Printmaker and designer Fanny Shorter has a real passion for printing. Since initially studying illustration at Brighton University she has now carved her way into textile and print design, and the results are stunning. We caught up with her and found out how printing changed the way she worked and what makes her tick!
How and when did you discover screen printing as a medium, and did it changed the way you work?
Predictably, I first used screen printing during an induction at university. If I’m honest I didn’t really understand how it worked and the print room was overbooked and closely guarded so I didn’t pursue it any further at the time. When I left university a technician at my old school gave me a refresher one summer and for a few years I was exposing screens in my bedroom with a UV bulb and washing them out in my mum’s bath.
It has definitely made me work in a certain way. I used to use a lot of pen and wash before but tonal variations are difficult to reproduce in screen printing. It really made me think about the way I used colour and how one colour works when layered over another. I think my work needed some boundaries and screen printing has provided those. It’s also a reassuringly physical way to work and provides you with a very practical antidote to the unquantifiable creative part of the design process.
You say that you’re inspired by your ‘English heritage’ and childhood, do you have any favourite artist/ designers that influence your designs?
William Morris is a hero. Growing up, our house was full of it. His designs are so varied and yet so familiar but it was his dedication not only to design but to the craftsmanship involved in making the final products that I really admire.
Do you ever hit a creative wall and if so what is your first source of inspiration to get you back on track?
It does happen but only very occasionally not because I’m incurably imaginative but simply because very often I have a backlog of half finished ideas that haven’t ever made it to print as running the business is so time consuming. In a real panic I’d probably hit the V&A or Kew Gardens or go on holiday if nothing else worked.
Have you got any exciting projects or commissions that you can tell us about for 2015?
We are stocking Liberty for the first time, which is very exciting. We’re also launching fabric by the metre for curtains and upholstery in the next month or so.
Last year you won a prestigious ‘Confessions of a Design Geek Award’ how did this help you grow your business and what was the best part of winning the award?
Part of the prize was a stand at Home London (an interiors trade show). It was a real baptism of fire but undoubtedly made the most difference to my business in terms of growth. I got my first real stockists there and it launched the wholesale side of my business.
I think meeting all the different people involved with the bursary was the best part. It can be quite daunting starting your own business and the support provided by the network of people associated with the bursary was invaluable.
What advice would you give to new designers entering the world of design and print?
Either make sure you have an employer or be prepared to take some big risks, give it more than everything you’ve got and get used to living on the cheap for many years!