Here’s a nice little feature on upcycling old books – one of our own passions:
Here’s a nice little feature on upcycling old books – one of our own passions:
CLOSING DATE: WEDNESDAY 29 AUGUST 2012 AT MIDNIGHT.
We are delighted to announce a successful outcome to a recent challenge to our intellectual property, with thanks to the invaluable assistance from ACID (Anti-Copying In Design).
We had such a great response to our 10% off deal so in the spirit of all things Christmas, we’ve decided to extend it for one more week. And this time, we’ll even include a set of 5, handmade gift tags if you spend over £25.00… What are you waiting for?
To brighten up these chilly autumn days here’s a special offer to make your early Christmas shopping all the more worthwhile
10% off !
Just use this exclusive discount code at checkout: autumn11
You can use the code as many times as you like and you’re welcome to share it with your friends and family too. But hurry, offer ends 30 November 2011.
Please tell us about your art and design background: I have a background in knitwear design and illustration and have just completed a degree in design and realisation at London College of fashion. I have a keen interest in sustainability and ethical issues in design and production. My interest in sustainability took me to India with the British Fashion Council, the outcome of which was showcased at London Fashion week in 2009. I started working at Bombus a year and a half ago whilst studying part-time.
Why does Bombus draw their own maps? At Bombus we have a vast collection of maps. However, as many of our maps are vintage, some countries or towns of contemporary interest are not excellently represented. Customers are often keen to have a beach or a modern holiday resort named on their maps. Sometimes it is impossible to find the correct scale of vintage map to fit in Bombus’ signature heart. We never use copies of maps, and therefore it is not possible to ‘zoom’ in or out. Drawing our own maps means that we can create the perfect scale and include any focal points that our customers might require.
Do you think of yourself as an illustrator or a cartographer? I consider myself an illustrator rather than a cartographer. However the accuracy with which I interpret geographical information is of great importance to me. I have found it very interesting to see the level of creative design in each map that I have researched. Bombus maps are certainly inspired by the very rich and colourful history of cartography, but it is also important to us that our maps are representative of Bombus’ own design aesthetic.
Could you please describe a ‘typical’ workflow when working on an illustration of a map I begin each illustration by looking at several maps in different styles as inspiration. These come from our own collection or from online research. I begin all illustrations by meticulously hand drawing before transferring the images to computer to edit and complete. The process is a highly collaborative one, with each map being discussed at length with everyone at Bombus until we all agree that it is ready to use.
What tools do you use, hardware and software? I use pen, ink and water colour. I scan several hand-drawn images and use a combination of Adobe Photoshop and Illustrator to complete the images. We print the maps onto vintage paper that we recycle and select from atlases or old books.
How do you choose colours? Bombus’ colour palate is inspired by our favourite maps. We often find our favourite colour combinations in geographical charts and graphs. If we find a particularly striking one, it goes on our giant mood board in the studio. Several of the staff at Bombus have a background in textiles and have good training in colour theory. As a weaver Amelia is an especially good colour resource.
What do you draw on for inspiration? Apart from the maps in our collection we have a vast resource of design books at the studio. In addition to this we have books on most subjects including gardening, children’s stories, insects, birds and even anatomy. We all regularly take time to choose our favourite images for the mood board. Personally I find textile books very useful for research and inspiration. The textures of weave and knit structures are often used in Bombus maps, as are geometric patterns and shapes found in nature. Use of texture is definitely as important as colour to me. I think working in countryside has a great impact on our work. It is hard to run out of inspiration in a thatched barn on a farm. There is design information wherever you look!
What can students do to prepare themselves to become a good illustrator? I joined Bombus just one day a week for work experience. I think Amelia took me on because I was prepared to work hard and passionately, even though I was still a student at the time. Apart from working hard I think being very observant is the most important part of being an illustrator. It is important to be patient and be open to continual learning. Sometimes a map illustration can take days or weeks to get right. I am still going back to some of my earlier designs and re working them.
What is your favourite part of being Bombus’ in-house illustrator? I love the community spirit of working at Bombus. We are all friends and have great fun together, however busy we are with orders we always have a cooked, shared lunch which we take turns in making. We all muck in to every part of the design and production process and are all very respectful of each other’s talents. Amelia also sees it as very important that our own practice is nurtured at work and sees our very individual talents as assets.
Being given the opportunity to work as an illustrator at this early stage in my career is very rare and wonderful opportunity. I feel extremely fortunate to love my job and genuinely look forward to work every day.
We met Bea, who was also an exhibitor at the Creek Creative Designers Fair in Faversham, Kent in May. She is a graduate from Chelsea School of Art and Design and has been accepted onto an MA at The RCA to study Woven Textiles. This is the same course that Amelia, the director of Bombus graduated from and so the two had quite an affinity.
Bea joined the Bombus team during the summer holidays and has recently started the MA. Before she left, we asked her about her experience, working with us. We wish her all the very best of luck with the course and hope she may be able to join us again during the holidays.
What have you learnt from working at Bombus? I have become more aware of what’s involved in running a business and I’ve learnt the importance of small details and finishing touches such as sending a thank-you note out with the order. Bombus make great use of all the off-cuts of the maps, using them to make confetti, which is included in the packaging when an item is sent to a customer. It’s a really lovely touch.
Is there anything you will be able to take away from Bombus into college life? Definitely the idea of brand consistency. I think it would be a good idea to think of myself as a brand and business already in terms of the work I produce being distinctively my own. Throughout my time at college I will hopefully try to build this ‘look’ to be something quite polished and perhaps suitable as a starting block to create my own business. Bombus has taught me how important the customer is. A design will only really work if it is coveted and people are willing to buy it. There is a desire for bespoke map hearts and that is why the business works. But it is also vital as a designer not to rest on your laurels. Whilst we are constantly busy at Bombus with orders, Amelia will make time to design something new and I think this is key to a growing business.
What are your further career ideas and aspirations? I would love to have my own business one day. Seeing how Amelia has started Bombus and witnessing the inner-workings has inspired and encouraged me to think seriously about it. Whilst my course at the Royal College is specified in weave I wouldn’t necessarily say I will continue in such a narrow field. I have enjoyed designing accessories in the past (specifically bags for my BA graduate collection) and I would like to get some more experience in the textile industry but I couldn’t be more specific than that. I’m sure in the next two years at the RCA my plans will change.
Where do you draw your inspiration from? I have been quite inspired by some of the books I’ve flicked through at Bombus, specifically one about Bauhaus and Colour Theory. I also got a little obsessed with the stamps whilst making a single heart. I’d never really thought much about the design of stamps and some are beautiful little art works in their own right. I especially liked the Olympic ones and thought they’d be good to keep for a special 2012 Olympics piece.
I’m also a fan of Amelia’s new patchwork inspired pieces. I love the way she has pieced decoupaged shapes in traditional quilting pattern designs and created something new and fresh.
Have you learnt any new techniques? I’d like to think I’m pretty good at decoupaging a notebook now.
What are your thought on working within a small design business? I have loved working at Bombus. It’s such a friendly atmosphere to work in and I love doing crafty things every day. It’s never boring and time flies by. I really like how we all eat lunch together and the tea and afternoon (all day) chocolate treats are good too!
Can you share any of your own design ideas? I’m really liking geometric pattern at the moment and designing everything on square and isometric graph paper. I’ve been quite instinctive with my use of colour in the past but I would like to explore more of the theory behind it and how people can perceive colours differently.
Although my website isn’t up at the moment, the domain is beatricelarkin.com and I have a blog (which I will try to update more regularly!) http://beatricelarkin.blogspot.com/
23rd May 2011
We had a great weekend at the Creek Creative Designers Fair. As we had previously not done anything like this locally, we were very pleasantly surprised with the interest people showed in Bombus. Amelia’s mum and sister came into the studio this past week to help and became the Queens of Heart brooches! Making lots of musical note, floral and map brooches. Plus earrings, cuff-links and key-rings. We all worked late into several evenings to get everything ready,as normal hours were taken with usual customer orders. We had put a lot of time and energy into making our stall look interesting and the effort paid off, selling out of wooden birds decoupaged in Liberty print fabrics!
It took two hours to set up our stall – even a fellow exhibitor asked if we’d planned it out beforehand as it looked so professional. Very complimentary! We went in without know what we would do in terms of sales, simply being pleased to be part of a community event. So it was a great bonus when our butterfly greetings card and wooden birds sold out. The bespoke items received a lot of admiration and praise, but not many sales. We think this is probably because people like to take something home with them straight away at events like this, rather than wait a few days for it to be handmade for them. Though there was a lot of interest in our online shop and many people took our details.
Amelia met fellow exhibitor Bea Larkin, a graduate who’s been accepted into the Royal College of Arts for an MA in Textiles and Weave – the same course Amelia completed. Bea had brought her amazing bags she’d made, using her own fabric, one of which Amelia bought. After chatting, Amelia learned that Bea was concerned she was unable to take up her place at RCA due the high fee’s and costs of living in London, so Amelia offered her a summer job at the Bombus studio to help with saving up. Bea has since become a valuable member of the team and she starts on the course at the beginning of September. We are hoping she will be back to help out at Christmas though! (link to Beas Blog bit)
All in all the Creek Creative Designermaker fair was very enjoyable and worthwhile. It was fun to meet other local artists and be part of the community. Hopefully we have succeeded in establishing ourselves a little in the area and more people will know who we are and where we are from.