Francesca Iannaccone bought a second-hand copy of “The Middle Age of Mrs Eliot” by Angus Wilson back at art college to tear up and use in her first piece of work, it makes sense then that she call her Folksy shop Mrs Eliot Books. Here, the print artist from London tells us about wooden books, making lists and why she needs to put a lock on her study door!
Your Folksy shop is full of gorgeous prints and stationary items, tell us about your work?
I mostly make prints and cards but also collage pieces and little wooden books. I’m interested in breaking details down into shape, pattern and colour. And recently I’ve been exploring even more with shapes. I like to add layers of texture in my work too so I collect different fabrics and papers.Do you have a favourite piece of work?
It changes all the time. Whatever’s new is usually my favourite. But I’m still very keen on my Modernist Card Set and my Grey & Yellow Chevron Print.
Where did it all begin for you?
Just before I had my first son I got really creative and made my first little wooden book. Then, a little later, looking for something to get into after being in full-on baby mode for a few months, I saw that a friend of mine had a craft blog. I was totally drawn into that world and began to forge out some time to sell my work online.
Tell us about your work space?
I have a lovely big, light study that I try hard to keep tidy. I can’t work in mess, I find it too distracting. But often if I’m up there when the boys are home, they’ll come up and want to play with the printer or spin around on my chair. I need to put a lock on it! Sometimes I just work with my laptop on my knee in the evenings.
How do you keep your work unique in such a competitive market?
It’s hard. I’m very tough on myself. If I think something I’m working on looks a bit like someone else’s work I’ll abandon it. I want to be individual and for people to recognise my work as mine. My inspiration comes for all over the place, sometimes very random things so that helps because I know only I have been inspired by it.
Describe your day as a designer-maker?
I’m very organised. I have lists and lists and lists. My youngest is only at nursery two mornings a week so those are my main working hours and I have to squeeze a lot in. I try to use those times to do actual work and reply to emails and such in the evening.
Are there any artists you take inspiration from?
Rosalie Gascoigne is my favourite artist, for her work and also her personality and life story. At the moment I’m loving Ellsworth Kelly. Since I started my blocks and boxes project, his name keeps popping up. I love all the Colour Field stuff and I’ve always loved Abstract Expressionism.
How do you know when a piece is done?
That’s a tough one. Usually if I can’t finish something, and I’ve tried a few times, then keep starting again, I’ll take a step back and think ‘actually, it’s done!” The reason I couldn’t finish it was because it finished itself!
What do you love most about being a designer-maker?
Well there’s no way I could possibly do anything else. It’s a massive part of me so I suppose just that really. That my job is also my hobby and if I wasn’t making any money from it I’d still want to do it. I think that makes me very lucky.
What would you say to any designer-makers starting out?
Don’t be too hard on yourself, try not to compare your work to other people’s too much. Believe in your style and way of working but don’t be afraid to try something new. Come and join us!
Thanks to Francesca for speaking to me at Frankly. You can find more of Francesca’s work in her (well stocked!) Folksy shop Mrs Eliot Books.