What inspires Print Circus designs?

french bulldog illustration
I often get asked the question: "Where did the design come from?" Or "what inspires you?"
It isn't really an easy question to answer because inspiration can be very subtle or a series of small things or feelings I have during a day or week.
And of course, sometimes I will be inspired by something obvious, purposefully because I have been looking for inspiration for a specific project of piece.
For designs for a collection I usually start with a colour palette and mood board. A collection of images which tell the story of the 'feel' I want to create, a way of planning ahead so that the work can fit into the brand and with other pieces as necessary.
The picture shown is a photograph taken of the original painting I made which became the design 'Mabel'.
Her starting point is quite interesting and the style has become integral to the Print Circus brand.
I started looking at Victorian and early twentieth century toys as a starting point for a collection at the National Trust's Sudbury Hall and Museum of Childhood, which is local to where I live in Staffordshire (and this was of course when we could visit museums!) What interested me most was the worn patina and textures of the toys and the muted colour palettes. The sense that these very well made artefacts had been so loved and played with, each holding many stories of friendship and secrets from the past. 
When researching further, objects which I became most inspired by were plaster dogs, some had moving parts such as mouths that opened. These looked really creepy and reminded me of dolls from the same period. They were certainly well loved and had the bare plaster showing in places where the surfaces had been damaged, and worn and tattered fabrics of ruffs framing the lopsided faces. 
Mabel's face is drawn in a lively way which I always try to continue when I'm designing, I like the faces to have an undone kind of quality, with loose brush and pencil marks and surface texture you can feel. 
When museums are back open I will like to visit the Museum of Childhood again and collect some more visual information to inform a new project....I can't wait.

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