Interview: Morwenna Farrell
Morwenna Farrell illustrations is a unique shop selling prints, tote bags, tops and gorgeous illustrations. I was lucky enough to interview Morwenna about her work.
Hello! Thank you so much for letting me interview you. How are you?
I am scatty as always, and recovering from the crazy busy stall and work juggle in December I have just had, but despite that I am ready to get stuck into my spring range and excited about what 2018 holds….
Tell us a little bit about your background.
I’m a Cornish girl that grew up in a beautiful small town called St Ives, which is full of the most crazy eccentric people y’all ever meet, and it inspires most of the things I make and how I view the world.
I made the move to the equally as wonderful Norwich when I was 18 years old, since then I have met my best friend and husband and we have two incredible black cats.
I worked my way up in an office for about 7 years, but always felt something was missing, never feeling fulfilled and not pursuing art due to my own worrying thoughts of never feeling good enough to actually be any good. I decided to enroll onto a Saturday course at Wensum lodge, and here I learnt to screen print, once I started there was no stopping me.
I then felt a passion that I hadn’t felt in years I applied to NUA having recently been declined from City College. I just said to myself do it, if you don’t get in it isn’t meant to be, but boy oh boy was I happy when I got an unconditional.
Since then I try and do as much as I can and make sure I always get my creative fix, having spent so many years not making I guess I’m so afraid this isn’t real or something. Uni gave me the time I needed to heal from these insecurities I hid over the years in my office job, I got to learn about other artists and most importantly meet like-minded people who understood me. After uni I volunteered at the mega awesome Print to the People, I had met Jo whilst in the uni print room, as I was nearly always in the print room day and night! And here I have been lucky enough to help support workshops, print with kids at latitude, and be part of a studio with some incredibly inspiring people.
I adore your business. What made you decide to set up your shop?
I have had quite a few stalls now and realized I don’t have a card machine and I don’t have a place where people can take a card then pop online and order my things, so with that in mind I set up my etsy shop properly.
Also it is really nice to have one place to show your work, and I do get excited when I get an order, I am pretty sad but nothing makes me happier than wrapping things up and I get told off so much but I usually can’t resist chucking the odd freebie or sweets or something in!
How has your creative process changed since the start?
Instagram is a great way to look back on your work and scroll to the now, to be honest I work so quickly and intuitively I don’t tend to look back, and this is not always the best way to work as I never feel like I achieve much, it is only when my partner makes me take a step back and look at what I have achieved.
When I look back I do see that I have let go a lot and I will happily just make work that I love and hope someone else will get me, or love it how I do!
Also I guess I have got better at simplifying things and making more professional work, I screen printed pennant flag tags that I am proud of, but I will always work sporadic that is just how I am.
How did you manage to learn and hone your craft?
I think it is simply by just learning the hard way, learning about myself and the way I work, I cant force myself to work any other way, so I now embrace how I work and try to find solutions in my failings.
Have you always been into craft, illustration and design?
Yep, ever since I can remember, my favorite thing to do when I was real young was write weird stories for my Nan and illustrate them, they are so funny to lookback on now! My mum is an incredible painter and makes beautiful clothing, my step dad was a musician, my granddad a photographerand to be honest it really is in my blood there are so many talented people in my family…. so I guess I took a bit from each of them and enjoy a bit of everything.
If there were no resource restraints, what would be your dream project?
Designing and making clothing then customising them, and showing them off on a catwalk, with a band, and putting on a bit of a performance with it all, incorporating my love of all things haha, I would most def need to have something circus, and western themed, I could honestly go on and on..
What equipment do you use for your work?
Screen printing inks, watercolor pens, mechanical pencils, vintage ephemera, and crayons.
What tools or materials could you not live without?
Screen printing I just love it so much, and my mechanical pencils… I am stating to get a bit of a collection!
Why has social media been an important platform for you to use?
I love Instagram, you are able to share your work with like-minded people, also I love how it displays your work, like a gallery of stories. I have a lot of worries that maybe I share to much of my normal life, but then I say to myself that is me and that is what I would do, I don’t want a clean cut instagram account and I wouldn’t want to stage every photo as I feel you loose something. I try to stay true to me; I am messy and erratic and scat from one thing to thing so hopefully it shows that.
Who inspires your work?
Music honestly I would say is so inspiring to me, and movies, for example my 70srange was inspired by Juno (pork swords), ‘Are you bootin’ was inspired by ‘Whip It’ and I guess my step dad inspired my western obsession, he used to sing to me all the time as a child, and he used to wear the most eccentricclothes as did my mum and uncle so I guess my family inspired my tastes and my love of vintage kitsch!
Do you have any favourite pieces of work that you adore at the moment from your shop?
I really love my Teddy Girl Jackets, I only made a handful, and each was hand screen printed and then I took them back to Cornwall and got my cute lil nan to sew them up for me, (she is the only lady I trust for this!) also me and my husband had so much fun photo shooting them, it was our first shoot too so that made it a lil more special!
What do we hope to see in this up and coming year for your Instagram and your work?
More hand painted jackets, sewing and painted clothing, girl power suits, and I have this craving to get back into my collage.
What are you currently working on?
I am currently working on a Springcollection, which will include new and vintage pieces, and I have this dream of designing western suits, so I am def trying to get the ball rolling on this. I would love to host my first solo show inspired by the Teddy Girls and I have heaps of fun collaborations to keep me busy.
What’s your typical working day?
Monday to Thursday I work 9-5 come home and spend time with my husband and two black kitties, and also usually practice my guitar Wednesday nights and have dinner with friends and doodle up ideas.
Fridays I work at Print to the People, where I volunteer and help open accesssessions or screen-print my own work if quiet!
Saturdays and Sundays I usually do something fun with my husband, we also love scouting for photo spots and get images of my latest tees and totes and exploring new parts in this beautiful city!
What’s been the biggest struggle in getting your business off the ground?
Confidence issues, putting things off because I make them such a struggle in my head, honestly I wish I didn’t constantly over think everything I do, I reallythink I could do so much more. I am always thinking and I day dream ideas all day long, and then I get so many ideas I get really overwhelmed and then don’t do any and then this leads to me feeling really lost. I think uni really helped me home in ideas and stick with them until they finished, I mean I have this great idea for a zine called the teddy girl club, this idea has been in my head for years and years, I have started drawing the girls up and stuff but I know I could of done it by now if I actually tried. I think this year I will book a space and host my first solo exhibition just to make me finish it or at least see it all together, another part of my problem is that usually everything is there I just don’t see it, or think I have done enough!
Do you have any exciting plans for this year?
I really REALLY want to make these western colourful suits I have been dreaming about, and incorporate sewing and screen-printing into them along with some hand painting. I also have a few really fun collaborations I hope to fulfill this year, and I want to go on the road a bit and look at doing some stalls around the country and have an exhibition with my pal Joe Greenaway (go check out his awesome work!) in St Ives in the summer.
What are your career plans with your online shop?
My dream is to have a physical shop one day, with a studio and a room where I could run lessons and have a small gallery also. In the meantime I am going to be giving my online shop a bit of a spruce up.
Do you have any advice for anyone doing craft fairs?
PACK WELL!,omg I always pack so badly it is a nightmare, if you sell tee’s invest time in actually taping the other sizes so you can actually find them. And make sure your prices are clear.
What advice would you give to people looking to define their own style?
To find your style I generally think it is about just doing what you love, and finding what it is that inspires the work you do, don’t worry to much about a defined style, just have fun with it and the rest will follow.
Do you have any advice for anyone starting their own online shop?
It's important to take photos that reflect your brand and don’t be afraid to stand out and be different. It takes time but make sure you keep it up to date and always make sure to link your social media pages etc.
What's the best piece of creative advice you've ever been given?
‘Just do what you love’, the best advice given from two of the best tutors I have ever had the pleasure of meeting at NUA, when I really didn’t feel good enough and was in constant worry and compare myself mode.
Photography by Emma Louise Smith. You can take a look at all her work here 'https://vimeo.com/221246472'.