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Vegetable pattern

Freya Hufton Plants, patterns and places

From launching her own fabric to designing a Christmas card for Kew Gardens, 2021 was a milestone year for artist Freya Hufton.

I first happened upon Freya Hufton’s artwork while scrolling through Instagram. I was immediately drawn to her use of colour to create illumination within her pieces, and the beautiful way she captures plants and the places they dwell in. Following her recent move to Sheffield, it felt like the perfect time to share Freya's story and her art with Now Then readers.

Hi Freya. Nice to meet you. We’ve heard that you’re a fan of plants, patterns and places, but can you tell us a bit more about yourself and how you spend your days?

Hello! I moved to Sheffield last year to start a Masters course in Architecture, so my days are currently split between studying and running a small art business, which has been quite intense.

I was supposed to move a year earlier but I decided to defer. During that time out I was lucky to be able to focus on creating my own art and building an income from it. It’s something I had wanted to do for a while but never had the time. I think it is also a risk I might not have taken if the pandemic hadn’t happened, so this has been a huge silver lining for me. Apart from that I have been enjoying getting to know Sheffield and being so close to the Peak District.

Wall hanging
IMG 9824

Having followed you on Instagram, it felt like 2021 was a milestone year for you. What were your highlights?

2021 was definitely a milestone year for me and I am still pinching myself. Things grew more than I had ever expected and I was lucky to work on some wonderful collaborations.

One of my highlights was designing a Christmas card for Kew Gardens. Kew is one of my favourite places in the world and the inspiration behind many of my artworks, so this was a dream project. I enjoyed working on a range of commissions including a magazine cover and an embroidery template. It really opened my eyes to different possibilities and I loved the freedom of being self employed. It was amazing being able to spend so much time drawing and to see that my artwork could bring joy to others too.

Fern and Foxglove Wallpaper Roll
Kitchen Veg wallpaper
Palm House Fabric

There’s a rich sense of fullness to your artwork, and the way you capture an abundance of plant life living in harmony with architectural structures is beautiful. Can you walk us through your creative process when designing a new piece?

I am particularly drawn to botanic gardens as these combine two big sources of inspiration for me - nature and architecture. I prefer to draw places that I have visited and have a connection with. I often feel a strong sense of peace and escapism when visiting glasshouses or gardens and I try to recreate this atmosphere in my artwork.

I usually start my creative process by taking plenty of photos and collaging these together to give me a composition to work from. I then create an initial drawing in black and white outlines before adding colour. I am quite an impatient person and so often prefer working digitally as it allows me to get ideas down more quickly. Having said this I still enjoy and take inspiration from techniques such as pen drawing and lino printing, and this informs my style.

Sheffield winter garden 2
Sheffield Winter garden

You’ve recently branched out into fabric, wallpaper and home decor design. What’s it been like to move in a new direction?

This has been an exciting new direction for me. I have always been drawn towards patterns and am constantly spotting them around me in random places. The process of creating a pattern is really fun and I love that it is possible to apply them to such a range of surfaces, from fabric and wallpaper to stationery. Coming from a background in Architecture, I enjoy thinking about three-dimensional spaces and how designs could be used within them.

I started off selling fabric and wallpaper with the company Spoonflower, which has been a great way to get started. It’s been amazing to see what people have made from my fabric designs or how they have used the wallpaper in their homes.

Kew Gardens
Kew Japanese Garden
Prints

And finally, what are your hopes and dreams for 2022?

In 2022 I hope to continue to explore new avenues. I have been developing some new products which I plan to launch soon and want to continue to experiment with pattern design. I would love to be able to travel over the summer to inspire a new series of prints. Japan has been on my list for a while. I also want to find a better balance between the architecture degree and the art - and hopefully a way to combine the two!

by Felicity Jackson (she/her)
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