Getting to know Laura Park June 22 2017
Taking inspiration from the natural world, Laura Park's imaginative animal illustrations adorn charming necklaces and quirky cards. We find out more about her move from textiles to illustration and her thriving stationery brand Dear Prudence.
The GSA Shop stocks products designed by students, staff and alumni of The Glasgow School of Art…Can you tell us a bit about your time studying at GSA?
I studied printed textiles in the Newbery building at The Glasgow School of Art and then went on to the textiles as fashion masters graduating in 2004. My practice in printed textiles has been invaluable to me and helped me learn my process and how to fill my potential. Textiles are the starting point of everything I create. For example understanding screen printing and being able to break down a repeat pattern has been very important to most of my design.
Where do you find inspiration and ideas for your designs?
I find inspiration in what I surround myself with, the beautiful countryside I live in, the many welsh blankets I collect, the pattern on a wall or a cobbled street. I look for pattern everywhere and am always searching for old textile samples and wallpapers in local antique shops.
Can you tell us a bit about the kind of processes and materials you use?
I start very loose and try not to think too much about a finished product. I like accidents and just seeing where things go. I like to draw for perhaps a week and gather as much fresh imagery as I can before I start narrowing things down. I use mixed media but mainly, watercolour, ink pencil and pastels. I then scan in at a very high dpi and start to play and construct my stories. I play with scale, colour and composition in Photoshop.
How long have you been trading for and what led you to start your business?
I have been running Dear Prudence for 7 years now. I made her because I wanted my own rules. I wanted to do my own work and decide my own destiny. I was sick of running around after everyone else!
What are the hurdles you face as a maker in starting and running your own business?
Money and cash flow is always tricky. When there is so much you want to do but money stops you, it can be frustrating. But you can’t be in it for the money. It’s a journey of self-expression and getting joy from what you create. It’s never going to work for you if you just want to draw and paint all day, you have to have your head screwed on and be willing to juggle a lot of things in the first few years. Stay on top of the everyday admin, invoicing, chasing payments and delegating.
And tell us about the high points that make it all worthwhile?
Working with Urban Outfitters on two collections was mind blowing. It opened my eyes to a whole new world. Seeing my print in Ikea was pretty special. Also, getting my first distributor in Europe was a real turning point. They are my rock and are very supportive of my business.
What advice would you give to makers starting to design products for retail?
Walk your own path and find YOUR style. This is so important. Stay true to yourself and even if you feel nothing is happening don’t give up. Start very small and home in on one or two products and perfect them. Try not to dilute your brand with too much stuff. It can look confused and messy. A beautiful, well branded website is very important. This is your stage, use it well.
How are you finding the independent retail scene currently?
It’s the small independents and shops that keep me going. We need more shops. We are a nation of shopkeepers and need to grow this. It’s so sad when I see empty, boarded up shop fronts. I am lucky to live in a bustling busy market town where the shops are vibrant and busy.
How long have you been supplying us?
GSA was one of my first stockists! They have supported me and also shared any big events or news. To feel part of where I had so many memories makes me so happy.
Give us a sneaky taste of things to come, what are your big or small plans for the future?
I am working on a new range of stationery and paper goods for kids called ‘little prudence’ this will include masks, cards, party invites, stickers and colouring books. I am also in the process of having my first bricks and mortar shop in Hebden Bridge. This will be a shop / studio and I will sell lots of other designers stationery and prints as well as my own. Although I have 2 boys under four so who knows how long this will take me!
What’s your favourite new material to work with or colour combination just now?
I have just re captured my love for collage and paper cut out. I love this process by hand rather than doing it all through Photoshop. It really frees me up.
Which other designers or makers products impress you?
Other designers I love and follow are Mina Perhonen, Fine Little Day, O Check Graphics, Jon Klassen and Katie Wilson.