Homegirl London pays homage to Paul Farrell. This Bristol-based artist and graphic designer making a number of cool products including; prints, notebooks, cards, shopping bags, cushions, mugs and vinyl decals for walls. The common theme is graphic art inspired by nature (trees), birds (seagulls, crows, pigeons, swallows) and the occasional animal (husky dogs and bears). He uses an interesting colour pallet and combines with strong visuals to produce interesting pieces – like the quirky Carrier Pigeon Cotton Shopper. His work is super simple, brilliantly bold and cleverly colourful. I caught up with Paul to ask him a few questions …
Q: Tell me about your graphic design training.
A: A Foundation course in Art and Design at Bristol Polytechnic in 1985 followed by a degree in Graphic Design at Middlesex Polytechnic for a further 3 years. Beyond that, I managed to get a job in London in 1988 when graduating. I’ve had several jobs before spending most of my time at Bostock & Pollitt in Covent Garden. I never really dismissed my ink and brush when the computer arrived in the 90s and would illustrate for projects and look forward to branding projects where I could craft and continue to illustrate a company with a selection of reference points. Spending time as a Graphic Designer gave me experience in business; how best to deal with the client and I have attempted to add this to how I work with retailers, customers and suppliers alike.
Q: What made you decide to create your own product range?
A: Because as a designer I was a little tired of creating things for other people and naturally wanted items printed for myself. I started producing my first greeting cards by getting favours from printers I used. My personal Christmas cards each year were always tagged onto other print jobs thus making it cheap. Deep down I’ve also always wanted to have some form of ‘shop’ to open to the public and create to please myself and others.
Q: How did you arrive at your trademark style?
A: As mentioned my main interest was the brand design and the graphic arts and I relished the challenge of representing and illustrating subject simply and clearly. The simplest designs are typically the strongest and therefore the most memorable and effective. I’ve continued this approach and interest when it comes to depicting the simple form and beauty of the natural world which is my other favoured subject – be it the striking silhouette of a dead tree or the markings of a bird’s plumage. Colour is equally important and I devote much of my time sourcing and creating interesting combinations as well as titling each image.
Q: Where does your love of nature come from?
A: I guess it stemmed from being firstborn and having to entertain myself. This would usually comprise of going to the surrounding countryside and that’s where I felt as ease and was happiest. It was encouraged by my parents and I soon became a member of various nature clubs including the Bristol museum club.
Q: What’s the fascination with birds?
A: It’s obviously one of the nature boxes ticked but in all honesty, it’s the fact that there are so many different kinds – shapes, sizes, colours and behaviour.
Q: What’s your fascination with trees?
A: The same as for the birds but when it comes to depicting one of nature’s best images and forms there is no better than a towering tree and in particular one that is dead. Again there are so many varieties and their scale, colour and locations all add up to a marvellous spectacle.
Q: You live in Bristol – how does Bristol inspire you?
A: I’ve recently been reflecting on how suitable Bristol has been and since returning to it 3 or so years ago how accommodating it has been for new work and to help business and creativity flourish. There are so many galleries and selling opportunities here. The creative community is vast and recognised. I am now a member of a screen printing studio and share my time with other illustrators and printmakers so we are always inspiring each other. It’s also extremely conducive to be where your heart is!
Q: What new products/designs are you working on?
A: I’m currently working on cushion covers. The results are encouraging because they’re a useful item for the home and I’m developing an idea that has two sides. I guess each customer gets two designs for the price of one and the idea is that each side can suit a different mood or style I hope.
Q: Tell me about your bespoke services.
A: My bespoke services are not that evident but any customer certainly receives a speedy, friendly one-to-one reply and service. I’ve created commissions and make sure that most products are affordable and ecologically considered.
Q: Who has inspired you most in your career and why?
A: My mother’s father, because he taught me at a very early age to copy what I saw and I have applied this to all that is about me.
Q: What advice can you pass onto artists/designers who want to launch their own business and sell their wares?
A: Something which is quite key and what I put into practice with redundancy money is to design and get produced as many products as possible at the start. That way you will know where your strengths lie and what is popular with the customer and with yourself. A wide variety of items is appealing to a retailer and attempt to create new products to keep the interest going.
If you’d like to buy Paul’s products take a look at his website Paul Farell where you can purchase directly or locate the nearest stockist. See below for a selection of Paul’s work. Credits: text by Homegirl London, images courtesy of Paul Farrell, special thanks to Paul Farrell.
Tree Prints, starting from £60
Tea Towels, £8.99