I came across Sunny Todd’s prints at the London Design Fair a few months ago and felt immediately happy because the colours and designs were so bold and uplifting. I interviewed both Sunny and his wife Emma whose answers are combined together.
How did you get into textiles?
Sunny – I did a printed textiles course at Birmingham University and was invited to apply for the RCA after the textile tutor saw my degree show. The Royal College was an incredible experience and the place where I really fell in love with silk screen printing!
What processes do you use to create your prints?
Some of our designs have evolved over the years while others come about through happy accidents whilst we are drawing or even experimenting with stencils on the print table. Once we have an idea we cut out the shapes from black paper and lay them out over white paper on the dining room table at home. Over the following days we will move them around and even chop into them to explore composition and scale until we are completely happy with the pattern, the relationship between and the movement of the shapes. The selection of colours is as important and this is a real labour of love. We mix pigment inks by eye and create a range of colour swatches to explore how the tones work together. We’ll then experiment with the colour combinations for each pattern before deciding how they fit together as a collection.
Your work is wonderfully bold and colourful. Has it always been this way?
Sunny and I have always loved the unique shapes and palettes of artists such as Matisse, Heron & Hodgkin and believe that everyone should embrace more colour; as much as we adore Scandinavian simplicity we think that it is only enhanced by great colour and pattern!
How do you plan what you’re going to print?
We are always discussing possible ideas and sharing inspirational images or works we have seen, living together means we have the opportunity to be constantly thinking of and developing ideas. We then go into the studio and have a direction to explore but sometimes the best work almost comes about accidentally as we are just messing about with stencils and screens!
What do you do when you have creative mind blocks?
We haven’t had that problem yet, I love the Paul Smith quote- “you can find inspiration in everything, and if you can’t, look again”.
Who are some other print designers or artists you look to for inspiration?
You’ve had several collaborations, who else would you like to collaborate with and why?
We love collaborating – it’s great fun to meet like-minded individuals working in different design fields! We have enjoyed working on two really exciting fashion collaborations with Anthropologie and Syndicut, we would love to work on more garments as we think our patterns and colours are so well suited for fashion. We’d also love to work with a traditional British wallpaper company- maybe it will happen in 2017!
Whose house or which space would you like to decorate with your prints?
People often shy away from bold interior design choices but we think every space looks better with some exciting pattern and bright colour! Since our coverage in more traditional magazines such as our 5-page feature in World of Interiors, we’ve had more custom orders from owners of more traditional homes. We really love seeing our work in such houses, hotels and even stately homes!
What tips would you give to textiles designers trying to make a business with their work?
I don’t think we have any answers to that as company is still in the extremely early stages, but we would say- don’t give up and be patient! If your calls and emails go unanswered, keep trying and don’t lose heart. Some of our most exciting projects have come out of the blue after we’d almost forgotten about our original email! Also, try to make links to others working in the same industry either through collaborating or just by reaching out on social media or at events. It’s really nice to be able to support one another, we really believe that there is room for us all so be open to working with others and sharing what you have learnt!
What do you absolutely love about textiles?
Beautiful design is life enhancing and textiles offers an easy and accessible way to dress yourself and your home with pattern and colour that will brighten your day!
You can shop Sunny Todd’s prints and find out how to take a printing workshop here.