British fiber artist Linda Blissett presents her collection. She shares her inspiration and experiences in the market for handmade goods in England.
ABI: What inspires you most when designing textiles?
LB: As a small child I was fascinated by fashions and styles worn by the musicians of the late 70’s/early 80’s (particularly Adam Ant and the New Romantics). I actually started cutting up material to try to make similar outfits for my dolls when I was around 5! My love for the construction & sensuality of fabrics started then.
I started to get interested in the native nature of the British Isles, especially its coastline and tidal spaces, from family holidays to Scotland when I was young. This extended to a deep interest in Celtic mythology and design as I grew older. My family has Scottish roots and this led me to research the history of tartan and what it means. This is still reflected in my work today, hopefully with my own modern twist to them from my inspirations. At school and later college I also discovered and developed a deep affinity with the work of the artists of the Art Nouveau era.
What I also love about weaving my fabrics is that each fabric I create will be different to the other, and all original pieces. As I can never know what the fabric will turn out like until I’ve constructed the fabric. Also the colour and texture of the yarns I choose are very important to ensure that each design has an individual quality to them.
ABI: What is your bestselling item? Why do you think it is so appealing?
LB: My Lulworth design. As the name indicates, this was inspired by one of my many visits to Lulworth Cove in Dorset. I took photographs of the exposed rocks and seaweed left by the outgoing tide, as well as the movement of the sea in the shallows. I was keen to recreate that mood in a fabric weave, so I chose a mixture of yarns from various silks, mohairs, mercerised cotton, slub wool and lurex to translate the textures and colours accordingly. This design has many natural colours going through it, from slate, pastel green, sea green,navy and powder blues and cream with shots of silver. This at the moment is one of my most subtle designs and bestselling in my scarves and bags.
ABI: How do you sell your work?
LB: I sell at contemporary craft/art fairs mainly around London and some exhibitions around the country in the U.K and recently was a finalist for the John Singer Sargent art prize held in the Cotswolds in May 2014. I also sell on selected websites aimed at my target market such as Miratis and Brits home chic.
Also my home studio (Wimbledon Art Studios), has an ‘open studio’ weekend twice a year in which the public can browse and buy artists’ work. This has been very good for me. The public can see how I create my work and what processes are involved. I particularly enjoy this interaction. I am also very excited to be able to show at London Fashion week this September, where I’ll be showcasing my weaves and clothing designs, so I’m hoping this will lead to new ventures.
ABI: What advice would you give to new artists designing a line?
LB: I would say to be careful of organisers who are too keen to take you on at fairs, knowing that their target market is not your target market, and just want you at their events for their own interests. I’ve made so many mistakes in my first year of business learning this. Also to believe in yourself and keep going, and listen to your instincts.