Profiles Feature: Anna Jacobs. Sometimes referred to as the ‘Bird Lady,’ Anna is an artist inspired by the freedom of birds which is often a focus of her work. Anna transposes her art onto lampshades, cushions, tea towels, bed linen, wallpaper and greeting cards. Her delightful hand-drawn style is brought to life through vivid colours and a Japanese ascetic. With investors on board and a new shop on Tottenham Court Road, Anna is set free to fly high in the world of interiors. I caught up with Anna Jacobs to find out more.
Chinese Tree Mural and Chinese Tree Bolster
Meet Anna Jacobs
Anna tells me about her educational background, “I studied Classical Studies (BA Hons) at Bristol University (1988 – 1991) and then an MSc in Gender and Social Policy, also at Bristol (1992 – 1993). My A ‘Level art teachers said I should earn my living through art, but I wanted to take advantage of going to University first and doing something academic. Then one thing led to the other and before I knew it I was 40 years old and somehow embedded in the corporate world.”
Anna Jacobs Outside Her Tottenham Court Road Shop
After graduating, Anna had a string of jobs which included being in a girl band called The Shrinking Violets. She even got to work with Simon Cowell when they sang backing vocals for Robson and Jerome. Anna’s other jobs included being a Marketing and Education Manager for Molecule Theatre of Science for Children. Another role was an Administrator and Producer for Clean Break Theatre Company which involved working with female ex-offenders and prisoners. Then it was a stint of charity fundraising before Anna headed up the Marketing and Business Development Department for a big commercial city law firm. Anna tells me “I only intended to stay for a year, but I ended up there for 8 years! I learnt so much there though, which has stood me in good stead for setting up my own business.”
Falling Leaves in Spring Cushion and Large Lamp on Rose Flex
Some years later Anna started craving creative stimulation. She tells me, “after work I couldn’t wait to get home, rip off my corporate suit and start painting. When my eldest child started school, I decided to concentrate on my creative urges. Things happened really quickly with the offer of a solo show of my paintings, my first interior design job and a teaching job at Chelsea College of Arts! My first solo show of paintings was a great success and the owner of the gallery also happened to have a small gift and homewares shop. She thought my Welsh Reflection painting would make a great lampshade and said that if I made it she’d sell it in her shop. It then took me two years to work out how to actually make it into a lampshade! My business was born, I launched my homewares brand in January 2015.”
Medium Murmuration Lamp with Royal Blue Flex
Using the capital from selling her first paintings, lampshades and cushions helped to finance Anna’s fledgeling business. Anna is the primary business owner but recently she sold some shares to two friends in return for investment. Anna elaborates, “Andy Snuggs has come on board as my Managing Director, part-time. The other is the actor Jerome Flynn (Game of Thrones, Ripper Street, Black Mirror, etc). I’m the CEO and Creative Director but now that Andy’s onboard he is taking over some of the Operational Management and will be the lead on Marketing. This gives me some headspace to get back to designing which is the part I love!”
View Anna Jacobs Designs
Being an artist, everything Anna makes begins with her artwork. Anna elaborates, “I sell original paintings and limited-edition prints. I select paintings which I think will translate well into products such as lampshades, cushions, tea towels, wallpaper and greeting cards. I am just about to launch a new bed linen range which I’m very excited about. My signature style is beautifully hand-drawn lines, painted in ink, in clear vivid colours with a subtle Japanese aesthetic. I’m well-known for my shocking pink and vivid orange flamingo lamps. For me, birds in flight represent flying free and moving forward no matter what life throws at you. People often call me the Bird Lady!”
Beak Street in Dove and Indigo Bed Linen with Murmuration Lamp and Print
Birds (flamingos and hummingbirds) and nature form much of Anna’s designs. Falling Leaves in 4 Seasons is Anna’s current collection. She tells me “this is a more abstract design to complement the illustrative ones and comes in 4 beautiful colourways to reflect all 4 seasons. The design explores the beauty of leaves past their prime.”
Falling Leaves in Summer Cushion and Lamp, A Moment to Reflect Wall Art
The products are designed in London and made in Britain, except for the bed linen which is made in Portugal. Anna tells me more, “my cotton and silk lampshades are hand-rolled in Shropshire. The mouth-blown crystal glass lamp bases are hand made in Norfolk. My linen and silk cushions are made in a lovely family-run workshop in South East London. The large scale mural art wallpaper is made in Lancashire and my cotton tea towels are made in Lincolnshire. The greeting cards are made in South London. I also sell limited edition prints, which are made in South East London from the highest quality pigment ink on watercolour paper. If I ever get the time to paint more, there will also be further original paintings for sale.”
Buy Anna Jacobs Products
To find out more about Anna and to buy her products go to the Anna Jacobs Art Website. You can also purchase from Heal’s. To give you an idea of price points, lampshades vary from £60-275, lamp bases are £115-139, cushions are £65-75, art murals are £295-395, greeting cards are £3.25 and tea towels are £12. The new bed linen on pre-sell will start from £100 for a double set. If you visit Heal’s at Tottenham Court Road from 1st May (for a limited period) you take advantage of the 25% reduction on bed linen. To view the products in-store go to Anna’s new shop on Tottenham Court Road, which is actually a Heal’s concession. You’ll find it nestled between the entrances to Heal’s and Habitat. You will often find Anna there on Tuesday and Thursday mornings so please say hello!
Author: Homegirl London. Photographs and Thanks: Anna Jacobs. Disclosure: This feature includes one of my affiliate partners – Heal’s (if you click through from my website and purchase items from the affiliates I will earn a small commission).