Welcome to BEARS SHARES: in this monthly blogpost we love to share some insight into the superhuman(s) behind local businesses in our hood. Finding out about their work, passion, lightbulb moments, likes and tips for a happy life. Now, more than ever, we love it when we can inspire you to shop local and support local. Dive in and enjoy the read. Email us here if you have a suggestion on which local business you like to see featured here next month.
This month we're featuring Starch Green, a small studio in West London, set up by artist-designers Jonathan Mercer and Kate Fishenden. Their focus is on hand-made design, using craft skills to create design, artwork and objects that add positively to the pattern of life, balancing home and work and creating a feeling of well-being. Their strong commitment to family, work-life balance and applied art combines to deliver a range of distinctive pattern papers, illustrations, prints and products, and a human approach to design. They work on ceramics and stationery designs together. Jonathan creates illustrations and wood engravings and prints on our Albion Press or an Adana. Kate tends to work in watercolours and create limited edition screen prints. They usually take part in Artists at Home in June, although 2020 didn’t happen and they're not wholly confident about 2021. They also organise the Twentieth Century Graphic Arts Fair - Bouncing Off the Wall! - at Greenside School - which also skipped 2020.
How did you become an artist, creative entrepreneur?
They both went to art school and then worked as designers - Kate worked as a graphic designer, mainly working on packaging and branding, and Jonathan as a product designer. Jonathan developed an interest in wood engraving, especially in the work of Eric Ravilious, and left the day job to become a freelance illustrator. Various lifetimes and five children later, they resurrected their interest in print making, pattern making and design and launched Starch Green in 2010.
What does an average working day look like for you?
These days in full Covid lockdown are not so different for them to a normal day! Kate has built in a little exercise session before breakfast while the gym is closed. At breakfast they discuss the day - a bit - and remind each other of anything urgent/interesting coming up. Then in the morning Kate either works on some consultancy for clients or in the studio drawing and preparing ideas and artwork for screen prints. Around 2pm-ish they walk their Italian Greyhound, Pesto. At the moment they are steering clear of Ravenscourt Park most of the time to avoid people and the mud that Pesto is inclined to eat - which Kate thinks makes him ill. They have got to know all the back streets between here, Acton Park and Chiswick very well. After a cuppa and snack back home, they continue working until around 5.30pm.
How’s your work life balance? Rather tilted towards life to be honest.
What is the best advice you have been given? Remember to clean your teeth when you are working from home.
What advice would you give? Make a to do list - and actually give each item some diary time - include work and home things.
What’s the biggest misconception in your industry?
That we are happy to give away work for free.
What’s your most loved London restaurant?
Ah - to go out to a restaurant! We love Adam’s Cafe on Askew Road - last year (actually November 2019) Kate was delighted when Jonathan took her there for dinner on her birthday (after yoga) - and to her great surprise all her kids were there with their partners - they had such a marvellous dinner! A very good surprise.
What’s your favourite weekend activity?
Tea and toast in bed (with homemade marmalade) and a walk to the Farmer’s Market at Dukes Meadows.
Your film recommendation?
We love the new Emma with Anya Taylor - Joy - always enjoy Austen but the costumes are wonderful too.
Your book recommendation?
Kate is just reading ‘A Thousand Ships’ by Natalie Haynes and looking forward to her next book ‘Pandora’s Jar’ already on her bedside book pile.
What superpower would you like to have? To be able to radiate kindness.
What’s your favourite Bears ice cream and why?
Kate loves the strawberry, meringue and thyme glacier - the perfect mix of fresh fruit and naughtiness - with a thymey twist.
Who would you like to invite at your dining table and share a Bears ice cream tub with for dessert?
The very thought of having people round for supper! Kate & Jonathan would invite just a couple of old friends who they haven’t had the chance to sit down and natter with for so long.
Tell us a little secret about yourself …Well, then it wouldn’t be a secret, would it? But Kate will share a little known fact - She was lost in the jungles of Borneo for a day with her brother when she was four - returned safe and sound rather tired but unscathed - they were exploring…
West London Creative Design Studio Starch Green | www.starchgreen.com | IG @starchgreen
The Double Dachshund is being showcased in Bears Parlour W12 since the opening in 2016.
Fancy to jazz up your wall?
Enquire via Starch Green via email@example.com (framed £200 and unframed £150)