(GIVEAWAY!!! For a chance to win a set of Karin’s beautiful ‘Sweet Dreams’ pillowcases, please scroll down to the end of this post to find out more!)
Hi guys! Today we are thrilled to be able to introduce you to the work of Swedish born illustrator Karin Åkesson.. Karin’s signature style of nostalgic drawings and typographic prints covers the themes of popular culture, flora and fauna and the most beautiful tiny birds you could wish for – all with happiness and positivity at their heart. Her range now covers wall art prints, stationary, cushions, tea-towels, pillowcases and tote bags, and all are available from a number of stockists as well as from Karin direct. And as if this wasn’t enough, Karin also applies her illustrative skills to advertising, editorial and design work which has covered a really wide and exciting portfolio of clients over the years. Ooh – and she also happily receives private commissions too!
Karin was born and raised in Sweden but moved to England in 1997 to study Illustration at Brighton University before she moved to London to complete her MA at the Royal College of Art. Since graduating in 2003 she has been working as a freelance designer, now working from her studio by Victoria Park in East London. Looking at the rate by which her product range and popularity is growing, we cannot wait to see what else is in store both for her and for us! Lucky for us Karin was able to take a break in her hectic schedule to allow us to find out more!..
Q. Can you tell us a little bit about yourself? Can you remember when you first became interested in all things creative?
I am a Swedish born illustrator who has now almost spent half my life in the UK. I initially came here to study and I found UK to be such a great place to be and it has inspired both my life and work. As far back as I can remember I have enjoyed being creative and I know I am very lucky to be able to work with what I love.
Q. You have been in England for 15yrs… How do you feel British design differs from Scandinavian design? And how does living here in the UK – and specifically London – influence your work do you think?
London is such an exciting place to live. I love the mixture of people and culture and it’s naturally a very creative place. Sweden is much more controlled and polished somehow, and at times can be almost too “perfect”.. and so I think this is reflected in the design world as well.
Q. Your began expanding your work onto your own product range a number of years ago… What instigated this, and what has been your most popular product / theme to date?
I have always worked on personal projects alongside my commissioned work. A few years ago I decided to test selling some print designs in a local market, and I got a great response from the customers who came. And so my collection has grown organically ever since. My birds with messages of joy were my first collection and is still one of the most popular product ranges.
Q. You regular participate in art shows and craft fairs… How important is it for you to be able have contact with your customers and artists, and discuss / receive feedback from people first-hand?
Market life is a great way of meeting new customers and trying out new products, as well as getting instant feedback. Eaves-dropping on customers’ honest options – good and bad – provides a great insight and a great way to learn!
Q. As well as selling your prints directly from your website, you also have your prints available through a number of online galleries and retailers. Does it sometimes become a struggle keeping up with all of your customer orders – especially around the holiday season!? Do you have any advice for anyone finding themselves in a similar situation?
The month leading up to Christmas is always the most demanding but also most exciting time of the year. So much of the work during the rest of the year goes into making the holiday season a success. Being organized and prepared is key and at times I found bribery works for husband and friends to help pack up orders and we end up with a mini factory in the living room!
Q. You are exhibiting for the first time at London’s Top Drawer trade show this week. You must be really excited at seeing how your work will be received by the Independent and High Street retailers visiting the show? Hopefully it will be packed with Buyers all looking for lovely new product ranges for their stores?!!
I already sell my work in a selection of shops and galleries but this is the first time I’m actively searching for stockists, and so it will be exciting to see how the business grows in this new direction. I am looking forward to meet lots of new buyers and fellow designers and I expect I will learn a lot!
Q. You have just re-launched your website and online shop, which is looking absolutely fantastic! Did you feel it was time for a re-vamp?
Yes! I think a redesign of my website was long overdue, I feel it’s more customer friendly now and it reflects my work in a better way.
Q. What other exciting plans have you got coming up this year? Anything we need to get into our diary?
I will be selling my work at East London Design Show 7-9th December so please do come and say hello!
Q. What is a typical day for you like – is there such a thing as a ‘typical’ day?
I usually spend my mornings preparing and packing up orders and once I have dropped off the postal sack at the post office I have the rest of the day free to work on new projects or catching up with admin and marketing. There is always a never-ending list of things to do but I know it is important to enjoy it and enjoy the freedom it brings, so if it is a sunny day I will go out and sit in the park! Most of my inspiration is found in everyday life so what better excuse is there to go out and explore!? Oh I mean work!
Q. We love hearing how Designers choose to decorate their own homes.. Can you give us a little insight into your own tastes? What do you adorn your own walls with at home / in the studio?
I read somewhere that a home with personal photos on the walls is a happy home, and I like that. I like our home to feel homely and personal with a comfortable sofa! It’s filled with things that we care about and bits of furniture – old and new – that we have collected over the years. I have quite a few of my own prints on the wall, for when I make a new print I like to live with it and try it out at home. I am my own customer and I make things I like for myself.
Thanks so much Karin!!
GIVEAWAY!!! For a chance to win a set of these 2 beautiful ‘Sweet Dreams’ pillowcases below (usual RRP £25), simply tweet a link to this interview including the following hashtag #morningeditgiveaway and a winner will be chosen at random! Competition closes in 1 weeks’ time.
Karin is currently exhibiting her work at Top Drawer London – The UK’s leading event for design-led gifts, lifestyle & fashion accessories. Pop along until Tuesday 18th Sept to say hello and see her stunning range of products!