your favourite animal?

So hard to choose just one! The Sumatran Tiger is stunning and endangered, though they’ve happily seen increasing numbers recently. I dedicated a whole print to them and their habitat so that must be favouritism.

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And your favourite plant?

Again so difficult, but I do love a fishbone cactus ‘Cryptocereus anthonyanus’. They look just like ric rac and seem too graphic and bizarre to be natural – nature is AMAZING! What I love about them is that their new ‘leaves’ grow out as straight thin cylinders, then once they have reached their desired length the zig zag shape starts growing, from the tip backwards. I have one in my studio and just love her!

You’ve just collaborated with renowned plant lady geo-fleur on a small range, can you tell me how that came about and what’s involved?

Yes! We know each other from the designer/maker market scene and our shared love of plants must have drawn us together. Our latest ‘copper collab’ includes a one-colour screen print which features copper ink on some gorgeous G . F Smith  flecked paper which I hand printed myself at Print Club London. We’ve also created a ‘plant of the moment’ pin; the Begonia Maculata which also features in the print alongside some of our other current faves. The plant world is so diverse and an endless well of inspiration for me.

What do you have planned for the next year?

I’m focusing on printmaking as I’ve fallen in love with screen and riso printing.  I’ll also be designing some more throws to launch in time for Autumn/Winter. I’m currently working on a few collaborations for the end of 2017 and into 2018 and taking on some more illustration projects.

Any advice for those just starting out? 

Every path is different and there is no right or wrong way to do things. I often feel like I’ve had the most meandering confused path but I know that every experience, personal or professional, has been invaluable. Plus I definitely don’t have it figured out and I probably never will, but I’m ok with that!

To find out more about Jacqueline and her work visit: www.jacquelinecolley.co.uk

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