I am a designer/illustrator, creating unique illustrations inspired by the natural world and family events with a modern heritage approach. I apply my designs to create every day products including lampshades and cushions, home textiles, prints and greeting cards.
Flowers, Foraging, Fishing, Beach-combing
I create my illustrations after drawing inspiration from Cornish Nature. Beach combing with my Labradoodle Rufus, searching the strandline for interesting shells, pebbles and seaweeds. Also family fishing trips, visiting botanical gardens and foraging for elderflowers, nuts and sloes along Cornwall’s unique hedgerows have proved to be a fantastic inspiration for my work. I start off my designs as rough sketches in gouache paint, which I then digitise so that I can apply them to any printed surface, whether it is fabric, or paper, or lasercut from wood.
How and Why
My dad changed my life. In 1996 we visited my parents in Perranporth in the late summer. It had been an eventful year, I had given birth to my daughter, my beloved granny had died and my dad had been seriously ill with chicken pox he caught from my son. Recovering from his spell in intensive care, my dad bought a computer, not like the ones I had used for work, this one had a colour screen, and connected up to this network called the World Wide Web with a sequence of high pitched tones if you plugged it into the phone line. The BBC had a website. He took me to a special evening hosted by the company he had bought his computer from, where they talked about the future, it was digital and it was worldwide and it was mind blowing. I decided then that at some point in the future when my children were a bit older I wanted to go back to college and study how to make these ‘websites’.
Four years later, 2000, I had moved to Cornwall and enrolled to study an HND in Multi media design. I absolutely loved it. I learnt how to use computer software (which now is obsolete) like 3D studio max, Director, and Flash, I recreated and animated a forklift truck in a warehouse (which took all night to render on the colleges machines. I built websites and animated presentations using Flash and Director and learnt to hand-code html. I made posters and drew artwork using Illustrator and learnt to edit photos in Photoshop. Once I had read bedtime stories and put my children to bed, I would stay up until 2 in the morning, working out how things worked, pouring over text books (not many resources on YouTube in those days).
While I was working as a web and graphic designer (portfolio of work) (Not as creative as I imagined it to be, a lot of email wrangling and code tweaking) I pursued my creative energy by signing up for printmaking evening courses, and by creating fabric collage pictures, initially by hand cutting individual tiny bits of vintage fabric. In 2011 I made my first pictures from laser cut fabrics. Then a screen printing workshop was the impetus for a new direction and I began selling my screenprints at design fairs around Cornwall. The response I received encouraged me to develop my ideas further, and I developed a range of placemats and coasters, fine bone china mugs, greeting cards and fine art prints.
In 2017 I started to make lampshades with fabric printed with my illustrations, they became so popular and I expanded my range of floral and seaside inspired designs, selling online and at events and eventually they have become my best seller. Now I am obsessed with lampshades! I notice they are in almost every scene of every film I watch! They are a great way to create a mood in a room, or add a dash of colour and vibrancy.
Colours and Flowers
I love bold colours, and especially the gorgeous colours created by nature. I spent my childhood living in a group of islands called Vanuatu, in the Pacific. My parents were keen gardeners and my daily job as a child was to water the plants in the orchid house. My dad had built a wooden structure around a Flamboyant tree and my mum kept her collection of orchids there. I think growing up with bright exotic colours has emerged from my imagination in later life as I try to recreate them with bold bright colours in my designs.
Bellyboarding and the Sea
Some of my designs have been inspired by living near the sea, and enjoying bellyboarding with wooden boards with my family. My grandparents are from Perranporth, and my mum lives there now. Her house is near to the beach, so during the summer months we head down with our wooden boards and have wonderful and invigorating fun in the water. I’ve written a blog post about the story behind these designs which you can read by clicking here.
Etsy Makers Cornwall, a local Etsy team of Etsy sellers in Cornwall
In 2016 I co-founded the local Etsy team Etsy Makers Cornwall, organising the first ever Etsy Made Local Fair in Cornwall, which took place at the Guildhall St Ives. After three successful years in St Ives we moved the event to Penryn Campus Sports Hall in November 2019 and over 5,000 visitors spent £76k on our 70 stallholders.
Eventually in 2020 my co-organisers and I decided to drop the word Etsy from our Makers Cornwall name, and to make the group more inclusive to other makers who didn’t sell on Etsy. I built a website which has become a directory for the makers during our live events, and we hope to build on this for the future.
Makers Cornwall website and directory of Makers : makerscornwall.co.uk
Makers Cornwall – the Community
Join our Facebook Group Etsy Makers Cornwall if you would like to find out more about these events. In 2020 our Facebook group has proved to be an invaluable resource and networking opportunity for micro businesses like mine who sell on Etsy or our own websites.
Vintage Surf – Belly Boarding Illustrations ::
My grandparents Arthur Roy Tamblyn and Olive Augusta (née Wescott) grew up in Perranporth, Cornwall, and along with their cousins and siblings were there at the start of British surfing. Tom Tremewan* first began making wooden boards after the First World War, following requests from men returning from South Africa. I’ve written a blog post about the inspiration behind my Vintage Surf range.
My Great Uncle Arthur Westcott** was still surfing when he was well into his 70s. When staying with my granny in Perranporth as a child, I recall seeing him strolling down to the beach with his wooden board under his arm. In the 1950s he made his own Malibu board out of oak. It was so heavy that he also built a trolley to transport it down to the beach. To stop himself from falling off the board he glued sand onto the top. Apparently he had a lot of scratches.
Family photos, along with visiting the World Belly Boarding Championships in Chapel Porth have inspired me to create the Vintage Surf series showing men and women on the beach with their wooden belly boards, knitted costumes and flowery swim hats.
Designed to evoke a day at the Great British seaside.
*Tom Tremewan was married to my grandfather’s sister Winnie. He was a builder and undertaker in Perranporth, and in his autobiography “A Builder’s Life in Perranporth” he mentions first making the boards which then became a commercial venture.
**Arthur Wescott ran Westcott’s Electrical and Hardware shop in Perranporth.
Unlocking Potential – Communication Revolution
Unlocking Potential asked me to join a panel of speakers at their Future Focus Wear it Well event, to talk about the digital communication revolution and how this has had an impact on small creative businesses like mine. To find out more visit: https://www.unlocking-potential.co.uk/wear-it-well-etsy-makers-cornwall
When I started my business I signed up to an 8 week workshop on how to start up a business, and ended up being featured in a marketing campaign by Outset Cornwall, called Choose Outset. I was invited to speak on Radio Cornwall about the experience of starting up my own business, with photos in bus stop adverts, ad vans travelling around Cornwall and in cinema advertising.
All my work is copyrighted to me, Alison Bick. All Rights Reserved. Please do not create derived works from my original copyrighted work.