Welcoming Cressida Bell to Yellow House Art Licensing! As a British designer, specializing in textiles, Cressida set up her company creating hand-printed textiles and accessories in 1984 on leaving the Royal College of Art. Cressida has worked on many prestigious commissions including for the V & A, British Museum, Royal Academy, The Art Fund, and Heals.
Cressida's work has an undoubted influence from her well known Bloomsbury Group forebears. (Quentin Bell was her father & Vanessa Bell her grandmother); but it's not an all pervading one, she has forged her own very individual style over the last 32 years.
This month we go behind-the-scenes with our Artist of the Month Cressida Bell:
"With a background in the decorative art of Bloomsbury, I suppose it it not suprising that I became a designer. I never wished to become a fine artist as I wanted to do something with a more practical application so I trained to become a textile designer. However beautiful a scarf may be, it still has a definite use, and it's the same impetus which drives me to decorate walls and furniture. You cannot live your life without them so they might as well be as attractive as you can make them"
What was your favourite subject at school?
Art of course ! Also biology.
Trained or Self-taught Artist?
How did you become an Artist?
I was always planning to be one – so I guess it was inevitable.
How did your style evolve?
Through hard work and keeping true to what I love ( not looking over my shoulder at fashion etc )
Where and what did you study?
BA in Textiles & Fashion at St Martins School of Art, then MA in Textiles at the RCA
What mediums do you prefer?
Paint & paper, pencil, pen.
How would you describe your own work?
Highly decorative, quite geometric ( even my florals are a bit geometric ), detailed and colourful.
Where do you draw inspiration from?
From pottery ( Turkish, Spanish, Italian ) and other textiles ( Turkish, African ) and paintings/fine art ( Eric Ravilious, Howard Hodgkin, Piero della Francesca ) and pretty much anything else ( Navaho blankets, Cowboy boots, landscapes, architecture ).
Describe your perfect day:
Eat, swim, read, swim, eat, drink.
What piece of your work are you most proud of and why?
Have you done any interesting commissions? Or done work for anyone notable?
I spent some time in the USA decorating a house from some millionaires – great fun, going in their helicopter & private jet and living in luxury ! I have done a huge rug for the British Consulate in Hong Kong, curtain fabric for Liz Murdoch, dress fabrics for Mr Selfridge ( tv series ), and designs for the V&A, the BM, the RA & Heals.
What's been your best-selling design or piece of work to date?
I really don’t know. Maybe the Ibis print ( in various forms ). The Snowy Tree card has also sold loads ( through the Art Fund and through me).
Which piece of work has attracted the most attention?
Probably some of my cakes – they seem to have the wow factor.
Which kind of work do you enjoy doing the most?
Working in my sketchbook on the inception of a new design.
Which part do you like the least?!
Working on a computer
Do you carry around a sketch-book at all times?!
What’s your favourite thing to illustrate?
I like designing my Christmas cards. I try to make an image that has poignancy as well as being Christmassy.
What would your dream project be?
Designing a full range of fabrics/wallpapers for a high profile company like Osborne & Little
Who would be your dream client?
One who loves everything I do !
Who or what is your biggest source of inspiration?
See above. Probably Travel.
Which is your favourite Yellow House Art Licensing artist & why?
I really like Sue Haseltine’s prints/landscapes – very evocative – and also Jane Human’s work ( she is a friend – I didn’t know she was on your lists ! ). I’m sure there are many more but there’s a lot to look at !
What's on your drawing-board/ in your kiln / on your easel / etc. right now?
Cushion designs for Fine Cell Work, rug design for Charleston.
What’s been your biggest challenge?
Marketing & PR. Not my strong point !
As well as being an amazing artist, do you have any other hidden talents?
Cooking, dressmaking, languages.
Do you have any top tips for being an artist that you can give us?
Be true to yourself, keep on with your own vision.
Do you have a favourite paintbrush or tool?
Yes, there are always only a couple of brushes I like at any time.
What attracted you to/attracts you about working with Yellow House?
I really want to get my designs out there so that more people can see them – you seem like the people to do it.
What’s your favourite joke?
Q. What did the hurricane say to the coconut tree ?
A. Hang on to your nuts, this is no ordinary blow-job !
Browse Cressida's fabulous hand-printed products here !