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10 Questions for Fiona Howard

25 Jul 2019
10 Questions for Fiona Howard

Textile designer and Astek collaborator Fiona Howard gave us an inside look into her studio, process, and insights as an artist. We learned what motivates her in the studio, her favorite designs from the Impress collection, and the other creative passion she'd love to pursue someday. Read the full interview below! 

1. Describe the moment you realized you were a creative person.

I don’t think there was a single ‘moment'. Creativity has been in my bones as far back as I can remember. My grandmother was a painter and my mum is a miniaturist (she makes incredible dollhouses). In the school holidays, my mum would inspire my sister and I with creative ideas. We would go for walks in the English countryside and collect flowers, seeds and leaves or shells from the beach, which we would take home to paint or create wonderful things with. 

2. Where do you find inspiration?

Anywhere and everywhere. Most of my designs are based on natural forms, so wherever I am I’m always looking at things with a design eye. I will always return from a walk with an interesting seed pod or a collection of flowers which I take back to my studio to draw. Flea markets are also a fantastic resource for interesting paraphernalia, vintage fabrics, and books.

 3. What do you like most about your work?

Designing the ‘old fashioned’ way means that I touch and connect with the whole design process. Sharp pencils which make a clean crisp mark on paper, the smell of oil paints and hand-made Nepalese paper which I use to print. My favourite moment is pulling the first print off a lino block.

4. What are your tips for dealing with creative blocks?

My problem these days is less about the creative block and more about choosing which design of all the ideas in my sketchbook to concentrate on. However, if I do have a creative block, I find the best thing is to get out and about. I go somewhere to draw, Huntington Library & Gardens is one of my favourite places in LA. The other thing I love to do is rummage through flea markets where there is always inspiration to be found.

5. Do you have a favorite album or podcast you listen to while you work? How does it motivate you or keep you focused?

Favourite album: Pink Floyd's 'Dark Side of The Moon’. However most of the time I listen to the BBC. Radio 4 keeps me well informed with anything from world news to innovation. One of my favourite programs is 'Desert Island Discs’. It’s a radio interview during which a celebrity chooses 8 tracks which they would take if they were stranded on a desert island to remind them of home and their life. It is a wonderful insight into the real person, it’s often quite emotional. I highly recommend it!

6. If you weren't working as a textile designer, what other dream career would you chase?

I love ceramics. Taking a lump of clay and shaping it into a pot on the wheel is an incredibly satisfying process. I become completely absorbed, it’s quite addictive. When I have more time ( perhaps in my old age ) I would love to have a pottery wheel and concentrate more on this.

7. What do you consider to be your greatest accomplishment?

Collaborating with Astek has been a wonderful experience. It has been lovely to create such a comprehensive collection with a company that understands and believes in the designer. Wallpaper is a lovely medium for me to work with and illustrates the handmade nature of my designs beautifully.

8. What advice would you share with an aspiring artist/designer?

Believe in what you do, put your heart and soul into it and don’t listen to people who tell you to have a 'back-up plan'. You will need to work ten times harder than anyone else who has a ’normal’ job, but the reward is you will have a job and life that you love.

9. Describe your dream project or collaboration. 

Realizing my own wallpaper collection is the culmination of my work so far. For the past 30 years, I have been designing for other people/clients. I have many wonderful clients worldwide, ranging from Crate & Barrel to Sandersons in the UK, but the collection I started selling from my website in 2018 is my own collection of wallpapers, my dream project!

10. What's your favorite design from the  Impress collection and why?

I love ’Still Life with Lemon’ because it was designed one sunny day in my studio, alongside my son, Eddie who is a fine artist. He painted the same still life while I turned it into a repeating design.


Shop the full Impress wallpaper collection here!