The beautiful child like wonder illustrations from Dorset artist

March 29, 2016

Featured on theprintspace blog today is illustrator Bess Harding, who talks to us about her venture Paper Penkife! Her creative child like wonderful prints sent us back to our childhood when we loved colourful, simple artwork.

bess harding speaks to theprintspace about her illustrations to theprintspace bess harding interview speaks to theprintspace about her photographic prints 


First of all, please introduce yourself!

I’m Bess Harding, a freelance artist and illustrator. I come from Dorset originally, but have lived in London for twelve years now (crikey!).

Tell us your story.

I’ve always done creative stuff on the side, from sewing bags at school to making dolls and selling them at craft fairs, but I got into illustration a bit by accident when I offered to draw a couple of poster designs for my flatmate’s workplace. I then got a small portfolio of work together, set up a website and found an agent. That was about six years ago now and since then I’ve been doing illustration on the side while working in admin for a graphic design agency! Last year I went freelance full-time and set up an online personalised print shop called Paper Penknife. I now have a studio at 4011/2 Studios in Wandsworth, which is a great place to be based.

What are the concepts behind your work, and how did Paper Penknife come about?

I use theprintspace to print the Giclée prints that I sell through Paper Penknife. The idea of the shop was originally to offer personalised papercuts and prints in a range of designs, which make great gifts for weddings, anniversaries, new babies and birthdays. The first designs were papercut wedding hearts and alphabets with the “H” and the “I” picked out to say “HI”. We’ve moved slightly away from the papercut side of things now, and we offer mostly prints and posters. We’re always expanding the range and working on new designs.


bess harding speaks to theprintspace about her artwork and illustrations tumblr_o4t7o0GKzf1qahvd2o4_500.jpg


What inspires you? 

If I’m lacking in inspiration, a flick through Living Etc magazine or a browse on Pinterest usually gets me fired up. I’m always drawn to Moroccan/Arabic tile and pattern designs, which inspire my tile papercuts. Artists and illustrators whose work I really admire include William Scott, Patrick Heron, Alanna Cavanagh and Oliver Jeffers. I think they all have a common theme of fantastic colours and deceptive simplicity.

What paper type is your favourite?

I use Hahnemuhle German Etching – I love the quality of it and the slight texture helps to enhance the screen print feel that incorporate digitally into my prints.

What’s your next step?

For Paper Penknife, the aim is just to build up our customer base and bring out some new education-themed designs. We’re also looking at offering our posters with old school-style wooden poster hangers. | Facebook | Twitter | Instagram


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