Meet Linsey Kelly: It's The Small Things That Count

As a big fan of tiny details, designer Linsey Kelly, is drawn to the natural world as well as traditional pattern making techniques with a touch of quirky. She lives near the sea and escapes to the shores regularly to reset and recharge.

Known for her ‘more is more’ style of art, here she takes a moment away from her drawing board to talk about the ups and downs of freelance life, her accomplishments thus far and what is on her ever-growing bucket list.
Hello Linsey, thanks for taking the time to chat. Let’s start with you, where did you grow up and where do you live now?
Hello! I was born and grew up just outside Edinburgh, Scotland. After graduating I moved down to London for a while then came back to Edinburgh and now live in Leith which is the area just north of the city by the sea.

How would you describe your designs?
An explosion of fun and colour drawing inspiration from the natural world and traditional pattern making techniques including block printing, Indonesian batik and Dutch wax print along with quirky conversational elements drawn from the animal world.
Talk me through your creative process.
I usually sketch a rough plan and put together a mood board and then get down to drawing. I’m always taking photographs when I’m out and about so I have a whole array of pictures to draw from. I work through a mixture of hand and computer tablet drawing, and then produce the final design in Photoshop. I really admire creatives that work in traditional techniques like linocut and watercolour – I just can’t work without a ctrl+z in my life! I like to build as I go rather than sticking to a rigid plan so working on the computer gives me that freedom. I think it also comes from working in a fast-paced commercial environment – brands want work submitted digitally for print production, so my style has evolved to suit that process.

Considering the climate we are in, what has changed for you due to a global pandemic?
It’s been such a strange time but amazing to see how people have adapted. Pre-COVID I was working full time for a textile studio designing prints for fashion brands internationally. I’d always had at the back of my mind to start my own thing as well, but never really had the time to do it. That all changed when lockdown happened here in the UK. I decided to make use of my time and started working on my own print collection. Now a year on things have grown and opportunities have cropped up, including this partnership with Nerida Hansen.
When and how did you meet Nerida Hansen?
Instagram! I followed her for a while and reached out to say hello. Turned out she already knew my work from Instagram too and it all just grew from there. I love how Instagram makes it so easy to connect with other creative people all around the world.

Funny, what did we ever do without Instagram! Tell me about your upcoming designs for Nerida Hansen Fabrics. What were your inspirations for this body of work?
In terms of imagery ‘Indoor Jungle’ and ‘Palm Paradise’ are both prints created during the first lockdown here. Indoor Jungle was inspired by all my houseplant friends and Palm Paradise was dreaming of warmer climes during the dreary Scottish winter!

In a wider context I draw a lot of my inspiration from the natural world and traditional pattern making techniques including block printing, Indonesian batik and Dutch wax. I love all the intricate details and the non-perfect ‘mistakes’ in the printing process that just make it all the more beautiful.
Do you enjoy seeing your designs on everyday objects and garments?
Yes! It’s always so fun to see what my prints end up on. I come from a fashion print background so am most used to seeing clothing but hope to see more in interiors and homeware in the future. It’s nice to give context to a print and fun when they cross over from fashion into interiors - Indoor Jungle is also available as wallpaper which is pretty cool!

Do you have a typical day, what does it look like?
I mix between doing my own work and client work, so no two days are the same.

I usually wake around 7.30am as my husband leaves for work and he lets our puppy Olive up on the bed for a snuggle. Typically, I’ll snooze my alarm a few times (definitely NOT a morning person!) I’ll have a quick look over my emails and Instagram and make a mental note of anything that needs a quick reply. (I know all the research says phones first thing in bed is a terrible idea but I just can’t help it – maybe that can be a 2022 resolution.)

Once I’m up I’ll head out for a quick walk with the dog at the local park and then sit down at my desk in my home studio around 9.00am to make a plan for the day.

I’ll then work on whatever I’m prioritising for that day, usually with a podcast on in the background. The afternoon is post office time if I need to and then if it’s a nice day I’ll head down to the beach for a walk with Olive. We’re lucky to live so close to the sea and I always feel better after I’ve been down there.

Back at my desk I’ll try to tick off whatever else is on my to do list and try to sign off around 7.00pm. To be honest the days go too fast and it’s a juggle to fit everything in. A lot of this is new to me so there are ups and downs, good days and bad. The freelance life has been a learning curve and a lot of work but I’m loving it so watch this space!

Who has inspired you the most to date and why? Whose careers do you follow?
Ooh there are so many! Historically I am very inspired by William Morris and Josef Frank. The details and flow of William Morris’ designs is just so effortless and is something I’m still trying to emulate! Designs from the Arts & Crafts movement in general are just so beautiful.

I admire Josef Frank’s textile prints for many of the same reasons. I love all the zingy colour and detail he has in his work while still looking a bit quirky and free. Again, I’m a sucker for all the tiny details!

Linsey, do you have a dream collaboration or project that is on your ‘bucket list’?
I’d LOVE to have my own line of products crossing over fashion and interiors for a brand like Anthropologie - when I was studying for my Masters a decade ago creating a multi-discipline brand to cross over fashion and interiors was the focus so that really would be coming full circle.

I’d also love to broaden my scope and work on packaging as I’ve never done that before and would really love to publish a book!

What is in the pipeline for you the remainder of the year?
I’m hoping to wind down some of my client work to focus more on my own brand. Building on existing partnerships and forging new ones.

On a more practical level, I’m hoping to move out of working from my spare room into a proper studio space!

Give me three words that best sum up your art.
Colourful, fun, intricate.

What advice would you offer to those that are starting out as an artist?Just go for it! It sounds so cliche but starting really is the hardest part. I put off starting my own thing for so long, I think through fear of the unknown and fear of failure. But the reality is that once you are in it you just learn as you go and yes there are mistakes but you learn and move on! Enjoy the ride and take each day as it comes.
To finish with, what work are you most proud of?
This is a hard one! I’m so super critical of my own work, I often need to remind myself to take the time to celebrate the wins.

Having prints of mine featured on beautiful dresses for Anthropologie and seeing them in a magazine feature was a pretty amazing moment and also seeing my Botanical Eden print coming to life as wallpaper is so cool – I can’t wait until I see it actually hanging somewhere!

As much as there have been some great moments so far, I truly believe the best is yet to come.

Get your hands on Linsey's designs at www.neridahansen.com.au.