I recently shared the creative journey of Bryony Shearmur – a musician-turned-photographer-turned-author-turned-designer (are you as exhausted by that title as I?), and she mentioned something that has reverberated in my ears ever since – the idea of a creative ecosystem. The realization that our creative lives and passions and dream jobs are the sum of little more than our past experiences or failures or experiments. That our creative life isn’t necessarily linear, but spiraling closer and closer to our core – the point where each interest overlaps and meshes together, creating the ultimate nucleus of passion. And although I haven’t yet reached my core center (although I like to think I’m rounding a close corner!), I was thrilled to read that England-based artisan Becky Kemp is happily crafting in her own passion-fueled nucleus of a kid’s shop, Sketch Inc:
Her story reads strikingly similar to mine – girl sets off on a creative path, hits roadblock, experiments a bit here and there, then personal life interferes with the death of a father figure and a cross-country relocation to reassess her life. (Check, check, check and check). And like Becky, I’m still forging ahead – tweaking and growing and making – attempting to spiral into something beautiful and real and authentic.
Sketch Inc. is Becky’s creative ecosystem – the summation of designing wedding party brooches and graffiti-tagging Russian dolls as a child. “The decision [to open a creative studio] was not an immediate one, but a gradual process over many years which was finally realized,” Becky writes. “I had been selling a small number of paintings and prints online for a while with little success when I came across a blank Russian doll in a craft shop. I quickly recognized its potential as a canvas for my sketchbook character designs, remembering the Russian dolls I once graffitied with a marker pen as a child. Suddenly, [it all] made perfect sense to me.”
Her designs are a complementary blend of two styles: Danish design and Japanese illustration. Through bold characters and quirky patterns, each creation is markedly childlike, yet modern enough for any adult to appreciate. “I think children (and indeed our own experiences of childhood) influence our visual perspective,” Becky writes. “I like to think that my designs enrich a child’s environment, but likewise hope that they will sit comfortably in a parents’ home and not exclusively in the nursery.”
Still, Becky designs ultimately for herself, producing dolls and plates and figurines that appeal to what she calls “retrospective whimsy.” And with a smart eye for design and a love for fine art, it’s a path she was clearly destined for. In fact, she credits her passion for crafting to early childhood memories and experiences. “Neither of my parents were creative by profession, but I was exposed to the delights of watercolours, sketching, model making, woodworking and DIY projects from a young age,” she writes. “Holidays would always include the standard museum and gallery visits or sightseeing with a sketchbook. Team crafting projects between my brother and I during the school holidays would keep us amused for hours if not days.”
And now, as an adult, crafting still holds her attention for days. “Sketchbooks have been a part of my daily wardrobe for most of my life,” Becky writes, noting that she often draws sketches and models of her products, then re-paints and re-cuts many times before she is satisfied with a design. “I can only really sense its completion once it has been handled and lived with for a while.”
And isn’t that true for creativity in general? It is only through experimentation – handling and molding and shaping – that we fully realize and sense its completion or purpose in our lives. And much like Becky’s remarkable Russian dolls, it’s up to us to open each layer of ourselves to reveal a hidden – unsurprisingly creative – version of ourselves.
A spiraled center. A passionate core.
Image Credits: Sketch Inc.
p.s. A vehicular Matryoshka doll and more adorable kid plates.