What is your greatest achievement so far , what are you particularly proud?
I think that my greatest achievement is to have been named one of the 2015 Print & Pattern Make It In Design scholars. Make It In Design is an online school and community run by Rachael Taylor and Beth Kempton. Their Art & Business of Surface Pattern Design courses are hugely respected and something I’d been longing to study, but funds never permitted. I applied for the 2015 scholarship (sponsored by the amazing Print & Pattern blog) along with tonnes of designers from almost 30 countries around the world. So I was over the moon to win. To have that vote of confidence from designers that I respect so highly was a real turning point. And access to the Make It In Design classroom for the duration of 2015 has taken my business to a whole new level.
How would you describe your work?
I really love geometric patterns. And while I always try to incorporate hand-drawn or photographic textural elements in to my patterns, my true love is crisp, perfect, flawless vectors. Often I’ll settle on a mixture of both. Colours? I struggle with purples and maroons; the last two Pantone Colours of the Year (Radiant Orchid and Marsala) made me groan. But I really persevered with them in a collection of florals this Autumn. I’ll try anything but almost always settle on brights; the more lurid the better. My favourites at the moment are chartreuse and fuschia…together.
Describe your work space?
My children call it “Mum’s Playroom”. It’s all white, with a comfy sofa and two sections of String System shelving that incorporates a computer desk and a fold-away drawing table. All of my favourite books and objects line the shelves – and they’re mostly favourites because of their bright colours. When I’m sitting at my desk I have the computer, the radio, my knitting, loose leaf A4 paper, a couple of Johanna Basford colouring books, loads of felt tip pens, and all my fabric samples within arms reach. Lovely pictures line the walls and there’s a corner specifically for scented candles. It’s the perfect little space.
When do you work best, are you up with the lark or a night owl?
My most productive time is the golden hour after the children have eaten dinner, while they’re having bathtime with Dad. I always get so much done during that hour.
What do you do to overcome designers block?
I tidy up. I can not think straight in the traditional clichéd creative chaos. When my playroom is immaculate and everything is in its place, that’s when I can open my imagination.
Where did your love for design originally develop from?
In 2010 I was lucky enough to end up doing a rather belated gap year (or two) because my husband got a great job opportunity in Singapore. I kept myself out of trouble by doing some random evening and weekend classes at a couple of wonderful art schools there. At about the same time I saw a blog post about various print-on-demand services for t-shirts, greetings cards, etc. I was mystified as to how regular everyday people were making such slick digital patterns. Eventually I discovered that Adobe Illustrator was the thing I needed to learn. So I took every online class I could afford by Alma Loveland. I’ve played with Illustrator almost every day since, and it’s starting to pay off. In terms of influences I’m a total sucker for sharp vectors, so I adore work by people like Malika Favre, Camille Walala, Tom Pigeon and Kitty McCall. But, I guess I’m quite contrary, because my all-time design fangirl crushes are on fellow northern Scots with defiantly hand-drawn styles Karen Mabon and Johanna Basford (both of whom I had the pleasure of meeting this year, to my great joy!).
Your home is on fire, assuming your family, pets & computer/phone are safe, what is the one thing you save from the blaze?
I have a stack of calendars, in order, covering the last 10 years. Every play date, dancing show and dental appointment my children have ever been to is in there. My favourites are Miffy (2008), Studio Ghibli (2010) and Rob Ryan (2015). 2016 is going to be a Moomins On The Riviera calendar! Luckily they live in the same drawer as my wedding gown, so I guess I’d grab it at the same time. It’s a cream Jenny Packham dress covered in sequinned butterflies, and more than a decade later is still the most beautiful thing I’ve ever seen.
In terms of procrastination, what are you doing, when you should be doing something else?
Reading. Some of the best books don’t take much more than a day, a day during which NOTHING else gets done. Have you read Colorless Tsukuru Tazaki by Haruki Murakami? That was done with inside a single weekend. I recommend it.
Food & drink: We like our food!
It’s been a long week, what’s in your glass (or mug) on a Friday night?
During the darkest and coldest time of year my favourite thing to drink is a shot of Noilly Prat and a shot of Disaronno poured over a glass full of ice. Sounds dubious, but the combination is a great deal more than the sum of its parts. It’s very festive.
You have clients coming round, do you bake or buy in the treats to go with your tea/coffee, what are they and why?
Once upon a time I’d probably have baked. But these days I’m more likely just to get a box of Tunnocks teacakes in.
Music: What’s on your Studio Playlist?
Inheritance Track: A track that you inherited from your parents or significant person in your childhood and who did you inherit it from?
We always had Edith Piaf on in the car, and my brother and I would warble away in faux French to Je ne regrette rien. I absolutely never do that any more. Really. Never…
Emotional Track: The track that calms you down or gets you through when you’re just having one of those days.
A movie soundtrack. Cinema Paradiso or The English Patient are old favourites.
Physical Track: The track that gets you up dancing or tapping your feet without fail.
Pump up the jam. Thankfully my kids like it too.
Album: What’s your album of the moment, who’s on repeat for you right now?
Tsuji Ayano’s Koisuno Megane. I could (and have) listened to it on repeat all day.
Advice: A few pearls of wisdom here.
What is the best advice, you’ve ever been given?
Two gems that I have scrawled into many notebooks: “Be Brave”, and, “You are your own secret weapon”. Both from Rachael Taylor.
If you were starting out again now, what advice would you give your younger self?
I’m not sure I’ve been in this game long enough to have left the “starting out” phase yet. But I would certainly be more cautious about wasting time on those design competitions that are barely disguised spec work. They’re a total stitch up and certain organisations (who shall remain nameless) should be ashamed of themselves.
We like to hear about new and up and coming designer and artists, can you recommend someone new (or new to you) a ‘one to watch’ that you think is doing great/interesting/admirable things, that we should know about, and why do you like their work?
I was selling at the Barbican Christmas Market this past Christmas, and I loved the work of fellow traders Kim Sera and Tamago Buddies. Not new perhaps, but certainly new to me. Seriously gorgeous stuff by seriously lovely people.
And lastly, whose words inspire you, a quote to live life by?
Lily James as Cinderella: Have courage and be kind!
If you want to find out more about Mimi Hammill you can find her in all these lovely places too:
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