Meet the Maker – Martha Mitchell
Martha Mitchell works from a converted mews studio in the heart of Brighton where she draws amazingly detailed fine-line images of famous icons, places, foodstuffs, sporting activities etc with a 0.005 pen! These black and white miniature drawings are then applied to fine bone china, textiles, paper and other materials to create unique product ranges.
We first met Martha at Top Drawer London in 2018 and immediately saw the potential of an Oxford by Martha Mitchell range. The initial range was ready for Christmas and has already become a best-seller on oushop and 106 High Street.
Next week sees the introduction of a mini series of ceramic Oxford themed pin badges to the range and to celebrate we asked Martha the following questions to which we thankfully received the responses below!
Have you always enjoyed drawing?
Yes! Ever since I can remember I have loved drawing and doing anything creative! It wasn’t until university that I really started to develop my style and technique. During my art foundation we would try all types of drawing including using metre long sticks dipped in ink – I think it was at that point I decided small intricate drawings suited me much better!
When did you know you wanted to be an illustrator/designer?
During school art was always my favourite subject, it was during secondary school probably around year 9 or 10 that I really started to feel like I wanted to have some sort of creative job. I was lucky enough to have really supportive teachers who gave great advice in terms of actually having a career in design.
What made you choose Oxford as a city to illustrate?
My boyfriend’s family actually live in Oxford so having visited them a few times I soon started to see what amazing architecture Oxford has, as well has lots of hidden quirks that not everyone would know about. I have been spoilt for choice in terms of what to draw – my favourite was the Shark House, it makes me smile every time I look at it, and is definitely one of a kind!.
What influences have helped you to create your signature Martha Mitchell style?
It was during university that I came across the pens I use – they are very fine (0.05 nib) which enables me to draw very intricate illustrations, I would say these are the main influence of my style. I get through them so quickly that I know buy in bulk!
What helps you work – sunshine, cup of tea, music?
When I am having a difficult day or have hit a bit of a block with a design I will often just have a walk down the road to the sea (my studio is 5 minutes from the beach!) I am so lucky to be able to do this and it definitely clears my head!
What’s your studio like?
I am lucky enough to share a lovely studio with a close friend who has a lampshade and lighting company. The studio is down a little mews and used to be the luggage room for the homes above. It has really high ceilings and is covered in plants, lampshades and a lot of cardboard boxes! We open up the studio twice a year for Brighton open houses, which means the public can come and buy directly from us, we also invite guest exhibitors to come and exhibit with us too.
What’s the best thing about your job?
Getting to know more and more about cities through drawing! When starting a new range I usually try to ask someone who lives there for an idea of places to draw, not just architecture but also local things that tourists might not know about! It is always a good excuse to travel round the country too!
What do you love most about illustrating?
I love the challenge of customers giving me a brief, whether it be for weddings or a corporate firm, and then me bringing that alive through my illustrations. My favourite part of my business is doing the actual drawings so there is nothing I like more than a day of drawing with just my pen and paper!
Most memorable place and why?
This isn’t actually a place but my most memorable thing to draw was a commission I did when I first started out. It was for Kelloggs and I had to draw 200 different Kelloggs packets! It was definitely a challenge and I got to know all the different cereals on the market very well!
Favourite thing to make?
I produce personalised tile frames, which involve the customer choosing up to 16 completely bespoke illustrations to be drawn to celebrate birthdays, anniversary’s weddings etc. I have been asked to draw some pretty challenging things in the past including a lady in full lycra doing a yoga pose and Billy Connelly!
Plans for 2019?
At the end of the year it is actually my 10-year anniversary of starting the business! So I have lots of new products planned to celebrate this! As well as adding a few new cities to my range. Watch this space!