David Wardle and Jane TobittHomegirl London pays homage to Bold & Noble.  Makers of graphic and typographic styled hand pulled screen prints, tea towels and a new line of wallpapers on the horizon.  This company isn’t owned by anyone called Bold or Noble, the couple behind the brand is Jane Tobitt and David Wardle.  Having met in Newcastle on their graphic design degree course, they now live in Hertfordshire where they run their business.  It all started in June 2008 when they couldn’t find any screen prints for their child’s room and they decided to give it a go themselves.  I caught up with enterprising duo to find out more …

Q: Why call the company Bold & Noble?

A: We wanted optimistic adjectives that could be interpreted as surnames.

Q: Tell me about your design backgrounds.

A: We both met on our graphic design degree course in Newcastle during the mid-1990s.  We moved to London, David worked in the art department of publishing houses, while I worked at design and branding consultancies.  After ten years in London, David set up his own design business doing bespoke book cover commissions and that still continues today.  We then moved to Hertfordshire and after the birth of our first child.

Q: Why set up your business?

A: At the time there was a gap in the market.  We couldn’t find decent wall artworks for our son Wilf’s nursery.  We had lots of ideas and loved screen printing so had a stab at it ourselves.  The business grew from there.

Bold & Noble Alphabot

Bold & Noble Alphabot £43

Q: Where are you based and why?

A: We live within a mile of the studio in Hitchin, Hertfordshire.  It’s prefect because we’re in the heart of the market town, great coffee shop next door, but we can be out in the fields within five minutes.  David’s from Newcastle, I’m from near Brighton, so Hertfordshire was a halfway house and easy for both our families to visit.

Q: How many people work at your company?

A: There are five of us huddled up in our studio.  We don’t all work a regular 9 till 5 day, as some of us have families and school runs … but we’ve found a good balance.

Q: Describe your design style.

A: Clean, graphic, botanical, typographic, hopefully meaningful.

Bold & Noble Love

Bold & Noble Love Letters £33

Q: Where do you draw your creative inspiration from?

A: We mull ideas over in our heads for months before they make it onto paper, they can be triggered by something random that develops while we incubate the idea.  The typographic maps came from a book cover David created for one of his first commissions called ‘Atlas of English.’  The Bee Kind print came out of my love of gardening and wanting to celebrate pollen rich flowers to help Bees thrive.  Our London History Map combines our love of typography with geeky pub quiz historical facts.  Sometimes the inspiration is visual, I saw a beautiful bird nest and wanted to visualise the circular form, it ended up being a very graphic, linear interpretation, but the starting point was a much softer natural form.

Bold & Noble Bee Kind

Bold & Noble Bee Kind £43

Q: Tell me about your collections.

A: Our prints tend to fall into six collections: Type Maps, Kids, Love, Words & Letters, Pattern & Nature and Calendars.  We’ve just launched three new tea towel designs: one based around cycling jerseys from the Tour de France, another with the musical icons Morrissey and Bowie and a third collection celebrating Great Seas and Mountains which is called ‘Out of this World.’

Bold & Nobel Tea Towels (2)

 Bold & Noble Cycling Jerseys from the Tour de France Tea Towels £10

Bold & Nobel Tea Towels

Bold & Noble Music Icon Tea Towels £10

Bold & Nobel Tea Towels (3)

Bold & Noble Out of this World Tea Towels £10

Q: What’s your fascination with maps?

A: It started with my granddad who worked for the Ordnance Survey drawing maps, he was also a designer and we were very close.  When he died I inherited a shoe box full of his London underground maps dating from 1910 onwards, all hand drawn, pre-computers.  I could look at maps for hours.

Bold & Noble London History Timeline

Bold & Noble London History Timeline £33

Q: Tell me about your bespoke service.

A: We’ve created one off commissions for commercial clients and individuals and also adapt our existing designs to colour match or highlight places within our maps.  Anything goes so long as it fits with our ethos.

Q: Which creative person / company do you admire and why?

A: Eric Ravillious – his drawings have such a lightness of touch.  I love his textures and the subject matter on the Sussex Downs where I grew up.

Q: What’s the best thing about owning your own business?

A: The flexibility of balancing family life and work.  That can sometimes back fire as we end up working nights and weekends on commissions or for design shows, but mostly it works for us, rather than against us.  We also having the freedom to experiment and try new things, even if they don’t end up in our shop.

Q: What one piece of advice would you pass on to someone wanting to set up their own business?

A: Perseverance works.

Q: What new and exciting projects have you got planned?

A: We’re just finalising the colours and printing processes for our new wallpaper collection which launches early next year.  All our products are produced as ethically as possible within the UK, so it’s been a fine balance getting the price point to be in line with our values and affordable for our customers, but we’re there now.

The products start at £10 and go up to £63 for their largest format prints.  The new wallpapers will be around £50 per roll.  You can products from Bold & Noble.  Credits: text by Homegirl London, images courtesy of Bold & Noble, special thanks to Jane Tobitt, David Wardle and Sarah McLaughlin.