interview :: sarah capel

Katie | January 31, 2017

We met Sarah Capel at London’s Top Drawer as part of the Spotted Curation and were immediately captured by her painterly approach to surface pattern design. We pinned her down for an interview to find out more…

What is the most important thing to know about you?

Maybe the most important thing to know about me is the most important influence in inspiring my creative life – my grandfather. He was an art teacher, calligrapher and illustrator. When I was little, he introduced me to a range of techniques from colour mixing to line drawing – and still gives me lots of great advice, which was invaluable in setting up my print-making studio.

interview :: sarah capel

Tell me about a really good day and a really bad day in the life of Sarah Capel.

One great day was this September’s Nunhead Art Trail, for which our house, and my home studio, were open to the public. People really enjoyed seeing my workspace and hearing how the screen printing process works. I also think seeing my products in use around my home encouraged purchases and orders as it enabled people to visualise pieces in their own home.

Bad days are the quiet ones, but when you’re just starting out in business, sales are unpredictable and there can be some very quiet days. It’s important to stay positive as you never know what’s around the corner.

interview :: sarah capel

Where do ideas come from?

My ideas come from playful experimenting with mark-making in paint. There’s definitely an element of serendipity in my designs.

interview :: sarah capel

Talk me through your design and making process.

One technique I use and really enjoy when developing designs is painting on acetate which I can then cut out, move around and layer up. I also love mixing and adjusting the translucency of screen printing inks to see the effects of layering colours.

interview :: sarah capel

What's your favourite part of the process?

Pouring ink onto the screen and taking the first print of a new design.

interview :: sarah capel

What challenges have you overcome to get where you are today?

I am predominantly a self-taught designer and printmaker – something I developed through various evening classes alongside a career in prison reform. Now I’ve taken the leap to be a full-time designer I find it hard not to compare myself to others with more traditional art school backgrounds.

interview :: sarah capel

What are you most proud of?

A moment that made me particularly proud was taking my two young sons to see my work in the window of Threads – a beautiful shop in Peckham.

interview :: sarah capel

What advice would you give to a new designer just starting out?

Network and collaborate. There are such great resources and networks now for new and emerging designers. I have benefitted so much from The Crafty Fox markets and talks, and from the London Local Etsy Team, as well as reading advice from The Design Trust and the Indie Retail Academy.

interview :: sarah capel

What defines good design?

Good design is so hard to define – it just looks and feels ‘right’. It’s simple, balanced, and quietly confident.

interview :: sarah capel

And finally, what's your favourite colour?

Design_Geek_Sarah_Capel_01A deep, turquoise blue… and bright pink!


Further Reading for the Especially Geeky ::

Founding Editor – Katie Treggiden

Having established confessions of a design geek in 2010, Katie Treggiden has gone on to a career in design journalism, writing for titles such as The Guardian, The Telegraph, Elle Decoration, Stylist, Design Milk and Ideal Home. In 2014, she launched Fiera, an independent magazine dedicated to discovering new talent at the world’s design fairs. Her second book, Makers of East London, was published in 2015.

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