I am a huge fan of beautiful stationery and always like to have a stash of cards to send to friends and family, whatever the occasion. Anna Victoria is a designer and illustrator based just outside Truro. As well as her own gorgeous designs and products, she also creates illustrations exclusively for companies such as M&S, Paperchase and John Lewis.
I chatted to Anna about how living in Cornwall has inspired many of her designs, and the projects she has coming up.
Have you always wanted to pursue a career in design and illustration?
I have always loved drawing, painting and being ‘quite crafty’ from a young age, and was continually being told off for doodling all over bits of paper that were left lying around the house.
I come from a creative family, with a landscape architect for an older brother, and a PR wordsmith for an older sister. Our parents have always encouraged us to pursue our passions but it was my grandfather who was of particular inspiration having made his career as a professional calligrapher.
From this background it was a natural progression for me to undertake an art foundation and then a degree in printed textile design. It was during those four years of studying, various placements and a trip to New York to visit fashion textile houses that I realised that this was the career for me.
As much as it is a cliché to say, I draw my inspiration from everything around me and particularly the natural landscape here in Cornwall. From the beautiful little Cornish creek where I live, to the odd vintage bus ticket I have collected from a junk shop. Classic 1950’s prints to the delicately packed petals of a peony. Colour is particularly important to me in my design work, with the combination of bold neon colours along side soft pastel shades. I will often start a brief with a colour palette rather than the outline of a concept.
As well as my love of living and working in Cornwall, my passion for travel is a strong influence in my work. The flamboyant colours of a Parisian patisserie shop window, to the geometric shapes of Roman architecture. I try to give each of my designs an edge, something unexpected, the juxtaposition of two ideas or looks that perhaps shouldn’t work together, but do.
Tell us about your typical working day.
I work from home and have a lovely purpose built studio at the end of my garden which is in Penpol near Truro. A stone’s throw away from the water, it is the perfect location for inspirational lunch time walks across the fields or down to the boatyard.
My studio is filled with beautiful shabby chic furniture, decorative ornaments, prints and knick-knacks that I have collected over the years. These include a lovely tall vintage armoire which acts as the ideal store for my collection of treasures and is a perfect way to display my wares at trade shows. Things can get pretty messy during busy periods, however I like to have a place for everything and enjoy keeping things in order and finding interesting ways to display them.
I have an ever changing mood board above my desk that I cover in strips of fabric, old photos, magazine cuttings and fancy ribbons.
What do you enjoy designing most?
I trained in printed fabric design, but have spent most of my professional life working on the stationery side of my business, most recently completing my own wedding stationery. I really enjoy the diversity of combining both these sides of the business so it is difficult to say which I prefer. The aspect of my work which I can say is my favourite is the research, sketching of ideas, working up concepts and poring over Pinterest boards. Alongside my own design ranges I am often commissioned to work for other companies which brings with it other challenges and diversity.
What are you working on at the moment?
Well, I can’t say too much until the ranges are published however I am working on an exciting collection of fabrics for a UK based design house. I am also developing further stationery products for the ‘Anna Victoria’ collection.
Do you theme your designs or collections?
Yes, I like to have a theme or story before I start designing any collection or number of designs as I find this helps to give focal point. For example my ‘Garden Pantry’ range was inspired by my cottage garden at home, but more than that it pulled in all sorts of different elements from a childhood of wild imagination; with quirky characters and fun little stories within each design. I like my designs to have a depth which will allow your imagination to run away with you as well as just enjoying the picture at face value.
To find out more visit www.anna-victoria.co.uk. Anna’s work can also be found at high-end boutiques and galleries across the UK and online at Notonthehighstreet.com. Follow her on Twitter, Facebook or Instagram.