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Interview with illustrator Felicity Marshall

Thursday 09 February 2017

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Words Spindle

You know the packaging your ASOS hauls arrive in? Well, London-based print and graphic designer Felicity Marshall is the creative brain behind that familiar monochrome packaging. She has also worked with Topman extensively, having designed prints for both their highstreet clothing and Topman Design collections across multiple seasons. She most recently created vibrant prints for their AW17 Design collection, including bright florals, retro logos, and acid coloured psychedelic patterns. She has also created illustrations for the New York Times, Pick Me Up, Coolbrother zine, and the book Sketch Restaurant. She often works in different styles for different commissions, but there’s definitely a unifying feel to her work. Intrigued by her career that spans across fashion and textiles, and editorial and illustration, we caught up with Felicity to find out more.

How did you get started with illustration and design?

I always drew from an early age, my Dad taught and encouraged me when I was pretty young and it just went from there really. I ended up doing a design degree in London, during which I interned for Alexander McQueen, enabling me to develop the textile design side of my work. After this I did odd graphic design, illustration and textile design jobs until I ended up with quite a varied portfolio.

What compels you to create?

As with a lot of creative people, the urge to create is quite a natural, intuitive one. Feeling constantly challenged by my work is what motivates me the most; the feeling that you’re always doing something worth while or that it means something. Being bored at work or with my work is the worst feeling

How would you describe your work? How did you develop your own visual style?

My styles seem to vary quite a bit depending on the job at hand or my particular mood. I draw a lot of inspiration from the natural and animal world but feel I interpret it in my own, graphic handwriting, which was developed simply over time and by working on lots of different projects. I think a lot of my style(s) are fairly bold and simple really, with a focus on line quality.

You’ve produced work for editorials and other clients, but also for fashion brands. Do you have a favourite form to design for?

I’d say I prefer editorial illustration. Print design work is fun, but I feel that with my illustration work I can express my own style a little more, whereas I find working in textiles, you often have to work within fairly stricter creative parameters.

“As with a lot of creative people, the urge to create is quite a natural, intuitive one. Feeling constantly challenged by my work is what motivates me the most; the feeling that you’re always doing something worth while or that it means something.”

What has it been like collaborating with Topman? How do you find your designs translate to fashion?

It’s been great working with Topman, I kind of fell into designing for clothing as a way to support my illustration work and ended up really enjoying it. I think a lot of illustration styles lend themselves well to fashion as so much of what we wear actually has some sort of hand drawn element within it; whether it be a graphic tee or a floral skirt.

What’s your creative process when responding to briefs?

It totally depends, I usually write a load of illegible notes and do some undecipherable doodles and try to build it from there really!

Which commissions have you most enjoyed?

I’ve really enjoyed working for The New York Times. I’ve done some illustrations for them depicting Hindu Wedding traditions and some designs for The New York Times book review. It was hard work as they have such high standards, but it was worth it in the end – I was pretty proud of that one!

Your work seems to often features big cats of prey – what is it about this imagery that makes you return to it?

I look to traditional tattoos and oriental cultures for imagery and inspiration, both feature big cats quite heavily. I also just really enjoy drawing them to be honest!

What are you working on at the moment?

I have a range of t-shirts for Topman coming out under my own name in the summer, and a few other projects that I can’t talk about yet!

What’s your dream brief or project?

I think I would like to do more editorial illustrations for newspapers etc, perhaps more politically orientated…we’re living in such divisive political times I think it would be interesting to comment on that in a visual way.

Check out more of Felicity’s work at: www.felicitypmarshall.com.