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Top 25 Art Blog - Creative Tourist

Prints and Furnishings by Fanny Shorter: An interview with the talented Textile Designer

Meet Fanny Shorter, a Cockpit Arts based textile designer who creates bold screen printed designs in juicy colour combinations.

Written by Amelia Gregory

Fanny Shorter Passion Pair Blue
I first discovered the beautiful designs of Fanny Shorter at Cockpit Arts in 2013 and have since met her at Home London (twice) and Tent London. Last year she was a deserving recipient of the COADG bursary. Fanny trained as an illustrator at Brighton University but has since turned her skills to the joy of textile design, building an immediately recognisable brand that features beautiful bold designs inspired by a childhood growing up in the beautiful City of Winchester and family trips to museums and National Trust properties.

Winchester Richard Shorter
Winchester school Richard Shorter
Winchester views by Richard Shorter.

Your upbringing in Winchester with teacher parents sounds idyllic, what are your fondest memories of childhood?
We were just very lucky. We were housed in the school grounds where my father taught in Winchester and it was just an absolutely beautiful environment in which to grow up. I appreciate it more now even more than I did then. We were just outside most of the time. My mother was quite traditional but very creative and we were always encouraged to draw, sew, make things and write (although I’ve probably let that slip somewhat).

Calathea_Cushion_Lrg_Clementine_Fanny_Shorter
Why did you decide to study illustration and how did you end up specialising in surface design? (where did you learn the practicalities of printing for instance?)
I originally wanted to study painting but got cold feet about the enormity of possibility within fine art. I felt I needed some practical guidelines and illustration seemed the perfect compromise. My first surface design was in response to a brief at university and I just felt really comfortable designing with a very specific application in mind. Screen-printing followed quite naturally as a way of applying pattern to a material. I had an induction in screen-printing at Brighton but got really into it after I left and still love it as a way of working. It’s really physical and very satisfying.

Quince_Cushion_Small_Buttercup_Front_Fanny_Shorter copy
What was the most useful thing you took from your illustration degree in Brighton?
Having the freedom to explore different mediums and finding the confidence to develop your own style. I’m not sure I have it quite yet but I know now when I’ve done something I’m pleased with and when something is truly awful.

Fanny Shorter at work
How did you get involved with the COADG bursary and what has been the best outcome from winning the prize last year?
I was familiar with the Confessions of a Design Geek blog and read about the bursary winner, Jessica Hogarth the year before. It seemed like a great opportunity and I decided to apply the following year. The mentors and sponsors I met through the bursary have been so supportive. It’s a very daunting experience, setting up your own business, and they were very free and friendly with advice and time.

Small_Calathea_Cushion_Neon_Fanny_Shorter
Why did you take a studio in Cockpit Arts and why would you recommend it to fellow creatives?
Cockpit provides seminars and one to one business advice as part of your rent. I felt if my business was going to get off the ground I needed all the help I could get. Being at Cockpit Arts has been invaluable. It’s great to tap into the professional support available but also to be part of a community where there’s always someone just ahead of you in business whose brains you can pick. We have an open studios event twice a year and it’s a brilliant way to get comfortable with talking about your work and meeting your customers – something I was nigh on allergic to beforehand.

Calathea_Blood_Orange_Make_Up_Bag_Side_Fanny_Shorter
Calathea_Cushion_Magenta_Small_Fanny_Shorter_Press
Where do you look for inspiration when you start designing a new range of patterns?
Dorling Kindersley has always been an easy go to. Much of my work is inspired by natural science and it’s a quick, very visual source. I regularly visit National Trust properties, the V&A, Natural History Museum and Kew Gardens, Hampshire and Wiltshire all of which formed a major part of my childhood. Google is there too in times of crisis although daunting if you’re unsure where you’re even going to start. I’ll always use it to find facts and figures about the plants and birds I plan to use in a design.


Your brand is continually developing and you are about to add hand printed furnishing fabric by the metric. What do you hope for in the future?
If time I would like a range of furnishing fabrics, prints and wallpapers. I would ultimately love to bring screen-printing fabric by the metre back in house but I’d need a very long studio for that and in London it simply isn’t feasible at the moment. There’s the dream I suppose – having a workshop somewhere in the countryside with a printing dream team and a studio dog.

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