Monday, 27 February 2012

Sketchbook Peeks - Helen Russell

Before we start, tell us a little about yourself/how did you get into art/craft/design career and how it all started and where you are now

My name is Helen Russell and I launched my work under the name Mercury Arts in April 2012. I did a BA(Hons) in Three Dimensional Design at Manchester Metropolitan University from which I graduated in 2001. At that point I found the whole putting your heart and soul in front of an audience a bit overwhelming and so pursued my other love of promoting artists by training with the Chartered Institute of Marketing. From there I did ten years in the arts and tourism sectors and loved every minute of it! But in 2010 I decided I was ready to put my creative work to the test and began the process of setting up Mercury Arts. I launched my work at BCTF and from there I haven’t looked back. Although, the work I’ll be taking this year is very different from the ranges I put on show in 2011!

 How long have you been using sketchbooks?

I have a bit of a love/hate relationship with sketchbooks. When I was young I always had nice sketchbooks and notebooks that I drew in and I thoroughly enjoyed the process. When I was studying I felt forced to use them and as a result it wasn’t a very happy pastime for me. Now I’ve reverted back to my childhood mindset, partly I think because I’m quite a doodly worker and these days I’ve no one there to tell me drawing in biro isn’t appropriate!

How often do you sketch?

I have sketchbooks all over the place including next to the bed. Since I’ve started working for myself ideas pop into my head at the unlikeliest times and having sketchbooks around means I can jot these ideas down quickly before they get lost in the mush of my head. I also do a lot of ‘sketching’ on actual clay rather than on paper. I document this in my sketchbooks so combined I probably sketch everyday.

How do you feel about the prospect of starting a new sketchbook?

I love it, it’s like a ritual! Nothing better than opening a beautiful new sketchbook with good quality paper and a wonderful cover. I’m a bit of a sucker for papery things

When/where do you get your inspiration for your sketchbook pages?
I am massively inspired by the natural world but I don’t sit and draw what I see very often. My sketchbooks are really used for getting the thoughts in my head documented before my brain leaps on to the next scheme

How would you describe your creative process?

Have your sketchbooks evolved over the years and if so, how?
A lot of my early sketchbooks are filled with things other people wanted me to draw or processes I was expected to follow. The great thing about my position now is I can fill new ones with my thoughts however random they may be. I’m not sure my sketchbooks are ever going to be full of beautiful, careful work, it’s not really how I use them, but if they work as visual notebooks I’ll be happy

What is your favourite medium to work with?
I do love biro! Usually combined with watercolour

Do you have a favourite sketchbook?

In terms of work content I think my most recent is my favourite because it’s the one that best reflects me and my personality.  In terms of type of sketchbook I’m partial to handmade paper and anything with an embroidered cover. Think I’m a bit of a magpie

If you had to pick one favourite page which would it be and why?

I love my penguin page. It reminds me of long happy hours spent sketching at Edinburgh Zoo which is one of my favourite places

I'd like to say a big thank you to Helen for showing us inside her sketchbooks. If you want to see more of her work you can visit her website here. From there you can find links to her Shop, Blog, Facebook page and you can have a browse through her work.. it's really diverse and there is plenty to see. Enjoy!!

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