Freya Cumming a little bird told me Pulse London

It’s the last day of Pulse today, so just time to sneak in one more interview, this one is with LaunchPad exhibitor, artist and designer, Freya Cumming

What’s the most important thing to know about you?

It’s not really important, but I found out recently that I have a form of synesthesia. It’s a strange quirk, it means I see letters and numbers as specific colours in my head. I thought this was normal, but apparently it’s caused by a muddling of the senses. It’s a nice thing to have, and I’m curious about how much it has determined what I do for a living as there is evidence of a link between synethetes and creativity.

Freya Cumming cards

What inspires your designs?

I’ve lived in cities for most of my life, and then I recently moved home to the tiny village I grew up in. I was really surprised at how much my work changed after the move. I hadn’t realised beforehand how directly I was inspired by my surroundings. Regardless of where I’m living, I think I’m drawn to anything decorative, whether it’s a building, or a landscape. If there is detail within it, I want to get it on paper.

Freya Cumming Spring Chickens

Talk me through your design process from initial idea to final product.

Everything I produce is screen-printed, so it all goes through the same process. Every piece starts out as a pencil drawing, and then the next stage is to make a stencil for each colour I want to include. After that, the stencils need to be exposed onto a silkscreen before being ready to print. I tend to plan the first few colours and then make the rest up as I go along. You get something a little different than you’ve visualised if you work this way, but it keeps what is technically quite a boring process much more interesting for me!

Freya Cumming paint pots

How do you overcome creative block?


I keep making self-imposed deadlines! If I don’t have a deadline, I can wonder about what to do next all day, and get really stuck. I work from home so I find myself rearranging the furniture and doing lots of things that don’t need to be done. If I have an exhibition looming, I get the deadline fear, in a good way, and work much, much harder!

Freya Cumming owl and cat cushion Pulse London

Describe a really good day and a really bad day in the life of Freya Cumming?


A bad day would be a day when I get nothing but bills in the post, no emails about work and I am slow to get started. Particularly if then my printing or drawing then goes badly, and I have to stop what I’m doing and start again.

A good day is when printing is going well and I think the next colour will be a winner. Today has been good so far… I’ve had no bills delivered, I haven’t moved any furniture, and I’ve just had a lovely email from someone saying that one of my prints has arrived in the post and made her happy!

What are you most looking forward to about Pulse?

I’m looking forward to meeting new people, both other designers, and also hopefully some future clients. I’ve rarely exhibited anything other than limited edition prints before, so I’m excited to see how my wallpaper is received.

Freya Cumming wallpaper

What are you most proud of?

I’d have to say my friends and family, for helping out when it’s really needed and encouraging me to keep going. I took over my parents’ dining room recently, when my studio was just not big enough to print wallpaper. They have never complained, even when ink was being splashed about and bits of silver and gold leaf were floating into every room in the house!

How do your products make people’s lives better?

I hope that they make people’s lives more colourful. One of the best things about doing this for a living is when somebody tells you how much they enjoy having something you’ve made.

Freya Cumming cards

What advice would you give to an aspiring designer?


Value what you do and don’t sell yourself short. I was literally giving work away for nothing at the beginning because I was so grateful that people liked it. It’s impossible to make a living that way!

Also try to have some structure to your day if you’re self-employed. I don’t know why I’m saying this as I don’t have any myself, but it’s something I aspire to!

And finally, what’s your favourite colour?!

A lovely earthy ‘cowpat’ green!

Freya Cumming hot gossip

Further reading for the especially geeky: