Kirsty is a customer who has been using our services for the last 3 or so years. We love her designs! We decided to ask her a few questions about her work and inspirations.
I arrived at art school without really knowing what kind of art I wanted to specialise in, and ended up studying Illustration. I liked the scale I was able to work at in this discipline. After this, I naturally progressed into designing illustrated paper products and established my own brand, which was eventually named Prism of Starlings. It started out 100% paper, then I added fabric, wood, (and soon to work with metal too). I love what I’m doing right now, but I see myself being gradually less of an artisan/maker and more of a designer in the future. This is the part I enjoy the most, and spend most time on.
Animals are the focus of my work. I’m inspired by many things in the natural world, but when I think about the one thing that I would specifically document/photograph to remember, it tends to be repetitive pattern work – just anything that stands out to me, be it old, vintage furniture fabrics, stained glass windows, graffiti murals, sketchbook doodles or architectural structures...
I had never thought about bringing laser cutting into my design work until I started working on a project where I wanted to combine foil and plywood, and after it became apparent that it wasn’t going to be possible to produce a clean result with foil, I looked into etching instead of foil blocking on the wood. It really opened the door to a new environment of design, as before I’d been working almost solely with paper products, so the idea of working with a product that’s machine made, and much more permanent and tactile than a disposable sheet of wrapping paper or card, felt like a leap. I was soon designing jewellery, coasters, pocket mirrors, clocks, decorations etc. and taking advantage of the more versatile and durable nature of wood. I think designs can look more stunning on a material like wood than on paper. Print is everywhere these days, flyers and magazines and junk mail, and it’s very expendable, but a design that’s etched into wood seems more timeless and lasting. I think people can be quite puritanical about “hand-made”, but I personally love the combination of both hand-crafted and machine-produced design. Both have their advantages. I usually add to the laser cut pieces with paints and finishing touches. I replaced my original idea of foil blocking with instead using metallic leaf paints to highlight the etched patterns, and assemble and solder my painted necklaces myself. I think this combination of machine and hand is important for any artist who wishes to take full advantage of technology.
I mostly work with Photoshop, but I find Illustrator’s vector conversion tool very useful as I rarely work with vector lines in any other part of my day-to-day design routine; I’m more of a painter than a digital artist. I’ve become a bit more practised with Illustrator because of the need to use vector for laser so this has affected my practice somewhat.
I think the only thing I find frustrating about the process is the limitation in using very fine detail for etching, because usually I like to work with extremely intricate patterns, and on the scale that I work, they have to be simplified for laser or the pieces just fall apart (which has happened on several occasions when I’ve needed to rework something too fragile.)
I used to mostly cite painters and illustrators as examples of artists whom I am inspired by, but having spent the past five years immersed in stationery design, I’ve become just as interested in brands and makers like Mina Perhonen (fashion), Klaus Haapaniemi (interiors) and Rifle Paper Co (paper goods), as I am inspired by painters and illustrators like Mirko Hanák (watercolour) and Karolin Schnoor (graphic and print). There are so many people using print and pattern in so many different ways that it’s hard to narrow it down. I love Perhonen’s print as I don’t think it necessarily follows the trends, so her designs seem bold and have a very unique edge, and her work is a good example of art which is printed onto everyday products, but is first and foremost art. Hanák is a long-term obsession of mine really. The composition of his watercolours and the skill in the way he uses watercolour is something that I think only years of experience can amount to.
Prism of Starlings