Inspired by her home in the South West and love of gardening, Angela Spurgeon uses flora and fauna in her motifs to much aplomb. We find out how Angela manages to juggle designing, launching a new collaboration and motherhood in our latest ‘Designer of the Week’ feature.
What is your studio name and location?
I’m based in Somerset, my studio name is simply my name, Angie Spurgeon. You can also find me as Artwork By Angie, as that was the name I used when I first started out.
Where did you study (if you did)?
I studied at University of Plymouth, way back when the art faculty was based in Exeter. I have a BA Hons in graphic design and illustration. Since working freelance as an illustrator and graphic designer, I have found a love of creating patterns and recently taught myself, with the help of YouTube and Skillshare, to create surface pattern work. I am still learning this side of design but am enjoying it very much.
Describe your design process
When I get a spark of an idea, I usually scribble something down, a note or a doodle, in my notebook or on a scrap of paper. Then I gather those scraps of notes, along with any research, colour palettes and inspirational images so that when I’m ready to set to work and develop a design they are all ready and waiting for me. I tend to start with line drawing on paper with a black fibre tipped pen and then use those drawings to colour digitally. At the moment it tends to be mostly in Illustrator because I find it easier to quickly apply my designs to so many different design formats.
What is your favourite part of the design process from inspiration, drawing to the final printed fabric/product?
I love drawing with a fibre tip pen on paper. It reminds me of being a child enjoying doodling with my felt tips. I also love colouring up the designs digitally. Those two parts of the process are where I get lost in the moment and are my main reason for wanting to do this for a living.
Who do you design for? Who is your muse?
Working with my licensing clients over the past few years, I’ve learnt what their stockists need for their customers and that definitely influences how I approach my designs and informs my design decisions. Best of all, my clients tend to be a good fit with what I want to design, there seems to be a shared love of nature, wildlife and bright colours.
What first sparked your interest in print design?
I’ve always loved pretty, printed stationery and fabrics. As a student, in the days before Pinterest and Instagram, I used to have a pin board covered in collected cards, wraps and things I loved the designs of. Before going freelance, I worked in advertising for many years and during that time I learnt lots about print production. Those things lead me to where I am now. When I first set up on my own, it was my own range of greeting cards that got the ball rolling for me.
Describe your style in 5 words
Bright, colourful, pretty, floral and cheerful.
What is your favourite medium to work in and why? (Watercolour, gouache, fine liner pens, digital, collage)
I love simply drawing with a pen. I enjoy working digitally and sometimes dabbling with watercolour, but nothing tops just sitting and drawing.
What / who are your major influences?
I am very inspired by the nature that surrounds us. I love living in the South West and that influences me a lot. When I’m not designing, I enjoy pottering in our garden. I’ve found learning gardening not only helps with getting inspired to design, but also helps me plan and run my design business and creative process. There are lots of similar disciplines involved. For example, planting seeds (ideas), feeding and attending to them, but most of all, learning to have masses of patience to wait for the those seeds to bloom even after all the hard work and attention you have given them.
What has been your career highlight so far?
I always get excited when I spot my designs in shops when I am out and about. The further away from home I am when I spot them the more excited I am. The biggest highlight for me has to be still doing this nine years after I launched my first card design collection.
Your biggest challenge you have faced as a designer
Time. Having enough time to create all the ideas in my head is definitely the most challenging of all. I work from home and have two daughters and like all mums, I’ve learnt to juggle everything but it is a challenge. If I had been in this situation before the internet and social media, I doubt I would be able to do this at all. Being able to work from home using the internet to connect to the rest of the world has enabled me to have the opportunity to work this way. So while it’s a challenge it is also a big blessing.
Best exhibition/museum/research trip/inspirational place
London is my favourite place to go on an inspirational trip. To me, the V&A is the best place for researching the decorative arts. A little visit to Liberty London is great for the decorative soul too. Here in the south west, we have lots of wonderful National Trust and English Heritage sites that are a fantastic source of inspiration.
Favourite music when designing
I often have the radio on, mostly Radio 6, they play the sort of things I enjoy so it’s easy.
What are you working on at the moment?
I’m developing lots of new nature inspired designs. Also, I am in the process of working with a new licensing partner and fingers crossed, they will be launching my first collection with them very soon. I am very excited about it as it’s a very different product to anything I have worked on before, but a great fit for the sort of things I love to design.
What do you hope to accomplish in the future?
My biggest hope for the long term future is to continue working as a designer enjoying developing the designs I create. In the near future, I hope the new collection launches well.
Do you have any tips for new designers starting out?
The best tip I can give is to simply keep at it. Try and do something positive every day, no matter how small to help move you a little closer to your goals. It takes time, hard work and lots of learning, usually the hard way. The more work you produce the better you’ll get with practice and increase your chances of having success with a few designs. Usually it only takes only a few successful designs to keep going. Persistence helps make you lucky in the long run. Good luck.
You can purchase Angela's beautiful designs here