Introducing the extremely talented and wonderfully witty Fee Greening, a London based illustrator and a longtime friend of the KITRI team.
Ever since she moved from her hometown Devon to study Graphic Design at Central Saint Martins in London, Fee has been experimenting with the traditional pen and ink illustrative techniques. Further honing her craft at the prestigious Royal College of Art, graduating with a master’s degree, she has worked on a dizzy array of projects for some very familiar institutions, such as Fortnum & Mason, Faber & Faber, Tate and The Royal Court Theatre to name but a few.
Her intricate and poetic work - think Prince, Bowie and Beyoncé drawn as patron saints, is inspired by Medieval, Gothic and Flemish art. We’re particular fans of her Body Language and Modern Icons series, but with all of Fee’s work it’s clear to see the skill and energy that goes into each hand drawn piece.
We recently caught up with Fee near her studio in Camden, to discuss all the wonderful and charming things that inspire her work, including artistic muses, Italian cities and the importance of time spent in the bath!
What is the most enjoyable part of illustration process for you?
I find drawing very calming, I feel very clear headed by the end of a day in the studio.
What is the best piece of advice you have been given?
I read something recently where Grayson Perry talks about the ‘Helsinki Bus Station’ theory, which describes an artist’s career like picking a bus. You get off at each stop and meet different people who will compare your work to something which has gone before. So you go back to the bus station and pick another bus and you do this over and over again until you find your artistic style. His advice is to “stay on the bus, the creativity happens after 50 stops; that’s when you become original.”.
Is there something you always keep on your work desk?
Cob Gallery Studio where I work is such a great space. There are seven of us working there and loads of dogs. I have my dog Willy (a Jack Russell and Chihuahua mix) there’s also Ronnie the lurcher, Rudy the french bulldog and Houdini the Bedlington whippet. My desk is full of quills, friends and family kindly buy them for me as presents and I can never resist buying more but I always end up using the same one - like an old pair of shoes. There’s probably a few things to do with William Blake, my big obsession, be it a book of his or a postcard of his work.
What are your go-to wardrobe items?
As most of my clothes usually get covered in ink, I can’t be too precious with them. Usually you will see me in dungarees, old jeans or overalls but I love my KITRI Ferri Corset Belt as I can layer it over my clothes to go to an event after work and not feel like I’m dressed like a decorator! (By the way Fee is the most elegant decorator we’ve ever seen!)
Do you have a daily routine?
As soon as I wake up I reach down to the bottom of the bed and grab my dog, then I take a long bath to collect my thoughts and think about what I need to do for the day. I make sure I do this everyday, I find it so useful. Then I walk my dog, grab a coffee and head to the studio. At the end of the day I usually walk back home down the canal for some exercise.
What was your most memorable trip?
I think my fascination with medieval and gothic styles comes from visiting churches and museums in Italy with my family when I was young. We are obsessed with Italian cities and used to visit Venice a lot. For instance Giovanni Bellini’s paintings have definitely influenced my style.
If you could swap lives with someone for a day who would you choose?
Patti Smith, without a doubt! It must be her. She is just so unbelievably cool.
What is the one book you recommend everyone should read?
The Lives of the Muses: Nine Women and the Artists They Inspired by Francine Prose. I read it last summer in Deià, Mallorca. It’s split into nine sections, each focusing on a famous muse, from Lee Miller, Gala Dalí and Alice Liddell. Not only does it focus on the impact they had on the work, but also the relationships they had with the artists themselves, it’s absolutely fascinating.
I’m currently working on some children’s books with my boyfriend, which I’m really enjoying. We come up with the story together and then he writes alongside my illustrations. We are hoping to have two books finished before the end of the summer.
Interview by Abi Corbett
Illustrations by Fee Greening. You can purchase Fee's prints via her online shop: Feegreening.co.uk
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