Interview: Cecily Vessey outlines her design inspirations…

Talented London based illustrator Cecily Vessey, whose work is available at ACHICA this week, lends her quirky Londonscapes to prints, kitchenware and stationery. ACHICA Living catches up with her for a coffee near her studio in Kennington to talk sketching out skylines, British business and setting up shop…

You graduated in 2009 and have since started your own company.  Were you nervous about jumping straight in?

Of course - it’s hard not to be nervous. I started selling my products in my third year of uni, on a small market stall in Greenwich. It actually happened very gradually.  After graduating I went to work for textile designer Lisa Stickley, but I always kept my own work in the background. I had an online shop and an Etsy shop. Then the time came last year when I felt ready to leave my job and had the courage to go it alone.

Your products are all designed and manufactured in Britain. What makes British manufacturing important to you?

I really like being able to go to the factory and meet the people who make my products face to face. Also I think, with the way the economy is, it’s important to bring it back home, because a lot of jobs need supporting in Britain. I think if we can do it here that should be the first and foremost thing we do.

What is it about cityscapes that inspires you?

The buildings and the way they merge with each other. I grew up in the middle of nowhere, in South Yorkshire, and the only buildings we had around us were churches. Churches were the main architecture that I saw until I moved to Oxford as a teenager. The impact of seeing the architecture in Oxford is so beautiful, I just drew what I saw around me.

Which of your designs is your personal favourite?

I think it’s got to be the first one I did for commercial purposes, which was Big Ben. It’s nearby and I can hear the chimes at night time. To me, it’s the heart of London.

What made you decide to showcase your cityscapes on homeware and stationery?

I found that I could never find any mugs that I liked - the china was never the right thickness or they would be covered with some garish designs. I’ve just created some wedding cards, because my friend got married so I needed a card for her, so the products evolve like that. Rather than me sitting down and thinking ‘where am I taking this thing?’ it’s more, ‘I need a present for somebody!’

What is your favourite piece of kitchenware at home?

My jugs! I have two of my Skyline pint jugs that are great for everything – flowers, water, squash, and they look great on display too. I also love tea towels – you can never have too many. My favourites at home are my ‘back to back brews’ tea towels by a brand by two sisters called martha and hepsie.

Who in the world of Art and Design inspires you most?

My absolute favourite is Ben Nicholson and his drawings, before he did his relief work. He came from a family of artists and he was thought to be the one that couldn’t draw, because he couldn’t do it the way everyone else did. The way he had the courage to go ahead and draw things how he saw them gave me the courage to create drawings that weren’t perfect.

What advice would you give to budding artists and designers about starting a business?

Just try! It doesn’t matter if it goes wrong. Get out there. There’s no point just sitting in your bedroom drawing if you're not going to have the courage to go and do it. Don’t be afraid to try.

What’s next on the horizon for Cecily Vessy?

Well a group that I work with, We Make London, is creating an exciting book of designer makers in London, which I will be featured in. I also have plans to expand to a larger studio and at the moment I’m creating a collection that will branch out beyond London but still remain true to a sense of Britishness!

The Cecily Vessey promotion at ACHICA starts at 6.30am Wednesday 18th July and ends at 6.30am Saturday 21st July

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Miranda Mazzarella, ACHICA Writer

View all posts by Miranda Mazzarella, ACHICA Writer