MEET THE MAKER: Zeal Illustration
Tell us about Zeal Ilustration:
I am Laura Carey - the designer at Zeal Illustration. We produce immaculate hand pulled screen prints, hand printed cushions, tea towels, home wares and cards. All of our designs are first illustrated by hand (by me!) and then transferred onto silk screens and printed in our UK studio. Where possible, we try our best to source ethically and only work with organic cotton. We are based in a Bedfordshire, but are selling worldwide.
What can you tell us about your background?
I trained at Nottingham Trent University, studying Decorative Arts. It was great. After working for a few charities, I decided to set up Zeal Illustration in March 2015 with my husband Joe and supported faithfully by our dog Bibi who is an integral part of the team.
What inspired you to go into design, start making these products and set up the company?
So… I lost my job. This made me re-think what I really wanted to be doing with my time. I believe its right to strive for ethical trade, and wanted to set an example in the design world – producing high-quality products, without exploiting others in the process.
Who has most heavily influenced you in the design world, how and why?
At the moment, I am really inspired by Barry Moser's prints. He is a printmaker and illustrator, famous for his Alice in Wonderland illustrations; but it's his amazing one-off, small prints that I find breathtaking. They are rich with emotion and stillness. I love symmetry and order, which is what draws me to his prints. I have just bought an illustrated Bible featuring his prints (check out the Jonah and the Whale print, it's just so perfect).
How would you describe your design style?
When we first started, I designed products that I thought people would want to buy. But one day, I decided to only make things that I want in my own house. So that's what I now do and I am so free! That is my ethos really. Since discovering that I love gardening so much I could cry, I have become quite interested in tropical leaves (hence the new collection). I have always been quite particular about colour and will insist on mixing my own. We have a saying in the studio (which my husband shudders when he hears) – it goes like this: ‘aim for perfection, and anything less that that – isn't good enough'. I am mocked for being a perfectionist.
Can you give us some insights about your New Collection?
Our current collection is made up of beautiful tropical birds (and some ugly ones too!) along with life-size prints of the great Musa Basjoo (banana leaf) and the amazing Livistona Chinensis (palm leaf). A lot of our insect prints are also available in gold foil. This is a very tricky process, but the results are amazing. My favourite product however, is the flamingo print. We affectionately refer to him as ‘Domingo the Flamingo'. He is gold, opulent and proud; he proves that it is possible to be both ugly and beautiful at the same time.
Is it the first time you'll be exhibiting here and what are your ambitions for the show?
This will be our first time at Pulse, but our second trade show this year. We are keen to meet people who are looking for something different and new. We want to meet exciting retailers who are looking for quality and contemporary products. We also think it's important to care about our production line, and we think consumers are waking up to ethical issues in the UK. Therefore, we are also keen to meet like-minded retailers.