Across the globe @LibertyFabrics lovers are hard at work, creating a wide range of incredible designs that use our studio-painted prints as a canvas – and here at Liberty HQ, we love to see what you’ve been up to. In this instalment of the series, we chat to Wendy Gibson about her illustration studio, The Charming Press – a colourful carousel of animal characters, bold typography and classic Liberty prints for children.
Can you tell us a little bit about your professional background?
I trained to be an illustrator at university, and after graduating I was lucky enough to get a placement at Paul Smith working on their childrenswear line – from there I went on to work in a busy little East London design studio that sold childrenswear graphics and prints worldwide. The pace was fast, and I learnt so much about commercial design.
My sister and I used to often meet after work in Shoreditch and catch the bus to Liberty for a mooch around – I’ve always found it to be one of the most inspirational and beautiful shops in London.
How and why did you set up The Charming Press?
I set up The Charming Press when I moved back up north to be near my family – I now live in Cheshire with my two children and husband. I really wanted to be my own boss, create my own designs and develop a business that worked around my family life. I was always drawn to mixed media and collage artwork. It seemed like a natural fit to combine timeless, beautiful Liberty Fabrics with modern nursery illustration.
Where do you work?
I work from my home studio, overlooking the Cheshire countryside. I’m mostly a one-girl band – on a day-to-day basis it’s just me, working away on all aspects of designing, making, packing, posting and social media. I have a small hand-picked team of very skilled printers who print my foiled artwork for me, and then I personalise and attach fabrics to the artworks in my studio.
How do you source your materials?
I’m a total perfectionist, so it’s taken me a long time to find the right papers and printers to work with – and using Liberty Tana Lawn was a total no-brainer.
Is there something particularly meaningful to you about making things on a small scale?
Yes, definitely. Because I’m such a perfectionist I would struggle to let go of the actual ‘making’ – I really love knowing exactly where my prints are going, and I also love it when customers tag me into their nursery photos on Instagram. I think its lovely for my customers too, knowing that their precious first gifts to their children or friends’ new babies have been made with love by another mum.
Have you had any favourite commissions?
I don’t do commissions as such, just personalisation. But I do get a massive thrill when I see that a celebrity has ordered one of my prints…
What inspires you when creating your illustrations?
I soak up inspiration from everywhere. I love reading beautifully illustrated books to my children, and I have some stunning vintage French kids’ books that I collected years ago while at university and travelling to Paris for work which continually inspire me. Whenever I get the chance I’m on the first train to London to visit my favourite shops for inspiration too – including Liberty of course, as well as some lovely smaller kids’ boutiques.
Do you have any early Liberty memories you can share?
I’ve loved Liberty for as long as I can remember. My mum bought me and my sister some Liberty print beanbag frogs when we were about five, and we still have them today – I think my love for Liberty prints and fabrics must have come from her originally.
There’s a wooden owl carved into one of the balconies in the Liberty store, I think it might be the third floor. My sister and I have always referred to it as our lucky owl, and we always give it a little rub on the head when we visit. So, if one of your readers sees someone doing this, it’s probably me…
What is your favourite Liberty print?
How did you find out about our Trade Account for small businesses?
I think I came across it on the website initially – the 20% off is a huge bonus for me. Also, I love buying directly from Liberty, because whenever I open my fabric order it smells just like being in the shop.
@LibertyFabrics lovers – we always want to see your creations. Upload and tag us with #LibertyCraftClub, so we can see what you’ve been making – and maybe we’ll feature your work in our next series instalment.