Admitting to an obsession with architecture, monochrome and graphics, Cecily Vessey realised in 2009 that it was time to make a career out of what she loved best. She now spends her days drawing pictures of London and turning these drawings into beautiful ceramic pieces for the home, prints for your wall, wedding stationery and cards.
With the Olympic games coming to London this year, how could you not want to celebrate with a cup of tea from one of her Big Ben mugs? I’ve got mine.
How long have you been selling on Folksy?
I’m a newbie to folksy, I finally managed to join and set up this January – but have been meaning to do it for about a year now!
Tell us about your work and describe the process?
I am first and foremost a drawer. Cityscapes and buildings are my favourite thing to draw and I have created a range of London themed ceramics that I now sell through Folksy. I have also produced cards, wedding invitations, tea towels, and I love doing one off drawings. I think my favourite way to work is to commission, particularly wedding invitations. Once you get over the pressure of creating something for someone for such a special day it’s a wonderful process and it makes me happy to think of everyone opening their envelopes to find something I have created inside.
What’s your favourite piece of work?
That would have to be a drawing of Westminster Abbey that I was commissioned to do recently. Living across the river from it in Kennington it is one of my favourite buildings in London and I was so lucky to have been given a special access all areas tour to find a new exciting view of the Abbey to draw!
When did it all begin for you?
After I graduated in 2009 I set up my website and did a stall at Greenwich market on Saturdays whilst interning for Lisa Stickley London. I was fortunate to be given a job there as website co-ordinator and marketing assistant. Over the next year and a half I learned invaluable lessons about business and e-commerce. Last October I wanted to try and go full time with my own work and I’m so glad that I took the step to go solo, arrrggghh! Fingers crossed I can keep it going.
Tell us about your work space? Favourite place to work?
I have managed to squeeze a desk into my tiny spare room and to fill the cupboards with all my stock and bits and pieces but when working on a large drawing or planning the next project nothing beats the kitchen table as it means that I can have some company with my boyfriend who is a writer and can often be found sitting there typing away (and it’s closer to the kettle and biscuit tin!)
How do you keep your work unique?
All of my work whether it be an egg cup, jug, a tea towel or a print all originate from an observational drawing that I do. I like to hope that as long as I continue to do that my work will remain unique, after all I don’t think anyone’s attempt at perspective could be more wonky than mine…
Describe your day as a maker? Are you organised/disciplined?
It really depends on my ‘to do list’ and my frame of mind when I wake up. I have a variety of jobs that have to happen each day, e-mails, post run etc. but then during the rest of the week I will have a variety of jobs to get on with whether it be drawing for an afternoon, applying the decals onto ceramics before loading the kiln, updating my websites and online shops with new things or cycling to the printers down the road to collect invitations or a new batch of cards.
What three tools could you not live without?
Fine liner pens and drawing paper.
My cameras, I would want to be a photographer if I didn’t draw (polaroid for treats, my SLR for when I want the delight of getting a roll of film developed and my digital for detailed pictures to work from). In the winter and for projects that are too far away the digital image is a great way for me to be able to work without making trips all around the country or sitting out in the cold!
My Kiln. Even though it’s tiny and very, very old it still manages to cook all my ceramics!
What gets the creative juices flowing?
Working from home, it is very easy to get cabin fever – I run all my errands on my bike, it helps to get some fresh air throughout the day and keep healthy.
I find showing new drawings to friends and sharing ideas with them helps me back out of dead ends. Alot of my close friends are in the creative industry so there is always someone to bounce ideas off.
Are you inspired by any other artists?
The drawings that I have always loved are by Ben Nicholson and Van Gogh and my favourite photographers are Bernd and Hilla Becher. Holly Fulton the fashion designer did a stunning collection in 2011 based on New York, I managed to get a shirt that she designed for a high street shop in the sales and it makes me feel like a trendy artiste, I love it!
How do you know when a piece is done?
With a drawing or a new product when I think that I might have finished I stop working on it and don’t look at it for twenty four hours. I have another look at it, if I’m not sure about something I call in the cavalry (my flat-mate who’s a graphic designer) and have a discussion with her about elements that could improve. I usually repeat this process a couple of times or until I am happy and proud of the finished item.
What do you love most about being a maker?
I love the online communities that are growing surrounding makers in the UK and the craft groups in London. I do events with We Make London and Crafty Fox, Brixton and it is so nice to meet like minded creative people.
It is now so much easier to buy online direct from the maker, which is so important to keep a maker afloat.
A big big plus point is not having to commute on the tube and sit in an office, even if you do end up working much longer days and you have to fill in the dreading tax return, at least it’s on your own terms.
Where would you like to be in 5 years time?
I would like to be still busy working, I’d like to be selling enough so that I could get someone else to do the packaging and posting so that I can concentrate on drawing more, and I would like to have a workspace with a big bright window that over looks the rooftops of London or another metropolis maybe New York or Paris, who knows…
What would you say to any makers starting out?
Don’t be afraid to show the world what you make. There will be someone out there who loves what you do. Be prepared to spend time on all the other areas (marketing, social media, customer service, website maintenance) not just the making. And remember there will be great days and flatline days, but it will be worth it!
You can browse and buy from Cecily’s Folksy shop Cecily Vessey.