Illustration is enjoying a boom, something Fee Greening puts down to the need to balance out all the technology in our fast paced lives. Using traditional quills and dip pen and ink, Fee’s beautiful illustrations are influenced by Flemish, Medieval and Gothic art and have been seen everywhere from Gucci’s BLOOM campaign to a range of Christmas cards now on sale at Liberty. We catch up with the Londoner about life in the studio:
I live in an old shop in De Beauvoir/Dalston. I love it here, its is beautiful and quiet but the Kingsland Road is only a street away if you want to eat or go out in the evening.
How did you get into illustration?
I have always drawn since a child and I just kept going. My style has never altered since I was a teenager. I studied at Central Saint Martins and The Royal College of Art and then went freelance.
You use quills and dip pen and ink – why this medium?
I got given a dip pen when I was young. They are very hard to draw with initially, they drip a lot and the ink doesn’t run off nicely unless you get the angle right. I really enjoyed mastering a fiddly technique and have carried on using it ever since.
What do you need from a studio space and which items do you keep on your desk?
I share a studio with my friends designer Luke Edward Hall and writer Daisy Stenham. It is in Highbury so I can walk there with my dog. It is olive green and incredibly cosy. My desk is an antique flemish bureau desk. It is carved with demon heads and their mouths are the handles. I am obsessed with medieval illuminated manuscripts so as soon as I found the desk I knew I had to have it even though I know most people find it intensely creepy.
What’s your favourite artwork in London?
Favourite walk in London?
Definitely Hampstead Heath. I met my closest friends when we lived in an old house in Highgate Village, it was a bit of a coming-of-age moment. I try to go to the Heath most weekends and walk the same route I’ve walked for years. I find the familiarity very reassuring and resets me for the week.
What’s it like working with big names like Gucci, Alex Eagle and Missoma?
Starting out freelance is really hard work and pretty soul destroying so you start to doubt your abilities.The best thing about working with those brands was the feeling when I got the first email from them. I literally danced around my laptop. It was so rewarding to be recognised by brands I love so much after slogging it out for so long, Alex Eagle was the first person to take a punt on me, she is so good at supporting new talent.
What’s inspiring you right now?
I am about to start on my second mural on a house my friend interior designer Rachel Chudley is working on. So I am currently looking at old frescoes by Giotto and reading a lot about colour theory and paint techniques.
What’s in the pipeline?
I have a new range of ceramic trinket pots and Christmas cards which are now available on my website and at Liberty. The pots are silk screen printed from my watercolours of curiosities. This is the busiest time of year for me so I am squirrelled away trying to get on top of my Christmas commissions but in the new year I will be expanding the ceramics range.
Trinket pot, £45 libertylondon.com