To celebrate the Chelsea Flower Show, illustrator Caroline Kent of Scribble & Daub is hosting a hand-drawn Flower Card Making Workshop at our Chelsea store this May. We took a few moments to get to know Caroline and hear about her understanding of the importance of a handwritten note.
1. Hello Caroline, welcome to The Conran Shop! Please tell us a little about yourself and your creative process.
Hello, it’s lovely to be here. I’m an illustrator and founder of the luxury stationery brand, Scribble & Daub. In a previous life, I was a curator of contemporary art - now I hold the pen and paintbrush myself. We create beautiful letterpress cards and stationery all individually hand-painted with Andy Warhol’s favourite brightly-coloured inks. You’ll also find me making illustrations and bespoke stationery for brands such as Mr & Mrs Smith, Dior, Matches and Vogue. When I’m not scribbling and daubing, I’m wrangling three small boys in the Sussex countryside or tending the wildflower meadow I've been cultivating behind my studio for the past eight years.
2. What inspires your illustrations?
If I wasn’t an artist, I think I’d be a florist or a gardener, and I’ll never tire of drawing flowers. Great Dixter is just up the road and a constant inspiration. This Easter I dragged my family up mountains and through valleys looking for wildflowers in Crete, and my own garden behind the studio gets regularly raided for drawing subjects. You’ll also find me lurking in the ceramics departments of museums looking at old hand-painted plates & pots - The Fitzwilliam in Cambridge is a particular favourite. I also love the work of South African potter, Hylton Nel and the aforementioned Andy Warhol’s commercial drawings from the 50s and 60s.
3. Please may you tell us a little about how your cards are made?
Every card begins life as a simple scribble made with a traditional dip pen and ink. That drawing is then made into a magnesium plate, which is letterpress printed by hand on a vintage press at our brilliant local workshop, Adams of Rye. Once printed, the cards return to us in the studio for hand-painting with brightly coloured inks.
4. Scribble & Daub has gained the attention of Vogue, The New York Times and The World of Interiors among others; what was the first moment that you felt successful?
Having made the decision to leave Scotland and the art world, get married, go travelling to the Americas for a year, have a child, and embark on an entirely new career as an illustrator, I hold a very clear memory of dancing around the living room with a six-month-old baby in my arms having just secured my first major stockist, Liberty’s, only a few months in and feeling like the gamble might actually pay off! More recently, working on a project with Matches and American Vogue, I was told I’d been chosen for the project by none other than Anna Wintour as there was nothing else like my work in America - that was also quite a moment!
5. What importance does stationery hold for you?
The ping of an email will never compete with the thrill of finding a letter or card on the doormat. Stationery has become a new luxury since the digital age dawned. Never mind fine clothes or an elegant home, to send a hand-written note by post these days denotes serious style. Stationery is also a time machine; in the corner of my bedroom, there’s an old sage green steamer trunk crammed with several decades worth of special cards and letters - a random dip in and I’ll instantly be transported back to teenage antics, remember old friends, or find some gardening advice from my grandad, sadly no longer here, but once one of my greatest correspondents.
6. We look forward to welcoming you to The Conran Shop later this month for a flower card making workshop; what do you hope that attendees will take away from the experience?
That if you can put a pen to paper and make a mark, then you can draw! Everyone can do it. And that taking a few hours out of life to look at beautiful flowers and spend time drawing them is a really special thing to do. People are always surprised and delighted by what they produce, it’s not about making perfect drawings, it’s about finding your own style and embracing it. With a few simple ingredients (which they’ll take home with them!) you can make gorgeous cards to send into the world that your friends and family will keep and treasure.
RSVP to the Scribble & Daub workshop to secure your spot, plus enjoy our considered card collection.
Portrait image courtesy of David Fernandez.