Saltie Crafts - With Isla Simpson
If you love sea-shells, frills and flowers then the world of Isla Simpson is going to whisk you away. We caught up with Isla for our #SaltieCrafts series, to explore her love of the seaside, what she could draw all day long and the power of a written letter - sent in a crab envelope of course ;)
Where does your love of chintz and charm come from?
It’s what I like to call my ‘Mum & Dad style’ - one hundred percent inherited from my parents and having grown up in that 80s Laura Ashley, country cottage, William Morris cosy era. As for the charm, I think you’ll have to ask my Father, he has it in buckets and spades!
Do you have a favourite medium that you like to work with?
Currently, I’m very fond of using glass paint on mirrors, it’s quite a restrained technique. But I’ll happily work collaging papers one day, digitally painting the next - it keeps things fresh!
Your collages focus on flowers. Do you have a particular flower, or family of flowers that you most enjoy capturing?
Who doesn’t love tulips, they are just magic. You wake up every morning and they’ve morphed into a new shape. That moment just before they go over……that’s the best!
Your love of the sea is also apparent with your gorgeous shell, crab and sailing illustrations. What is it about the seaside that you love?
We did lots of dinghy sailing as children, with my Arthur Ransome fan of a Father. Holidays were always spent on the Channel Islands. And I find shells to be nature’s best decoration, but I enjoy them in a very designed stylistic way, think Victorian shell grotto! I feel my most relaxed when I can hear the waves crashing, I keep fantasising about the sea now we’re in Lockdown.
What’s your favourite seaside spot in the UK?
Daymer Bay is always special and nostalgic. I can’t leave without seeing St Enodoc Church.
What are your work desk essentials?
A fountain pen commits ideas to the mind. A tape measure is never far from my shoulders and my iPad, which has changed how I work. My iPad is my sketchbook that goes everywhere with me and I’d say a lot of flowers grow from shells on those pages.
What could you draw all day?
My British shorthair cat Mr Wooster puss. He handsomely drapes himself over everything, and I enjoy trying to capture his character and anatomy. His presence is the most relaxing companionship.
You have a beautiful letter writing range. What do you see as being the joys in letter writing?
Letter writing is an art form and a great way to grab somebody’s attention in the digital age. People who have sent my illustrated envelopes have got auditions and dream job interviews. Everyone is so desperate to open something joyous, not just another brown bill.
You’ve also applied your illustrations to home accessories. Do you have more planned for homewares in the future?
Yes, I’m currently designing some tabletop accessories which I’m thrilled to finally have time to design. My dream commission would be to design and manufacture my own range of ceramic tableware.