Victoria Oatway is a textile designer, illustrator and owner of Bobbie Print, a modern home accessories company based in Glasgow.
After several years of working in the interior textile industry, Victoria Oatway decided it was time to develop her own range of printed home accessories. Motivated by the desire to be "both the designer and the director of a project", Oatway set out to explore her love of pattern and illustration and create products that reflected her own personal design aesthetic. By the summer of 2015 she was ready to share her "project" with the world and launched her company, Bobbie Print. Currently a small, but perfectly formed, collection of hand pulled screen prints, Victoria is busy working on a new collection of stationery and greeting cards to add to her range later this year. We sat down with her to find out more.
What is your design background?
I always wanted to work in design, so when I completed my degree in interior textile design at the University of Wolverhampton, I was very lucky to find a position as a junior designer at a textile company in Hertfordshire. I learnt so much about design while I was there, not least the general process that an idea has to go through to become an actual product. I designed across a wide range of interior textile products including bed linen, cushions, bathroom and kitchen accessories giving me a varied view of design in that particular area of the market. About 4 years ago, I changed jobs and moved to Glasgow to continue working as a textile designer, but focusing more on fabric and wallpaper.
WHy Screen printing?
Screen printing seemed like an obvious craft for me to explore and develop my own range in because I already had good understanding of the process due to working in textiles. Also, I’d had the opportunity to attend several workshops in Glasgow and Edinburgh to get a more detailed feel of the craft. For me, screen printing allows such an easy and exact translation of my initial drawings. The screen print process allows me to design in detail and know that that detail will be reproduced sharply. I also love that you’re not limited to existing colours of a particular medium either. If you can think of the colour, you can mix it and print it.
What motivated you to start your own company?
I was really motivated by the desire to create something entirely to my own brief; to set myself the challenge of being both the designer and the director of a project. I also really wanted to make something that hopefully caries with it the feeling of craftsmanship and authenticity that hand made items have. It was important to me to move away from products that were tied to seasonal trends and create something that was thoughtfully designed and that will hopefully become a well loved and treasured possession.
What are your brand values?
Whatever the future holds for Bobbie Print, I want the brand to always retain it’s approach to hand made items and to keep craftsmanship at the heart of whatever products are made. Where possible, it is also important to me for Bobbie Print products to be produced sustainably, using environmentally friendly inks and paper stock.
what is the biggest challenge of running your own business?
The biggest challenge so far has been dealing with the massive learning curve. Working as a textile designer taught me so much creatively, but running a business yourself is a whole other challenge! I’m learning and problem solving all the time, whilst trying to figure out what works best for me and for Bobbie Print, so that I can always create the products that I want and retain the brand's values.
And the greatest reward?
The greatest rewards go hand in hand with the challenges. Each step forward is it’s own reward.
What does your creative process look like?
I try to keep a sketchbook to jot down inspiration and ideas as they come to me so designs usually start life in there as a little scribble or sketch. I’ll usually have an overall idea of the way I want a collection to look so I will develop the initial idea with further sketches and drawings. I definitely think best with a pencil in my hand. Eventually I’ll move onto the computer and manipulate my hand drawings with the help of some design software. From there, I can decide how I want the final print to look.
What are you currently interested in and how is it feeding into your work?
I’ve always admired the Scandinavian design aesthetic, but recently I have been particularly inspired by Danish ceramics. In particular, the ceramic designs of Marianne Starck for Michael Andersen & Sons Pottery. I find the way she applied pattern to ceramics and her use of colour, in contrast to the muted tones of the earthenware, really inspiring.
What are your plans for Bobbie Print this year?
At the moment I am finalising my new collection of screen prints which are inspired by the seasons and how landscapes are affected by them. They say in Glasgow that you can experience four seasons in one day because the weather can change so quickly and drastically, which is so true!
I’m also developing a new collection of stationery and greeting cards and will hopefully be able to exhibit Bobbie Print at its first trade show later this year.
What does success look like to you?
Success for me is continuing to do what I love, continuing to work in design, and continuing to enjoy every single day. I am really enjoying the process of building and developing Bobbie Print and I hope that is always the case.
Which women do you admire and why?
I really admire Laura Spring, a Glasgow based designer who produces striking hand printed textile designs and products in an ethically sound way. The way that she’s able to produce great products that not only look good but have been produced in a thoughtful way is really inspiring.
I also really admire Anna Bond of the Rifle Paper Company. I love her designs and really admire how she and her partner have built a whole brand around her beautiful hand drawn and painted illustrations. Her designs are always fresh whilst managing to retain the look and style of the brand.
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'Drove' Hand Pulled Screen Print
'Flock' Hand Pulled Screen Print
'Shoal' Hand Pulled Screen Print